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NEW TRAIL – Asa Dow wears a mask as he cuts a branch placed at the exit of the new 907 single-track mountain bike trail loop off the Sitka Cross Trail to officially open the trail Monday afternoon. Dow was one of about a dozen volunteers who built the trail, the first of its type in Sitka. The single-lane trail is exclusively for bikers and runs south to north. The Sitka Cycling Club, which organized the construction, will be building a second bicycle trail off the Cross Trail. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Blatchley Kids Say Bon Voyage to Ocean Boat

By ABIGAIL BLISS
Sentinel Staff Writer
    A miniature sailboat that washed up on Sitka shores in late February was put out to sea again today, with a boost from Blatchley Middle School students, on its journey from Oregon to Japan.
    The S/V Red, White, and Blue Crew is one of ten unmanned mini-boats built, launched, and monitored through a grant-funded program from the Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria, Oregon.

Nate Sandel, education director at the Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria, Oregon, left, puts up a sail as Blatchley Middle School sixth-grade students hold the mini-boat Red, White, and Blue Crew this morning on the Petro Marine dock on Katlian Street. The entire sixth-grade class was heading out to St. Lazaria Island aboard an Allan Marine boat for a field trip. On the trip they planned to launch the sailboat, which is equipped with a satellite transmitter, into the open ocean. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)


    All of the ocean-going mini-sailboats were prepared from kits by students in Oregon, but only half of them were launched from the United States. Their destination is the Aomori prefecture of Japan, where three sister schools have partnered with the program. The other five boats were flown to Japan, and deployed from Japanese shores.
    As the boats sail from one side of the Pacific Ocean to the other, students in both countries will be able to learn about ocean currents, new territory, and cultures different from their own. The boats may contain letters from the students to their sister schools.
    The five-foot long fiberglass vessels, while equipped with a sail and a GPS tracking device that provides twice-daily updates on their location, are at the mercy of the wind and waves guiding them along the 4,500-mile journey.
    The S/V Red, White, and Blue Crew was built by a sixth-grade class at Otto Peterson Elementary School in Scappoose, Oregon, and was launched on December 6.
    On February 28, after 82 days at sea, the mini-boat made landfall on Legna Island, 16 miles southwest of Sitka.
    Charter fisherman Ben Johnson found it, and after reading the message affixed, reached out to science teachers in the Sitka schools.
    Blatchley science teacher Stacy Golden quickly responded.
    “I just jumped on the opportunity,” Golden said, who had no prior knowledge of the project. “I thought, ‘Oh, what a cool idea.’”
    Nate Sandel, education director of the sponsoring Columbia River Museum, flew up to Sitka to explain the project to Sitka students and help ready the mini boat for the next leg of its journey.
    The S/V Red, White, and Blue Crew has undergone both operational and aesthetic modifications during its stay in Sitka, Golden said.
    “They dried out the inside of the boat and did some patchwork on the keel,” she said.
    One half of the sail was decorated by students at Otto Petersen, she said, but Blatchley students took it upon themselves to embellish the other side.
    Two of Golden’s classes submitted designs, and voted on their favorites, she said. In the end, five students were chosen to realize their vision for the sail, and all signed their names.
    “It (is) amazing to launch the boat out and sign our names on the sail,” said sixth-grader Aubrey Larue. “When someone gets it, they’ll see our names.”
    Her classmate, Logan Shennett, marveled at the fact that the mini-boat washed ashore in Sitka.
    “It’s like a very low chance of doing it,” he said. “There’s a lot of towns that it could land in. It’s going to be exciting to launch it.”
    Golden said all Blatchley sixth-graders had a chance to learn about the boat and took part in today’s launch. Built by students in Oregon and destined for students in Japan, the boat has integrated Sitka students into a larger narrative beyond their local community, Golden said.
    “All of the sudden, they feel like they’re part of something bigger,” she said.
    A science field trip to St. Lazaria Island was already on today’s schedule for the Blatchley sixth graders. As the kids piled aboard an Allen Marine sightseeing boat this morning, they carried the S/V Red, White, and Blue Crew, with plans to launch it from the mouth of Sitka Sound.
    Golden is headed to a new teaching position next year at Sitka High School, where she plans to help students launch a mini-boat of their own. She said a couple of charter fishermen, including Johnson, who discovered the S/V Red, White, and Blue Crew, will help procure a kit and build the boat.

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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 6-3-20)

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 11:10 a.m. Wednesday.

New cases as of Tuesday: 18

Total statewide – 505

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 47, and the cumulative number of deaths is 10.

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

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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

NOTICE FROM THE PUBLISHERS

TO READERS AND ADVERTISERS

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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