FULL FIELD – Bathtub toy ducks float down Granite Creek toward a finish line at Halibut Point Recreation Area Saturday afternoon during the annual Sitka Rotary Club duck race. First place, two Alaska Airlines round-trip tickets, were won by Ron and Leah Kari. This year all 3,500 ducks were sold by June 14. Money raised at the event is donated to dozens of Sitka non-profits. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Permanent Fund Checks To be $992, Due in July

ANCHORAGE (AP) — The Alaska Permanent Fund dividend was finalized at $992 and distribution is expected to begin early this year because of economic impacts caused by the coronavirus pandemic, state department officials said.

The state Department of Revenue made the announcement Friday, saying payments are expected to begin July 1 instead of in October.

“We are in extraordinary times. We need to make sure that the people of Alaska have cash in their hands to help in this economy,” Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy said in May. “I can’t think of a better time to do that than now, but we are going to have to wait for a month and a half.”

Residents who receive their payments by direct deposit and have been cleared for the check by June 19 are expected to receive the first disbursement in July, department officials said. The Department of Revenue estimates about 90% of all applicants will receive their check by July 1.

Paper checks will be mailed starting July 1 to residents without direct deposit, officials said. 

The state budget passed earlier this year called for about $680 million in spending, which amounted to just under $1,000 for each recipient after people applied.

This is the smallest Alaska Permanent Fund dividend payout since 2013 when a $900 check was distributed, KTUU-TV reported.

Legislators or the governor have set the dividend amount during the annual budget-making process since 2016. A 2017 decision by the state Supreme Court said a traditional dividend-payment formula that was used from 1982 through 2015 remains on file but is not binding, the Anchorage Daily New reported.

State Supreme Court OKs Elections Issue for Ballot

JUNEAU (AP) — A proposed initiative that would change the state’s elections process can appear on the ballot, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled Friday.

The measure, among other things, would create an open primary where all candidates would be listed on a ballot and create a ranked-choice voting system for general elections. It also would require additional disclosures for certain campaign contributions.

Attorney General Kevin Clarkson last year said the measure violated a so-called single-subject rule and recommended Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer not certify it. That led to a lawsuit, with a state court judge reversing Meyer’s denial. The state appealed. 

Friday’s opinion states that a plain reading of the measure shows its provisions “embrace the single subject of ‘election reform’ and share the nexus of election administration.” 

“The initiative’s provisions are logically related,” the ruling states. 

The Department of Law, said the state’s focus was on providing voters the ability to vote separately “on what all sides agreed are three major policy decisions.” 

With Friday’s ruling, the state “has clarity going forward in analyzing initiatives under the single-subject rule,” the department said in a statement.

Scott Kendall, an attorney for the ballot group, in a statement said the initiative process “is fundamental to upholding the people’s power in our democratic process, and today’s ruling is a victory for all Alaskans.” 

The group said the measure is expected to appear on the November ballot.


Judge Halts Tribe’s Bid To Delay Virus Funds

The Associated Press

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — A federal judge in the nation’s capital has denied a request from a Native American tribe in Kansas to halt further distribution of coronavirus relief funds for tribal nations.

The Prairie Band of Potawatomi Nation recently sued the U.S. Treasury Department, alleging it was shortchanged in an initial distribution of $4.8 billion. The tribe, whose reservation is north of Topeka, said the Treasury Department should have relied on the tribe’s own enrollment data, rather than population data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

The HUD data showed the tribe had 883 citizens. The tribe argued it should have received $7.65 million dollars more based on its enrollment figure of more than 4,840.

The Treasury Department has said it used HUD data because it would correlate with the amount of money tribal governments have spent responding to the coronavirus pandemic. Tribal data doesn’t distinguish between members who live on and off reservations, the agency said.

The Treasury Department intends to start distributing the remaining $3.2 billion from a coronavirus relief package approved in March to tribes no later than Monday. 

U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta held a hearing Thursday on the Prairie Band’s request to keep the Treasury Department from moving forward. He ruled later that he had no jurisdiction over the matter because Congress gave the Treasury secretary discretion in how to dole out the funding.

“The CARES Act thus contains no ‘statutory reference point’ by which to judge the secretary’s decision to use HUD’s population data set, as opposed to some other,” Mehta wrote.

The judge also faulted the tribe for filing its lawsuit more than a month after the Treasury Department said it would use HUD data following a request for tribes to submit enrollment figures. 

Carol Heckman, an attorney for the Prairie Band, said the tribe doesn’t use the HUD database and did not immediately understand the Treasury Department’s methodology. She said reports by Harvard researchers who dug into the HUD data showed the tribe it was underrepresented. 

Mehta is scheduled to hear arguments in a related case Friday. It is centered on whether Alaska Native corporations are eligible for a share of the $8 billion set aside for tribes in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act that Congress approved in March.

Mehta earlier ruled to limit distribution to tribal governments while he decides the eligibility question.




Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 7-6-20)

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 1:25 p.m. Monday.

New cases as of Sunday: 28

Total statewide – 1,166

Total (cumulative) deaths – 16

Active cases in Sitka – 6 (3 resident; 3 non-resident)

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

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 74.

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



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 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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