PASSING THROUGH – Orca whales swim near the Indian River estuary Thursday night. A pod of more than a half-dozen adult and juvenile orcas spent the late afternoon in Sitka Sound near shore as people along Sawmill Creek Road photographed and video recorded them. NOAA Fisheries recommends staying at least 100 yards away while viewing whales from boats. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

October 17, 2019, Community Happenings

Climate Connection: 


By Libby Stortz

Do you know that Sitka has a Climate Action Plan, passed in 2010? 

Here’s a summary, but the entire document is on the City’s website. I talked with acting City Administrator and Public Works Director Michael Harmon to get a progress update. Though there are goals still out there to be fulfilled, we should all be proud and pleased with our successes to date.  First here’s a thumbnail summary of the existing Plan.  

Our Climate Action Plan lays out actions for adapting and mitigating the effects of climate change.  A task force developed the plan following our Assembly’s endorsement of the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement in 12/07. The greenhouse gas reduction initiatives were based on the factual data available from energy audits of City and school buildings and extensive research and recommendations from all the relevant and knowledgeable sources including other cities’ action plans. The timeline for changes goes from 2010 to 2020 and the City is not expected to bear the entire required funding needs.  

Numerous challenges arose, largely from lack of sufficient funding to adequately address the

physical state of some City buildings. Implementation of the plan goals are expected to positively impact fisheries, ocean acidification, wildlife, a more sustainable forest from potential drought or fire.  Local flooding, air service, property insurance, property values and harbor protection all will be positively affected by carbon mitigation.   

Here are our major successes to date: Energy audits of many City buildings, improved efficiencies at the airport, animal shelter, decreased vehicle emissions via building the roundabout. The library, Centennial Building, Blatchley, Pacific High and high school have all been converted from oil to electricity including improved efficiencies.  The biggest achievement is Blue Lake Dam providing an abundant supply of renewable, carbon free energy.   Many of the biggest City users are now on electricity and that keeps our money here in Sitka.  What’s next?  The Waste Water Treatment plant is going to bid for conversion to heat pumps. City Hall is electric but is budgeted for more efficiencies and the UV Water Treatment Plant has heat pumps as will the new Water Filtration Plant. More improvement at the airport is a goal that needs funding.  Upgrades and critical maintenance underway and planned for our electrical infrastructure will significantly reduce the risk of failure leading to the City running their diesel generators. Another  important goal is to update the current plan.  Much has happened but more is also known and can be undertaken.  One of the goals from a Plan update would be diesel conversion of the all the City’s big buildings to excess electricity from the dam.  

While the Plan doesn’t require carbon efficiencies outside the City’s dominion, Mt. Edgecumbe High undertook phasing in energy reductions with plans to go further as funds are available.  There is hope that the new SEARHC hospital will build for our clean electricity with a backup generator that is required of all hospitals.  The Coast Guard is working on assessments that we hope will get them on electricity.  Last but not least, with about 100 electric vehicles in town and many home conversions to heat pumps, many of us are doing our best to make Sitka’s future bright and viable for all.   You can read about what all Alaska has been doing to rein in carbon with the Renewable Energy Atlas of Alaska at:

 Let’s have a round of applause and roll up our sleeves for the work ahead!


Libby Stortz, member and volunteer for Citizens Climate Lobby 





Food for Fines

Back at Library

Food for Fines is back at Sitka Public Library.

For every food donation taken to the library during November and December, $2 in late fees will be forgiven from an account. All of the food will be given to the Sitka Tribe of Alaska food shelf and the Salvation Army, where it will be distributed to community members in need.

‘‘Make a donation, clear your fines, and help make sure everyone in Sitka has food security this winter,’’ the library said.

For more information, call Margot at 747-4025, or visit the library’s website or Facebook page.


Conferences Set at

Keet Gooshi Heen

Parent/teacher conferences are scheduled at Keet Gooshi Heen the week of Oct. 28.

Parents are reminded of no school for students on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1.


Death and Dying

Conversation Set

Cupcakes and Conversation resumes with a fall series of monthly community-led discussions on topics related to death, dying and bereavement 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 23.

