ON THE ROAD AGAIN – One of The RIDE buses goes down Katlian Street past the city boat grid this morning. After four months of being shut down because of antivirus precautions, the public transportation service resumed operations today. All routes remain the same except the Blue Line bus route, which now turns around at Whale Park instead of the Gary Paxton Industrial Park. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

May 19, 2020, Community Happenings

Coast Guard

Offers Tips on

Safe Boating

In recognition of National Safe Boating Week, May 16-22, the U.S. Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary across Alaska are encouraging and promoting safe boating practices to protect lives on the water.

The National Safe Boating Week campaign is a public outreach effort held annually during the week leading up to Memorial Day weekend and is designed to help reduce boating fatalities and accidents by generating awareness on the waterways.

“Whether you’re an experienced boater or new, please make the effort to practice safe boating,” said Cmdr. Lyle Kessler, external affairs officer for the 17th Coast Guard District. “Boating safely begins with planning well in advance of ever heading out on the water. The life you save through preparation may be your own, or someone close to you.”

In 2019, the Coast Guard in Alaska saved 214 lives, assisted 600 people and protected more than $55 million worth of property.

The Coast Guard is offering boating safety tips:

1. Wear a life jacket; they save lives. In Alaska, boaters are required to have one Coast Guard-approved life jacket for each person onboard their vessel, and they must be in serviceable condition. Persons 13 years of age and younger are required by law to wear a life jacket at all times when in an open boat, on the deck of a boat, or when waterskiing.

2. File a float plan before getting underway detailing the trip to aid rescuers in the event of being overdue. This can be as simple as telling someone the destination and planned return time; however, the Coast Guard encourages boaters to write it down, include details, and to give it to someone who will check to see if you made it back safe.

3. Take multiple forms of communication devices and extra batteries and chargers. The VHF-FM radio is the primary communications network for the maritime boating community. Enabling the Digital Selective Calling features on VHF-FM marine radios can broadcast a location and information to every boat within range in an emergency. Also consider a personal emergency beacon, and ensure it is registered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration at http://www.sarsat.noaa.gov/beacon.html. 

4. Check all required safety equipment to be sure it is in good working order. Vessel safety checks by the Coast Guard Auxiliary are free. Trained examiners help boaters review their equipment and give advice about how to improve safety. 

5. Check the weather. Be sure to look at the immediate weather forecast as well as the extended forecast; weather can change in Alaska in a matter of hours. Be prepared for it. The National Weather Service offers local and statewide current and extended marine weather forecasts on their website, which are broadcast on VHF marine-band radios.

6. Dress for the water temperature. Though the air may be warming up, the water is still cold and does not rise above low 50 degrees even at the height of summer. Wet suits and dry suits offer protection against hypothermia in the event of immersion in the water. Thermal protection against the effects of cold-water shock can save a life.

7. Boat sober. Never boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

To find out more about vessel safety checks visit: http://www.cgaux.org/vsc/ or http://www.safetyseal.net/.

For more information on boating responsibly, visit www.uscgboating.org.

Additional information on boating safety and resources can be found at www.uscgboating.org or www.safeboatingcampaign.com.


VHF Outages

In S.E. Alaska

VHF outages are being experienced in Southeast and Southcentral Alaska, the U.S. Coast Guard warns.

As of May 15, towers that the U.S. Coast Guard is unable to receive, or has intermittent VHF communications on, are: Bede Mountain, Mt. McArthur, Deception Hills, Pigot Point, Naked Island, Tuklung Mountain, and Duffield Peninsula. The Coast Guard said extra caution is advised.

Repairs are ongoing, but due to weather and remote location, intermittent outages are expected to continue in various locations in both Southeast and Southcentral Alaska.

Mariners are reminded that due to mountainous terrain, and limited VHF coverage, even with fully operational VHF sites, the USCG cannot hear VHF calls in all areas, and mariners should have secondary means on communications onboard at all times, file a float plan with a trusted person, and carry safety equipment onboard in the event you are in a survival situation. 

