Valley Living Fall 2022

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Fall 2022

The Mat-Su Valley, one story at a time

inside • Book Club • CCS New Location • Homes for Vets • New Dining Spots • Art and Fitness Venues A P U B L I C AT I O N O F W I C K C O M M U N I C AT I O N S

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inside 4

The Art Café

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Firelight Book Club

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CCS Early Learning new location

10 Feather and Flour opens 12 Homes for Vets 16 Ken Peltier 17 Larson’s Pizza 18 Northbound Fitness 22 Valley Garden Club

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page 22 EDITOR’S NOTE Welcome to fall, and thank you for reading Valley Living Fall 2022. Each edition of our quarterly magazine gives us another opportunity to write about the people and places of the Mat-Su. In this edition we are featuring new restaurant options, Feather and Flour and Larson’s Pizza. There’s style in Steam Driven Boutique, and the Art Cafe, a popular spot in Palmer. We also have something on a place to go for fitness, and a story for gardeners. This edition also includes a tribute to the late great Hobo Jim, and how local musician Ken Peltier continues to honor his mentor. We appreciate the opportunity to continue to share our stories in the Mat-Su. Thanks for reading, Jeremiah Bartz, managing editor

page 17 Dennis Anderson Group Publisher, Wick Communications Alaska dennis.anderson@frontiersman.com

Tawni Davis Publisher, Regional Marketing Director Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman

Jeremiah Bartz Managing Editor, Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman

Petra Albecker Regional Multimedia Marketing Consultant

Ben Borg Regional Multimedia Marketing Consultant

editor@frontiersman.com

petra.albecker@frontiersman.com

ben.borg@frontiersman.com

Katie Stavick Contributor

Jacob Mann Contributor

tawni.davis@frontiersman.com

Valley Living is a product of the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman. 2

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T HE A RTS

Art Cafe continues to support local creativity BY JACOB MANN

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he Art Cafe, located in downtown Palmer, is designed to be a hub for local creativity, whether it’s a seasoned artist or someone who’s never got in touch with that side of themselves. “There’s something magical about this place,” Art Cafe owner Barb Stigen said. “I think everybody has an artist inside them… There’s always something that catches your eye. That’s your artistic side… I’ve seen just stunning stuff.” Stigen said they recently expanded to six days a week, a substantial increase compared to the start of the pandemic. She said this schedule will work well moving forward, even better than the seven day schedule prior to COVID-19. “I think I’m gonna keep it at 6. Having that down day is nice,” Stigen said. According to Stigen, the overall customer participation has gradually increased since they recuperated from the onset of the pandemic. “I’m seeing pre pandemic numbers. I’m feeling good about it. I would say we’re back “ Stigen said. Stigen said they’re continuing to see an increase of customer participation in spite of the pandemic. “That’s good. That’s what we want. We want people to see what we’re all about,” Stigen said. Stigen said they’ve received a lot of positive customer feedback over the years. She said it’s all about the experience. “You can just shut it all out and focus on the art,” Stigen said. “This really is a happy place. People

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enjoy it.” 2022 is the first year the Art Cafe has participated in the Friday Fling weekly summer event, offering original art and fresh fudge. “It was very successful,” Stigen said. Looking forward, Stigen plans to keep enlisting local artists to provide a wide range of artistic classes for all walks of life. She said it’s a great social atmosphere for all kinds of people. “They’re visiting and enjoying each other’s company. I love that part,” Stigen said. Stigen said they’re putting a lot of effort into providing a variety of art classes with various local artists each month. She said they’re always accepting teachers and she’s thankful for the continued interest from the community. “We get a lot of variety,” Stigen said. “It’s huge. It’s cars in the parking lot.” A new Art Cafe employee,

Dylainie Nathlich said that she appreciates the open and diverse atmosphere thus Palmer store has to offer.

“I like that it’s a really big inspiration for people. They can walk in and do whatever they want,” Nathlich said.

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WE L L RE A D

Firelight Book Club fans of reading, people thinking about reading, or people want to meet new people and make new friends with common interests.

