PASSING THROUGH – Orca whales swim near the Indian River estuary Thursday night. A pod of more than a half-dozen adult and juvenile orcas spent the late afternoon in Sitka Sound near shore as people along Sawmill Creek Road photographed and video recorded them. NOAA Fisheries recommends staying at least 100 yards away while viewing whales from boats. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

GILNETTINGS: Good Sitkans Made Town a Better Place


Special to the Sentinel

There are some mighty fine, generous and considerate people in this town.

They have made this a great place to settle. And yet, many do not know who these people are for the simple reason they do not talk about their accomplishments. They are happiest when they help others with good deeds. Such as the following, listed in order of memory rather than by accomplishment:

Ralph Weeks arrived at Sheldon Jackson in the Fall of 1938 as a teacher, basketball coach and head of one of the boys dormitories. He was    quickly given the name Pop Weeks. He was easily the most loved staff member on campus. He was a great basketball coach; and outstanding teacher and dynamic  preacher. During the 1940-41 basketball season, he sent two duffle bags full of boys and girls clothing to a needy family residing in the cottages with the knowledge of acceptance regardless of sizes, styles and colors. Making deliveries were students Isabella Sing, Dorothy Gordon, Cyril George, Ray Demmert and Robert Jeff David. They were destined to make additional visits to the same home.

Robert Jeff David (Photo provided)

Ralph Weeks left SJ at the time of the 1942 school year. He was hired as religious coordinator at Mt. Edgecumbe High school at the beginning of the first year of operation. He stayed in that position three years before moving on to a ministerial   position up North. His impact was as great at MEHS as it was at Sheldon Jackson.    He was one of a kind.

David P. Howard Sr. graduated in 1915 from Sheldon Jackson grade school where he was an outstanding athlete in every sport that he participated in. In time, he was considered the top athlete in Southeast. However, it was not sports that gave him much acclaim. It was public service and the manner in which he treated others.

In the latter years of his life,  before he moved to the Pioneer Home, his modest home on Katlian Street became the home for the needy and homeless. The place was so crowded that floor space was limited and guests had to sleep on the floor without bedding. Years later, those who slept on the floor stated that was preferable to sleeping on the ground or under someone’s house. All walks of life took advantage of the hospitality afforded by Mr. Howard.

It was learned recently that the food items that often appeared in the home were donations from various bakeries and grocery store owners at the time. Drop-ins for a night or two always had a warm place to stay and something to eat in the morning. After graduation from high school, I spent a number of nights and times with the rest of the bunch.

Not too long ago, a number of us who benefited by the hospitality of Mr. Howard, talked about Dave and what a blessing he had been to so many guys who needed the help that he offered.

The following is not about Peter Simpson but rather quotations that he made famous:

“Never change anything unless you can come up with something better;” “Do not get involved in Native Politics;”  “Custer thought he understood, look what happened to him;” “Always tell the truth and you do not have to remember what you said;” “Be nice to everyone, it does not cost anything;” “Read the Good Book every day;” “Start planning your life at an early age and do not be afraid to change;” “When you pass on, people will not ask how much money did he leave; instead they will ask what did he do for others.”

L. C. Louis Berg looked mean and uncaring and always with an unlit cigar hanging on one side of his mouth.    Those who did not know him described him as above. Those who knew him laughed at the description and always defended him with many words of praise. He was most often said to be kind, big-hearted and always willing to give a lending hand to those in need.  He was a fish buyer whose business was situated on the Cold Storage Dock. He pretty much  hired the same people year after year. Loyalty to each other was a big part of the longevity.


Highlight of each year was the season-ending party that honored every one including the boss. Everyone receive a present or prize. Top prizes were ham; pork hindquarters and beef hindquarters. A lady won the pork and beef. This was in 1942. Sam Didrickson was given a bonus one hundred dollar check for working for the company longer than anyone else.

Mr. Berg married the former government nurse and she made home deliveries. One of those deliveries, she named Alvin, after her father. Mr. Berg had a son, Carl, from a previous marriage and he had friends who worked in the cold storage or Pyramid Packing: Lawrence Straub, Arden Gorsline, Jack Thompson, Gordon Buckman, Larry Miller, Harold Hodgins and Tony Herman. Tony had friends everywhere.    Stan Westover and brother Pee Wee were right behind.    

The last-named socialized with everyone. Unusual at the time. 

Former State Senator Albert Adams graduated from Mt. Edgecumbe High School in 1961 and became a legend in the following years. He rose to prominent and powerful positions in the House and then the Senate as Chairman. 

Bean’s    Cafe    and    its cliental were the Senator’s favorites. The café is a soup kitchen located in downtown Anchorage and serves primarily those down on their luck, homeless. The Café is situated by 4th Avenue where the Senator would walk with coins in pocket and often give them to street walkers who sought help.

One Anchorage publication reported the Senator donated 50 turkeys to assist in the Thanksgiving feed. He always gave freely. He was from Kotzebue, a former Brave, highly respected and extremely popular. His favorite slogan was “Once a Brave, always a Brave.” He loved MEHS and people always spoke of him in loving terms. He attended every school reunion on site or where the event was staged.    

When MEHS was in need of fundraising, the Senator was right in the midst of all efforts and was a big help in the success.


His passing was a big loss to MEHS and the State of Alaska. He was absolutely correct, in talking about Edgecumbe “Once a Brave, Always a Brave.”

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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 7-31-20)

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 12:50 p.m. Friday.

New cases as of Thursday: 108

Total statewide – 2,990

Total (cumulative) deaths – 23

Active cases in Sitka – 15 (10 resident; 5 non-resident) *

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

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 133.

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. 



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 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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July 2000

Clinton Buckmaster shot and wounded a large brown bear Tuesday night when it charged him near his Thimbleberry Bay home in the 2100 block of Sawmill Creek Road. As of press time, the bear was still at large.

July 1970

The city council agreed at a special meeting Thursday to consider the request of Alaska Native Brotherhood Camp No. 1 for redevelopment planning funds for the Indian Village. Cost has been estimated at $12,000.