Council approves mayor’s slate of public safety commissioners
Nome’s new Public Safety Commission, an advisory panel to the Council, reached a milestone Monday night after a year of planning.
Mayor Richard Beneville submitted a list of commission appointments to the Nome Common Council for their approval. The length of the appointments are staggered to avoid all seats expiring at the same time. The Council, without comment, approved the following list: Lisa Ellanna, (John) Justin Noffsker, Ivory Okleasik—three year terms; Janna Hoggan, Andy Miller Jr., Tracy McGarry—two year terms; and for one-year terms, Carol Piscoya, Irvin Barnes and Maureen Koezuna.
“While the application, solicitation, background check requirement and selection process did take some time, this body will serve a valuable function in our community, and it was important to be deliberative and inclusive in determining the composition,” Beneville’s memo to the Council said at the bottom of the page.
The idea of a commission, which ostensibly would be an advisory group on public safety issues, but in reality would focus on Nome Police Dept. procedures and policies, came up last summer with complaints from the public that the department was not responding to Alaska Native victim reports of domestic violence and sex crimes.
The commission would be meeting soon, to get underway, according to John K. Handeland, interim city manager.
In other news, the efforts made by the City to purchase “Block 20 of the Airport” from the Alaska Dept. of Transportation and Public Facilities for at least 15 years when the land became available at last. The Council at its regular meeting Sept. 9 unanimously adopted an ordinance allowing Nome Joint Utility System to pay $200,000 from its FY-2019 budget for the 2.12 acres adjacent to Port Road. NJUS has plans for the future construction of utility maintenance response equipment storage and a new office facility.
With election season coming up, the Council unanimously passed a resolution naming the following citizens as qualified electors: Jill Nederhood, chairwoman and judge; James Ferguson, inspector and judge; Carol Gales, judge; and Debbie Scott, James Dory and Erin Lillie, clerks.
The Council in the action set the pay for the election personnel at $11 per hour for judges and $10.50 per hour for clerks. This rate is one dollar higher than the State of Alaska’s rate of pay.
City and utility staff participated in mandatory training this week on sexual harassment and building a civilized work place, with training spread over several sessions to allow all employees to participate.
The city manager’s report contained the newsy item that with Chief Robert Estes’ agreement, Handeland has appointed Mike Hintzelman as deputy chief of police.
Handeland announced that the City has identified over 40 vehicles, boats, trailers and other “treasures “in the public right of way. While snow is not expected for some time, the City is encouraging owners of the treasures to move them voluntarily onto their property to facilitate crews’ efficient snow removal when the snow hits the fan.
Building inspector David Barron has completed reports nominating structures for abatement proceedings. The Council was to receive the packet later in the week in preparation for a work session to review the information to get the wrecking ball rolling, following procedural notifications and public hearings.
Austin Ahmasuk took the podium during public comment period to ask that the City and NJUS conduct what he said was a simple test for PFAS, a suite of repellents, in Nome’s water supply, especially considering Nome’s military history.
“As a citizen, I am interested in whether our water is free of these contaminants,” he told the Council. Handeland, who is also manager at NJUS, said he would look into the issue.
At a work session preceding the meeting, Lance Johnson, director of Behavioral Health Services at NSHC, presented findings of a study coordinated by the Nome Community Re-entry Coalition. The community assessment used surveys and focus groups to gain an understanding of the current resources, barriers, and needs related to community re-entry for previously incarcerated individuals.
Responses to the surveys showed, in brief, that housing and jobs and vocational training are important in preventing repeat offenses.