BY KATIE STAVICK

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ho doesn’t love a good book? When someone finds a good book, something they just couldn’t put down, it’s not always easy to find others to discuss books with, dig deeper in the characters or themes. Lots of people love to read, but it can be hard to find someone to discuss the book with, whether a common genre or something a little more uncommon genre. In Wasilla, the Friends of Wasilla Library started a book club for

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“It’s really fun and we do get a variety of people-teenagers, young moms, retirees-all coming out to share the love of books and hopefully, make friends,” says Jeanne Troshynsky, President of the Friends of Wasilla Library, of the book club. Indeed, the club is open to anyone and everyone, meeting regularly every month at the library right next to the Friends

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“It’s really fun and we do get a variety of peopleteenagers, young moms, retirees-all coming out to share the love of books and hopefully, make friends,” says Jeanne Troshynsky, President of the Friends of Wasilla Library, of the book club. Fireplace, setting up a cozy section in which people can gather and exchange ideas, talk with authors, and more importantly, each other. This night, the book club gathered to discuss the September selection, “Find the Good” by author Heather Mende, of Haines, Alaska. The book is a collection of recollections and stories Mende shares from her career as an obituary writer.

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NE W LO CAT IO N

CCS opening KGB location BY JACOB MANN

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CS Early Learning is opening a new location in Knik Goose Bay in October of 2022. CCS offers early childhood education programs and family services for children birth to 5 years of age and pregnant women throughout the Mat-Su Borough. “We’re so excited,” CCS Executive Director Mark Lackey said. The new CCS location will offer a 35 acres, paved walking path and trail system surrounding the

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school. Lackey said they had to cut the gymnasium from the final facility overlay, but they left room open to expand in the future. He said the new location will help relieve all other location’s bus flow while opening up a new venue in the fastest growing area in the state. “It’s just going to be super nice. I can’t wait to see it open in October,” Lackey said. CCS IS STILL ACCEPTING STUDENTS FOR THE NEW KGB LOCATION. FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT CCSALASKA.ORG

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Feather and Flour opens in downtown Palmer BY JACOB MANN

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eather Greenwood and Luke Hyce opened their first brick and mortar restaurant, Feather and Flour during the summer of 2022. So far, it’s been an eventful start. “We’ve just been running so fast I don’t think we’ve been able to process it,” Greenwood said with a laugh. Greenwood and Hyce both grew up in the Mat-Su Valley and envisioned something different for the area.

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“We tried to create the restaurant that we didn’t think existed, “ Greenwood said. We did it. We’re here.” Feather and Flour resides in a house from the 1950s located in downtown Palmer. Greenwood said having the central and historic location is really nice but getting the facility up and running wasn’t without its challenges. She said it took over a year of preparation to finally open. “We worked with the house, it

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didn’t work with us,” Greenwood said with a laugh. “We all learned as we went.” One of the primary missions of Feather and Flour is supporting Alaskan farms by offering a variety of menu items made from locally sourced ingredients. Greenwood said that everything is made from scratch and the effort shows in the taste. “There are so many awesome products from here,” Greenwood said. “It’s worth it… We’re excited to meet all the people that are making sustainable food products here… The money you’re spending is going back to those people in the community.” Feather and Flour is currently operating with a brunch menu, but the ultimate goal is to expand to a wider menu with longer hours, according to Greenwood. She said they plan to keep a rotating menu with new items mixed with crowd favorites. “Everyone’s been really nice overall. It’s been pretty well received,” Greenwood said. “We’re

trying to make it better every day.” As for the name, Greenwood said it comes from her nickname. “It’s me and baking,” Greenwood

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said with a laugh. Feather and Flour is located at 927 South Cobb Street in downtown Palmer. The new restaurant is also accepting reservations for private parties and events. Hyce

encourages anyone planning on stopping by for a meal to make a reservation due to the limited capacity. “It’s a good place to be. The staff is super awesome,” Hyce said. VALLEY LIVING 11


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‘Welcome Home, SSG Young’: Community, officials welcome injured Army veteran home in special key ceremony BY KATIE STAVICK

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hen most folks move into a new home, they might have a moving truck, order some pizza, or maybe a neighbor stops by. They certainly do not get the welcome that Army Veteran SSG Randall Young received Saturday morning. Nor one that is more earned.

