Big Lake, Alaska and The Susitna Valley News, Weather, Events, And More

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Friday, January 19 2018 @ 12:28 AM AKST


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Governor Walker Advances Effort to Launch Commuter Rail Service Linking Anchorage, Mat-Su

Alaska NewsGovernor Bill Walker signed Administrative Order No. 292, establishing the Governor’s Commuter Rail Advisory Task Force.

The nine-member group is being formed to determine the feasibility of a commuter rail service connecting Anchorage and the Matanuska-Susitna Valley. Right now, an average of 50,000 drivers commute daily on the lone ground transportation link that connects the two communities.

“Anyone who drives on the Glenn Highway knows all too well that we need an alternative way to move between Alaska’s two largest population centers,” Governor Walker said. “This new group will make sure our rail system is reaching its full potential.”

The task force will draw from prior research conducted by the Department of Transportation as well as information from the Alaska Railroad Corporation and other sources.

Results of the study will determine estimates of initial and ongoing capital costs, expected operating costs, potential ridership, a recommended governance structure, and economic benefits of a commuter rail such as saving on road maintenance and lowering of emissions, among other things.

Initial findings are due to the governor no later than May 31.

Mayors from the Municipality of Anchorage, City of Houston, Matanuska-Susitna Borough, City of Palmer, and City of Wasilla will serve on the task force; as will the Director of the Anchorage Metropolitan Area Transportation Solutions, a representative from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, and two members of the public with expertise in transportation. The Transportation and Commerce commissioners will also serve as non-voting members.

Members of the task force will not receive compensation, though per diem and travel expenses will be covered for any members who are not government employees. Funding in the Governor’s proposed capital budget related to this initiative would not be spent unless the task force recommends moving forward with a pilot project after their analysis is complete.

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Alaska Mental Health Trust fall statewide land sale features 64 parcels

Alaska NewsThe Alaska Mental Health Trust Land Office is offering approximately 64 parcels throughout Alaska in its 2017 Fall Statewide Land Sale. Comprehensive information about the parcels, including photos and maps, is available at

The Trust Land Office administers land sales on behalf of the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority. Many Trust parcels are uniquely situated for residential and recreational uses and are made available for purchase through annual statewide land sales. Bids will be accepted until October 30, 2017.

The Trust Land Office can provide financing for successful bidders after down payment of 10 percent of the purchase price. You do not need to be an Alaskan resident to bid.

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Big Lake Welcomes Seniors

Alaska NewsSubmitted by Jim Faiks

A new gated community offers affordable lake front homes for seniors.

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Bidding open now for DNR's annual land auction for Alaskans

Alaska NewsThe Department of Natural Resources is inviting Alaskans interested in owning a piece of the Last Frontier to participate in the 2017 Annual State Land Auction. This year’s land offering includes road-accessible and remote parcels ranging from the Southeast Alaska coastline to Interior river corridors. Of the 200 parcels available, 77 are new to the auction this year.

Alaska residents may submit sealed bids in person, by mail, or online between 10 a.m. on March 24 and 5 p.m. on July 5. Apparent high bids will be announced on July 12. Bidders may purchase up to two parcels in this auction. Free brochures are available at DNR’s Public Information Centers in Anchorage and Fairbanks and the DNR Land Counter in Juneau. Individuals are encouraged to visit DNR’s recently-updated Land Sales site at

Over-the-Counter (OTC) sales will follow the auction. Parcels will become available for purchase at 10 am on July 26. Changes have been made to the OTC procedures following the Auction this year; see pages 94 and 109 of the brochure for details. Visit our website to see parcels currently available for purchase OTC. DNR offers competitive, in-house financing for land purchases.

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Governor Walker Signs Legislation to Make Alaska Real I.D.-Compliant

Alaska NewsGovernor Bill Walker today signed House Bill 16 into law, allowing the state to begin the process of issuing Real ID-compliant forms of identification. This legislation gives Alaskans the option to obtain federally compliant identification; it is not mandatory. Without the legislation, Alaskans would have been denied entry into most airports, military bases and federal facilities without a passport or other acceptable form of documentation.