The following phone numbers can be used to reach the US Coast Guard in emergencies. As always, all boaters should carefully evaluate their ability to assist distressed mariners, and always relay any heard distress calls to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Sector Juneau Command Center at 907-463-2980 and 17th District command center, 907-463-2000.

Charts showing the locations of VHF tower sites in Alaska can be seen at the USCG’s Navigation Center’s website here:




Watershed Coalition

Launches Local

Foods Challenge

The Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition in partnership with the Sustainable Southeast Partnership and Sitka Conservation Society will launch the region’s first Local Foods Challenge this month.

It will run from May to September,  and encourages Southeast Alaskans to increase their involvement with the local food system in their community by learning and practicing food-related skills and also sharing local food and local food knowledge with others. 

Participants are challenged to increase their levels of engagement in each of the 10 categories: gather, grow, hunt, fish, cook/eat, compost/recover, preserve, share, appreciate/celebrate, and buy local.

“The challenge is for everyone to do a little more to strengthen the local foods system,” said Jennifer Nu, SAWC Local Foods Program director. “No matter where you’re at, there’s always a little more you can do to improve. All of these little improvements collectively can make a shift in strengthening the food system.” 

When participants sign up, they will assess their current involvement in the categories according to a four level system of engagement. Each level increases a person’s mastery with a particular topic, Nu said.

Participants receive monthly newsletters filled with tips, resources, inspiration from around the region and opportunities to help them meet their goals. The challenge also will  post updates to a Facebook page.

“The Local Foods Challenge is about building a community of Southeast Alaskans who care about local foods,” said Nu.  “Throughout the summer, organizers will share information, resources, place-based advice, and best practices from around the region. All ages are encouraged to participate since teaching and learning are key elements of leveling up.”

The 2020 Local Food Challenge partners include Sustainable Southeast Partnership, Sitka Conservation Society, Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium, the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension, and other partners at tribal organizations around Southeast Alaska. More details can be found on the Salt and Soil Marketplace website https://www.saltandsoilmarketplace.com/localfoodchallenge-welcome


Yearbooks Ready

At Blatchley

Blatchley Middle School yearbooks have arrived and are available to be picked up 9 a.m.-2 p.m. on Wednesday, May 20.


Chamber to Meet

Virtually May 20

Members of the Sitka Health Summit Coalition will present the new ‘‘Safe Stores, Shoppers and Workers’’ initiative at Wednesday’s vitual Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

The goal of the project is to support businesses in reopening and operating safely during the pandemic by providing information and some free supplies customized to the needs of each enterprise. Business participation is voluntary and the Health Summit will provide assistance, not directives.   

The Health Coalition, in partnership with the Sitka Chamber of Commerce, the State of Alaska Division of Public Health Nursing, and with generous financial support from Sitka Legacy Foundation, conducted a survey this month to assess the needs of local businesses. 

Speakers include Chandler  O’Connell, Doug Osborne and Sitka’s Public Health Nurse Denise Ewing.

To attend the meeting virtually through Zoom, register in advance for this meeting at https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcsdO2rqj8vHd2DTwZe73qmFxXGbsPOtFWk.


Inside Drainages

Bear Season Ends

Hunters are reminded the Unit 4 inside drainages brown bear hunt ends May 20.

The area includes Chichagof Island north and east of a line which follows the crest of the island from Rock Point to Rodgers Point; Baranof Island north and east of a line which follows the crest of the island from Nismeni Point to the entrance of Gut Bay; and all of Admiralty Island. 

The remainder of Unit 4, outside drainages, remains open to bear hunting through May 31.

Successful hunters must report harvest to Fish and Game within 10 days of kill and have the bear sealed within 30 days. All individuals who obtained Unit 4 spring brown bear permits must return hunt reports by June 15. Hunt reports can be mailed, dropped off at the ADF&G office at 304 Lake Street, Room 103, or submitted online at www.hunt.alaska.gov.

For information contact the Sitka Fish and Game office at 747-5449.


Learning Circle

Meetings on Tap

The Drawdown Learning Circle will continue its monthly meetings on the third Thursday of the month via zoom.

