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That blanket of smoke hanging over the Eagle River Valley recently was actually part of an effort to keep homes in the valley from catching fire.

Crews from the Alaska Division of Forestry spent the week burning piles of trees and brush from a four-acre tract of land near the Driftwood Bay subdivision, a dense grouping of homes that clings to the side of the forested valley. The burns were the final step in a unique partnership between area homeowners and the government designed to reduce the risk of wildfires.

Three Alaska Air National Guardsmen received the Bronze Star Medal with Valor for their actions in Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011. Tech. Sgt. Shane J. Hargis, Staff Sgt. Theodore M. Sierocinski and Cpt. Koaalii C. “Koa” Bailey were honored during an award ceremony Oct. 13 on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

Here’s a look at each man:


Cpt. Koaalii Bailey

Cpt. Bailey served as a combat rescue officer with the 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, 455th Expeditionary Operations Group, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing.

With Halloween nearing, now is the time when we intentionally frighten ourselves — whether it be entering into the pitch dark unknown of a haunted house or curling up on the couch for a horror movie marathon.

If the latter is to your liking, look close enough and you might recognize a Chugiak High senior.

Wolfgang Danger was one of the stunt performers in the recently released film “Killjoy Goes to Hell.”

Zombies, princesses, superheroes and professional athletes packed Eagle River High for the annual fall carnival Friday, Oct. 19.

A large crowd of toddlers to adults participated in games, chowed down on sweets and — only the bravest — entered the haunted house.

The throng of early Halloweeners was larger than last year’s turnout, said Haley Carr, who’s in student government.

“It’s pretty booming,” she said. “A lot of participation, which is always good.”

Chugiak-Eagle River is suffering from a lack of taxi service.

That’s what the Anchorage Transportation Commission determined after taking testimony from local residents and elected officials during a public hearing Monday, Oct. 15 in Eagle River.

“There’s no question in my mind that the area is woefully underserved,” Commission Chair Andrew Tierney said two hours into the meeting.

The Spartans of 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, based at JBER, officially relinquished responsibility and operations of Forward Operating Base Salerno, and the Khowst and Paktya provinces, to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air-Assault), Task Force Rakkasan, based at Fort Campbell, Ky., in a transfer of authority ceremony Oct. 6.

Local seniors peppered U.S. Sen. Mark Begich with a variety of questions when the senator popped into the Chugiak-Eagle River Senior Center for a visit on Wednesday, Oct. 10.

In a 45-minute question-and-answer session, Begich touched on a number of issues important to older Americans, including the future of Medicare and Social Security, potential changes to estate taxes and the perception that Congress is “broken.”

“It is somewhat dysfunctional,” Begich said when asked about the current divisive political landscape in Washington, D.C.

Even cool temperatures and snowfall couldn’t keep families from getting a behind-the-scenes glimpse of life as a firefighter.

Parents and plastic-fire-helmet-clad children toured the Chugiak Volunteer Fire Department’s Station 31 during its open house Saturday, Oct. 13. State reps. Anna Fairclough, Bill Stoltze and Dan Saddler also toured the station on the Old Glenn Highway in Chugiak.

The annual event is held in October in recognition of Fire Prevention Month.

It’s time to get minds on Munching.

The Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber’s annual Merry Merchant Munch is coming up fast, and the deadline to be included in the chamber’s “Munch Map” is coming up even faster.

Businesses who wish to participate in the event — which includes a tour of local businesses who hand out tasty treats to Munchers — need to let the chamber know they want to be on the map by Monday, Oct. 22.

“We really need to know if your business wants to participate as early as possible,” said chamber special events director Merry Braham.

One morning a few weeks ago while reading the newspaper, I was disturbed by high-pitched cries coming from outside of my house. At first I thought it was one of my neighbor’s dogs. “If it is,” I thought, “it sounds like that lynx I saw recently has gotten a hold of him.”