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Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

2009 Readers’ Choice Awards


The best of Fairbanks in 2009

Food List of winners....................................... 3,4 Best Hot Dog ........................................ 3 Best Ice Cream ...................................... 5 Best Margarita ...................................... 6 Best Buffet ............................................ 7


he first thing people want to know when visiting a new town is “what’s good,” whether it’s where to eat, get

their car fixed, hair cut or for a night out on the town.

Sports & Entertainment

Making a “best of” list for Fairbanks isn’t easy.

List of winners....................................... 7 Best Sports Team, Event ........................ 8 Best Band ............................................. 9 Best Theater Performance/Production ... 15

Readers sent in stacks of ballots giving their choices and we tallied up the votes to come up with the best of the best. Thank you to all who took the time to vote.


From naming the area’s best bartender to the best

List of winners....................................... 10,11 Best Nursery .......................................... 11 Best Principal ........................................ 12 Best Cashier/Retail Clerk........................ 13

burger and barbershop, none of it could have been done without you. If your favorites didn’t make the list, well there’s always room to debate and plenty of chances to try something new.

Our community has many great realtors. It is an honor to be voted REALTOR #2 Realtor by our community readers. I enjoy helping people reach their real estate goals by providing quality & prompt personal service.

u, o y k Than anks! Fairb reciate p We apsupport! your


Pam Gajdos




(Next to Wendy’s)




Thank you, fairbanks! for voting us #1 Best Hamburger in Fairbanks

“great food, great alaskan spirits”



TWO LOCATIONS: 354 Old Steese 3578 Airport Way Northgate Square Teddy Bear Plaza 374-9663 456-2538

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Chicken Wings

The Turtle Club Vallata Big Daddy’s Bar B-Q

Asian Food

KFC Food Factory Red Fox Bar & Grill

Cocktail Lounge

Pagoda Lemon Grass Thai Cuisine Bamboo Panda


The Roundup Steakhouse The Turtle Club The Blue Loon

Cup of Coffee

Big Daddy’s Bar B-Q Sockeyes The Roundup Steakhouse


Sunrise Bagel & Espresso Alaska Coffee Roasting Co. Starbucks Coffee


Sam’s Sourdough Cafe Cookie Jar Denny’s & The Bakery (tied)


Wolf Run The Turtle Club Pike’s Landing


Mayflower Pike’s Landing Pump House

Brewster’s Carl’s Jr. Zach’s Restaurant at Sophie Station

Brunch Pike’s Landing Pump House Cookie Jar


2009 Readers’ Choice Awards

Hot Dogs Sam’s Club A&W Sourdough Fuel Please see FOOD, Page 4

Price, taste make Sam’s Club hot dogs a winner By TIM MOWRY Jennnifer Bates is a member of the Sam’s Club Hot Dog Fan Club. “They’re good hot dogs,” the 39-year-old Bates said, sitting at a table enjoying a Polish dog for lunch. “Not only that it’s the cheapest lunch in town,” she said. “You don’t have to worry about your husband yelling at you because you ate something that cost 10 bucks.” Sam’s Club once again won the annual Reader’s Choice Award for the best hot dog in town and customers interviewed during a recent lunch rush attributed the popularity of Sam’s Club dogs to two things: price and taste. The popular Sam’s Club soda and hot dog combo goes for $1.88 while just the hot dog costs $1.59“They’re cheap and they’re good,” said Kara Wendt,

John Wagner/News-Miner

Sam’s Club hot dogs were voted the best in town in the 2009 News-Miner Readers Choice Awards. a 22-year-old mother. Her husband, Jamie, agreed. “It’s the only place in town you can get Nathan’s hot dogs,”

he said, referring to the popular brand of dogs served by Sam’s. “They’re a lot better than gas station hot dogs.” Sam’s serves steamed Nathan’s Famous Polish and beef hot dogs that actually fill the bun they’re served on rather than being swallowed by it, Bates said. “They’re not those scrawny little things you pay $3.50 for.” Heidi Fica, 41, is a fan of the Polish dogs with the traditional toppings — ketchup, mustard and relish . “And when I’m not working, onions,” Fica said. The steamed dogs at Sam’s taste much better than the hot dogs cooked on heated rollers in gas station convenience stores, she said. “I have never had one that’s overcooked,” she said. The sesame seed roll adds a touch of class you don’t find in a Please see HOT DOGS, Page 4

Thank you Fairbanks...

for voting Alaska USA 2009 Readers’ Choice. Service, value, and convenience since 1948. Stop by your neighborhood branch to find out what Alaska USA can do for you.


Fairbanks Daily News-Miner


Thank you for voting us one of Fairbanks favorite sporting goods stores!

3480 College Rd. • 479-2494 • Fairbanks, Alaska 99709 Locally ow ned and operated for over 35 years C onvenient C entral Location • K now ledgeable Experienced Staff


FOOD AND DRINK Continued from Page 3

Ice Cream/Milkshakes Hot Licks Homemade Ice Cream Cold Stone Creamery Carl’s Jr.

