December 2008

Snowman protestors support Snowzilla

On Christmas Day, a small squadron of snowmen appeared in front of City Hall, carrying signs in support of Snowzilla. Sadly, the snowmen were destroyed, and their remains scattered across the sidewalk. The Snowzilla saga is a long and complicated story. Some people say it's a tale of one man struggling against bureaucracy. Others say it's a story of a stubborn man's insistence on setting up an annual eyesore, despite the protests of neighbors. For the last three years, homeowner Billy Powers has constructed a giant snowman in the yard of his Columbine Street home in the Airport Heights neighborhood.

The Return of the Light

Winter solstice (December 21st) is a big day for Alaskans. Although Solstice is technically the first day of winter, for many Alaskans it feels like the midpoint of the season. Once the days start getting longer, the end is in sight. Everyone celebrates Solstice in their own way, even if it's just a sigh of relief upon waking on Sunday morning. Many adults hold their own solstice parties, either formally or informally. Hardy souls hike Flattop to celebrate. Typically, a small handful of people will extend the festivities by camping there overnight. The solstice celebration may be one of the oldest holidays in the history of human civilization. Even the earliest cultures marked the return of daylight with relief: Neolithic Ireland Newgrange is a prehistoric earth work, which was built in Ireland at about the same time Stonehenge was built in England - between 3300 and 2900 BC. Newgrange is a long stone passage built below a huge earth mound, and used primarily for burial rites.

Bears in the City

The Anchorage Daily News recently reported that the Assembly is thinking about staffing Anchorage with a "bear cop." The idea was proposed by Eagle River Assemblyman Bill Starr, and will be discussed at a public hearing tonight at the Assembly meeting at Loussac Library. Grizzly bear attacks within the city limits have been on the rise in the past few years. Last summer was one of the worst for bear attacks in Anchorage history. In the past, bears in the city have been handled by the Department of Fish and Game and, in emergency situations, by the city police. The idea behind adding a dedicated bear manager to the city payroll is that they would be able to consult in both short-term emergencies and in long-range planning. The presence of wildlife (BIG wildlife) in the city is one of the benefits to living in Anchorage. Nevertheless, it's understandable that people are thinking about drawing the line at bears.

Sewage Crisis Shuts Down School

The Anchorage Daily News reports that 680 students from Central Middle School had to abandon the building Tuesday after a blocked underground pipe caused a backup of raw sewage. The students were initially split up by grade and sent to different schools. Seventh graders were sent to Chugach Optional next door, and eighth graders were bused to Romig Middle School about a mile away. Central Middle School is a district-wide alternative school program, with a strong focus on math and science (its official name is "Central Middle School of Science"). Central accepts students from throughout the Anchorage School District.