The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

By LOG Staff 

2013 Year In Review

July through December


The LOG looks back through the pages of 2013. Click on headline to read full story...

- July -

Slow and steady wins the race

Three Anchorage women in their late 60s and mid-70s who call themselves the Alaska Mountain Turtles, were in Seward last week to train. Mary Hensel, 75, mother of Seward physician Michelle Hensel, started racing up Mount Marathon at age 60, joining her grown daughters who were running it. This year will be her 15th year participating. It's her friend Millie Spezialy's 16th race and Sandy Johnson's 12th.

Junior lessons in hill, skill and will

Some people feel that the risks involved in such high-stakes racing do not outweigh the benefits, especially for junior racers, age seven to 17. Others believe that pain is but a necessary price tag, hidden or otherwise, attached to the tremendous gains available to all who answer the call of the wild race. In recent interviews, local authorities on junior mountain running, Miles Knotek, Cedar Bourgeois, and the Barnwell Sisters Three, added their perspectives.

Halibut tourney finishes big

On June 29, the day before the close of the halibut tourney, David Law of Maryville, Tenn. weighed in a 211-pounder caught aboard the Crackerjack Voyager to assume the lead. Andy Mezirow, captain of the Voyager, says getting a later start on the larger halibut was fairly predictable. This year's winner was caught aboard Mezirow's boat at the same spot as a 337-pound monster another client on the Voyager hooked two years ago. "It's just being in the right place at the right time," Mezirow said humbly.

Strabel takes down record

The record considered to be almost unbeatable by many marathoners familiar with the annual Mount Marathon foot race fell not once, but twice last week. In 1981, Bill Spencer broke his former record to set a mark that would stand for 32 years and withstand thousands of racers. The time, 43 minutes and 21 seconds, was approached only once since – until this year's race when Eric Strabel clocked a new 42 minute and 55 second race record.

"Is that clock right?" were Strabel's first words as race veteran Denali Foldager greeted him at the finish line. Her response of "Umm yeah. Why?" emphasized the unexpected fall of the long-standing record. Then, on the heels of Strabel, Rickey Gates passed under the clock with a time of 43 minutes and 4 seconds to break the record a second time. According to one onlooker it was like having two first place finishers in the same race.

Mount Marathon is in their blood

You can see how tough these youngsters are by the serious, pained look of determination on their faces and the mud coating their bodies as they come off the mountain and race down Jefferson Street toward the finish line. "I was going to put my hands up in the air but I didn't," said freckle-faced red-headed Tali Novakovich of Anchorage after arriving at the finish line to hugs and kisses.

Tusty return delayed, again

One unexpected problem after another kept the Alaska Marine Highway Systems ferry M/V Tustumena from resuming service this summer. Now, AMHS is pointing fingers at alleged defects in welding work performed at Seward Ship's Drydock. This latest delay in refloating the Tustumena followed at least two earlier discoveries of significant faults in the metal decking, hull plating and structural supports. The Seward shipyard picked up the federally subsidized contract to refit the Tustumena at bid for $6.3 million and expected to have the ferry refit completed on schedule by the end of March.

AVTEC dorm construction escalates

Saturday, three large trucks begin hauling 39 shrink-wrapped, pre-constructed modular dorm units to the AVTEC dorm site on Third. The modules, fabricated in Idaho, should arrive by barge at the Alaska Railroad freight dock today and will be transported to the job site. Third Avenue, which will be closed to regular traffic between Monroe and Madison streets from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. until Aug. 10, is the staging area as Cornerstone General Contractors of Anchorage immediately begins unwrapping the modules and lowering them onto the newly-constructed wood and cement foundation with a large crane, one by one.

Mathis back for seconds at SFD

When Rob Mathis came back to the Seward Fire Department, he came back all the way. He visited a couple times recently with wife Heather, who took one look at Seward and said she could live here. So when the position of Seward Fire Department Chief was advertised, he lined up that job interview. However the then current Deputy Fire Chief Eddie Athey got the nod for the big chair. Mathis, a past Seward Fire Department Volunteer Chief and Deputy Fire Chief, then took a shot at, arguably, the next best job in the SFD.

