WIN Minutes 11-26-13

Nenana Wellness Coalition
November 12, 2013

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, masticate, celebrate, and help implement plans for improving the wellness and quality of life in Nenana Alaska.

There were 10 in attendance today, including: Kat McElroy, Jessica Durtsche, Bonnie Reed, Beverley Joseph, Lillian and Richard Coleman, Tim Horn, Jeannie Bennett, Virginia Young and David Poppe. We enjoyed beef and cheese enchiladas, raw cheddar cheese with blueberries, mixed green salad, Ritz crackers with sliced cheese and raisins & pecans for lunch.

WELCOME followed by the READING OF MISSION STATEMENT, by this week’s chair-person: Tim Horn

PRAYER was led by Beverly Joseph, followed by the PLEDGE OF ALLEGIENCE.

PRESENTATION OF AGENDA AND CALL FOR MODIFICATIONS: There were no additions to the agenda.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Posted on the WIN link at and submitted electronically to the WIN e-list.

INTRODUCTION OF GUESTS: Beverley introduced her sister Lillian “Babes” Coleman and Babes husband, Richard Coleman.


Supporting Nenana Fire Dept./EMS: The Nenana Volunteer Fire Dept./Emergency Medical Services are in the process of applying for a grant from The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for the purpose of upgrading their equipment for fire/rescue and emergency medical response capabilities. They provide approximately 200 emergency responses annually.
A five year plan has been established to upgrade facilities and expand emergency response readiness. The purpose of this FEMA grant is to obtain a rescue boat, a new fire tender, a rescue truck and a side-scan sonar, all identified in the recent needs assessment. We need letters of support from individuals, businesses, agencies and other entities from our service area to support or grant application. Kat has solicited letters from Railbelt, the school, Toghotthele and the Native Council. She has a template of sorts she can share with anyone else willing to solicit letters of support. We need these letters in hand by December 4th for the grant to go out December 5.
Two World’s Trail: Richard Coleman began his presentation by acknowledging his wife, Lillian, to whom he has been married for 50 years. He stated that his parents came to Alaska in 1939, landing by steamer in Valdez and then traveling for three or four days by pick-up truck to Fairbanks. His father bought a city lot along the end of 9th Avenue, which at that time was the edge of town, out by Weeks Field. He purchased a small one room shack and dragged it to his lot and there they set up house-keeping. This house was insulated with boxes of sawdust. His father worked initially for a mine, then when WWII started he worked at Ladd Field which became Fort Wainwright. He was a welder and later found work as an aircraft engine mechanic. He worked for Wein Air Service and later for Alaska Air.
His father, he said, was maybe a little crazy, or people thought he was anyway, for in 1946 he hiked way out to what is now David Road which then was wilderness and staked a 40 acre homestead. He cleared land and put in an oat crop to prove up on the claim and built the family a new home out there. They had a five acre garden and raised chickens for meat and eggs which they sold in town. Richard described himself as the “Primary Manure Shoveler” and said he was 18 years of age before he could bring himself to eat chicken after that experience.
Richard walked a mile and a half each day out to what is now Peger and Airport Road to catch the school bus. He attended Denali School and then later Main School. He was in the first graduating class at Lathrop High School. He said that making friends with the Demientieff family was another kind of education for him and through them he made many Athabascan friends. He had a brother-in-law he described as being, “Like another father to me,” who viewed him, “As a source of cheap labor.” He worked for4 minimum wage but liked earning money. He wasn’t very interested in his studies, he said, but when he was 15 he joined the Pipefitter’s apprenticeship program and they made him do his school work as they required him to graduate to join the union. He met Lillian and they started going together when she was 17 and he was 19.
Lillian and Richard had two sons. They moved about a bit raising their boys but always seemed to return to the Fairbanks area. Initially he got a few acres from his father and built a small one-room home there but as his family expanded, he obtained land in North Pole out near Plack Road and built a larger home there. He worked various bush jobs and then Prudhoe Bay opened up and he worked on the pipeline. He took early retirement and he and Babes “tried being snowbirds.”
He began writing initially, he said, as the result of a neighbor they had in Arizona who would visit them every day, staying only a short while each time. He would tell her little stories from his childhood or tales of adventures in Alaska. She kept telling him, “You need to write a book,” so he did that. Richard writes in longhand and he started just jotting his stories down on any piece of paper handy. Later he had to go to Office Max and buy a three-ring binder so he could organize the stories in sequential order. After he wrote The Homestead Kid, which was self-published, he found that he had gotten the writing bug and so he composed a fictionalized account of stories he had heard from and about his wife’s extended family. He interviewed Sam Joseph who ran 30 miles from Fish Lake to past Tanana of the famous Serum Run. These he put together into the novel Two World’s Trail, for which he found a formal publisher. An author still needs to do all of their own publicity, however, he found, if they want their books to sell.
His latest book is available on Amazon, also as a Kindle edition, and at major book stores such as Barnes and Nobel. He has arranged book signings. Two World’s Trail is being considered for the Battle of the Books in Alaska school systems. He read us a small portion of the book, a chapter about going through the ice on the Tanana River and having to self-rescue. He is now working on a sequel.

WELLNESS THOUGHT: May your words be always tender and sweet, for someday you might have to eat them.


Rebecca: Her chickens are laying slightly more eggs so production is finally on the rise.
She is preparing for Thanksgiving dinner for 24 at the Troxel’s, then the community Thanksgiving dinner the following day, then will be flying the next day with William to visit her 96 year old Grandmother in New Mexico.

Jeannie: Needs paper plates for the Thanksgiving Community Dinner which will be Friday, November 29, 5 PM at the Civic Center.

David: Our egg production is also finally on the rise, although the geese still are not laying.

Kat: Railbelt is closed Thursday and Friday.

Jessica: She is busy, with school work and with clients, doing intakes and assessments.

Tim: Madrigal Dinner tonight at the school at 6 PM.
Monday December 2nd, 1 PM, a Memorial Service will be held for Joann Hawkins followed by burial up on the hill and a pot luck afterwards, time TBD.
Also Monday night, 7 PM< Nenana book club will meet at the Harvey residence to discuss John Steinbeck’s novella, The Pearl.
Next Tuesday at WIN we will conclude watching The Bully Project DVD.
Wednesday, 12-04, the Kindergarten through 6 grade Christmas Concert will be held, 6:30 PM, in the Pit.
December 6 and 7th will be Regional Volleyball Tournament at NCPS.
The Christmas Bazaar will be Saturday and Sunday, December 7 and 8, at the Civic Center.
December 11th, the school has a community meal, starting at 11 AM and the Christmas Concert for 7-12 grades will be that night in the gym.
Friday, December 13, the Nativity play will be held.
Monday, December 16th, 7 PM, Line-dancing at the Civic Center.


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