HERRING WELCOME COMMITTEE – A trio of California sea lions lounge near Bieili Rocks Sunday. Sea lions and whales were feasting on herring in Sitka Sound. The first herring spawn of the season in Sitka Sound was spotted Wednesday, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said today. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Gov: Private Companies to Fill In for State Ferries

    JUNEAU (AP) — The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities will use one or more private companies to operate ferries during an ongoing breakdown in state service, the governor said.
    Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy said the state needs private companies to operate ferries to coastal communities, The Anchorage Daily News reported  Wednesday.
    “We’re going to have to rely on the private sector as a stopgap to some degree,” Dunleavy said Wednesday.
    Only one of the state’s fleet of 12 ships is operating, with four laid up in temporary storage and seven undergoing overhauls for scheduled or unscheduled work, Department of Transportation Commissioner John MacKinnon said.
    Coastal towns that cannot be reached by road in the winter are reporting food shortages because of the lack of service by the Alaska Marine Highway System. Hundreds of residents protested in a series of events across the state last week.
    The state requested information earlier this month from companies that might be able to provide interim sailings until state ferries exit the shipyard. There were three responses, but the state has not executed contracts with any of the companies.
    “If the lack of available ships continues, we’re going to engage them,” MacKinnon said.
    The transportation department has not released a firm plan for providing private service, and it is unclear how the state would pay the companies.
    The ferry Matanuska, which was scheduled to be the only operating mainline vessel in the state, broke down last month.
    Establishing a timeline for Matanuska to return to service is “a very complicated issue,” MacKinnon said.
   

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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 3-29-20)


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 3 p.m. Sunday. 

The list includes the total cases (and what portions are travel and non-travel-related or still being investigated):

 Total - 114 (38, 76)

 Anchorage area – 59 (24, 35)

 Homer – 2 (1, 1)

 Seward – 1 (1, 0)

 Soldotna – 2 (1, 1)

 Sterling – 2 (0, 2)

 Fairbanks area – 28 (6, 22)

 Palmer – 2 (2, 0)

 Juneau – 5 (1, 4)

 Ketchikan – 13 (2, 11)

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is seven, and the cumulative number of deaths is three.

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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.                                                                          

Most recent Sentinels — PDF edition

March 23, 2020

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