SUPPLY CHAIN WOES – James Pelletier, Yellow Jersey bicycle mechanic, is surrounded by cycles waiting to be repaired as he points to empty display racks at the Harbor Drive store. The main showroom rack, which can hold two dozen new bicycles, now holds only three bicycles (including an unclaimed special-order $5,000 electric mountain bike) for sale. A nationwide supply chain disruption of bicycles and parts is not expected to be alleviated any time soon. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

State Rep Killed In Midair Crash

By MARK THIESSEN
The Associated Press

ANCHORAGE (AP) — Alaska state Rep. Gary Knopp was killed in a mid-air collision of two planes near Soldotna today, the Alaska House Majority said in a statement.

Alaska State Troopers would not confirm Knopp's death beyond saying the mid-air collision near the airport in Soldotna was a fatal crash.

The two planes collided near the Soldotna Airport Friday morning, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement. Wreckage came down near Sterling Highway, briefly closing the thoroughfare. 

Officials have not released how many people were on board the two planes or the extent of injuries.

Rita Geller, who works at a golf course near the airport, said she started running when she heard the planes hit, and watched one fall to the ground,

"I ran to more of a clearing and basically saw it explode," she told the Anchorage Daily News. "The engine, things were flying off of it. I didn't see the second plane, but I saw a lot of debris flying around. It was horrific. It was just like 9/11."

Tributes began pouring for Knopp soon after the news broke. Gov. Mike Dunleavy immediately ordered U.S. and state flags to be lowered to half staff and to remain in that position of honor until sunset Monday.

"The first lady and I wish to express our heartfelt condolences to Rep. Knopp's family as they mourn his untimely passing," Dunleavy said in a statement. "Throughout his 42 years on the Kenai Peninsula, Gary became well known as an avid outdoorsman, a skilled pilot, and a dedicated public servant. His presence will no doubt be missed by those he faithfully served."

House Speaker Bryce Edgmon of Dillingham said he was shocked and devastated upon hearing of Knopp's death. "Gary was a one-of-a-kind leader and a true Alaskan who worked tirelessly for his district in the Legislature. He will be missed by many."

Senate President Cathy Giessel, a Republican from Anchorage, called it "a heart-breaking tragedy. More than a legislator, Gary Knopp was a husband, father, son, brother, grandfather,and friend. He will be tremendously missed." 

Rep. Louise Stutes of Kodiak said Knopp was not only a colleague, but a close friend. "I'm heartbroken and devastated, and thoughts are with Gary's wife, Helen, and his entire family."

The FAA initially said the two planes involved were a single-engine de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver and a twin-engine Piper Aztec, However, the FAA later said it did not believe the second plane was a Piper Aztec, but it had not yet confirmed the make and model of the airplane involved.

The two planes collided in mid-air approximately 2 miles northeast of Soldotna Airport, the FAA statement said after the 8:30 a.m. crash.

Alaska State Troopers on scene were feeding information back to a National Transportation Safety Board investigator in Anchorage immediately after the crash, said Clint Johnson, head of the NTSB's Alaska division. 

The FAA sent two investigators to the crash site, which is about 150 miles (241 kilometres) southwest of Anchorage on Kenai Peninsula.

The NTSB will investigate the accident and determine a probable cause.

Knopp, a Republican, left the House GOP caucus and served in a coalition of Democrats, independents and GOP lawmakers that comprised the House Majority. That left the remaining House Republicans in the minority.

Knopp faced two Republican challengers in the Aug. 18 primary. A message sent to the state Division of Elections to see if Knopp's name would remain on the ballot was not immediately returned. 

Knopp was first elected to the state House in 2016, and served for years before that on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly.

He was born in Whitefish, Montana, in either 1956 or 1957, various media outlets report. He moved to Alaska in 1979, where he eventually settled in Kenai. He worked as a general contractor.

His hobbies included flying , diving, hunting, golfing "and enjoying life in general at home on the Peninsula," according to his legislative biography.

 

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.

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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.

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– The Sitka Sentinel Staff

 

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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 9-21-20)

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 11:40 a.m. Monday.

New cases as of Sunday: 70

Total statewide – 6,906

Total (cumulative) deaths – 45

Active cases in Sitka – 32 (22 resident; 10 non-resident) *

Recovered cases in Sitka – 26 (22 resident; 4 non-resident) *

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 265.

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

A bill approved by the U.S. Senate Wednesday would increase federal funding to Sitka for roads and schools to $1.3 million, six times the amount received in 1999. The bill by Sens. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., changes the formula for distributing aid to counties that have tax-exempt federal forest land.

50 YEARS AGO
September 1970

A car driven by Del Childress apparently put a dent in the left front fender of a vehicle belonging to William Burns. Damage was estimated at $25.

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