Italian Food Gambardella’s Pasta Bella Geraldo’s Vallata

Prime Rib The Turtle Club Pump House The Roundup Steakhouse

Salad Bar The Turtle Club Safeway Fred Meyer

Sandwiches Margarita

Chowder House Subway Speedy’s Subs

Chilis Los Amigos Gallo’s


Mexican Food

The Turtle Club Pump House Pike’s Landing

Taco King Gallo’s Taco Azteca

Sourdough Pancakes

Omelet Sam’s Sourdough Cafe Cookie Jar Denny’s


Sam’s Sourdough Cafe The Bakery The Diner & Denny’s (tied)


College Town Pizzeria Geraldo’s Papa Murphy’s

Vallata The Roundup Steakhouse Lavelle’s Bistro

HOT DOGS: Sam’s Club Continued from Page 3

convenience store, too. As far as nutritional value, a 3.5 ounce Nathan’s beef hot dog and roll is approximately 300 calories, slightly more than half of which (160 calories) is from fat. One hot dog has 18 grams of total fat (27 percent of daily value), 7 grams of saturated fat (35 percent), 34 milligrams of cholesterol (11 percent), 690 mil-

ligrams of sodium (29 percent), 24 grams of carbohydrates (8 percent) and 11 grams of protein (22 percent). Sam’s food court manager Sean Tu said Nathan’s hot dogs are popular with the store’s members for obvious reasons. “Have you seen the size of it?” he said. “You can’t beat it.” Contact staff writer Tim Mowry at 459-7587.

RE/MAX Associates of Fairbanks Would like to Congratulate

Chelsea Arthur as the 2009 Readers’ Choice #1 Administrative Assistant

Outstanding Agents Outstanding Results

Marie Chord


as the 2009 Readers’ Choice #2 Realtor

Contact Marie Chord at RE/MAX Associates of Fairbanks (907) 452-6387

529 5th Avenue Suite 200 • (907) 452-6387






Sunday, May 17, 2009

Mary Beth Smetzer/ News-Miner

Hot Licks ice cream a summer tradition in Fairbanks By MARY BETH SMETZER Growing up in Fairbanks, Fred Opper’s parents always took him to Hot Licks Homemade Ice Cream on College Road for ice cream. Now Opper is doing the same with his 2-year-old daughter Emma. “It’s a tradition,” he said, on a recent May evening. That’s just one of the reasons Fairbanksans voted Hot Licks


2009 Readers’ Choice Awards

No. 1 for ice cream and milk shakes in the Readers’ Choice balloting. Emma, couldn’t comment — she was too busy enjoying a vanilla ice cream cone. Of the more than eight dozen Hot Licks ice cream flavors, Alaska blueberry is Vanessa Spencer’s favorite when it is in season. “Otherwise I try to choose something different every time,” she said. “I’m never disappointed in what I choose.”

Emma Opper, age 2, recently enjoyed a vanilla ice cream cone at Hot Licks Homemade Ice Cream on College Road. Stopping at the local business for an ice cream treat is a tradition in the Opper family passed down to the next generation.

Real cream, milk, sugar, egg yolk, and more real cream are the basic ingredients for Hot Licks ice cream, said owner Geoff Wool. Hot Licks Homemade Ice Cream contains 16 percent butterfat in all. But since there aren’t enough cows in Alaska to supply all the fresh ingredients needed to make enough of the small batch, super premium ice cream to Please see HOT LICKS, Page 6

Thank you to our Customers for recognizing Roundup Steakhouse and our fine staff for all that they do well. We particularly appreciate your votes in the following categories:


UAF is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer and educational institution.


We look forward to your continued patronage!

#2 Best Server/Waiter Beverly

ROUNDUP STEAKHOUSE 2701 South Cushman Reservations or Delivery 479-3663

Thank you for voting



-Chief Curry and Staff-


Thanks to all of the readers who voted our department #1. We are proud to serve you .

#3 Best Bartender Jennifer



Jim Rothmeyer among the finest opticians in the interior.

Dr. Michael Helmbrecht and the staff at Helmbrecht Dental are very honored to be recognized for the Readers’ Choice Award for Dentistry. With all of the excellent dentists that Fairbanks has to choose from, we truly appreciate this recognition and the support of our patients and the community.

tude, With sincere grati taff Dr. Mike and S

WEST VALLEY VISION CENTER, INC. 570 Riverstone Way, Suite 3 • 479-4700


456-1237 • 421 3rd St., Fairbanks AK




Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

2009 Readers’ Choice Awards

HOT LICKS: Top ice cream

Frozen or on the rocks, Chili’s serves up stellar margaritas

Continued from Page 5

satisfy Fairbanksans ice cream appetite, Wool imports much of it from an Oregon dairy farm. Lochmead Farm grows most of its own animal feed, and does not use bovine growth hormones or use antibiotics unless a cow becomes ill. Hot Licks products which include ice cream, sherbets, sorbets and ice cream cakes, are made at a Van Horn Road location and sold at two outlets, one on College Road near the university and the other at Chena Pump Plaza. Hot Licks ice cream also is supplied to local grocery stores and restaurants. Curt Rogers and his family stopped by the College Road Hot Licks shop. “I like ice cream and I like to support local businesses. So it

“Hot Licks reminds me of summer in Fairbanks.”


— Margaret Rogers

just makes sense,” he said. His wife Margaret concurs, adding, “Hot Licks reminds me of summer in Fairbanks. It means winter is over.” Four-year-old Charlie Rogers obviously agreed, barely looking up from his perch on an outdoor picnic table as he intently devoured chocolate ice cream in a waffle cone. Contact staff writer Mary Beth Smetzer at 459-7546.

