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.

Lori Hamel

Lori Hamel accepts the 2020 Heart of Denali Chamber of Commerce Denali Community Award for Granma's Quilt Shop in Healy.

When patrons walk into Three Bears Alaska Grocery Store in Healy, the first thing they see is a basket filled with masks. Need one? Take one.

The masks are handcrafted by Granma’s Quilt Shop and donated free, for community use.

The shop recently received the 2020 Heart of Denali Chamber of Commerce Denali Community Award, for that community service. The shop provided about 4,000 free fabric masks over the past year.

The wooden plaque, presented by the Denali Chamber of Commerce, is in the shape of the state of Alaska. It announces that the award is for “outstanding community involvement and contribution.”

“We typically award this in May at the banquet,” said Vanessa Jusczak, director of the Denali Chamber of Commerce. 

Of course, COVID-19 changed all that. No banquet was held in 2020. But that also made this award all the more appropriate, Jusczak said.

Past recipients include Denali Education Center, Denali Outdoor Center and Denali Subway.

Vada Peterman and Lori Hamel opened Granma’s Quilt Shop in 2011 in Healy. Their idea to “give it a whirl” paid off. It has become a popular destination for both locals and visitors.


Spelling bee

Danika Hamm is the 2021 Spelling Bee Champion at Tri-Valley School in Healy. She earned the title after correctly spelling the championship word “cautioned” in round 14.

Two students tied for second place: Kaydence Stainbrook and Piper Scoles. The top three spellers will advance to represent Tri-Valley School at the Interior Alaska Regional Spelling Bee on Feb. 26.

This contest was held on Feb. 10 via Zoom for the first time ever. Third through eighth graders participated. 

Other awards included: Best Sportsmanship Award to Brock Isaacson; Poise Award to Rita Jacobs; Best Enunciation of Letters Award to Savannah Wolf, Piper Scoles and Quincy Hjorth; Camaraderie Award to CSea Coleman; Spirit Award to Nash Kindt and Longevity Award to Danika Hamm who has represented her class every year at the Spelling Bee.

Spellers included CSea Coleman, Kaydence Stainbrooks, Ruby Jacobs, Brock Isaacson, Nash Kindt, Wesley Mattila, Gene Haugen, Kelty Stainbrook, Rita Jacobs, Piper Scoles, Quincy Hjorth, Silas Hamm, Izzy Brown, Owen Jusczak, Sierra Schirokauer, Danika Hamm and Savannah Wolf.

School librarian Martha Tomeo was the Spelling Bee advisor.


Ambulance calls

Here’s an interesting fun fact. 

The Nenana Volunteer Fire Department had more ambulance calls in 2020 than the Tri-Valley Volunteer Fire Department in Healy.

Tri-Valley logged 78 emergency medical responses. In a normal year, the department responds to about 250 calls annually. COVID-19 and the lack of summer visitors likely influenced those numbers.

Nenana logged 87 emergency medical calls during 2020.

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