COLD CASE SOLVED – About 1,500 people turned out on May 12, 1996, for a walk through Sitka National Historical Park in memory of Jessica Baggen. The tragedy raised fears about violence in Sitka, but also revealed the community's capacity for providing sympathy and support, and sticking together in a time of crisis. Police announced today they solved the cold case. (Sentinel File Photo)

Clear and Present

The product of the Alaska Constitutional Convention is widely regarded as a model state constitution, and indeed it has served us well all these many years.

It clearly delineates the functions of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of state government, with safeguards for the public in the efficient execution of government functions.

And yet we are now realizing a serious shortcoming in that constitution. We won’t go so far as to call it a “flaw” because the good people at that 1955 convention in Fairbanks could not imagine a time when an elected governor, regardless of political leaning, would not govern with the interest of all Alaskans at heart.

They did not anticipate that the line item budget veto power of a strong executive could, with the support of a small minority of legislators, virtually plunge the state into chaos by denying adequate funding to essential state operations.

We are now at that point in Alaska’s history, and we can’t predict the outcome.

But what this newspaper can do, and will try to do, is to put before our readers a fair and factual analysis of what is occurring, in order that they, along with Alaskans across the state, can rally to help prevent the worst outcome.

We are referring, of course, to the extreme anti-government philosophy of Gov. Mike Dunleavy, and the misinformation that he and his allies are spreading in its defense.

Last Thursday we presented on this page a column by a seasoned Alaska journalist and commentator, Dermot Cole, on some aspects of the Dunleavy narrative about the alleged fiscal crisis in state government. In fact, of course, the state does have the money, and a majority of the people, we are confident, have the will to fashion a permanent and fair solution to funding state government.

And so with this column we are introducing what will be a regular feature on this page, which will in effect be a transcript of Dermot Cole’s online blog, Reporting from Alaska.

We emphasize: Mr. Cole’s column in the Sentinel will be in the nature of commentary and opinion, and we stress that distinction from conventional news page reporting. It goes without saying that we find Dermot Cole’s commentary accurate, well-informed and insightful and, most of all, essential reading if we are to have a full understanding of the situation in which all Alaskans find themselves: a time when the governor himself is governed by an ideology that poses the threat of great and lasting harm to our state.


We invite Letters to the Editor about anything you read in the Sentinel, and of course we include Dermot Cole’s columns in that category.


See Dermot Cole's Reporting from Alaska blog at

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August 5, 2020

A Note To Our Readers

Reopening: Phase One:


On March 30 the Daily Sitka Sentinel began taking precautions against the coronavirus, which was starting to show up in Alaska.

We closed our building to the public and four key employees started working remotely. Home delivery was suspended to protect our carriers from exposure to the virus.

Four months later, the virus is still with us and the precautions remain in effect.

In appreciation for the willingness of our subscribers to pick up their daily paper at drop-off sites, the Sentinel was free to all readers, and subscriptions were extended without charge.

As of August 1 the Sentinel is once again charging for subscriptions, but the present method of having subscribers pick up their papers at designated sites will continue.

The expiration date of all subscriptions has been extended without charge for an additional four months.

We thank our readers for their support in these uncertain times, and especially those who paid for the paper despite the free offer.

We look forward to the time when we can safely resume home delivery.

To check on the expiration of your subscription or to make a payment please call 747-3219. The subscription email address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . We also will be mailing out reminder cards.

The single copy price is again 75 cents. The news racks do not require coins to open, but we ask that the 75 cents for a non-subscription single copy sale be paid with coins in the slot.

– The Sitka Sentinel Staff


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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 8-11-20)

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 11:25 a.m. Tuesday.

New cases as of Monday: 45

Total statewide – 3,821

Total (cumulative) deaths – 26

Active cases in Sitka – 21 (15 resident; 6 non-resident) *

Recovered cases in Sitka – 16 (12 resident; 4 non-resident) *

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 161.

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. 




August 2000

Photo caption: Park Ranger Harvey Brandt and Russian Bishop’s House volunteer gardener Donna Grota present a program featuring the house’s garden. The current garden is an historical representation of the first one planted at the house, in 1844. ... Master gardener Kitty LaBounty also took part in the program.

August 1970

Sitka Yesterday, August 1950: Arriving yesterday by plane from Bend, Ore., Fred Baughn will manage the Moose Bowling Alley here. ... To celebrate the 11th birthday of Marina Panamarkoff, a party was given at the home of Mrs. Jack Schaefer. After gifts were presented, Mrs. T. J. Cole took all the guests to the matinee at the show.