Matt Tunseth

The start of the high school track and field season is always a slippery season. With outdoor tracks still covered in snow and ice, coaches have to scramble to get in workouts and figure out where their athletes will work best as the spring wears on.

“This year it seems we’re pretty far behind the others,” said Eagle River coach Matt Turner, who said his school’s track likely won’t be usable for at least another week or more.

“We’re never going to get out there,” Turner quipped.

Talent overflowed the building Friday as the din of orchestral music floated out the doors of Eagle River High School and into the bright evening sun; on the sidewalk outside the school, pastel chalk drawings welcomed visitors to the school, which for one night each year transforms into an after-hours hot spot that’s almost too cool for school.

Put on by the school’s Fine Arts department, the annual Fine Arts Cabaret is a springtime celebration of the talent department chair Jacob Bera sees every day at the school on Yosemite Drive.  

Nobody can say Dr. Deena Bishop doesn’t like to get her hands dirty.

The Anchorage School District superintendent got an impromptu lesson in pottery -- and persistence -- Thursday, April 5 when she stopped by an Eagle River High School classroom to help honor a civics-minded fine arts student.

“This was my thrill of the year so far!” Bishop exclaimed after ERHS student Analisa Cederberg helped the superintendent “throw” a small bowl on a potter’s wheel in the school’s second-floor arts room.

Dick Griffith is a doer, not a talker.

“I don’t know anything,” said Griffith, a longtime Eagle River Nature Center benefactor and a living legend among Alaska’s outdooring set.

The gruff Griffith knows a hell of a lot more than he lets on. The 90-year-old “adventurer’s adventurer” has compiled an almost unreal resume of rambling during his nine decades, including legendary pioneering trips down the Grand Canyon, death-defying treks across the Arctic and a laundry list of exploits in the Alaska backcountry.

As it looks to expand its footprint in Alaska, GCI will continue to spend money on improvements to telecommunications infrastructure statewide.

“It does take a significant investment,” the company’s senior director of corportate communications told the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce at its luncehon Jan. 17 in downtown Eagle River.

Covered in bandages like a mummy, Kolton Hala just couldn’t help himself when a server at Garcia’s Mexican restaurant in Eagle River delivered the customary hot-plate warning before serving him and his friends last year.

“I said, ‘It’s okay, I’ve been burned before,’” recalled the Chugiak teen, who suffered third-degree burns to his upper body and face in the fall of 2016.

Hala lost a lot that October night — he spent a month in ICU, left school and missed out on starting a new job — but his sense of humor has remained fully intact.

There’s been a bit of a changing of the guard on the Eagle River Community Council, which has seen the departure of two long-time members in recent months and the election of a new president in January.

At its Jan. 10 meeting, the council held elections for one two expiring and one vacant seat on the seven-member board of directors. Michael Foster decided to run for re-election, but Michael Melielo decided he would step aside after two members of the audience expressed interest in running.

A lifelong area resident has been hired to fill out the staff at the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber announced last week that Britney Olsen will serve as associate director, the second new hire in a month at the chamber, which in December named Debbie Rinckey its new executive director.

“With the support of the Chamber Members, the new Directors will bring a new energy and innovation while still ensuring that we hold true with a strong sense of tradition,” the chamber said in a press release.

Eagle River residents will likely vote on whether to annex the Eagle River Valley into the existing Anchorage Fire Service Area.

Anchorage Assemblywoman Amy Demboski introduced an ordinance to call for the vote at the assembly’s Jan. 9 meeting. The ordinance will get a public hearing Jan. 23 and, if approved, would add the item to the April 3 municipal election ballot.

With a full slate of preseason tournaments now complete, local prep basketball teams are settling in for the regular season. Cook Inlet Conference play began the week after teams returned from holiday break, with each team set to play 14 conference games (two against each of the CIC’s other seven teams) between now and the end of February.

Here’s a rundown of each of the four Class 4A varsity teams from Chugiak-Eagle River

GIRLS

Chugiak looks to reload with new talent

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