Alaska Digest

Posted: Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Wellness program wins state award

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SITKA - The Alaska Health Education Consortium will honor the Community Wellness Advocate program with the Barbara Berger Award for excellence in health education and health promotion in Alaska.

The award is to be presented at the Alaska Health Summit on Wednesday at the Sheraton Hotel's Howard Rock Ballroom in Anchorage.

The wellness advocate program is a cooperative effort of Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium Health Promotion and the University of Alaska Southeast-Sitka campus. It's modeled after the state's Community Health Aide program, which trains village health workers.

The Community Wellness Advocate program is geared more toward disease prevention and health behavior change than clinical work.

Since the program is taught using distance delivery, students are able to remain in their home communities except for two trips to Sitka that last one week each.

2007 Iditarod entries at 104 and counting

WASILLA - For the fourth year in a row, entries for the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race have topped the 100 mark.

Organizers said 104 mushers had signed up as of Saturday. It was the second largest field in race history, and entries had not yet closed. One hundred seven racers entered the 2003 competition.

Mushers who postmarked their applications by Dec. 1 are still eligible. Race veterans have until Feb. 14 to apply, for a higher entry fee.

The field so far this year includes 64 veteran racers and 40 rookies, organizers said, and is considered one of the strongest in race history.

King crabs harvested to help comeback

ST. PAUL - For the first time in nearly a decade, fishermen have taken blue king crab near this Pribilof Island fishing community in the Bering Sea, but the small harvest isn't intended for seafood stores.

They were collected as part of a fisherman-led breeding and research effort to rebuild the island's collapsed blue king fishery.

Fifteen egg-bearing females and 13 additional blue kings, males and females, will serve as brood stock and research specimens in a research and rehabilitation program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

The long-term aim is to develop a plan for releasing hatchery-bred blue king crabs into the wild.

Pribilof Island blue king populations plummeted in the early 1980s, and the fishery has been closed since 1998. At its peak in 1981, crabbers took 14 million pounds of blue kings, worth about $10 million.

State's most transient community: Fairbanks

FAIRBANKS - People tend to move through the Fairbanks area more often than other parts of the state, according to figures from the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

In 2000, less than half the population of the Fairbanks North Star Borough, a population hub for the greater Interior Alaska region, were the same residents who had lived there five years earlier.

The Matanuska-Susitna Borough retained 54 percent of residents over the same period and Anchorage kept 74 percent.

High resident turnover levels are no surprise in a place where two military bases and the University of Alaska Fairbanks account for much of the population, state demographer Greg Williams said.

"It makes it very unique in terms of migration and will cause it to have different migration patterns than anywhere else," Williams said.

The borough's overall population has increased at a steady rate of around 1 percent in recent years, said Kathryn Dodge, economic development coordinator for the Fairbanks North Star Borough. Most of the growth resulted from natural population increases, she said.

The figures were taken from U.S census numbers for 2000.

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