• Myron Angstman

December 2019

Updated: Jan 13

An old fashioned cold snap highlighted the month of December in Bethel.  No records were broken, in fact not even close, but temps between -10 and -30 hung around for  almost three weeks.  A brisk wind on some of those days pushed the wind chill into the -50 range, and  that made the daily half hour walk bracing for sure.  Getting out the door can be a challenge at those temps, but after that every jaunt with Jack becomes enjoyable. Some moose have taken up residence in the brushy area near ALO where the daily walks occur.  No sightings have happened yet, probably because of Jack’s wide romps during the walks, but new tracks appear almost daily. Cold weather of this type was the norm in earlier years in Bethel.  Despite the cold snap, 2019 ended up as the  warmest on record for Bethel.


The cold weather caused a freeze up at the Bethel pool.  The facility is quite new, and it cost around $24 million to build. Aside from the fact that elders need a little exercise from time to time, it was huge setback for the community to miss out on pool activities over the holidays. One question persists—how can the designers of such a facility explain a freeze-up when the temps reached a very expected winter level? 


Kilbuck school burned down a few years ago and folks have wondered when it would be re-built. ALO was asked recently to get involved in getting an answer to that question.  Apparently there has been a legal dispute over how much money the insurance companies involved should pay for that fire loss.  The local school district employed ALO to assist in recovering the full value of that loss.  It promises to be a lively law suit, with a huge amount of money at stake. Stay tuned.


Animals are always welcome in the ALO news, and this month there are more than normal.  Here are two mandatory moose, one on a roof and another on its mother.




This caribou is a classic shot.


This fox has a unique hunting style. Elk can play soccer too. And these  seas lions are enjoying a little rest topside.


Cartoons are also a feature of the ALO news.  This month is long on those as well. This first one is for all the dog racers who spend a large part of their life watching the rear end of a bunch of dogs pulling a sled.



ALO believes that teachers are underpaid.



This type of cartoon always makes the ALO news.



Dog lovers will appreciate this one.




Immigration cartoons are not meant to be funny but they do expose flaws in our system.




An excellent campaign cartoon completes the list.



It been a while since the Quinhagak school made the news with its rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus.  A creative teacher spent a lot of time with his students and other community members to put together this video.  It went viral back then, and still comes up every year.


January is dog race month in Bethel.  There are lots of things happening with the Kuskokwim 300 as race day approaches.  For one thing trail conditions are better than they have been for many years.  Cold weather has frozen the river quite well, and there is even a little snow. Iditarod champion Pete Kaiser will be back to seek his fifth K300 win.  Here is an interesting story about him that appeared recently. Speaking of racers, this video clip from the Jay Leno Tonight Show features the oldest racer ever to compete in the Iditarod Norman Vaughan.  Norman was a real character who spiced up most encounters with a tale or two from his youth.  There was no one old enough to challenge his recall of those events, but there were some doubters. As a follow up, Norman never made it to the top of Mt. Vaughan on his 100th birthday. He died a few days after turning 100, but enough of his stories survive to last another 100 years.


Another old timer with Iditarod connections is Jon Van Zyle, the official artist of the race.  Every year he does a poster and print for the race.  ALO has every one of them. Jon was part of the middle of the pack group during the 1979 Iditarod and this year’s art work commemorates that event.  It’s hard to forget the scene at the Ophir checkpoint. There were several racers sleeping on the floor of the Forsgren cabin when that famous discussion took place including one very young racer who woke up during the night sobbing.  Anyone there will attest that the trail was as vague as described.  The faster teams, with trail breakers out in front of them, were about a day ahead and snow had fallen after they went through.  The trail was visible in protected areas but in the open areas it was completely wiped out.  It was a long slog to the abandoned town of Iditarod.  Jon makes money by recalling that event and using it as inspiration for art work.  Other racers involved scratch their heads and wonder how they survived.


With war talk buzzing around Iran, this article about China is timely.  The cost of America’s constant wars has been staggering and it leaves other aspects of the American economy lacking.  When folks question how various government expenditures can be paid for, the proper answer is “One less bomb.”


Finally former Bethel person Pat Hensch, who served as Seventh Avenue Medical Officer for many years before leaving that post without permission, posted this northern lights photo.


Pat’s fondest memory of her medical career was when her next door neighbor showed up with a large needle and some antibiotic that was prescribed for Lyme disease picked up on a Minnesota trip.  The instructions called for injection into a fleshy area.  Pat chose the fleshiest area she could find, his bare bottom, and her life was changed forever.

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