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July 3, 2020
Summer is in full swing and so far the weather has provided plenty of sunshine and opportunities for everyone to enjoy the outdoors. Outdoor activities such as camping, fishing and hiking with family and friends is a great way to social distance and hopefully slow the spread of COVID-19.
This weekend we celebrate Independence Day and although many of the traditional festivities throughout the city and state have been cancelled due to COVID-19, I hope you, your family and neighbors are able to enjoy each other and celebrate in your own special way.
As always, I'm honored to serve and represent Senate District M. Please email me (mailto:[email protected]) , call my office at 907-269-0222, or visit us anytime to share you thoughts and concerns.
My wife, Marta and I joined some very special Gold Star friends and climbed Gold Star Peak, located on Mount POW-MIA, near Eklutna Lake. The peak was named in honor of those "Gold Star" families who have lost family members in combat. It is important to remember the cost of our freedoms, especially on Independence Day. I hope you find meaningful ways to enjoy the 4th as well, and be safe.
Eligibility Changes to AK CARES Act Funding
On June 17, 2020, Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development (DCCED) Commissioner Anderson announced that businesses that received $5,000 or less in PPP or EIDL funding and 501(c)(6) organizations will become eligible for CARES Act funding. Last month I reported that the DCCED was working to resolve this eligibility issue and allow those businesses that received federal Payroll Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) funds to be eligible for the CARES Act funds as well, however the changes made required businesses return those funds in excess of $5,000 to either return those funds or continue to be excluded from the CARES Act grants.
In addition, many commercial fishing businesses have permits instead of a business license, thus making them ineligible to receive CARES Act grants through DCCED. DCCED is working to allow the use of a permit in lieu of a business license and to apply for funding during the second tranche of funding.
The applications for CARES Act grants are available on the DCCED ([link removed]) , AIDEA ([link removed]) , and Credit Union 1
([link removed]) websites.
For additional information DCCED has provided an informational sheet, application package checklist and program frequently asked questions FAQs ([link removed]) . Many details are still being worked out and websites will be updated as details become available.
I will continue to provide updates as new information becomes available.
Municipality of Anchorage Offers Rent & Mortgage Help
ANCHORAGE, AK — June 15th, applications opened for the Municipality of Anchorage’s $1 million COVID-19 Rent and Mortgage Assistance Pilot Program ([link removed]) , which will provide rent and mortgage support for individuals economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Municipality is partnering with United Way of Anchorage’s 2-1-1 ([link removed]) to process and distribute the funds.
“Many Anchorage families are paying the price for the public health response to COVID. This program bridges this tough time,” said Mayor Berkowitz.
Anchorage residents are eligible to apply for assistance if they suffered a loss of income due to COVID-19. Applicants who were unemployed prior to March 12 or who lost employment for reasons other than COVID-19 are not eligible.
The financial assistance will go to residents who have insufficient funds to pay rent beginning in April. The maximum financial assistance is $1,000 per household per month for two months for a total maximum assistance of $2,000 per household.
“Promoting housing stability and preventing homelessness is critical for families and our community’s well-being, especially in these particularly difficult times,” said Michele Brown, President & CEO of United Way of Anchorage. “We commend the city for quickly addressing this widespread need for those left vulnerable by the economic fallout from the pandemic.”
To apply, residents need to call 2-1-1 and answer a series of screening questions. Interpreters are available at 2-1-1 to provide translation services over the phone. All screened applicants will be contacted to set up an appointment. Applicants will need to bring a photo ID, a rental/lease agreement or mortgage statement, and a copy of their most recent pay stub or self-employment identification. Rental or mortgage assistance will be made out directly to landlords or mortgage companies, not to renters or borrowers.
The application period will remain open until funds are exhausted or September 30, 2020, whichever comes first.
Honoring Verdie Bowen
It was my honor to recognize Verdie Bowen, Director of the Office of Veterans Affairs with a legislative citation for his outstanding work on behalf of the veterans in the State of Alaska. Verdie is a tireless advocate for our veterans and most notably increased the number of veterans served from 10,000 to over 63,000. He ensures that all veterans and families understand and obtain the benefits and recognition they deserve, and helps veterans apply for those benefits. On behalf of the Thirty-First Alaska State Legislature - THANK YOU!
Farewell to Alaska VA Director Dr. Ballard
I had an opportunity to thank Dr. Ballard and wish him fond farewell as he begins his new adventure in Idaho. During Dr. Ballard's tenure in Alaska he significantly increased staffing levels and "Alaskanized" the Veterans Choice Program. Under his leadership the Alaska VA was awarded the "most improved veteran experience" facility. Thank you Dr. Ballard for your service and amazing accomplishments you made to the Alaska VA system. Godspeed and all the best to you and your family.
AKCARES Act Fisheries Assistance Update
The Department of Fish and Game recently updated the CARES Act guidance document ([link removed]) to provide clarification to residency requirements, eligibility and fund forgiveness, and the application process. The CARES Act has allocated $50 million of the $300 million to Alaska fisheries participants and will be distributed through the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission based on the guidelines provided by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
New Economic Injury Disaster Loans Through SBA
On June 15, SBA will began accepting new Economic Injury Disaster Loan ([link removed]) (EIDL) and EIDL Advance applications from qualified small businesses and U.S. agricultural businesses.
Small business owners and qualified agricultural businesses in all U.S. states and territories are currently eligible to apply for a low-interest loan due to Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Agricultural businesses are now eligible as a result of the latest round of funds appropriated by Congress in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
* Agricultural businesses includes those businesses engaged in the production of food and fiber, ranching, and raising of livestock, aquaculture, and all other farming and agricultural related industries (as defined by section 18(b) of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 647(b)).
