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City of Nome honors longtime employee

Man and woman shaking hands while the man hands the woman a plaque
Mayor John Handeland (left) and Police Chief Mike Heintzelman (right) recognize Jessica Saclamana (center) for her service to Nome. Dec 13 2021. Photo by Sean Milligan

At its Dec. 13 meeting, the Nome Common Council recognized emergency services dispatcher Jessica Saclamana for a decade of service to Nome. City Manager Glenn Steckman listed the ways Saclamana has gone above and beyond her duty over the course of her career.

“​​Jessica frequently helps dispatch for the Nome Alaska State Troopers and other local agencies needing information, such as the Office of Children’s Services, Adult Probation, the District Attorney’s office and so forth. … She also has sacrificed many holidays, July 4th, New Years, Iditarod and Alaska Day, you name it,” Steckman said.

Nome Police Chief Mike Heintzelman also commended Saclamana for her performance.

“A lot of people’s worst days, they call in and they’re having a terrible day … and Jess is able to calmly handle those situations and dispatch what is necessary. That’s a real gift,” Heintzelman said.

Saclamana has worked for the City of Nome for a total of 10 years and is the Nome Police Department’s most senior employee, according to Steckman.

The council also voted to postpone consideration of the proposed Historic Preservation Plan, a document “intended to educate the public of the value and importance of Nome’s history and influence future development to be sensitive to historic and cultural resources.” 

The council first considered the plan in July. They voted against it then because of concerns about a lack of Alaska Native representation in the plan. Despite this, the Historic Preservation Commission presented the same plan to the Common Council last week.

Council Member Meghan Sigvanna Topkok expressed serious misgivings about the plan as presented.

“My family is from this region, I’m of the Indigenous people. And the fact that there were pages upon pages of history about the gold rush and about … the non-Native history of the region felt like a discredit to the role that Indigenous people, even to this day, continue to play,” Topkok said. 

She believes any historic preservation plan should include a strong Alaska Native perspective.

“Which would include understanding our history, from our own perspective, our own origin stories, the fact that we’re still living and thriving on these lands. Really, I think that’s what’s missing,” Topkok said.

In other business, the council voted to approve new permitting software, and to name authorized signers for city business. The council also voted to temporarily grant Mayor John Handeland the powers of City Manager from Dec. 23 through Jan. 4 while Glenn Steckman is unavailable.

The Nome Common Council’s next meeting is scheduled for Dec. 27, but according to the city website, that meeting is likely to be canceled. The following meeting will be on Jan. 10.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story stated Saclamana is the city’s most senior employee. Saclamana is the Nome Police Department’s most senior employee. KNOM apologizes for the mistake.

Image at top: Nome Mayor John Handeland (left) and Nome Police Chief Mike Heintzelman (right) recognize Jessica Saclamana (center) for her service to the city. Photo by Sean Milligan.

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