The topic is ‘‘Suicide Loss and Prevention.’’ Cupcakes will be served. The program is being offered through a partnership between Sitka Public Library and SEARHC Health Promotion. 

Contact Margot at Sitka Public Library with questions at 747-4025.


Sacred Harp Sing

Convention Set

The 12th Annual Alaska Sacred Harp Singing Convention will be held at St. Peter’s See House Oct. 25-26.

Beginners and listeners are welcome, and all events are free.

At 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 25, visiting composer P. Dan Brittain will lead a singing school with instruction on singing sacred harp (shape note) and vocal music composition.

An all-day sing, with a noon lunchtime potluck “dinner on the grounds” and evening social is planned 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26. Singers from throughout Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, and elsewhere, will join local singers. All are invited to drop in for any part or all of the day to experience and learn more about Sacred Harp singing, an American tradition for hundreds of years of learning and singing four-part a capella songs. No music background is necessary. Singing is from the red Denson book, and loaner books are available. For more information call Sara at 747-2915.



ANB Camp 1 Sets

Oct. 24 Meeting

Alaska Native Brotherhood Camp 1 will meet 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24, at the ANB Founders Hall.


On the agenda is the ANB/ANS Grand Camp 107th Convention delegates’ reports. Nominations for new officers for 2019-2020 will be taken. All ANB members are being encouraged to attend. Requests for the use of the ANB Founders Hall will be taken under persons to be heard. A sub-committee to plan the annual community Thanksgiving dinner will be formed. Call George, 500-4400, or Harriet, 744-6912.

Seattle Pipe Band

Returns to Sitka

For Alaska Day

The stirring sound of drums and bagpipes is again being heard during the Alaska Day Festival as 16 members of the Seattle Firefighters Pipes and Drums Band make the rounds. 

They began arriving on Alaska Airlines Saturday night. Public service duty for the group began with sharing in the Sunday afternoon marine cruise sponsored by Sitka History Museum.

They will be at the ball on Thursday,  Oct. 17, at Harrigan Centennial Hall, and march in the Alaska Day Parade on Friday afternoon, followed by the Brew Fest at Centennial Hall plaza.

Prior to the parade, they will be honored at an 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. fire hall public reception hosted by local volunteers.

While in Sitka their many stops include schools and care facilities as they tell of their work as first responders in firefighting tasks and medical emergencies as well as numerous regional parades and ceremonials such as funerals. 

New faces join familiar ones returning from past years. Pipe major Hilton Almond adds Dirk Halliwill, Andrew Hewitt, Vance Anderson, Travis Stanley, and Mark Place as pipers. Drum major Tyson DePoe is joined by side drummer Kristen May and bass drummer William “Smokey” Simpson. Also with the troupe as pipers or drummers are Scott Kallstrom, Bob Kerns, Luke Bugg, Adam Smith, Raul Deming, Roger Bianchi and Gave Culkin.

They return to Seattle Saturday.

For support in bringing the pipe band to Sitka, appreciation was expressed to numerous individuals and organizations along with hotels and several local clubs and restaurants at which the group will make appearances.

Others who wish to help share the costs are invited to contact local organizer Lisa Langenfeld at 738-2163.


Russian Re-Enactors

Needed for Festival

The re-enactment Russian naval unit seeks new recruits this year to join seasoned veterans for Alaska Day Festival. To arrange delivery of costumes, all are asked to contact Elaine Strelow at 747-3469 or Steve Dalquist at 752-0750.

In the Alaska Day parade on Friday, Oct. 18, these volunteers will march under the “imperial double- eagle” to Castle Hill for the Transfer Re-enactment in which they lower the Russian flag. They may also appear as greeters at various events.

Costumes are provided including the white sailcloth shirts, dark wool pants, and black wool “bezkozirka,” the official visorless cap piped in white, that was first introduced in the Russian navy in 1811. 


Beards, Bonnets

Judged Saturday

Men who sport facial hair are offered rewards at the Variety Show, 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Harrigan Centennial Hall, when beards are examined by judges from Sitka Emblem Club 142. 

