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)

Grant to Assess Sitka Landslide Risks

By SHANNON HAUGLAND

Sentinel Staff Writer

The Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys announced Tuesday that the agency has received funding for a comprehensive landslide hazard assessment of the Sitka area.

The landslide assessment, funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will include landslide mapping and hazard modeling for about 25 square miles of Sitka, said De Anne S.P. Stevens, chief of the engineering geology section for DGGS.

It will cover the entire populated area of Sitka, including all of Harbor Mountain, the main part of Sitka, the Indian River Valley and out to Sawmill Cove, Stevens said.

“We’re hoping to do slope stability and landslide hazard analysis,” she said.

The interest in studying Sitka followed the Aug. 18, 2015, landslides here that killed three people on Kramer Avenue and caused about $1 million in damage, Stevens said.

The study will use the new lidar data set collected earlier this year under a partnership between the National Park Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory and DGGS, a division of the state Department of Natural Resources.

Lidar is a technology in which laser beams are used to measure the elevation of the ground.

“It allows us to generate a 3-D topographic land level map from which we can strip all trees and vegetation and look at what’s going on underneath,” Stevens said. “It’s incredibly useful for analyzing any sort of land surface process. Things like geomorphology ... looking at unstable slopes, old drainage channels. There’s a lot we can see.”

She said following the slides last year, there was a sudden recognition of “how imminent this sort of hazard is to the community.”

“It’s been known for a while that the area is prone to slides,” she said. She noted that soon after the slides, the U.S. Forest Service flew over the area and counted a total of 45 new slides that resulted from that day’s heavy rainfall on Chichagof and Baranof islands.

“This struck close to home – everybody’s hyper-aware we need to understand the hazard, especially in urbanized areas. ... We really need to take it seriously,” she said.

Stevens sent an email Tuesday to the Sitka Geohazards Task Force to inform the group of the news about FEMA funding. The Geohazards Task Force was organized by the Sitka Sound Science Center after the 2015 slides, and included scientists from a number of agencies in Sitka and from outside the community, Stevens said.

“... We at DGGS are eager to work with all of you to ensure the best possible analysis for the benefit of the safety and wellbeing of the community and people of Sitka,” Stevens said in the email.

She said the community has been supportive of learning more about the hazards. In April the Assembly passed a resolution in support of communitywide mapping.

Sitka hired the geotechnical firm Shannon and Wilson to complete a study of the south Kramer slide neighborhood, and asked for a preliminary assessment of the area above Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary, but City Administrator Mark Gorman said it makes more sense at this point to allow the DGGS work to go forward before more studies are done. 

“By doing it comprehensively it doesn’t highlight certain neighborhoods, which may disadvantage and impact land values,” he said today. “I think it’s more even-handed to do it all at once. ... It will be easier to accept the fact that there is an inherent risk whether you’re living at sea level or living on a hill. It’s more responsible approach to do a comprehensive look at the community, rather than piecemealing it out.”

Stevens said she is looking at a two-year time line to complete the studies, and the results will be shared with the public as they come out.

 

 

 

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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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