Community editor and columnist Kris Capps is a longtime resident of Fairbanks and Denali Park. Contact her at, in the office at 459-7546 or by cell at 322-6334. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMKris.

If you are a youngster riding an all terrain vehicle in the Denali Borough, be sure you wear a helmet.

To make that easier, community groups have partnered to make helmets available for free to any kid between the ages of 6 and 18. The Denali Education Center, the Healy NAPA Auto Parts Store and the Scott Menke Memorial Fund make this program possible.

ATV safety is a top priority for Peggy Menke, whose son Scott died many years ago in an ATV accident.

“We were going to do an ATV safety course this spring,” she said. The onset of the coronavirus prevented that from happening. But as weather warmed, and she saw more and more kids riding ATVs without helmets, she pressed for some kind of action. Local groups responded by pitching in with a free helmet program.

She knows of at least 15 helmets that were given out and there may be more. When young people are given the helmet, they promise to wear it, she said.

“They sign a pledge they will wear a helmet anytime they are on an ATV or a motorized vehicle,” Menke said, adding, “I’m happy to be doing something good.”

Meanwhile, plans for the ATV safety course are on hold until post-COVID.


Annual Golf Tourney

The annual Healy Tundra Challenge golf tournament will be held Saturday to raise funds for the Scott Menke Memorial Fund and Denali Education Center youth programs. Because of the coronavirus, teams can also participate anytime this week, since the Saturday event is limited to nine teams and sold out.

“Get a team of four and play your round anytime before next Saturday,” according to the Denali Education Center, which sponsors the fundraiser. “Have fun and donate to a great cause all at once.”

The Play-When-You-Like teams should register with Black Diamond Golf Course at 683-4653 and then play any day before Saturday. Send in your team’s score and photos of your team in action. Those teams are then encouraged to join the nine teams of four on Saturday at Black Diamond Golf Course on the day of the traditional tournament, July 11. Everyone is invited to participate in the longest drive, closest-to-the-pin and end-of-tournament prize ceremony.

Scores for the week will be tallied on Saturday to determine the winners. And here’s a hint: photos of team costumes will put you in the running for prizes. Awards will be given for longest drive, closest to the pin, best and worse score, best costumes and more.

Organizers encourage players to wear face masks when social distancing of six feet is not possible. Hand sanitizer will be available.

The Scott Menke Memorial Fund was created in 2004 by the Menke family and Denali Education Center to raise money for the youth programs Scott Menke loved. The fund supports all of DEC’s youth programs, including direct costs of food, gear and transportation. In addition, the fund provides scholarships for students in the Denali Borough. It is available to all students in the borough pursuing secondary education or trade school. 

Scott Menke was a much loved member of the local community, who died 16 years ago. He participated in Denali Discovery Camp and championed creation of Denali Backcountry Adventures for high school students.

Since it began, more than 100 students have received full scholarships to camps and expeditions and more than $40,000 in scholarships has been awarded to more than 20 Denali Borough students.

For more information, call 907-683-2597.

Reach columnist/community editor Kris Capps at Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMKris.