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Zaz Hollander

WASILLA -- A fire in a Willow sled dog mushing neighborhood Friday destroyed the home of Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race finisher Jaimee High and her husband, Justin.

The good news: The young couple wasn’t hurt and their 24 dogs survived, as did three of their six chickens, Justin High said Friday afternoon.

The bad: The snug 300-square-foot cabin he built the past few years out of pocket wasn’t insured, High said. And they lost everything inside -- wedding photos, tools, and Iditarod memorabilia ranging from bib and finisher’s belt buckle to trinkets from Nome.

“Everything that we’ve put into this place in the last two years since we bought the property, built the house by hand,” he said.


Zaz Hollander

WASILLA -- Big Lake could join Palmer, Wasilla and Houston in the ranks of Valley cities if a recommendation holds from state Local Boundary Commission officials -- and locals vote for it.

Staffers with the state Local Boundary Commission say Big Lake meets the statutory requirements to become a second-class city if the five-member commission agrees, according to a 44-page preliminary report released for public review on Wednesday...

Zaz Hollander

WASILLA -- A Wasilla pilot with a young family and a growing air taxi business died Tuesday afternoon in a plane crash in northwest Montana near Flathead Lake.

Brett Thoft, 33, was flying a two-seater tandem Piper Super Cub with friend Tim Schauss when the crash occurred, according to Lake County authorities in Montana. Thoft was pronounced dead at the site. Schauss, who owns a grocery store in Pablo, was listed in critical condition at Kalispell Regional Medical Center on Wednesday...

Zaz Hollander

PALMER -- An Anchorage company this week lost a costly and contentious bid to put a 35-acre construction and demolition debris landfill on an old gravel pit near Palmer.

The Central Monofill Services proposal was rejected by the Matanuska-Susitna Borough planning commission Monday night in a tie vote during a six-hour meeting at the borough building attended by about 125 people.

Central is weighing an appeal to the borough’s Board of Adjustment and Appeals, the company’s attorney said.

Along with the Palmer facility, Central also hopes to build a similar fill site in Chugiak. Both are necessary, the company says, to take at least 8,000 tons a year of debris the company can’t recycle and no longer wants to pay to dump at Anchorage’s municipal landfill...

Zaz Hollander

A Palmer grand jury has indicted a second teenager in connection with the March shooting death of 45-year-old Frank Pushruk at a Glenn Highway overlook above the Matanuska River.

The grand jury indictment, handed up Friday, charges 16-year-old Ethan Angasan with second-degree murder, manslaughter, evidence tampering and criminally negligent homicide. The indictment states Angasan “as principal or accomplice” caused Pushruk’s death.

Troopers on Friday issued a $20,000 arrest warrant for Angasan, according to a state court database. A troopers spokesperson didn't immediately return a request for more information...

Zaz Hollander
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To get from farm to fork, pigs at the Van Wyhe Family Farm travel more than 200 miles from the grassy reaches of Copper Center in eastern Alaska along the Richardson Highway to the urbane confines of Torchon Bistro in South Anchorage ...

Loren Holmes,Zaz Hollander

PALMER -- The Alaska Supreme Court has disbarred a Palmer civil attorney with a dog mushing background for misappropriating more than $20,000 from a dead client and hiding it from his family.

The state’s highest court on Friday issued a ruling that upholds an earlier recommendation from the Alaska Bar Association’s Disciplinary Board and refers to attorney Melinda Miles' action as "duplicitous" -- one that "damages the reputation of the legal profession and the legal system at large."...

Zaz Hollander

WASILLA -- Matanuska Electric Association is warning members about a possible phone scam.

A member of the electric cooperative serving customers in Eagle River, Chugiak and the Valley on Friday got a call from someone who said her Matanuska Electric account "was behind" and demanded credit card information to make payments, according to a statement from MEA spokeswoman Julie Estey.

"Our member told him she was on auto pay and he was very aggressive to her stating that she would be disconnected if she didn’t give him the payment on the phone call," Estey wrote.

The member said the caller's name was Matt and the number that showed up on her caller ID was 800-910-7320, Estey said...

Zaz Hollander

Most underdog volleyball teams from rural Alaska just have to face bigger rivals on the court. The girls volleyball team from the small southwestern Alaska village of Koliganek survived near-disaster Wednesday en route to the state tournament in Anchorage after its plane was forced to King Salmon for a rough landing on badly damaged landing gear.

“Me and the other coach, we grabbed hands and prayed,” assistant coach Anastasia Ishnook said Thursday afternoon after the team finally got to Anchorage. “I turned back to my girls and I said, ‘Don’t be scared. God is with us’ right when we were about to land.”...

Zaz Hollander

Anchorage police say they are investigating the non-fatal shooting of a man who apparently interrupted a burglary in progress at his Mountain View residence.

A man told officers he was returning to his home near McPhee Avenue and North Park Street around 7:30 a.m. Thursday when he interrupted what appeared to be a burglary in progress, police spokeswoman Jennifer Castro said. The two men he said he encountered fled but fired two shots at the man, hitting him in the area of his hand or wrist...

Zaz Hollander