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.
When he returned to Honduras this fall, one year later, he met the 16-month-old baby whose life he helped to save while helping a dental and medical volunteer trip.
“There is no doubt that that child would have died had we not been there,” Babineau said.
PABLO — History can be told through culture.
Last Friday in Pablo, culture was celebrated through footwear.
In honor of Native American Heritage month, The People’s Center celebrated Rock Your Mocs Day with a round dance and potluck at the center.
Education director at The People’s Center, Marie Torosian, said someone started the day last year and it went viral on Facebook. The idea is for everyone to wear moccasins to work or school to spread cultural awareness. This was the second year the center has participated, she said, and she hopes to continue the annual Nov. 15 event.
“It’s a small way to bring awareness to our heritage,” she said, adding that events like Rock Your Mocs are a way for the center to honor not only local tribes, but also the 70 other tribes represented at Salish Kootenai College.
The rain came down in torrents, each drop stinging my already cold skin.
“I can’t cross it without getting wet,” I shouted, trying to be heard over the thunderous rush of water streaming in front of me. “I have to change shoes.”
What would have been a milky stream on a normal summer day had turned into a treacherous tirade pouring down from glaciers above. Across the raging whitewater, I saw where the trail carried on, nearly 200 feet from where I was standing on the boulder-strewn bank.
I set my pack down and it squished into the mud under its own weight as I changed into my Chaco sandals. My waterlogged toes looked like a child’s wrinkled fingers after a long bath, and the duct tape protecting the blisters on each of my toes had begun to curl as it peeled away from my skin.
Once I had reassembled my pack and hoisted it to where it had formed into the curvature of my back, I assessed the situation. Most of the pools were too deep for me to wade through and one misstep would overthrow my top-heavy load and I would easily be rushed downstream, head held under water.
The only solution was to climb higher to find a shallower pool to enter the unrelenting barrage of liquid. I led the way, climbing on all fours up jagged mounds of rock. I hit a roadblock when I reached a boulder whose flat face I couldn’t ascend.
“Phil, I’m going to need you to push the back of my pack while I climb up,” I said.
He nodded in agreement. I stepped as high on the rock as I could.
“On three. One… two… three!”
I pushed through my toes and Phil shoved me from behind. Suddenly, I knew it was going to end badly. I felt my foot slide out from beneath me and the combined weight of my pack and my body slammed against the rock with all of the impact taken in by my right shin.
The river drowned out my screams.
"Suspicious death" deemed case of deliberate homicide
POLSON - What was deemed a “suspicious death” at the beginning of summer is now being considered a case of rape and murder.
Melvin Madplume, Jr. made an initial appearance in District Court last Thursday. The 29-year-old Ronan man is being charged with felony counts of deliberate homicide and sexual intercourse without consent.
The affidavit filed by Lake County Attorney Mitch Young paints a gruesome picture of what happened the night of 28-year-old Laurence Kenmille’s death.
A ski bum's glacier getaway
The sun beat down, making me sweat and warming my skin. As I sat in the early July heat, I sunk my hands into the refreshing white stuff below me— snow.
That’s right. Snow.
Surrounded by soaring peaks and stunning arêtes, I took a deep breath of the fresh Rocky
Mountain air. The brisk oxygen chilled my nostrils as I inhaled.
I exhaled as I stood up. With my board strapped to my feet, I jumped, turned and accelerated down the slushy hillside to a chorus of cheers from an on-looking crowd.
Note: This article ran in the Lake County Leader July 18, 2013. It was also published in the Bigfork Eagle.
From the floppy ears right down to their fluffy little tails, its is hard to deny how cute bunnies are.
They may be cute and cuddly but domestic rabbits have the potential to cause irreparable damage to the ecosystem on Finley Point near Polson.
Ronan 10-year-old's art makes splash against the pros
Dalen Siech wears many hats. In the course of a week he is an artist, a philanthropist, a photographer, and a middle school student.
Though he is just 10 years old, Siech’s photography has started getting the attention of judges and professionals alike. This spring Siech entered three of his pieces in a fine art photography contest in Hot Springs along with notable professionals from the area. All three of his works won ribbons, and his photo of aspens from the Grand Canyon was a finalist in the competition.
Humble and timid, Siech’s whole demeanor changes when he talks about taking photos. A smile spreads across his face when he recalls the trials and tribulations of getting the perfect shot of birds in flight or lying on his stomach to capture a sunflower in bloom.
Get $242,000 in restitution
HELENA — Restitution payments totaling over $242,000 will be made to victims of Cornerstone Financial, Inc. from Montana’s new Securities Restitution Assistance Fund.
The restitution was announced Tuesday by Commissioner of Securities Monica Lindeen and U.S. Attorney for the District of Montana Michael Cotter, who worked together to shut down the multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme in 2009. Charges in the case included wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering.
In April, raw milk stirred up a commotion in the Montana Legislature. The debate didn't die with the bill, but is in a stalemate. The future of raw milk could hold big things for small farmers if a compromise can be made.
Note: This article ran in the Lake County Leader July 4, 2013. It was picked up by the West Shore News and the Bigfork Eagle.
Want to buy something illegal but don’t know where to find it? Check Craigslist.
That is where many have gone to find raw milk, which was kept outlawed by the Montana State Legislature in April. You can’t find it by searching ‘raw milk’ but type in ‘milk’ and over 100 ads pop up. With some sifting, you will soon find ads for cow shares, to receive a portion of what the cow produces, and some more blatant ads for raw milk.
Any sale of raw milk in Montana is illegal, but the debate over raw milk isn’t black and white.
Noxious weeds threaten ecosystem, economy
Tiny, white bunches of flowers span the test plot in St. Ignatius. To the untrained eye it looks like a field full of baby’s breath, but the land is full of whitetop, a weed plaguing Lake County and the entire state of Montana.
Summer is in full bloom, and so are weeds. They may look pretty, but what invasive weeds do to an ecosystem, and an economy, is downright ugly.