Alaska Digest

Posted: Monday, March 26, 2007

Fort Richardson soldier killed in Iraq

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ANCHORAGE - A soldier based at Fort Richardson died in an explosion in Iraq, the Defense Department said Sunday.

Army Spc. Lance C. Springer II, 23, died Friday in Baghdad when an explosive went off near his unit during a patrol, according to Army spokesman Chuck Canterbury.

Springer was a medic assigned to the 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Airborne Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division at Fort Richardson.

Springer, who was from Fort Worth, Texas, joined the Army in October 2004 and was assigned to Fort Richardson in June 2005.

Eagle River looks at building regulations

EAGLE RIVER - The fast-growing suburb of Eagle River is looking to regulate new growth by tightening rules on development and preserve the area's rural character by requiring new businesses to plant flowers or other greenery.

The Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce and local community councils are crafting proposals that they hope will preserve Eagle River's identity as a suburban enclave.

Six community councils have formed a consortium, saying that the municipality is rewriting the citywide zoning code and doesn't seem to be addressing Eagle River's special concerns.

"We cherish our small-town ambiance, larger lots, abundant recreational opportunities, our history," Bobbi Wells, Birchwood Community Council president, wrote in an e-mail to the Anchorage Daily News. "We are not an asphalt jungle. ... It's quiet, people feel safe."

A recent Dittman Research survey commissioned by the councils showed that Chugiak and Eagle River residents favor an increase in zoning. The poll, in November and December, included 401 Eagle River-Chugiak residents 18 or older.

Homer condo to be auctioned for charity

HOMER - Land's End Resort owner Jon Faulkner is known for pushing the envelope and making unexpected moves.

Now he's making another one.

Faulkner wants to auction off the final Land's End waterfront luxury home on the tip of the Homer Spit - and he wants to do it for charity.

"It's a relatively simple idea, and that makes it even more compelling. We think of eBay and straight auctions for nonprofits. Well, this is a hybrid," Faulkner said.

His motivation? That's just as simple.

"It's all about giving back," he said.

Faulkner went through heart surgery last October and did a heavy load of thinking during his recovery. He thought about the best. He thought about the worst. He thought about everything in between.

"You can't help but to be moved by your own mortality and the purpose of your life all those things are rather human, and it's no exception for me," Faulkner said. "It's just that perhaps I have an opportunity that maybe not everyone else has. This is my way."

According to Faulkner, he sees this act as "one of the balls I push uphill," and is hoping for a positively surprising outcome. "I'm a firm believer that if you don't try, you won't discover new things," he said. "That's part of the appeal."

The minimum bid for the auction is the home's base list price, which comes in at $718,500.

Faulkner chose a handful of Homer nonprofits to benefit from the sale of the home. He said he chose them based on their popular regard.

The auction is currently online at, and will culminate with a live event at 5 p.m. May 20.

Angler trail put on hold near cultural site

KENAI - Almost thunderous in their impact, voices from the Kenai River's prehistoric past have risen and stopped a state trail project in its tracks.

As of mid-March, all work on trail and stair projects at Slikok Creek State Park and Kenai Peninsula College has been suspended "pending review of potential impacts of the projects on Dena'ina Indian cultural sites by the Kenaitze Tribe and the State Historic Preservation Office," according to Denby Lloyd, Department of Fish and Game commissioner.

Controversy arose after several area residents pointed out a number of cultural heritage sites along the path of a trail leading from the college parking lot to Kenai River fishing access at Slikok Creek.

The heritage sites include earthen hearth pits where Natives once cooked and prepared fish along the mouth of the creek, cache storage pits farther up from the mouth and actual house pits where a village is believed to have once existed even farther up the creek.

Substance abuse shelter shut down

ANCHORAGE - Nome has eight bars, five liquor stores, two private clubs that sell booze, and three restaurants with beer and wine on the menu, but there's not a single residential substance abuse treatment center in town. The closest one is a plane trip away in Kotzebue.

For five years, Nome's Kusqi House stood out as the place for the region's drug-addicted and alcoholic women to live while they received outpatient treatment.

But Kusqi became trouble itself. Last fall, some of the residents began drinking at what was supposed to be a safe place for recovery, according to a report to the state from the Norton Sound Health Corp., which ran Kusqi. A couple of "highly intoxicated" residents got into a fight. One had her infant taken away. Police were called out a couple of times. There were reports of drug dealing too, the report said.

Now Norton Sound has essentially shut down Kusqi while it revamps the program. The last resident left Feb. 16, and the corporation is not filling the slots. Yet the state still is sending grant money to the Native health corporation for Kusqi. Officials say they want to lend a helping hand as the corporation regroups.

"In a situation like this, where this is really the only show in town, it is definitely in our best interest to help them and support them," said Chris Carson, grants manager with the state Department of Health and Social Services.

The health department provided more than $3 million in various grants to the corporation last budget year. This year, the corporation expects to receive a like amount and anticipates spending $302,000 of it on Kusqi.

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