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Zaz Hollander

A new Discovery Channel reality show set in McCarthy is drawing fire for heavy-handed treatment of the reviving old mining town's dark past and alleged outlaw reputation.

“Edge of Alaska” premieres Friday.

Advance publicity from Discovery Channel sets up the show as a culture clash between tourism-minded McCarthy Lodge owner Neil Darish -- he wants to “bring this frontier town into the 21st century” -- and dog musher-turned-farmer Jeremy Keller, who “will fight to protect ‘the old way’ at any cost.”

McCarthy, in the Discovery Channel’s telling, sits a convenient 100-plus miles from the closest law enforcement in Glennallen. It's “a refuge for people who don’t want to be found that’s surrounded by extreme wilderness.”...

Zaz Hollander

WASILLA -- Scientists last month discovered an invasive and potentially fish-threatening plant called elodea for the first time in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.

The alien invader turned up in shallow Alexander Lake, a remote and once-legendary salmon stronghold in the Susitna River system more recently beset by northern pike. The voracious non-native fish is decimating salmon stocks in parts of the state including the Mat-Su -- and pike like the shelter of plants like elodea.

Officials say it’s not absolutely clear how the weed came to Alexander Lake, which is accessible only by boat or floatplane, but there is a possible link to an established infestation in Anchorage’s Sand Lake...

Zaz Hollander

Update, Oct. 16, 2014: Palmer police have identified the driver who fatally injured a pedestrian along the Glenn Highway Tuesday evening as Faith E. Gemmill, 41, of Palmer. Police say Gemmill was driving the 2002 Ford F-150 pickup that struck and killed David T. Beard; an investigation continues.

Original story: WASILLA -- A 31-year-old Palmer man who was apparently hitchhiking along the Glenn Highway died Tuesday night after he was struck by a vehicle near the state fairgrounds, Palmer police say...

Zaz Hollander

WASILLA -- After four years of trying, Usibelli Coal Mine Inc. finally has the state surface mining permit it needs to start work at the Wishbone Hill mine near Palmer.

Opponents of the project had argued the mine needed a new permit rather than what the Healy-based coal company sought: renewal of a permit originally issued to another company in 1991.

Back then, Wishbone Hill was proposed in a sparsely populated area about 8 miles from Palmer and 5 miles from Sutton. Now nearly 900 people, mostly in the Buffalo Mine and Soapstone road areas, live within a half mile of potential mining activities.

But the Alaska Department of Natural Resources found the old permit still applies, with added conditions like noise limits and fish protections during blasting...

Zaz Hollander

WASILLA --A 19-year-old Wasilla resident described as suicidal and later discovered with a loaded semi-automatic rifle triggered a brief lockdown at Burchell High School in Wasilla on Monday afternoon, authorities say.

Alaska State Troopers initially arrested Christopher Fritzler on felony charges of third-degree assault and misconduct involving a weapon, although a Palmer magistrate dismissed the weapons charge Tuesday afternoon.

No one was hurt during the incident, but it left some at the school shaken and Fritzler’s friends and family hoping he gets help...

Zaz Hollander

WASILLA -- The state entity pushing a contentious dam on the Susitna River fired off an outraged response this week to the federal contention that the project’s salmon science is flawed.

The National Marine Fisheries Service last month filed a critical letter with federal regulators saying the Alaska Energy Authority's fish data was so unreliable it wasn’t usable. The NMFS critiqued everything from juvenile coho salmon wrongly labeled chinook to shortcuts in field studies and problems with scientific models.

Wayne Dyok, the authority’s dam project manager, dismissed the agency’s flawed science claims as "untenable, bordering on the absurd" in an aggressive and at times abrasive letter filed Tuesday with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission...

Zaz Hollander

WASILLA -- Palmer police say they arrested two men involved in a brazen home-invasion robbery near the small city’s downtown on Wednesday afternoon.

An adult female in a home on South Denali Street -- a quiet block-long street near the Mat-Su Borough building -- told officers that a man wearing a mask “accosted” her and pointed a firearm at her, police Commander Lance Ketterling said Thursday. The man stole cash and left, getting into a vehicle parked outside with another man waiting in the driver’s seat.

The homeowner called 911, Ketterling said. An off-duty Palmer officer who happened to hear the call on his radio saw a vehicle matching the description pull into the parking lot of the Palmer pool...

Zaz Hollander

WASILLA -- Alaska State Troopers arrested 69-year-old Michael Wolverton early Wednesday morning after he told a 911 dispatcher he’d just shot his daughter at the house they shared near Wasilla, court documents show.

The call came just before 11 p.m. Tuesday from a house on Mariah Drive just off Wasilla-Fishhook Road, according to a sworn affidavit filed with charging documents Monday.

Troopers got to the house and detained Wolverton, then found 47-year-old Shannan Wolverton dead in a bedroom with an apparent bullet wound in her eye, according to trooper Sgt. Michael Henry’s affidavit...

Zaz Hollander

WASILLA -- Matanuska-Susitna Borough residents voted in favor of a property tax break for seniors and some veterans, and Wasilla city voters installed a familiar name as mayor in local elections Tuesday.

A ballot proposition to increase the current $170,000 property tax exemption for seniors and disabled veterans was passing handily, according to unofficial results after borough polls closed Tuesday night. The proposition would raise the total exemption to the first $218,000 of a home’s assessed value but is forecast to cost the borough $2.4 million in lost tax revenue.

Another proposition to bring borough Assembly district boundaries in line with state redistricting was also passing...

Zaz Hollander

WASILLA -- A well-known Sutton RV park owner and leader of a conservative political group died Monday in a bulldozer accident.

Alaska State Troopers said Marvin Baker, 68, was clearing a path through a wooded area when he lost control of the John Deere dozer and it went over an embankment and flipped.

At about 5:45 p.m., Matanuska-Susitna Borough responders got word that a bulldozer had rolled over on the operator near the top of a mountain trail and the man was in and out of consciousness, according to Dennis Brodigan, emergency services director for the borough. Numerous EMS, fire and rescue responders converged on the area from Sutton, Palmer and Meadow Lakes...

Zaz Hollander

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