June 26, 2012
The Nenana Wellness Coalition is an alliance of representatives from various organizations, government agencies, community groups and individuals that meets weekly to discuss, evaluate, coordinate, consolidate, celebrate and help implement plans for improving the wellness and quality of life in Nenana Alaska.
We had 14 participants today, including: Kat McElroy, David Poppe, Jeannie Bennet, Rebecca, Emily and Bill Troxel, Virginia Young, Audrey Roth, Maryellen Robinson, Larry Kairaiuak, Beverly Joseph, Merrily Verhagan, Miles Martin and Bonnie Reed. We enjoyed chicken tamale pie, mixed green salad, Ritz crackers with sliced cheese, raisins and nuts and chocolate chip cookies for lunch.
WELCOME followed by the READING OF MISSION STATEMENT: By this week’s chairperson, Rebecca Troxel.
PRAYER was lead by Bonnie Reed, followed by the PLEDGE OF ALLEGIENCE.
PRESENTATION OF AGENDA AND CALL FOR MODIFICATIONS: No modifications today.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Minutes posted on the WIN link at www.railbelt.com and approved as submitted electronically to the WIN email list.
INTRODUCTION OF GUESTS: Maryellen introduced Larry Kairaiuak who is the tobacco project grants manager for Maryellen’s program at Railbelt, visiting here today to provide technical assistance.
Alaska Tobacco Prevention and Control Program: Larry is a Public Health Specialist I, born in Bethel and raised on the coast. He is a UAF graduate and so has some familiarity with the Interior. He has worked for Tobacco Prevention and Control since January 2011. He explained that they have three kinds of projects: Community Prevention grants, K-12 School grants and Cessation/Intervention grants. Railbelt has a Community Prevention grant. He explained that their programs are funded partially by money from tobacco lawsuits but the state of Alaska has allotted additional money from the general fund as well. In contrast to their funding, the tobacco industry spends about one million dollars an hour to promote tobacco use. He is here specifically today to get local perspectives and to answer questions.
2014 will begin a new funding cycle. They have multiple goals: to change indoor air policy, to strengthen community partnerships across the state and to organize on a grassroots level. They would like the tribes to pass smoke-free ordinances. WIN is one of the most active coalitions in Alaska. Virginia asked how we can help Maryellen. Because she receives state funds, Maryellen cannot directly lobby the legislature, she can only educate. She can provide us with statistics and facts, however, which we can then take directly to our legislators, to businesses, or to the public. They are working towards having smoke-free policies in place for all public spaces.
Bill asked if this means private property as well as public property. In clarification, it means any space that is used by the public, which would include businesses that serve the public. Bill voiced his concern about passing laws requiring or prohibiting anything involving people’s choices. He framed it as a slippery slope, using the recent city ordinance in New York City prohibiting the sale of supersized soft drinks. He opined that, like the “War on Drugs”, such measures are doomed to failure; they reduce our personal rights while avoiding the actual issue. Tobacco use is bad, he said, and he wants his kids to not use tobacco because they know it is bad for you, not because someone made a regulation prohibiting the use.
Larry used the example of the “Take It Outside” campaign as a successful push to encourage people to refrain from exposing others to second-hand smoke. He said that latest data show 90% of Alaskan Native households adhering to the policy. Discussion ensued regarding the efficacy of raising taxes on tobacco as a means f controlling use. Kat commented that the youth she assesses report stealing tobacco products or paying a dollar per cigarette when they smoke. It doesn’t seem to her that price is a factor in their decision making as this would put the cost of a pack of cigarettes at 20 dollars. Bill asked if there were any actual data showing that price increases result in decreased use. Larry affirmed this. Virginia said at least tax revenues could be used to defray the costs of treating tobacco-related diseases. Larry reported that 320 million dollars was spent in 2010 in Alaska on tobacco-related medical care. He stated, “Our intent is to change social norms around tobacco use.”
Miles asked if businesses might not be self-regulating around tobacco prohibition. He cited his own propensity to avoid patronizing establishments where there is heavy tobacco use. Maryellen said that locally many businesses report that the majority of their patrons already refrain from tobacco use indoors but that there is a vocal minority that doesn’t want to do that. Kat said that this is where having someone like Maryellen with deep roots in the community can be an effective public health educator for she cannot be accused of being an “outsider” trying to “change the way we do things here.”
Larry mentioned that every year around five hundred people die of tobacco-related illness in Alaska. This is equal to the population of our community. There is a consensus of opinion it seems that tobacco use should be discouraged.
Envisioning Wellness: We do not currently have anyone scheduled. We are open to suggestions from the members for future presentations.
WELLNESS THOUGHT: Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Anonymous
Merrily: The Verhagan family again will be hosting a Veteran’s Appreciation breakfast July 4th, at the Nenana Conference Center. They will begin cooking about 8 AM and expect to serve breakfast from 9 until the games start, between 10:30 and 11 AM. They have sausage, pancake mix, butter and syrup and are accepting donations of eggs, bacon and milk and juice. This event is open to the community and they will have a speaker and a flag ceremony.
Kristi’s will be having a summer special on any one-topping pizza for 15 dollars on Wednesdays all day long.
Walter: was in the hospital two weeks ago for a couple of days; he had strep pneumonia. He had been feeling ill for several days previously. He is concerned because there was a lot of gossip about him, rumors that he had been using, which has affected his wife. His mother always cautioned him about any bad talk, rumor-mongering. He named this as character assassination. “If people have anything they want to know about me, they can ask me,” he said. He had lost his phone, which he has replaced. It is still the same number. He said he is going to have to get gall bladder surgery. On the up side, as a result of being so sick, he has quit using Copenhagen chew!
Beverly: Will be here until Thursday then returning to Fairbanks. She is doing Reiki treatments while she is here.
Virginia: She has harvested the first peonies of the season and will be driving up to Fairbanks two times a week to deliver them to the broker. She reports that the wind out at her farm moved her tent shop “about 50 feet.” She agrees with Walter that gossip is bad and suggests that if people are exposed to any bad talk, that they say something good about the person. Gossip creates a climate of fear in a community, she believes.
In response to a question, she reported that the Saturday market generated about 750 dollars worth of sales last week and continues going strong.
The Baha’i will hold a themed devotional; on “Generosity” Wednesday evening, 7 PM, at the Baha’i Center.
Kat: It is the end of the quarter and the end of the fiscal year so everyone at Railbelt is “pretty busy.”
David: reports that the EMT squad responded to a bad wreck up near Skinny Dick’s, a tractor trailer carrying heavy pipes collided with a car. There were multiple injuries. Ester EMT’s got there first so Nenana supplied support services. Then, Sunday they got called out to a “mutual aid” request, along with Healy and Clear firefighters to the Bear reek wildfire.
No calves so far, no signs of imminent birth.
Maryellen: PINK busy getting ready for the Prevention Carnival on June 30th, at the baseball field. Christopher will be manning the grill. There will be water melon and lots of fun activities for youth.
Sierra is gone to Bingle Camp till Thursday.
Rebecca: Has 16 layer hens and collected 16 eggs yesterday; most days she gets 12 or so. She has another dozen chickens that are still so small they can walk out right thru the fence, so they have to stay inside the chicken house. She is enjoying her garden.
She is expecting another child, due to be born in March. Mazel Tov.
ADJOURNMENT: 1:40 PM