Many people are understandably concerned about the spread of the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. As the COVID-19 outbreak evolves, the health and safety of BSNC shareholders, employees and the communities in which we live and work remain BSNC’s top priority. While BSNC is not currently experiencing any significant disruption to its business operations, we are prepared with resources to continue providing optimal and uninterrupted service to our customers and shareholders.
On Friday, March 20, BSNC’s Board of Directors held a special Board meeting to discuss potential COVID-19 restrictions being considered by both federal and state governments, and potential impacts to our Region, shareholders and employees if restrictions are imposed. The Board voted to declare a special dividend of $3.00 per share, and a special Elder distribution of $250.00 to each original shareholder who was 65 years of age or older on March 20, 2020, the date of record. Both the dividend and Elder distribution will be paid through the BSNC Beringia Settlement Trust, and therefore are not taxable for federal income tax purposes. In providing for these special distributions, we want to do what we can to help our shareholders and Elders deal with potential financial hardships caused the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many companies, schools, governments, organizations and cities have acted swiftly to postpone or cancel events to safeguard against the transmission of COVID-19. Many of you may know that BSNC postponed its Shareholder Informational Meeting that was scheduled to take place in Tulalip, Washington on Saturday, March 28. I care deeply about protecting the health and safety of BSNC shareholders, employees and the public. When I made the decision to postpone this informational meeting, I also thought of the healthcare providers at the frontlines battling this pandemic.
Our challenge is to ensure that we keep our shareholders and descendants informed about BSNC, and our activities, but also ensure that transmission of COVID-19 does not occur in our Region because of Board and staff travel. BSNC has not yet selected a new date for a rescheduled informational meeting. As we explore options for a new date, priority will be the health and safety of our shareholders, Board and staff.
I understand and empathize with many of our shareholders’ concerns and fears about COVID-19. The historical memory of the 1918 flu pandemic and the catastrophic effects it had on the population, culture and families of our Region has not been forgotten.
We Alaska Native people have thrived in remarkably difficult conditions for thousands of years. We are resilient. We adapt to changes and yet remain steadfast in our tradition of looking out for each other. I pray that you and your loved ones remain safe and healthy during this pandemic and I am confident that by working together we will get through this public health crisis.
BSNC will continue to closely monitor guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health agencies regarding this pandemic, and will update our shareholders through regular communication channels, including the Agluktuk newsletter, our social media outlets and on BSNC’s COVID-19 public resource webpage located at www.beringstraits.com/covid-19-update/. We are happy to answer any questions you may have via email at email@example.com.
We pray that you and your loved ones remain safe and healthy.
Gail R. Schubert
BSNC President & CEO