Bethel A to Z

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revised 8/1/2020

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Airlines

Alaska Air is the only carrier that connects Bethel with the rest of the world. Currently, there is only one flight from Bethel to Anchorage every day.

Grant Aviation flies to the remote villages of the YK Delta.

Both airlines offer frequent flyer programs. See https://www.alaskaair.com/ and https://www.flygrant.com/

There are small charters that will fly you for sightseeing tours or to drop you off at a remote location for a hunting, fishing, or camping trip. https://www.renfrosalaskanadventures.com/ and https://www.pbadventures.com/

Alaska Court System

If you register to vote in Bethel, your name will go into the pool of candidates for jury duty. The courthouse is located next to the city building. For more information: http://courts.alaska.gov/courtdir/4be.htm

Alcohol

Bethel is a damp community. You can have alcohol here, but there is no liquor store. You can mail order alcohol from stores in Anchorage, but there is a limit on the quantity. There is one restaurant that serves beer and wine.

Most of the surrounding villages are dry. Alcohol in any form is illegal, but there are people who consume it. A few villages are damp, and a few are wet—they have liquor stores.

Amazon Prime

An inexpensive and easy way to get specialty items and supplies to Bethel. Packages do not arrive in two days, but will ship for free. You may not be able to have large or bulky item shipped, and you may have to finagle your shipping address (see Shipping below).

Banks

There are three banks in Bethel:

  • Alaska USA Federal Credit Union: 543-2619
  • First National Bank: 543-2601
  • Wells Fargo Bank: 543-3875

Do not forget to get an ATM card. The bank will have the necessary forms for you to complete. We have ATM machines at the AC store, the movie theatre, Swanson’s grocery store. The ATM’s may charge a $2-3 fee for non-sponsoring Bank users. In addition, there is an ATM at the Anchorage airport, which comes in handy for those last minute cash advances needed before vacations.

You can request YKHC Payroll directly deposit your paycheck into your local bank account. This is convenient and highly recommended.

Barge Services

During the summer months in Bethel (June-September) there are barges that come up the Kuskokwim to deliver goods from Seattle and Anchorage to Bethel. Many organized Bethel residents order food and other goods from Northland Barge Company and have them shipped up here during the summer months. You can also order building materials, cars, boats and anything else you can pay for and save a lot of money on both the original cost of the item as well as the shipping costs.

Northland Services: 1-800-426-3113

Berry Picking

A favorite summer activity. The tundra is a bounty of berries: blueberries, blackberries, salmonberries, and cranberries. Rarely, wild raspberries can be found upriver. Ask around for clues to good spots or explore on your own.

Bethel Actors Guild

Are you really a closet actor/actress? Does the smell of grease paint excite you? All personality types are needed for this group of great local talent seeking to present live performances in Bethel. BAG produces approximately four shows a year and needs behind the scene help as well as actors.

Bethel, City of

Please see https://www.cityofbethel.org/ for information about local government, businesses, and other services offered.

Bethel Council on the Arts

Be involved in bringing culture to Western Alaska. Recent events have included concerts at the Cultural Center, art auctions, and dumpster painting. For information on projects, fund-raising, and event coordination, call 543-5222.

Bingo

If these five letters make your heart pound, a Bingo game can be found almost every night here in Bethel (VFW, etc.). It would be worth attending an evening with a local for the benefit of seeing how a significant number of our patients spend their evenings. Maybe you will even win some money to buy a toy such as a boat or a snow machine!

Boating

It is a lot of fun to have a boat in Bethel in the summertime for picnics during the late summer evenings on a nearby sandbar or the bluffs upriver. You can visit Jung’s Store in Napakiak to check out the sales and native crafts, or take a camping trip up the Gweek or the Kwethluk River.

Boats, motors, and trailers are expensive new, but can be affordable if bought used...especially if you go in on buying a boat with someone else. Look for ads hanging up in AC or the Cultural Center, or “Bethel Bargains” on Facebook. Ask around to see if anyone wants a “partner” or has a boat for sale. Advice on what kind of boat and motor to get is free and easily obtained. In addition, you can probably get as many different opinions on this subject as you like.