Obihiro exchange teens on their way

Ten days filled with amazing Alaska activities and adventures awaits three 16-year-old teenage girls from Seward's sister city, Obihiro, Japan, their two adult chaperones, the host families and others who will welcome and entertain them. The young women, Maki Kimura, Chifumi Sato and Ayaka Hashizume, their adult chaperone Fukimo Nakayama, an elderly care attendant, and Josh Neta, a translator/facilitator on behalf of the City of Obihiro, arrive in Seward on Saturday, July 27. The next day their American counterparts Meret Beutler and Karoline Ernst will travel to Obihiro for an adventure of their own.

- August -

Military resort seeks more visitors

The Seward Resort bulked up its staff and increased the number of fishing charter boats it signed on this summer in order to be prepared for what the manager hoped would be an especially busy summer season absorbing the crowds affected by the Seward Air Force Recreation Camp facility's permanent closure last September. Some 16,000 to 20,000 active duty military, reservists, retirees and their families used that camp annually, and it was a mainstay of the community from the mid-'70s.

Blackwater Railroad Company keeps on a'chooglin

Blackwater Railroad Company play their singular blend of folk, country, bluegrass, blues and a dash of rock on the Yukon Bar stage last weekend. It was the last show before their recording sessions this week where they will produce their first album of songs. The Seward musical group got their start when Katy Larkin and Tyson Davis joined up in early 2012. Along the way, they took in Noah Hull-Diamond and Andy Zamarripa, who has an awesome basement for band practice. Finally, they convinced Isaac London to join up as he was gonna be in the bar anyway and he could sing real good.

Tri-Harder-Thon three times the fun

It was mostly cloudy and dead calm at Kenai Lake for the kayak leg of the 2013 Subway Tri-Harder-Thon as the teams and soloists gathered at the Primrose Campground launch point. Soloist Joshua Thomas whipped through all legs of the contest to end up in the top spot followed in short order by the Alaska Fjord Charters team. The team, composed of MaryLynn, Allison and Kenzie Barnwell, had a total time of 2:38:47 compared to Thomas' time of 2:36:28.

DOT maintenance relocating to Crown Point

In July the white painted skeleton of the new Crown Point Department of Transportation Maintenance and Operation station began rising above the construction site at milepost 24 of the Seward Highway. DOT's conclusion was that it would be more cost effective to construct a new, larger building on a larger piece of property and then relocate. The new lot is twice the size of the existing location.

SCCC inmates trash module

Spring Creek Correctional Center officials said Tuesday that no one was injured in a disturbance that involved 14 segregated inmates and ended Tuesday morning at the maximum security prison. The incident began about 11 p.m. Monday when inmates broke apart toilets newly installed in their cells and used the pieces to smash small windows in the locked areas. Correctional officers and the SCCC superintendent's office had expressed security concerns because glass fixtures can be broken and used as bludgeons and sharp weapons. However, metal receptacles were overruled as a cost savings measure.

Seward captain says nine is enough

It's fair to say that last year Monty Richardson was the longest running charter operator in Resurrection Bay to be plying his craft. However, this summer, after 55 years of running fishing craft out of Seward, he's decided to make a change and sell the latest incarnation of the famed Irish Lord to local couple Von and Christy Terry. Back in 1959, after a run in with the man, Monty took his charter operator's exam and officially became one of a select few charter skippers in the bay.

Young chef makes good

Rowan Bean gets a hug from mom Hillary after talking about her experience visiting with the first family after winning a trip to the White House. Rowan, who is a skilled chef, was chosen as Alaska's representative for her winning entry in the 2013 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge. She shares her flair for cooking with her dad, Erik Slater, who helped her develop the kids menu at the Resurrection Roadhouse where he is executive chef. At the White House state dinner she was excited to meet Michelle Obama and was impressed by how down to earth the First Lady was.

