Council, NVAD come to an agreement
The Nome Common Council unanimously voted April 24 to approve a resolution approving a memorandum of agreement between Norton Sound Health Corp. and the City’s Nome Volunteer Ambulance Dept.
“It’s time to make it happen and move forward,” Councilman Tom Sparks observed.
The City and NSHC had failed to achieve a contract for almost two years, with a major impediment of settling a dissatisfaction over payment by the hospital for ambulance runs to bring patients. The agreement showed an intent on both sides to work together, retired ambulance volunteer Charlie Lean said. Both sides made concessions and generous offers, he added, with assistance from NSHC for vehicle maintenance, a sponsoring physician and help with a building—a very big thing, Lean said.
“When one took the agreement as a whole, the MOA was not what we hoped for, but it’s a good deal,” Lean said.
Councilman Stan Andersen noted that the NVAD between 2004 and 2016 had made $622,000.
“It amazed me,” Andersen said. “Here’s a volunteer outfit making tons of money,” while other City facilities—the Rec Center, the museum and library had not.
Angie Gorn, NSHC CEO and president had agreed to meet once a month. Council members thought that would improve communications.
“I think given this climate, there is opportunity, if something comes up for it to be discussed by both parties,” Mayor Richard Beneville said.
The Council also passed a resolution honoring Victoria Erickson’s 24 years’ volunteer service and commitment to Nome Volunteer Ambulance Dept. Erickson, NVAD chief, resigned from the NVAD in early April.
Andersen and Councilman Louis Green Sr. urged the City and Council to try a little harder on Erickson’s award.
“People like this deserve a lot more than a piece of paper,” Andersen said. “It’s volunteering,” noting that some employees got airplane tickets, retiring City Manager Randy Romanesko had received a computer and two public works employees [Greg Kruschek and Nathan “Red” Barron] had streets named after them.
Related to the ambulance discussion, the Council approved a resolution approving a memorandum of understanding with James West Jr. as chief of the NVAD.
Could West handle being chief of the Nome Volunteer Fire Dept. and the Nome Volunteer Ambulance Dept.? Andersen wanted to know.
“In the real world, the ambulance and fire departments formed one department,” West said.
“We’re all here to serve the community. Ambulance and fire crews went together to get people out of situations and then the ambulance carried the people away to the hospital,” West added.
According to the resolution, at an April 18 training meeting, the NVAD membership selected West as their chief. The Council accepted the selection for a two-year stint from April 25 through April 24, 2019, with a monthly stipend of $500.
The Council noted the retirement of Candace Weidler, assistant to the city manager and expressed appreciation for her fine work.
Again, Andersen spoke of dedicated and exceptional employees to be rewarded suitably.
“Red Man [Nathan Barron] deserves something better than an unknown alley named after him.” Andersen declared. “He never drove around with a coffee cup in his hand. He didn’t pad his overtime.
“Those kind of employees that put in that kind of time are exceptional,” Andersen said.
At the April 10 regular meeting the Council approved changing the name of Long Time Alley in the east of town to Nathan Barron Alley.
Andersen suggested the City draw up a protocol, rather than hit or miss awards, for recognizing citizens that commit a lot of time, both good citizens and good employees.
In other business, the Council voted into first reading an ordinance that would make clear the responsibility of property owners to clear accumulated ice as well as snow from public sidewalks adjacent to their lots.
The Council heard from John Handeland, utility manager, that vandals had damaged the Banner Wind Farm. Examining a structure there, he had found a bullet hole in a meter, several bullet holes in the door that had been kicked in. Handeland had reported the destruction to the Alaska State Troopers, he said. Anyone with information should notify AST Stroebele (907) 443-2835.
Under communications Moran, city manager, had sent a letter to the Alaska delegation urging support for continuing to fund NOAA’s Alaska Sea Grant. Alaska has 44,00 mile of coastline, 70 percent of Alaska’s residents live in coastal communities, Moran wrote, “and each of them enjoys access to one of the country’s most vibrant and bountiful marine ecosystems.”
“Alaska Sea Grant has 46 years of experience protecting that very ecosystem and training those who depend on it.”
Moran stressed the need for Alaska Sea Grant in the current economic climate with dollars going to research and fishing industries.
Also under communications, a flyer showed that Nome’s Spring Clean-Up will occur from May 27 through June 4, according to City Clerk Bryant Hammond.