INTENSIVE – Professional dancer Adam McKinney formerly with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and choreographer Sarah Ashkin lead a rehearsal of an upcoming Summer Dance Intensive production Thursday in Allen Hall. Students will dance a 25-minute program Saturday 7 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center. A five dollar donation is suggested at the door. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

October 28, 2015 Community Happenings

Sitkan On D.C. Panel at

Marine Debris Briefing

Sitka Sound Science Center Research Director Victoria O’Connell was among Alaska panelists who attended a marine debris briefing in Washington, D.C., last week.

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, co-chair of the Senate Oceans Caucus, hosted the briefing to highlight Alaska’s growing challenges when it comes to the massive amount of debris washing up on Alaska’s shores. Experts were tapped to find solutions to the threat to Alaskans’ environment and livelihoods.

“Marine debris is an ever increasing issue in our state, from land-based runoff, shipping waste, boating debris, and the 2011 Japanese tsunami. Alaska has more than 49,000 miles of coastline, more than the entire Lower 48,” Murkowski said. “It is our job, both in Congress and working with the Administration, to provide the tools needed to tackle this growing problem, and I will continue to work to do so. It is my hope that through these discussions we can brainstorm new and innovative ways to address marine debris.”

The Sitka Sound Science Center has been working with local partners and fishermen since 2008 to clean beaches in the Eastern Gulf.

 ‘‘This year our program expanded to also include local partners from Port Alexander, Craig, Yakutat, Afognak, and five Bering Sea Villages,’’ O’Connell said. ‘‘Over a quarter million pounds of marine debris has been removed from the Sitka area and this year more than 100,000 pounds of debris was removed by our project partners.

‘‘The Sitka Sound Science Center also houses the Statewide database on marine debris removal and enjoys opportunities to outreach to students, visitors and the communities,’’ O’Connell said.

The website for more information is

 The panel also included: NOAA Office of Response and Restoration Marine Debris Program Director Nancy Wallace; Gulf of Alaska Keeper Co-founder Chris Pallister; Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation Marine Debris Coordinator Fred Jay Ivanoff; and Port Heiden Environmental Director Scott Anderson.  

The panel discussed difficulties conducting marine debris cleanups in Alaska, from Norton Sound to the Southeast. It pointed not only to the immensity of Alaska’s coastline as the biggest hurdle, but the treacherous coastline itself.

The massive amount of debris that washes to shore annually has significantly increased since the 2011 Japanese tsunami, it was pointed out. After the cleanups, the debris must be transported out of remote locations and disposed of.

The need for increased funding to tackle marine debris cleanup projects in Alaska was unanimously agreed upon.


Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital adds General Surgeon

Dr. John Lang has been hired as general surgeon at SEARHC Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital. He begins work on Nov. 1.

Lang earned his medical degree from the Pennsylvania State University School of Medicine. He completed a residency in general surgery at PinnacleHealth Hospital in Harrisburg, Pa., and then completed a colon and rectal surgery fellowship at the William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan. 

Before moving to Sitka, Lang served in the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps as the chief of surgery at the Claremore Indian Health Service Hospital in Claremore, Oklahoma, as well as clinical director for FCI Herlong in Herlong, California. Lang has also worked in VA hospitals in Temple, Texas, and Asheville, N.C.; in addition to private practice in Texas and Pennsylvania. 

His professional interests include the full spectrum of general and colorectal surgery, specifically endoscopy, laparoscopic surgery, and management of inflammatory bowel disease. Lang has a special interest in performing colon cancer screening, rural general surgery, and optimizing the health of the Native American and Alaskan Native people.

When he is not working, Lang enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter, reading science fiction, watching college football, and fishing.

“We are excited to have Dr. Lang as part of our team; he brings to the table 15 years of experience in general surgery,’’ said Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital Administrator Jeffrey Prater. ‘‘Dr. Lang will make an excellent addition to our surgical department for the people we serve.”


All Saints Sunday

Service at St. Peter’s

St. Peter’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church invites the community to special services 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 1, to celebrate All Saints Sunday.

‘‘This is a day to remember all those saints in our lives who have gone on before us, and continue to inspire us in our lives today,’’ the church said.

The services are open to the public.



Emblem Club Kids

Party Moved to Sat.

Sitka Emblem Club’s annual kids Halloween party has been changed to 1-4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31, at the Sitka Elks Lodge. A costume contest, food and games are planned.


Parents, Teachers

Meet at SHS

Sitka High School parent-teacher conferences will be held Nov. 2-5 at Sitka High School. No school will be held for students on Friday, Nov. 6.

The conferences are scheduled in teachers’ classrooms 2:30-6 p.m. Nov. 2-4 and 1:30-3:30 Thursday, Nov. 4. On Monday, Nov. 2, teachers will be available in the SHS commons. Appointments are being encouraged for Wednesday and Thursday and can be made by contacting individual teachers. Call SHS at 747-3263 with questions.


 Health Insurance Open Enrollment begins November 1

Open enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace begins Nov. 1 and continues through Jan. 31, 2016.

Those who do not currently have health insurance can explore options on to check affordable health care coverage eligibility.

Individuals may receive assistance lowering monthly premiums, co-pays, and deductibles, or be eligible for Medicaid, depending on income, age and family size. Those who currently have insurance through the Marketplace must renew by Jan. 31.

