Merv Armstrong, owner and operator of the Armstrong Hay Ranch on Dezadeash Lake, Y.T., died Feb. 7 of a stroke. Armstrong supplied many of the Chilkat Valley’s small farms with hay, and was fond of Haines and its residents, according to his son, Jesse Armstrong. Armstrong was born March 4, 1937 in Toronto, Ontario. He moved his family to Dezadeash Lake in 1987 after visiting the Hay Ranch during a trip to the area. “He couldn’t resist it,” said Jesse. “He bought it right there.” Armstrong is survived by his children Jesse, Gabriel, Merv Jr., Kelly and Shawn Armstrong and his grandchildren. A celebration of life is planned for Friday, Feb. 18 from noon to 3 p.m. at the Haines Junction Convention Center. Remembrances may be sent to Jesse Armstrong at 200 Lobird Rd. #209, Whitehorse, Y.T. Y1A5V4.
Sweethearts Dan Henry and Robin Grace were pictured on the front page of the Anchorage Daily News website on Valentine’s Day. The picture of the couple, grinning on a beach with the Davidson Glacier in the background, was part of a montage of readers’ submitted photos of sweethearts.
Ladies gathered Saturday at the Haines Presbyterian Church to enjoy tea and company at the annual Valentine’s Tea. Guests helped themselves to delicate sandwiches and sweet confections. Victoria Hansen, with the help of Sasha and Nicholas Mackowiak, served tea and coffee from silver teapots and ladies drank from vintage porcelain teacups.
Next door at the Sheldon Museum, young ladies and their dolls were treated to miniature finger foods at the annual Doll Fair. Education coordinator Susannah Dowds helped participants craft valentines and build paper boats with museum staffer Kris Reeves. Guests had free range of the museum’s extensive dress-up box, and David Barlog captured the ensembles with formal portraits.
Akane Iijima is spending two months in Haines with her second cousin, Yuko Hays, and Yuko’s family. Akane, 20, is a sophomore at Hosei University in Tokyo. She is staying busy as a volunteer at Haines Headstart, helping Yuko prepare the classroom for students and spending time with the kids. She is also auditing Lilly Boron’s high school government class and is trying her hand at ukulele with Kalani Kanahele on Friday afternoons. She went downhill skiing for the first time in Juneau and has been sledding on Chilkat Pass. One of Akane’s primary goals is to enhance her English language skills, and even at home with Yuko and Ed, and cousins Kai and Mori, she is speaking English. Akane will be in Haines until mid-March.
Local sportsmen gathered Friday for the third annual wild game feed at the Port Chilkoot Bible Church. The potluck dinner featured moose, halibut, and other locally harvested entrees. Organized to encourage and celebrate outdoor activities, the evening included door prizes, entertaining hunting videos, and a tall tale contest. Judged by Donny Braaten and Pastor Bill Diggins, it was Tony Malone’s story that took first place. According to Diggins, he won for the “most unique tale,” after recounting the story of his legless squirrel-hunting dog that had to be carted around by wheelbarrow to do his job. Malone took home a taxidermied boar’s head from Don Nash’s collection. The coveted prize has been making the rounds of previous winners’ homes.
Tim Shields spent a month in Jamaica with daughter Iris Holmes, who is researching amphibians on the island. Iris received a Fulbright scholarship to document the extent of a fungal disease in Jamaica, the Chytridiomycota, which is spreading among amphibians worldwide, including Alaska. Iris is working with an advisor at the University of West Indies, and plans to spend 10 months in the country. Tim and Iris spent the first two weeks of his visit vacationing together before Tim accompanied Iris on field research expeditions. They traveled to remote areas in the highlands to document native frogs and found many rare species, including two that haven’t been seen in 25 years. They found another species that remains unnamed, having been seen only a few times before their discovery. They also saw a five-foot Jamaican iguana, the island’s largest native land animal. On completion, Iris’ research will be the largest body of knowledge compiled on Jamaica’s amphibians.
Haines High School alumni Anderson Fannon and his wife Kim Fannon welcomed twins Copper Calamity and Maggie Maehem to the world Feb. 10 in Soldotna. The girls join their brothers Porter Stiel and Agent Steel “in a lifetime of Alaskan adventures,” according to their dad. Copper weighed 5 lbs., 14 ozs., and Maggie weighed 6 lbs., 4 ozs. Each measured 19 inches.