Nome Common Council Approves Distribution of Additional CARES Act Funds

The Nome Common Council approved two resolutions on Aug. 9 to provide financial assistance to businesses impacted by the 2020 Iditarod cancelation. This is the seventh phase of economic stimulus provided by the city during the COVID-19 pandemic. The money comes from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

The first of those two resolutions included $170,000 to support hospitality-related businesses, a category which the council worked to define as broadly as possible. The council wants any service-industry businesses that lost revenue because of the changes to the 2021 Iditarod to be eligible. City Manager Glenn Steckman offered “inns, coffee shops, hotels, B&Bs, bakeries, restaurants [and] bars” as examples. Other council members mentioned gift shops and tourism services.

Another $16,000 will go to artisans, carvers and sculptors who were likewise affected by the 2021 Iditarod changes. Applications for the CARES Act funding are now available on the city’s website. The application deadline is Aug. 27 at 5 p.m.

The council chose to delay approval of the Historic Preservation Plan, largely due to concerns raised by community member Austin Ahmasuk, who attended the meeting.

“I think it’s a very poor, poor planning document. The historical context as it relates to Alaska Native history is not there. And that’s absolutely not right, because the interaction between Alaska Native people and non-Native Alaskans is a big part of this community,” Ahmasuk said.

The council wants the Historical Preservation Society Planning Committee to address Ahmasuk’s concerns before approving the plan.

The city will also contract Knik Construction to replace the concrete in front of the fire hall. Much of the concrete was already going to be replaced by Knik as part of the ongoing Bering Street rehabilitation, so the council decided to take the opportunity to replace the remainder as well.

Fire Chief Jim West, who attended the meeting, explained that some of the fire trucks will be housed elsewhere while the front of the fire hall is blocked off.

“We’re going to be stationing two of our trucks at the snow dump shop and then our longer truck in the public works bay. So we won’t have access to the front of it, but we still have access to the back side and we will be able to respond in a timely manner,” West said.

The council will meet next on Aug. 23.

Image at top: The Nome Common Council meets to discuss regular business and hear comments from the public.