Ballots to mail

The Denali Borough will mail 1,588 ballots this week for the upcoming Nov. 2 election. Photo courtesy Denali Borough

Early voting begins today in the Denali Borough.

You can vote at the Denali Borough office, Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today until Nov. 1. No appointment is required. Election Day is Nov. 2. Borough staff will also mail 1,588 ballots to residents of the Denali Borough, so that is an other voting option.

Voters can cast votes for candidates for Denali Borough Assembly and Denali Board of Education.

Candidates running for Denali Borough Assembly include incumbent Krista Zappone for Seat F, incumbent Jared Zimmerman for Seat G, and David C. Alexander and Gregg S. Smith are vying for Seat B, formerly held by Jake Hill in the McKinley Village area.

Candidates running for the Denali school board include incumbent James Tench for Seat C and incumbent Ryan Jusczak for Seat D. School Board Seat H is vacant and has no declared candidates.

In addition to those seats, there is a proposition on the ballot: “Shall the Denali Borough allow for and clarify that, when necessary, assembly members and the public may participate in assembly meetings electronically provided that participants can both hear and be heard?”

According to the Denali Borough, the proposition is an effort to increase accessibility to assembly meetings, increase transparency of assembly actions, and increase public participation while protecting the health, safety and welfare of the public by reducing the need to travel to participate in meetings as well as respect individual risk tolerance for gathering with non-household members.

The borough has been holding both electronic meetings and a combination of in-person and online meetings since Covid hit. The borough’s charter must be modified in order for those online meetings to continue. Currently the charter requires that everyone be at the meetings in person.

Solarize Denali

Local residents nominated the Denali Borough School District to receive a free small solar installation through Solarize Denali. This was the result of a community-led program in the Interior, intended to make solar more affordable by stacking up group discounts, purchasing solar systems in bulk and looking for federal and local financial incentives.

In the Denali area, it is known as Solarize Denali.

Preferred Installer Renewable Energy Systems (RES) offered to donate a solar installation worth 10% of the solar community’s total purchase. In the Denali area, solar installation commitments were just under 80kW. So the donated system will be small, but could be enlarged later.

The school district was open to receiving the donation, to help lower longterm energy costs and to begin the process for adding additional capacity.

“Partnerships like this are important for school districts now, since state funding support for critical capital improvement needs has been non-existent for several years,” said Denali School Superintendent Dan Polta, when he learned of the possibility.

The project could also turn into an educational tool, to help students learn about energy efficiency and renewable energy. Some nominators said donating to the school provides an opportunity to incorporate renewable energy curriculum or solar technology trade skills into the process. They noted “the value of our schools as a community hub and resource,” said Chris Noel, one of the Solarize Denali organizers.

Denali Education Center and Denali Preschool and Learning Center were also nominated for the donation. But Denali Borough School District received the most nominations.

New rest area

Surveying and vegetation clearing begins Friday at Mile 231 Parks Highway, for construction of a new rest area on the east side of the road. The project will also include new turn lanes for the wayside, the intersection at Mile 231 and the intersection with Old Parks Highway at Mile 230. In addition, walkways for pedestrians on both sides of the river, will be developed under the Nenana River Bridge.

Construction is planned for 2022.

The new wayside will connect to both the Triple Lakes Trail and Oxbow Trail inside Denali National Park.

Vegetation clearing is expected to take about nine days, with completion anticipated by Nov. 1. More details here,

Reach columnist/community editor Kris Capps at Follow her at

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