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Neighbor-to-Neighbor spreads holiday cheer to Denali Borough families

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Posted: Tuesday, December 25, 2012 9:40 pm

HEALY — Forty-five boxes of holiday food and gifts were packed and delivered to families in the Denali Borough last weekend in time for Christmas, thanks to Neighbor-to-Neighbor.

This nonprofit helps less fortunate people in our communities get through the holiday season.

Gifts for children are provided anonymously by local residents who choose recipients from Angel Trees at several locations. All they know is the child’s age and gender.

On the last day before Christmas vacation, students at Tri-Valley School all made special Christmas stockings and filled them with goodies, for inclusion in the Christmas boxes.

This is a true community effort.

Longtime volunteer Bill Mitchell, who managed First Student bus service in Healy, died earlier this year, but First Student continued the tradition of volunteering for this good cause and helped deliver boxes.

Barb Claspill

It is with great sadness I report that Healy lost another cherished community member to cancer. Barb Claspill, owner of Touch of Wilderness Lodge on Stampede Trail, died last week.

A memorial service was scheduled in Anchorage, where family members live. I’m told another service will be held locally this summer for seasonal friends and neighbors.

Claspill was an energetic entrepreneur. Her lodge was well known for hosting retreats for quilters, scrapbookers, faith-based meetings, retirement parties and more. It was spectacular to sit on her deck on a sunny spring day and view the Alaska Range.

This is a great loss to our community.

Deepest sympathy to her family and many friends during this very sad time.

Chamber brochure

The Denali Chamber of Commerce is putting together a new brochure and map of local businesses to distribute to visitors.

“Every year, thousands of people come to visit the Denali Borough and need to know the basics,” the chamber states in a note to members. “Where to stay, where to eat, where to shop and what to do.

“Our brochure, with local maps, is a great opportunity to position your company and service for greater visibility.”

The map size is 24-inches-by-18-inches.

 The chamber intends to print 20,000 copies.

The only other locally-produced map I am aware of has been the Healy Lions Club map and brochure.

For more information, contact Deadline to receive materials for the brochure is Jan. 31.

Familiar face

A former Denali resident is the new superintendent for Katmai National Park.

Diane Chung was once deputy superintendent at Denali National Park. She lived here from 2000 to 2004 and owns a home here.

For the past five years, she has been superintendent of the Flagstaff Area National Monuments in Arizona.

She begins her new job in February and is excited at the prospect of returning to Alaska.

In memorium

The temperature hovered near 20 below zero last week but that didn’t deter a small group of local residents who held a memorial vigil for the 26 victims of the Connecticut shooting.

Diane Burbank spearheaded the gathering. She brought 26 candles in glass jars. On each jar, she wrote the name and age of one of the victims. That was quite an emotional visual reminder of the senselessness of this massacre.

The candles nestled in the snow beneath the flagpole at Tri-Valley School. The flag was at half-mast for the victims.

She passed out memorial ribbons in the Connecticut school’s colors — green and white.

Christmas on ice

It was too cold for even Santa to arrive in Healy on the Zamboni like he usually does every year. His visit had to be canceled, as was the annual alumni game and the Great Caspian Magic Show.

The event, including the alumni game, has been rescheduled for New Years Eve, when fireworks light the sky at the Healy Ice Rink.

Watch for more details from Healy Hockey.

Couch Question

Longtime readers of this column, who lived in Anderson in the 1970s, asked me a question I can’t answer.

“My wife Susan and I have seen a couch filled with stuffed animals at 336 Mile of the Parks Highway for years and years. The couch sits atop a bluff overlooking the highway, traveling south on the right.

“Can you shed any light as to the significance, if any?”

Of course, I drive by that couch and stuffed animals all the time. I have a vague memory of who created that display and why. But I sure can’t remember.

They actually wrote 136 Mile, but I’m pretty sure they mean 336 Mile.


Grand Slam

Eight teams consisting of students, teachers, parents and community members — even the interim mayor — participated in the recent community volleyball tournament sponsored by the Tri-Valley senior class and student council.

Everyone got a workout and seemed to have a good time. Some adults were sore the next day.

A silent auction brought in a little money to help pay for the upcoming Alaska Association Student Government Conference here in April.

But the main focus of the day turned out to be not money, but community. That’s what I like about living here.

Welcome home

Dave and Terry Pennington are home in Healy after spending many weeks at hospitals and rehabilitation centers in Anchorage.

Dave Pennington is recovering from a stroke. He is making remarkable progress.

Family and friends are happy to have them both back in Healy.

Happy holidays

It has been another wonderful year in the Denali Borough and I am once again reminded that this has been the perfect place for me to raise my daughter. This comes to mind now, as she enters the final semester of her senior year in high school.

It has been my experience in 33 years here that friends become family in Alaska and that is true here.

So to all of my people —  thanks for enriching my life. Wishing you all a very happy holiday. See you in 2013.

Kris Capps is a freelance writer. Her column reporting Denali happenings appears weekly in the News-Miner. She can be reached at

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