Bethel City Council To Vote On Pride Month Declaration, COVID-19 Emergency Mandates, And More
In their June 22 meeting, the Bethel City Council could vote to extend COVID-19 related emergency mandates by another two months. Up for extension is the declaration of emergency mandate, another mandate that requires either quarantine or testing for unvaccinated individuals traveling to Bethel, and an item that would prevent water shut offs for those who can’t afford to pay their water bill during the pandemic.
A related item on the table is a resolution that would allow the public to attend city council meetings in person. If the resolution passes as is, all attendees would be required to wear masks and keep 6 feet of distance. Unvaccinated people would be welcome, provided that they had not traveled out of Bethel within 10 days of the meeting. There are no city travel restrictions on vaccinated individuals. Bethel City Council is currently convening in the Orutsararmiut Native Council multipurpose building while city hall is under renovation, which is expected to last through the summer months. Meetings would continue to be accessible over Zoom, and KYUK will continue to broadcast them.
Also in the meeting, there will be a public hearing on an ordinance to allow all senior citizens aged 65 and up, regardless of residency, to shop in Bethel without paying city sales taxes. Currently, only Elder residents of Bethel are exempt from the city’s sales tax.
Another proposal up for public hearing, is rezoning 18 acres of Bethel Native Corporation land for the purpose of building a fuel tank farm. The planning commission has recommended that city council approve the proposal. The property in question sits amid industrial properties near the airport on Noel Polty Road.
Finally, Bethel City Council could pass its first ever Pride Month declaration. Pride Month is an annual celebration during the month of June that commemorates the official launch of the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement in 1969. If passed, the proposal would officially recognize each June as Pride Month in Bethel. The proposed declaration states, "The Bethel City Council celebrates Pride Month and urges all residents to respect and honor the diversity in our community, and to continue to build a culture of acceptance and inclusiveness, free from hate and bigotry."