The group meets to discuss and act on ideas that will have a positive impact on greenhouse gas emissions in the community. This month the group will discuss the potential for a community challenge to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses through the Drawdown EcoChallenge.

See more at https://drawdown.ecochallenge.org and email nosam.m.hael@gmail com to receive an invitation to the meeting which begins at 5:45 p.m. May 21.


Seed Potatoes

Now Available

The Sitka Tribe and the Sitka Ranger District have a limited supply of extra Maria’s “Tlingit” seed potatoes to give away.

A small box of them can be found outside the USDA Forest Service office at 2108 Halibut Point Road.  Seed potatoes are available on a first-come, first-served basis. To make them available to the most people, each family is asked to take no more than two seed potatoes.

In light of the desire to share and not commercialize these potatoes, and the lack of disease testing of these seed potatoes, organizers ask that potatoes grown from these seed potatoes be shared only and not sold commercially.

Those wishing to buy certified Maria’s Tlingit seed potatoes can get them through the State of Alaska at: http://plants.alaska.gov/PotatoSeedProduction.html.  Potatoes should be planted as soon as possible, but no later than June 1. Questions can be directed to Michelle Putz, Sitka Forest Service office, 747-2708.  


AC Honoring

First Responders

The Alaska Commercial Company has announced it’s honoring healthcare workers and first responders by designating priority checkout and a 10 percent discount on their food purchases.

The stores include AC Lakeside in Sitka.

Through Monday, June 8, healthcare workers and first responders can present a valid work identification or badge and shop exclusively on Mondays and receive a 10% discount on qualified purchases.

Doctors, nurses, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, hospital workers, police officers and firefighters are included.


For information contact the Sitka store.

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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 7-13-20)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 10:30 a.m. Monday.

New cases as of Sunday: 60

Total statewide – 1,539

Total (cumulative) deaths – 17

Active cases in Sitka – 4 (2 resident; 2 non-resident) *

Recovered cases in Sitka – 14 (11 resident; 3 non-resident) *

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 87.

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

* These numbers reflect State of Alaska data. Local cases may not immediately appear on DHSS site, or are reported on patient’s town of residence rather than Sitka’s statistics. 




Welcome to the Sitka Sentinel's web page. In order to make the Sentinel's news more easily available during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have taken down the paywall to access articles on this page. Just click on an article headline to read the story. 

March 23, 2020



For the duration of the COVID-19 disaster emergency declared by federal, state and local authorities, the Sentinel is taking additional measures to reduce virus exposure to its employees and contractors as well as to the public, while continuing to publish a daily news report for Sitka.

To the extent possible, Sentinel news and sales staff will be working from home. For the protection of our carriers, home delivery of the newspaper will be stopped effective Tuesday, March 24.

The Sentinel will continue to publish on its website sitkasentinel.com. Access to the website will be free to all users. The Sentinel will also produce a print edition Monday through Friday. It will be available to all readers without charge, at locations throughout town.

Initially, these locations are those where the Sentinel's newspaper vending machines are already in place. The coin mechanisms will be disabled or the doors removed to permit easy access. The Sentinel will work with the stores where the paper is usually sold, to designate a place inside or outside the store where the free edition can be made available.  

Home delivery subscriptions are on hold, and after the end of the disaster emergency, subscriptions will be extended at no charge for the number of days that there was no home delivery.

The Sentinel will make its print edition available to the public as early in the day as possible. with all personnel taking precautions to prevent spread of the virus.

The Sentinel is calling upon its customers to observe the COVID-19 emergency precautions already in place, particularly in maintaining a six-foot social distance from others at newspaper distribution sites.

Following is the statement issued by the Sentinel on March 16, stating the Sentinel's emergency procedures, which remain in effect.

The Sentinel office at 112 Barracks Street is closed to the public. We encourage people to use the phone, email or the U.S. Postal Service as much as possible.There is a slot in the front door of the office for ads, news items and payment checks. Emails may be sent to  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and the phone number is (907) 747-3219.                                                                          

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