Doors closing at Brown & Hawkins after 110 years

A family business as old as Seward is closing its doors at the end of September. Brown & Hawkins, founded in 1904 by T.W. Hawkins shortly after his arrival with the Ballaine party on the Santa Ana in 1903, has passed through four generations of family including the present owners, Hugh Darling and his wife Iris. According to the Seward Historic Preservation Commission, the enterprise is the oldest continuously operated business in Seward, a legacy that will end this fall. Iris and Hugh say it's time to see what the outside world looks like after having been tied closely to the operation of the clothing, gift and candy emporium that in 1956 became known as the Brown & Hawkins Mall.

In the years since 1989 when they came to Seward to assist Hugh's ailing mother, Virginia, the Darlings have only been away from Seward a handful of times. As Hugh says, "When you own three 100-year-old buildings you don't have much spare time."

Alaska SeaLife Center fosters octopus babies

Alaska SeaLife Center's giant Pacific octopus Lulu is still protecting a few small egg clusters hanging from her tank wall in the "Denizens of the Deep" exhibit. But after six months, her egg hatching process has slowed to a trickle, she's using up her energy reserves and she's probably not long for this world. Lulu, who came to the center from Prince William Sound in 2009 as a small youngster, began laying tens of thousands of eggs in March of 2012, a full six months after mating with resident Felix a male giant Pacific octopus. Her eggs slowly hatching this spring, then sped up during June or July, producing a couple hundred new hatchlings per day.

A derby second to none

One day short of the Seward Silver Salmon Derby deadline Taro Rich of Anchorage hauled in a 21.25-pound monster coho to dominate the competition. The largest silver to be caught during the derby in a generation was brought aboard the Florette C, captained by Dianne M. Dubuc, a lifelong Alaskan and commercial fisher. Making the feat all the more distinctive, this is the first derby champion catch aboard a commercial fishing vessel. Dubuc is the owner of Alaska Saltwater Charters, and along with her gifted crew of Ryan Parsons and Krista "Ace" Fletcher, was recognized along with Rich during the awards ceremony in the Breeze Inn lobby Sunday.

Moose Pass Fire Company moves into new quarters

The Moose Pass Volunteer Fire Company has moved into a former Alaska Department of Transportation building that now provides office space and a garage area accommodating most of their fire fighting vehicle fleet. The Saturday dedication for the commmunity project ended several years of wrangling with state agencies and lobbying for funding for the required extensive remodelling. The move also freed up space formerly occupied by the fire company in the Moose Pass Community Hall, which will allow the library to expand.

He Will Provide food bank opens at new location

The food bank recently moved from it's former Old Seward Highway location to the basement of the old Seward Community Library at the corner of Fifth and Adams. The entrance, which is around back, opens into a shop quite a bit larger than the old building had room for. The extra space for storage along with a new freezer means that the food bank will be better stocked and organized than ever.

Council welcomes Obihiro dignitaries

The Seward City Council welcomed officials from Seward's Japanese sister city, Obihiro at their regular meeting on Monday. The delegation of four arrived to a group of Sewardites bearing a welcoming banner at the steps of the city hall. As the meeting got underway, the visitors were introduced and exchanged salutations and gifts with council members. Obihiro Mayor Norihisa Yonezawa and Obihiro City Council President Katsunori Nohara gave brief speeches while Mayor's Office Manager Toshihiko Sekiguchi looked on and staff member Takahiro Nishioka snapped pictures.

Seward woman dies in plane crash

Jessi Marena Nelsen, 27, died Saturday when a small plane piloted by her close friend Robert Lilly, 31, stalled and crashed on the runway at Merrill Field in Anchorage. The Cessna 150, owned by Lilly, plunged into the ground when, according to witnesses, its engine cut off. Apparently, Lilly was approaching the runway for a landing when the control tower advised him to make another pass because of other plane traffic. Nelsen was a 2004 graduate of Seward High School and worked frequently throughout the community.

