Matt Tunseth

By Matt Tunseth

Chugiak-Eagle River Star

Spring sports are having a hard time getting in gear.

From discus throwers having to avoid cars to soccer players playing on “ratty” indoor turf harder than a gym floor, this year’s late thaw has had a chilling effect on athletes in Chugiak-Eagle River.

“It has been extra challenging this year,” said Eagle River girls soccer coach Laura Gardner earlier this week.

Josh Saylor is an excellent student at Mirror Lake Middle School — but that doesn’t mean he’s not just a regular kid. When asked his favorite part about participating in the 2017 Alaska State Spelling Bee, Saylor had an answer any sixth-grader could relate to.

“One thing I like is I get to miss school for an entire day,” Saylor said during an interview at the school earlier this week.

Fred Dyson’s retirement is over.

The former assemblyman and state legislator cruised to victory in his bid to return to the Anchorage Assembly Tuesday night, unofficially picking up nearly 50 percent of the vote in the four-way race to replace Bill Starr, who was prohibited from running again due to term limits.

Once the election is certified, Dyson will join Amy Demboski as the Chugiak-Eagle River area’s two representatives on the 11-member governing body.

His first order of business will be getting back up to speed on assembly business, particularly finance.

Success didn’t come overnight for Vanessa Bryan. But when it came knocking, she was ready.

“Honestly, I’ve worked my entire life for this moment,” said Bryan, a musician from Eagle River who recently joined Tony winner Idina Menzel on tour as a backup singer and guitar player.

It wasn’t a Cinderella story, but the final chapter in Chugiak’s girls basketball season provided a happy ending as the Mustangs claimed fourth place Saturday with a 44-41 win over Lathrop at the ASAA/First National Bank Alaska Class 4A State Basketball Tournament at the Wells Fargo Center in Anchorage.

“We’ve had a phenomenal season,” said Chugiak coach Ryan Hales, whose squad bounced back from an opening round loss to East with back-to-back wins over Ketchikan and the Malemutes.

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.