Matt Tunseth

Fit and ready for action, the Army’s only airborne brigade in the Pacific now has a new leader.

Col. Paul Larson assumed command of the Army’s 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division during a ceremony Friday, March 24 on Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson. Larson takes over from Col. Scott Green, who was credited with making a number of improvements to the brigade’s fitness during his 28-month stint leading the “Spartan” brigade.

“His troopers are eating healthier than ever,” said Maj. Gen. Bryan Owens, commander of U.S. Army Alaska.

Michael Kocher’s death at the hands of police near Denver, Colorado earlier this month was the final chapter in a story that had become increasingly tragic as Kocher descended into a world of drugs and psychological problems.

With spring in full swing, things are heating up on the sled dog trails at Beach Lake.

On Saturday, the Chugiak Dog Mushers Association held a pair of races under sunny skies at the trail system off Birchwood Loop in Chugiak. Sprint mushers opened the day with the 10-dog, 10-mile Eagle River Championship, followed by the club’s first “Friends of CDMA” race since 2014.

A cordial municipal candidates forum Monday night featured few fireworks but did manage to highlight some differences between two of the four people running for the vacant Chugiak-Eagle River seat on the Anchorage Assembly.

Candidates Fred Dyson and Gretchen Wehmhoff expressed similar views on several issues, with many of their differences coming down to style.

“I think Fred and I both care about the community,” Wehmhoff said to the dozen or so people who attended the forum, which was sponsored by the ECHO News and held at the Chugiak-Eagle River Senior Center.

University of Alaska president Dr. Jim Johnsen will be the first to tell you he’s got a lot of work to do.

“We have some challenges,” Johnsen acknowledged during a speech to the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, March 15 at the ER Ale House in Eagle River.

Among the myriad issues facing the university are declining enrollment, state funding cuts and the far-flung nature of a system that includes main campuses in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau and smaller campuses across the state.

Rod Perry needs to come up with nearly a quarter of a million dollars in less than a month.

He’s faced longer odds.

“If not me, who?” asked Perry, one of 22 men who ran the first Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in 1973.

Chugiak girls basketball coach Ryan Hales has built one of the state’s top basketball programs since arriving on Birchwood Loop in 2010. Now he’s got the hardware to prove it.

On Wednesday, Hales was named the Alaska Class 4A girls Coach of the Year by the Alaska Association of Basketball Coaches.

“It’s pretty cool to be recognized by your peers,” said Hales, whose Mustangs will play for a state title next week at the ASAA/First National Bank Alaska state tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage.

Think your workout is tough? Think again.

Firefighters from the Chugiak Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department have been running up mountains and climbing stairs for months in anticipation of one of the most punishing charity fundraising races around.

With the prep basketball undercard now complete, Dimond girls coach Jim Young is ready for the main event.

“I tell my team there’s three seasons — the regular season and regions are the first two seasons,” said Dimond coach Jim Young after his team’s 72-51 runaway win over Chugiak Saturday in the finals of the Cook Inlet Conference tournament at West High. “Season three is state.”

Chugiak’s girls basketball team cleared its biggest hurdle to date Friday — and in the process, lept into the state tournament.

“We needed that one,” said Mustangs coach Ryan Hales moments after his squad’s scrappy 54-48 win over East in the Cook Inlet Conference tournament semifinals at West High.