The nonprofit has made it their mission to build and donate specially adapted custom homes nationwide for post-9/11 severely injured Veterans and enable them to rebuild their lives. Earlier this year, as SSG Young made his way to his new home, it wasn’t a series of moving vans that escorted him. This special occasion called for an escort from the Alaska State Troopers, Mat-Su Fire, and a cadre of riders from the American Legion Riders and the Christian Motor Cyclist Association, among others. When SSG Young pulled into 12

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his driveway, the blacktop wasn’t lined with moving boxes, but rather dozens of greeters waving American flags as they waved him home. Among them, Gov. Mike Dunleavy, U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, Sen. Mike Shower, Sen. David Wilson, and Rep. Cathy Tilton. “SSG, welcome to our family here in Alaska,” Dunleavy said during remarks at a special key ceremony held this past Saturday as National nonprofit organization, Homes for Our Troops (HFOT), gifted SSG Young a new home that is specifically adapted to his needs resulting from injuries he sustained while serving in the Army in Iraq.

In February, 2007, while on his second combat deployment to Iraq, SSG Young’s vehicle hit an IED while supporting a dismounted patrol that was searching for insurgents. The impact and power of the IED blast partially ejected SSG Young through the turret before the truck landed on its roof, crushing his legs.

been injured, but would never walk well, and he would suffer ongoing pain.

When the SSG returned to U.S. soil, he was transported to Brook Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. He had grown up in Fort Hood, so he was no stranger to military life. Waiting for him at home was his mother and his sister. And a difficult decision. He could amputate his legs or rebuild the bones that had

SSG Young is now medically retired, but continues to face challenges. Although he is able to walk, his injuries continue to put pressure on his back and upper legs, which cause tension pain.

After two years of rehab in physical therapy, SSG Young was able to beat the odds, taking his first steps with the assistance of a cane. Even now, he continues to exercise daily to maintain strength in his legs and continue to walk.

His physical limitations require adaptations that most homes and apartments simply do not or

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cannot accommodate. And that’s where HFOT comes in. HFOT was started in 2004 by a general contractor who offered to build a specially adapted home for a soldier injured in Iraq, who agreed with a stipulation that he do the same for other injured soldiers. The nonprofit has made it their mission to build and donate specially adapted custom homes nationwide for post-9/11 severely injured Veterans and enable them to rebuild their lives. “With more veterans per capita than any other state, we love our military, active, reserve, veterans, and their families more than any other state,” said Dunleavy, who also expressed interest in having more homes for injured and disabled veterans courtesy of HFOT. “We’re excited to have more of these home here, with 110% support.” “You are not forgotten. There are people out there who are constantly trying to show you that they care,” said SSG Young, adding that whether it’s through donating a home, donating time, or donating money to HFOT and other nonprofits. He also urged veterans to take a chance and apply for those benefits and opportunities. “You are worth it.” To date, the nonprofit has gifted 338 homes to post-9/11 severely injured veterans in 43 states. Currently, HFOT has over 75 active projects under planning or construction the United States. When gifting a home, recipients are given the choice of where they would like to call home. SSG Young chose Alaska. He first had to spend a year here, mostly to make sure that it would be a good fit and have the services he would need moving forward. As he is originally from Texas, when asked why he picked Alaska, SSG Young simply said, “Its cooler here.” The event was coordinated and overseen by Shayna Munro, marking the first time she had

overseen a key ceremony. Fitting as this was the first house HFOT has donated in Alaska, but Munro is confident that more homes will be gifted to veterans throughout the state. The ceremony was filled with exceptional moments as officials spoke with emotion about the importance of service to country, and supporting the veterans who call Alaska home.

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SGM Brian Benson, the Sergeant Major of the 673rd Airbase Wing Installation, addressed that support to the military and veteran community.

point, it was then that a bald eagle flew over the canopy covering the audience and speakers.

“I am overwhelmed by the patriotism and generosity that I’ve seen since coming to Alaska, and there’s no better display of patriotism than what I see today,” he said.

“It requires repeating, he (SSG Young) is one of the less than 1% of our country that have volunteered to support and defend the Constitution. When you think of what our veterans, what our military has done for our country, no one has done more to support

And as if to emphasize the SGM’s

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KEY CEREMONY, CONTINUED people throughout the world… than any other force in the history of the world,” said Sullivan. “We need to tell the families of the fallen, the families of the ones who’ve sacrificed that we appreciate their service and that it wasn’t in vain.” “I genuinely admire this community and the care you surround our veterans with, it does not go unnoticed, especially with getting to see that with fellow veteran SSG Young, being taken care of this way is genuinely a big deal for me personally,” SGM Benson said. He also served multiple tours in Iraq, often conducting route clearance and counter IED operations. “I think what you’re seeing here is Alaska at its finest,” said Sullivan as he remarked that the list of people who helped make it possible to give SSG Young a new home. SSG Young’s home was built by local homebuilder, Sumner

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Homebuilders. This was their first build with HFOT. “We’ve had a lot of recognition, be there are a lot individuals and companies that helped with this build, even the smallest thing going above and beyond with extra effort to get things done on time and holding their prices during rampant inflation couldn’t have done this without their help,” said Max Sumner.

