Bethel City Council awarded $37,199 in Community Action Grants to local organizations on March 24, but is holding off on signing the checks. Due to canceled and postponed events during the coronavirus pandemic, the city will be asking grant recipients to see if they still need the money.
Included in this quarter’s awards was $2,890 for Kuskokwim Art Guild’s After School Art Program. This was decided before the state of Alaska closed down schools until at least May 1. Kuskokwim Art Guild was awarded an additional $1,994 for summer art camp.
The Cama’i Dance Festival, which has been postponed until the fall, received $10,000. Another $9,995 went to the Native Village of Napaimute for plowing and maintaining the Kuskokwim River Ice Road. Bethel Friends of Canines received $8,820 to pay for an animal shelter worker, and $3,500 will pay for ONC’s senior and caregiver bus passes. Starting March 26, the Bethel Transit System was temporarily shut down for at least 14 days.
The Community Action Grant Program is in jeopardy for the fiscal year starting in July. The money for the program comes from alcohol sales tax, but with liquor stores closed, city council will have to find an alternative funding source when they draft the budget this spring. The city still receives alcohol sales tax from beer and wine sold at restaurants, but the dollar amounts are much lower than from the liquor store. Plus, state bans on restaurant dining have halted alcohol sales in Bethel until at least April 1.