Mary Price is home after six months spent in Anchorage recuperating from a broken hip and other complications. She’s “extremely happy to be home,” said daughter Cindy Clifton, home for a week with son Conner to visit Mary and help around the house. Mary’s daughter Nadine Price Schruefer is also in town, with Mary’s great-granddaughter Zhamirah. They attended the Memorial Day service at Jones Point Cemetery together.

Mark Fontenot returned to Haines after attending Cornell University’s Merrill Presidential Scholars honors reception as a guest of 2012 graduate Chandler Kemp. Fontenot was invited as a guest of Kemp, to honor the role he played as Kemp’s high school physics teacher. The all-expenses paid trip was “incredible,” Fontenot said. He said he was energized by the Cornell environment and “being around people who are that switched on. I just wanted to go back to college.” He attended multiple receptions, mingled with honorees and sought out other physics teachers, including the one teaching at his high school alma mater in Boulder, Colo. The highlight was spending hours with Kemp in the Cornell physics lab. Kemp had access to research that is usually reserved for graduate level work, Fontenot said.

Haines friends recently returned from a trip to Dutch Harbor, where they toured cultural sites and learned local history. Haines participants Lucy HarrellDiana PyleHenry WongBruce Gilbert, Art Jess and Leanne ConverseBill Annis, and Bob and Carol Duis met in Homer. They boarded a ferry for the three-day trip to Dutch Harbor, with stops at towns along the way. An eight-hour layover in Kodiak allowed time to view World War II sites and visit a Russian Orthodox Church. In Cold Bay, the shipboard naturalist organized a van trip into the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. In Dutch Harbor, the group toured traditional Aleut sites. They also visited the World War II museum and traveled to see a US Naval ship sunk in the 1942 Japanese attack on Dutch Harbor.

Chilkat Valley Preschool promoted 12 students to kindergarten at Tlingit Park Thursday. Dozens of parents, grandparents, siblings and friends shared in the celebration with a potluck barbecue lunch, cake and balloons. Alex Weerasinghe’s grandparents, Kumar and Shirin Weerasinghe, visiting from Seattle, were there to congratulate Alex. Graduates proudly wore white mortarboards with green 2012 tassels. Next year’s kindergarteners will be the class of 2025.

A dozen helpful volunteers turned out to spruce up the Tlingit Park playground on the park’s birthday, May 19. Heavy snowpack took a toll on some play structures, benches and picnic tables. Susan and Joe Culbertson, in town from Salt Lake City to visit their daughter Courtney Culbeck, took on some important jobs. Susan and Courtney started to refinish the donor salmon plaques, which have weathered significantly. Joe, along with parent Jila Stuart, loaded fresh sand donated by John Floreske into dozens of wheelbarrow loads to top off the playground’s two sand boxes. Len FeldmanDarsie Culbeck and Dave Long tackled broken picnic tables and benches. Youth helpers Maya FeldmanSally Chapell and Lucia Chapell took up rakes and brooms to clear wood chips from the play structures. The playground was ready for its ninth birthday celebration that afternoon. Bakers brought cupcakes to share. Another work session to re-seal playground timbers will be scheduled this summer. Contact Courtney Culbeck if you’d like to help.

“Great artist, great person,” wrote one commenter who attended the opening reception for Carol Clifton at the Sheldon Museum Friday. The exhibit features 33 paintings from Clifton in oil and acrylic, which range from wildlife studies to intimate portraits of children in Clifton’s family. One of Clifton’s favorites, she says, is “Christine’s Lion,” taken from a picture her daughter took on a safari in Kenya. Clifton’s daughter, Christine Clifton Thornton, was in Haines to attend her mother’s opening and saw the painting for the first time in the show. Wildlife paintings of snowy egrets, swans and soaring eagles are hung with local landscapes including the serene “Chilkat River in Winter.” Part of the museum’s six-week spotlight series, Carol’s artwork will hang in the Elizabeth Hakkinen Gallery through July 7.

The Haines Chamber of Commerce inaugural “Sudsy Pickle Challenge” was a success Saturday with 60 contestants and twice as many spectators. “To my knowledge, nobody’s ever done a pickle agility challenge course,” says Chamber President Ned Rozbicki, who conceived of the event. Designed as a fun way to defer the rush to local restaurants after the close of the beer fest, the challenge included 10 events that were completed while contestants held a full-sized pickle in their teeth. Riding a child’s bike over a seesaw, navigating a balance beam, tackling the monkey bars and hopping through an obstacle course while keeping a buoy in their knees were some of the tests contestants faced. Top prizes included air travel, a fast ferry round-trip, and a four-day fair pass.

Takshanuk Watershed Council served up more than 500 waffles to hungry guests at their inaugural “Waffle Fest” Sunday. Organizers estimated they served 212 adults and brought in $1,500. Donated waffle irons were manned by Takshanuk President Norman Hughes, director Brad Ryan and board member Ben Kirkpatrick, among others. Darsie CulbeckJulia Scott and Theresa Raven helped manage the steady crowds. Youth board member Eli White was seen running fresh waffles to the warming bins.

The Friends of the Haines Borough Public Library have formed a committee to plan this year’s Lighting of the Library. A traditional start to the holiday season, this year’s Lighting will include new ideas and needs additional volunteers to build a successful event. Longtime organizer Frankie Jones, whose creative vision has shaped the event for 11 years, will be moving out of state this summer. The Lighting committee brainstorms new ideas for the event, and shares the work of planning and executing the decorating and the tree-lighting event. Community members are encouraged to participate. For more information, call the library at 766-2545.

A dozen staff from the Rasmuson Foundation toured Haines Friday. The visit included a workshop led by Rasmuson Program Associate Jeff Baird on the foundation’s grant-making outlook for the coming year, and changes to the foundation’s Tier 1 program. During the day Rasmuson staff toured many of the projects they have funded including the Klukwan clinic, the Jilkaat Kwaan Heritage Center and the Southeast Alaska State Fair. They also toured KHNS and the Chilkat Center. Rasmuson hosted an afternoon reception for local nonprofits, where Mayor Stephanie Scott read a proclamation making the day Community Organization Appreciation Day.

Ken EwaldPaul SwiftBud BarberAlexandra Feit and Alexandria Chapin cleared trees on Mount Riley trail Monday. “There were a lot of trees to cut,” Swift said. Johnny White had earlier cut trees on the lower part of the trail. To help clear sections of Ripinsky Trail, contact Swift at 766-2350.