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)

Sentinel Cartoon Drawn to an End

Sentinel Staff Writer
    In the comic strip Bilge, two bald eagles are having a conversation while perching on the cross atop St. Michael’s Cathedral.
    “Bilge is kind of a stupid name for a comic strip,” says one.
    “What do you suggest?” says the other.
    “How about Peanuts?”
    “How about Just Sue Me Now?”
    A kingfisher sitting just below comments: “Peanuts. That’s about what he’s going to make with this comic strip.”
    That was the first of hundreds of Bilge strips Tina Johnson would write for the Sentinel. The last is appearing today, as she and her husband, Marty, move south to Boise, Idaho, for new adventures.
    “I can’t do a comic that’s Sitka-centered if I’m not living in Sitka,” she said.

Tina Johnson (Sentinel Photo)

    Tina is a writer, whose poetry and stories have been published and shared on occasion at the Monthly Grind, Writers Read and other Sitka events. She has used comic-style drawings in her journaling, but this is her first comic strip effort. The first Bilge comic appeared in the Sentinel on Feb. 1, 2017.
    “I’ve been playing with comic strips over the last few years, more as journaling about funny things that happened in my family,” she said.
    The idea for the strip was in part inspired by an exchange with a customer at Old Harbor Books, where Johnson worked at the time. He rushed into the store in an excited manner, announcing to the staff,
    “I just saw two eagles sitting on the cross of the church,” he said. Tina and a co-worker exchanged a look, prompting the tourist to realize, “I guess you see that all the time.”
    “It was a funny exchange,” Johnson said.
    Eagles, other Alaskan birds, fishing and other everyday occurrences provided plenty of material for the daily strip, which has become one of the most popular features in the Sentinel.
    “So many cartoons take place in bars,” she said. “That was a setting that was humorous to me for some reason.”
    The Johnson family fishes, which was another source of inspiration.
    The name of the comic came from Tina’s wish to have something short.
    “I like the idea of trying to make light of things in life that run down underneath everything and aren’t that pretty to look at,” she said.
    Tina and Marty moved to Sitka in 1988, and over the years she has worked at the Sentinel, Old Harbor Books, Sitka Public Library and Sitka Community Hospital, while she and Marty raised their two boys, Amon and Jenner, who are now adults. Jenner and his wife, Lakrisha, live in Sitka; Amon, his wife, Megan, and their daughter Olivia live in Boise.
    After they move to Boise, Tina and Marty plan to continue coming back to Sitka to gillnet in Deep Inlet.
    Tina said she’s enjoyed writing Bilge.
    “It has been really fun, actually,” she said. “It’s been a good brain exercise. It’s been good for me to do something new. Also, having to do something funny in a couple of panels has been a fun challenge.”
    She has also enjoyed the feedback from readers.
    “People have been really, really nice in their comments,” she said. “I’ve appreciated that feedback.”
    She’s not sure what the plans will be once settled in Boise, although she will continue writing.
    “I might like to do cartooning,” she said. “I’m not sure what form that’s going to take.”
    In some of the cartoons, Tina pokes fun at her own basic drawing ability, and she says there’s room for improvement. “I need to take drawing lessons,” she laughed.

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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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