“Alaskans no longer have to wonder if their travel plans or ability to work will be in jeopardy,” Governor Walker said. “This legislation balances compliance with federal law with the privacy concerns that some have noted by giving Alaskans the choice of having a Real ID-compliant license. The Department of Administration will move quickly to ensure that there are no disruptions in the everyday lives of our citizens. I thank the House and Senate for passing this critical legislation.”

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Troopers Conducting High Visibility Enforcement Effort

Alaska NewsThe Alaska State Troopers and Alaska Wildlife Troopers started the Annual Memorial Day Weekend Click It or Ticket High Visibility Enforcement Effort yesterday. The effort runs through June 4.

The main focus of the National Click It or Ticket enforcement campaign is to save lives. AST hopes motorists drive safely throughout the High Visibility Enforcement campaign and the rest of the summer. Wearing seatbelts saves lives and goes a long way to protect all vehicle occupants from being seriously injured or killed.

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Own Your Own Alaska Ferry: M/V Taku Sale Extended, Minimum Bid Lowered

Alaska NewsThe Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities (ADOT&PF) is extending the sale of the M/V Taku and reducing the minimum bid price. The deadline to submit bids is May 31, 2017 and the minimum bid price is $700,000. Interested bidders must have a bid bond of $5,000. The complete bid package is available on the state’s Online Public Notice website.

The original deadline to submit sealed bids was May 9, 2017 and the minimum bid price was $1.5 million.

ADOT&PF is selling the vessel “As Is/Where Is” to the highest bidder. The sale process involved getting Federal Highway Administration approval since federal funding was used to maintain the vessel over its lifespan.

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Governor Walker Discusses Alaska Opportunities with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

Alaska NewsFrom a Press Release

Governor Bill Walker today discussed the importance of Alaska’s strategic geopolitical role in national security during a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, emphasizing the strong need for a naval base in the Arctic. Secretary Tillerson introduced Governor Walker during the 10th Ministerial of the Arctic Council luncheon.

“We are fortunate to have a Secretary of State who is familiar with Alaska and knows just how close we are to neighboring countries that are building up their military presence in our waters and skies,” Governor Walker said. “I was seated next to Secretary Tillerson during a White House dinner in February, so this was the second meeting where I explained the opportunities that Alaska provides to the country. Today, I told the Secretary that Alaska can play a crucial role in offsetting the United States trade deficit if any barriers are removed to market our natural resources—like seafood, timber and natural gas. We also discussed the visits by Vice President Mike Pence and President Xi Jinping, who was able to see firsthand the myriad opportunities between Alaska and China.”

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Studded Tire and Pothole Information

Alaska News

Studded Tires:

It is unlawful to operate a motor vehicle with studded tires on a paved highway or road from May 1st through September 15th, inclusive, north of 60° North Latitude (all communities north of Ninilchik) and

It is unlawful to operate a motor vehicle with studded tires on a paved highway or road from April 15th through September 30th, inclusive, south of 60° North Latitude (Anchor Point, Homer, Kodiak and cities and towns in Southeast Alaska), except that at any latitude on a paved portion of the Sterling Highway a person may not operate a motor vehicle with studded tires from May 1st through September 15th, inclusive.

Reporting Potholes:

WARNING: Water and asphalt do not mix. Potholes result when water gets into and under asphalt. Motorists should reduce speed while driving through all puddles especially large puddles. We have had many reports of flat tires due to drivers driving too fast through puddles and hitting unseen potholes. Report potholes promptly to the nearest maintenance station in your area.

To report potholes on major state routes: Mat-Su: 907-745-2159

To report potholes on local roads:Mat-Su Borough: 907-745-9826

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Dept. of Public Safety: Please Support SB 54 Amendments to Criminal Justice Reform

Alaska NewsFrom a Press Release

Last year, our legislature and Governor Walker enacted Senate Bill 91, broadly reforming our criminal justice system. Prior laws were not working as we had hoped. Evidence showed that long prison sentences did not reform criminals or make our communities safer in the long run. And most of those who were sentenced to prison became repeat visitors to our criminal justice system.

SB 91 significantly reduced prison sentences for all but the most serious crimes. Because most crimes involve substance abuse factors and more than 40% of our inmates have mental health issues, a primary goal of SB 91 was to incentivize low level offenders to seek treatment, rather than putting those people in prison.