New boats can be purchased at Back Creek Marine or the Prop Shop. You can also buy a boat from a dealer outside of Bethel and have it shipped on the barge.

Bethel has a “small boat harbor” with floating docks and you can rent a slip for your boat. Call the Bethel Port Commissioner at 543-2310 for more information. You can also keep the boat at your house and launch it from a boat trailer at the two ramps in the small boat harbor. A final option is to anchor the boat on the shore of the small boat harbor, just watch the tides and keep it bailed out! However you use the small boat harbor there is an annual usage fee of around $20 per boat paid to the Bethel Port. They give you a decal to stick on your boat. Registering your boat with the Coast Guard is not required, but not a bad idea if the boat is stolen or you are late returning or in need of rescue.

Life preservers (technical name is Personal Floatation Device or PFD) are necessary. The local stores will sell them, but YKHC Injury Prevention has them available at cost and can provide instruction on fit and use. PFDs are required for all boat passengers and children must be wearing them at all times. It is a good idea, to have your children wear their PFD anytime they are near or in the water.

Boyscouts

There is a Boy Scout troop in Bethel. Ask around for contact information.

Camai Dance Festival

The Camai Dance Festival is held every March to celebrate traditional Yup’ik dancing and to welcome dancers from other cultures. Contact person is Linda Curda 543-5222.

Cell Services/Phones

GCI is an Alaskan company that provides service to the bush. The service is not as fast as what you get in the lower 48, but it works. There is a GCI store located in the AC building, and it is open Monday through Saturday. Verizon works in Bethel, but there is no Verizon store. Verizon does not work in the villages, so if you are planning trips to the villages you will want to check into GCI’s service. People with AT&T can also get their phones to work in Bethel. If you have cell service with a company other than the three noted, your phone will not work.

Chamber of Commerce

543-2911 or http://www.chamberofbethel.org/

Churches

There are many different denominations represented in Bethel: Russian Orthodox, Baptist, Catholic, Lutheran, Evangelical, and Latter Day Saints to name a few.

Civil Air Patrol

If you are a pilot, this is a great way to build up your “hours” inexpensively and to make contact with other pilots in town. CAP owns and operates two planes including a deHavilland Beaver, the ultimate Bush plane. Even though you may not fly, have you considered being an observer or ground support in this vital service of search and rescue? If interested call 543-2359.

COVID-19

Like the rest of the country and world, the coronavirus has affected life in Bethel. Some businesses have closed, and some only take phone orders. You will need to wear face coverings to enter the grocery stores. Travel to some villages has been restricted. Free COVID-19 testing is offered at the airport for anyone arriving in Bethel. Many indoor community events are on hold.

Coffee

Alba’s Coffee Shop is open 24 hours a day and is located in the green Subway building across from the AC store. There is also a drive through Coffee Express in the Arctic Chiropractic parking lot. The Office of Environmental Health operates the Injury Prevention Store on the first floor of CHSB, which serves coffee as well as selling PFDs and winter gear.

Community College

see Kuskokwim University Campus

Crafts

(Native Crafts)

People sell their Native crafts at Saturday Market. Many different crafts (earrings, fur hats and mittens, mukluks, ivory carvings, ulus) are made and sold.

Crafts are also sold at the Moravian Bookstore and at Lucy’s Cache (upper floor of Yuut Air).

Another way to find crafts is during a village trip. Village stores may carry a small selection and there may be crafts for sale by individuals. Ask the Health Aides if you have an interest in a particular craft.

Dancing

Weekend dances are advertised at local facilities. Fiddle dances are popular and usually held at the National Guard Armory. The Phillip Alcohol Treatment Center often sponsors sober dances with DJ’s playing dance tunes. The Youth Center occasionally holds dances for teens as well.

Daycare

AVCP (Association of Village Council Presidents) offers Head Start https://www.avcp.org/services/head-start/ or call 543-3188.

You can also find someone by posting on Facebook. There is no licensed day care facility in Bethel.

