Four friends headed to Nome for the finish of the 2011 Iditarod. Bruce and Gail Gilbert were joined by Lucy Harrell and Diana Pyle. The four drove to Anchorage, braving minus 38 temperatures in Tok, and flew out to Nome for six days of spectating and exploring. Housing in Nome was tight, and Bruce wasn’t sure he was going to find the group suitable accommodations, but a Nome couple agreed to rent them one bedroom and a couch in their apartment. Bob and Omie McGaffey met the group at the airport and liked them so much, they gave up their other bedroom to the travelers, and took the couch themselves. They were at the finish line March 15 when winner John Baker came into Nome and an hour later for Ramey Smith’s finish. Bob and Omie were enthusiastic tour guides. They even took Bruce and Diana 15 miles out of town in their jeep to follow DeeDee Jonrowe and three other mushers into town at 3 a.m. Diana was impressed with the friendliness of Nome. She participated in a qiviut-knitting workshop. In Anchorage, they had dinner with Diana’s friends David and Aileen Fison and their children, who were interested to hear about Bruce’s 1958 ascent of Mount McKinley.
Summer resident Rita Muldonado may have to push back her arrival into town this year. She is among 30 finalists in consideration for a survival show produced by the Discovery Channel. Rita learned about the casting call when Andy Hedden forwarded an e-mail, and had just one day to whip together an application before the deadline. Rita touts her outgoing personality in an eight-minute video as part of the package, which she’s posted on YouTube. Rita has spent the winter in Pennsylvania near her family where she’s working on a book and teaching salsa, Zumba and an Indian-inspired dance class called Masala Bhangra. Working out an estimated 22 hours every week, she figures she’ll be ready for whatever the show has to offer. “I figure I’ll be hungry and cold, but really I have no idea what to expect. That just makes it so much cooler.” If she’s chosen for the show, it will include six weeks of taping in an undisclosed location. She hopes to be in Haines by early July.
Bob Lix was recently installed as the American Legion’s Commander. One project Bob is focusing on will give four Haines Juniors the opportunity to build leadership skills in a mock government setting. Boys’ and Girls’ State is a program of the American Legion. The hands-on state government workshop assigns each participant to a political party. Participants elect leaders, operate courts and pass legislation in the week-long program, which takes place in Wasilla each July. Last year Harley Williams and Drew Baltzell represented Haines. The American Legion pays the $300 registration fee and covers transportation to the workshop.
Ramona and Frank Holmes have returned to Albany, Ore. after spending three months in Reno, Nev. Frank is gaining strength after heart surgery and Ramona has completed radiation treatments. They will continue rehab and recuperation in Albany before returning to Haines. They are looking forward to their return and are thankful for the warm wishes and prayers Haines friends have sent this winter.
The first Haines Chamber of Commerce mixer was a great success. Downtown gift shop owner Kristine Harder hosted the event. With music by Dave Nanney and Vaughn Avery, homemade appetizers and a local amber ale brewed up by Roy Josephson, attendees were having so much fun the early-evening event lasted past 9 p.m. The mixers are designed for Chamber members to get to know one another and learn about each other’s challenges and successes.
The tsunami relief fundraiser served 210 dinners and raised over $5,000 for relief organizations serving Japan. Martha and Thad Stewart and their restaurant staff dedicated their day off from the restaurant to wash, peel, chop and cook the traditional chicken and rice dish served with nori, pickled ginger and miso soup. Music, a Japanese sword demonstration and a sumptuous dessert auction made for a lively gathering. Donations to the Haines Tsunami Relief Fund can be made until the end of the day on Tuesday, April 12 at the bank.
Friends gathered at the Haines Senior Center Thursday to bid farewell to staff member Crystal Verhamme, who has moved to Delta with her children. Anne Hanssen provided a huge carrot cake, Diana Pyle played piano and Christie Legassie sang “Me and My Gal.” They also celebrated the March birthdays of Harriet Brouillette, Doris Beck, Marge Ward, Lola Vogel, Jerry Pyle and Viola Buel. At school, Crystal’s children Laila, Skylar, Gavin and Austin McGuire also had a send-off party.
The Haines Animal Rescue Kennel’s annual membership meeting was Saturday. The membership elected two new board members, Debra Schnabel and Merrill Lowden, and raised $1,500. Outgoing executive director Sarah Jaymot talked about HARK’s 2010 accomplishments, including upgrades to the dog kennels, new cat accommodations and more than $8,000 in spay and neuter services for area animals. Incoming executive director Steve Vick was introduced to the board and Mario Benassi brought his red-tailed hawk for a bird demonstration.