“I think what you’re seeing here is Alaska at its finest,” said Sullivan Among some of the many donors that helped with the build were Budget Blinds who donated blinds and washing machine and dryer; Storage Auctions, which graciously donated a portion of

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the proceeds from every event they hosted; and McKenna Brothers paving which donated a blacktop driveway. SSG Young was gifted with a handmade quilt from Quilts of Valor, which was formed in 2003 by a Blue Star mother while her son was deployed to Iraq, as a way for her to do something for the deployed troops. Nearly 318,500 quilts have been awarded since then, and as SSG Young accepted and wrapped himself in the quilt, the organization recognized his sacrifice as the red, white, and blue quilt is an expression of gratitude. However, one moment stood apart from the rest, showing that Alaskans will never let anyone fall alone. As Tabitha Scott began singing the National Anthem, she unexpectedly broke with emotion, the guests, without a thought, broke into song and helped complete the National Anthem. An example of just how much the community appreciates and values its active duty and veterans. Of course, as with any new move, there is more to be done-namely, furniture. But he has already scoped out one of his favorite spots, the Jacuzzi tub in his wheelchair-accessible bathroom with a heated floor. “I’m excited, overwhelmed, anxious,” said SSG Young about his new home.

“We all know our freedoms aren’t free, and it takes individuals like yourself putting your life out there,” said Representative Tilton.

that you chose our state.”

“So Clay, for your service, and for what you’ve been through, what your comrades, there is no way to really say ‘thank you’,” an emotional Senator Shower said during the ceremony, speaking from the heart as he related to SSG Young’s experience as his own son was also deployed to Iraq and suffered an IED attack. “Welcome, and we are thankful

During the open house, guests were invited to see firsthand the adaptations Sumner Homebuilders made to SSG Young’s new home, including a kitchen with lowered shelves and counters, widened hallways to accommodate his wheelchair, windows that open side to side, and other specialty items so he can perform daily activities safely and comfortably-all adapted to meet his specific needs.

After a flag raising, keys were happily turned over and a yellow ribbon cut to commemorate this moment.

“Wow, beautiful. Congratulations,” Sullivan told SSG Young. There was a heavy veteran presence at the ceremony to welcome SSG Young to the community. “Once they know you’ve moved up here, once they know you’re a veteran, they’re going to embrace you like they embrace all veterans embrace each other,” said Dunleavy, who like the officials that attended and spoke, comes from a family of veterans.

“We get to live our lives without worrying about our safety because we know that our knights in shining armor, both men and women, are standing on the ramparts 24/7, 365, that allow us to live the life we have today,” Dunleavy said before offering thanks on behalf of all Alaskans. Speaking directly to SSG Young, SGM Benson said, “You have sacrificed so much for our country, your family, and your loved ones. You continue to sacrifice. I am genuinely overcome with your efforts and with what you’ve done both in uniform and not. Thank you for everything you’ve done to protect our freedoms. Here’s to a new start. SSG Young, welcome home, brother.” While expressions of gratitude and honor colored the morning, perhaps no words better summed up the ceremony better that Tilton, who said, “Thank you all for your service, and welcome home, SSG Young.” FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT HOMES FOR OUR TROOPS, OR TO DONATE, PLEASE VISIT WWW.HFOTUSA.ORG

“There is no debt greater than serving our country, so thank you,” said Wilson. A P U B L I C AT I O N O F W I C K C O M M U N I C AT I O N S

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Ken Peltier keeps Hobo Jim’s legacy alive BY JACOB MANN

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en Peltier is no stranger to the Alaska State Fair. He’s performed at various stages across the grounds with his band as well as a spectrum of other musicians for over two decades, but this year is different. It’s the first year he’s performing without his mentor, Jim Varsos, better known as Hobo Jim. He said it was an annual tradition to perform acoustic concerts with Varsos, and he has to keep the beat going this year in his memory. “He was like a father to me,” Peltier said. “Jim took me under his wing. When I lost my fingers, he was the reason I didn’t quit playing.”

