Zaz Hollander

WASILLA -- Two Willow residents vying to represent the Susitna Valley and part of Meadow Lakes on the Matanuska-Susitna Borough Assembly disagree on the issues. But they've also butted heads in court. Either Randall Kowalke or Doyle Holmes will replace outgoing Assembly member Vern Halter, a candidate for borough mayor who’s prevented by term limits from running again. Holmes, 78, owns the Willow True Value hardware store and already served several terms on the Assembly, most recently in the late 1990s. His outspoken personality sometimes got him sideways with the public: A 1987 recall attempt was avoided only by a strong showing in his home precinct. Kowalke, 68, is a retired business executive with experience in wood products, oil and telecommunications who spent the last five or six...Zaz Hollander
WASILLA -- The next mayor of Alaska’s fastest-growing region faces issues that include the state’s worst teacher-student ratio and fastest - growing senior population in a place with little major industry that's largely supported by property tax payments. Local elections will be held Oct. 6 in the Valley. The Matanuska-Susitna Borough mayor’s race pits incumbent Larry DeVilbiss , 71, a former Alaska Division of Agriculture director who farms cattle and carrots on Lazy Mountain, against 66-year-old challenger Vern Halter , a former magistrate and Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race veteran with a Willow dog tour business. Lesser-known contender Rosemary Vavrin , a 70-year-old former teacher and senior advocate working on public transportation issues, is also running for the position. Vavrin,...Zaz Hollander
Rain-swollen rivers and creeks in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough were slowly starting to recede Wednesday morning as borough officials weighed reopening closed roads. Willow Creek, which threatened as many as 10 homes in Willow and eroded or overtopped several roads Tuesday, had dropped by about a foot as of 8 a.m. Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service . The creek rose as high as 11.1 feet Tuesday -- minor flooding starts at 10 feet -- and had dropped to 10.2 feet Wednesday morning. Flooding on numerous waterways closed six roads Tuesday: Romano Avenue on the Talkeetna Spur Road; Oilwell Road in Petersville; and Burrow Street, Johnson Drive, Kenny Boulevard and Deneki Drive in Willow. The threatened homes and cabins in Willow are in the area of North Burrow Street and River-...Zaz Hollander
Several homes in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough were flooded by waters that also covered stretches of two minor roads Tuesday morning, as heavy rains expected to turn to snow later in the day continue to drench Southcentral Alaska. Mat-Su Borough Emergency Services director Casey Cook said that five to 10 homes in Willow had experienced flooding, in areas including the washed-out roads -- West Kenny Boulevard and Burrows Road. Willow Creek was running at roughly 10 times the volume it had last week and 3 feet higher, at nearly 5 and a half feet, according to a U.S. Geological Survey gauge. Roiling brown water carried logs downstream near Willow-Fishhook Road, eating away at a few roads and flooding others. Mat-Su Borough road crews posted road closure signs at various potentially...Zaz Hollander,Chris Klint
Heavy rain and wet snow wreaked havoc on much of southern Alaska on Tuesday, flooding homes and roads. A large swath of Alaska has been under advisories for storms, heavy rain, wind and flooding since the weekend. Anchorage On Tuesday afternoon, the National Weather Service issued a flood warning for Anchorage, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Arctic Valley, Eagle River and Potter Marsh. According to NWS, rain over the previous 24 hours “caused streams to rise sharply.” “Heavy rain has also caused ponding of water on many roads in the Anchorage Bowl and Glenn Highway,” NWS wrote. NWS warned drivers not to attempt to drive across flooded streets and suggested finding alternate routes to travel. “It takes only a few inches of swiftly flowing water to carry vehicles away,” NWS said. NWS...Megan Edge,Chris Klint,Zaz Hollander
The National Weather Service issued a flood advisory for rivers and streams draining the Talkeetna Mountains and the foothills of the Alaska Range along Petersville Road Monday afternoon. Streams have “begun to rise sharply” after heavy precipitation over a 24-hour period Sunday to Monday dropped more than an inch of rain on the area, the Weather Service said. The agency reported 2- to 3-foot rises in water levels as of 4 p.m. Monday. A flood advisory means that river or stream flows are elevated or that ponding of water is occurring or imminent.The advisory includes the Talkeetna and Little Susitna rivers as well as Montana, Willow and Moose creeks. It remains in effect until 3:30 a.m. Wednesday. Matanuska-Susitna Borough emergency officials say there was no flooding reported as of late...Zaz Hollander
BUTTE -- Colette York came to the Knik River Public Use Area Shooting Range Friday to try out her new gun and hone her future moose-hunting skills. Richard York coached his sister as she tucked the stock of the .308 bolt-action rifle against her right shoulder. “Go ahead and squeeze one off and see what you think,” York, a retired U.S. Marine Corps sergeant, told her. A thunderous echo bounced off the 5,500-foot Chugach Mountain peak dotted with fall colors that loomed over the range. Dead center. The siblings shot for free, but that may not be the case for much longer, as the Alaska Department of Natural Resources is asking the public for feedback on possible fees at the range. The fees are part of a larger process as the state prepares for new regulations across the 260,000-acre public-...Zaz Hollander
WASILLA -- Faced with mounting complaints, the U.S. Postal Service announced Wednesday that the Wasilla Post Office hours are expanding to meet the needs of inconvenienced Knik customers. The Settlers Bay contract postal unit closed without warning Friday due to an investigation mounted by the agency’s Office of Inspector General. USPS inspectors are looking into an allegation of possible delay of mail. Knik customers living along the busy Knik-Goose Bay Road corridor now have to pick up their mail at Wasilla, at least a 10- or 15-minute drive, but up to 45 minutes for some Point MacKenzie residents. Then, according to reports, they wait in long lines -- at times for more than an hour -- and commuters to Anchorage can’t get to the post office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. The USPS in a letter...Zaz Hollander
KNIK -- With the Settlers Bay post office closed without warning, infuriated Knik-area customers and the Alaska congressional delegation lashed out at the U.S. Postal Service. The Postal Service's Office of Inspector General indefinitely closed the Knik contract post office Friday after receiving “an allegation regarding the possible delay of U.S. mail,” according to an email from John Masters, assistant special agent in charge for the agency's western area that includes Alaska. Special agents with the Office of Inspector General as well as Postal Service inspectors and staff “located and removed mail from the facility” and moved it to Wasilla for processing and delivery, Masters wrote. The mail at the center of the allegation included standard and first-class items as well as periodicals...Zaz Hollander
A 49-year-old Butte man was found safe Wednesday, four days after going missing when he walked away from a Petersville moose hunting camp. Charlie Hull was spotted around 1:30 p.m. by the Alaska State Troopers helicopter that had just dropped search teams in the area, according to troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters. The helicopter saw Hull near the Kahiltna River and Hungryman Creek. The helicopter relayed his location to ground teams, who found and identified him as the missing hunter. Hull’s condition wasn’t immediately known. He was flown by helicopter to be medically evaluated, troopers said. Along with troopers, other entities involved in the search were the Alaska Incident Management Team, MATSAR, Alaska Mountain Rescue Group, Alaska Search and Rescue Dogs, Petersville SAR Group,...Zaz Hollander