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Nome Common Council votes to keep current rules for sale of alcohol

A long table with a gavel resting on it. American flag in background.
Empty Nome City Council room. (Photo by Brisa Alarcon, KNOM).

The Nome Common Council at Monday’s meeting voted down a proposed ordinance that would have changed the legal hours to sell alcohol in the city.

Council Member Scot Henderson said he’d seen data that suggested the ordinance would have a beneficial effect.

“Longer hours, more calls for your timespan and greater strain on our emergency services. Shorter hours, less emergency calls, less strain on city resources,” Henderson said.

In contrast, Council Member Mark Johnson said he’d heard that limiting hours wouldn’t make much of a difference.

“I heard that there wasn’t an effect on hours based on the data that came from the police station. … The only thing that changed was when we had increased enforcement. During the hours during COVID, where they were checking on things more often, we had a resulting change in the amount of calls at the end,” Johnson said.

Ultimately the council was split three-to-three, and by city code, a tie vote means the motion fails.

The council also passed a new port tariff. While there were several changes to the previous tariff, the most significant was the adjustment of rates for shipping rock and gravel through the Port of Nome to account for much higher expected volume of those materials. Previously, all gravel over 40,000 tons was shipped at the same rate, but the new tiers are below 50,000 tons, 50,001–100,00 tons, 100,001–200,000 tons, 200,001–300,000 tons and over 300,000 tons.

In his report, City Manager Glenn Steckman clarified some misconceptions about the National Guard’s upcoming Arctic Eagle exercise.

“This National Guard event has been planned for over four months. … This exercise is not happening because of the unrest and the situation in Ukraine,” Steckman said.

Steckman also commented on how the city will change its approach to COVID-19 in the future.

“We think and Dr. Peterson also stated we’re going to be living with COVID in the future years, but we need to turn over the management of that to the residents and hopefully they exercise good judgment. … But we are recommending — I am recommending — that you continue to use face masks when you’re in public areas, especially with the number of people that’ll be coming in to visit the community,” Steckman said.

According to a press release from Norton Sound Health Corporation, as of March 1 there were 130 active cases of COVID-19 in the Norton Sound and Bering Strait region, with 88 of those in Nome.

Finally, the council set the dates for the Board of Equalization meeting. The council convenes as the Board of Equalization every year “to hear grievances and requests for adjustment concerning the City of Nome’s 2022 Tax Roll.” The first Board of Equalization meeting for 2022 is on Wednesday, May 4, and the board will convene on May 5 and 6 if necessary.

The next regular meeting of the Nome Common Council is at 7 p.m. on March 14. As always, residents are invited to attend the meeting at City Hall and comment on the proceedings.

Image at top: A gavel on a table in the Council Chambers in Nome City Hall. Photo by Brisa Ashley.

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