It’s a busy night for residents who want to keep tabs on important issues in the Denali Borough.
The Denali Borough Assembly meets at 6 tonight at the McKinley Community Center. A public comment meeting on the Alaska Liquified Natural Gas Pipeline is also scheduled from 5-8 p.m. at the Tri-Valley Community Center.
Thursday is the deadline for filing as a candidate for either the Denali Borough Assembly or the Denali Borough School Board.
As of Tuesday, only two candidates have filed: Tallon Shreeve is seeking reelection to the assembly and Lisa Miner is seeking a first-ever term on the assembly. A third seat is also open.
There are three seats open on the school board, and so far, Michelle Nelson, of Anderson, has filed to retain her seat. Two other seats remain open.
If no candidates file by the deadline, write-in candidates may end up winning the seats.
When the Denali Borough Assembly convenes tonight at the McKinley Community Center, the first topic on the agenda is the proposed 5% tax on alcohol and marijuana or the alternate ordinance, which increases the bed tax by 1%.
The assembly scheduled a work session and then a public hearing on these two ordinances. If either ordinance is passed, it will be put on the November ballot for voter consideration.
The intent of the proposed ordinances is to prepare for the future as revenues from the state decline, according to Denali Mayor Clay Walker. He noted in his report to the assembly that due to vetoes by the governor, the Denali Borough can expect a one-third reduction in state funding the next fiscal year. That translates to a loss of $110,000.
About 10 people, including the Denali Chamber of Commerce, have testified or written to make their opposition to the tax proposals official. A new nonprofit, the Denali Local Retailers Inc., also formed to oppose the proposed tax on alcohol and marijuana.
This group sent flyers to every post office box in the borough.
Denali Borough assembly member Joe Chatfield has introduced an ordinance regulating adult entertainment. There are currently no adult entertainment venues in the Denali Borough, so this is viewed as primarily a preventive measure. There is no zoning and no business license requirement in the Denali Borough.
The Interior Community Health Clinic in Healy is undergoing some changes. The current nurse practitioner is relocating and efforts are underway to find a health care replacement. Meanwhile, new Tele-Medicine technology will be available to help patients until a new health care provider is hired.
Tele-Medicine allows diagnosis and treatment of patients via telecommunications technology. It doesn’t replace a person, according to director Cheryl Kilgore. It is meant to supplement local health care.
According to the mayor’s report to the assembly this week, the Healy Clinic hopes to begin offering oral health services in the coming year. Kilgore confirmed that the organization has applied for funds to provide preventive dental services one day a month. If the funds are allotted, Healy may soon host visiting dental hygienists.
“We should know in the next couple weeks,” Kilgore said.
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission members and representatives of other agencies will be present at the Healy meeting Wednesday night on the Alaska Liquified Natural Gas pipeline, to describe the environmental review process and to answer questions about the project. The draft environmental impact statement on the LNG project was released in June 2019.
The project would bring pressurized gas from the North Slope to tidewater, primarily for export. The route is currently along the Parks Highway corridor.
Comments can be made at the meeting or in writing by Oct. 3.
See the draft environmental impact statement at bit.ly/2lG6VD3.
Public comment meetings will also be held 5-8 p.m. Thursday at the Morris Thompson Center in Fairbanks and 5-8 p.m. Thursday at the Dena’ina Center in Anchorage.