No suspects in trio of strange break-ins

Did you know that one in three people will need a blood transfusion in their lifetime?

The Blood Bank of Alaska is a non-profit organization founded in 1962. It is Alaska’s only blood collection, processing and distribution operation. It is a critical component of the entire state’s medical infrastructure. It provides blood products and blood services to 22 Alaskan medical centers or hospitals (public, private, military and Native).

Chugiak mushers Jim Lanier and Mike Suprenant will be among a field of 66 mushers who hit the trail this weekend for the 2012 Iditarod Sled Dog Race.

This year’s ceremonial race start will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 3 in Anchorage.

The official start of the race will be at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 4 in Willow.

Lanier, 71, is a retired physician who first ran the Iditarod in 1979. He has never scratched and is a 14-time finisher whose best showing was 18th in 2004.

And when they came to Jericho and as He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus the son of Timaeus sat by the wayside begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son of David; have mercy on me. Even a blind man can tell when he is walking in the Son.

— Mark 10: 46-47

Col. Gary Agron ended his three-decade military career in the same place he grew up — Alaska.

A 1977 East High graduate, Agron retired Feb. 10 as U.S. Army Alaska chief of staff on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

“That was a great position,” Agron said Feb. 21.

As a boy, Agron’s father, Alfredo, brought him to watch mock battles at Fort Richardson. Agron said he was honored to end his career in his hometown.

“It was a gratifying way to leave the Army,” he said.

PAKTYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan — Afghan Border Police and Afghan Uniformed Police from all areas of Regional Command-East have been coming to Forward Operating Base Gardez to learn how to work on vehicles and, more importantly, with each other, at a class taught by the U.S. soldiers of the Maintenance Platoon, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment, Task Force Spartan.

The course is just one more example of how U.S. forces are helping the different Afghan National Security Forces to work with each other.

Eagle River boys basketball opens the Cook Inlet Conference tournament today (Thursday, March 1) against No. 4 seed West at 6 p.m. on the Eagles’ home court.

Head coach Fred Young knows West will be looking for revenge after the fifth-seeded Wolves pounded the Eagles by 22 points just 12 days ago.

“They’re gonna come out pretty hard,” Young said.

While the recent win over West is encouraging, Young said, a trip to state is on the line every game of the conference tournament because only two Class 4A berths are guaranteed from the CIC.

Both Birchwood Christian School (BCS) basketball teams have a chance to make history by becoming the first Warriors team to earn a Class 2A state tournament berth.

The boys enter today’s (Thursday, March 1) Central Interior Conference tournament as the No. 1 seed with a perfect 10-0 conference record and receive a first-round bye.

The team’s hard work has given them success all season and will be key in the Warriors’ quest to earn the Central Interior’s lone state berth, assistant coach Brad Rud said.

Chugiak’s girls will look to avenge their regular season finale loss to Bartlett today (Thursday, March 1) when the two square off in the Cook Inlet Conference tournament opener at 4 p.m. at West High.

The Mustangs’ lackluster performance led to a 37-34 loss to the Golden Bears on Feb. 24, Chugiak head coach Ryan Hales said.

“We just weren’t in the game,” he said. “We kind of went into the game a little overconfident.”

Chugiak-Eagle River wrestlers have established themselves as kings of the middle school mat.

At the Anchroage School District City Championships held Feb. 22-23 at Goldenview Middle School in South Anchorage, Mirror Lake’s Coyotes won the overall team championship, while the Gruening Colts won more individual titles than any other school.

The 700-mile trip from Eagle River to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, site of the 2012 Arctic Winter Games, won’t be foreign to Team Alaska’s speedskaters.

Whitehorse is the closest town with a short track to Eagle River’s McDonald Center, which houses the only short track in the state, according to Team Alaska speedskating head coach Peter Haeussler, of Chugiak. The seven-member team is familiar with Whitehorse’s rink and its competitors, he said.

“A lot of kids are looking forward to going to Whitehorse,” Haeussler said.

A meeting to discuss adding more equipment to the playground in Eagle River Town Square will be held tonight from 6 to 7:30 in the Parks and Recreation Community room, 12001 Business Blvd., suite 170.

Eagle River Rotary is spearheading the project, but the meeting is open to the public, said Rotary president Tonya Gamble.

“Anyone who wants to learn more about it is welcome,” she said.

Gamble said Rotary is working with the city and FOCUS Inc. to install four new pieces of equipment this summer.

A decision whether or not to close the deteriorating Eklutna River Bridge will be made in the next month, Anchorage Municipal Manager George Vakalis said during a public meeting Feb. 23 at Mirror Lake Middle School.

Vakalis said a decision needs to come before the bridge sees increased traffic from summer tourists.

Chugiak High’s ProStart teams competed at the annual Alaska ProStart competitions in Management and Culinary Arts on Feb. 18-19 at the UAA Cuddy Center in Anchorage, where contestants from around Alaska gathered to compete and earn the privilege of representing Alaska at the National ProStart Competition.

 From left to right, Mirror Lake Middle School students Tanner Pillars, Madeline Kunkel, David Stockhouse and Adam Prewitt pose in costume from their production of the “Wizard of Oz,” which was performed for the school’s the student body on Feb. 24-25 and for the community on Feb. 25. Margaret Barber and Tom Soper were the co-directors of the play, which included a cast of 40 students. The students practiced for more than two months for the production.

Beetle outbreak reaches epidemic levels

A report by the U.S. Forest Service detailing spruce bark beetle damage in the Eagle River and Eklutna areas showed the areas were among the hardest-hit in the state, according to a story on the front page of the March 6, 1997 Alaska Star.

According to the story, the Forest Service said the Eagle River Valley had seen the area of trees infested by the pesky insects grow from 2,300 acres in 1996 to about 5,800 acres in ’97 — a 250 percent increase.

2 cups leftover cooked salmon
½ cup chopped mushrooms (fresh or canned)
6 tablespoons shortening
1 ½ tablespoons flour
1 ½ cups milk
2 egg yolks
½ teaspoon Worchestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice

(Note to our readers: Many of our articles for this column come directly from the old Knik Arm Courier, which was this area’s weekly newspaper in the 1960s. Occasionally, an article of historical interest is too long for our space, or needs some clarification for today’s residents. Then the historical society relies on a small group of locals who meet weekly with author Darlene Halverson to improve their writing skills. Calling themselves the “Memory Retrievers,” they will be acknowledged whenever they have lent a hand in preparing our articles.)

Not a lot of celebrities pass through Eagle River, so when Erik Estrada visited a couple local businesses recently, folks lined up to have their picture taken with the former star of the hit television show CHiPs.

“I grew up watching him,” said Eagle River’s Ken Dunlop, who had his picture taken with the TV icon during Estrada’s appearance at the Eagle River Elks Lodge on Feb. 24.


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