Delta Illusions

This is the dance team in Bethel, open to both boys and girls. Please contact Pam Conrad for membership, times, cost. They usually bring in several high quality teachers throughout the year for classes.

Dental

The YKDRH Dental Clinic is available to hospital employees and their families and community members. If there is a long wait for appointment, you can walk in at 8 am on weekdays if you have an emergency.

The Bethel Family Dental Clinic is located on 3rd Avenue. They take the Maritain Dental insurance that is offered by YKHC.

Ducks Unlimited

A yearly banquet and auction held in April to support stewardship of waterfowl. It is the main dress up event of the Bethel Cultural Scene. The perfect place for a Tux and Bunny Boots! A welcomed break during the waning winter months.

Electricity

--see Utilities

Employment Service

The State of Alaska Job Service is located in the BNC Complex, first floor.

Facebook

Facebook is one of the main forms of communication in Bethel. You will read all about the local gossip, as well as where the garage sales are. People sell a variety of things on the Bethel Bargains page. You can also find information on your child’s school activities and where to catch the best fish. YKHC has a Facebook page.

Consider becoming a member of 'Bethel Bargains', 'It’s Going on in Bethel', 'Bethel 911 Alerts', 'Bethel with Kids', and 'Bethel, AK Housing Wanted'.

Fish

Of course, Salmon is the fish everyone talks about in Bethel. There are five different kinds that “run” up the Kuskokwim, starting in June. First Kings (Chinook), then Reds (Sockeye) in late June and early July, followed Coho (Silver) in August. The Chum (Dogfish) will run with all the other salmon species.

In the even years, there is a small run of Pink or Humpy Salmon, but in numbers hardly worth mentioning. You can also catch whitefish, blackfish, and pike.

Anyone can subsistence fish with a gill net if you have lived in Bethel for at least a year, but if you are going to rod and reel in Alaska, you need to purchase a recreational fishing license. These can be purchased online at https://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=license.main.

There are many different ways of preparing and eating fish. The UAF campus offers classes on canning fish.

Fly and Reel Fishing

Go world-class fly and reel fishing within a two to three hour boat ride up the Kwethluk, Kasigluk, or Kisaralik rivers. You can fly to Quinhagak for the day and fish the world famous Kanektok. You can catch fish from the runway or pay someone to take you upriver by boat. Please be respectful of the locals desire to keep human waste out of their river and drinking water supply.

Fire Department/EMS

Bethel does have a fire department and EMS, and you can call 911 in an emergency. If you are interested in volunteering, you can call or stop by the fire department.

Freight

You can ship and receive large items using freight airlines. Alaska Air, Everett’s, Northern Air Cargo (NAC), and Ryan Air can ship your items. If purchasing something in Anchorage, the store may deliver the item to the freight company, or you may have to find a way to get it there. Certain items like gunpowder or CO2 need to be shipped Hazmat.

Each company will give you a quote if you have the weight and the dimensions of your item. It is recommended to shop around because not all freight costs the same.

Fun Run / Walk / Ski / Bike

There are many miles to walk, run, or bike in Bethel, but there are no dedicated trails. The boardwalk though Pinky’s Park in City-Sub is the closest you will get to a dedicated trail. You can walk miles in the tundra. There is a Bethel half-marathon each summer around the solstice. Look at the community boards in AC and Cultural Center for events.

Gardening

Yes! There is gardening in Bethel. Many people are able to grow successful vegetable and flower gardens around town. Soil amendment is a big plus and picking cool weather crops that have relatively short growing seasons is another plus. There is a Community Garden where space is available near the Youth Center in City-Sub. Meyer Farm sells vegetable boxes throughout the year—check Facebook for what is available.

Gas

All prices are about the same… expensive. Gasoline is sold at: “Tank Farm” (a man less gas station on Standard Oil Road that takes only credit or debit cards), Delta Western on 3rd Avenue, QFC 2 (7-11 type store near Blueberry Subdivision), and North Star Gas (towards Brown Slough)

Girl Scouts

There is a Girl Scout troop in Bethel. Ask around for contact information.