But once SB 91 was enacted, our District Attorneys, prosecutors, Troopers and others began seeing that a few provisions undercut the treatment goals of SB 91 and negatively impacted public safety. With the support of Governor Walker, our departments suggested small changes to our criminal justice laws. The Senate just passed our proposed changes as part of Senate Bill 54, and that bill is now before the House.

What are our proposed amendments? There are a number of small tweaks, but we believe two are the most important: authorizing up to one year in jail for C-felonies and imposing a small amount of jail time for repeat thefts of less than $250.

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Happy Seward's Day

Alaska NewsToday is Seward's Day. Seward's Day is a legal holiday in the U.S. state of Alaska. It falls on the last Monday in March and commemorates the signing of the Alaska Purchase treaty on March 30, 1867. It is named for then-Secretary of State William H. Seward, who negotiated the purchase from Russia.

It should not be confused with Alaska Day, which marks the formal transfer of control over Alaska from Russia to the United States.

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Alaskans May Need U.S. Passports for Domestic Air Travel

Alaska NewsStarting June 6, Alaskans who work or live on U.S. military bases will not be able to gain unescorted entry using their Alaska driver’s licenses or any other form of state identification—if the legislature does not pass bills to ensure Alaska’s compliance with the federal REAL ID Act. Also, starting January, Alaskans will need a U.S. passport or other REAL ID Act-compliant forms of identification for domestic travel.

“Alaskans who want to visit family, attend a funeral or take a vacation will need a passport or federally approved form of identification to fly—even within Alaska and the rest of the United States—unless our state complies with federal REAL ID Act requirements,” Governor Walker said. “As it stands, residents in five non-compliant states are already being forced to use different forms of identification. Alaska should not be added to that list. For many, passports can be difficult and expensive to get. This legislation provides a cost-effective and flexible approach, giving Alaskans the option to get REAL ID-compliant licenses at a local DMV.”

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Bid to Win Your Very Own Alaska Ferry

Alaska NewsThe Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities (ADOT&PF) is selling the M/V Taku through a sealed bid sale. The minimum bid price is $1.5 million and interested bidders must have a bid bond of $5,000. The complete bid package is available on the state’s Online Public Notice website.

M/V Taku

ADOT&PF is selling the vessel “As Is/Where Is” to the highest bidder. The sale process involved getting Federal Highway Administration approval since federal funding was used to maintain the vessel over its lifespan.

Last month, ADOT&PF initiated proceedings to transfer ownership of the M/V Taku by offering it to other state agencies or municipalities. No public entity expressed an interest in assuming ownership of the M/V Taku.

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Governor Walker Introduces Bill to Comply with Federal REAL ID Act

Alaska NewsJUNEAU – Governor Bill Walker introduced legislation today that would bring the State of Alaska in compliance with the federal REAL ID Act, and prevent travel restrictions on residents with a REAL ID-compliant Alaska driver license. Passed by Congress in 2005, REAL ID establishes national standards on the manufacture and issuance of driver licenses and identification cards to improve security and limit the production of false ID’s. Governor Walker’s legislation would allow Alaskans to choose between REAL ID-compliant and regular, noncompliant identification cards and driver licenses.

In 2008, the Alaska Legislature passed a law prohibiting the use of state funds to implement the REAL ID Act. Since the federal government has begun to enforce the law, Alaskans are at risk of not being able to enter military bases or go through TSA security without a passport or federally issued ID. Governor Walker worked with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to secure an extension to compliance with the REAL ID Act until June 2017. However, the federal agency informed the Governor it would not grant the state any further extensions to comply with the law.

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Governor Walker Delivers Third State of the State Address

Alaska NewsSource: Press Release: 17-008

JUNEAU – Governor Bill Walker delivered his third State of the State address this evening, urging members of the 30th Alaska State Legislature to pass a plan this session to fix Alaska’s fiscal crisis.

“State revenues are down more than 80 percent from four years ago. While we have cut the budget 44 percent, we still face a $3 billion fiscal gap,” said Governor Walker. “Denial doesn’t make the problem go away, and hope doesn’t pay the bills. We need to pass a plan this year to stabilize our fiscal future.”

In his speech, Governor Walker reiterated his support for a sustainable fiscal plan that includes spending cuts, use of Permanent Fund earnings and a broad-based tax to balance the state’s budget. While the administration will continue to eliminate wasteful spending, the Governor noted major cuts the state has already made.

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