“Jim thought the world of Ken, and he immediately recognized his talent. How could he not? He has a superstar’s voice,” Rethford said. Peltier performed several times during the 2022 fair season. He played several of Hobo Jim’s songs during each concert. Varsos touched many lives over his lengthy and impactful career. Hugs were in no short supply after each performance, and many people like Debby Rethford were quick to assure Peltier that he was the perfect person to inherit the Hobo Jim library of music.

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“Jim thought the world of Ken, and he immediately recognized his talent. How could he not? He has a superstar’s voice,” Rethford said. Peltier said that Varsos knew long before he passed that he was going to pass his music on to him. He said it’s a duty he doesn’t take lightly. Peltier helped organize two memorial concerts to raise funds for Varsos’ widow. The first event was at Matanuska Brewing in Eagle River and the second and much larger event was held at the {span}Dena’ina Center in Anchorage.{/span} “I’m honored to do his music,” Peltier said. “I say no one walks in his shoes. I will carry on his legacy and music, but no one can replace him.” Peltier has been a part of Alaska’s

music scene for many years. He said that he feels blessed and thankful for the continued support he receives from the community. He said that people from all walks of life have helped him get through the various trials and tribulations in his life, including overcoming throat cancer. Peltier was quick to put Hobo Jim at the top of that list and expressed deep gratitude for everything Alaska’s Balladeer did to help him over the years. “There’s a bunch of people that saw me fall and get back up, fall and get back up,” Peltier said with a laugh. “I keep getting back on stage and people keep coming back.” Peltier is hosting a special tribute concert at the Sluice Box Monday, Sep. 5 at 8:30 p.m. to honor the life and legacy of Hobo Jim. He said that Varsos

has performed there to close out the fair for over four decades. He said that he plans to play a video compilation of his performances and interviews. He said that Joni Harms, who co-wrote several songs with Varsos, is also slated to perform that evening. Mat-Su Valley based artist Jerry Wessling recently joined up with the Ken Peltier Band. He had the opportunity to perform the outro concert closing out the Alaska State Fair with Peltier and crew. He said it was a one in a lifetime opportunity, and Peltier is the ideal person to carry on the Hobo Jim legacy. “I guess the general goal was to do the songs justice, and I think we did,” Wessling said. “If there’s anybody that’s gonna do it, it’s Ken. He’s the real deal. It’s an honor.”

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VEENDO ATSRS

Larson’s Pizza is open for business BY JACOB MANN

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arson’s Pizza is officially open for business. Located in downtown Wasilla off the Parks Highway. Duane and Holly Larson opened their first brick and mortar restaurant in July of 2022. “It’s been a rollercoaster for us,” Duane said. “You’ve got the excitement of something new with all its challenges… I think we’re succeeding.” Larson’s Pizza currently has 15 staff members readily offering homemade dishes. Each food item is made right in front of the customer. “Pizza never goes out of style,” Holly said. Duane said it took about four months of preparation to get to this point, and every step has

been worthwhile. He said that he and his wife have many years of

experience in the food industry to bring to the table. “Eventually you get to the point where you’re tired of working for somebody else,” Duane said with a laugh. Duane said they’ve been in the food industry for a long time and they’re right on track for their time to shine.

“Pizza never goes out of style,” Holly said. “Preparedness and experience has helped us get this far,” Duane said. “It was our time. We put everything we had into this place… This is our way of stretching our bounds and realizing our goals in life.” Duane went to school for molecular genetics and boiled flavor down to a science. A P U B L I C AT I O N O F W I C K C O M M U N I C AT I O N S

“It definitely takes people by surprise in a good way,” Duane said. “We want to make it more of our touch what we want. It probably will have more of a rustic look… Our goal is to provide a variety of items, not like other pizza places” Those walking into Larson’s Pizza will notice the open style kitchen on full display. Duane said they readily take children under their wing to show them how to make pizza and encourage a family friendly experience all around. “We want to bring customers into the experience,” Duane said. “We have people that want us to succeed… I want to feed a family of four for under $40. There aren’t many places you can do that anymore,” FOR MORE INFORMATION, CALL 907357-9977.

