Report on January 30th Tonsina Chamber Meeting

Tonsina River Lodge
On Thursday night January 30th, 2014, almost thirty Chamber members met at Tonsina River Lodge and had a great Russian/American meal. We all went home stuffed. 

The meeting featured a presentation by WISE, and a slide show of the new Visitor Information Center renovation at the Hub, as well as information about our new panels and podiums to display your business to the traveling public.

The meetings now have plenty of time for everyone to share information and talk about their businesses and upcoming events that Chamber members should know. The next meeting will be towards the end of February, and we should know where it's going to be by the end of the first week of the month of February.

Matt, a VISTA volunteer, gave a presentation about WISE.

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Road To Valdez Opened

All photos, courtesy DOT.

The road to Valdez was reopened on Wednesday morning, February 5th. The Department of Transportation and the contractors it hired worked around the clock to clear away the snow avalanche at the top of Keystone Canyon. Governor Sean Parnell toured the area in a helicopter on Saturday. 

Copper Valley Electric also worked to get its transmission line back up and running by Tuesday evening after "it was discovered that a phase conductor had broken loose from a transmission line tower in Thompson Pass."  

The Richardson was first closed on Friday, January 24th, 2014 -- with several slides in the pass. A vehicle near Mile 40 was caught in a slide early Friday morning, but the driver wasn't hurt. Here in the Copper Valley, north of Valdez, we were glad we had called off the Thursday night Chamber dinner meeting, as several people, including the speaker, were supposed to drive up from Valdez Thursday afternoon and return that night.

But by Saturday, avalanche control measures were underway and the situation got much worse. The snow chute at the top of Keystone Canyon that slides every spring really let loose.

It completely blocked the highway with a towering slide that looks like it is as high as the wall of the canyon. The problem was compounded by the fact that the Lowe River had backed up behind the slide. 

By Friday, January 31st, the Lowe River had drained out through the old, historic collapsed railroad tunnel and work began to remove snow from the south side. Snow was so high that the work had to proceed in a tiered manner -- first taking a section off the top, then the middle, and finally, crews had to find the roadbed at the bottom.

A lot of truck traffic comes through the Copper Valley on the Richardson Highway from Valdez -- hauling goods brought in by barge and also fuel from the Valdez refinery. Valdez is 100 miles south of Copper Center.

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Podium Displays & Panels

Next up to be built were the display panels and the central displays. Every effort is being made to make them artistic, rustic, harmonious, and effective places to show off your business and to get the public to come to your business.

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Slick Roads – Chamber Meeting Rescheduled – January 30th

You have to watch for caribou all along the Glenn Highway west of Glennallen.  It's hard to stop in time on the icy roads and quite a few have been hit.
The jet stream -- which usually heads east across the Lower 48 -- has been bringing warm air straight north. Experts predict it will continue at least until February. Meanwhile, while the East Coast is closing schools because of the cold the Copper River School District closed them because of rain. 

And we have moved the Chamber Dinner Meeting from this week to next Thursday, January 30th for the same reason. Give us a call at 822-5555 if you can attend next week. Hope to see you there. Be safe and watch for moose and caribou!

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House Resource Committee Heard About Gasline

The Alaska Oil Pipeline travels through the Copper Valley on its way to Valdez.   

On Monday, January 27th, the House Resources Committee began presentations on the Alaska gas line project. First up was the "Heads of Agreement" document. The Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Revenue walked the committee through the agreement. Then, on Wednesday, the committee examined the "Memorandum of Understanding."  On Friday, the committee heard from Steve Butt, Project Manager for the Alaska LNG Project.  

Meeting can often be seen on your computer from the Alaska Legislature website – AKLEG TV.  

Sometimes you must call in via teleconference for a listen only option (1-855-463-5009.)

The Glennallen LIO phone number is 822-5588 if you need more information or to find out about upcoming meetings.

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Chamber Committee Meetings

This was our Christmas Dinner at Brown Bear.  

  Most Recent At Top

Full Board Meeting  – Tuesday, February 4th

Finance Committee – Saturday, February 1st 10:30 am – Ahtna Room 112

Topics : Bills, Budget, Taxes, Accountant,Meeting with VIC contractor

Renovation Committee – Friday, January 31st 10:30 am – VIC

Topics : Budget

Renovation Committee – Monday, January 27th 12:30 pm – VIC

Topics : Panel Construction, Podium Design

Web Committee – TBA

 Topic : First look at new web design

Executive Committee – Tuesday, January 21st 7:00 pm – VIC

 Topic : Executive Director Contract

Renovation Committee – Tuesday, January 21st 5:30 pm – VIC

Topics : Panel Construction, Podium Design

Finance Committee – Wednesday, January 15th 5:30 pm – Ahtna Room 112

Topics : Membership benefits, Bills, Budget, Taxes, Accountant,

Full Board Meeting  – Tuesday, January  7th


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Ahtna Looks For Gas Deposits

Ahtna Inc announced major gas development plans
with gas delivery to the valley possibly as early as 2017. 

Ahtna, Inc., the Copper Valley’s hometown Native regional corporation, is investing in trying to make the Valley more livable. This week it announced that it will try to develop gas wells 15 miles west of Glennallen.

