Matt Tunseth

Three of Alaska’s largest Native organizations have sent a letter questioning a July 11 Facebook post by Sen. Lora Reinbold (R-Eagle River) they say was ill-informed and inflammatory and have called on the state senator to publicly retract her statements.

Demolition work has begun at the Eagle River Lions Park tennis courts, and backers of a plan to renovate the courts have started an online fundraiser to help pay for the project.

Project coordinator Ken McCarty believes the restored tennis (and pickle ball) courts will be an asset to the community.

Massive crowds turned out for Bear Paw over the weekend as people weary of scorching temperatures and smoky skies allowed the 2019 festival to beat out dipnetting as the hottest ticket in Southcentral.

Event organizers don’t charge admission so getting hard numbers on attendance is tricky, but the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber does have one way to estimate crowd size: trash. Rinckey said the group’s Dumpsters have never before been filled by the end of the festival.

A pair of hometown racers ran to unexpected victories Saturday at the Bear Paw 5K race in Eagle River.

“I didn’t think I had a chance,” said Eagle River 16-year-old Michael Earnhart, who took the overall title in 16 minutes, 54 seconds.

At least Earnhart has been atop a podium before. Women’s race winner Hannah Booher, 21, said Saturday’s victory was a complete shocker.

“It’s the first time I’ve really won anything,” said Booher, a 2015 Chugiak High grad and former teammate of Earnhart’s on the local Alaska Nordic Racing team.

Some owners of a popular parcel of recreational land near Mt. Baldy have issued a letter rescinding recreational access, while others have listed their portion of the property for sale. The moves by Wallace Mountain Brothers and Stephanie LeProwse were expected after the owners of the land adjacent to Chugach State Park said last month they were planning to either sell or develop the land after failing to find a way to transfer it to the public.

All five members of the Chugiak-Eagle River legislative delegation have chosen to meet in Wasilla for a special session called by Gov. Mike Dunleavy rather than joining the majority of their colleagues in Juneau.

Senators Lora Reinbold (R-Eagle River) and Shelley Hughes (R-Mat-Su/Chugiak) are among four Republican senators meeting in Wasilla, while Reps. Kelly Merrick (R-Eagle River), Sharon Jackson (R-Eagle River) and Cathy Tilton (R-Mat-Su/Chugiak) will be among 15 Republican State House members to meet in the Mat-Su.

An increasingly popular way to access the backside of Mount Baldy is now closed to the public.

Recreational access passes at the private Wallace Brothers Mountain Subdivision expired July 1, and no further passes will be issued, according to the property owners. The decision means the area to the north of the main Mt. Baldy parking area is now technically off-limits to hikers. The closure does not impact the main Mt. Baldy trail, but anyone hoping to use the gently sloping gravel access road just to hiker’s left of the main trail is out of luck.

It’s cool-off season at Mirror Lake in Chugiak, where hundreds of people have been flocking to beat the heat alongside the area’s top choice for summer run in the sun.

“During the summer we try to come out here once a week,” said Chugiak’s Sarah Hansen as she watched her son, Elias, kayak on the lake, which is located at 23051 Old Glenn Highway, just off the Mirror Lake exit.

Many coaches develop a strong parental bond with their athletes, and Melissa Hall is no different.

“These two are like kids to me,” the Chugiak High track and field coach said during a National Letter of Intent signing for two of her athletes in the CHS library last month.

The audience giggled. That’s because one of the runners sitting in front of Hall was her daughter, Chugiak sprinter Reilly Hall.

“They’re laughing because one of them literally is my kid,” Hall said. “We fight and we bicker but I love her to death.”

One of Alaska’s most vet-friendly towns now has a highly visible symbol of its support for the armed forces.

A joint effort of the local chamber of commerce, garden club and numerous service organizations raised more than $11,000 to bring a giant steel star and Blue Star Memorial sign to Chief Alex Park alongside the Old Glenn Highway. The 15-by-15-foot steel star was filled with red, white and blue flowers Tuesday.

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