For many years, she was responsible for arranging performing artists for the annual Seward Music and Arts Festival. This year's lineup for the Sept. 27-29 festival is an example of her work putting together a diverse and compelling array of talent. In addition to being the long-time music director for SMAF, Nelsen also labored as a longshoreman and wrote a Seward entertainment column. She was enrolled in journalism at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

Marriage proposal sets off Lost Lake Run

Hundreds of mountain trail racers queued up for a Saturday morning bus ride from the Bear Creek Volunteer Fire Department to the starting line for the 2013 Lost Lake Run. The annual race benefits those with Cystic Fibrosis and the Lost Lake Breath of Life Run was first organized by Marsha Vincent in 1992 to raise awareness and funds to fight the genetically transmitted disease. Last year one woman and 22 men finished the race with times under two hours included 2012's pace-setter, Eric Strabel, with a time of 1:38:33. Strabel ran the race this year, but with a twist. Minutes before the start, he proposed to Denali Foldager, and they ran the race together.

Federal recognition of local tribe near

Melanee Stevens, Youth Activities Director for Qutekcak Native Tribe, has been working at the tribe's administrative center on Third Avenue for close to 10 years. While she's moving on to another career outside of Seward, she had hoped to see federal recognition of the tribe by now. Stevens says that all the testimony has been given, lobbying undertaken and applications submitted. It could be just a matter of days away. The Qutekcak Native Tribe submitted its first petition for recognition by the U.S. Interior Department's Bureau of Indian Affairs in 1993 after existing under a formal tribal government since 1972. A third petition was filed in 2008 and stands an almost certain chance of leveraging federal recognition for the tribe.

- September -

Seahawks get their wings

Seahawks football season got turned around by a touchdown in the last quarter. Despite some impressive tackles and the best efforts of defensive weapon #50 Howie Hubbard, the Seahawks were unable to hold the Eielson Ravens back for much of the game. However, the offensive unit featuring #3 Seth Brewi, #2 Alex Pahno and #66 Christian Tofson combined for a play late in the game that put the Seahawks on the home field board for the first time in three years. Leading up to the breakthrough touchdown, quarterback Brewi and receiver Pahno were showing good chemistry but were repeatedly turned back by the Raven's defense.

Ranger's career comes full circle

Tom Malecek gives the impression of a man who's where he wants to be. That's likely due to the fact that the new district ranger for the Seward Ranger District of the Chugach National Forest has been working his way back to Alaska for most of his career. Malecek says it couldn't have worked out better if he'd planned it. Right off the bat, Malecek is gearing up to oversee a rewrite of the Chugach National Forest Plan for his district. According to Malecek, the three-year process will be a sort of pilot forest program under new planning rules.

Boy's dream of catching Alaska salmon comes true

Nathan Dumont was only four years old when he saw a documentary about salmon fishing in Alaska and said, "I want to go there. I want to go there," recalled his mother Sally Dumont. A slight, soft-spoken child, Natie learned to cast at the age of three in waters off the coast of their home in Gansbaai, South Africa, a fishing town and popular tourist destination known for its dense population of Great White Sharks.

Local auto show employs 'The Force'

The 11th annual Eddy's Car Show, a rain or shine event, got off to a slow start with Saturday's morning drizzle, but as contestants and oglers drifted into the Bear Creek RV Park, the weather lifted as if by a conjuror's trick. The sci-fi theme brought out costumed participants and thundering movie scores from DJ Thomas Moore as judges and thrill seekers perused the array of classic and modern vehicles.

Obihiro mural is underway

A welcoming committee greeted the Seward Mural Society group at the Obihiro airport with flowers and a big sign. The president of the exchange program welcomed them to the "best air in Japan" and told everyone to breathe deep."We have received an incredibly warm reception here in Obihiro from a crowd that seems genuinely interested in our project," wrote Sheila Morrow. This will be Obihiro's first mural. The delegates visited the zoo where the platform stands ready to receive the "Friendship Across the Water" mural.