* SBA is encouraging all eligible agricultural businesses with 500 or fewer employees wishing to apply to begin preparing their business financial information needed for their application.
For local assistance with the Small Business Administration (SBA) - click on the picture below to contact the Alaska District SBA Office.
Make Sure Your Counted
The 2020 U.S. Census is underway and currently only 47.9% of Alaskans have taken the census ([link removed]) . Every 10 years, as mandated by the Constitution the nation counts the population to determine the number of seats each state will have in the U.S House of Representatives and to determine how federal funds will be distributed to each state. To complete the census ([link removed]) and make sure you are counted click on the picture below.
Seward Highway "Windy Corner" Virtual Public Hearing
Many of us travel south on the Seward Highway to camp, fish and enjoy the beauty of the Kenai Peninsula - the Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities is working to improve a dangerous stretch of road known as the Windy Corner. Please take time to attend the virtual open forum and add your voice to help make this project a success.
Notice of Availability of Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) and Draft Programmatic Section 4(f) Evaluation & Notice of Virtual Open Forum Public Hearing
The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF) invites you to a public hearing (virtual format with website, social media, and telephonic access as well as in-person access) to review and make comments on the Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) and the Draft Programmatic Section 4(f) Evaluation relating to proposed safety improvements to Seward Highway between Mileposts (MP) 105 and 107, known as Windy Corner. This is a rescheduled event. In-person hearings originally planned for late March 2020 in Anchorage and Girdwood were cancelled due to COVID-19 related public health mandates.
The public hearing is for the purpose of considering the economic, social, and environmental effects of the project and the project's consistency with the goals and objectives of community planning that has been carried out.
All documents are available at www.windycorner.info ([link removed]) . Hard copies of the Draft EA, including Appendix G, Public and Agency Comments, are
available for review at DOT&PF Central Region Office located at 4111 Aviation Avenue in Anchorage, AK
MFaQ&c=Q8iJasR7RZ-J0Fd9RXD9ZA&r=6exeKoV6M07Df6aaCcVBlxuDMXW2ZZg5klFADDmlHL8&m=T0TvSQS2gRvshsUj7okkiBPPREpvV1yXrQcTpsNw9K0&s=ViZhripohhRF6dgZ542aQGoGX9S4FA2JGgA1vZxjYyI&e=) and at the DOT&PF Statewide Office located at 3132 Channel Drive in Juneau, AK
DwMFaQ&c=Q8iJasR7RZ-J0Fd9RXD9ZA&r=6exeKoV6M07Df6aaCcVBlxuDMXW2ZZg5klFADDmlHL8&m=T0TvSQS2gRvshsUj7okkiBPPREpvV1yXrQcTpsNw9K0&s=jwV1nl_fwJHDcF2YjXN4za0R3xlfhZyFCV30vy47uH4&e=) or upon request at [email protected] (mailto:[email protected]) . The Draft EA will be available at the ZJ Loussac Library in Anchorage and the Gerrish Branch Library in Girdwood when the libraries are reopened for in-person visits as they currently closed for in-person visits by order of the Library Director due to COVID-19 related public health concerns.
The Draft EA Preferred Alternative consists of improving the Seward Highway from MP 105 to MP 107. The purpose of the project is to implement safety upgrades to reduce high severity crashes and improve traffic operations to alleviate traffic congestion. DOT&PF has considered six build alternatives plus one no-build alternative. The proposed highway includes two 12-foot lanes in each direction separated by a median and paved shoulders. The Alaska Railroad Corporation tracks will be realigned to make space for the highway improvements. The modifications require right-of-way (ROW) in the form of a land exchange including the conversion of 26.3 acres of intertidal mudflats within Chugach State Park to transportation use and DOT&PF relinquishing 14.7 acres of land within the existing transportation ROW to DNR for park use. The Preferred Alternative proposes to extract approximately 2 million cubic yards of aggregate, riprap, and armor stone from material locations within Chugach State Park near
MP 109 and MP 104 (if needed) for construction of the improvements at Windy Corner. New recreational facilities and parking areas will be constructed near MP 106.5.
When a federally assisted transportation improvement project on existing or new alignment will use a Section 4(f) property a Section 4(f) evaluation is needed. For this project, a net benefit programmatic Section 4(f) evaluation was conducted and the preliminary view of DOT&PF and the official with jurisdiction (Department of Natural Resources Commissioner) over the Section 4(f) property is included in Appendix E of the Draft EA. A final action on the land exchange is expected in Fall 2020 with construction to follow in 2021.
Date: Thursday, July 30, 2020, beginning at 5 p.m.
Project Question and Answer
Review Options for Submitting Comments
Adjourn Public Hearing
More detailed information about how to participate online, via teleconference, or in person will be available on the project website by July 14, 2020: www.windycorner.info
([link removed]) .
How to Comment:
The comment period began on March 6, 2020 and ends at midnight Alaska Standard Time on August 14, 2020.
Comments may be submitted:
* By mail: Brian Elliott, Environmental Manager, DOT&PF Preliminary Design & Environmental; PO Box 196900, Anchorage, AK 99519-6900
* By email: [email protected] (mailto:[email protected]) (Please include "Seward Highway MP 105-107 Draft EA Comment" in the subject line)
* By telephone voicemail: 907-865-1378
All public comments received will be recorded, transcribed, become part of the public record, and may be subject to Freedom of Information Act requests.
Our mailing address is:
Session: State Capitol, Room 125, Juneau, AK 99801
Interim: 1500 West Benson, Room 410, Anchorage, AK 99503
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