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Story Last modified at 9:38 p.m. on Wednesday, February 23, 2011

News Briefs

Bartley and Chugiak VFD honored

The Anchorage Assembly last week honored the Chugiak Volunteer Fire Department and former Chief Bruce Bartley for dedication and service.

The resolution marking the honor, announced at an Assembly meeting on Feb. 15, was read by Chugiak Assembly member Debbie Ossiander. The department covers a service area of about 50 square miles, with some 15,000 residents, and responds to approximately 800 calls a year "in all weather conditions in prompt and professional manner regardless of their personal concerns and private job responsibilities," Ossiander said.

Bartley, who retired on Feb. 3, joined the department in 1983, became a captain three years later, an assistant chief in 1990 and served as chief since 2005. His former assistant, Tom Reinbolt, now serves as chief.

Ossiander also credited Bartley's community service through more than 25 years as a member of the Anchorage critical incident management team and the southern region EMS Council. She also read a congratulatory letter from Rep. Bill Stoltze, a Chugiak Republican.

Stoltze's letter said that Bartley "gained the respect and admiration of those who worked with him."

Bartley, who attended the meeting with wife Terry, said that any recognition of his efforts "is really a reflection of the men and women I serve with."

Military extends comment on training

The public will have until March 4 to comment on a proposed expansion of military training areas that includes a wide swath of sky over Talkeetna Mountain recreation areas like Paxson. The proposed expansions for the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex also would affect numerous other training areas around the state.

Mail comments to ALCOM Public Affairs, 9480 Pease Ave., Ste. 120 JBER, AK 99506. Or contact 552-2341 or www.jparceis.com.

City ends up with surplus for 2010

The municipality is in the "enviable" position of having a budget surplus on the books for 2010, according to city budget officials.

While final numbers won't be complete until April or May, preliminary estimates show a roughly $10 million surplus in available fund balance, according to an e-mail from Lucinda Mahoney, chief financial officer for the municipality. That number will likely change, Mahoney said.

The money is not in one lump sum, but rather many different funds, with different restrictions on spending. Officials will review each fund this spring during the first quarter budget revision process.

Preliminary estimates indicate that police, medical trust, convention center, and parks and recreation departments may have available fund balances, Mahoney said in the e-mail.

Running a surplus at year's end is rare, she said. She credited the administration with saving money in anticipation of future labor costs. Critics have accused Mayor Dan Sullivan and the Assembly of cutting too deeply into city services to keep property taxes down.

Mahoney said the funds could be used for such purposes as legal liabilities, reducing property taxes, or other spending by Sullivan or the Assembly.

"Any available fund balance will be particularly valuable this year as the MOA sells its bonds into an unstable municipal bond market," she wrote. "Potential investors in MOA bonds will view our available fund balance as an indicator of strong financial health and management commitment to a long-term fiscal stability. This is an enviable position for the MOA."

Two dogs die in Hiland Road fire

Two dogs died in a structure fire about five miles up Hiland Road that did significant damage to a log home on Johnny Drive.

The first report came in at 9:54 a.m. on Feb. 19, according to Anchorage Fire Department spokesman Al Tamagni. A neighbor said that an off-duty firefighter plowing his driveway saw the flames and called it in. The first fire engines to get to the home arrived at 10:11 a.m., Tamagni said. All told, nine units responded from Eagle River, Anchorage and Chugiak Volunteer Fire Department. Police also responded. When officers arrived, they saw smoke but were unable to get inside, Tamagni said. Firefighters arriving at the fire saw "heavy smoke" coming from the upstairs, he said.

Interviews with the homeowner revealed that a "carelessly discarded cigarette" might have caused the fire, Tamagni said. Total damage is estimated at $125,000.

There is a fire station on Hiland, but it was staffed by volunteers and is no longer active, so units come from Eagle River, Chugiak and Anchorage.



This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, February 23, 2011.