Eco-friendly soaps • Envirosax

locally owned and operated in the heart of downtown Fairbanks 215 Cushman Street • 457-6659 Monday - Saturday 10 – 6 p.m.

• Handcrafted jewelry • Pens • Journals •



Thanks, Fairbanks For Your Vote!

Exquisite Tableware • Vera Bradley

• Gifts for Grads and Dads • Wedding and Baby •

Thanks, Fairbanks,

The margarita had a neon green color. An orange straddled the glass’s salt-covered rim. Its name? El Nino. At Chili’s Bar and Grill, where the drink was served, two bartenders said the drink was their favorite of the 14 margaritas on the menu. Chili’s was recently named the best margarita-maker in Fairbanks. El Nino’s ingredients are barely pronounceable — Herradura Reposado Tequila, Gran Gala orange liquor, Cointreau and orange juice. “It’s got the most booze in it,” bartender Heather Sowards said. The margarita came in a beer mug. The drink is usually served in a giant martini glass but they all broke and new glasses are on order, a bartender said. At first, the taste is sweet. Seconds later, it becomes sour. Then salty. The kick is there but subtly. The customers’ favorite is the Presidente Margarita, which commands its own page in the drink menu. “It’s one of Chili’s signature drinks,” bartender Ron Shaw said. Also popular are the Tropical Sunrise and Chambord 1800. The main difference between the margaritas is the tequila, Shaw said, noting that each margarita comes with a different tequila. Dave Kapla said he only orders margaritas, Presidente in particular. The computer systems administrator was having his Friday afternoon drink on a sunny May afternoon. “That’s my thing,” Kapla said from his perch on the northwest side of the bar. The Presidente’s ingredients are Sauza Conmemorativo Tequila, Cointreau and Presidente brandy. Kapla likes the Presidente because of the brandy,

Amanda Bohman/News-Miner

Ron Shaw prepares an El Nino margarita at Chili’s Bar and Grill. The restaurant’s margaritas were at the top of the list for the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner Readers' Choice Awards in 2009. which is imported from Mexico. Once, when Chili’s ran out of Presidente brandy, Kapla went to liquor stores looking for the label. “You can’t even find that brandy in town,” he said. Sowards, a petite tanned brunette in a bright T-shirt, served his margarita. Kapla took a sip and then stirred it with a straw. “It’s definitely a better flavor. It’s smoother,” he said.

Thank you, Fairbanks, for voting College Floral the #1 Florist in the Interior!


for your support & your votes in one of the Fairbanks Ice Dogs most fantastic seasons!

3260 College Rd. • 479-6926


452-2111 •

College Floral & Gift 1 2 3 5 1 1 2 2 -5 -1 7 -0 9 R C



Sunday, May 17, 2009


Fairbanks bellies up to the buffet at Mayflower

Place to bring tourists

Local Sporting Event

Chena Hot Springs Pioneer Park Riverboat Discovery


“I’m happy, so happy.”

Fairbanks Ice Dogs UAF Hockey Midnight Sun Run

Romantic Getaway

Local Sports Team

Chena Hot Springs Pump House Lavelle’s Bistro

— Jian Chen, owner Mayflower Buffet

features a selection of fresh sushi, as well as a soft-serve ice cream machine. Chen said that he especially enjoys the pepper chicken and coconut shrimp and other seafood dishes. Patrons don’t seem to have any particular favorites, though. “I think the customers like it all,” he said. Contact staff writer Chris Freiberg at 459-7545.

UAF Nanooks Fairbanks Ice Dogs Fairbanks Grizzlies

Theater/performance company Fairbanks Light Opera Theatre Fairbanks Shakespeare Theatre Fairbanks Drama Association


Nostalgic Jam Girls With Guitars Sweating Honey

“The Rainmaker”- Fairbanks Drama Association “Romeo & Juliet”- Fairbanks Shakespeare Theatre “The Nutcracker”- North Star Ballet

A Special Thank You from all of us here at

Local Band

Theater/performance production Place for Dancing Silver Spur The Blue Loon Pioneer Park


for making Taylor’s Gold-n-Stones the #1 Best Jewelry Store, 2009.

Thank you, Fairbanks, for voting us a favorite in the 2009 Readers' Choice Awards

Come and taste why we scored in Best Asian Food Category. Open Hours: Mon-Thurs 11 am-10 pm,

“For Jewelry as fine as she is”

We Deliver! Teddy Bear Plaza

Corner of Airport Way & University Ave. Fairbanks, Alaska 99709

Fri-Sat 11 am-11 pm, Sun 12 noon-9:30 pm

1235 Airport Way, Suite 3 • Fairbanks, AK 99701

Call 458-8885 • 458-8886

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Mayflower Buffet advertises itself as the “best buffet in city,” and the restaurant lived up to that slogan in the 2009 Reader’s Choice Awards. News-Miner readers selected Mayflower, in business for only three years, as their favorite buffet. The buffet beat out two more established restaurants, Pike’s Landing and the Pump House, which came in second and third, respectively, in the annual readers’ poll. “I’m happy, so happy,” said owner Jian Chen, who opened the restaurant when he moved to Fairbanks from New York. It is the first restaurant he has owned, he said. Mayflower is known for its mix of American and Chinese cuisine, prepared by a chef who hails from China. Customers can either enjoy the buffet for lunch or dinner, or order takeout from a menu. Chen said that most people opt to eat in. Carry-out from the buffet is also available for $3.99 a pound for lunch and $6.99 for dinner. The buffet features more than 150 alternating items ranging from traditional American fare like pizza and chicken nuggets to more exotic Asian cuisine such as Mongolian pork and honey chicken. There is also a salad bar that


