Matt Tunseth

Saturday began with a splash and ended with a souvenir for the Eagle River girls swimming and diving team, which won the first event of the day at the ASAA/First National Bank Swimming and Diving Championships and walked away with the school’s first state swimming runner-up trophy.

The Wolves won four individual girls titles and a relay championship; McKenzie Fazio claimed two individual victories, with Ellie Mercer and Kiara Borchardt winning one each.

Few people have played a bigger role in preserving the unique narrative of the Chugiak-Eagle River community than Jinny Kirk, a woman who also had a role in creating much of that history.

Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz says he’s all for smaller government but isn’t convinced Chugiak-Eagle River residents would be making a wise decision by breaking away from the municipality.

“Interesting conversation,” Berkowitz said Wednesday at the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce lunch forum in Eagle River. “Show me the money.”

It’s springtime in the Chugach Mountains, where fuzzy white willow catkins are a sure sign of longer, warmer days ahead. There’s just one problem: It’s November.

“It’s pretty much unprecedented,” said Justin Fulkerson, a research botanist who said he first heard reports of catkins (also known as “pussy willows”) showing up in the Anchorage area from a fellow scientist in late October.

Two familiar names have signaled their intent to run for a Chugiak-Eagle River seat on the Anchorage Assembly in the April 7, 2020, municipal election.

As of Monday, Eagle River’s Jamie Allard and Chugiak’s Gretchen Wehmhoff were the only District 2 residents to file letters of intent with the Alaska Division of Elections. The filing period for municipal office is Jan. 1-Feb. 1, but the letters permit candidates to raise funds prior to officially filing for office.

Participants at a French language camp near Beach Lake in Chugiak may soon be in danger of getting deja vu.

“We’ve got one student who has been at every camp so far,” said Nicole Ayers, a foreign language teacher at Chugiak High who started the third-annual camp in 2017 as a way to build a bit of esprit de corps among high school French programs within the Anchorage School District.

Ayers said she modeled the two-day camp at the Birchwood Camp after a successful program the district’s German teachers began three decades ago.

At Chugiak High, they’ve got a nickname for Ashley Bailey, the steely-eyed security guard who stalks the campus with the vigilance of a junkyard dog that ain’t been fed.

“The kids call her ‘Bulldog Bailey,’” said Chugiak principal Megan Hatswell.

Bailey has a reputation as someone who doesn’t take a lot of guff. Hatswell said the military veteran is fierce but fair — traits that have earned her grudging respect from the students she oversees.

Progress is being made on a project to help Alaskans reach out and touch their neighbors Outside.

Matanuska Telephone Association CEO Michael Burke visited the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce biweekly lunch forum earlier this month at the Matanuska Alehouse in Eagle River, where he said only about 40 more miles of cable are needed to complete the co-op’s Alcan One project, which when completed next year will become the first overland fiber optic link between Alaska and the Lower 48.

“It’s all buried, which is much easier to maintain,” he said.

It was a good summer to be a bear in Anchorage, where far fewer bruins were killed due to conflicts with humans.

According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, just six bears were killed by either the government or by private citizens defending life or property. That’s a dramatic decrease from 2018, when 42 bears were killed.

“Compared to other years it was like being on vacation,” said Fish and Game area management biologist Dave Battle.

One of the six community councils representing the Chugiak-Eagle River area says it wants little to do with a movement to detach the area from the Municipality of Anchorage.

At its Oct. 15 meeting, the Eklutna Valley Community Council voted 15-1 to disassociate itself from the “Eaglexit” movement, an effort that began this spring to explore the possibility of detaching Assembly District 2 from the muni and forming its own local government.

“We’re kind of raising a red flag and saying don’t count on us,” said EVCC vice president Rick Sinnott, who drafted the resolution.

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