Women’s bonnets for Alaska Day will be judged by a team from Sitka Elks Lodge 1662. 

A full evening of entertainment is promised in the Variety Show this year. Tickets for $5 are sold at the door or in advance at Old Harbor Books.


Fish and Game

Advisory to Meet

The Sitka Fish and Game Advisory Committee meeting and election will be held 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 30, at Harrigan Centennial Hall.

The agenda will include elections, hand troll seat change, alternate seat term and other business.

For further information, contact Chair Jon Martin at 747-7752 or Annie Bartholomew at the Department of Fish and Game. 


Sitkans Invited to

Walk for Jesus

All are invited to walk in the Alaska Day Festival parade ‘‘for the love of Jesus’’ to hand out treasures.

Look for the ‘‘Jesus’’ car in the parade lineup or call Pastor Dug at 747-5454 with questions.


Costumed Greeters

Add to Alaska Day

Meeting visitors at the Sitka airport this week wearing 1860s costumes, Alaska Day Festival’s greeters are Judy Arnold, Sharla Boddy, Teri Middlebrooks, Kim Lapchynski, Geri Ness and Erin Arnold, who coordinates the group.

Festival organizers thanked these volunteers for dispensing event schedules and commemorative buttons while they appear at various community activities leading up to Oct. 18.


National Cemetery

Service Planned

At 11 a.m. Friday at Sitka National Cemetery, U.S. Army Alaska Command Chaplain Lt. Col. Sun C. Lee will conduct a memorial service with representation by all military services.  

Bugles and drums are provided by 9th Army Band. Soldiers from USARAK’s 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) at  Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson will provide color guard and give a rifle-firing salute.  

All veterans and survivors of those buried at the cemetery are especially encouraged to attend.

Military liaison for Alaska Day Festival is Joan Berge, 738-2640, assisting MaryLou Vilandre, 747-8086.


Memorial Mass Set

For Fr. Peter Gorges

A memorial Mass for Fr. Peter Gorges will be offered Sunday, Oct. 20, during the 11 a.m. Mass at St. Gregory’s Catholic Church on Lincoln Street.

After the memorial Mass, a potluck reception will be held downstairs in the church hall.

Gorges, who was a priest of the Diocese of Juneau for 51 years, died unexpectedly on Oct. 9, in Anchorage.

Gorges served St. Gregory’s Catholic Church from 1999 to 2001.


Ocean Wave

Quilters Meet

Ocean Wave Quilters will meet 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 5, at United Methodist Church.

Monthly meetings, September through June, are open to all, members or not. Those wishing to pay the $25 dues receive a monthly newsletter, discounts on classes and other benefits.

For information call President Sarah Jordan at 738-7272.


Sewing Sessions

Offered to Public

Ocean Wave Quilters will sponsor an open sewing session 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9, at United Methodist Church.

All are invited to attend. Irons, ironing boards, tables and chairs are provided. Lunch is a potluck.

For information call Audrey Curran at 623-0301 or Linda Swanson at 747-3471.


Underground Tour

Of Cathedral Friday

Sitka underground tours are being offered hourly on Alaska Day, beginning at a 9 a.m., at the rear door of St. Michael’s Cathedral.

Tours cost a $10 donation to St. Michael’s Cathedral. 



This Week in Boys Run

Boys Run I toowú klatseen is an after-school running and life skills program currently in its sixth season in Sitka. The program incorporates cultural activities that honor traditional Southeast Alaska Native values. More than 30 boys participate twice-weekly at Keet Gooshi Heen elementary school.

This week, Boys Run participants have been learning about recognizing, processing and expressing emotions. Boys designed expressive masks, played emotion charades, and created a baking soda and vinegar volcano to represent how emotions can sometimes bubble over.

Here’s what some of the boys said about what they learned:

– “When I’m feeling emotional, I can show it instead of bottling it up.”

–“One reason to not explode is so you don’t hurt other people.”

–“I like to take three deep breaths when I need to calm down.”

–“My favorite part about Boys Run is that we get to learn what we can do with our feelings.”

