Zaz Hollander

WASILLA -- A unique gift of land will preserve one of Alaska’s most significant Dena’ina Athabascan settlements along the western shores of Cook Inlet near Tyonek.

The 160-acre property known as the Smith Homestead now belongs to the Native Village of Tyonek after a land donation from The Nature Conservancy. A potlatch attended by 50 to 75 people, including the organizations involved, was held in Tyonek on Wednesday to celebrate...

Zaz Hollander

PALMER -- Palmer’s city manager told employees this week that he plans to resign.

Joe Hannan told city staff on Tuesday that he plans to resign as of Sept. 1, he said Friday. The decision isn’t final. The Palmer City Council still needs to accept Hannan’s resignation. The council is expected to take up the issue at a meeting Tuesday.

Hannan has spent a year in the position. He came to Palmer from a job as city administrator for Mukilteo, Washington.

Hannan declined to describe his reasons for resigning. Palmer Mayor DeLena Johnson did not return several calls for comment this week.

Zaz Hollander

PALMER -- The Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Alaska’s fastest growing region, has eight new emergency medical responders and a bump in school funding -- all without taking property taxes to a revenue cap.

The borough Assembly Wednesday night approved a budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 after holding several public hearings in Palmer, Wasilla and Willow. The proposed budget released in late April totaled $400.9 million, though that's expected to rise with nearly two dozen amendments added by the Assembly...

Zaz Hollander

Putting an end to a case with potential statewide consequences, two Nome residents last week dropped a lawsuit they filed last year aimed at shutting down a sled dog kennel that moved in 400 feet away.

Plaintiffs Kevin Bopp and his wife, Lynn DeFilippo, hoped to close the 30-dog Arctic Sky Kennel operated by Iditarod veteran Nils Hahn and his wife, Diana Haecker. They sought a judge’s injunction to remove the dogs that created what their court filings described as “unbearable noise and odor problems.”

A jury trial to determine damages was scheduled to begin June 1 at the courthouse in Nome, the historic heart of the state’s mushing past that marks the end of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race...

Zaz Hollander

PALMER -- Looking for a 28-room hotel in downtown Palmer with a restaurant and lounge for $1.6 million? Look no further than Craigslist .

The owner of the Eagle Hotel posted the ad on the popular do-it-yourself sales site in hopes of selling the hotel on South Colony Way, part of Palmer's main drag. The space used to be known as the Gold Miner’s Hotel...

Zaz Hollander

WASILLA -- Plans for a new Matanuska Electric Association power line through Wasilla are moving ahead again after local officials rejected the utility’s bid to string the transmission line along tall towers next to the Parks Highway.

The Wasilla planning commission in August 2013 told MEA any transmission line along the Parks corridor would have to be buried. Members cited the city’s “viewshed” and threats to future development in the area.

Now two upcoming MEA events will give the public a chance to learn more about the four new proposed locations for the line and also to share their opinions...

Zaz Hollander

PALMER -- The Matanuska-Susitna Borough’s high-tech but never-used passenger ferry suffered serious engine damage during heavy rains in Southeast Alaska earlier this year and will need repairs before it runs again.

Three of the ferry’s four engines don't work, borough officials say.

The repairs should come in at “less than $1 million,” Borough Manager John Moosey said Thursday. The ferry is insured, but the policy comes with a $250,000 deductible.

So paying for repairs could be a tall order for the already cash-strapped borough as it wrangles with a difficult budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which starts July 1. Budget talks this month revealed a proposed property tax hike amid an $11.9 million deficit and uncertain state contributions...

Zaz Hollander

The string of threatening but apparently harmless phone calls to Alaska schools continued Wednesday with calls to schools in Anchorage, Juneau, Talkeetna and Soldotna.

The FBI is investigating the spate of threats with Alaska State Troopers and local police, said FBI spokeswoman Staci Feger-Pellessier.

“Some of the calls are very similar,” she said. “They're either computer-generated or automated messages.”...

Tegan Hanlon,Zaz Hollander

WASILLA -- A facility that served as a hub for seniors in the Alaska community of Houston since the late 1980s suddenly shut its doors this week without notifying state officials as required.

Mid-Valley Senior Center also provided home meal delivery services to dozens of seniors in the spread-out but growing community scattered along the Parks Highway between Wasilla and Willow. Senior care officials said the closure is not expected to affect the home meal delivery service.

The nonprofit that operates the center announced the closure with a Facebook post Tuesday morning...

Zaz Hollander

PALMER -- The first full-fledged free bike park in Southcentral Alaska isn’t in Anchorage.

It’s in sleepy little Palmer, the city founded as a New Deal farm colony and now trying to leverage its increasingly popular mountain biking trails into a recreation destination.

The Palmer Bike Park is tucked off the Old Glenn Highway at Matanuska River Park, located on a former overflow parking lot just north of a playground and broad grassy picnic area.

Built last fall, the bike park is actually three in one, according to Nate Nicholls, executive director of the 150-member Valley Mountain Bikers and Hikers, the group that's behind the park...

Zaz Hollander