The purpose of the wells is not to export the gas. Instead, Ahtna has said it is committed to using the gas locally. The main goal  of the project would be to reduce the high costs of heat and electricity in the Copper Valley, Ahtna said.

Currently, fuel costs in the Copper Valley are higher than in many parts of the state. The high cost of living has led to a domino effect which has impacted the local economy and population. Young people of child-bearing age have had to leave the region to find work and affordable living. Three schools have recently closed, due to high utility costs and lack of pupils: Gakona, Chistochina and Copper Center. And several local businesses that were previously year-round have shuttered for the winter.

Ahtna believes the project could provide local energy for at least a hundred years.

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Moose Habitat Project

Moose habitat normally grows through the fire cycle. After a big fire, moose browse pops up. Because fires have been successfully suppressed in our region, many of our trees are old growth black spruce. According to Bruce Cain, Ahtna is going to try a pilot project to artifically create browse -- using mechanical tools instead of fire.

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Lake Louise Events



LAKE LOUISE LODGE  (907) 822-3311

Feb. 1        Little Lake Louise Fun Ride – Departs Lake Louise Lodge – call for info.
Feb. 2    Super Bowl Sunday  **  Free Green Bean Chili  ** Free Giveaway Prizes!!!
Feb. 15                SWEETHEART FUN RUN 
    Prime Rib Dinner  **  Live Music Friday and Sat. Nights by PIERRE BIDONDO
Feb. 22         7th Annual Anniversary Party **  Black Jack Fun Run **Broasted Chicken
       **Live Music by house performer ROGER SWANSTROM 9:00PM Fri. & Sat.

Mar. 1        Long distance Fun Run – approx. 85 miles of groomed trail.
                   2nd MARDI GRAS PARTY
                    LIVE MUSIC BY DETOUR 8:30PM to ????
           OLD FASHIONED SHRIMP BOIL dinner special, Activities, Fun for ALL ages!!!
                   Wear your purple, yellow & green and bring BEADS!!!
Mar. 8            Wolf Pack Weekend - Basket Auction – Lake Louise Lodge
        Live Music Friday and Saturday nights by KEVIN WORRELL       

Mar. 15        St. Patrick’s Day Party – Snowmachine Parade
  ***** Games for ALL ages ** Live Music Friday and Saturday by PIERRE BIDONDO

Mar. 22                  19th Annual Antique Fun Run **  $20.00 Entry Fee 
     Snowmachine must be 1985 or older and must finish the poker run to win!!
           Cash Prizes & Trophies  ** Live Music by WILD CAT TRIO

Mar. 29      31ST ANNUAL SPRING FUN RUN  **  $30.00 ENTRY FEE  ** LOSER HATS  **

May 3    24TH Annual Golf Classic  **   $10.00 Entry Fee  ** Call to confirm date!!!
       Cinco De Mayo Party *** Live Music by OUR HOUSE PERFORMER - ROGER

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Long Lake Hill - 20 Miles Of Construction

A new 20-mile long road project that includes Long Lake Hill has been moved up in priority. According to Rep. Eric Feige, the federal surveyors started working on the project last summer, and the work should get underway in earnest in 2015. It’s assumed the project will take at least two years, once it’s started. Although the design hasn’t been finalized, Feige thought that soil sampling showed the highway has to remain on the current side of Long Lake, on the Talkeetna mountain slopes. The Glenn Highway continues to deteroriate. On December 23rd, it was closed near Pinnacle Mountain, at around Mile 76, as road crews cleared massive 5 to 8 foot tall boulders that had hurtled onto the roadway, right beside the river.

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Copper Basin 300 Celebrates 25 years!

Photo, Neil Hannan

The Copper Basin 300 Sled Dog Race celebrated its 25th anniversary this weekend.  Congratulations go to the board, volunteers, racers and sponsors. Special community thanks to KCAM for covering the race every year and to Zack Steer who returned as Race Manager again. Richard Dennis, who is also a chamber board member, served as Race President. In a big advancement, all mushers this year had GPS trackers so their progress could be followed on the internet.

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Allison Hydro Project Starts Next Summer

This is Solomon Gulch which currently produces about 50% of our electricity. 

CVEA is expected to break ground next summer on the Allison Hydro Project. It’s a two-year
project. When it’s completed, it’s hoped that CVEA will move from 50% to 64% hydropower. CVEA has also been doing wind and solar surveys to see if other alternative energy sources are  practical. So far, wind and solar have very long payback periods on the return of investment.

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Copper River School District

As businesses, we need to be aware of the school district’s needs because schools are an essential component of a vital community that people want to be a part of.  The number of children attending the Copper River School District continues to shrink, according to school district superintendent Michael Johnson. The district has about 40 fewer kids this year.

As in all of the current problems the Copper Valley faces today, making life in this region affordable is the key to success. And lack of affordable energy tops the list. Economic development has to occur to bring in jobs, and to keep and bring families to the community. The last large influx of people, due to economic growth, was during the Pipeline. The school district has been thinking of ways it could use the vacated Alaska Bible College Campus -- to possibly create a rural school campus.

To see the Copper River School District News, click here:

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