Mayor administers oath to two new police officers
The Nome Common Council in last Monday’s regular meeting approved unanimously a resolution hiring Cheryl Thompson on as Carrie M. McLain Memorial Museum’s new director.
Thompson worked at City Hall as the executive assistant to the city manager and will transition to the museum on August 1. (See story below). City Manager Glenn Steckman cited Thompson’s “outstanding understanding” of the museum’s collection as well as her love for Nome’s history as he recommended that the council adopt the resolution and confirm her employment as museum director.
Mayor John Handeland requested to remove the agenda item dealing with a resolution for an employment agreement between the City and Joy Baker to serve as project manager for the port expansion project. The resolution was struck from the agenda to allow more communication between the parties.
Nome Police Department Deputy Chief Will Crockett brought to the Council two new police officer hires to be sworn in. They are Chelsea Griffin, who joins NPD from Georgia, but has worked at the Bethel Police department as an officer; and Leighton McNabb, who comes to Nome from Winchester, Kentucky. Mayor John Handeland administered the oath of office. Deputy Chief Crockett also presented to the Council officers Alex Le and Vincent Nguyen who will mentor the two new hires to get them accustomed to their jobs in Nome.
During public comment, Jennifer Rachels, a lead officer in USDA’s Rural Partners Network program took to the podium and introduced the new program to the council. The purpose of the program is to do public service work for rural communities to navigate the federal USDA bureaucracy and provide feed back to federal agencies on the realities of rural Alaska. “What we are meant to do nationally, a theme that that we were given at our outset, is to serve as a sort of advocate for rural areas to be able to call the Department of Energy and every other agency department and say ‘You designed this program for rural people and yet you created eligibility standards that mean most rural groups are not eligible’, or ‘You’ve created some very onerous administrative requirements. And you’re asking for things that even a large city would have a hard time with.’ So that’s the sort of work that we’re supposed to do,” she explained. Rachels was accompanied by three other USDA employees from the Palmer office. She added that they will travel throughout the region to visit Elim, Shaktoolik and Unalakleet to inform the public on the extension of Merbok recovery funds. When asked by Councilmember Henderson if USDA has a rural presence in Nome, she said, no but there are currently two staff positions open and Nomeites are welcome to apply. Mayor Handeland commented that he appreciated the help of USDA for certain projects, but also he can attest to the copious amount of paperwork that is required, which for smaller communities can be an unsurmountable burden to handle. “I would encourage, as the program is developed, that you consider ways that you can be a resource to these communities,” he said. “Sometimes the paperwork —you get buried in it and frustrated— and I think that people will in the area lose out if they don’t have that support offered. I know that rules are rules and programs are programs, but it seems like that there are some agencies that are very, very top heavy in paperwork, and it becomes a frustration, and especially for smaller communities.”
In other business, City Manager Glenn Steckman informed the council that the liquor stores will implement a voluntary reduction of hours selling liquor starting this week. “We have seen a direct benefit of no alcohol sales on Sunday,” he said, citing fewer calls for police or emergency services on Sundays. However, he noted, a different strain on the police department started to crop up: NPD has seen an increase of 90 percent of servicing court papers to delinquents. Steckman said usually this service is done by a state-employed Court Service Officer, but the burden has been shifted to NPD and this issue needs to be addressed.
Steckman also announced the August 1 “Night Out” event put on by NPD and Nome’s emergency services.
Mayor Handeland in his comments welcomed last week’s first visit of a cruise ship to Nome this year. He also paid tribute to the late Sandra L. Medearis, who died Dec. 31, 2022. Her family held a Memorial Service last Saturday at the Solomon B&B. Medearis was a longtime reporter for the Nome Nugget and Handeland noted that the archives of The Nome Nugget are filled with her stories. “Sandra did a great job of ensuring that our history was and our activities were documented properly,” he said.
The council convened for an executive session. No action was taken afterward.