Along with the Legislature passing the 2018 Capital Budget earlier this week, there came a last-minute addition of more than one and a half million dollars for the City of Nome.
According to the breakdown of projects funded by the new budget, this lump sum of money is intended to support the design of an Arctic Deep-Draft Port in Nome. Port Director Joy Baker says the City’s lobbyist in Juneau, Wendy Chamberlain, was instrumental in securing the funds.
“An opportunity just surfaced to have $1.6 million added to a funding vehicle that was moving around for the Anchorage Port, for some funding. And our lobbyist Wendy being the opportunist that she is, and the aggressive tiger that she is, latched on to that and followed it all over the building. Made sure it stayed in the document and hung with them until they were done at 2am on Sunday.”
Nome’s City Manager Tom Moran extended his gratitude to Chamberlain as well as Representative Neal Foster and Senator Donny Olson for their advocacy to get extra funds for the Port.
“It was a big win, and Richard Beneville, Wendy Chamberlain, Neal Foster, Paul, and Donny Olson, and Joy Baker all worked really hard on it, so just a tip of the hat to them for getting that money in.”
Baker says this significant monetary award could be matched by federal funds some time down the line.
“We have a second pot of $1.6 million that will be available to support the Port expansion and can be used for design match after we get the chief’s report signed, and the project on the federal side, funded by Congress.”
That $1,600,000 was not the only money given to House District 39 communities by the State Legislature.
The 2018 Capital Budget also awarded Wales $650,000 and almost $100,000 to Koyuk for water system heat recovery projects. Starting as soon as this July, the Alaska Energy Authority will take steps to use recovered heat from the communities’ power plants, saving Wales over 9,700 gallons of heating oil per year and Koyuk a projected 11,971 gallons.
Another significant monetary award designated for Western Alaska was given to Mountain Village, so the community can benefit from St. Mary’s wind energy project. According to the project details, Alaska Village Electric Cooperative (AVEC) will construct 16 miles of power lines, or an electrical inter-tie, to link St. Mary’s airport and Mountain Village’s airport. The state Legislature allocated $2 million for this project.
The community of Shishmaref will also benefit from State funding. They are receiving $152,000 to assess the feasibility of a wind facility for their community. The first step will involve AVEC, along with local residents, obtaining a site for a meteorological tower to study the wind capability in Shishmaref for one year.
As the budget passed the Legislature, the list of capital projects is final; however, Governor Bill Walker still has the ability to veto items if he chooses.
Image at top: the Port of Nome. Photo: Joy Baker, Port Director.