Zaz Hollander

The CEO of Matanuska Telephone Association is stepping down after 40 years with the telecommunications cooperative and about 15 years at its helm.

The MTA board of directors met Monday to accept the resignation of Greg Berberich, 59, according to Earl Lackey, MTA’s chief governance officer and a local racetrack owner. Berberich has decided to retire, Lackey said. His retirement is effective Friday.

Berberich was not available for comment Tuesday.

His total payment package last year including benefits was more than $530,000, according to MTA’s annual report. The co-op’s bylaws require the CEO's compensation be made public. MTA officials had fought the public release of that information in past years...

Zaz Hollander

Two Matanuska-Susitna Borough Assembly members are proposing a reduction in fees at outlying garbage transfer sites after a recent increase sparked public outrage.

Dan Mayfield, who represents Big Lake, and Vern Halter, who represents Willow and is running for borough mayor, are proposing a resolution to roll back transfer site increases and some at the Palmer landfill that went into effect July 1.

The increase nearly tripled some rates for trash disposal compared to last year, according to the resolution, which uses the example of a $45 charge for a 3-cubic-yard pickup load compared to $16 last July. Last year’s rates were the same for loads from 1 to 3 cubic yards. The proposal would create a $22 charge for 3 cubic yards...

Zaz Hollander

A Palmer grand jury has indicted a 22-year-old Wasilla man on charges of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide for his role in a March 12 crash on the Glenn Highway that killed a French woman and injured four people .

Trenton L. Shepersky was also charged with third-degree assault, according to the indictment, which was handed up Friday. A $50,000 warrant for his arrest was issued that same day.

Alaska State Troopers investigators suspect that drugs were a factor in the accident, spokeswoman Megan Peters said in an email...

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PALMER -- The Anchorage couple charged with starting the Willow-area Sockeye fire in June entered not guilty pleas Tuesday without making a court appearance as scheduled.

The fire destroyed 55 primary homes and dozens of other structures.

State fire investigators say Greg Imig, 59, and Amy Dewitt, 42, caused the wildfire by letting an unattended pile of burning yard debris escape into the forest from a property north of Willow that Imig co-owns. Charging documents said the couple, with Dewitt’s son, fled the property as the fire grew, though Dewitt told investigators she called 911...

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SUTTON -- With the Matanuska River swamping his property, Terry Van Wyhe spent Monday moving a historic building out of the water’s path and applying for flood insurance.

The river, swollen with glacial melt since last weekend and carving sandy banks like butter, already sent one home and a half-dozen buildings at the Luch property toppling into the water near Mile 64 of the Glenn Highway just east of Sutton. Three more homes were in imminent danger Monday.

In all, seven properties are at risk as the river has devoured 50 to 60 feet of bank in the past week -- as much as 150 feet over the years in total -- in what’s become an annual erosion event pinned to summer melting of the Matanuska Glacier and runoff from rain-swollen tributaries...

Zaz Hollander

POINT MACKENZIE -- The state of Alaska paid nine farmers more than $8 million to clear a path for the as-yet-unfinished 32-mile railroad line slated to cross Point MacKenzie farmlands en route from the Matanuska-Susitna Borough port to the Parks Highway.

The rates paid to the farmers in the railroad's path appear -- at least at first glance -- to vary widely, and run as high as as $115,120 per acre when calculated based on the land needed for the railroad...

Zaz Hollander
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POINT MACKENZIE -- The state of Alaska paid nine farmers more than $8 million to clear a path for the as-yet unfinished 32-mile railroad line slated to cross Point MacKenzie farmlands en route from the Matanuska-Susitna Borough port to the Parks Highway...

Zaz Hollander

SUTTON -- The surging Matanuska River has consumed a home and seven buildings at just one property near Sutton and threatens a half-dozen others along the Glenn Highway.

The last structure left on Robert Luch’s property dropped into the river around 2 p.m. Thursday. A loud pop was the only signal before the red shed collapsed into the surging gray water.

“That’s what they do when they go. No warning,” said Bill Schmidtkunz, a neighbor helping move items away from a bank losing at least 12 feet a day, and sometimes twice that.

Two more large storage sheds that had dropped into the river earlier Thursday sat about a quarter-mile down the river, perched against a gravel bar...

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WASILLA -- With a disputed wolf hunt on state lands outside Denali National Park set to resume next month, wildlife groups are ramping up calls for state officials to again make use of an emergency ban to block the hunt as they did earlier this year.

Alaska Fish and Game Commissioner Sam Cotten in mid-May closed the Denali corridor wolf hunt northeast of the park two weeks early after a hunter legally killed two wolves. But the ban expired with the regulatory year June 30; it’s again legal to take wolves starting Aug. 10.

State wildlife officials this week made it clear they had no plans to take that highly unusual action again...

Zaz Hollander

PALMER -- With state funding next year in question, Alaska livestock producers are trying something new in the decades-long bid to privatize Mt. McKinley Meat and Sausage Co .

The inmate-staffed slaughterhouse in Palmer, acquired from a failed private company in the 1980s, usually runs in the red, and the state has tried unsuccessfully for years to lease or sell the operation.

The Alaska Board of Agriculture and Conservation on Thursday unanimously backed a proposal to use an Oregon-based group called the Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network to conduct a financial evaluation of the slaughterhouse...

Zaz Hollander

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