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Healy welcome sign gets facelift

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Posted: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 1:32 pm | Updated: 1:33 pm, Wed Dec 26, 2012.

DENALI PARK - The Healy intersection has a new, fresh look, thanks to the hard work of a team of volunteers and the efforts of Kevin Hamel of The Totem Inn.

A Tri-Valley School class created the “Welcome to Healy” sign as a service learning project many years ago. But wind and weather have taken their toll on the sign.

“It’s all chipped and faded, so I just went out there, got my tools, sanded it all down, repainted the sign and re-varnished it,” Hamel said.

Some Mormon elders watched him spreading dirt around the sign and offered to help. “They were looking for some community service,” he said.

Last week, about 70 Mormon volunteers from the Healy area, Fairbanks and Anchorage spread dirt, arranged decorative rocks and planted flowers.

John White loaned the use of his bulldozer. Al Hoffman volunteered to run that piece of heavy equipment. Bill Nordmark showed up with his brush cutter.

“It was a little community thing,” Halem said, “to get the ‘Welcome to Healy’ sign to look better.”

The lawn was next, but the project ran out of topsoil. Hamel has a line on buying additional soil for the project.

“That’s why we’re stalled out,” he said. “Otherwise, there would be grass.”

As soon as additional topsoil arrives, Hamel will get back to work. Anyone wanting to show up with a rake and help is more than welcome.

Retired teacher Sonja Schmidt, who spearheaded that project years ago, is thrilled to see the citizen involvement. “It’s great that people want it to look good,” she said. “It’s the community sign.”

Families moving

Another week, another farewell party.

There seems to be a huge exodus from the Denali area this summer. Many longtime residents are leaving for a variety of reasons.

The Jordans left here after 27 years and arrived safely at their new home at the Grand Canyon. Mark Jordan begins work at Grand Canyon School this week.

Teachers Brian and Katie Thomas are about to hold their final moving sale and move to Colorado with their two young children. 

Joe Van Horn, one of the first people I met here in the early 1980s, is moving to Hotchkiss, Colo., and yes, he is taking his family with him. Wife Sarah Marshall and sons Isaac and Ian will be sorely missed in my neighborhood.

Mindy and Shawn Fielding of Healy are moving, after years of dedication to the Tri-Valley Community Volunteer Fire Department.

Longtime residents Naomi Whitty and Eli Kramer and their two young daughters left for Denver last week.

Chuck Tomkiewitz and Karen Fortier and daughters are moving to Great Sand Dunes National Park in September. Mariah and El Hadji Cisse have also moved to Grand Canyon National Park.

At the same time, new people are moving here for the first time. But it’s hard to say goodbye to so many of these dear friends.

Anderson bluegrass

This ever-popular Anderson Bluegrass Festival takes place Friday through Sunday at Anderson Riverside Park, 283 Mile Parks Highway. This is a 616-acre park with free camping and RV camping. Enjoy music, food and vendor booths, a beer garden, restrooms and showers.

Admission is by the day or by the weekend. Children under 12 are admitted free.

The festival is sponsored by Anderson/Clear Lions Club, K&L Distributors, New Northwest Broadcasters, Clear Channel Radio, Acoustic Adventures and Alaska Folk Music.

For more information, e-mail

Kris Capps reports on Denali Borough events for the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. You can reach her at


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