OPEN AIR CONCERT – From left, musicians Ross Venneberg, Brian Neal, Wade Demmert and Roger Schmidt perform an outdoor brass concert for residents of the Pioneers Home Monday. The professional musicians, who are hunkered down in Sitka, are regulars at the annual Holiday Brass Concert. The Pioneers Home has been closed to visitors during the pandemic. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Ferry System Study: DOT Given Options

    ANCHORAGE (AP) — The Alaska Department of Transportation is considering how to act on a study addressing issues within the Alaska Marine Highway System, including an aging fleet and decreased ridership, officials said.
    The study conducted by research firm Northern Economics evaluated 11 options for overhauling the network of vessels that moves people, vehicles and goods, The Alaska Journal of Commerce reported Wednesday.
    The ferry system reaches 35 communities spread over more than 3,000 miles (4,828 kilometers) from the Aleutian Islands to Bellingham, Washington.
    Ferry ridership has declined from about 350,000 passengers in 1998 to 251,000 passengers in 2018. The drop coincides with GPS and other technological advances that have made flying safer and more consistent, transportation department Commissioner John MacKinnon said.
    “The chance of them doing a flyover now and not being able to land is a lot smaller than it used to be, so our competition is just technology that the airlines have been able to use to improve their performance,” MacKinnon said.
    Vehicle transport has remained steady at about 100,000 car, truck and van shipments per year, according to ferry service figures.
    Ten of the state’s 12 ferries are 37 years old on average and six ferries are more than 40 years old. Two fast shuttle ferries are docked and will be sold because they are not fuel efficient and have been plagued by engine problems and hull cracking, officials said.
    The ferry system’s budget has been cut in half since its peak of $111.2 million in fiscal year 2012 and service levels have been cut about 25% over that time. This year’s budget calls for a $56 million state subsidy, which is a compromise between the Legislature and Republican Gov. Michael J. Dunleavy’s original proposal of $21.8 million.

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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 7-7-20)

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 11:15 p.m. Tuesday.

New cases as of Sunday: 19

Total statewide – 1,184

Total (cumulative) deaths – 17

Active cases in Sitka – 8 (3 resident; 5 non-resident)

Recovered cases in Sitka – 12 (10 resident; 2 non-resident)

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 78.

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

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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

NOTICE FROM THE PUBLISHERS

TO READERS AND ADVERTISERS

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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