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FITNE SS

Northbound Fitness offering yoga, fitness, and connections in a judgement-free zone BY KATIE STAVICK

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itness, the word most people love to hate. For some, merely thinking about heading into the gym is taxing. Getting the right gear, driving into town, sharing equipment, hearing the grunts and groans of the people loving the burn right there with the people hating to workout. It’s common knowledge that working out, getting the heart pumping, burning calories and building muscle is key to a better life. But outside of Wasilla and Palmer, finding a place to work out can be tough. Even worse, if trying to find a safe space to deal with the anxiety of working out in front of others, the fear of being judged can be a tough thing to overcome. That is something that Northbound Fitness in Willow is trying to change. “This is a judgment-free zone,” says Northbound Fitness owner Tammy Barber. The granddaughter of homesteaders dating back to the 1950s, Barber has lived in Willow her whole life. “I’ve always been into fitness and weightlifting. I’ve always had a passion for it,” she says. After attending Houston, racing in the Iron Dog, and raising her family, Barber and her husband decided the time was right. Her dream was to always have a gym in the area close to her home, but when COVID hit, she started a smaller group fitness studio, which she is hopeful to see grow into a larger project. “I first started with Kangoo Jumping. About 5 years ago, I saw it online, and with

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old injuries from racing, I can’t jump up and down anymore, so I went to a class and fell in love.” Barber was so enamored of the new fitness workout that within 3 months, she became a certified Kangoo instructor. “At the time, the only place to get certified was Canada, so there were 19 of us and together we brought a Canadian instructor to Alaska and, in the end only 2 of us got our certifications,” Barber says, and after adding a few more certifications to her fitness toolbox, began traveling around the local communities teaching

Kangoo. “I started teaching at the (Willow) Community Center, traveling and teaching everywhere, bouncing outside, wherever.” Meanwhile, she and her husband bought the property with plans to build a large commercial building on it. Then COVID happened. “We decided to build this as a rental house,” Barber says, talking about the building that now houses Northbound Fitness, “but it ended up becoming my studio during the pandemic. Mostly because we didn’t know

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what it would look like, what regulations might be in place once the state opened back up.” “She’s always wanted to give something back to the community, enhance the well-being,” adds Chanel Ebert, the Yoga Instructor at Northbound Fitness. “The community has grown from being able to fit all the residents into the Community Center to now, coming in here, I realize I don’t know half this community, that’s how big it’s gotten,” says Barber. In the spirit of trying to give back, Barber also looks to bring

people together and she’s doing that through her fitness center. “I love getting people together, that’s my mission. And I love that people come in here, chat with each other, go for walks together, and become friends. And that’s what I saw in my grandmothers, that community. Doing these fun things together.” It’s something that Ebert has seen as well, adding that on more than one occasion she’s seen people in her morning Yoga class breakout their hiking shoes and take walks together. continued on next page VALLEY LIVING 19


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NORTHBOUND FITNESS, CONTINUED “It’s been a bonding thing, and I love it,” says Ebert. And people getting healthy while doing it is an added bonus.

easy to see how well they work. “The studio for me has been a huge blessing from the community,” says Ebert. Originally from

Kansas, she and her husband had lived in Alaska for several years before his work required him to move back to the lower 48.

“During COVID, we were asking ‘why aren’t we where we want to be’ and decided to move back here.”

“This is God’s way of telling me this is the direction we need to go in our community,” says Barber. Barber tells a story of a woman, Carla*, who recently moved into the area from Soldotna, and expressed an interest in working out and began attending morning classes at the gym. Meanwhile, Barber is helping to train another woman for the Iron Dog race who attends the afternoon class, and in a chance meeting when Carla attended an afternoon session, realized that she and Ashley had known each other from previous lives in Soldotna. “Carla’s a retired teacher and Ashley had dated Carla’s son. They just bonded,” Barber laughs as she recalls the story. “And this is someone who came to our space looking for community more so than just the workout,” said Ebert, adding that Carla wanted to know people, looking to meet people, and now is part of the crew of regular attendees to the different classes available. The bonding doesn’t stop between people coming to the classes. It extends to the instructors and the people they are helping and coaching, as Barber says she has witnessed one of their regular attendees, DeeDee Jonrowe, connect with an instructor over fitness and breast cancer. “DeeDee’s had cancer and all, and one of our instructors just went through that and can help her, things like that make it all worth it,” beams Barber. To watch Barber and Ebert interact with each other and the synchronicity the two have, it is 20

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“I thrive on people, and 1 day I saw that Tammy was posting that she was looking for a yoga instructor, and even though we were Facebook friends, we hadn’t met. So I messaged her,” she says. Soon after, they met and as they both say, “it was meant to be.”

“The support from everyone, everyone is just there for you to lean on for everything. It’s not just about getting sweaty or lose some pounds. People pour into us as people, not just the building, or what we’re offering. They enhance our lives, too” says Ebert.