World traveler promotes geotourism for Seward

As the busy tourism season wound down local leaders took time for introspection. The Seward area could become a location for a new trend and concept in travel, "geotourism," if there is a concerted effort locally to make it happen, said visiting expert Jonathan Tourtellot, a world traveler and longtime senior editor for the National Geographic Traveler magazine. Tourtellot came to Seward last week while touring Alaska via the University of Alaska's Cooperative Extension Service.

Seahawks host cross-country invite

With an overcast sky threatening rain, cross-country teams from 19 schools around the state gathered for the Frank Dieckgraeff Invitational meet at Seward High School's track. Middle and high school athletes travelled long distances to compete and have fun and even experience some Seward sunshine as the Friday skies cleared near the end of the competition. Allie Ostrander, five-time Mount Marathon Girls Junior Race champion of Kenai Central High, strolled away with first place in the varsity girls competition. Matthew Moore led the Seahawks varsity boys team with an eighth place finish in race standings led by Kodiak's Levi Thomet.

Beloved business burns

An early morning fire on Saturday burned a building at 310 A Street almost to the ground. Seward Fire Department was called out at 2:52 a.m. and responded to the blaze three blocks away. By noon stubs of walls and piles of scorched wreckage were all that remained of the 3,200 square foot former daycare that has been home to Ray's Reusables secondhand store for almost five years.

Festival promises a wild ride

Recycled cardboard railroad tracks with at least 300 colorful painted ties will run wildly along the floor, up the walls and across the ceiling of the Alaska Railroad cruise ship building this year at the 10th annual Seward Music and Arts Festival. This year's theme is the old railroad-era in Alaska, to mark the railroad's 90th anniversary of President Warren Harding laying the first track in Nenana in 1923 and to take advantage of some of the things already decorating the terminal such as railroad-style wooden benches and old photographs. It's gearing up to be another marvelous celebratory end-of-the season event, with more than 20 musical and arts performances, which will help fund local arts projects in the coming year.

Seahawks booster race paints the town

Clouds of green and gold erupted at six paint stations as the first annual Seahawks Spirit Scamper run took place last Saturday. This year the new event replaced the traditional Hawk Walk as Seward High School's main fundraiser to help pay for high school travel for athletics and activities. Over 175 scamps made the trek from the Alaska SeaLife Center to Seward High School and arrived dusted with in the colored corn starch and food dye mixture.

- October -

Tustumena is back in the water

The Alaska Marine Highway System ferry Tustumena sailed a short distance across Resurrection Bay from moorings at Seward Ship's Drydock to relocate at the Alaska Railroad cruise ship terminal for finishing work. The Tustumena was refloated Sept. 26 for the first time in 10 months after problems with scheduled repair work kept it in drydock. United States Coast Guard inspections revealed that welds had not properly secured replacement hull plating and work had to be stripped and redone. Additionally, AMHS submitted over 100 unanticipated change orders to the original contract involving other aspects of the 50-year-old vessel's facilities.

AVTEC takes lead in Arctic training

AVTEC Director Fred Esposito says Seward can expect a lot from the community's fifth largest employer and Alaska's leading vocational technical training school. The flagship of AVTEC's progress is the maritime department's ice navigation program and is the first training center in the country to receive certification by the United States Coast Guard. Esposito says that Seward is the obvious place to base this kind of training as it's above the 60th parallel and has the facilities to best stage access to icy northern waters.

Federal shutdown comes to town

National Park Service personnel take unscheduled leave as the first federal government shutdown in 17 years furloughs dozens of public employees in the Seward area. Federal agencies including the Chugach National Forest and NPS were given up to four hours on Tuesday to secure facilities and operations before leaving for mandatory unpaid time off. Mark Thompson, Chief Ranger for Kenai Fjords National Park was on hand to lock down the newly rebuilt NPS offices on Railway Avenue.

