HISTORIC MOVE – Harry Greene, maintenance and operations superintendent at the Sitka Public Works Department, uses a backhoe to lift the Baranof statue onto a wooden dolly with the help of co-worker Mike Callahan, this morning in front of Harrigan Centennial Hall. The bronze statue, estimated to weigh between 400 and 600 pounds, was relocated to inside the Sitka History Museum today. The city Assembly passed a resolution, on a 6-1 vote, in July to move the statue from its prominent  outdoor location to inside the museum.  At the July meeting several members of the public said the statue was a symbol of “historical trauma.”  The statue, created by artist Joan Bugbee Jackson, was given to the city in 1989 by Lloyd and Barbara Hames. Hames family members said earlier this year they supported moving the statue into the museum. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Wegner Names Principal Changes

Sentinel Staff Writer

School District Superintendent Mary Wegner today announced several changes in principal and assistant principal positions at Sitka High School and Blatchley Middle School.

“I have offered contracts,” Wegner said. “They have 30 days to sign.”

If the contracts are signed SHS assistant principal Sondra Lundvick will move up to principal, and principal Laura Rogers will become half-time assistant principal at Blatchley and work half-time in a district-wide position. Lundvick will hire the SHS assistant principal, with the concurrence of the interim superintendent. Blatchley assistant principal Matt Potter has been offered a position as social studies teacher at the middle school.

“I really appreciate Matt Potter’s contributions for the district,” Wegner said.

Wegner had previously said a principal reassignment at one other school was also being considered, but under the plan announced today Casey Demmert will remain as principal at Keet Gooshi Heen; Jill Lecrone at Baranof Elementary, and Mandy Summer at Pacific High. Ben White will remain as principal at Blatchley.

The decisions to shift personnel came following conversations between Wegner, John Holst, and the four principals being considered for new posts.

Holst will become interim superintendent July 1, when Wegner leaves to take a position with the University of Alaska Southeast.

“We had really good conversations with principals, and working with John Holst,” said Wegner. “We’re really looking at a strength-based approach. This is the time we look at placements for next year. ... We listened to them and it’s up to them to decide (whether to sign).”

Wegner cited the goals of the district and making the best use of the talents of administrative staff in light of the board’s goals of closing the achievement gap and improving social-emotional learning.

“It’s a question of how do we leverage strengths to meet the needs,” Wegner said. “We have a lot of data: which schools need which leadership to meet the goals of the district.”

Wegner had emailed the School Board that changes were being considered at principal and assistant principal positions at Sitka High, Blatchley and Keet Gooshi Heen. Each principal and assistant principal, who is represented by a union, followed the outlined process, and set up meetings with her and Holst to discuss the matter further.

“We’ll have two moves instead of four,” Wegner said. Holst concurred with Wegner’s comments.

“I’m feeling really good about the decision -- as painful as it may be to some people I think it’s the right thing,” said Holst, who was superintendent of the Sitka School District for eight years.

“When people have been in places for longer periods of time ... You’ve got to get people in the right place and match their skill level,” he said.

Since retiring in 2001, Holst has stayed active as a school administration consultant and mentor around the state.

After the potential moves became public the district office and board members received a lot of public feedback.

Judging from the comments, Wegner said, “No doubt, we have a passionate learning community that cares about our students.”

She said half of Rogers’ new job is districtwide, with such responsibilities as 504/gifted coordinator, or implementation of certain district grants.

Rogers, who was busy today making final arrangements for Sitka High’s non-traditional graduation ceremony later today, said her main goal is to “do what’s in the best interest of the district.”

“Ultimately one way or another I want to make sure we’re focused on the things we need to do for fall and not anything going on with me personally,” she said. “I can do that in either capacity. I want to make sure kids are focused on coming back to school with the most positive attitude possible.”

Rogers was assistant principal at Blatchley for two years before becoming principal of SHS three years ago

“I loved working for Ben before; I will enjoy working with him again,” she said.

Wegner announced the final position decisions in her weekly “Superintendent Spotlight” newsletter to staff on Friday. She also posted the decision on the district website. Wegner said the board is responding to individuals who shared concerns about the changes.



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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.

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– The Sitka Sentinel Staff


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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 9-29-20)

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 12:20 a.m. Tuesday.

New cases as of Monday: 118

Total statewide – 7,721

Total (cumulative) deaths – 56

Active cases in Sitka – 19 (13 resident; 6 non-resident) *

Recovered cases in Sitka – 47 (37 resident; 10 non-resident) *

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 288.

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. 




September 2000

Gilnettings, By Gil Truitt: The Sitka All-Star Team (Team II) of 1939-1956 is revealed here for the first time.  Fermin “Rocky” Gutierrez, Hugh Pace, “Red” Belinski, Harold “Pretty Boy” Morris, George Kucherak, Dorm McGraw Sr., Herb Didrickson Sr., Gorman Shutt, Vic Adamson, Bill Robinson  and Johnny Vander. ... Other gifted players include Tony Herman, Bunny Donnelly, Hal Taylor, Archie Nielsen, Cecil McClain and Richard (Dick) Eliason.

September 1970

The Alaska Judicial council has selected Sitka as the site of a new branch of the state superior court. The Legislature had created a position for a third Superior Court judge in Southeast, but the city was not specified in the legislation.