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)

Citizen-Scientists Mix Research, Recreation

Sentinel Staff Writer
    It was 6:30 a.m. Saturday when four skiers, one snowboarder, two dogs, and one reporter on snowshoes convened at the end of Pherson Street for a hike up to Candyland, a skiable glade off Gavan ridge.
    They were in a hurry. Aaron Prussian, a fisheries biologist and newly-minted assistant basketball coach, had a 1 p.m. skills clinic to attend with the Baranof Ballers fifth- and sixth-grade team. His wife, Katherine, a U.S. Forest Service hydrologist, also had a midday basketball commitment: making sure the players from the Juneau-Douglas High School team staying with the Prussians over the weekend were properly fed before their afternoon game against Sitka.
    Still, they checked that every human member had a beacon, probe, and shovel — essential avalanche safety gear — and that some were carrying first aid kits.
    As final pack adjustments and layering decisions were made, certain group members lamented their lack of caffeination. Others fantasized about a heated ridgetop yurt. Then everyone hit the trail.  
    For Aaron and Lee House, the day’s goal was not just to make turns through powder. They are involved in a citizen science project called Community Snow Observations (CSO).

CITIZEN MONITORS – LEFT: Katherine Prussian leads a group up Gavan Hill early Saturday morning. (Photo by James Poulson) RIGHT: Aaron Prussian holds a measuring probe on top of the mountain later in the morning.  Prussian is a member of a citizen science project called Community Snow Observations, which is funded by NASA.  (Photo by Lee House)

    “It’s a NASA-funded project that involves a number of scientists from University of Alaska Fairbanks, University of Oregon, and some folks, I think, from the University of Washington,” Aaron said. “They’ve developed models that predict snow amounts throughout the West and Alaska, and they’ve used these remote sensing techniques, either through satellite or aircraft, to predict how much snow they think is there. But they have no real ground truthing — so that’s what we do.”
    The “we” in this case refers to winter recreationists like Aaron and House. Their part in the citizen science project is to measure snow depth with their avalanche probes and upload the data with a smart phone app that automatically records their location and elevation for submission to CSO.
    Though CSO casts these data collectors as “citizen scientists,” Aaron, a fisheries biologist, is an actual scientist who moonlights as a citizen scientist on his days off. House, a self-described “all-around creative,” fits the citizen scientist mold more classically.
     Aaron said understanding the snowpack will help the climate scientists at CSO better understand drought — which, he said, is what first got him measuring three years ago.
    “My interest was ‘hey, I’ve seen this before.’ I’ve seen really low snow conditions in the winter reflected in the summer and I thought, ‘this is right up my alley,’ ” he said.
    Climate scientists say last summer was the hottest on record in Alaska. House said he heard two unexpected sounds that summer: the “crinkling” underfoot of dried vegetation in a rain-forested glacial valley north of Juneau, and the “whirring” of a diesel generator near the normally hydro-powered town of Petersburg.
    After that summer, House resolved to record snow depth measurements for CSO every time he goes snowboarding.
    “I wanted there to be a tangible output from my recreation,” House said, “because this recreation, it’s technically a thing of privilege: you have the time, energy, and ability to go out and do these things.”
    By the time the group arrived at Candyland Saturday morning, the top of Harbor Mountain was turning gold from the rising sun. As the boarders and skiers peeled off their climbing skins, Aaron plunged his avalanche probe into the snow.
    “We tend to follow protocol, which is to get the points of a triangle, just to give yourself an average of where you’re standing,” he said, “Right now, we’re between 85 and 100 centimeters.”
    Asked how that depth compares to past Januarys at Candyland, Aaron said, “I’ve seen a lot more!”
    “And we’ve seen a lot less!” chimed in Katherine, who, waiting down-slope from Aaron, was ready to make her run.
    She disappeared through the powder into the trees.
    Then Aaron determined his final average measurement (90 cm), repacked his probe, and followed Katherine, House and the other two skiers down Candyland.
    Today, the full-time scientist, part-time citizen scientist would have time for just one run – he had a basketball skills clinic to get to.

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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. 




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.

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.