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The holiday season offers a chance to spend time with friends and family, exchange gifts and take a break from our hectic schedules.

It’s also a time of increased risk for fires.

With a full house of guests, it’s easy to leave the kitchen unattended, said James Gray, fire marshal for the Anchorage Fire Department. But, he said, people need to be cognizant of what they’re cooking.

“Don’t forget about what you’ve got on the stove,” Gray said.

Dear Santa,

I am a first grader in Homestead. My birthday is on May 17. I hope you have a good Christmas.




Hi Santa,

My name is Ashley. I am a kid from Homestead and this is what I want — a bag full of make-up and high heel shoes.




Hello Santa,

I have never moved a behavior card! My name is Nolan. I’m 7. I would like a spy watch please.




Dear Santa,

Need to know something about the Army in Alaska? For nearly four decades, there’s been one sure way to find an answer:

Just ask Chuck.

That won’t be the case for long. After nearly 49 years with the Army, Charles “Chuck” Canterbury is retiring from his position as the U.S. Army Alaska’s Media Relations Officer — a position he’s held for the past 38 years.

“It’s been quite a run,” said Canterbury, 73, during a retirement ceremony held Dec. 13 on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

The 25-year-old Eagle River man charged in a 2010 murder case involving his childhood friend is back in jail on a probation violation — his second in six months.

Anchorage police said Kennith “Kenny” Upton, 25, ran afoul of an alcohol ban and then struggled with the police officers who arrested him on Dec. 8.

The arrest marks the latest twist in an increasingly bizarre saga.

Students and teachers at Gruening Middle School enjoy the eighth-grade class’ annual submersible remote operated vehicle (ROV) challenge for the same reason — no textbooks.

The project doesn’t require students to conduct hours of research using multiple books. However, there’s also no cheat sheet available should a problem arise.

“They can’t Google the answer how to fix it,” technology collaborator Greg Barta said. “That’s the best part. They use their brain to solve it.”

Col. Matthew W. McFarlane assumed command of the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division from outgoing commander Col. Morris T. Goins during a change of command ceremony held Dec. 5 at Hangar One, here.

The event was attended by many dignitaries and family members from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson including the commander of Alaskan Command, Air Force Lt. Gen. Stephen L. Hoog and U.S. Army Alaska commander, Maj. Gen. Michael X. Garrett.

Avoiding avalanches is all about awareness.

“You gotta have your head in the game,” advised avalanche expert Blaine Smith, a trails planner for Alaska State Parks.

A former mountain guide, Smith stopped by the Eagle River Nature Center on Dec. 9 to give a seminar on avalanche safety basics. The most important thing to remember, he said, is to learn what avalanche-prone areas look like.

“There’s certain terrain that avalanches happen in,” he said.

Stryker Brigade soldiers from the U.S. Army's 5th Squadron, 1st Calvary Regiment stationed at Fort Wainwright will be conducting training on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson through Dec. 12, the Army announced this week.

Small arms fire, large caliber weapons and some explosions may be heard in areas near the base while training occurs.

Questions or concerns about the training may be directed to the U.S. Army's Pubilc Affairs Office at (907) 384-1542.

On Monday, the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber announced the winners of the 2012 Merry Merchant Munch contest, which was held Nov. 31-Dec. 1 in Eagle River. A record 55 businesses participated in this year’s event. The following businesses were selected as award-winning participants:


Hometown Holiday – Pizza Man

Holiday Elegance – Alaska USA Federal Credit Union

Classic Christmas – Northrim Bank

Spirit of the Season – Credit Union 1

Merriest Merchant – Alyeska Title

Holiday Dreams – Vibe Salon

Instead of sitting down to a nice Thanksgiving meal, Todd Tarner spent the day more than 4,000 miles from his Eagle River home caring for hundreds of people left homeless by Hurricane Sandy.

Tarner and fellow Eagle River resident Donna Kenison were two of nine members of the Alaska-1 Disaster Medical Assistance Team (AK-1 DMAT) that deployed to Long Island for about two weeks last month.

The team was tasked with helping provide medical support for about 600 people in a general population shelter and dozens more with special needs.