OPEN AIR CONCERT – From left, musicians Ross Venneberg, Brian Neal, Wade Demmert and Roger Schmidt perform an outdoor brass concert for residents of the Pioneers Home Monday. The professional musicians, who are hunkered down in Sitka, are regulars at the annual Holiday Brass Concert. The Pioneers Home has been closed to visitors during the pandemic. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

March 24, 2020, Community Happenings

Sitka master gardener class begins March 30

Sitka master gardener training that was postponed due to coronavirus precautions will become distance-delivered and start Monday, March 30.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service said in a press release participants will meet 6-8:30 p.m. Mondays with the Juneau master gardeners class through May 11.

Because the Juneau training has already begun, additional classes will be scheduled online for Sitka participants at 6 p.m. Wednesdays April 1-22 to make up some of the hours missed.

The session will provide basic and practical horticultural training on a wide range of topics, including how to design, plant and maintain successful gardens in Southeast.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service will host the session and the additional classes via Zoom webinar. The Juneau class is taught by Extension agent Darren Snyder, experts and other Extension agents and staff. The Sitka additions will be organized by Extension assistant Jasmine Shaw and University of Alaska Southeast biology professor Kitty LaBounty. Those also will be available by Zoom, through home internet.

Participants will commit to providing at least 40 hours of volunteer service to their communities within a year of completing the class.

Trainees will be provided opportunities to share their skills with the community through various service projects and other venues.

Registration and additional details are available at The $300 fee includes an Alaska gardening manual and a $150 deposit that will be refunded if service is completed within a year. For more information, contact Shaw at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


Updates Given

On VHF Outages

After being non-operational for 125 days, the VHF tower at Althrop Peak in Southeast Alaska is operational and providing VHF coverage. 

The U.S. Coast Guard has experienced various VHF outages in Southeast and Southcentral Alaska. Extra caution is advised in areas serviced by the VHF towers  Bede Mountain, Cape Fanshaw, Deception Hills, Sukkwan Island, Point Pigot, Tuklung Mountain, and Duffield Peninsula as of March 23. 

Repairs are ongoing, the Coast Guard said, but due to extreme weather and remote locations, intermittent outages are expected to continue in various locations in both Southeast and Southcentral Alaska.

Mariners are reminded that because of mountainous terrain, and limited VHF coverage, even with fully operational VHF sites the U.S. Coast Guard can’t hear VHF calls in all areas, and mariners should have secondary means of communications onboard at all times, file a float plan with a trusted person, and carry safety equipment onboard in the event you are in a survival situation. The following phone numbers can be used to reach the U.S. Coast Guard in emergencies. As always, boaters should carefully evaluate their ability to assist distressed mariners, and always relay any heard distress calls to the US Coast Guard: Sector Juneau Command Center at 907-463-2980; Sector Anchorage Command Center, 907-428-4100; and 17th District command center, 907-463-2000

Charts showing the locations of VHF tower sites in Alaska can be seen at the USCG’s Navigation Center’s website at or The charts do not show an  additional VHF site at Valdez. 

For media inquiries regarding the VHF outages, contact D17 Public Affairs at 907-463-2065.









Monthly Grind

Season Canceled

The Sitka Monthly Grind producers have announced the cancellation of the April 11 Sitka Monthly Grind, due to current circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Sitka Monthly Grind will be back for season 26 starting in October.

‘‘Thanks, everybody, for your  support for the past 25 years,’’ the Grind producers said today.


AA Groups


Until further notice, AA and NA  groups meeting at noon at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church and Sitka Lutheran Church are temporarily suspended, due to concerns about COVID-19 and social distancing.

AA Rectory meeting Thursday and Sunday evenings are postponed. 


PFD Filing

Deadline Near

The Permanent Fund Dividend filing deadline is March 31, the Sitka Legislative Information Office reminds Sitkans.

The applications can be filed online. Paper applications are available on the LIO door for pickup.

Information Officer Bronwyn Walton is in the office 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to answer any filing questions via phone at 747-6276.

‘‘Please get your applications submitted by the deadline,’’ Walton said. ‘‘Any supporting documentation that needs to be sent can be handled through the LIO office when we are open again.’’



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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 7-7-20)

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 11:15 p.m. Tuesday.

New cases as of Sunday: 19

Total statewide – 1,184

Total (cumulative) deaths – 17

Active cases in Sitka – 8 (3 resident; 5 non-resident)

Recovered cases in Sitka – 12 (10 resident; 2 non-resident)

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 78.

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



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



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 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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