Bardarson elected mayor, Squires new councilor

Long time Seward City Council member and current vice-mayor Jean Bardarson is to become Seward's 39th person elected mayor and is the fourth woman to hold the post. According to preliminary return totals, she overcame local businessman Tim McDonald with 78 percent of the vote. Although approximately 55 questioned and absentee ballots remain, Bob Valdatta will have to pick up 33 votes to surpass Vanta Shafer, the next lowest vote getter in the council race. The newest candidate to be seated on the council, Dave Squires, is secure no matter what the remaining count.

DOT to reopen airport runway

According to Randy Vanderwood, a spokesperson for DOT's aviation division, the state agency has pulled together a lot of manpower along with around $500,000 in funding to secure and restore the tarmac at the edge of the Resurrection River. He says that the new dike won't resolve the matter of seasonal flooding on the runway and connecting aprons, but it will keep the river's main current at bay while state agencies work on a long-term solution.

Two local bears die under fire

Beginning in late September and continuing into the first week of October, sightings of black bears began showing up in the Seward Police Department journals. One bear ended up missing, presumed dead at Spring Creek Correctional Center after being shot a SPD officer and another was accidentally dispatched by another SPD officer who was firing noisemaking shells to drive the bear from the downtown area. The SCCC bear apparently left behind orphaned bear cubs, one of which survived and ended up in temporary accommodations at Seward Animal Shelter.

Invite sports record number of swimmers

Over 200 participants in the 2013 Seward Seahawks Invite saw the Seward High School pool building reverberating with the noise of the crowd and calls of timers, teammates and officials. Teams attended from high schools around Southcentral Alaska. The Seahawks team included competitive showings by Seward High School seniors Isabel Barnwell, Jerry Swanson, Hayden Tiner and Rachel Tougas.

Chugach shareholders meet, honor Ollestad

The 2013 annual shareholders dinner, business meeting and convention for Chugach Alaska Corporation was hosted by the AVTEC Culinary Academy on Friday. After the dinner, CAC chairman of the board Sheri Buretta joined with Caroline Toloff in honoring the memory and contributions of long time CAC board member Gilbert Ollestad of Seward. The proceedings also included the re-election of three incumbent directors including Timothy Christoffersen, Julie Kitka and David Totemoff Sr. The following day the convention continued in the AVTEC library, lecture and gym facility.

Seward area battles high water

City of Seward and Kenai Peninsula Borough officials braced themselves early this week for a flood as temperatures warmed and torrential rain fell, melting snow in the mountains and filling rivers and creeks up to their banks. The weather created the conditions for another flood, similar to the one experienced last September. By Tuesday afternoon, both the City of Seward and the Kenai Peninsula Borough declared disasters for a handful of areas.

Zip line tours come to town

Five miles north of Seward, a new 80-acre theme park is due to open early next summer. Late in August, the principals of Denali Zipline Tours completed a $200,000 purchase of a large tract of mostly undeveloped land near Bear Lake. The property was on the market for over a decade due to high cost of development of the rural parcel, but the new owners can do without amenities like electricity. Using an existing access road originally developed for logging the hillside overlooking the Questa Woods Subdivision, the still unnamed venture has strung seven runs of stainless steel cable high above the ground.

Cub finds home in Sitka

The Fortress of the Bear, a non-profit educational bear rescue facility based in Sitka, last week made a successful application to Alaska Department of Fish and Game to shelter a black bear cub. Smokey, a female, is the apparent sole survivor of a family who's matriarch was shot earlier this month by a Seward police officer near the Spring Creek Correctional Center parking lot.

- November -

Callahan guarded coast

U.S. Coast Guard veterans, often overlooked on Veterans Day, play an important role for our nation, both in times of peace and war, said veteran Tom Callahan who served as a commissioned officer in the Coast Guard for 10 years, beginning in 1965. He calls his service with the Coast Guard, almost four decades ago, the best job he ever had.

Bridenbach-Barile served in Gulf

In 1988 Susannah Bridenbach-Barile's German grandfather, who was a World War I veteran on the German side, told her not to join the Army because there was going to be a war. She impetuously assumed that he didn't know what he was talking about. Sure enough though, 18 months later, Desert Storm was underway. Next thing, she was in the Middle Eastern heat in body armor, marching around with a ruck sack half her weight.

