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Students at Willow Creek Elementary will be a little warmer this holiday season — and they have the Birchwood ABC student council to thank.

Birchwood recently held a clothing drive and donated coats, gloves, hats, scarves and snow pants to Willow Creek on Friday, Nov. 30.

The clothing drive is reflective of principal Tim Godfrey’s focus on character building.

“I think that’s very important,” he said. “We’re trying to focus on the nature of generosity and giving.”

Local Anchorage School District schools saw a boost this year, as enrollment is up at each level throughout Chugiak-Eagle River.

Excluding Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, eight of the 12 local schools saw increases from the 2011-12 school year — with total enrollment up at the elementary, middle and high schools.

Eagle River High saw the largest increase, adding nearly 60 students from its total of 835 that were enrolled as of September 2011.

“We’ve been consistently just over 900 for most of the fall,” said principal Marty Lang.

In the December 2012/January 2013 issue of Alaska magazine, a story on page 64 called “Hunting the Mighty Cockle” included an error.

That story incorrectly suggested that cockles, an Alaskan shellfish, can be harvested and eaten based on the time of year. It stated “it is only safe to dig cockles in the late fall and winter, when the water temperature is too cold to allow blooming of the algae that cause paralysis shellfish poisoning.”

Eagle River’s Suellyn Wright Novak, a longtime advocate for veterans issues who currently serves as executive director of the Alaska Veterans Museum, was awarded the Governor’s Veterans Advocacy Award during a ceremony on Veterans Day.

Rep. Anna Fairclough, of Eagle River, nominated Novak for the award. In her nomination letter, Fairclough cited Novak’s years of service to the Veterans community.

Suspected serial killer Israel Keyes stashed weapons and other items in Eagle River for use in future criminal acts, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

Keyes, the man who Anchorage Police said earlier this year kidnapped and killed barista Samantha Koenig, died of an apparent suicide Sunday at the Anchorage Jail.

The FBI said Monday. Dec. 3 it believes Keyes was a serial killer responsible for at least eight deaths nationwide, and the agency is seeking any information anyone might have about him or his extensive travels.

An early-morning fire Nov. 27 gutted the North Juanita Loop home where three men beat to death Harvey “Charlie” Albright in 2010.

Another fire consumed a nearby motor home just 30 minutes later.

Anchorage Fire Department officials investigating the house fire are calling it suspicious: the power was off and nobody was living there since the previous tenants got evicted a few weeks ago.

Investigators say they have no suspects yet. They can’t say whether the two fires are related, but they’re looking into that too.

No one was hurt in either fire.

There’s going green — and then there’s the Karns family.

Curt and Cindee Karns’ Eagle River home epitomizes sustainable living. Located just two miles from the Eagle River Nature Center, their house not only limits waste, it turns waste into a resource.

The south-facing front of the house contains a large solarium complete with wetlands, a koi pond, a brook and small waterfall. Its 24 large pane glass windows allow the sun to naturally warm the solarium.

Suspected serial killer Israel Keyes stashed weapons and other items in Eagle River for use in future criminal acts, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

Keyes — who Anchorage Police said earlier this year kidnapped and killed Anchorage barista Samantha Koenig, 18 — died of an apparent suicide Sunday, Dec. 2 at the Anchorage Jail. Following his death, the FBI said Keyes had admitted to them he killed numerous people across the country, financing his killing spree with bank robberies.

Lauren Fritz, a 2006 graduate of Eagle River High and a member of the Alaska Pacific University Elite ski team, has been named to the United States roster for the upcoming World Cup sprint races in Quebec.

Fritz earned the spot after finishing second at the SuperTour classic sprint race on Saturday, Dec. 1 in Bozeman, Mont. The U.S. Ski Team announced World Cup rosters for Quebec races Sunday night.

Chugiak High is kicking off the holiday season in classic style.

“A Christmas Carol” opens today (Thursday, Nov. 29) at the Steve Primis Auditorium at 7 p.m. The play runs through Saturday, Dec. 1. Tickets are $6 for adults, $5 for students and $3 for children.

Charles Dickens’ famous novella about crotchety Ebenezer Scrooge who’s visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future is a production director Chris Rees has wanted to put on for some time.

“It’s a play I’ve always wanted to direct,” he said.

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