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)

New Curator Is Busy While Museum Closed

Sentinel Staff Writer

Sitka History Museum curator Nicole Fiorino says it’s a strange time to be new in Sitka – a “hunker down” resolution went into effect just a month and a half after she moved here.

Although the museum is currently closed to the public in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Fiorino is surrounded by the museum’s 50,000 artifacts and photos, and she’s finding plenty to do.

“It’s nice to have a job for what you went to school for; it’s a competitive field and a large percentage don’t find a job in the museum sector,” said the 26-year-old former Bostonian. “I feel privileged to have found this, even if it meant picking up and moving across the country.”



Nicole Fiorino works on the Sitka History Museum archives in Harrigan Centennial Hall today. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Sitka Historical Society director Hal Spackman said the nonprofit organization also feels lucky to have found someone with Fiorino’s education, expertise and personality.

“We’re super-excited to have her here,” he said.

Fiorino graduated from Westwood High School south of Boston, and started her college studies at Westfield State University before transferring to Seton Hall University, in New Jersey. She earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and history in 2016, with a study abroad stint in Rome her sophomore year.

For a year after graduation, she worked at a pharmacy call center, while thinking about what she wanted to do with her life.

When she was in college she and her parents recalled a visit to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston they made when Nicole was a child. They all remembered she was fascinated by the Egyptology wing.

“My parents said, ‘you spent over an hour in that room, and were not satisfied until you had seen everything. We could’ve left you there,’” Fiorino said. “That came back to me when I thought about, ‘what would you enjoy doing?’” 

She was pleased when research led her to learn about the “people behind the scenes” in museums.

“I thought, that sounds like fun, and it has been,” she said.

She found a cheaper option abroad for museum and heritage studies, earning her graduate degree in 2019 from the University of Sydney, in Australia. During her studies, she had an opportunity for an elective course, working in the Sydney Jewish Museum, and also spent time working in the archives of the Australian Museum, producing a master’s thesis on museum governance and exhibition development.

Her position as curator at the Sitka History Museum is her first paid museum job.

Although the museum is closed to the public, Fiorino said she and Spackman are getting a lot of work done. On tap at present is a project to capture the history of the Alaska Pulp Corp. mill, and they are asking Sitkans to come forward with their stories and any artifacts they have to share.

“Right now I’m doing my research and plan to call people in a few days,” Fiorino said today. “This kind of a project is about community, community curation, and we want to hear from people.”

Those interested in sharing stories may email Fiorino at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or call her cell 617-365-0924. A questionnaire is also available upon request. Those with artifacts to share may donate them to the museum, or loan them for the duration of the exhibit.

“We’re hoping to get an in-person exhibit or at the very least do a virtual,” Fiorino said. “We’re trying to take it one day at a time. We’ll be sure to update the community.”




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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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