Hangar Lake

A nice place for Sunday walks and watching the floatplanes take off and land. Veer left over Brown Slough Bridge and keep going to the end of the road.

Hunting/Sport Fishing

For more information on Alaska state regulations, call the Department of Fish and Game 543-2979 or stop by their office on Main Street. Their website will provide information on regulations. https://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=home.main

Ice

Ice is one of the negative things about winter in Bethel. The roads and parking lots can be very slick, and many people have fallen and broken bones. Consider purchasing ice cleats for your shoes/boots or boots with cleats built in. Businesses frown on wearing cleats inside, so a removable pair is more practical. YKHC sells these for $2 to try and keep people safe.

Ice Classic

The Kuskokwim Ice Classic give you the opportunity to try to guess when the Kuskokwim River ice will “break up”. The movement of a wooden tripod traveling 100 feet downriver, which trips a clock, determines the official break up. This typically happens in late May and is celebrated with live music and free hot dogs down at the seawall. The winnings are generous, usually around $12,000.

Ice Fishing

A winter sport! Be sure to listen to KYUK, call the State Troopers or D.O.T. to check ice thickness for safety. Popular locations are down river at the mouth of the Johnson River or up river to the mouth of the Gweek.

Ice Highway

During the winter, the river is like a giant highway for travelers with dog sleds, snowmobiles, cars, trucks, and even taxicabs. Certain areas are plowed by the Alaska Department of Transportation to maintain a road. Sometimes the road stretches all the way to Aniak, over a hundred miles upriver. Please be aware that you will be traveling on a river, which is affected by the tide, and can have areas of open water. Always ask if the river is safe before venturing out.

“Just Desserts”

A local talent show, where many desserts are sold to raise money for community cultural events. Come and be amazed at the talent hiding in your neighborhood!

Knitting

Knitting is a favorite pastime in Bethel. Lisa’s Party Store on East Avenue, Swanson’s, and AC sell yarn.

Kuskokwim University Campus (KuC)

Work on college courses and expand your horizons and education. Courses are offered during the fall and spring semesters and they sponsor short community oriented workshops. Look for announcement throughout the year or online at https://www.uaf.edu/bethel/. If you have a class you would like to offer, you can also contact the campus office. Be on the lookout for special classes on how to make a qasqeq (traditional Yup’ik dress/shirt), fur mittens, hats, etc.

Kuskokwim 300 Sled Dog Race

The K300 is the premier middle distance sled dog race, and it usually takes place the 3rd Friday in January. There is the 300-mile race, as well as the Bogus Creek 150, and the Akiak Dash. Many volunteers are needed to help set up, work at headquarters, host mushers, and provide transportation. It is a great opportunity to be involved in the community and they sell nice swag.

Contact person – Race Manager at 543-3300 or https://www.k300.org/

KYKD (100 FM)

A Christian station, KYKD is a Christ ministries organization located out of Nenana, Alaska. Volunteers needed. Contact 543-KYKD.

KYUK (640AM)

KYUK is the oldest Native-owned media organization in the United States and the only station providing daily news in an indigenous language. It is the source of NPR News and All Things Considered and Alaska Public radio News. The website is a good place to read the local news (https://www.kyuk.org/).

Have you ever wanted to be a DJ on a PBS station? Well now’s your lucky chance! Volunteers are always needed in many areas from country/western to top 40. Call 543-3131 and ask for the volunteer coordinator. Always in need and deserving of monetary and volunteer support. NPR sponsored by the Medical Staff.

Library

The Kuskokwim Consortium Library is a part of the University of Alaska system, so books that are not in the library can be ordered. The kid’s selection is great. Ask about the book discussion group, children’s story hour, and friends of the Library group. Besides books, there are Videos available for two-day rental and Internet access available in 30-minute blocks free.

This is a great quiet place to sit in a sunny room and watch the ducks and muskrat on the pond. They are also part of the OVERDRIVE system that allows you to check out electronic books on your e-reader for free using your library card.

https://www.uaf.edu/bethellibrary/ or 543-4516

License (car)

Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) 543-2771. Currently open most weekdays, but call first. Service is intermittent so if you need to obtain a driver’s license, the only alternative is to go to Anchorage.

