NO MOORE CLINIC – Contractors from CBC Construction use an excavator to tear down the  Moore Clinic building this morning. The building, which was most recently owned by SEARHC, was built in the mid-1950s by Dr. Phil Moore. Moore was a pioneering orthopedic surgeon who came to Sitka after WWII to open a clinic to treat tuberculosis patients from around the state on Japonski Island using vacated Naval base buildings. He helped develop new treatments for TB which was devastating Native communities. That operation evolved into SEARHC Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital. Moore also helped establish Sitka Community Hospital in the 1950s. The cleared clinic lot will likely be used for building housing by SEARHC. ( Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Alaska Governor Urges Supplemental Dividend in Aid Proposal

By BECKY BOHRER

The Associated Press

JUNEAU (AP) — Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy called on lawmakers Friday to approve checks of about $1,300 for residents to help offset economic impacts of the coronavirus.

He called it the quickest way to get money into the hands of Alaskans, many of whom have been affected by the temporary closure of bars, restaurants, gyms, theaters and other venues in a bid to slow the virus' spread.

The amount he is calling for is equal to what he argues Alaskans are owed as part of their 2019 Permanent Fund dividend checks. Dunleavy has advocated paying a dividend using a formula last used in 2015 amid a persistent state deficit. Lawmakers last year approved a $1,606 check. Under the formula, the Department of Revenue has said the check would have been $2,910. 

Dunleavy mistakenly said the amount was $1,306; his spokesman, Jeff Turner, confirmed the amount sought is $1,304. 

The Republican governor's proposal also includes plans to create a $1 billion disaster relief fund and direct the Alaska Housing Finance Corp. to suspend foreclosures and evictions. He took no immediate questions.

His budget office, in documents, said the $1 billion would come from earnings of the state's oil-wealth fund, the Alaska Permanent Fund. While the exact use of the funds isn't certain, they would help match federal funds or otherwise respond to the situation as it progresses, the document states.

Turner said the sources for the $1 billion were being determined.

The proposed supplemental dividend would take $815 million from permanent fund earnings. 

This comes with lawmakers eager to complete their most pressing work in the coming days, which includes budgets. The state, which relies on oil revenue and permanent fund earnings to help pay for government, has struggled with a persistent deficit. For years, lawmakers, at odds over how best to resolve the deficit, have drawn down savings accounts to cover expenses. 

Members of the House and Senate majorities all session have been loathe to violate a preset draw on permanent fund earnings, which for the fiscal year starting July 1 is $3.1 billion. Use of the constitutional budget reserve, another option, requires support from three-fourths of each the House and Senate. Some House minority members withheld support for using the fund on a supplemental spending bill, seeing their votes as negotiating tools in pushing for a spending cap or larger dividend.

Senate President Cathy Giessel told reporters earlier Friday that proposals at the federal level could include payments to individuals. 

"We don't want to duplicate what the federal government is doing. We want to work hand-in-hand with them," she said.

Senate Finance Committee Co-chair Bert Stedman said the budget proposal his committee is working on would include aid to local governments through the school bond debt reimbursement and community assistance programs. 

Stedman said lawmakers needed to review Dunleavy's economic proposal. He said he wants to avoid a political reaction to the situation.

The COVID-19 illness causes mild or moderate symptoms in most people, but severe symptoms are more likely in the elderly or those with existing health problems. 

Here are other developments involving the coronavirus:

EXTENDED SCHOOL CLOSURE

Dunleavy announced late Friday night that all public and private schools in Alaska will remain closed until May 1.

TRAVEL CONCERN

State health officials say they strongly advise Alaskans cease non-essential travel out of state and that tourist or non-essential business travel to Alaska be suspended for now in a bid to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

The advisory also recommends Alaskans cease non-essential long-distance travel within the state.

TESTING SWABS

Anchorage's emergency management office asked medical providers to donate swabs, citing a shortage of testing swabs and lack of a definitive shipping date to receive more. 

RECALL GROUP

A group seeking to recall Dunleavy is continuing its signature-gathering efforts with what it calls a sign-at-home option. 

The campaign said registered voters could request to have a personal petition booklet mailed to them. Campaign manager Claire Pywell said the Recall Dunleavy campaign worked with the Division of Elections to ensure the plan was allowable. 

An email seeking comment was sent to a Department of Law spokeswoman.

UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS

The number of new unemployment claims jumped from 687 between March 8 and 14 to more than 4,000 between Sunday and Thursday, said Lennon Weller with the state labor department.

The unemployment insurance trust fund has about $495 million, Weller said. While its hard to predict what payments will be, the fund can handle "quite an increase for several months," Weller said. 

JUNEAU AIRPORT

The City and Borough of Juneau announced it has started a voluntary screening program for people arriving at Juneau International Airport. 

Under the program, passengers who land at the airport can decide if they want a temperature check. Those registering a temperature of 100.4 will get advice on such things as contacting a medical provider and isolating themselves, the city said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises individuals to call a medical provider if they think they've been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms such as coughing or difficulty breathing.

DENALI

Officials at Denali National Park and Preserve on Friday suspended issuing climbing permits for the tallest mountain in North America.

No permits have been issued to climb Denali or Mount Foraker this year. The climbing season in the national park about 180 miles (290 kilometers) north of Anchorage usually begins in late April and ends in mid-July. Refunds will be issued to those who have started the registration process.

The park service said high alpine mountaineering usually involves flights in small planes and shared equipment, tents and camp facilities.

"In light of these and other factors, such as the difficulty maintaining recommended hygiene protocols in a mountain environment, park officials have determined it is not feasible to adequately protect the health of mountaineering rangers, other emergency responders, pilots, and the climbing public at this time," Denali officials said in a statement.

____

Associated Press reporter Mark Thiessen contributed from Anchorage, Alaska.

 

You have no rights to post comments

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

 

Login Form

______________________

 

Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 9-25-20)

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 1:10 p.m. Friday.

New cases as of Thursday: 127

Total statewide – 7,254

Total (cumulative) deaths – 51

Active cases in Sitka – 20 (8 resident; 12 non-resident) *

Recovered cases in Sitka – 41 (37 resident; 4 non-resident) *

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 277.

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. 

______________________

 

 

20 YEARS AGO
September 2000

School Superintendent John Holst, Police Chief Bill McLendon and Magistrate Bruce Horton are among panelist confirmed for a community forum on teen alcohol and drug use and the new random drug testing by police in the schools. Other panelists are to be Tribal Judge Ted Borbridge, Nancy Cavanaugh, R.N.,  Asst. District Atty. Kurt Twitty, Tami Young, Trevor Chapman and School Board member Carolyn Evans.

50 YEARS AGO
September 1970

Mark Spender, son of Dr. and Mrs. Ed Spencer, and David Bickar, son of Mr. and Mrs. Oliver Bickar, are among 14,750 high school seniors honored today be being named semifinalists in the National Merit Scholarship competition.

__________________ 

 

 

Facebook

calendar