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VIGIL – More than 300 people share seven minutes of silence on Totem Square during a vigil for George Floyd, who died last week while in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The large turnout for event made it difficult for participants to maintain the six-foot social distance that organizers had hoped for. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Volunteers Take Action, Build Bike Trail

By GARLAND KENNEDY
Sentinel Staff Writer

Sitka’s new single-track mountain bike trail is about halfway done, and on target to open by early June.

“It’s beautiful, number one,” said Amy Volz, project leader in the all-volunteer trail building project.

“It’s not too hard in difficulty, in terms of uphill or downhill,” she added. “The turns are maybe a little tighter than someone who may be used to a flowing trail down south. So it’s a little more challenging than just a straight path.”

Bike enthusiast Doug Osborne, who also has worked on the project, agrees.

“I think it will be fun, and not so technical that it will be prohibitive for riders of different levels,” Osborne told the Sentinel.

Osborne noted that Sitka had a single-track bike trail in the last decade, out Sawmill Creek Road near the Gary Paxton Industrial Park, but that trail is long overgrown and unused. Once completed, the new trail will be the only one of its kind in Sitka.

While there are other, informal mountain bike trails in the area, the new trail will be the only one with formal approval from the City of Sitka.

Volz, who said she got into mountain biking about ten years ago in Oregon, described city approval and support of the project as “incredibly meaningful.” 

“What it says is that the city has an interest in expanding the uses of their property,” she said. “And a lot of it started in that area with the Cross Trail.”

Calder Prussian, 12, rides down a section of newly completed bike trail off the Cross Trail this afternoon. Calder is one of the Sitka cyclists who have volunteered time to build the spur trail. Volunteers will be following social distancing protocols while working on the new path this evening. Sitka’s new single-track mountain bike trail is about halfway done (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

While the city gave a green light on the project, the new trail has not received any public funding.

The new trail is a loop that begins and ends on the Cross Trail, immediately west of the Pherson Street Connector. The trail will be called ‘907,’ for its length in feet, as well as the Alaskan phone area code.

“It’s a really grass roots effort,” Osborne said. The new trail is under construction by volunteer labor. Volz estimated that roughly 50 working hours have gone into the project so far.

“We’ve only been working on it for perhaps a month . . . We’ve had a number of five- to seven-person volunteer days going on now,” Volz said.

One of those volunteers is Sitka High School junior Kobi Weiland.

“This has been a dream for a lot of people,” he said. Weiland first mountain biked in Haines when he was eight years old.

For the current project, he said, most of the work was simply moving gravel from the storage spot on the Cross Trail into the woods where the new bike trail is flagged.

“We’ve been clearing a path and putting gravel on it… Most of it is just moving gravel, that’s most of the work,” he said.

He added that he’s “hoping it makes other people happy, and gets more high school students outdoors.”

Other mountain biking trails are planned in the area, and Weiland said he looks forward to working and biking on them as well.

Volz added that due to restrictions on larger groups of people during the pandemic, she and her volunteers have taken measures to ensure their health.

“It’s a very coordinated effort in these COVID times to minimize the number of people... I tell people to bring masks and wear them and have them working at either end of the trail,” she said.

Anyone interested in volunteering on the trail project should send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

“It’s inspiring to work in these times, when it’s so hard to be able to predict the future or know where we’ll be a month from now, that we are building the first trail of many trails,” Volz said. “It’s a long term vision and it’s great to be a part of that type of vision and doing right now.”

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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 6-2-20)

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 10:20 a.m. Tuesday.

New cases as of Monday: 20

Total statewide – 487

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.

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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

NOTICE FROM THE PUBLISHERS

TO READERS AND ADVERTISERS

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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