You will need proof of a physical address when applying for your Alaska driver’s license. A rental agreement, mortgage statement, or utility bill with your physical address will work. You will also have to take a written test (and pass) before you will be issued your license. There are books available so you can study.

You can also register your automobiles or boat at the DMV. By law, you need to have current license plate tags (but many people do not).

The DMV is located in City Hall. http://doa.alaska.gov/dmv/

Lions Club

A service organization, with emphasis on eye care, and youth in the community. Meetings are held the 1st and 3rd Thursday of each month. They also host a monthly food drive for those in need. Contact: 543-4300 or https://www.facebook.com/BethelAKLions

Lodging

Bethel has several hotels and some Bed and Breakfasts; check with local residents for recommendations.

Medical Services

Yukon Kuskokwim Delta Regional Hospital 543-6300

State of Alaska Public Health Nursing Bethel Health Center, a State of Alaska Facility. For Immunizations, Well Child Care, and Women’s Health Issues and Family Planning. 543-2456.

Bethel Family Clinic - The Bethel Family Clinic is located on Main Street. You can be seen for primary care or behavioral health concerns. Staffed by Nurse Practitioners or Physician Assistants. The only pharmacy in Bethel is at YKHC, so any prescriptions written by a non-YKHC provider need to be obtained via mail order.

Meeting Space

Cultural Center, local churches and non-profits usually have meeting space for rent. You can also rent space at the Lion’s Club and the Longhouse Hotel.

Movie Theatre

Bethel has a two-screen movie theatre that has several showing throughout the week. Check out their Facebook page at Suurvik Cinema at Kipsuvik for movies and show times.

Mud

There is plenty of it here, especially during spring break-up. It is composed of fine alluvial silt, which, when dry, creates a fine ubiquitous dust. Politeness dictates you remove your shoes in the Arctic entryway prior to entering anyone’s home to cut down on the amount carried into the house.

Museums

One is located in the Cultural Center, but temporarily closed. Fish and Wildlife has a nice display also.

Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)

Keep an eye out for these in the winter during the late evening or early morning. Not as common an event here as in other parts of Alaska. Best viewing is north of town out past the dump or at Hangar Lake to avoid the city lights.

Playgrounds

There are many little playgrounds tucked away around town. Some are skimpy and in disrepair and some are fancy and all have something unique to offer.

Pinky’s Park hosts softball games and other activities, Other playgrounds are at Ayalpik Apartments (Senior Citizen Housing) located in “housing” near Anica, ME School (next to high school in “housing”), across from the Kuskokwim University Campus, near small boat harbor, on Ptarmigan Road, and next to AVCP housing authority.

Preschools

There are a few preschool programs in Bethel: Involved Parent’s Preschool, Baptist Church Preschool, and Busy Bees

Parks and Recreation

Pool and Recreation center – See Yukon Kuskokwim Fitness Center.

The Teen Center is the headquarters for Bethel Parks and Rec: 543-2088 Sponsors activities for kids and adults too. Call for what is going on.

Post Office

The Bethel Post Office is the mail-processing center for the YK Delta. There is no home delivery of the mail, and because they do not deliver the mail, you do not have to pay for the rental of your box. When you apply for a box, you will need proof of a physical address in Bethel.

If you do not want to rent a box, you can have your mail and packages sent to General Delivery and will need to show you ID to pick up your mail.

You can pay to send packages next day; however, they will not arrive next day. A priority package sent out typically arrives at its destination in three to four business days. Likewise, when someone sends you a package, if send priority, will arrive in three to four business days.

Gold Streak is an option to ship mail or packages out of Bethel the same day, and is a service provided by Alaska Air. https://www.alaskacargo.com/product#goldstreak

When placing internet orders, do not rely on the delivery date provided by the company. Certain items may arrive in three days, and others take two weeks. Most online stores honor their “free shipping on purchases over $XX”, but read the small print, because not all do.

