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With Tri-Valley gym floor damaged, Healy teams scramble for venues

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Posted: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 11:38 pm

HEALY — Tri-Valley School sports teams are looking for a place to play home games, at least until November or December.

The gymnasium floor at Tri-Valley School suffered serious damage during roof renovation this past summer and floor repairs or replacement won’t happen until the end of the year, at the earliest.

Meanwhile, middle school basketball begins the new season soon and so does high school volleyball.

The gym at Anderson School cannot be used because of an ongoing water line project. The gym at Clear Air Force Station is unavailable because of work on the floor.

That leaves few options and an unhappy community.

About 30 parents, coaches and students met this week to discuss options: the school’s multi-purpose room, the gym at Cantwell School, coordinating to use the gym at Nenana School. The University of Alaska was considered.

The audience listed pros and cons for each option.

“All I see are safety concerns with every option,” said Lorrie Terry, one of the volleyball coaches. “I have huge concerns.”

So did many of the other parents.

School officials are expected to make a decision this week.

Regardless, parents should probably be prepared to drive elsewhere for home games for the rest of this year.

Yakutat canceled

Tri-Valley middle school basketball players traveled to Yakutat last season to play basketball, but they won’t be going this year.

Last year, with help from Yakutat and middle school funds, tickets cost $100. The price now is $330.46 per student.

Parents at Monday’s meeting decided the cost was too much on too short notice, and voted to cancel the trip. The plan is to fundraise so students can participate next year.

Board candidates

The deadline is here for applying to be a candidate for the Denali Borough Assembly or the Denali Borough School Board.

The school board has five empty seats. Christie Anastasia is running for Seat D. Leroy Sutton seeks Seat H.

The borough assembly has three seats open. Clay Walker is running for Seat B.

John Winklemann resigned from the assembly effective Nov. 6. It is too late to post that seat for the election, so the assembly will appoint someone to fill that seat after Nov. 6.

Cyrus Cooper told the assembly he will not run again for his seat.

Organic growers

Elementary students from Healy visited a local organic farm, learned about eating fresh vegetables for a healthy snack and will prepare an organic meal at the school.

Laura and Jimmie Hendricks of Denali Organic Growers were the hosts for this project. This week, they came to Tri-Valley School for the day so students could choose a freshly-grown organic snack.

“The exploration into local farming isn’t over yet, as kids will work with local chef Selena Dixon later this week to cook an Alaska grown meal at school,” said Hannah Ragland, an aide who helped spearhead this project.

A Farm to School grant from the Division of Agriculture made all this possible.

Denali Organic Growers will visit the school again on Monday, to sell their organic produce from 5-7 p.m. in the Tri-Valley Community Library. The public is invited. They will sell produce from 5-

7 p.m. on Wednesdays this month at 229 Parks Restaurant

A visitor from out-of-state munched on one of their carrots this week and told me, “That is the best carrot I have ever eaten.”

WILD program

The Denali Education Center just received an $8,500 grant from the Mental Health Trust Authority for its WILD About Denali Program (Wilderness Intensive Learning Development).

This unique youth program is offered to youths and adults facing behavioral challenges, developmental disabilities and/or mental illness.

It teaches respect, self-confidence and teamwork during a three-day, two-night wilderness experience.

The pilot program was in 1999 and it began in earnest in 2000. Since then, the program has partnered with a variety of agencies throughout the state.

The program offers opportunity and experience to kids who otherwise might never come to Denali National Park.

Soccer seniors

Tri-Valley plays Nenana on Sept. 28 in Healy. It’s also Senior Night. Come honor the graduating seniors from this year’s Tri-Valley soccer team — Zach Cizmowski, Marin Durrenberger, Nate McMaster, Sheyenne MacIver, Erik Mercer, Shelby Townsend, Derek Vacura and David White.

Playground slide

Parents, please keep little ones off the slide at Mountains Of Fun Playground. The slide developed a big crack, and the damage was apparently aided by a vandal. The slide is not safe for children anymore. It will be replaced in about three weeks, Renee Mercer said.

Mercer, who monitors the playground and raises money for maintenance by selling weekly school lunches, wants to thank everyone who helped this summer with garbage removal and for keeping an eye on the playground.

She reminds students and families to help monitor the playground and asks that you take your garbage with you when you hold events there.

Chamber orchestra

Long ago, the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra traveled to Healy during the Christmas season. They set up in the big gymnasium and performed a wonderful concert for our community.

My daughter was a toddler and she sang along with some of the Christmas music. She never would have lasted in a concert hall, but this concert was all about bringing music to people who don’t make it to the concert hall.

My daughter is a senior in high school now, and she and her classmates will have another opportunity to hear fine music from talented musicians with the Fairbanks Chamber Orchestra.

Healy is their first stop Thursday morning on their musical tour.

The performance won’t be in the big gym this time, it will take place in the multi-purpose room. There isn’t enough room to invite the community — yet another consequence of the gym floor debacle.

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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