ANCHORAGE – The hardest lesson of Jake Carlson’s teenage years hasn’t been taught in a textbook. Perhaps the hardest lesson of his life, so far, has been dealing with loss.
Neither of Jake’s parents will see him graduate from high school. When he was 13 his mother, Lynn, died of a long-term illness. Last May, at the end of Jake’s junior year, his father died unexpectedly.
“Grief sucks,” Jake said.
To be with his family, Jake missed several final exams. He returned to the high school to see what could be done and was told he would need to re-enroll as a junior. Hearing his only choice was to become a “super senior” made Jake consider dropping out. It was a very low point at the end of that summer, he said.
He decided to leave West High School to find a school where he could learn at his own pace in order to catch up on credits. His savior would appear to be just that — SAVE High School.
ANCHORAGE – May marks the beginning of summer in Alaska and the end of a long road for the state’s high school seniors. Anchorage alone will see around 3,100 high school graduates in the upcoming weeks, according to the Anchorage School District.
With a city-wide graduation rate of 80.2 percent, one out of every five students still aren’t getting to the graduation stage. With so many students still failing to get there, many community leaders, organizations, schools, teachers and parents are facing a tough question: What more can be done to get students their diplomas and what is holding them back?
We sat beneath a chandelier made of wine bottles in the middle of the bar. I was eagerly awaiting our eight-course feast. I was skeptical. The tickets sport a $110 price tag, yet I reserved judgment.
My dining partner and fellow writer, Wanderer and I were inside Crush, a wine bistro in downtown Anchorage, but our reservation was for an entirely different restaurant — Harvest.
Harvest restaurant is a pop-up, which by nature is temporary. It’s part of a worldwide dining trend that focuses on exclusive offerings from seasoned chefs, who cook up unique cuisine to tell stories that highlight the best of the harvest at that time.
In an evening filled with record turnout and a close, but solid victory for Ted Cruz in Alaska, perhaps the most intriguing outcome of Super Tuesday in the state was the amount of support for arguably the biggest loser of the night.
ANCHORAGE – A two-story white house in Midtown doesn’t look like any other on its block, but the sounds inside are familiar. Last Friday afternoon, laughter emanated from a toothy grin on the face of 1-year-old Athina Tziolas. She chewed a cookie while in the arms of her mother, Zoi Maroudas-Tziolas.
With the curious mind of a child her age, there was only one thing that was able to keep Athina’s attention: food. Although foods like kale, spinach, broccoli and Brussels sprouts are staples of healthy fare, for children they usually aren’t a favorite.
Zoi Maroudas-Tziolas is working to change that.
Putting a new spin on a time-worn tale
“Watch out for that polar bear,” she said over her shoulder while I squeezed between the rolling shelving and the edge of a long, wide table. I had followed Monica Garcia-Itchoak into a dark room on the top level of the Alaska Museum of Science and Nature (AMSN).
Patrons know the museum for the array of dinosaur bones, but few know that the building is also home to many more artifacts hidden away in the 6,000 feet of storage above. Inside the dim room, a woman sat at the end of the table, her face illuminated by an inspection lamp. She took off her gloves and came to greet us.
”Welcome to my world,” Sam Winer said. “Excuse the mess, I was just cleaning some mammoth bones.”
There's no doubt about it, in multiple cultures all around the world, winter is soup season.
My counterpart had the same notion-plus an elephantine amount more ambition-to procure a big, steaming bowl of ramen to battle the dark days of winter ("Momofuk'in good," Zack Fields, Dec. 10). While he smoked, simmered and boiled his own batch of Momofuku-style ramen, I went to Naruto.
Growing up, I had a friend with dark hair and espresso-colored eyes whose skin turned a deep shade of copper in the sun. Her brother was flame-haired, fair-skinned and freckled. (Yes, I’m positive he wasn’t adopted.) While they both shared the same roots of an Irish father and a Native American mother, their characteristics couldn’t have been more different.
Much is the same with Italian and Italian-American food.
Meet John and Cheri Francis of Alaska Ghost Hunters
Cheri was lying in bed when she heard the whisper, “Did you hear that?” She awoke thinking it was her husband John, but he was fast asleep. She heard footsteps walk across the ceiling and concluded it was guests on the floor above her.
The next day, she realized they were on the top floor.
That same day she was taking a nap, when John heard a voice next to her bed saying, “Wake up! Wake up!” He was recording at the time and caught the sound. When he played it for Cheri, she already knew the voice—the same one from the night before.
Gathered together on a couch, I listened to their ghost stories by the light of the fire, thankful for its warmth with chills from running down my spine. But they weren’t just out to scare me; John and Cheri Francis are ghost hunters.
