Dog racing always dominates the January news. The first race was the Holiday Classic held on New Year's weekend.
Casie Stockdale took second in that race, after winning last year's event. She actually traveled an extra mile or two because of trail marking issues, making her finish quite impressive. Chris Pike raced the second team and finished in the middle of the pack. Myron was lined up to run in the Bogus Creek 150 with the main team from Old Friendly Dog Farm, which appeared to be a very strong team, but achingly cold wind chill temperatures the morning of the race changed the plan. Instead, Chris ran the second team in the 150 and Casie took the main team in the Akiak Dash. Both finished in the middle of the pack. Of course the big news of that weekend was the strong showing of two local teams, Mike Williams Jr. and Pete Kaiser, taking second and third in the Kuskokwim 300. The grand plan for the 300, developing local teams to compete at the highest level of the sport, seems to be working. A few local race critics have suggested the 300 should be scheduled to prevent Iditarod racers from competing, thus allowing more local teams to finish higher. Lining up next to the stars of the sport and beating them seems to make more sense, and is certainly more fun. The close finish in this year's Kuskokwim 300 brought to mind the 1983 race, when an old leader named Funny led the winner to the finish line a few seconds ahead of George Attla. A Minnesota writer later wrote this story about that event in his book, Born to Pull:
Paul Gebhardt, a former Minnesotan and many time 300 racer, won the race and had his picture Speaking of the K300, a common topic of discussion recently has been whether or not former race manager Staci Gillilan will pay her restitution, as ordered by the court in her sentencing last year. $7,500 is due soon, and any breaking news on that subject will be reported on this site. Stay tuned.
Last month this page reported on a $23,000,000 verdict against the City of Kwethluk. Since that time, Kwethluk contacted ALO and asked for help. An appeal was filed two days after the deadline, and the appeal was accepted by the Supreme Court. A former ALO case also made the news. ALO represented Kurt Lepping for a short time on this case last year, and then was terminated in favor of a Seattle lawyer. Darn.
The Pebble Mine controversy has not died down, and a recent opinion piece in the Bristol Bay Times by Glen Alsworth linked development of the mine with national security. Pebble Mine is too involved to discuss in great detail here, but sometimes its not possible to sit back and listen to Alaska's leaders talk about development without responding,
Colorful characters have filled the history of ALO, but they are fewer in number today than in the early days of the office. One more passed from the scene in January when Ron Peltola died. Ron was a frequent client, a neighbor, a sponsor of basketball and dog teams, and a pilot for a fair number of adventures. He sent an airplane to Nome in 1979 to fly home Bethel's first Iditarod finisher. He also flew two or three basketball teams to Nome to take part in the Iditarod basketball tourney, including the first year when Bush Air's team actually was the driving force behind the start of that famous event. Ron was the only ALO client to ever convince a District Attorney to testify on his behalf at a trial, which he of course won. Ron fired ALO twice, but came back a few months later. Late night calls were Ron's specialty, often from a party. If something was on his mind, it was going to be said, no matter the situation. An undercover game warden once recorded Ron's account of a hunting trip while sitting in a bar. Like most hunting stories, it had some whoppers in it and that's how it was sold to the jury. That video would be a smash hit on You Tube today. Characters like Ron have made the Bethel area an entertaining locale for years, and replacements are in short supply.
Lond Pond Elk Farm sold a large amount of elk meat this year, mainly in Alaska. The Winner family in Anchorage got some, and now Facebook friends of Sharon Winner are treated to updates of the meals created from the elk, including this ready for the table. Long Pond elk is now on the menu at the YKHC hospital cafeteria, and it shows up often at Bethel social gatherings.
Finally, this was featured in the Minneapolis paper.
Possum have moved into Sherbourne County from the south in recent years. Most little animals are fun to watch, but possum would be an exception.