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Politics

Bethel City Council passes annual budget, transfers land to ONC, and looks to hire water treatment plant workers

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City of Bethel
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The Bethel City Council met on June 14 for a regularly scheduled meeting. Here are some highlights.

Annual budget

The Bethel City Council passed a budget for the next fiscal year. The General Budget and Operating Budget total $12,573,924.00 and passed unanimously.

Water treatment plant workers needed

The council unanimously approved $38,400 to hire a contractor to help run the city’s water treatment plants.

Bethel City Manager Pete Williams said that the city’s inability to hire plant workers has created a public health emergency. The city has two water treatment plants and two worker positions per plant. Currently there is only one worker per plant, and one of them is leaving this month. That leaves three water treatment plant positions for the city to fill. Williams encouraged people to apply.

“These are good paying jobs. They’re paying up to $50 an hour in some places. So if anyone out there wants to get into being a water plant operator, let us know and we’ll set you up with the trainings,” he said.

Land Transfer to ONC

The council transferred over two acres of land to the Orutsararmiut Native Council (ONC). The land houses the ONC Multipurpose Building next to Pinky’s Park. ONC had leased the land from the city for 35 years, and the city is transferring it to the tribe at no cost.

“The [Bethel] City Council appreciates and respects our partnership with ONC, and recognizes organizational collaboration between the entities is essential to the viability of our hosted public programs,” the land transfer ordinance states.

Mayor Mark Springer said after the meeting that the transfer gives the land back to the Tribe.

Four-wheeler drivers on Chief Eddie Hoffman Highway

Council member Rose “Sugar” Henderson expressed concern about four-wheeler drivers not following the city’s new laws required to ride on Chief Eddie Hoffman Highway. The law prohibits people riding on cargo racks and requires wearing a helmet, among other rules.

“I haven’t yet seen one helmet,” Henderson said.

Williams said that he talked with the Bethel Police Department about pulling drivers over to issue warnings to educate drivers about the new law.

“Big one is to the parents who are allowing the younger ones [to ride on the back], and maybe making a phone call to the parent if time allows and all that,” he said.

Acting Police Chief Jesse Poole said that the Bethel Police Department will hold a public event in August to hold safety checks with four-wheeler drivers.

Fourth of July

After being canceled for the past two years due to COVID-19, the city’s annual Fourth of July celebration is returning to Pinky’s Park this year. Vendors who want to purchase a booth can call the Bethel Public Works Department at 907-543-3110.

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