New member sworn in to serve on Nome Common Council
By Diana Haecker
During Monday’s regular meeting, the Nome Common Council swiftly moved through a light agenda without any action items. The main action consisted of swearing in new council member Scot Henderson who is the successor to Council member Jennifer Reader. Reader served one term on the Council from Oct. 2018 until Monday; she did not run for reelection when the three-year term for seat C was up. Henderson won the election over challenger Derek McLarty. After City Clerk Bryant Hammond administered the oath of office to Henderson, the Council voted on a resolution in recognition of Jennifer Reader’s contributions to the City of Nome as councilmember and member of the Nome School Board prior.
The citation commended Reader for having “supported city services, school activities and investment in programs to improve the health and wellbeing of the community’s membership, both as a councilperson and on an individual basis” and for having dedicated “substantial personal time to the community as an ardent supporter of education” as a school board member.
“The City government process was enriched by Mrs. Reader’s meeting preparedness and prodding which at times resulted in quite lively but healthy discussions,” the resolution reads.
The last whereas states that “After three years of being pummeled on Facebook or stopped in the store, Mrs. Reader has determined timing is right to revert to citizen status, allowing her renewed freedom to state exactly what is on her mind.”
The Council adopted the resolution and wished her well.
On the agenda was another swearing in, for youth member Paris Hebel, but he was not in attendance as he was traveling. Mayor John Handeland said the swearing in ceremony will be held in person at a future meeting.
The communications packed included a letter from the state assessor who wrote that the taxable property as of January 1, 2021 is $471,647,853; of which nearly $380 million are in real property and nearly $92 million in personal property.
Ken Morton delivered the utility report, saying that the annual fuel delivery is completed and that the meter replacement project is underway.
In his city manager report, Glenn Steckman informed the Council that he attended a meeting with the Mayor and representatives of STG, the contractor for the barge ramp replacement project. The ramp is still not completed. “We anticipate October 26 for them to wrap up,” he said. The ramp won’t be functional until then, but smaller boats and vessels were able to be hauled out of the water. Instead of having three-way communications with the port users, Steckman said he encourages port users to communicate directly with the contractor to coordinate a time to haul out their boats.
Steckman briefly addressed the mask mandate the city issued last week and that is to sunset on Friday, Oct. 15. He explained that when cases in Nome rose over 45, he decided to issue the mask mandate for public places inside the city limits. “I used the number 40 as a benchmark for a mask mandate,” he said. He added that somebody at the EOC was exposed to COVID and they have not met in person. If COVID cases drop below 40, the mask mandate will sunset on Friday. If more than 40 active cases are in Nome, the mask mandate will be extended, he said.
In council member comments, several acknowledged Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Councilman Scot Henderson remarked that during his campaign it became apparent that the state of Nome’s roads is a concern and he asked if the city has an online maintenance request form that citizens could fill out and submit to the city. No, was the answer.
Mayor Handeland in his remarks also acknowledged Indigenous Peoples’ Day and thanked those voters who “bothered” to vote on election day. “We had a smaller turnout than we had in the past,” he said. “It’s either because there were not too many competitive races or people are happy with what’s going on,” he stated. “I hope to see more people come out and participate either as candidates or voting,” he said.
Handeland also reported he drove around with city manager Steckman on the weekend to take a look at roads and city properties. He said he’d like to get started to prioritize road repair projects and other issues in concert with the Planning Commission.
As a last item, he asked the Council for concurrence on the appointment of Peter Travers to the Public Safety Advisory Commission. The council unanimously voted to confirm Travers to the seat. Only one seat remains to be filled at the nine-person panel, which will be addressed at the next meeting, Handeland said.
The council adjourned and went into executive session. No action was taken after.
The next regular meeting will take place on Monday, Oct. 25.