2009 Readers’ Choice Awards

Fairbanks Drama Association would like to thank our supporters for voting us as one of the Best Theatre Companies,

and for voting THE RAINMAKER as the “Best Theatre Performance/Production”

The cast of

Please accept our grateful appreciation for your support.


Brandon Michael Bill Starbuck

Betsy Robertson Lizzie Curry

Michael Karoly Deputy File

Carl Addington H.C. Curry

John Paul Kohler Noah Curry

Michael Hunter Jim Curry

Fred DeCicco Sheriff Thomas

Peggy Ferguson Director

FDA-FCT is proud to be YOUR community theatre.

In performance through May 23 at the Riverfront Theatre. Call 456-PLAY for tickets.


Don’t miss our final production of this season:



Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

2009 Readers’ Choice Awards

Nanooks, Ice Dogs bring out hometown faithful By DANNY MARTIN The University of Alaska Fairbanks and the Fairbanks Ice Dogs hockey teams had a few things in common in 2008-09. They each achieved success with first-year head coaches, featured players who were highly honored, and the voters of the Reader’s Choice Awards enjoyed watching each of them in action this past season. The Ice Dogs of the Juniorlevel North American Hockey League were voted as the best local sporting event and the Nanooks of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association earned the top honor for local sports team. The Nanooks were runnersup in the local sporting event category and the Ice Dogs were the second- favorite local sports team. The annual 10-kilometer Midnight Sun Run received the third-most votes for local sporting event and the Fairbanks Grizzlies of the Indoor Football League were voted for third place for local

John Wagner/News-Miner

Fairbanks Ice Dogs were named Fairbanks’ best local sporting event. sports team. The Ice Dogs, under Josh Hauge, posted a 38-12-8 record in the regular season for a franchisebest 84 points, and they swept West Division rival Kenai River Brown Bears in three games of a best-of-five, first-round playoff series. The Ice Dogs advanced to the best-of-five division championship series against the Wenatchee

Wild, losing three games to one to the expansion team from Washington state. Ice Dogs forward Austin Block produced a league-best 73 points (29 goals and 44 assists) in the regular season and earned the NAHL Forward of the Year honor. The 20-year-old from Thousand Oaks, Calif., also had seven of Fairbanks 30 playoff goals.

Congratulations, Laura Stark!

Teammate Drew Darwitz, also 20 and from Cottage Grove, Minn., paced league defensemen with 39 points (two goals and 37 assists) and his work on the back end led to the NAHL Defenseman of the Year. The CCHA preseason polls picked the Nanooks for an 11thplace finish in the 12-team league. Under Dallas Ferguson, the

team instead placed fourth in the regular season, won a quarterfinal series at the Carlson Center against the Ohio State Buckeyes and advanced to the CCHA Championship Tournament in Detroit. The Nanooks also finished with the second-best defense in NCAA Division I, allowing 1.74 goals per game. While guiding the team to a 17-16-6 overall record, Ferguson, a former Nanooks defenseman and assistant coach, received the CCHA Coach of the Year honor and was a finalist for the Spencer Penrose Award for the Division I national coach of the year. Senior goaltender Chad Johnson was critical to the Nanooks’ success and the 23-year-old native of Calgary, Alberta, seemed to need a wheelbarrow for the accolades he garnered. The D-I leader this past season for goals against average (1.66) and saves percentage (.940) received the league’s Player of the Please see SPORTS, Page 10


Favorite Teacher voted 2nd place.

Thank You

for voting us the Best Gift Shop in Fairbanks 18351359-5-17-09RC

Now enrolling for summer and 2009-2010 school year Open to ages 3–6  451-8485  2014 30th Avenue

Thank you, Fairbanks North Pole and Eielson

River Mall • 29 College Rd.• 456-1298 Monday – Saturday 10 – 6 • Closed Sunday


Thank you, Fairbanks, for your vote, Best Day Care

Best Asian Food

for voting us 1st Place for Best Asian Food in the Interior!

Chinese Restaurant


Delivery available in North Pole & Eielson Celebrating 19 wonderful years in North Pole!

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Open 7 days Friday-Saturday: 11:30 a.m. - 10 p.m. Sunday - Thursday: 11:30 a.m. - 9:30 p.m.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


2009 Readers’ Choice Awards

Nostalgic Jam gets the nod as Fairbanks’ best band By GLENN BURNSILVER

never fails to get the dance floor full.”), the Righteous Brothers’ “Unchained Melody” (“It always gets them out.”), J.J. Jackson’s “But It’s Alright,” some old Rolling Stones and smattering of Motown hits. “We try to do stuff to get people up off their chairs,” Balogh said. “We stick a ballad in every once in a while too so the guys that don’t know how to dance can get up and just kind of sway back and forth.” While Balogh said he is “surprised” Nostalgic Jam was the top vote getter, he said the band

Thank You to all of our customers who voted for Ann’s Greenhouses. We appreciate your support for the past 43 years!


