It’s meeting time.

A flurry of public meetings are planned in the first half of January as groups return to regular schedules following the holiday break and planning begins for the municipal budget process.

On Wednesday at 6 p.m., the Anchorage Assembly will hold a special public forum at Chugiak High to discuss Anchorage’s fiscal situation. The meeting was called in order to gauge public opinion on the upcoming budget, according to Assembly Chair Felix Rivera.

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):


Helen Wilson used a precision performance in Vermont to punch her ticket to Switzerland.

The Eagle River biathlete dominated the U.S. Biathlon Association Junior Trials Dec. 28-31, winning two of her three races to qualify for her fourth IBU Youth & Junior World Biathlon Championships to be held later this month in Switzerland.

Reports of Gruening Middle School’s demise are greatly exaggerated.

That was the message delivered last week by engineers and senior Anchorage School District officials who led community members on a tour of the earthquake-damaged 125,000-square-foot facility in Eagle River last week. Not only can the school be rebuilt better than it was before, they said, it also stood up to the magnitude 7.1 earthquake that caused millions in damage on Nov. 30, 2018.

The University of Alaska Anchorage held its fall semester graduation ceremony Sunday, Dec. 15 at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage to honor more than 1,100 graduates from the Anchorage campus.

This commencement speaker was Rose Kruger, a UAA graduate who teaches in a German immersion program in Anchorage. The ceremony also presented honorary doctors to former Cook Inlet Region Inc. president Margaret Brown and Superior Court justice Peter Michalski.

The following students from Chugiak-Eagle River and JBER received degrees or certificates this fall:

EAGLE RIVER — When Ron Wehrli opened Eagle River Sawmill & Kiln in June of 2018, he had a newly constructed kiln and a sawmill he bought because after years of working in the construction industry, he liked the idea of having his own tools. Other than that, he had no clear idea of what he was getting into.

There will be a community New Year’s Eve fireworks show Tuesday, Dec. 31 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Lions Park in Eagle River.

The ninth annual show presented by ACF Church will begin at 8 p.m. but there will be food trucks and warming fires in advance of the show.

The park is located at the intersection of Eagle River Road and Eagle River Loop Road, across from Walmart.

The Eagle River Lions Club will host a free community Christmas dinner from noon to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 25 at the Lions Clubhouse located at the intersection of Eagle River Road and Eagle River Loop Road (across from Walmart) in Eagle River.

The event is open to all and will include a full Christmas dinner with all the trimmings.

Alaska Nordic Racing skiers earned three age group victories Saturday and Sunday during the opening weekend of Besh Cup skiing at Kincaid Park.

On Saturday, the local ski club’s Helen Wilson placed first among U20 women and Adrianna Proffitt was second in the division during classic sprint races, with both skiers making the women’s A final. Wilson placed fourth overall and Proffitt was fifth.

Wilson is an Eagle River High grad currntly a freshman at UAA; Proffitt is a senior at Chugiak High.

Chugiak/Eagle River used a scoring machine and a brick wall to upset Dimond/West Friday in an Anchorage Girls High School Hockey League clash at the Dempsey Anderson Ice Arena in Anchorage.

Rian Runyan scored all five CER goals — including the game-winner with 2:54 left to break a 4-4 tie — and goalie Morgan Richards made 38 saves to preserve the win. Runyan has scored 13 goals this season for the girls team, which improved to 3-4-0 heading into the holiday break.

Chugiak came galloping out of the gates with a championship title at the 40th Annual Service Cougar Tip Off boys basketball tournament Saturday in Anchorage.

The Mustangs knocked off Class 3A Mt. Edgecumbe 52-39 on the final day of the six-team, round robin tournament. Chugiak opened the tournament with a 68-33 win over Class 2A Effie Kokrine on Thursday and beat defending Class 2A champion Tikigaq 61-57 on Friday.

Ashley Andrews didn’t win Saturday night but she still made history.

The Eagle River junior came up just short in her bid to become the Wolves’ first state girls wrestling tournament champion, losing 9-4 to top seed Elizabeth Schumaker of North Pole in the 112-pound finals at the ASAA/First National Bank Alaska Girls Wrestling Tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage.

Two days of tough luck turned into a chance to play spoiler for the Chugiak girls basketball team, which held off tournament host Wasilla 51-45 Saturday on the final day of a loaded Doc Larson’s Roundball Classic at Wasilla High.

Chugiak lost its first two games by a combined five points to an Outside foe and a Class 3A heavyweight before knocking off the perennial powerhouse Warriors in a rematch of last year’s Class 4A third place game — a game that also went in favor of the Mustangs.

Luke Momblow put the icing on a sweet victory for Chugiak Friday night, completing a hat trick with an empty net goal to cap the Mustangs’ 5-3 Cook Inlet Conference win over Eagle River in front of a standing-room-only crowd at the McDonald Center in Eagle River.

Momblow’s final tally came with just six seconds left in a back-and-forth “Battle of the Bridges” game between the rival schools and sent the Mustangs into the holiday break in a virtual tie with the Wolves for fourth place in the CIC standings.

Nothing could stop Daniel Niebles this season.

For the past four years, the Chugiak senior has been relentless in his quest to win a state wrestling championship, and that determination paid off Saturday in the form of a state championship in the final match of a stellar high school career.

Niebles capped an undefeated season by rolling to a 10-2 major decision victory over Thunder Mountain’s Nick Tipton in the 189-pound finals at the ASAA/First National Bank Alaska Division I State Wrestling Tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage.

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.

Senators on Tuesday approved a defense spending bill that prohibits the Department of Defense from studying base closures in Alaska through 2020.

U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan praised the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act in a Tuesday statement. Sen. Sullivan, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the bill “provides support for Alaska’s military priorities.”

The DOD did not seek any Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) actions this year, but the new bill would specifically prohibit them in 2020.

Chugiak and Eagle River will renew their rink rivalry Friday, Dec. 20 in the final Cook Inlet Conference game for both teams before Christmas break.

Both will enter the 7:15 p.m. game at the McDonald Center in form, with the Wolves having won seven of their previous nine games and the Mustangs coming off a successful road trip to Fairbanks.

Eagle River currently has a 3-3-1 record in the Cook Inlet Conference, just a half-game ahead of Chugiak (3-4-0). The Wolves play Service on Thursday.


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