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

A band made up of former and current state officials will make its way to Nenana on June 29 to help raise money for the Nenana Volunteer Fire Department.

The department became a volunteer operation earlier this year and must now raise money so it can stay in business. The city could no longer support it due to financial challenges. It takes about $5,000 a month to keep the department operational and currently, all its funding comes from billing ambulance calls.

Fire Chief Joe Forness and state legislator Dave Talerico have been brainstorming ways to raise funds for the fire department.

“He (Talerico) has been diligently working, looking at state and federal level funding,” Forness said. “Then he said, ‘Why don’t we just throw together a fundraiser?’”

Talerico, who is a longtime resident of Healy, played with the popular local band Loose Gravel for many years. When he went to Juneau as a legislator, he joined the Capitol Band.

“They’ve been kind enough to let me join in,” Dave Talerico said. “We’ve done a couple of fundraisers: one for the Juneau playground that burned down a couple of years ago and one for Haven House. It’s a re-entry facility for ladies who have been incarcerated. They help them get their lives back on track once they’re out.”

The program has a great track record, Talerico said.

The band raised more than $200,000 for those two programs, he added.

Band members include Paul Fuhs with Alaska Marine Exchange; John Bitney, a lobbyist and former staff member of the Palin administration and other state administrations; Dan Saddler, former state representative who now works for Department of Natural Resources; Rep. Adam Wool of Fairbanks; Talerico; and maybe Rep. Josh Revak of Anchorage.

“These guys are coming up from Anchorage, Eagle River, Big Lake and Fairbanks for free to help raise money and awareness for the Nenana Volunteer Fire Department,” Talerico said.

The Capitol Band may become the Talerico Blues Band for this gig, Talerico said.

They weren’t hard to convince, he said, adding, “When I suggested we might do something they were immediately on board. Great guys.”

As for his former Loose Gravel band members? He hopes they’ll show up too, and join in for a song or two.

There will be more than music at the fundraiser, planned for 1-9 p.m. in front of the Historic Alaska Railroad Depot on A Street. Volunteers will barbecue hamburgers and hot dogs. There will be coffee and hopefully soft ice cream. A bouncy house for kids and a dunk tank are also in the mix. Smokey the Bear is scheduled to be there, too.

“Anybody wishing to add to the festivities is welcome,” Forness said. “If any vendors would like to come and participate in the event, they are more than welcome.”

There are no participation fees, but volunteers hope there will be lots of donations from everyone who attends.

For more information on the event, call the Nenana Volunteer Fire Department at 832-5600.

Reach columnist/community editor Kris Capps at kcpaps@newsminer.com. Call her at the office 459-7546. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMKris.

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