Matt Tunseth

Sam Cotten wanted answers.

The former Eagle River legislator showed up to Tuesday night’s legislative town hall meeting with pointed questions about the state budget for the area’s current crop of legislators.

“Where are you going to go? What are you going to do?” asked Cotten, a lifelong Alaskan whose political career began in 1964-65 as Chugiak High’s first student body president and included a 16-year stint in the Alaska House and Senate.

Old business was the order of the day as the Eagle River-Chugiak Parks and Recreation Board of Supervisors breezed through a light agenda Monday night that featured mostly talk about long-term planning issues.

Among the weightier issues was a decision to tiptoe toward new dog park discussions as well as word that a potential windfall conservation easement could be worth less than previously anticipated.

Negotiations between the Anchorage School District and the federal government over funding for damage sustained by Anchorage schools in the November 2018 earthquake could take months or years and may result in the district turning down millions in disaster relief funds.

The biggest sticking point is insurance. According to ASD Chief Operating Officer Tom Roth, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) wants to require the district to carry earthquake insurance “in perpetuity” if it accepts federal reimbursement for certain repairs.

Temperatures were below zero Wednesday night outside the Steve Primis Auditorium in Chugiak, where public reaction to a trio of new tax proposals presented by Anchorage Assembly members wasn’t much warmer.

“I’m for no taxes,” Chugiak’s Jo Al Hintz told assembly members in what would prove to be a common theme among those who testified. “I don’t want any taxes — you spend the money you’ve got and then it’s over.”

While 2019 was a year of rebuilding in Eagle River, 2020 promises to be one of renewal as several businesses plan to open or reopen their doors downtown in the first months of the year.

Planet Fitness franchisee Dan Afrasiabi hopes his new business on the Old Glenn Highway can help energize the main drag through town.

“Hopefully we’ll kick-start that,” said Afrasiabi, whose gym is set to open in early February.

Editor’s note: The year 2019 was an eventful one in Chugiak-Eagle River, where efforts to rebuild following the 2018 earthquake dominated the headlines. Other big news included continued hot weather in Southcentral Alaska and the emergence of a renewed effort to separate Chugiak-Eagle River from the Municipality of Anchorage. Here’s a look back at the headlines from the past 12 months (or click on the headline to read more):

JANUARY

A sometimes-emotional debate about formalizing relations between the Municipality of Anchorage and the Native Village of Eklutna ended with a vote by the Anchorage Assembly on Tuesday to spend the next year exploring ways to bring the two groups closer together.

The debate centered around whether or not to delay the resolution, which Assemblymember Crystal Kennedy of Eagle River said could have “unintended consequences.”

Kennedy said she was not against having a conversation with the tribal government, but initially had concerns about a lack of public input.

Birchwood Community Council members voted Wednesday to ask the Alaska Attorney General’s office to oppose the Native Village of Eklutna in its lawsuit against the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Birchwood residents are celebrating after a controversial project that would have run a water transmission line through their community has been scrapped.

“There are no plans for AWWU to move forward,” Gretchen Wehmhoff told the Birchwood Community Council Wednesday.

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