Matanuska-Susitna Borough

Troopers add presence in west MAT-SU

Mat-Su | Patty Sullivan | Monday, December 18, 2006

MEADOW LAKES--The west side of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough will have a greater Trooper presence now that a new 11,700-square-foot Alaska State Trooper office has opened.

The MAT-SU West Office opened on Pittman Road off milepost 49 on the Parks Highway. Well-wishers crowded into a conference room during its dedication Monday morning. Alaska Commissioner of Public Safety Bill Tandeske told the crowd that he couldn't thank lawmakers enough for giving tangible results. Too many times, Tandeske said, Troopers had to make the long drive from Palmer on the east side to a call on the west side of the expansive MAT-SU Borough. "When we should have been here already," he said.

The new office also ties into the new Highway Traffic Safety Corridor, Tandeske said. In October, traffic fines became double on a stretch of the Parks Highway from milepost 44.5 to milepost 53, which Tandeske described as having a history of fatalities and serious injuries.

Deputy Borough Mayor Lynne Woods thanked the Commissioner and told him,"We're pleased you recognize our public safety needs."

Assemblywoman Cindy Bettine also attended. Bettine represents Big Lake, Knik-Fairview, and a portion of Meadow Lakes, among other areas.

"Since the Borough doesn't have police powers, having a new trooper post in Mid Valley will be a benefit to law abiding citizens," Bettine said.

Over the past four years, the MAT-SU has gained about 12 Troopers, Tandeske said.

MAT-SU West has 26 commissioned officer positions assigned; six are vacant but should be filled by the end of December after new recruits graduate. Palmer has 28 commissioned officer positions and six Court Services Officers. Commissioned officers include patrol troopers and investigators. The number of these positions that are filled varies due to transfers and temporary reassignments, according to the Public Safety Department.

Among the officials at the event were U.S. Rep. Don Young, Lt. Gov. Loren Leman, State Rep. Bill Stoltze, Rep. Carl Gatto, Rep. Mark Neuman. and Sen. Charlie Huggins, as well as leaders from Meadow Lakes, Houston, Wasilla, and Borough Emergency Services.