Posted: Thursday, February 22, 2001

Efforts of many make scholarship program success

The 2001 Alaska Junior Miss Program awarded almost $10,000 in cash scholarships in 11 categories on Jan. 27 at the Kenai Central High School Auditorium before a crowd of over 400. Fifteen high school senior girls from the local area and around the state participated in the week-long program that recognizes, rewards and encourages excellence in all areas of life.

A program of this caliber is possible only because of the hard work and dedication of many individuals and the generosity of many businesses.

I would first like to thank the members of our board and state program committee: Bud Draper, Rhonda Orth, Rory Dabney, Pam Burns, Charlissa Magen, Mary Green, Rhonda Burnett, Kim Schmitt and Linda Cusack. Your help and friendship makes it all worthwhile. Janet Boyce, I thank you for your inspiring workshop that bonds the group and sets such a positive tone for their week. Thank you to our choreographers, Molly Mahurin, Trish Kopp and Taryn Reese, who did a fabulous job working with the girls, and to Soldotna Martial Arts, The Fitness Place and Healthy Changes for providing rehearsal time and space. Thanks to Gina Kiel, Cathy Norgren and the crew from Halcyon Spalon for their professional hair and make-up artistry. A special note of appreciation to the "Host Families" who opened their homes and hearts to all contestants -- Dale and Rhonda Dolifka, Dean and Patti Eichholz, Dan and Kathy Gensel, Fred and Gloria Hammon, Wayne and Mary Mize, Pat and Marita Parks, and John and Jacquie Steckel. Thank you to our drivers, Sherry Gardner, Ned Magen and John Steckel, who always had the girls delivered safely and on time in the vans donated by Seekins Ford. A heartfelt thank you goes to our good friend and special guest, Hobo Jim, for offering his time and talent.

We appreciated the opportunity to enjoy lunch and visit with members of both the Soldotna and Kenai senior centers, the Soldotna Rotary Club and Arby's of Soldotna. Thank you to Borough Mayor Dale Bagley and Soldotna Vice Mayor Jim Stogsdill for taking time from your busy schedules to meet with us; Kenai Mayor John Williams for the tour of the Challenger Center and reading your proclamation at the program.

Thank you to the following: Images Fine Photography, KSRM, Kaladi Brothers Coffee, Pizza Boys, Three Bears, Carrs/Safeway, Fred Meyer, Charlotte's, The Music Box, Gottschalks, Kathy Gensel of NBA, One Stop Grocery, the Peninsula Clarion, the Printer's Ink (Lambert, thanks for your help and patience), Bill and Rosie Reeder, Seekins Ford, Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center, Soldotna City Hall, Dairy Queen, the King Salmon Motel, Bailey's Furniture, Gamas Designs, Thompson's Gifts, Our Best Friends, SBS and the KCHS tech crew. Please forgive any omissions.

Thank you to my husband, Dan Pitts, who promised (and delivered) to help double our scholarship offerings from last year. The following individuals and businesses contributed to our 2001 scholarship foundation: BP Exploration (Alaska), Tesoro Alaska, Allan and Alfie Norville, IBEW Local 1547 (Unit 101), Rotary Club of Soldotna, NBA -- a Wells Fargo Company, Fireweed Fence, Arby's, Peninsula Internal Medicine, Dr. Marshall Dotson, Valley Dental Clinic, The Fitness Place, Healthy Changes, Sweeney's Clothing, G & S Construction, Soldotna Dental Clinic, Dr. John Kobylarz, Ric and Donna Bucy, Twin Cities Veterinary Clinic, Three Sisters Land & Cattle Co. and Lakeview Gas Ltd.

We are always looking for volunteers and would love to answer any of your questions about the program. Please watch Kara Merrill as she represents Alaska at the 44th annual America's Junior Miss National Finals to be televised live from Mobile, Ala., on TNN, June 27.

Reean Pitts, state chairman -

Alaska Junior Miss Scholarship Program

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