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.

Clay Walker mask

Denali Borough Mayor Clay Walker models one of the new masks recently received from the strategic national stockpile. The borough is giving away 2,000 free masks. 

Need a mask? The Denali Borough just received 2,000 masks from the federal government’s strategic national stockpile.  And they’re distributing them to Denali Borough residents.

“I like them,” said Denali Borough Mayor Clay Walker. “They’re cloth. They’re simple. They’re re-washable.”

Before this supply of masks arrived, local volunteers were providing complimentary masks throughout the community.

“We really appreciate those volunteers,” Walker said. “These aren’t nearly as nice or decorative.”

But they are totally functional.

The borough already sent 150 masks to the city of Anderson, 80 to the Cantwell Post Office, 50 to the Denali Chamber of Commerce, 100 to the community COVID testing program, 30 to Three Bears Grocery and 30 to Kids In Motion’s upcoming Denali Nordic Ski Program.

“We’re going to continue to get them out in the community,” the mayor said.

Local residents or businesses are welcome to come to the borough office to pick up masks. They come in packs of five, but borough employees are also wrapping individual masks for public dispersal.

The Denali Borough ordered the masks and other COVID-related supplies through the state’s incident command structure and homeland security. 

“We’ve been getting swabs, personal protective equipment  — I feel like we’ve had this robust supply chain through the state incident command,” the mayor said.

The mask request was accepted by the state’s incident command headquartered at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, and then forwarded to federal partners, he said.

Denali Borough’s free testing program is paid for by CARES funding. The borough also purchased a trailer for COVID supplies and continues testing at local clinics and at the Tri-Valley Community Center. 

Businesses can also request COVID testing at a place of business. Recently, the Denali Borough sent someone to Toklat, deep inside Denali National Park, to test employees there, the mayor said.

“What a great service,” he added.

“Denali Borough was one of the last counties in the nation to have a confirmed case,” Walker said. “Contact tracing has determined that every case was introduced from outside the borough. To date, there is no evidence of community transmission.”

A special borough-organized Health Care Working Group monitors COVID in the Denali Borough, working closely with the state division of public health.


Running for office

Denali Borough Mayor Clay Walker filed to retain his position at the Nov. 3 election, and will face challenger Tallon Shreeve, who is currently a member of the Denali Borough Assembly. Shreeve is the owner/operator of Coghill’s General Store in Nenana, but is also a longtime resident of Healy.

If Walker wins this would be his third and final term. Denali Borough mayors are allowed three consecutive full terms.

At least one candidate has signed up to run for every office on the ballot, except the borough assembly seat in Cantwell, formerly held by Jill Boelsma.

Joe Chatfield filed to retain Seat E on the Denali Borough Assembly. Eileen Holmes filed to retain Seat I on the borough assembly. 

Tammany George of Cantwell filed to complete the final two years of Seat A on the Denali Borough School Board. It is a two-year term, since Vernon Carlson was appointed to serve the first year.

Jenna Hamm filed to retain board seat D, the Denali Park area. Kristen Randall filed to retain board seat F in Healy. Dawn Adams filed to retain board seat G for Panguingue Creek area.

Deadline for filing was Tuesday.

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