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Apr 01 2015
Things That Go: Stock Cars
Wednesday, 01 April 2015


Dirt bike at Kodiak Island Raceway. Kodiak Island Racing Association/Facebook


Kayla Desroches/KMXT


Fans of all things fast and furious may soon see cars competing again at the Kodiak Island Raceway, after a lengthy hiatus.
Racers young and young at heart currently compete on dirt bikes and other off-road vehicles, but the Kodiak Island Racing Association will discuss incorporating stock cars at the meeting tonight, the first of the season.

Member Craig DeHart says he's open to all kinds of racing and wants to see attendance go up. He says, right now, about 20 to 30 spectators come to the races, which happen every other weekend.

“We used to have 60, 70 plus people out there I remember growing up, anyways," says DeHart.

DeHart says that if drivers do step up, the Association needs to do some work on the circle track.  

“There's a retaining wall that goes in front of the grand stands," says DeHart. "Over the years it's deteriorated and is falling down and needs to repaired before we can legally race a car out there.”

But first, they need participants.

Athenas Williamson is the vice-president of the Kodiak Island Racing Association. She says that they'll approve stock car racing if enough drivers express interest.

“We want them to commit to a certain amount of races a year," says Williamson. "And we'll just have to bring the track up to the standards for the cars because there is minor repairs that have to be addressed before we can have cars on the actual race track. But before we do any of that, we want to make sure that we have people committed to doing it.”

If you'd like to volunteer at the raceway for the upcoming season, you can attend the meeting in the Kodiak Electric Association conference room at 6:30 p.m.. Williamson notes that attendees should enter through the building side door.

Apr 01 2015
Kodiak 4th in Alaska Health
Wednesday, 01 April 2015

Visualized health outcomes list from Alaska data. Via State of Alaska website


Kayla Desroches/KMXT


Kodiak Island ranked fourth in a recent survey of county health in Alaska. Skagway-Hoonah-Angoon ranked first, the West Aleutian islands second, and Juneau third.

Jayne Andreen works for the Alaska Division of Public Health overseeing community health improvement. She says that a philanthropic organization, the  Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, put together the report in partnership with the University of Wisconsin.

“What they want to do is offer counties the opportunity to look at where they're doing well in terms of their health as well as the areas where there may be some need for improvement and offer that as a way for communities to move forward in improving the health of the community," says Andreen.

Andreen says that the study takes into consideration premature death, length of life, and quality of life.

“So it's looking at what type of access we have to clinical care," says Andreen. "It takes a look at the socio and economic factors that impact our health. Our health behaviors. Those types of things that then lend themselves and contribute to the health outcomes.”

Andreen says the study also factors in people's self-perception through a yearly telephone survey called the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

“They ask people around the state a whole laundry list of questions" Andreen says. "And one of  those, they ask people to report how many days they have experienced poor or fair health. Poor physical health, poor mental health.”

Andreen says that the lowest ranking boroughs tend to be more in Western and Northwest Alaska. But she says that the reports are an opportunity for communities to look at the statistics and see where they can improve. You can read the strategies on the “Healthy Alaskans 2020” page of the State of Alaska website.

Mar 31 2015
Youth Courts of Alaska Students Train to be Leaders
Tuesday, 31 March 2015


Students across Alaska gather in Kodiak for Youth Court training conference. Kayla Desroches/KMXT


Kayla Desroches/KMXT


The United Youth Courts of Alaska is notable for encouraging youth leadership in the legal system and students' own communities. Branches from across Alaska flew into Kodiak last Thursday for the 20th Annual United Youth Courts of Alaska Conference.


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In Alaska, some minors may face their classmates when being sentenced for misdemeanors and crimes. Youth Court students train as attorneys, bailiffs, and judges in order to issue sentences to fellow students who have committed either status offenses, like possession of tobacco, or crimes like theft. Deborah Bitanga is a senior at Kodiak High School and the vice president of the Kodiak Teen Court Bar and the board. 


She says community service is one possible sentence.


 “We also give them essays, and some creative ones is creating a powerpoint or doing a research about the negative affects of a marijuana or other drugs with the body," says Bitanga. "Like, for stealing, we could research on how stealing could affect the economy of the town or something like that.”

Youth Court students learn about creative sentencing as part of their training at the Annual Youth Court Conference. They fly to a different location every year, and this time they chose Kodiak.