3 mile Sheep Creek Rd.

Spenard Builders Supply for 30 years — and Nostalgic Jam is more of a hobby than aspiration. “For a couple years we were playing 30-35 times a year, but then we decided there are only 52 weekends, so we decided to pare that back a little bit,” he said. “But really it’s just something fun to do.”

Congratulations, Angela Foster for being voted BARTENDER the best bartender in Fairbanks! Steese & Trainor Gate • ␣ 456-6777


Come see us for: • bedding plants • seeds • onion sets • nursery stock • soil & fertilizer

does have a small following. “We do have a kind of following of people who know the band,” he said. “When we do play a public gig I do see a lot of familiar faces in the audience.” But winning probably won’t go to anyone’s head. The band members each work regular day jobs — Balogh has been with


What’s it take to get the top of the Reader’s Choice Awards? Friends in unexpected places. “Someone must have stuffed the ballot box,” said Greg Balogh, lead singer for Nostalgic Jam, a 1950s and ‘60s cover band voted Fairbanks’ Best Band by News-Miner readers. “I’ve never filled one of those (voter forms) out, but someone must like us. I honestly don’t know anything about it.” That “someone” must have a good memory as well, as the band’s last public show was a Halloween party at the Chatanika Lodge. Most of the time Nostalgic Jam plays weddings, private parties, birthdays, anniversaries, family reunions and other special events. “You might say we are a niche band,” Balogh said. “We don’t play every weekend in the bar, but we’ve been playing around town for 10 or 12 years. When ever there is a Realtors conven-

tion in town, we usually play that.” The band, which has seen a few lineup changes over the years, features Martin Hartman on bass, Greg Higdon on guitar, drummer Bob Kelley, Mike Thibodeaux on keyboards and saxophone, and Balogh. Nostalgic Jam specializes in music from the 1950s and ‘60s, though it sometimes slips into the 1970s, Balogh admitted. Popular favorites include Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl” (“Always a favorite.”), Wilson Pickett’s Mustang Sally (“That

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Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

2009 Readers’ Choice Awards SERVICES Sally-Sally’s Salon Dana McCarter-Perfect Look

Auto mechanic/repair shop Dentist

Gabe’s Truck & Auto Repair Gene’s Chrysler Dodge Jeep Dietrich Auto Repair

Dr. Michael Helmbrecht Dr. Lee Payne Dr. James Cerney

Banking facility/ financial institution

Insurance Agency/agent Ken Murray Insurance Vern Carlson-State Farm Cole Hollister-Allstate Insurance

Doctor Dr. Timothy Foote-Tanana Valley Clinic Dr. J. Cox,Oncology- Fairbanks Memorial Hospital Dr. Charles Steiner-Tanana Valley Clinic

Alaska USA Spirit of Alaska FCU Mt. McKinley Bank

Barbershop/Barber Joe-Just Haircuts Don’s Barber Shop Marena Ball-Alaska Barber Shop Angela Foster-Club Alaskan Janelle Sweeney-The Turtle Club Jennifer-The Roundup Steakhouse

Taylor’s Gold n Stones Fred Meyer Gold Rush Fine Jewelry

Massage/physical therapist

UAF Fire Department Steese Area Volunteer Fire Department City of Fairbanks Fire Department

Greg Milles-Hometown PT Taian Trujillo-Hair, Body & Soul Martha Stevenson Massage Therapy


Nonprofit Agency

College Floral Safeway Daisy a Day Floral

Splash’n Dash Cushman Plaza Carwash Gasline II/Steese

Fred Meyer Professional Pharmacy Safeway

Principal Barbara Burch-Nordale Elementary School Shaun Kraska-West Valley High School Bill Martin-Muth-Arctic Light Elementary School

Fairbanks Community Food Bank Fairbanks Resource Agency Love, INC.

Gift Shop

Open Arms Child Develop-

The University of Alaska Fairbanks was named top school in the 2009 Readers’ Choice Awards. ment Center Fairbanks Montessori Bunnell House Early Childhood Lab School

Real Estate Agency/agent Nurse

Somethin’ Special If Only…a fine store Knotty Shop

The Associated Press

Day Care

Optician Jay Titus-Sam’s Club Pam Gadajos-Image Optical Jim Rothmeyer- West Valley Vision

Jewelry Store

Fire Department

Car Wash

Cindy Whitmer-Safeway University Tim Castor-Fred Meyer East Willie Andersen- Fred Meyer West

John Lounsbury-Sam’s Club Damien Delzer-Eye Clinic Ruth Nicolas-Golden North Optics



Cashier/retail clerk


Colleen Kowalchuck- Fairbanks Memorial Hospital Alice Mural Rachel Meiners-Rogers- Fairbanks Memorial Hospital

Gun Shop Sportsman’s Warehouse Arctic Gun Works Sentry Hardware

Receptionist/ Administrative Assistant

Nursery/garden center Holm Town Nursery Ann’s Greenhouse The Plant Kingdom

Hair Salon/stylist Kelly Nash-Pivot Point

Susan Rainey-Riverview Realty Marie Chord-RE/MAX Associates Jerrie Wagner- Wagner Realty

Chelsea-RE/MAX Associates Stacey Zahn Thompson-DOT Mindy Edgerton-Dr. Cerney’s Office


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& The Mayan Palace

Chinese, American & Japanese Cuisine

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Thank you for voting us a Fairbanks Favorite. We scored in Best Mexican Food Category

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I appreciate you as a valued customer. It is an honor for me to be chosen as your favorite stylist. You are a blessing! You are #1 to me.


