HISTORIC MOVE – Harry Greene, maintenance and operations superintendent at the Sitka Public Works Department, uses a backhoe to lift the Baranof statue onto a wooden dolly with the help of co-worker Mike Callahan, this morning in front of Harrigan Centennial Hall. The bronze statue, estimated to weigh between 400 and 600 pounds, was relocated to inside the Sitka History Museum today. The city Assembly passed a resolution, on a 6-1 vote, in July to move the statue from its prominent  outdoor location to inside the museum.  At the July meeting several members of the public said the statue was a symbol of “historical trauma.”  The statue, created by artist Joan Bugbee Jackson, was given to the city in 1989 by Lloyd and Barbara Hames. Hames family members said earlier this year they supported moving the statue into the museum. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Legislators Reconvene on Cautious Note

By BECKY BOHRER
The Associated Press

JUNEAU (AP) — The Alaska Legislature is set to reconvene Monday for the first time since recessing in late March over coronavirus concerns, with new screening protocols aimed guarding against the virus.

Under the protocols, details of which were released Monday, legislative staff and reporters will be required to undergo screening, which will consist of a temperature check and questions about travel, contacts and symptoms. Screenings will be done by Capital City Fire/Rescue, and badges will be issued to be worn in the Capitol noting that a person has been screened.

The protocols, released by the Legislative Affairs Agency, say legislators may refuse screening. Senate Rules Chair John Coghill said the reason is that a lawmaker cannot be barred from entering the building or “going to their job.” 

“What we’re trying to do is give the opportunity for people to look out for the well-being of their peers but not mandating that they wear a mask or even go through the screening. It’s our recommendation they do it,” the North Pole Republican said. 

Rep. Ben Carpenter, a Nikiski Republican, faced backlash in raising questions about the screening process last week in an email chain with other legislators. “If my sticker falls off, do I get a new one or do I get public shaming too? Are the stickers available as a yellow Star of David?” he wrote. 

Carpenter in an interview said he was trying to make a point about a loss of liberties. He said coronavirus fears are “causing us to have policies that don’t make any sense.” 

Republican Sen. Lora Reinbold, in a social media post accompanying the rules, said she would “politely decline,” calling them “over the top.” 

The Capitol will remain closed to the public. The protocols say face coverings must be worn — though Coghill said legislators will not be mandated to do so — and people are to maintain social distancing, including having only one person in an elevator at a time. 

A statue of William Seward wears a mask outside the Alaska Capitol today in Juneau. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)

Nonessential staff and reporters will not be allowed on the Senate floor Monday, according to a statement from Senate majority communications director Daniel McDonald, citing limited space and social distancing requirements. McDonald said the floor session would be livestreamed. The larger House chamber was allowing press seating in a gallery section. 

Other legislatures that are meeting have adopted protocols as well. Hawaii, for example, has temperature screening, face-mask requirements and recommended limits on the number of people in elevators.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. But for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. 

Alaska lawmakers face a pending constitutional meeting deadline Wednesday, though they have the ability to extend for another 10 days if they muster sufficient support.

The session’s resumption was prodded by a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of plans for distributing federal coronavirus relief aid. A legislative committee agreed to Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s plans for more than $1 billion in aid funds, despite legal questions over whether that was the appropriate process for approving some of the items.

The House majority, in a release last week, said the sole focus will be on clearing up questions about use of the funds. However, a House committee on Tuesday plans a hearing on voting by mail and the House has noticed on its calendar a bill updating the state’s alcohol laws and a measure to raise the state’s motor fuel tax. 

Austin Baird, the House majority communications director, said the vote-by-mail hearing is informational only and said he wasn’t sure if there would be action on the alcohol and motor fuel tax bills.

 

August 5, 2020

A Note To Our Readers

Reopening: Phase One:

 

On March 30 the Daily Sitka Sentinel began taking precautions against the coronavirus, which was starting to show up in Alaska.

We closed our building to the public and four key employees started working remotely. Home delivery was suspended to protect our carriers from exposure to the virus.

Four months later, the virus is still with us and the precautions remain in effect.

In appreciation for the willingness of our subscribers to pick up their daily paper at drop-off sites, the Sentinel was free to all readers, and subscriptions were extended without charge.

As of August 1 the Sentinel is once again charging for subscriptions, but the present method of having subscribers pick up their papers at designated sites will continue.

The expiration date of all subscriptions has been extended without charge for an additional four months.

We thank our readers for their support in these uncertain times, and especially those who paid for the paper despite the free offer.

We look forward to the time when we can safely resume home delivery.

To check on the expiration of your subscription or to make a payment please call 747-3219. The subscription email address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . We also will be mailing out reminder cards.

The single copy price is again 75 cents. The news racks do not require coins to open, but we ask that the 75 cents for a non-subscription single copy sale be paid with coins in the slot.

– The Sitka Sentinel Staff

 

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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 9-29-20)

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 12:20 a.m. Tuesday.

New cases as of Monday: 118

Total statewide – 7,721

Total (cumulative) deaths – 56

Active cases in Sitka – 19 (13 resident; 6 non-resident) *

Recovered cases in Sitka – 47 (37 resident; 10 non-resident) *

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 288.

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. 

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20 YEARS AGO
September 2000

Gilnettings, By Gil Truitt: The Sitka All-Star Team (Team II) of 1939-1956 is revealed here for the first time.  Fermin “Rocky” Gutierrez, Hugh Pace, “Red” Belinski, Harold “Pretty Boy” Morris, George Kucherak, Dorm McGraw Sr., Herb Didrickson Sr., Gorman Shutt, Vic Adamson, Bill Robinson  and Johnny Vander. ... Other gifted players include Tony Herman, Bunny Donnelly, Hal Taylor, Archie Nielsen, Cecil McClain and Richard (Dick) Eliason.

50 YEARS AGO
September 1970

The Alaska Judicial council has selected Sitka as the site of a new branch of the state superior court. The Legislature had created a position for a third Superior Court judge in Southeast, but the city was not specified in the legislation.

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