Matt Tunseth

Eagle River’s ties to the Alaska State Council on the Arts date back generations, so it’s appropriate the state agency drew its newest executive director from the area.

Eagle River’s Andrea Noble-Pelant was officially named to lead the state agency at the end of December, making permanent a job title she’d held on an interim basis since last May.

“Arts have always been a part of my life, so this is really energizing,” Noble-Pelant said during a Dec. 31 interview at the Star offices in Eagle River.

There’s a lot more to bird watching than meets the eye.

Take finance, for example.

“The economy has a big effect,” on bird numbers, said John Abrams, a longtime Eagle River birder and one of a couple dozen volunteers who turned out for the annual Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count on New Year’s Day.

When the economy is down, birders say they see fewer birds in winter. Their hunch is that when people have less money to spend, one of the first places they save is on things like birdseed and suet.

Howling sled dogs created a welcome din over the weekend at the Chugiak Dog Mushers Association’s Beach Lake Trails, where there’s finally enough snow to set a hook.

“Every single inch counts,” CDMA vice president Kourosh Partow said in an interview Friday, Dec. 30, one day after the trails were dusted with about three inches of fresh snow.

The trails are now closed to ATV use and only open to mushers using dogsleds.

That’s good news, especially after several low-snow winters in a row.

“It’s a start,” Partow said.

Happy New Year!

We hope you had a relaxing and enjoyable holiday season and are ready for all that 2017 has in store.

The past 12 months have gotten a pretty bad rap lately. In fact, if you ask the Internet you’ll likely find thousands of memes and millions of tweets calling 2016 the “worst year ever.”

Eklutna Inc. and the Municipality of Anchorage have agreed to settle a dispute over millions of dollars claimed by the Native corporation for natural gas generated at the Anchorage Landfill and sold to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

Southcentral Alaska will have to wait until at least 2017 for its storm of the century.

On Thursday, forecasters predicted half a foot of snow would fall in the Anchorage and Eagle River areas, with a foot or more dumping on the Mat-Su. Office workers were encouraged to leave work early to avoid the rush hour carnage that was expected.

“The largest snowfall in several years is possible for portions of the Matanuska Valley” north of Anchorage, wrote the National Weather Service in a public bulletin about the storm.
Didn’t happen.

Budget crunch

The National Weather Service is predicting a major winter storm will hit Eagle River and surrounding areas beginning Thursday afternoon (Dec. 29) and continuing into Friday, Dec. 30.
According to a bulletin posted to, the service expects two to five inches in the Anchorage area, with snow totals increasing north along the Glenn Highway.
“The largest snowfall in several years is possible for portions of the Matanuska Valley,” according to the bulletin.

EAGLE RIVER -- Twenty-seven months ago, a choirgirl’s voice was silenced by a real-life “monster.” Now, the family of a 19-year-old murder victim wants the public to help them speak for her. 

“Our daughter doesn’t have a voice,” said Lonny Bower, whose daughter, Linda Anne Martz Bower, was murdered in 2014 by her ex-boyfriend. 

Bower is one of four parents whose lives were shattered on Sept. 10, 2014, when David Joseph Thomas, 28, was arrested in the parking lot of an Eagle River drug store with Linda’s dead body in the back seat of his car. 

Fresh snow fell on the Beach Lake Trails near Chugiak High School Monday, much to the delight of afternoon skiers and the man whose job it is to keep the trails looking fresh.

“This is 100 percent better than last year,” said Bill Brion, a trail groomer with the Nordic Ski Association of Alaska.