For the Chugiak-Eagle River Star

Local reaction to Alaska Gov. Bill Walker’s proposal to establish a state income tax and cap annual distributions from the Permanent Fund is a mixed bag.

On the nearly defiant side are the, “hell no, don’t you dare touch my PFD,” comments and at the other end of the spectrum of comments indicating a resignation to the economic realities sustained low oil prices bring.

And now for a public service announcement with a personal twist.

Despite how clear and danger-free the road may appear, it simply isn’t so this time of the year in Alaska.

My head knew this all too well, but it was my pulse and rapidly-increasing heart beat that mattered most last Friday as the back end of the Ford Expedition my husband has supplied for me to drive “slipped out” on me sending the vehicle in to a state fair carnival spin in the middle of onramp to the Glenn Highway from Muldoon Road.

Last Thursday’s change-of-command ceremony for the Chugiak High School Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps featured passing top school-based duties from a U.S. Navy enlistee to an Army National Guard enlistee.

“I hereby relieve you of duty,” Cadet Lt. Commander Colten Bell told Cadet Lt. Commander Michelle Millette as the unit gathered for the ceremony that is held every semester in the school cafeteria.

The Eagle River High School Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps knows how to drill in unison.

Three of its teams – Armed Exhibition, Armed Regulation and Unarmed Regulation – earned first place and two of its teams – First Year Unarmed Regulation and Regulation Color Guard – earned second place at the Interior Drill Meet held at West Valley High School in Fairbanks on Dec. 5, 2015. An individual member – Cadet Captain Josh Lewis – earned second place overall in the Individual Armed Exhibition category.

Lana Vo blocked out the cheering crowd and the competitors closing in on her. She listened only to her team members, Nathaniel Lontoc and Ashlynn Walker, as they helped guide her toward achieving her sole focus last Friday morning: getting one of the arms of the team’s ROV to press the button and release the large Styrofoam ball from its captive spot at the bottom of the Bartlett High School pool.

With only a thin layer of snow over the trail, the temperature hovering just above zero and not a breath of wind, hiking conditions were perfect Nov. 12 of this year as I departed the Eagle River Nature Center and trekked deeper into the valley.

I knew the sun would be hanging back behind the mountains throughout the day. But whether in sunshine or shadow, a trip deep into upper Eagle River Valley — its 7,000-foot mountains looming high on all sides — is always a visual feast. For me, it’s akin to entering a cathedral.

The Anchorage School Board sent its proposed bond package to the Anchorage Assembly last week for its approval for inclusion on the April 2016 ballot, but only after removing funding for remodeling Gruening Middle School and upgrades to two other district schools.

“Students in one-third of our schools will have a direct benefit from the projects on this proposal,” Ed Graff, Anchorage School District superintendent, said in a district press release.

Don’t cut teaching positions and don’t increase classroom size.

That is the message locals gave administrators from the Anchorage School District at a budget input meeting held Nov. 30 at Gruening Middle School.

The 90-plus attendees included a mix of business owners, parents, school district employees and students who collectively said that retaining current levels of teaching staff —which according to school district numbers crunchers is 42 percent of the budget — is top priority.

They aren’t ugly; they are festive.

So say the local wearers of those brightly-colored and often gaudy-decorated sweaters featuring reindeer or penguins dancing, Santa checking his list or snowmen looking flakey.

“We need to revamp that ‘ugly’ word,” Maureen Huston, an administrative assistant at Partners Real Estate in Eagle River, said. “They are fun; they are festive. It is holiday spirit.”

Huston and her co-workers sported “holiday ugly” sweaters for last weekend’s Merry Merchant Munch.

In an effort to improve communication with the Chugiak-Eagle River area, Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz’s press office has announced the mayor will hold regularly-scheduled office hours at the Chugiak-Eagle River library.

His first appearance will be Dec. 15 from 4 to 6 p.m.