Lackluster Italian at Romano’s
Romano’s has been the cool kid in Anchorage’s Italian food scene for quite some time. Locally-owned, the place is a dated darling that boasts being Anchorage’s favorite Italian restaurant for an eight-year run, but it’s easy to see why they’ve come up short for the title recently.
The local staple is trying to keep things fresh in their home-style restaurant and cuisine. A visit to their website gives the impression that the atmosphere is lively and the floor plan open, with hip twists on Italian favorites, promising an “eruption of magical tastes in your month [sic] with every bite of food you take.”
In reality, the place is strikingly different from the stock photography used to build their site. Take for instance, the photo of a beautifully-plated caprese salad—that’s not on the menu.
The current owners of 601 F St. are making sure the new building stands on the principles of its past.
Built where the old Covenant House once was, Williwaw has decided to continue supporting young people by partnering with the Alaska Music Project for Youth (AMP) to help kids develop a lifelong passion for music. This Saturday, the venue is hosting a free music workshop for kids put on by local artists and AMP, followed by the first-ever benefit event for the project.
Ever wish there were ways to increase your health and stamina before taking on a challenge? Maybe a first aid kit, a cache of ammo and a bigger weapon hiding in a trunk conveniently located on the way? Real life doesn’t have checkpoints or power-ups before the big battles, but local gaming group 907 Gamers is working to equip children and families to take on villains like cystic fibrosis and cancer.
Roller derby goes coed in Wasilla on January 3
Society has told us time and time again that men and women are too different to compete against one another. Yet, there are always groups bent on challenging convention. This time, Alaskan roller derby skaters are meeting it head on.
The Midnight Sons Drag Kings challenge gender norms one show at a time
The people you meet in a dimly lit corner of a bar next to a blaring jukebox are rarely what they seem. What better place to meet three strangers by the names of Dr. Feel Good, Random A. Danger and Silkk—the core members of the Midnight Sons Drag Kings, a group of three women who dress and take on the persona of men during live performances since 2012.
Winter Project mixes high-octane action with vivid storytelling
Last year was a bad snow year for Alaska, and this year isn’t off to a good start either.
But however badly the lack of snow last winter cramped your style, imagine raising more than $156,000 to finally make the full-length film of your dreams about extreme snowmachine riding in Alaska, only to have Mother Nature try and stop you.
This scenario sets the opening scene of the film Winter Project, which will have its world premiere this week at the Bear Tooth. Hybrid Color Films, who brought you the snowmachine short Black Sunday, presents their first feature-length film that has come a long way from the Kickstarter campaign it was born from. If you have been around Anchorage since 2013, you may remember it.
From October 31 to November 30 last year, the film’s crew and stars rallied the support of 1,031 backers to fund the making of Winter Project. They proposed an estimated goal of $140,000 and ended up raising $156,501.
On any given Thursday, you can hear the sound of their skates glide across the smooth, waxed floors. The soft thud as the skate hits the wood, followed by the whir of the wheels and bearings spinning. Then the clap of gear hitting gear, the crack of one helmet colliding with another and the slap of bare skin as a skater goes down. Sometimes, you can almost hear the bruises forming.
Erase what you think you know about roller derby. Forget Ellen Page and the movie Whip It (except the feminist bad-ass part), forget the costumes and the short skirts—keep the tattoos and add uniforms. Think hockey, mixed with speed skating and some Xena the Warrior Princess thrown in for good measure.
Allow me to cordially re-introduce you to the Rage City Rollergirls and the select few skaters who make up the elite Rage City All Stars, as they prepare for their season-opener bout.
In 1982, two young seniors at Montana State University started dating. They had known of each other growing up in the Mission Valley, she in Bigfork and he on the family farm outside of Pablo, but it wasn’t until college that they officially met. The next year, Roger and Kathy Starkel would get married and begin their life and business together.
“It’s been nothing but fun since,” Roger said.
Nearly 40 years later, the Starkels are about to be the recipients of the Ronan Area Chamber of Commerce’s ‘Producer of the Year’ award. While he still says the award is for “old guys,” Roger said he and Kathy are honored for the recognition.
Yet, this achievement pales in comparison to the innovations and advancements Roger and Kathy have brought to the agriculture industry.
Lake County prosecutors to amend charges, add deliberate homicide
POLSON — Desmond Alan Mackay was originally charged with attempted deliberate homicide and two counts of assault with a weapon following an attack with a hammer earlier this month. Now, in light of the victim’s death, Lake County prosecutors are seeking to amend the charges to include deliberate homicide.