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Remember…You Always Come First!

Jerrie Wagner


"My sincerest thanks goes out to this wonderful community I am so proud to be a part of. I greatly enjoy my work and it is a true honor to have my efforts appreciated in this way." —Jerrie Wagner

Senior & Military Discount Kids under 3 FREE! Over 150 items



Readers' Choice # 3 Realtor!


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• 452-3399

Thank you for voting us the best buffet in Fairbanks!


Come on in!

University of Alaska Fairbanks Nordale Elementary School West Valley High School


SPORTS Continued from Page 8

Year , Goaltender of the Year and Perani Cup awards and was an All-CCHA first-team selection. The Pittsburgh Penguins 2006 draft pick collected two All-America honors (American Hockey Coaches Assocation/Reebok West Second Team and Inside College Third Team), and he was among 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award, college’s hockey highest individual recognition. He was also a West Team goaltender in the Frozen Four Skills Challenge on April 10 in Washington, D.C. Senior wing/center Trevor Hyatt of Anchorage was also named to the second team of the Lowe’s Senior CLASS All-America Team.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

SERVICES Server/Waiter Kathy Ratliff-The Turtle Club Beverly-The Roundup Steakhouse John Kessler-Big Daddy’s Bar B-Q

Sporting Goods Store Sportsman’s Warehouse Beaver Sports Play It Again Sports

Teacher Tom Dolan-Nordale Elementary School Laura Stark-Fairbanks Montessori Doug Christiansen-University of Alaska Fairbanks

Teller Suncha-Spirit of Alaska FCU Jessica Mower-Denali State Bank Bess-Wells Fargo

Tools/Hardware Store Sentry Hardware Alaska Industrial Hardware Home Depot


2009 Readers’ Choice Awards

Holm Town Nursery an oasis in the subarctic John Wagner/ News-Miner

By REBECCA GEORGE Whether it’s plants, pots or pastries, Holm Town Nursery was voted No. 1 in Fairbanks for the 2009 Readers Choice Awards. The business offers a wide variety of gardening merchandise and the new Petunia’s Cafe. When visitors walk into the newly renovated store and adjacent greenhouse, it’s like walking into a blooming garden, with the echoes of birds chirping and an assortment of colorful plants and seed variety, Holm Town Nursury’s environment can take even the coldest winter blues away. The nursery is a well rounded garden center and full service nursery offering the widest selection of hardy trees, shrubs and perennials. The staff each bring their own gardening expertise to the store and can offer help with any question whether it’s watering tips to full-blown landscaping ideas specific to Northern

Holm Town Nursery was voted the best nursery in town in the 2009 News-Miner Readers’ Choice Awards.

Alaska. And why not grab a bite to eat while you’re out? Petunia’s Coffee shop, right inside the Nursery offers an assortment of baked goodies and homemade soups and sandwiches, not to mention early bird breakfasts at 8 a.m. Ann’s Greenhouse, off Sheep Creek road also offers a wide variety of plants specifically for

the Interior and is an adventure to wander in and out of the several greenhouses. Ann’s Greenhouse was founded in 1966, and is one of the oldest and largest in Fairbanks. One of the larger nurseries in Fairbanks, Ann’s Greenhouse offers something for even the pickiest of gardeners whether it’s a wide assortment of vegetables and herbs or the color-

ful perennials and hydroponics plants. Readers chose the Plant Kingdom, located on Farmers Loop, as their third favorite nursery in town. Known for producing quality flowers and starts, the Plant Kingdom is open seven days a week during the summer time. Contact staff writer George at 459-7504.


The University of Alaska Fairbanks would like to say THANK YOU to Fairbanks Daily News-Miner readers for awarding us:


First Place — Best School First Place — Best Sports Team (Alaska Nanooks) First Place — Best Fire Department (University Fire Department)


Second Place — Best Sporting Event (Nanook Hockey)


Third Place — Best Teacher (Doug Christensen, Geology and Geophysics) Third Place — Best Day Care (Bunnell House Early Childhood Lab School)

We’re proud to be part of the Fairbanks community!

America’s Arctic University UAF is an AA/EO employer and educational institution. Produced by UAF Marketing & Communications. 05/2009


Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

2009 Readers’ Choice Awards



Readers name Burch outstanding principal By CHRISTOPHER ESHLEMAN

pizzeria we thank you!