Students honor veterans

Seward Elementary School hosted a sweet, patriotic Veterans Day program on Veterans Day in honor of veterans and active duty military. A small group of boys from Webelos Troop 327 presented the colors at the beginning of the ceremony, and retired the Alaska and American flags at the program's conclusion. The middle school and high school choirs performed "Star Spangled Banner" and the Community Choir followed with the "Alaska Flag Song."

6th grade move gets final approval

The Kenai Peninsula School District Board approved the reconfiguration of Seward's elementary and middle schools at their regular meeting on Monday in Soldotna. Sewardites were well represented at the vote as the board signed off on the plan to move sixth grade to Seward Middle School for the start of the next school year.

Sikuliaq takes long way home

Just over a year ago, the research vessel Sikuliaq was launched into the frigid waters of Lake Michigan. Commissioned by the National Science Foundation and due to be handed over to a University of Alaska Fairbanks management team next month, the icebreaker will be operated from Seward as its home port. With new offices being finished in downtown Seward's Orca Building, administrators, technicians and crew will start being seen in the community as the stage is set for NSF and UAF to take possession of the vessel for acceptance trials on Dec. 9.

Funding comes through for local clinic

The Seward Community Health Center is a virtual certainty given the Nov. 7 announcement of a $775,000 federal grant. The funding comes less than six weeks after a disappointment when U.S. Department of Health and Human Services passed over Seward in the initial round of grants and the spectre of a federal government shutdown and default amidst a budget crisis came and went. According to clinic advocates, the grant will go toward the start up and first 15 months of operation of the locally owned and operated Federally Qualified Health Center.

New councilor seated

The selection of a candidate for Mayor Jean Bardarson's council seat was a cliffhanger as ballots from the voting councilors came back tied 3 to 3 between Dale Butts and Bob Thomas. The tie was broken on the fourth pass and Dale Butts was voted in as the replacement councilor.

Dan Seavey debuts book

Dan Seavey formally introduced his new book "The First Great Race: Alaska's 1973 Iditarod" to an enthusiastic hometown gathering at the Seward Community Library Museum on Saturday. After handing a copy of the book to Doug Capra, Seavey in turn acknowledged Lee Poleske for his assistance in contributing historical research to its production. Poleske received a second copy of the book.

Group aims for ski area reboot

The barely visible remains of a ski area started by Sewardites in 1938 and kept in running order by volunteers for over 20 years may undergo a resurrection over the next few years thanks to the Mountain Riders Alliance and its Manitoba Mountain Project Manager, Dave Scanlan of Hope. The once and future ski area is at Mile 49 Seward Highway, about four miles north of Summit Lake Lodge.

- December -

Community celebrates life of Seward pioneer

The Seward High School Auditorium was filled to overflowing on Saturday afternoon as the community turned out to join with the Fletcher family in remembering the life of Skip Fletcher. A long time Seward resident, Wallace "Skip" Elwood Fletcher, 84, died at the Providence Seward Medical & Care Center on Nov. 21 due to complications of the heart.

New library museum has strong first year

In the year since the City of Seward took procession of the newly-constructed building on Dec. 10, 2012, library use has increased, and the use of the building overall has remained steady as expected with a slight dip occuring once the summer tourist season ended. That's what Patty Linville, the head librarian told business leaders at the Chamber of Commerce luncheon forum Friday. She, and a few other staff members were invited guest speakers at the forum. "It's hard to believe that we have been in the space for about a year," Linville said. "It's amazing just what has been accomplished.

Clinic director gets council nod

Seward Community Health Center's interim executive director Sharon Montagnino says that all positions for the new medical clinic will be advertised for hire as of Jan. 1. After voting to approve the hiring of Montagnino, Monday the Seward City Council passed an ordinance which creates a parallel class of city employee for SCHC workers. The enacted ordinance will take effect 10 days after Monday's vote. At that point all the pieces will be in place for Montagnino to interview and hire clinic employees.



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