QFC # 2

Located on Chief Eddie Hoffman Highway—like a 7-Eleven with gasoline. Open until midnight. Quyana – the Yupik word for “thank you”

Real Estate

You can rent an apartment or house, or you can purchase a home in Bethel. Housing can be difficult to find, so patience and perseverance are needed. Bethel, AK Housing Wanted on Facebook is a good place to start. People will post apartments and homes for rent or sale and you can post that you are in search of (ISO) housing.

Trulia and Zillow list Bethel homes for sale. There are realtors in Bethel that can help you find a home as well. Ask around for names and numbers.

Restaurants

There are many restaurants in town (and they are smoke free!) offering Chinese, Italian, and American cuisine. Your best bet is to talk to someone who has been in Bethel for a while for recommendations. You can also visit http://www.eatbethel.com/ to see menus. Some restaurants allow for online ordering, and most deliver free.

Schools

There are two school districts in the YK Delta, the Lower Kuskokwim (which includes Bethel) and the Lower Yukon. Information can be found at https://www.lksd.org/ and https://lysd.org/

In Bethel, there are two elementary schools and one middle/high school. Mikelnguut Elitnaurvait (known as M.E.) is for kids in grades kindergarten through second grade. Gladys Jung is for third through sixth, and Bethel Regional High School is for seventh through twelfth grade.

The Bethel schools offer many activities for school kids. They have the opportunity to participate in LEGO robotics (fourth through eighth grade), archery, cross-country, wrestling, basketball, volleyball, and swimming. There is also Native Youth Olympics, in which kids participate in traditional Native Alaskan athletic contests (open to Native and non-Native!) https://creekwoodinn-alaska.com/the-outsiders-guide-to-alaskas-native-youth-olympics/

Shipping

You can send packages at the Post Office. There are no UPS or FedEx stores.

A few words on how to get packages to your house . . .

  • Patience is necessary.
  • Try to get things mailed via the US Postal Service. They will put an infamous yellow slip in your box, which you take to the counter, and then receive you package. If you have an oversized item, you will still get yellow slip, but it will have “BACK” written on it and will have to go to the loading dock in the back of the building.
  • If the shipper will not ship to the post office, use your physical address and then put your box number (4036 Tunralik, #3370). Sometimes they say they will not ship to a P.O. box, but that is where the package ends up.
  • If you purchase something that is shipped via UPS, it will be delivered to your doorstep. Bethel has a person who has a contract with UPS to deliver its packages. She is very reliable.
  • Bethel also has a person with a contract to deliver packages from FedEx. Not as reliable, but you will still get your merchandise.
  • If you judiciously monitor the tracking of your package, be aware that the internet may tell you the package has been delivered, but it is not in Bethel. Depending on the mode of delivery, some tracking states delivery when the package is in Anchorage waiting to be picked up by a third party.

Shopping

The two big stores in Bethel are “The AC” (Alaska Commercial) and Swanson’s. The selection of groceries and foods has improved over the past few years . . . you can find capers, couscous and other exotic foods if you cruise the aisles with an eagle eye. And AC even carries Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream! Watch the sales in the weekly paper and hit both on shopping days. Prices are high.

Corina’s Caselot Groceries (across the Brown Slough bridge) is Bethel’s version of a mini Costco. They purchase bulk items in Anchorage and bring them back to Bethel. If you like shopping in bulk, you can save some money here and her selection is consistent and pretty darn good. Both AC and Swanson’s also have a bulk food aisle.

Anchorage is the ultimate shopping haven when you live in Bethel, and everyone is talking about Costco. Conveniently located near the Anchorage Airport, you can hit Costco on your way back to Bethel purchasing bulk foods at great prices. Fred Meyer (Discount Giant) and Long’s Drug Store have Bush Mail Service and you can order what you want and have it sent out. In fact, many businesses in Anchorage will take over-the-phone credit orders for merchandise and mail out COD.

There is always mail/internet order.  