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Barbara Burch is out with the kids at recess every day. It’s one of the chances Burch, principal at Nordale Elementary School, has to enjoy the simple things that help prepare children for future success. “The reward for me is every day,” Burch said of her 35 years in education. “Smiles, hugs, fixing a kid’s zipper on the playground when it’s really cold.” Raised in Seattle, Burch moved to Alaska in 1986 after earning degrees in Washington and Idaho. She taught at Barnett, Badger Road and Ladd schools and completed an administrative internship at Joy Elementary before becoming Nordale’s principal in 1998. Since then, she’s helped the school and staff move into a new building and through other challenges. She said that she was surprised to find that the more she learned about her role as educator and administrator, the

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Barbara Burch, principal of Nordale Elementary School, speaks with a student. Burch was named outstanding principal in the 2009 Readers’ Choice. more challenges — worthwhile, but challenging nonetheless — arose. “I am 60 years old and retiring in just a few weeks after 35 years

of getting up every day and going to school,” Burch said. “I feel great and am ready for the next adventure in life.”

This spring, newspaper readers in Fairbanks chose Burch as principal of the year. Leslie Hajdukovich, a mother who lives in the same neighborhood as Nordale, said by now she recognizes Burch’s tan Jeep — often parked outside the school on nights or weekends. “I know she does a lot of the behind-the-scenes work so she’s available for the teachers and the parents and staff and students,” said Hajdukovich, also president of the school district’s board. Burch said if she started again from scratch, she’d do at least one thing differently. She’d take better care of herself and would delegate more authority among staff. That said, she wouldn’t hesitate again to choose what has proven a rewarding career. “I’d do it again in a heartbeat.” Nordale is also host to this year’s teacher of the year, Tom Dolan. Contact staff writer Christopher Eshleman at 459-7582.

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Sunday, May 17, 2009


2009 Readers’ Choice Awards

Whitmer a standout among Fairbanks cashiers By AMANDA BOHMAN

Last week, a woman with two cart loads pulled up to Whitmer’s register. The 54-year-old was the only cashier online, and it was a Bush order. The woman wanted her groceries packed in moving boxes for a journey to rural Alaska. Whitmer dispatched her bagger to hunt down boxes and packing tape while she scanned the items. Five-pound bags of sugar, a 10-pound bag of rice and giant bags of potatoes crept down the conveyor belt. Whitmer piled the groceries behind her, careful to place heavy items below lighter items, such as bread and hamburger buns. When the bagger returned, Whitmer joined him in boxing the groceries. Whitmer moved swiftly as the line behind the woman grew. Customers began shifting their weight and the mood grew uneasy.

University Avenue Safeway cashier Cindy Whitmer smiles as she waits on customers near the end of her shift in August 2008.

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Grace under fire

Eric Engman /News-Miner

Please see CASHIER, Page 14


It was 1974, and Cindy Whitmer was a young wife new to Fairbanks by way of Rifle, Colo., a small town on Route 6. Woolworth’s on Cushman Street had hired her to handle its drapery orders, but Whitmer found the job boring, so she went to the University Avenue Safeway store to see if they needed a cashier. Whitmer had some experience after working at the City Market in Aspen, Colo. Safeway did need someone, but Whitmer had to give Woolworths two weeks notice. By the time the two weeks passed, the Safeway job was taken. “So I just kept bugging Safeway,” Whitmer said. One day, a woman said there was an opening. She asked Whitmer to take a math test. Whitmer aced it. The woman hired her on the spot. Thirty-three years later, Whitmer is one of the fastest cashiers on the line and a favorite with customers, some of whom have been shopping at Safeway as long as Whitmer has been a cashier. “She’s good,” customer Ellucia Boswell said. “She’s fast and friendly. She’s positive. I’m sure she has bad days like everybody else, but she doesn’t let it show.”

After the order was packaged and the customer went on her way, Whitmer turned to the next customer and smiled as if it were her first customer of the day. By then, Whitmer had been working for five hours. “Smiling a lot helps,” Whitmer said. “If you get frustrated, they just get frustrated.” Small-town roots Whitmer is the middle child of five born to a coal miner and a nursing home attendant. She grew up in the country. Her high school graduating class numbered about 100. Her family kept a horse and sometimes a cow on their property. When Whitmer turned 17, she married her sweetheart, Lyle, a budding airplane mechanic


EDITOR'S NOTE: This story originally ran in August 2008.


Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

2009 Readers’ Choice Awards

CASHIER: Whitmer says a smile is her best defense against a bad day Continued from Page 13

whom she had met through her sister’s boyfriend. "It had always been his dad’s dream to live in Alaska,” Whitmer said. “He asked me one night if I wanted to go.” Whitmer said yes. The couple called a pilot acquaintance who had moved to Fairbanks, and the pilot said there would be a job for Lyle. Next, they had to tell Whitmer’s parents. Her mother cried. “Mom just felt like it was so far away that she’d never see us again,” Whitmer said. Whitmer wrote letters to her family and sent pictures of Alaska. Eventually, her parents and all of her siblings moved here.

