FEBRUARY 2017 OFFICE NEWS

ALO Green Energy | Franceska Fairbanks | Winter Photos

The short month of February always brings rapid change in daylight to Alaska, and the new solar power array at ALO makes that even more welcome than normal. The solar panels produce limited power in November, December and January but by mid-February the sun is high and hot at 2 pm, even if the temperature is cold. A cell phone app provides a real time summary of power generation, and recently the combination of stiff wind and clear skies resulted in 47.5 kwh for one day.

Last month's news about champion weight lifter Natalie Hanson referred to other Bethel athletes who have performed at a high level elsewhere. Some asked who they were. The most accomplished was Franceska Fairbanks, a good high school cross country runner in Bethel who went on to earn Division 1 All-American honors at Gonzaga. That got her some publicity, and the reporter who checked out her history got a chance to interview Grant Fairbanks. Now it is with great pride that Grant wears a baseball hat given to him by a neighbor which says "I make stuff up". The call from the reporter gave him a chance to prove it. When asked how his daughter got started with running, Grant told the reporter that when she was about 5 years old on the family homestead on the Holitna river, he had her doing laps around the cabin as a form of training. In actual fact she had so much energy at that age that she simply couldn't sit still in the tiny cabin and was sent outside to give the parents a brief respite. But the reporter ran with the story, calling Grant her first trainer. Grant of course is not much of a runner. In more than 40 years living around Bethel, no one has ever observed him break into a trot.

February marked the 20 year mark since the Bethel school shooting. This article was not received well by everyone in town, but it was well written. That day is seared in the memory of all who were nearby at the time. Arriving at the school minutes after the shooting, the most vivid memory is the look on the faces of the kids who walked from the school to a nearby building. Remembering that event makes it all that more puzzling that our government would overturn a rule that prevented 75,000 mentally ill folks from obtaining a firearm. What could go wrong?

Another February event from long ago brings back better memories. As a sports reporter in Minneapolis, many of the players on the 1980 USA Olympic team were familiar from their days in the 70's as high school stars in the area. A group of Bethel folks watched the hockey games in Hawaii during a mid-winter vacation. Some younger folks question whether this statement could be true, but this game represents the biggest upset in sports history.

Facebook readers who follow ALO recently saw a series of photos from the Angstman cabin in winter. Here is a close-up of the cabin. It has been a real winter there, with some -40 temps, accord to neighbor Mark Schwantes who checks it out from time to time. Speaking of winter scenes in Alaska, some Alaskans have a different type of winter. Hunting partner Don Lehmann lives on an island in the North Pacific near Sitka. Don and his wife Penny entertained part of the Angstman clan at their new home on the island while they visited Sunset at her boarding school . This panoramic shot is from Lehman's hot tub. Sitka is located in a rain forest, and it rarely gets below 20 degrees. From Don's deck, there are whales and sea lions in view almost constantly. The ¼ long island had a gun placement during WWII and the cement pad for that gun is still present right near Don's house.

A recently retired sled dog named Kaiser from the Dog Farm made his way to a retirement home near Anchorage, and it seems his level of energy has diminished a bit. This picture shows his reaction to this month's mandatory moose walking right by the window where he is resting, with no reaction. At the Dog Farm any movement got him going. This dog is a bit more entertaining than Kaiser. This bonus moose clip is from the finish line at the Yukon Quest in Fairbanks, a while before the first team arrived, just to make sure it was set up right.

Finally a story from Stony River, a village up the Kuskokwim. It seems two brothers were doing some drinking a few years back, and one accidentally shot the other in the head with a .22. The bullet passed into his brain and lodged, but through some miracle the victim survived after a few days in the hospital. The brothers had agreed upon an account of the incident that would not get anyone arrested, knowing that there would be questions asked. The wounded brother returned to the village and confronted the reckless shooter. His warning could not be more clear: "If you ever shoot me in the head again I'm going to kill you."