–“I want my friends to know how I’m really feeling.” 

Throughout this season, Boys Run will be providing the Sitka community with updates on the program. We also aim to give mentors and parents opportunities to pass on skills from Boys Run to the children in their lives. Consider using these conversation starters:

–What is an example of a healthy way and an unhealthy way to express frustration?

–What are good ways to stop “emotion volcanos?’’


Holiday Dinners

Being Planned

The Alaska Native Brotherhood Camp 1 and Alaska Native Sisterhood Camp 4 are making preparations for the upcoming, free community holiday dinners on Thanksgiving and Christmas at the ANB Founders Hall.

The organizational and fundraising efforts will benefit both dinners. Any individual, organization or business that would like to contribute to the dinners can mail a check made out to ANB Camp 1, with holiday dinners in the memo, to Rachel Henderson, ANS President, 235 Katlian, Sitka, AK 99835. Donations are tax-deductible.

Anyone who would like to help out with planning, or cooking, for either dinner can call Karen at 747-7803, or for further information. 


Alaska Day Event

At Bishop’s House

Sitka National Historical Park is opening the Russian Bishop’s House in observance of Alaska Day. It will be open on Oct. 17 and 18.

On Thursday, Oct. 17, it will open 2:30-5 p.m. Individuals can learn about the Russian colonization of Alaska by exploring the first floor museum and watching the award-winning film, ‘‘Russian Bishop’s House: An Icon Reborn.’’

For those wanting to learn more about the history and the house, ranger-led tours of the second floor bishop’s residence will be given every half hour beginning at 3 p.m. Space on tours is limited and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

On Friday, Alaska Day, an open house will be 9:30-11:30 a.m. Attendees can learn about the Russian colonization of Alaska by exploring the first floor museum and watching the award-winning film, Russian Bishop’s House: An Icon Reborn. The second floor chapel and residence of the bishop will be available for viewing 9:30-11 a.m. 


Floor Ready for

Swing Dances

Community Swing Dances will be held every second Friday of the month, Nov. 2 through April, at the Unitarian Fellowship Hall. 

Sitka Swing Dance class organizers said dances are 7:30-9:30 p.m. Nov. 8, Dec. 13, Jan. 10, Feb. 14, March 13 and April 10.

Belly Meat (Ted Howard, Gary and Ernie) will be there to perform live. The entire wooden floor will be cleared for dancing all evening. 

The cost is $5 per couple entrance fee to pay for the facility, and a suggested donation of $10 per couple, handed to the band. All proceeds go to the church and the band.

Alcohol is not permitted in the facility.

Dance coaching will be available to those who need a few reminders — but hosts Owen and Beth Kindig encourage anyone who wants to improve their dancing skills to try to attend regular 7-8:30 p.m. Tuesday night classes at the New Archangel studio, 208 Smith Street, for lessons on Swing, Lindy Hop, Charleston, Two Step and Waltz. 

Contact with any questions.


Underground Tour

Of Cathedral Friday

Sitka underground tours are being offered hourly on Alaska Day, beginning at a 9 a.m., at the rear door of St. Michael’s Cathedral.


Tours cost a $10 donation to St. Michael’s Cathedral.  


At St. Michael’s

St. Michael’s annual Sisterhood luncheon will be held 11 a.m. until sold out on Alaska Day, Oct. 18.

Diners will have a choice of two meals: fish pie with salad or clam chowder with fried bread.

Those with questions can contact Marie Young at 738-4166 or Cheryl Duncan at 738-1676.


Hames Center

Open Oct. 18

Hames Center will be open 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18, in observance of Alaska Day. Tot’s Gym will be offered 9 a.m.-10:30 a.m. and lunch spin class, 12:15-1 p.m. For additional offerings visit or call 747-5080. 


Teen Night

Canceled Friday

Teen Night at the Hames Center is  canceled on Friday, Oct. 18, in observance of Alaska Day.

Teens are being encouraged to visit Sitka’s Cloud Teen Center for evening activities. 

