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Tri-Valley has a Teacher of Excellence

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Posted: Tuesday, May 29, 2012 11:41 pm

HEALY — Kudos to BP Exploration, which finally expanded its Teachers of Excellence Program statewide.

The program recognizes teachers who are dedicated to teaching and to inspiring students.

Last week, Tri-Valley School elementary teacher Karen Martin received a certificate of recognition for being nominated as a BP Teacher of Excellence.

Many a nomination was submitted from the Denali Borough School District over the years. These were never considered because at the time, BP said it did not have resources to include other communities.

For years, the program recognized only teachers in larger population areas.

I commend BP Exploration for recognizing the importance of including dedicated teachers statewide — even if BP employees don’t live in some of these communities.

I also commend them for listening to those of us from the Denali Borough who have been lobbying for years to include our dedicated teachers in this program.

Car cleanup


Slowly, but surely, the Denali Borough is getting rid of abandoned cars.

The Derelict Vehicle Drop Off program continues with two more drop off dates — from 10 a.m. to

3 p.m. June 2 and June 9,

You can bring a derelict or junk vehicle to either the Denali Borough Landfill or the Healy Spur Road, south of the railroad tracks, about 100 yards past the entrance gate.

The vehicle must be dry — no oil and no fuel. Drain the engine, transmission, transfer case and fuel tank. Remove the battery. Drain the radiator, engine block and heater as well.

Make sure there is no garbage in the vehicle and expect that it will be inspected.

This program, which won a statewide award, is a community clean-up effort by the Denali Borough, Usibelli Coal Mine, Golden Valley Electric Association and local residents.

Sad farewell

Teri Simmons, manager of the Healy branch of First National Bank Alaska is leaving Healy. She’s taking her family with her.

She accepted a position at a small community bank in Durango, Colo.

I am excited at this opportunity for her, but it is a great loss for our community. She and her husband, Drew, have been active and valuable members of Healy and the Denali Borough since they arrived many years ago. It seems like they have always been here.

Drew Simmons is the borough planner and Teri Simmons also is president of the Denali Chamber of Commerce.

We’re really going to miss them but wish them luck in their new location.

Another sad


The Saxe family is leaving this summer, heading to Alabama where Tory Saxe, commander of Clear Air Force Station, will attend specialized military classes.

A change of command at Clear Air Force Station is scheduled for June 7. I’m looking forward to the community’s introduction to the new commander.

The Saxes and their six children also are active members of the community. We will miss every one of them.

Hockey Clean Up

Don’t miss the Healy Hockey Clean Up Maintenance Day Saturday at noon. Bring your tool belt and enjoy a delicious barbecue afterwards.

Military honors

In case you missed it, be sure to congratulate Raechel Chepoda of Healy on her graduation from Alaska Military Youth Academy at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

While at the academy, she served as first sergeant and was later promoted to Corps First Sergeant Major. This is one of the highest achievements a female has accomplished in the history of the academy.

Chepoda was awarded the leadership award and a $1,000 scholarship. She has joined the Army National Guard and reports to South Carolina on Sept. 13.

She’s working as a flagger this summer, so give her a high five as you go by. Healy is really proud of her.

Lions Club

open house

The Healy Valley Lions Club will host an open house from 7-9 p.m. June 9 at the Totem Inn.

The club is hoping to introduce itself to new friends and bring longtime residents into the fold. Come learn more about the Lions and how it supports our community.

This includes annual scholarships and plaques listing graduating seniors.

According to Jerilyn Lucier, this meeting will be in honor of Lions member Rex Mercer.

Water safety team

The Denali Water Safety Team has a new water craft in its fleet — a stand up paddle board.

It’s kind of like a surfboard, but not exactly. This is the new hot sport nationwide and local teens tried it for the first time this week, thanks to community partner Denali Outdoor Center.

Owner Bill Overington donated half the cost of the board and delivered it here. The remaining cost will be paid by money the team raised during the Fairbanks Charity Walk.

The Denali Water Safety Team is a group of local teens who learn how to be safe on Alaska waterways and then teach others. Along the way, the teens learn to paddle kayaks, canoes, rafts and inflatable kayaks.

This month, they held a water safety workshop for visiting fourth-graders from Anchorage, played Water Safety Bingo with pre-schoolers and participated in an hour-long introduction to Swiftwater Rescue from Tim Kelahan and The Rescue Company.

They spent hours on Otto Lake this week — despite a brisk wind and chilly temperatures — and began learning how to paddle different crafts.

Kris Capps is a freelance writer. Her column reporting Denali happenings appears weekly in the News-Miner. She can be reached at

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