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NOAA Fisheries taking comments on Gulf Rationalization. What do you think?
 

The LegHead Report

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

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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
Commercial Fishing 'Dude' Licenses Now Limited to One Per Year
Wednesday, 01 April 2015
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Jay Barrett/KMXT
There's a change in comercial fishing licenses in Alaska that goes into effect this year - no longer can people buy a series of the so-called commercial "dude" licenses. Those were good for seven days and were designed to allow people to try out commercial fishing, but as Michelle Kaelke, the licensing supervisor at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, tells us, its low cost was being abused.

"The purpose of the Dude License was to allow people to go out and try commercial fishing or to go out and give their buddy a hand for a week commercial fishing. And that was the purpose of the original legislation when sit passed in 1995," she said. "But what we found out what was happening, people were purchasing six, seven, eight of these seven-day licenses. instead of buying an annual license."

A non-resident crew member license costs $250, while a seven-day Dude License is only $30, so even buying two months of the short-term licenses is still a savings.

"About three years ago we started looking at our statistics and we were scratching our heads as to why we had more non-resident commercial crew member than residents," Kaelke said. "And once we started looking down into the weeds, we realized it wasn't more people, it was that they were buying multiple licenses so they were getting counted multiple times."

So last year, the state legislature closed the loophole and the new rules went into effect on January 1st. 

Kaelke says the abuse in the Dude License program was not just cheating Fish and Game out of its fees.

"So the money from the commercial crew licenses also goes and funds the Fishermen's Fund, so that fund was also losing money also," she said. "So they realized that there's a benefit that's going out to commercial crew members yet they're not paying for it because they're getting these seven-day licenses."

Fishermen's Fund, under the Division of Workers' Compensation, provides healthcare insurance for injured fishermen. 
 
Apr 01 2015
Kodiak 4th in Alaska Health
Wednesday, 01 April 2015
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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

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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.

 

2.96 MB | Download MP3 | Open in popup

 

 

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
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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. 
0.79 MB | Download MP3 | Open in popup

 
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. 
 
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