Teen Nights will resume 8:30-10:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25. For information call Hames Center 747-5080 or email


Lutherans Offer

Pies and Quilts

Alaska Day Friday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., will find local folks gathered at Sitka Lutheran Church, 224 Lincoln Street, in the fellowship hall to enjoy a sweet treat pie or other dessert while warming up, drying off if needed, and catching up with friends.  

Proceeds from the annual pie sale are pledged this year to Lutheran Disaster Response, a ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, to help with recovery from wildfires, hurricanes, and floods across the nation.

Upstairs on the main level, quilts and other handiwork will be offered for pre-priced sale or silent auction bid.  Funds raised support the ongoing local and worldwide ministry of Sitka Lutheran Church.


Coordinators for the event are Kathleen Brandt, 747-6447, and Paulla Hardy, 747-6525.


Blood Drive

Set Oct. 28-29

The Sitka community will host a blood drive with the Blood Bank of Alaska 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Oct. 28 and 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Oct. 29 at the Centennial Hall meeting room 1. To schedule an appointment, call the Blood Bank of Alaska, (907)222-5630 or schedule online at

Eligibility requirements to donate blood include:

–Had a flu vaccine more than 24 hours before, or after, donation.

–Must be healthy and feeling well.

–At least 16 years of age. (16- and 17-year-old donors will need a signed parental consent form, downloaded at

–Donors over the age of 74 must bring a written approval from their physician.

–Donors over the age of 80 must bring a written approval from a physician and approval from the medical director.

–Weigh at least 113 pounds.

–Photo ID (state ID, driver’s license, military ID, etc.).

–For questions about medical conditions, medications, tattoos, piercings, and out-of-the-country travels, feel free to call (907)222-5630 and a screener will be able to check eligibility.

Donors should take a photo identification and needed forms (parent consent form for 16- to 17-year-old donors and written approval of the physician for those over the age of 74.) They should also eat a complete meal before the donation and drink plenty of fluids days prior to and the day of donation.

Appointments should be scheduled   as donors with appointments have priority over walk-in donors.

The blood donation process takes approximately 45 minutes to an hour. This includes registration, medical history questionnaire, and mini-physical (blood pressure, pulse, temperature, hematocrit, etc.). After passing all the requirements to donate, then the blood draw will take place.

Donors are advised not to perform any strenuous activities for the next 24 hours, not smoke for at least half an hour, avoid alcoholic beverages for the next couple hours, hydrate well, and avoid skipping any meals.

For those who are unable to donate blood, snacks and drinks are needed.

Those with questions or concerns can call the Blood Bank of Alaska at (907)222-5630.


Mountain Goat

Harvest Closing

The Sitka District Ranger, under authority delegated by the Federal Subsistence Board, is closing the Indigo Lake and Vodopad River Zones in Unit 4 to the harvest of mountain goats.

The closure will begin 11:59 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17, and will remain in effect through Dec. 31. Further mountain goat harvest in these zones could have long term, negative effects on the conservation of these mountain goat subpopulations.

The remainder of Baranof Island is open to goat hunting until the season closes, unless closed by past or future special action.


A map and description of the closed areas are available from the Sitka Ranger District Office and the Sitka area office of ADF&G. Information on federal subsistence management special actions for the Tongass National Forest can be found at For additional information, call Zone Fish and Wildlife Biologist Justin Koller at 747-4297 or email



Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 7-31-20)

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 12:50 p.m. Friday.

New cases as of Thursday: 108

Total statewide – 2,990

Total (cumulative) deaths – 23

Active cases in Sitka – 15 (10 resident; 5 non-resident) *

Recovered cases in Sitka – 15 (11 resident; 4 non-resident) *

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 133.

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 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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July 2000

Clinton Buckmaster shot and wounded a large brown bear Tuesday night when it charged him near his Thimbleberry Bay home in the 2100 block of Sawmill Creek Road. As of press time, the bear was still at large.

July 1970

The city council agreed at a special meeting Thursday to consider the request of Alaska Native Brotherhood Camp No. 1 for redevelopment planning funds for the Indian Village. Cost has been estimated at $12,000.