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)

March 27, 2020, Community Happenings

Climate Connection: Feeling Change: Part 3 

By John Lewis

It may seem strange right now to be focusing on climate when there are more immediate things to worry about. But there are similar feelings with both the coronavirus and the climate. They are both big changes in our world that mean major shifts in the way we do things. And they both have a lot of unknowns.

Anxiety is one of the main feelings when we encounter the unknown. A simple way to understand anxiety is that it is worry plus stress. Worries are thoughts that we have in our head about something that is happening or may happen. Stress is our body’s reaction to change. We may feel our heart rate increase and our muscles tense. 

We all experience anxiety and it can actually be helpful. The thoughts can help us to plan and make decisions. Our body feels stress as it gathers energy to make a helpful move. Whether that is rising to meet the challenge or seeking safety. Even when helpful, though, these can be uncomfortable feelings. 

But there are also times where it becomes more than uncomfortable. When the feelings get so big and unbearable that you must do something right now. And like anxiety, this panic can be useful or it can lead to actions that might not be helpful. These reactions are not only deeply human, but shared across forms of life. 

In times like these, we may not be able to avoid anxiety and panic. These thoughts and feelings are natural responses to change. And change is tough. Recognizing this can help us not be too hard on ourselves as we adjust to stress in our own ways. But there are also other things we can do to help manage these feelings as they come and go.

The first and often best response to anxiety is to breathe. Try slowly inhaling while counting to five and then slowly exhale counting to five for a few minutes. Breathing brings oxygen to the brain and slows down our heart rates. This can make things feel a little less pressing. With so much out of our control, breathing is one thing we can bring under our control at any time and any place. 

Another thing we can do is to talk about our worries and concerns. Talking turns on parts of the brain that help us to think more clearly. When we talk with others, we can also get their perspective. Seeing things from their view can help add to our own and provide a bigger picture.  

Talking also helps us to get out of our own heads and realize we are not alone in our feelings.  Connecting with each other may be one of the most important things we do during this time. Social distance does not have to mean social disconnection. Now more than ever it is important to reach out. Even a smile or a nod in passing can be enough to connect right now. 

At the end of the day, we are all in this strange thing called life together. And this too will pass. But how we respond to the feelings now can help us meet future challenges. The tools we find, connections we make and networks we form will help us to support ourselves and each other, no matter how things unfold.



John Lewis is a behavioral health professional and a member of the Sitka Citizens’ Climate Lobby


Grand Camp

Is Postponed

Sitka’s Alaska Native Brotherhood Camp 1 and Alaska Native Sisterhood Camp 4 have withdrawn their invitation to host ANB-ANS Grand Camp 2020, which was scheduled for October.

ANB President George Chappell, ANS President Nancy J. Furlow, and the ANB and ANS officers, believe that the priority is to keep elders, the membership, and the community of Sitka safe as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to change the ways people live and interact with one another.

‘‘In the coming months we’ll turn our attention more closely to our own community’s needs,’’ the organizations said in a press release. ‘‘Thank you to all of you who stepped up to work on Grand Camp 2020 committees, and for the time and effort you gave to planning a successful Grand Camp.’’


ANS Camp 4

Cancels Meetings

Sitka’s Alaska Native Sisterhood Camp 4 has canceled all meetings indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The organization said that options to hold meetings remotely are being explored and as this option becomes available all members will be contacted. For information call Nancy (907) 227-9102.


School Budget

Session Tonight

The Sitka School Board will hold a budget work session 6 p.m. tonight virtually through the GoToMeeting conferencing tool.

It can be used from any browser as well as most mobile devices, with or without a camera. As this is a work session no comment will be taken from the public.

Use the link below to listen and watch the meeting. The link will also be posted on the front page of the Sitka School District website.


Join the meeting from a computer, tablet or smartphone at https://www.gotomeet.me/RuthJoens/ssd-budget-work-session.


Playgroups Canceled

The Center for Community’s Early Learning Program has canceled the Tuesday and Thursday morning playgroups at Grace Harbor Church through April 30, possibly longer.


St. Gregory’s Cancels

Masses, Gatherings

All daily and weekend Masses, and all gatherings, have been suspended at St. Gregory’s Catholic Church until further notice.

Private prayer in the church is also suspended until further notice, as it relates to the ‘‘Hunker Down/Stay at Home’’ resolution of the City of Sitka.  Further updates can be found at the parish website.


F&G Announces Winners

Of Sablefish Tag Drawing

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has announced the winners of the annual tag recovery incentive drawing for sablefish tag returns.

The winners are: Dale Bosworth, F/V Kruzof, Petersburg, $1,000; Paul Sorenson, Wind Walker, Kenai, $500; Bruce Bauer, Kaia, Juneau, $500; Glenda Huff, Kariel, Gig Harbor, Washington, $250; James Phillips, Pacific Dawn, Pelican, $250; Jim Hubbard, Kruzof, Seward, $250; and William Hammer Jr., Silver Lady, Port Townsend, $250.

Those who return an ADF&G sablefish tag receive a tag reward, such as a hat or T-shirt. Tag returns with valid recovery information – fisherman’s name, date of recovery, and latitude and longitude – are entered into a random drawing for a cash prize. A total of 1,052 tags qualified for this year’s drawing.

The department has been tagging sablefish in Southeast Alaska since 1979 to obtain information on sablefish movement, growth, and abundance. Tags are bright orange or green in color, approximately three inches long, and located below the first dorsal fin. 

Sablefish tagged in the internal waters of Southeast Alaska have been recovered from as far away as Northern California and the Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea, ADF&G said. Movement information collected from tagging studies is important to the management of sablefish fisheries, and the department appreciates the participation of fishermen and processors in this program. Information detailing the release and recovery of tag returns may be requested from ADF&G staff.


For additional information on groundfish fisheries, visit the Southeast Regional Groundfish Fisheries website: http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=commercialbyareasoutheast.groundfish.


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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.



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 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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