EXPECT DELAYS – Lines of traffic move slowly down Sawmill Creek Road today as a repaving project progresses near the Indian River bridge. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

May 15, 2020, Community Happenings

Pacific High School

Graduation Saturday


Pacific High School will hold its annual graduation ceremony for seven graduating seniors 2 p.m. Saturday, May 16, virtually. Those to be honored areAbraham Diaz, Devin Kubik, Evan McCrehin, ShyLee McGraw, Psalm Mosher, Leo Tucker and Angelei Young.

The virtual ceremony via Zoom can be seen at https://us04web.zoom.us/j/71431871458?pwd=a0Y1M2JnN0cvNUJYd0VDY3pzcThKZz09 meeting ID: 714 3187 1458 Password PHS2020.


Sitka High School Plans


Graduation Event Monday

Sitka High School and the City and Borough of Sitka will hold a vehicle parade and outdoor graduation celebration on Monday, May 18, to honor the Sitka High graduating class.

The parade will be at  approximately 7:40 p.m., starting at Sitka High School and going to the UAS-Sitka Campus ramp via Lake Street, down Lincoln Street and to Harbor Way, so family members in the Pioneers Home can be included in the celebration.

The parade will consist of about 75 vehicles. Intersections will be shut down to allow the procession to pass through unhindered, the police department said.

The public is being asked to abide by social distancing standards.

Prior to the parade graduation ceremony will be held. It can be viewed via the school’s Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SitkaHighSchool/.

‘‘We regret that the diploma ceremony (previous to the parade) is private and limited to one car per graduate and his or her family members,’’ the school said in a press release.


‘‘The class of 2020 has lost a lot due to COVID-19 – show them they haven’t lost our support,’’ the school said.


Eagle Release to Honor


2020 High School Grads

The Alaska Raptor Center will release two of its fully-recovered eagle patients 10 a.m. Monday, May 18, in honor of the 2020 graduates at Sitka, Pacific and Mt. Edgecumbe high schools.

The release will be streamed live on its Facebook page: Alaska Raptor Center. 

“We want graduating students, their families and the community to know that we celebrate this important milestone and wish them success and happiness in their chosen path,” said board member Paula Scott. “Our staff and board of directors understand that it is disappointing to end the school year without being able to celebrate in the traditional ways, but we hope this gesture helps make graduation memorable and special.” 

To the Alaska Raptor Center, it is a fitting and symbolic tribute. 

“Eagles are powerful and determined birds-of-prey with incredible eyesight,” Scott said. “Just as we send these healthy eagles back into the wild, our community’s high school seniors are launching into their futures and we wish them perfect 20/20 vision as they navigate the next chapter of their lives.”

Founded in 1980, the Alaska Raptor Center is a non-profit avian hospital and sanctuary that provides medical treatment to around 200 injured birds each year. Although it specialize in raptors, it will aid any wild bird in need. The ARC strives to heal, rehabilitate and release all of their avian patients. 

For information, visit the website (alaskaraptor.org), Facebook page, or a call 747-8662.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Alaska Raptor Center is unable to allow visitors on its property to view the releases in person.



Sitkan Presents

Work at University

Misha Bekeris of Sitka was one of more than 200 University of Utah undergraduates showcasing their research virtually at the 2020 Undergraduate Research Symposium April 20.

The symposium provides an opportunity for students to present their work to students, faculty and other members of the University of Utah community. This year’s symposium was set to take place earlier in the month in person, however was delayed and move to a virutal format due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bekeris, whose major is listed as chemical engg HCH, represented the mechanical engineering department. Bekeris gave a presentation titled “Block Copolymers And Nanosphere Lithography As A Bottom-Up Fabrication Tool For Nanoscale Particle Separation Arrays.”


He is a 2016 Sitka High School graduate and the son of Mikolas Bekeris and Karoline Vargas.

Bicyclists Plan

Fitness Challenge

In observance of National Bike Month SEARHC is hosting a bicycle fitness challenge through May 29.

Each Friday in May three $100 VISA gift cards will be raffled.  To enter, send a bicycle-themed photo by noon every Friday to douglaso@searhc.org or post at SEARHC’s Facebook or Instagram pages.

Participants are being encouraged to wear a helmet, bike on the right side of the road and follow social distancing guidelines while riding.

For information call Doug Osborne at 738-8734.


Public Health

Center Provides

Reopening Help

Employers and employees having uncertainty and fear around reopening a business during the pandemic can contact Public Health Nurses for guidance.

‘‘If you are reopening your business, or bringing employees back into the office from teleworking, your local Public Health Nurse is available to help review plans you have in place to protect employees, go over what happens if an employee tests positive for COVID-19, and provide information to employees about COVID-19,’’ a press release from the Sitka Public Health Center said.

Call  747-3255 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday and leave a message stating: “Public Health Nurse Guidance on Your Business Reopening.”