Snow

There is not a lot of snow in Bethel; however, there is a lot of drifting. If you need your driveway plowed, you may find someone on Facebook who does it, or you can post that you need assistance.

The snow is typically dry and wispy, not wet and packable for making snowmen or snow forts. Igloos and quinzhees have been built out of big drifts.

Snow machine/Snow Go

A snow machine is great way to get around in the winter. Like boats, snow machines can be bought used. Back Creek Marine and the Prop Shop also sell snow machines. Make sure you have warm winter clothes before going out and never go alone.

Get one and open up a new world of exploring and winter camping. Follow the K-300 dog race through its course or just use for tool errands. There is a lot of country to see!

Tax

Although Alaska has no state sales tax, the City of Bethel does. You will pay 6% on all items purchased, including food. You will also likely be charged 6% tax on your online purchases.

Taxi

It has been reported that Bethel has the most cabs per capita in the country. There are two cab companies, Kusko Cab and Alaska Cab Company. The cabs charge a flat fee for a one-way trip and they will stop along the way to pick up other passengers. When you call for a cab, you will need to know your house number and which subdivision you are in. If you tell them 5717 Necrelaq Loop, they will not know where you are. You will need to say 5717 Kasayuli. Kids under three ride free.

Utilities

Electric- AVEC: 543-2038 Oil –Top Fuel, Delta Western, Vitus

An oil-fired furnace heats most houses in Bethel and many hot water heaters are oil heated too. Set up an account with the fuel companies and have them top off your tank if it is not full when you move in. Then, set up a delivery schedule with them ...try once a month. Check up with a dipstick (broom handle) now and then to make sure they do not forget... especially important around February.

Propane -North Star Gas: 543-4277 Some ovens and dryers run on propane. If so, the tank (big, cylindrical tank standing up outside somewhere) will need to be filled periodically. If you wait until your tanks are empty, North Star Gas will fill them up at your house. If they are not completely empty and you want them filled, you have to bring over to their office for filling. The way to tell when your tank is getting low is when you start smelling propane in your house . . . and they are empty when the King Salmon fillet for your twenty guests is stone cold when you take it out of the oven.

Telephone - GCI Alaska

Water/Sewer - Utility Billing Office (City Offices) 543-3150. Unless you live in a house with large silver pipes running into an outside wall, you will have to have your water delivered to a holding tank located somewhere in your house. The sewer truck must evacuate your sewer tank, which may be buried on the property. You need to set up a schedule for water delivery and sewer evacuation when you sign up for service.

  • How much water will I need? First, find out how big your water tank is. Sizes range from 300 gallons to 1500 gallons. It may be hit or miss at first as to how much water you will use as this depends on family size, shower time, laundry and toilet flushing preferences. You start by estimating that a family of four can get by with around 100 gallons a day and using conservative techniques can get down as low as 50 gallons a day. Then, see how it goes. You can always change your delivery schedule to fit your own needs. You are charged for the delivery, not the amount you use.
  • How much water am I am using? One way to see how you are doing on water is to float a cork in your tank, attach it to a length of fishing line or string and tie a nail to the end. The cork floats in water and the nail hangs on the outside of the tank. You can watch the nail move up the tank as you use water....you can even mark with chalk on the tank how much water you should use a day so you can quickly assess your consumption.
  • The water truck knows when your tank is full when the overflow pipe starts pouring out water during filling. A major potential problem exists in the wintertime if the overflow pipe gets plugged with ice. Some overflow pipes are wrapped with heat tape and should be turned on 24 hours before you expect water delivery when it is cold out. If you do not have the heat tape, pour boiling water on the pipe if it is frozen until the ice plug comes out.
  • Sometimes the water or sewer truck may forget to come to your house. This is rare, but it has happened on occasion. Check your tank on water day to make sure you got your water.

If you smell a “sewer” type smell in your house after the sewer truck has evacuated your tank, this is probably due to the suction from the truck pulling the water out from the water traps in the sinks and toilets. The sewer gas is then able to escape from the tank back into your house. If this happens, just run the sinks for a few seconds and flush the toilets to fill the water seals again.