Students meet for two whole days of speeches and forums designed to inform and educate them about the court system and the young people they sentence.


Among the forums this year are “The Youth Brain,” “Creative Sentence” and “Restorative Justice.”


Darlene Turner is the program manager for Kodiak Teen Court. She says that the key phrase is “restorative” justice as opposed to punitive justice.


“There's not just the consequences but competency development so that the person is being educated. Not just them, but their parents," says Turner.


She says youth attorneys communicate with the off enders' families. One of the forums this year is “Parenting with Love and Limits,” where students learn how to speak with families and suggest solutions like a counseling program.


One of the  vital skills Youth Court members take away from lectures is a fine  tuned understanding of the offenders and their situations.


And Turner says that it's very appropriate for young people to sentence their peers.


“Youth listen to youth much better. They speak to each other better," says Turner. "So a lot of times a youth offender will certainly talk to their attorneys and tell them things that they would never tell you or me.”


Turner says that students also learn to be leaders.


“The more you empower a youth to do something, the more they achieve.”


The Youth Court changes the students on both sides of the case. Eli Heinrich from Kenai is in his fourth year of Youth Court. He says that the greatest benefit is the affect the Court has on the young offenders.

"It's kind of a system that gives kids a second chance with the record and the effects of what they've done wrong," says Heinrich. "Which is probably the best aspect of youth court. It keeps them out of the adult court, it keeps the misdemeanor off the record.”

Youth Court students had a chance to exchange those thoughts at this weekend's Conference. Madison Stites from Fairbanks is in 8th grade and has been training for Youth Court for five months.

“The conference is for all of us to come together and see what our experiences are together and how we can improve all of this and make our youth system better," says Stites.


The conference concluded on Saturday night and the visiting Youth Court groups flew back on Sunday.

Mar 27 2015
Senate Subcommittee Zeroes Out Public Broadcasting Funds
Friday, 27 March 2015
Alexandra Gutierrez/APRN
Earlier this month, public broadcasting survived an effort in the House to slash its state funding by half. Now, a subcommittee in the Senate has axed the appropriation entirely. 
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Mat-Su Republican Mike Dunleavy chairs the Department of Administration subcommittee, and he warned the cuts would be deep before announcing them at a Thursday meeting. 

“There’s going to be a lot of good programs across the board that may not be funded,” Dunleavy said. “And as we go through this, it’s not necessarily a judgment on those programs, but it has to do with the fact that we may not have the money to pay for everything.”

Juneau Democrat Dennis Egan attempted to restore $5 million in funding to the budget proposal. 

“I am a 45-year private sector broadcaster. I programmed, managed, and owned a bunch of private stations here in Southeast Alaska and in Anchorage,” Egan said. “And here I am, speaking up for public broadcasting, because I am not sure everyone realizes how much is going to be lost.”

Egan noted that the cuts would cause stations in Kodiak, Homer, Petersburg, Valdez, Haines, Ketchikan, Wrangell and Kenai to also lose their federal funding. He said rural communities could lose their emergency alert system, and that public television coverage of the Legislature would be threatened. 

Egan's amendment failed three to one, with all the Republican members voting against it. 

The department budget will now be sent to the full Senate Finance Committee. If the cut holds there, the House will have to approve it or a compromise will have to be hammered out in a conference committee. 
Mar 27 2015
'Choose Respect' March on Saturday in Kodiak
Friday, 27 March 2015
Kayla Desroches/KMXT
You may see a group of people marching downtown on Saturday. And you may want to join them. 
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The Kodiak Women's Resource and Crisis Center has scheduled its annual Choose Respect march for 11am that morning. Part-time Outreach Coordinator, Lauren Humphrey, describes the goal of the event.

“To bring awareness to domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, bullying, any kind of violence in our community and to get people to stand up and support preventative tactics and education to prevent this in our community.

Marchers will begin with a short walk downtown starting from the Sun'naq Tribal Center and then circling back around. An assembly will follow where attendees will hear several speeches, eat cake, and view related art. 

Outreach Coordinator Sandra Wilkins says the march and the organization are both inclusive.

“We're hoping also to raise awareness about the type of people that we serve. It's not just for women. I know the name is a little deceiving, but we want to make sure that male community members feel supported by us as well.”

To learn more about the Kodiak Women's Resource and Crisis Center, you can go to kwrcc.org or call them, 486-6171. 
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