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)

State Ferries: No Need For Face Masks

JUNEAU (AP) — Alaska’s state-run ferry system is not requiring that passengers and crew wear face coverings in response to COVID-19 concerns, with a spokesperson saying rider numbers are low and social distancing on board is “easily attainable.”

CoastAlaska reported the Alaska Marine Highway System said it puts the health and safety of employees and passengers first. Cloth masks are available for crew members but not mandated, the system said. 

State transportation department spokesperson Meadow Bailey said rider numbers are “very low, and social distancing is easily attainable for employees and passengers.” Two ferries currently are operating.

The system said it’s taken steps aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19, including turning away passengers with flu-like symptoms.

2 Oil Firms Try Again To Hide Deal’s Finances

ANCHORAGE (AP) — Two oil companies renewed a request for Alaska regulators to protect the financial information of Hilcorp Energy Co., in its proposed $5.6 billion purchase of BP Alaska assets in the state. 

Hilcorp wants the Regulatory Commission of Alaska to shield its finances from public scrutiny during the proposed purchase, the Anchorage Daily News reported  Tuesday.

The oil companies blacked out document sections related to Hilcorp’s financial fitness and access to capital in a filing with the regulatory agency Monday.

“Petitioners seek to protect and keep confidential” answers to questions about Hilcorp’s financial reserves and its ability to acquire capital, the companies wrote in a request for confidentiality.

The companies provided information related to crude oil spills since 2003, but sought to keep a wide array of other information from public view, including pipeline repairs and operational risk assessments related to the trans-Alaska pipeline.

After oil prices plunged, the commission requested additional details in April. The regulators asked whether the industry turmoil impaired Hilcorp’s ability to borrow money to finance the purchase.

The companies, which hope to complete the sale by June following regulatory approval, argue that disclosure could put Hilcorp at a competitive disadvantage.

BP in August announced plans to sell to Hilcorp operations in Alaska, including interests in Prudhoe Bay, the Point Thomson gas field and the trans-Alaska pipeline system. BP recently announced altered terms, including the allowance of slower payments, while the sale price has not changed since the proposed sale was announced.

The agency will make a future determination on the request for confidentiality, commission spokeswoman Grace Salazar said.

The Alaska Public Interest Research Group has pressed for disclosure of Hilcorp’s finances out of concern the private company may be too small to handle unexpected costs, such as a major oil spill.

“This doesn’t allow the public to engage on this in a substantive way,” said Phil Wight, who studied the deal for the consumer rights group.



2 More Cruise Lines Cancel Alaska Sailings

JUNEAU (AP) — Two cruise lines said Wednesday they are canceling the remaining sailings they had planned for Alaska this summer, citing travel and other restrictions linked to coronavirus concerns.

Princess Cruises and Holland America Line had previously announced sharply reduced plans for voyages to and tours in Alaska. 

Earlier this week, Carnival Cruise Line announced it was canceling trips to Alaska this year. Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises and Holland America Line fall under the Carnival Corp. umbrella.

Mike Tibbles, with Cruise Lines International Association Alaska, said by email that the state faces a loss of 479 voyages — or 80% of expected sailings — with a passenger capacity of more than 955,000 because of ship cancellations.

Tourism is a significant industry in Alaska. Some small communities swell in size with visitors during the typically bustling summer season. 

Messages seeking comment were left for an official with the Alaska Travel Industry Association. 



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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