Garbage- There is no garbage pick-up in Bethel. You need to throw your trash into the dumpsters around town. You will pay for this privilege on the bill for your water and sewer services.

Recycling is voluntary. AVCP will pick up aluminum cans and #1 plastic bottles for recycling.

Video Rental

Video World: 543-4422. AC has a red box as well.

Volunteer

There are always a lot of great organizations or activities to be involved with. Ask around for volunteering opportunities. You never know whom you will meet or what skills you will gain.

Voter Registration

You can register to vote at KYUK, at the Legislative Office (located behind the green Subway building), at City Hall, and when you apply for an Alaska driver’s license. You can also register online. You do need to be registered to vote before Election Day.

Wood

If you plan to heat with wood, or if you have a steam bath, you will need to find a wood supply. You can use pallets or collect driftwood and dead wood by boat or snow machine (upriver a bit).

Check Facebook for wood sales. A sled load (less than a chord) of uncut, un-split wood will cost $300-$600.

Weather

Bethel has two seasons: Winter and summer. Winter is long and lasts close to 7 months and summer can be rainy with lots of mosquitoes. In the winter, the weather can be very bipolar with temperatures ranging from minus 40 degrees or colder or up to 40 degrees above zero, and this fluctuation can happen in a few days. Summer generally sees temperatures from 50 degrees to 80 degrees but most often, it stays in the 60-degree range. Be prepared—you may need a hat and down coat in the summer.

Actually, the weather is not as bad as some say. It does change quickly, so having an extra layer of warmth is never a bad idea. The summer days are very enjoyable, and even the cold winter days offer pleasure and beauty.

The sun will come up in the winter, but not until around 11:00am. It will set around 4:00pm. You will see daylight a couple of hours before actual sunrise and twilight a couple of hours after sunset.

The sun does go down in the summer, but not for long. You will see sunrises at 5:00am and sunsets at 12:30am (yes, the sun goes down on a different day that it comes up!). Black out curtains are recommended to help you sleep in the summer.

Wildlife

Bethel is located in the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service office is on the highway just past the hospital. You can call at 543-3151 or visit their website for more information. https://www.fws.gov/refuge/yukon_delta/

Surprisingly, you will not see big game roaming the tundra in Bethel. You will have to travel by boat or snow machine to see moose. Bears are spotted, but not often. There are caribou herds, but the numbers are falling, and they too, are not seen very often.

Musk ox live on Nunivak Island and Nelson Island and there have been several sightings close to Bethel. There is a lottery every year for a tag to hunt musk ox.

Please do not harass the wildlife. Give them plenty of space, it is the right thing to do, and they can be dangerous.

Many different birds nest here in the YK Delta. You will see arctic turns, jaegers, plovers, shorebirds, osprey, and swans that are migratory. Eagles and ravens are seen year-round. For more information on birds: https://www.fws.gov/refuge/yukon_delta/wildlife_and_habitat/birdlist.html

Wind

A constant fact in Bethel, usually brisk and from the North. South and East winds will bring storms with them. It will be your continuous winter companion and will help you quickly understand the importance of a fur ruff on your parka.

X

While the Athabascan alphabet does include the letter “X” the Yupik alphabet does not.

YUKON Kuskokwim Regional Aquatic Center

Bethel’s new pool and recreation center was opened in November of 2014. It has a six-lane pool with a slide and kiddie pool. The gym center has treadmills, a stair machine, elliptical machines, bikes and top of the line weight equipment. Classes such as Spinning, Zumba, Yoga, Boot camp, and Judo are offered as well as swimming lessons. Contact the YK Fitness Center for more information. 543-0390 or http://www.ykfitness.org/

Zoning

It may not seem like Bethel has any zoning, but there are a few rules. Some areas are zoned general use and are wide open for any type of enterprise, others are more strictly residential. Some subdivisions allow up to two dogs, such as Blueberry and Hoffman, others allow dog yards of 10 or more, such as City Subdivision. For more information, contact City Hall at 543-2047 or https://www.cityofbethel.org/