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March 2016

Gary Vanasse | Tom Ratledge | K300 Hires New Manager

A sad ending to the month of March at ALO as longtime Kuskokwim 300 board member Gary Vanasse, also known as Potts, died of a heart attack. Gary was very active in Bethel, serving on the school board and city council among other activities. He was truly a fun loving person, and that's where he intersected best with the Angstman family.

As one of the speakers at the memorial service, it was more or less expected that funny stories would be shared, so for the benefit of those who weren't there, here are a couple of the best from the ALO repository of slightly inappropriate tales which were told.

Potts was a talk show host in Bethel for the Friday call in show, for 19 years. He was the best ever at that job, but one day he slipped a little line past the censors that had one listener choking with laughter. The topic was activities for children in Bethel, and someone suggested the city should do more to provide stuff for the kids to do. Potts protested that he and his five brothers had grown up poor in Bemidji, Minnesota and had it rough. "We didn't have any toys at all. My Mom had to cut the bottoms off our pants pockets so we would have something to play with when we went outside." No one reacted on the air or after the show, and Potts said no one else said a word except his ever vigilant lawyer.

One other story involved his warning to his daughter's first boyfriend, which Potts relayed with glee. When the young boyfriend showed up at the Vanasse home, Potts took him aside in the living room and told him the rules. "If you are mean to my daughter, I'll be mean to you," Potts promised. "If you hit my daughter, I'll hit you," he added. Of course since Potts was a very large man, the second warning really caught the kid's attention. But it was the final warning that caused his eyes to open very wide. "If you have sex with my daughter, I'll have sex with you." It is worth noting that Potts died without grandkids.

Gary Vanasse spent most of his free time trying to make Bethel a little better place to live. He was very fond of the town, and especially proud of the K300. He noted to anyone who listened that no other small town in America hosts such a huge event, and his donated service contributed to that in a big way. He never sought recognition for his efforts, and certainly got no financial reward. Happy trails, Potts.

Of course the whole month was not spent telling stories. One civil case settled involving confidentially. It involved a woman who suffered a significant injury because of another person's negligence. Often folks who settle cases don't want anyone to know because it might cause additional claims. That policy never is well received at ALO but sometimes it can't be avoided. Another major case was scheduled for trial in Bethel but was postponed because of the volcanic eruption southeast of Bethel. The ash plume grounded flights for a few days, and witness travel was uncertain enough that the parties did not want to begin the case.

An only-in-Alaska story appeared in the Anchorage newspaper recently. Tom the helicopter pilot is the same guy who flew the ALO airplane from Detroit to Anchorage, as a favor, when it was purchased. He does a lot of flying for the Feds, and one of his best stories concerns an eagle study being done on the local refuge. They hired Tom to do periodic flights with their biologists to check eagle nests along a nearby river frequented by rafters to see if nesting was disturbed by the occasional fishing party that drifted by. To accomplish the study, Tom was asked to hover the chopper a very short distance from the nests along the river while the biologists counted the babies. Tom said the babies eyes were as wide as those of the boyfriend mentioned earlier when the loud chopper approached. Those darn noisy rafters.

This month's mandatory moose was spotted by alert reader Jane Bender Hanson of Princeton. Her friend Becky Cartwright sent along this photo from northern Minnesota featuring a very rare event, triplet moose calves.

This photo shows an elderly ALO client who appeared on the Iditarod web page, after she showed up at one of the checkpoints. Could there be a better reason to have law practice in rural Alaska?

Garrison Keilor has long been one of America's best writers and observers. He combines both skills in this piece about Donald Trump.

The Kuskokwim 300 has hired home grown talent to become the next manager of the race. Outgoing manager Zach Fansler spent five years on the job, and his replacement Madi Reichard has been a reliable volunteer that whole time. She would fly home from college to help out with the race every year. All that's needed now is a little winter.

Finally this poster sums up much about American politics of this era.


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