“People want to come through my line, and that’s pretty cool. I’ve worked in other departments, but I just prefer the check stand.” — Cindy Whitmer

The grocery business In the 1980s, the Whitmers moved back and forth between Fairbanks and Anchorage, owing to Lyle’s job. Cindy remained with Safeway, working at the Diamond Mall and Penlan Park stores. Checking groceries hasn’t

changed much since the 1970s, except maybe the uniforms, according to Whitmer. “Back then you had to know the price. Now you have to know the code,” she said. Whitmer pulled out an old sales ad featuring store employees. The ad was from 1992, back

when the cashiers wore a black ribbon around their collars. There’s been so many uniform changes that Whitmer can’t remember them all. She likes the black stretch Dockers and the button-up short-sleeved shirt required of today's Safeway employees. Whitmer’s cash register sits near the self-serve checkout stands. When asked if she thinks her job will eventually become obsolete, she said no. "There’s still going to be too many people who like coming and having someone check them out,” she said. She offered an analogy about automated answering services. The same people who immediately press zero for the operator will prefer someone to scan their groceries for them, Whitmer

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said. Also, there are services a cashier can provide better than a computer, she said. Safeway occasionally runs sales on cartons of eggs. Buy one, get one free. Some customers only take one carton of eggs. Whitmer said it’s her job to remind them that a second carton would be free. Whitmer, who is a head clerk, has probably helped train dozens of grocery cashiers throughout the years. She uses memory games to remember bar codes for various products. For example, the code for asparagus is 4080. Whitmer thinks of it as 408-none. The none stands for the fact that Whitmer has never eaten asparagus. “It just doesn’t look good to me,” she said.

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Whitmer’s daughter, a courier for Napa Auto Parts, stopped by to bum some lunch money. Her son also paid a visit, picking up snacks and antifreeze for a road trip. What has kept Whitmer behind a cash register for three decades? “Mainly just talking to the people and being with the people,” she said. “There’s a lot of them I know by name. I get to know how they like things done. They can trust that I’ll know how they want it done. People want to come through my line, and that’s pretty cool. I’ve worked in other departments, but I just prefer the check stand.” Whitmer gets satisfaction from putting a smile on a customer’s face. As people moved through her line, Whitmer commented on the weather or asked if they had been to the Tanana Valley State Fair. A man said yes, he had been to the fair, and Whitmer continued the thread of conversation. “We went yesterday, too. I took my umbrella,” she said. “It kind of feels good to have it done,” the man replied. “You want help out?” Whitmer asked. No thanks, the customer said. “I’ve been doing this so long,” Whitmer said. “If somebody would have told me when I first started that 33 years later I’d still be doing it, I’d have said ‘Yeah, right.’” Contact staff writer Amanda Bohman at 459-7544.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


2009 Readers’ Choice Awards

Readers give ‘The Rainmaker' highest accolades EDITOR'S NOTE: This is an excerpt of a story that ran in March 2009. By ERICA GOFF What is the beauty of a theatrical comedy? Anybody can make you cry but it takes a real genius to make you laugh. “The great Laurence Olivier said those words, and it is so true. Dying is easy, but comedy is hard,” said Peggy Ferguson, director of the upcoming Fairbanks Drama Association production of “The Rainmaker.” Ferguson, who is also executive director of FDA, has nearly 40 years of experience in community theater — she first volunteered with FDA in 1970, shortly after arriving in Fairbanks — and she’s well acquainted with what makes a good production and what doesn’t. Smart writing, she said, is a major factor and is exactly

what makes N. Richard Nash’s “The Rainmaker” a success. “Richard Nash has such a knack for setting up fantastic characters and he’s perfect with timing and planning for comedy,” she said, calling the play “one of my Top 10 favorite plays of all time. “I’ve always wanted to direct this and never have before. It is so rich, so funny, so touching. This has been one of the best theater experiences of the last 40 years for me. It’s such a wonderful comedy.” The story is one of drought, both figuratively — a Midwestern farm family is battling a severe lack of rain — and emotionally — the characters are facing a “drought of love,” Ferguson said. Leading lady Lizzie Curry is a 35-year-old

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many men at the time weren’t ready to deal with. It may have been trouble for the character’s love life, but it adds to the witty theatrics and dialogue of the play. “Deputy File has his eye on her, but he won’t make a move because he’s been burned, and Lizzie’s brothers and father keep telling her she’s pushing every man away,” Ferguson said. The plot thickens when Starbuck, a con man who promises to bring rain to the farmland, enters the story and joins the Curry family and Deputy File in their struggle. Ferguson called him an “interesting character, the ultimate salesman,” who “adds another hilarious dimension to the story.”

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acters, while very “salt of the earth,” express real, relatable language and become complex, three-dimensional, sophisticated people. But it is also the reality of the setting — early 1900s America — that creates the powerful story Nash tells. “At that time a woman had to be married early (in her 20s) or she’d become so stigmatized, as an Old Maid or a spinster. If you weren’t married, you were either a dedicated school marm all your life or you were weird as hell,” Ferguson said. “If you were in your mid-30s and not married it was a problem. I can’t believe the choices these women had to face.” Adding to Lizzie Curry’s difficulty was her strong, opinionated personality, something

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headstrong woman living in 1918, unable to find love. Likewise, fellow protagonist Deputy Sheriff File has been burned by love, recently divorced, and has given up hope on companionship. The situation is one that denotes bravery on the part of the farmers — “Farming is one of the biggest gambles in life because people’s livelihood is totally dependent on weather,” Ferguson said — and the part of potential lovers. “Lizzie and Deputy File are very much alike, and both hilariously stubborn individuals,” Ferguson explained. “There is a great funny dynamic when they do come together. They are some of the funniest scenes.” Again noting Nash’s effective writing, Ferguson said the char-



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