Polson resident John Barrows passed away last weekend at Kalispell Regional Medical Center after undergoing emergency surgery. He remained unresponsive and died March 15. The 67-year-old man was Mackay’s father-in-law.
Mackay had attempted to attack his brother-in-law, Jesse Waugh, whom Mackay said owed him money. Instead, Mackay accidentally hit Barrows in the head with a framing hammer.
Original court documents state that Mackay and another man were in a garage in Polson when Waugh entered, took a battery and left. Mackay then grabbed a hammer from a rack and walked over to the door Waugh exited through. The affidavit states that Mackay attempted to get Waugh to reenter the garage by taunting him, but Waugh didn’t answer. Mackay jerked the door open and swung the hammer at the person in the doorway. His blow hit Barrows squarely in the head.
Documents state Mackay uttered an apology to Barrows before going after Waugh, who was outside in the yard. The men fought, but Waugh was able to pin Mackay until authorities arrived.
Barrows was unresponsive at the scene and was rushed to St. Joseph Medical Center before being flown to Kalispell.
In an interview last week, deputy county attorney James Lapotka said the charges against Mackay were contingent on Barrows’ condition. Lapotka said Tuesday that his office will amend the charges prior to Mackay’s arraignment on Thursday to single counts of deliberate homicide and assault with a weapon.
I remember watching a family cross-country ski down the street and I remember trudging a mile in the snow with my bag to get home. I remember businesses being closed and the appointment for my taxes being cancelled.
But I also remember screaming. I remember my shovel full of snow and debris and magazines. I remember the sound of the backhoe as it moved mound after mound of snow trying to find three people buried below.
I didn’t hear the ‘whoomph’ everyone else heard. I told my mom that the avalanche must be much farther up the Rattlesnake than I was because I hadn’t heard anything. Several minutes later, my boyfriend’s roommate Catie came to tell me that snow had slid off Mount Jumbo on Holly Street, a mere two blocks away, and an 8-year-old boy was trapped underneath.
Soon we’d learn there were three victims, but we didn’t wait for that. We ran through thigh-deep snow where the sidewalks should have been. We’d have run in the street where the snow was only knee-deep, but vehicles slid precariously along the unkempt side streets the city hadn’t had time to tend during the storm.
She’s in familiar company — several of her siblings, her husband Todd and her parents are all part of the team. In two years, they expect a member of the third generation will join the crew, a grandson who has played the patient in many training courses throughout the years.
There are 14 members on the active roster — seven are from the Umphrey clan. However, the situation isn’t abnormal for the Mission Valley Ambulance. The whole group is mostly made from a core of three families.
Our nation is in the midst of a health care crisis and many feel overwhelmed by the rising costs of insurance and doctor’s visits. During this government limbo, it is imperative not to lose sight of the importance of preventative medicine.
January is Cervical Cancer Awareness month. Cervical cancer seems rare when compared to the prevalence of prostate, breast and lung cancers, but the statistics are nothing to sneeze at. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) at the National Institute of Health, there were an estimated 12,340 new cases of cervical cancer in 2013 and 4,030 deaths from the disease.
NCI statistics show the number of deaths from cervical cancer has been dropping by about 2.5 percent each year for the past decade and that 68 percent of patients survive five or more years after being diagnosed with the disease.
Preventative medicine is to thank for growing survivial rates. Health care coverage that offers annual exams and cancer screenings saves lives.
Like mine, for example.
Trahan, Finley selected as CSKT chairmen
PABLO — Following three consecutive tie votes Friday morning, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Council selected Ron Trahan as chairman for the next year. Newly elected councilmember Vernon Finley will serve the second year of the term, starting in 2015.
According to a press release, the council supported the idea of dividing the leadership role into two one-year terms after the vote split even for the third time.
Though rare, the Tribal Council has agreed to the arrangement several times in the past. The most recent instance was in 1986 after Ron Therriault and Michael “Mickey” Pablo tied nine successive times, as reported by the Flathead Courier.
Therriault, a history professor at Salish Kootenai College, served the first year of the term. Pablo took his place as chair in 1987 and is still regarded as one of the council’s strongest leaders.
Trahan, who has served 10 years on the council, will be the first to address key issues that include acquisition of the Kerr Dam hydroelectric facility and the 2015 deadline to file water rights clams if the State Legislature does not support the water rights compact.
Carole Lankford held on to her position as Vice-Chair of the council during Friday’s quarterly meeting. Len Two Teeth and James “Bing” Matt were elected as treasurer and secretary, respectively.
Read all of Jessica's writing on Muck Rack