For more local news, information, and resources to help keep Sitka safe and healthy, go to City and Borough of Sitka www.cityofsitka.com Popular Links City of Sitka COVID-19 Information Center and SEARHC Hospital’s COVID-19 page at https://covid19.searhc.org/.


Girls on the Run

By Sitkans Against Family Violence

Girls on the Run is excited to offer a virtual 5K in place of our usual in-person event. This 5K will be held on Saturday, May 23, and Sunday, May 24, and is open to all community members.

Once registered, participants will determine their own time to run, walk, or roll 3.1 miles or a distance of their choosing while following social distancing guidelines. Two potential 5K courses are along the Sea Walk and through Sitka National Historical Park or on the Cross Trail, but you’re welcome to select your own route.

Don’t forget to snap a photo along the way to email to ethompson@safv.org or share with Girls on the Run of Greater Alaska on Facebook using #GOTR5K. If you see a GOTR runner dressed in bright, rainbow colors, make sure to cheer them on. For more information and to register for free, visit tinyurl.com/SitkaGOTRvirtual5K. Registrants will be entered to win one of two $20 Sea Mart gift cards. Brought to you by SAFV and Pathways Coalition Partners.


Tlingit Potatoes

Subject of Videos

The Sitka Ranger District and Sitka Tribe of Alaska have released two videos to educate the public about Maria’s Tlingit potatoes. 

One is a web-based, educational program that was originally presented on April 22. USDA Forest Service staff, the Tribe, and Tribal citizens discussed how to grow Tlingit potatoes, and the biology, history, stories, and cultural aspects of these potatoes. The other is a video tutorial of planting

The videos are available on Vimeo: ‘‘Tlingit Potato Garden – Culture, Horticulture, Stories, History’’ is at https://vimeo.com/416075040.

‘‘Planting Tlingit Potatoes’’ is at https://vimeo.com/416096301.

“We had 20-25 participants on the web meeting this April, some from as far away as Yakutat and Ketchikan,” said District Ranger Perry Edwards. “It was a great discussion and I think the information shared will peak people’s interest from well outside of Southeast Alaska.” 

The videos offer people throughout Southeast and beyond an opportunity to learn more about these interesting potatoes, about sustaining important resources, and about Tlingit culture. 

Tlingit potatoes have been present in Tlingit gardens for more than 200 years. Since 2017, the Sitka Ranger District has provided a sunny plot of land to serve as the shared potato garden and provided the seed potatoes to plant the garden. For those interested in growing these potatoes, certified Maria’s Tlingit seed potatoes are available through the State of Alaska Division of Agriculture Plant Materials Center at http://plants.alaska.gov/PotatoSeedProduction.html.

For more information, contact Michelle Putz at 747-2708 or email michelle.putz@usda.gov.


Water Dept. Offers

Businesses Tips

On Reopening

The city water division is offering tips to businesses that have been closed and are planning to reopen.

The division recommends running cold water from all taps to flush stagnant water from pipes. Stagnant water in pipes could breed bacteria, the city said.

‘‘Run water for 10 to 20 minutes depending on the size of your building,’’ the water department said. ‘‘It is also recommended to drain and refill hot water tanks.’’

For guidance on reopening buildings after prolonged shutdown or reduced operation go to the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/building-water-system.html or call 747-4074.




Althea Buckingham

Services Pending

Former Sitkan Althea Rands Buckingham, 97, died Wednesday, May 13, 2020, at Linden Grove Health Care Center in Puyallup, Washington. 

Althea was born Oct. 31, 1922, at Corvallis, Oregon.

Services are pending. An obituary will be published when the family can arrange a gathering in Sitka, ‘‘hopefully in the not-too-distant future.’’ 



Tribal Council

Meets May 20

Sitka Tribe of Alaska Tribal Council will meet 6:30 p.m. May 20 via teleconference. Those wanting to attend the meeting should contact Anne Davis.


The Tribal Council will hear the third reading of the Ordinance Governing Committees. Anyone wishing to submit a written comment for the Ordinance Governing Committees, can do so by emailing comments to Anne Davis at anne.davis@sitkatribe-nsn.gov. All written comments must be received no later than 4:30 p.m. on May 19. 

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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


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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 8-7-20)

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 11:20 a.m. Friday.

New cases as of Thursday: 53

Total statewide – 3,536

Total (cumulative) deaths – 25

Active cases in Sitka – 20 (14 resident; 6 non-resident) *

Recovered cases in Sitka – 15 (11 resident; 4 non-resident) *

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 141.

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. 




August 2000

High prices for chum salmon, low pink returns, and record numbers of fish in Deep Inlet have turned the Sitka fishing grounds into Route 66 this summer. “Overall it’s been a fantastic season so far,” said Steve Reifenstuhl, operations manager for the Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association.

August 1970

His Beatitude, Metropolitan Ireney, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, will head a gathering of Orthodox prelates from North American and abroad in ceremonies canonizing the first American Orthodox saints, Father Herman of Alaska. A group of Sitkans will fly to Kodiak for the event.