Matt Tunseth

Negotiations between the Anchorage School District and the federal government over funding for damage sustained by Anchorage schools in the November 2018 earthquake could take months or years and may result in the district turning down millions in disaster relief funds.

The biggest sticking point is insurance. According to ASD Chief Operating Officer Tom Roth, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) wants to require the district to carry earthquake insurance “in perpetuity” if it accepts federal reimbursement for certain repairs.

Temperatures were below zero Wednesday night outside the Steve Primis Auditorium in Chugiak, where public reaction to a trio of new tax proposals presented by Anchorage Assembly members wasn’t much warmer.

“I’m for no taxes,” Chugiak’s Jo Al Hintz told assembly members in what would prove to be a common theme among those who testified. “I don’t want any taxes — you spend the money you’ve got and then it’s over.”

While 2019 was a year of rebuilding in Eagle River, 2020 promises to be one of renewal as several businesses plan to open or reopen their doors downtown in the first months of the year.

Planet Fitness franchisee Dan Afrasiabi hopes his new business on the Old Glenn Highway can help energize the main drag through town.

“Hopefully we’ll kick-start that,” said Afrasiabi, whose gym is set to open in early February.

Editor’s note: The year 2019 was an eventful one in Chugiak-Eagle River, where efforts to rebuild following the 2018 earthquake dominated the headlines. Other big news included continued hot weather in Southcentral Alaska and the emergence of a renewed effort to separate Chugiak-Eagle River from the Municipality of Anchorage. Here’s a look back at the headlines from the past 12 months (or click on the headline to read more):

JANUARY

A sometimes-emotional debate about formalizing relations between the Municipality of Anchorage and the Native Village of Eklutna ended with a vote by the Anchorage Assembly on Tuesday to spend the next year exploring ways to bring the two groups closer together.

The debate centered around whether or not to delay the resolution, which Assemblymember Crystal Kennedy of Eagle River said could have “unintended consequences.”

Kennedy said she was not against having a conversation with the tribal government, but initially had concerns about a lack of public input.

Birchwood Community Council members voted Wednesday to ask the Alaska Attorney General’s office to oppose the Native Village of Eklutna in its lawsuit against the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Birchwood residents are celebrating after a controversial project that would have run a water transmission line through their community has been scrapped.

“There are no plans for AWWU to move forward,” Gretchen Wehmhoff told the Birchwood Community Council Wednesday.

Students in Brian Mason’s class at Chugiak High didn’t ace their big test Tuesday. They butchered it.

Mason brought a cow moose carcass to class in the back of his pickup truck that morning, and for the rest of the day his students went to work de-boning, separating, grinding and packaging the animal. The bloody business served as a way to immerse the World Discovery Seminar program students in Alaska cultural traditions, give them a basic understanding of anatomy and teach them practical life skills.

Holiday spirit burned hot on a chilly Friday night in Eagle River last week as the annual Winter Wonderland and Merry Merchant Munch events returned to fill Town Square Park with children, community and cheer.

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