DIVE PRACTICUM – Dive student Karson Winslow hands a discarded garden hose to SCUBA instructor Haleigh Damron, standing on the dock, at Crescent Harbor this afternoon. The University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus Dive Team is clearing trash from the harbor floor under floats 5, 6 and 7 as part of their instruction. Fourteen student divers are taking part this year. This is the fifth year the dive team has volunteered to clean up Sitka harbors. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

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‘Sustainability’ Panel To Report On Goals


Sentinel Staff Writer

The Assembly at its Tuesday meeting will consider a property tax exemption for Sitka Historical Society and hear a report from the Sustainability Commission on its work plan goals for the year.

In the short agenda, the Assembly will also decide whether to apply for state funding for Katlian Street road improvements, and select a local contribution amount.

The Community Transportation Program through the state Department of Transportation requires a 9.03 percent local match, but the city staff memo says “The more match funds committed yields the higher score” in the competitive process. 

The project description says Katlian, which runs through the Indian Village and serves two big fish processing plants, is in poor condition with “extensive alligator cracking, centerline seams are failing with many potholes and pavement failures...” Maintenance, including snow and ice removal, is difficult, given the narrowness of the street. Other problems are aging drainage pipes and storm drains.

The project description says sidewalks do not meet ADA accessibility requirements, and are in bad condition with tripping hazards from spalling, cracking and settling. There also are severe cross slopes and poor lighting.

City staff proposes using funds from the Visitor Enhancement Fund (bed tax) to cover the minimum match. The staff memo also suggests using the cruise ship head tax and general fund, if a high match amount is selected by the Assembly.

The estimated cost of the project is $10.6 million, which means the city would contribute a minimum of $956,187 at the 9 percent level.

The scope, schedule, estimate confirmation from the state says it will use a design speed of 25 mph. Melissa Henshaw, public and government relations director, said she has pointed out to the state that the speed limit is actually 15 mph, and added that the city has no plans to raise it, with or without the improvements.

Also at the meeting the Sustainability Commission will present its work plan for 2023 to 2024, with three goals identified,

– Create a community renewable energy strategy.

– Analyze opportunities for diversion of solid waste.

– Create a municipal fleet transition plan and electric vehicle infrastructure strategy.

The 10-page work plan gives a more detailed description of possible ways to achieve goals, the departments involved, budget effects, and time frame.

The single ordinance on the meeting agenda proposes a property tax exemption for the Sitka Historical Society, which leases space at Harrigan Centennial Hall for the museum. The proposed term for the exemption is 25 years and the item will be up on introduction Tuesday, with final approval set for April 11.

The Assembly packet also includes a quarterly report from the police department, including an overview of vacancies, budget update and work on recruitment and training. The report says the department is receiving applications for a number of vacant positions, including four in the jail department and four in dispatch. 

In the dispatch division, “two temporary hires with vast experience are helping us,” Chief Robert Baty said in the report. He said that is three days the department had 17 expressions of interest in the job, including four from local residents. Two applicants are in the pre-hire process, he said.

In patrol, three positions are unfilled, and three people have inquired about the job in the past several weeks, the report said.

The animal control officer position has been open since mid-July.

Baty said the department is working with the city’s human resources department to improve advertising and recruitment, and a focus on filling dispatch positions. 

“We continue to provide weekly in-house training to our supervisors and conduct daily shift trainings to Officers. We also subscribe to PoliceOne training and assign officers monthly refresher training on various topics,” the report said. PoliceOne is a national online police training resource with more than 15,000 training courses available.

The report said the department has been able to provide services to the public by shifting existing manpower around to fit the needs, and all have been trained for the duties that are expected for the position.

The statistics for calls Jan. 1 through mid March are:

– 5,131 phone calls answered.

– 532 emergency calls received on the 911 line.

– 1,653 calls for service.

– 131 incident reports.

The report says any call, including 911, that requires action from staff is a call for service, and a call for service that rises to the level of needing documentation is labeled an incident report.


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April 2004

Photo caption: Sitka High students in the guitar music class gather in the hall before the school’s spring concert. The concert was dedicated to music instructor Brad Howey, who taught more than 1,000 Sitka High students from 1993 to 2004. From left are Kristina Bidwell, Rachel Ulrich, Mitch Rusk, Nicholas Mitchell, Eris Weis and Joey Metz.


April 1974

The Fair Deal Association of Sealaska shareholders selected Nelson Frank as their candidate for the Sealaska Board of Directors at the ANB Hall Thursday.


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