There are three ways to sign up or renew. People can visit the official Health Insurance Marketplace website,; call the Health Insurance Marketplace at 1-800-318- 2596, 24 hours/day, 7 days/week; or call SEARHC Outreach for assistance at 966-8883, 966-8662 or toll-free at 1-855-966-8684 during regular business hours.

SEARHC is a Certified Application Counselor agency offering free assistance to all Southeast residents. Those needing assistance may also call Get Covered Alaska at 1-844-752-6725 or United Way at 2-1-1.

Anyone without health insurance in place during the 2016 calendar year will be required to pay a tax penalty on his or her 2015 tax filings. That penalty is $695 per adult, and half that for each child, or 2.5 percent of income, whichever is higher.   

“If you need assistance setting up an account on the Health Insurance Marketplace website and exploring your options and eligibility for cost saving reductions, we are here to assist you,” said Andrea Thomas, outreach and enrollment manager for SEARHC. “We are trained to help you navigate the process.” 


SCS Wild Foods

Potluck Nov. 15

The Sitka Conservation Society will host its annual Wild Foods Potluck 5-7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 15, at ANB Founders Hall.

Attendees should take a dish featuring ingredients that were fished, foraged, hunted or cultivated in Southeast. 

Prizes will be awarded for first place in the following categories: Best Dish, Best Dessert and Most Creative. The event will highlight subsistence stories and the work performed by the Sitka Conservation Society over the last year. SCS members can pick up their 2016 SCS calendars at the potluck.

The event is free and open to the public.

Volunteers are needed for the potluck. For more information contact Sophie Nethercut at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 747-7509.


School in Session

On Weds., Nov. 11

The Sitka School District announces that school will be in session all day on Nov. 11.

There will be no early release as stated on the district calendar. The Veterans Day celebration will not be occurring on Nov. 11.

The district apologizes for any inconvenience or confusion that this may cause. Those with questions can call the district office at 747-8622.


SAFV Board Meets

The board of Sitkans Against Family Violence will meet 4:30 p.m. Nov. 2 at the shelter. The meeting is open to the public. For directions and more information, call 747-3370.


‘Laos’ to be Topic of

Presentation Nov. 8

Kathy Kyle will present images and tell of her experiences from her recent trip to Laos 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 8, at Kettleson Library.

A devoutly Buddhist country coexisting with a communist government, Laos is still suffering from unexploded ordnance left from the war that ended more than 30 years ago. The event is free to the public. For further information, contact Robb Farmer at 747-8708 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .  


Preschool Screening

In School District

Sitka Borough School District will provide Child Find Preschool Screenings for children ages 3-5. The first screening of this school year is Friday, Nov. 20, at the Rasmuson Building, on SJ Campus. 

An appointment is required for Child Find Preschool Screening. For more information, or to schedule a screening appointment, parents should call the Rasmuson Center at 747-8356, or Mandy Evans, special education director, at 966-1253.

The Child Find program is provided without charge to families who live within Sitka Borough School District boundaries. The purpose of the program is:to identify children who are having difficulty in their development; and to provide special education services to them, when it is appropriate.

Parents may have concerns about their child’s development in the areas of: hearing, vision, speech/language skills, motor skills, thinking skills, emotional or social skills.

A screening is a series of short tests and professional observations in various developmental areas. Children who are unable to pass one or more areas of the screening may have a developmental delay in those areas. The screening, however, is not enough to determine that a child is delayed; it is only designed to let us know if further investigation into a child’s developmental progress is necessary.

Screenings for children ages 3-5 will be held at the Rasmuson Building, at least once per quarter, and those dates will be publicized. Additional appointments at other times or locations may be scheduled as needed.


Rooftop Greenhouse

Discussed Tonight

The Sitka Rooftop Greenhouse Project group will meet 6-7:30 p.m. tonight at the Sitka Pioneers Home Manager’s House (Brave Heart Volunteers office).

This is one of the three community wellness projects chosen at the Sitka Health Summit earlier this month. Sitka residents hope to build a community greenhouse on the roof of the Sitka city-owned cold storage building on Katlian Street – or a similar flat-roofed structure. 

All are welcome to take their ideas. For more information, contact Charles Bingham at 623-7660.


Holiday Dinners

Meeting Nov. 2

Progress is being made for the upcoming annual community Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners hosted by the Alaska Native Brotherhood Camp 1 and Alaska Native Sisterhood Camp 4 at the ANB Founders Hall. 

A holiday dinners committee meeting will be held 6 p.m. Nov. 2 at the Hall. Anyone interested in helping out, volunteering or donating to the dinners is welcome to attend. All donations will  be used toward the purchase of food for both dinners, and fundraising efforts will be concluded prior to Thanksgiving for both dinners this year.

Gift cards from Sea Mart or AC Lakeside are also needed. Anyone wishing to contribute can send a check made out to ‘‘Community Holiday Dinners/ANB,’’ mailed to Alaska Native Sisterhood, c/o K. Lucas, 224 Katlian, Sitka, AK 99835, and a tax deductible receipt will be returned to donors by mail.

The annual dinners have been a Sitka tradition for more than 40 years, bringing together the community, to gather in thanks and celebration. All are welcome. To volunteer at the Christmas dinner call Kerry at 752-0654, or to volunteer at the Thanksgiving dinner call Karen at 747-7803. 


Sitka High Seeks

Construction Projects

Sitka High School Construction Trades program is seeking small shed or outbuilding projects for spring semester.

For more information contact Mike Vieira at 966-1920 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .



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