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Winter course provides warm opportunity to master garden skills

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Posted: Saturday, October 27, 2012 12:04 am

FAIRBANKS — Snow may be covering the ground, but here’s a chance to prepare your mind for the next growing season.

If you would like to join the elite group of master gardeners in Fairbanks, registration is open for a 40-hour training session that begins Nov. 5 and meets three nights per week through Dec. 13.

The classes are Mondays and Wednesdays from 6-9 p.m. and Thursdays from 6-8 p.m. at the UAF Cooperative Extension Service district office at 724 27th Ave. in the Fairbanks Community Food Bank building.

Under the instruction of Steven Seefeldt, the Tanana District agriculture and horticulture agent, the students will receive 40 hours of training on all aspects of local agriculture.

The topics range from botany and soil preparation to tips for greenhouses and dealing with pests.

In exchange to adding the word “master” to your gardening title, students will get the chance to do 40 hours of volunteer service over the next two years to finish the course.

The fee is $150 and includes a copy of “Sustainable Gardening: The Alaska Master Gardener Manual.”

The class is limited to 30 students. To register online or download a registration form and pay by check, go to

A second session is also available, with classes starting in February.


OIL PROJECT: The ConocoPhillips board of directors approved development plans for the fourth satellite of the Alpine oil field this month. The company expects the other oil companies partnering on the project will sign off on CD-5 in November. It’s the first project in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska and it is expected to be producing oil by 2016.


PIER 1 IMPORTS: The doors are set to open at the new Pier 1 Imports store off the Johansen Expressway at 9:30 a.m. Monday.

As part of the opening, the company is donating $5,000 to the Resource Center for Parents and Children, it said in a press release. It is also raffling off four $500 gift cards.

The store preview will start at 9:30 a.m. and the grand opening will start at 10 a.m. The store is opening with three full-time associates and 25 part-time associates, the company said.

The Fairbanks store is among the first of its 1,000-plus stores featuring a new design concept aimed at helping “customers visualize the end-use of the products within their own home.”

“The features of the new store will allow easier navigation, all while maintaining the “treasure hunt” feel and continuing to make Pier 1 Imports a great place for discovery and spending time browsing,” Pier 1 Imports said.


STUDENT DEBT: There’s a story in the Alaska Dispatch that will raise the blood pressure of various people connected to the University of Alaska Fairbanks for different reasons.

Students will be upset with UA President Pat Gamble when they read the headline in the online newspaper: “University of Alaska president says extravagant student lifestyles fuel debt.”

I predict that Gamble and members of the UA Board of Regents will likewise experience a systolic spike, as I don’t see how the accompanying article backs up the use of the word “extravagant” in the headline.

Even so, the comments will add pressure to the tuition debate. The gist of the story is that students are borrowing money and using some of it to pay for cars, trips, etc. when they should be cutting their expenses as much as possible.

This came up in the context of a 2 percent tuition hike. Tuition has doubled during the last decade, but it still is relatively cheap.

I have no doubt some students borrow more than they should and spend more than they should.

I don’t know how widespread the notion has become that it is fine to borrow lots of money so you can have a higher standard of living while attending school.

I agree with the comment that financial counseling is needed to counteract the assumption that going into debt is not a big problem, an attitude fostered by a society that promotes borrowing as a sensible practice.

Many children grow up with the idea that you don’t have to pay as you go and copy their parents.

Gamble is quoted as saying many students have been taking out more in loans than they need for school, “trying to subsidize a lifestyle, on top of the cost of going to college.”

 “They’ve got to have a car, got to have the apartment, got to go to spring break, do all that stuff,” he was quoted as saying at the recent regents meeting in Juneau.

Dermot Cole can be reached at or 459-7530.

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