CHEER SECTION – Sitka High and Mt. Edgecumbe High School cheerleaders react to a successful free throw Tuesday night at Sitka High during the cross-town boys basketball game. Edgecumbe boys and girls teams each won their games against Sitka High. Stories on the hard-fought games are on page 4 of today’s Sentinel. The region tournament takes place in Sitka in mid-March. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

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Daily Sitka Sentinel

Assembly Advances Recreation Funding


Sentinel Staff Writer

An ordinance providing additional funds for the new parks and recreation program passed 6-0 on first reading at Tuesday’s Assembly meeting.

It’s scheduled for a vote on final approval at the Feb. 14 Assembly meeting, and if it passes will add another $92,615 to the current year’s $209,000 recreation program budget.

The additional money will cover expenses not included in the budget approved last year for the startup of a city recreation program to replace the district’s old Community Schools. It covers the cost of a two-member staff, but not for supplies, temporary workers (referees) and other costs.

“We’ve used the Parks and Rec budget (in the Public Works Department) to cover some of this but that has started to dwindle,” City Administrator John Leach said. He asked the temporary Parks and Recreation coordinator to provide estimates, which were included in the staff memo to the Assembly.

Those included temporary wages ($14,000), a telephone system ($320); an online platform for classes, rentals, payments to referees, instructors ($38,495); supplies ($37,400); and travel and training ($2,400).

About $40,000 of the $92,615 expense will be covered by the fees paid by participants in the recreational program, the Assembly was told.

The Community Recreation Initiative was selected in September 2021 as one of the Sitka Health Summit goals. A committee met regularly to propose a plan to create a sustainable city recreation program. The headquarters for the new program is in the old community schools office at Blatchley Middle School that hasn’t been used since Community Schools ended in 2019.

Andrew Friske, who led the Community Recreation Initiative effort, told the Assembly last spring that he wanted the program to provide a public service for citizens, with many benefits such as increased social educational and recreation opportunities.

So far, the new program has offered after-school programs for students and city league basketball for adults, with city league volleyball sign-ups under way.

Barb Morse is the temporary Parks and Recreation coordinator and Andrew Roseman is the recreation specialist.

In response to a question from Assembly member Crystal Duncan, Morse talked about her work on partnerships with other organizations.

“Sitka Counseling has been the fiscal agency,” Morse said. “We’re reaching out and working with other partners.” The city has applied for a grant from the Sitka Sound Science Center to be used for summer programs, she said.

Morse said in addition to running programs, supporting other groups and coordinating facility use, she is assessing gaps in services and how the needs would be filled.

“Not duplicate what’s already being done.” she said. “And to support other groups that are doing things well so that we can get back to having a robust level of service.”

The goal is “a full slate of offerings,” Morse said.

Other Assembly members had a few questions but in general expressed support for the program.

“There’s going to be a lot of benefits,” Kevin Mosher said. “It builds healthy interpersonal relationships within the community, increases community bonds and helps children to have some rec program.”

In answering questions about the budget, Leach discussed the “balance game” that takes into consideration what’s needed, costs and benefits - both financial and otherwise. 

“This might operate at a deficit but I think we heard loud and clear from the community that this is what they want,” Leach said.

Friske commented today that he has been following the development of the program, and is excited about the potential. 

“I’m extremely happy with the turnout we’ve had and the positive feedback we’ve received,” he said today. “Barb Morse and Drew Roseman are doing a great job organizing and scheduling events and programs for the community. I’m really excited about the folks turning out and the events that have already been put on. It’s a good indicator of the positive impact the program will have in the future. Adults are talking about it, that it’s been a well-run program so far, and a good opportunity for more community involvement and recreation.”

Friske said citizens are providing support for the program through a volunteer steering committee, which will continue meeting early February. He said he hopes supporters will come to the next Assembly meeting, or contact Assembly members individually to express support.

Leach told the Assembly that he has suggested an avenue for fundraising and collecting donations similar to that of the Friends of the Sitka Public Library and Friends of the Animal Shelter, and Morse said she’s working on that component.

Those interested in being an advocate, making a contribution or serving on the steering committee may call Friske, 907-738-3141.




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At a Glance

(updated 9-12-2023)

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 8:57 a.m. Tuesday, September 12.

New cases as of Tuesday: 278

Total cases (cumulative) statewide – 301,513

Total (cumulative) deaths – 1,485

Case Rate per 100,000 – 38.14

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

COVID in Sitka

The Sitka community level is now "Low.'' Case statistics are as of Tuesday.

Case Rate/100,000 – 152.50

Cases in last 7 days – 13

Cumulative Sitka cases – 3,575

Deceased (cumulative) – 10

The local case data are from Alaska DHSS.






February 2004

Photo caption: White Elephant Shop treasurer Ginny Cushing presents a $1,300 check to Monica Bettis, Sitka Community  Hospital long-term care activities director, and Kathy Inman, long-term care manager at the hospital. The donation is to be used to buy a wide-screen TV for the long-term unit.


February 1974

Photo caption: Gov. William Egan presents trophies to the all-tourney team in the Sitka American Legion Invitational Basketball Tournament. From left are Brad Sele, Klukwan; Gene Short, Ketchikan; David Harnum, Sitka Arrowhead Truckers; Terry Friske, Klukwan; and Jay Levan, Sitka American Legion.


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