“The studio for me has been a huge blessing from the community...”

As for what Northbound Fitness is looking to add in the future, Barber says that she is adding wellness offerings for people. A nutrition class will be added to the schedule, adding in an option piece that will go hand-in-hand with what they’re offering.

“For people having a hard time with their diets, what sugars to look for, or how to read a Along with her certification nutrition label, whatever people in Vinyasa Yoga, Ebert has a need to learn without people Doctorate in Physical Therapy feeling insecure about their levels and is an Alaska licensed Realtor, of knowledge, that’s what we which anywhere else may seem want to help with,” said Barber, an odd combination. However, adding that they want to add in Ebert blends both to create a yoga foods specific to Alaska and the program rooted to create proper availability of items here versus alignment and ideal body methe lower 48. She also adds that chanics throughout each pose. they are striving for education,

not elimination.

of their investment of time.

“Everything in moderation. Finding those happy places where we can keep prices down, integrate what people are willing to do with a little push to some healthier choices that would be ideal.”

There will be a new schedule posting soon for the next sessions and class offerings in time for the fall and winter.

For now, for Barber, the ability to make a connection to her community, to foster that same thing Currently, Northbound Fitness with others who come in it the offers a morning yoga session 3 real piece of wellness that she and days a week, with a gentle yoga for people struggling with injuries her staff are hoping to create. and who may be a little hesitant “I just want it to be a place where to try regular yoga just yet. There people feels safe and comfortable. is an evening session as well as a I don’t care what size you are children’s class for homeschoolwhat color you are, what political ers. affiliation you are, we don’t judge. There is also a Kangoo Jump class, In fact, I don’t allow that here, it’s not the vibe I want to create.” and of course, personal training sessions. Adds Ebert, “What you put out “We do small groups, that way we you receive, and those seem to be get to know each other, see what the people we’re pulling in here, that likeness, that support, it’s programs will work best for the pretty cool.” people and any limitations they may have, as well as their goals.” NORTHBOUND FITNESS IS LOCATED IN There is a personal consultation before people jump into a personal training package, just to make sure people will get the most out

WILLOW, JUST NORTH OF THE WILLOW ELEMENTARY SCHOOL. FOR MORE INFORMATION AND TO VIEW THEIR CURRENT AND UPCOMING SCHEDULES, VISIT WWW.NORTHBOUNDFITNESSAK. COM OR THE NORTHBOUND FITNESS FACEBOOK PAGE.

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GARDE NING

Valley Garden Club supports local growers BY JACOB MANN

T

he Valley Garden Club is a longstanding group dedicated to encouraging locals with green thumbs to pursue their passions and making the Mat-Su Valley a more beautiful place, one plant at a time. Ann Eagerton, co-president said their motto is “share, show, and tell” and that mission is on full display all year long, even in Alaska’s dark winter. According to Eagerton, Valley Garden Club was founded over three decades ago and continues to operate as an influential non-profit organization in the community.

There’s currently about 100 members. She noted that most moments are experienced gardeners who are willing to share their knowledge with the newer members. She said each season in Alaska is different so having the combined experience of all members benefits both novice and seasoned gardeners. “There’s always something new to learn to help you do better next time,” Eagerton said. “We welcome new members whenever they’re able to join us.” Eagerton said the club usually meets monthly, but the schedule is looser during the summer since members are busy with

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“There’s always something new to learn to help you do better next time,” Eagerton said. “We welcome new members whenever they’re able to join us.” their own projects. She said that members typically invite others to their garden to view their progress throughout the season.

According to Eagerton, the Valley Garden Club is involved with numerous public events throughout the year, including the City of Wasilla’s Fourth of July Parade, giving out free seeds and plant starters. They also arrange a display at the Alaska State Fair every season.

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The most notable Valley Garden Club event is their annual paint sale at the end of May. Eagerton said that people from all over make their way to this sale, and members have the benefit of first pick of that season’s selection. She said it’s a great asset for new and experienced gardeners. “It’s very well received. You definitely want to get there early on,” Eagerton said. “It’s a very reasonable price.”

“It’s all volunteer work. To get as much done as we do, I think it’s commendable,” Eagerton said. The Valley Garden Club meets at the First Baptist Church of Wasilla at 10:30 a.m. the first of every month. FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT VALLEYGARDENCLUB.COM.

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