Matt Tunseth

It’s no secret attendance at high school hockey games isn’t what it used to be.

Unless we’re talking Chugiak-Eagle River.

“It’s night and day, isn’t it?” said Chugiak head coach Rodney Wild after his hockey team pulled out a 3-2 Cook Inlet Conference nailbiter over its biggest rival in front of a spirited crowd inside the McDonald Center Thursday night.

“What’s so unpleasant about being drunk?”

“You ask a glass of water.”

— “A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”

Plans to build a new water transmission line through Birchwood will move forward after the Anchorage Assembly voted Thursday to reject locals’ concerns about the potential for the planned 24-inch pipeline to negatively impact the neighborhood.

At 9:41 p.m. Thursday, with the night’s tension finally bled from the room like steam from a pressure cooker, the Eagle River Community Council quietly adjourned its final — and most heated — meeting of the year to the delight of the dozen or so people still in attendance. Municipal parks and rec director John Rodda dutifully crossed the room and began helping stack chairs, having spent much of the past hour waiting patiently in the doorway as the forum passed then pulled away from its 9 p.m. curfew.

Nobody ever said wrestling was easy; if they did, you’d know they never wrestled.

Minutes after losing the final match of his high school career, Eagle River’s Grant Burningham was still able to crack a smile despite sporting cuts to his forehead and lips.

“I feel pretty good,” he said after going down fighting in a 6-0 loss to Colony’s Trace Severson Saturday on Day 2 of the ASAA/First National Bank Alaska State Division I High School Wrestling Tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage.

One by one, nearly 20 people stepped to the microphone inside the Anchorage Assembly hall Monday night to sing different renditions of the same tune.

Their chorus didn’t fall on deaf ears.

“I’m just glad someone listened to what we’ve been saying,” said Sandy Quimby, who was all smiles after the Anchorage Planning and Zoning Commission voted to postpone action on a widely panned proposal to increase allowable density housing on a parcel of municipal land near the McDonald Center in Eagle River.

Josh Robles was going to have to wait another year for his shot at a conference championship. With less than a minute left in his finals match Saturday at the Cook Inlet Conference tournament, the Eagle River 113-pounder trailed East’s Octavius McCleskey by eight points and was running out of gas.

“I was tired, I was like, ‘I don’t know if I can do it,’” he said.

But Robles wasn’t about to quit, either, and when McCleskey made a small mistake, Robles pounced.

“I just saw an opportunity and I took it,” he said.

Land use and crime are the hottest topics facing Chugiak-Eagle River residents this month, with several key meetings and issues on the docket at a flurry of meetings scheduled between now and the year-end holidays. Among the biggest are ongoing conflicts between the municipal officials keen on more development in Chugiak-Eagle River and residents who’d prefer things stay much the same in the semi-rural neighborhoods north of Anchorage.

Here’s a rundown of some of the key issues facing local community councils and boards this month:

Though the lights have dimmed at the Alaska Fine Arts Academy, the Eagle River arts organization isn’t closing the curtains entirely.

Call it an intermission.

“We’re kind of taking a sabbatical as an organization,” said Lailani Cook, who recently stepped down as the group’s executive director.

AFAA vacated its longtime downtown Eagle River home at the end of October, and since then the group has been winding down its ongoing arts classes — most of which end this month.

Hundreds of holiday revelers packed Eagle River Friday and Saturday for the annual Christmastime kick-off known as the Merry Merchant Munch and Winter Wonderland celebration.

The event got underway Friday morning as a trickle of shoppers checked out businesses participating in the Munch, and annual shop-and-dine event in which local retailers hand out holiday treats and decorate for the season. By afternoon, those numbers had turned into a flood as families went from business to business sampling goodies and checking out the downtown business district.

By the start of the New Year, the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce is likely to be heading in a new direction.

Chamber president Colin Fay said Monday the local business organization is in the final stages of its search for an executive director to replace the outgoing Dana Thorp-Patterson.

“It’s going excellent,” Fay said. “We interviewed eight candidates over the long weekend, all of whom were highly qualified.”

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