Nome Extends CARES Act Benefits to Larger Community, Will Fine Those Who Break Quarantine Rules

Nome City Council members review budget items. Photo: Matthew F. Smith, KNOM.

Nome Police are issuing citations for COVID-19 quarantine violators. City Manager Glenn Steckman reminded the community Monday night that those who fill out the City of Nome travel form are obligated to follow quarantine instructions. Steckman cited a recent example of a violation.

“The individual had tested [positive] for COVID-19. He then proceeded to a bar and that issue was followed up with a contact tracing and then we had another person we issued a warning to.”

– Glenn Steckman

Chief Mike Heintzelman confirmed later with KNOM that NPD did issue a citation for an individual who tested positive for COVID-19 and who then violated quarantine. But, Heintzelman says no one has yet been fined even though quarantine violations can result in a $500 fine.

Nome and the State of Alaska’s quarantine requirements have had significant financial impacts on local residents and businesses which is why the City of Nome is still working on community stimulus programs.

The City of Nome set aside about $1.5 million towards the local community in CARES Act funding earlier this year. After two separate stimulus programs, about half of that money is still unclaimed.

On Monday night, the Nome City Council decided to expand the eligibility for those who can receive the funds. The council directed City Manager Steckman to come up with a relief program that would include entities on the Nome Joint Utility System power grid, in addition to City of Nome residents.

“They are really part of the Nome family by being part on the electric grid and were denied funding to re-open back to them. And also, to the businesses or households that failed to apply when other grants were available.”

– Glenn Steckman

As per the direction of the council, Steckman told KNOM he plans to extend the utility grant program and small business grants to those on the grid system.  Households or business owners that previously benefited from Nome’s first two rounds of CARES Act assistance will not be able to reapply for additional funds. The City Manager is considering another round of grants for carvers and artists, including those who received previous grants. Steckman hopes to have those applications available before mid-October.

Judy Martinson is a Nome resident and hotel-owner. She encouraged the city to do whatever they can for local business owners.

“I appreciate the funds that have been directed. I know every single person I talked to that got them were extremely grateful and hopeful. We were looking forward to what might be ending up here. So please don’t forget us.”

– Judy Martinson

Nome granted Martinson’s company $20,000 from their CARES Act grant program for small businesses. Some of the largest grants were awarded to local hotel and realty companies who have claimed to be financially impacted by the lack of tourism.

The council also awarded $200,000 in CARES Act funding to the Nome Volunteer Fire and Ambulance Department. Their largest fundraising event, the Annual Fireman’s Carnival, is cancelled due to COVID-19.

Image at Top: Nome City Council members discussed CARES Act funds. Photo: Matthew F. Smith, KNOM file.