ALL IN THE SAME TACO BOAT – Sitkans, many wearing face masks, line up this afternoon at the Sitka Elks Lodge food booth. With the pandemic, most of this year’s Sitka Independence Day events have been modified, but not entirely canceled. The American Legion and Sizzling Chow Cuisine also will have outdoor food booths. While there’s no downtown parade, there is a parade of classic cars that will tour Sitka streets beginning at 1 p.m. at Whale Park. A sing-along and military salute will take place on Totem Square 7 p.m. Friday and a fireworks display will take place 11:30 Friday night over Sitka Channel, with spectators asked to follow social distancing recommendations. The Rotary Club is holding its annual Duck Race on the fourth. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Sullivan Outlines COVID Relief Bill

By GARLAND KENNEDY
Sentinel Staff Writer

Allowing recipients of federal emergency relief funding to use those dollars to replace lost revenue stood out as a high priority for Alaska’s U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan when he spoke by videoconference to the Sitka Assembly Tuesday evening.

Speaking from Anchorage, Sullivan cited a bill that he sponsored along with other senators from both parties, called the Coronavirus Relief Fund Flexibility Act, which would serve as an amendment to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The other sponsors of the bill are Rhode Island Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski, West Virginia Republican Shelley Moore Capito, Maine Independent Angus King, and North Dakota Republican Kevin Cramer.

“If you have lost revenue related to the pandemic, which I’m sure you have, then that (CARES Act) money should be able to be used to make up for that,” Sullivan told the Assembly.

Assembly member Richard Wein addressed Sitka’s need for federal funding to help with its ability to pay its long-term debt, because local costs related to the pandemic have reduced the amount of revenue needed to meet  those costs.

“Sitka is going to come up short with revenue, and I know the CARES Act cannot replace revenue,” Wein said. “And that’s the importance of refinancing debt and if we’re able to do that then that represents a long-term solution, because if we come up short with revenue, we still have to pay our debt burden, and therefore this is still related to COVID as anything else.”

He stressed to Sullivan the importance of Sitka’s ability to pay its debts, especially those incurred by long-term debt for its hydroelectric bonds.

Sullivan replied that this new bill “would help our boroughs and municipalities this year – so it isn’t long-term use that CARES Act money that the state got, $1.3 billion to use... for revenue replacement if it was impacted by the pandemic. Which most revenue losses unfortunately in our state, because our tourism and other things, have been directly impacted.”

The text of Sullivan’s flexibility bill reads that states, tribes, and local governments may use CARES Act funds that are spent on “necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency with respect to COVID-19 during the period that begins on March 1, 2020, and ends on December 31, 2020; or are necessary to replace state or government revenue shortfalls resulting from COVID–19 during the period.”

Assembly member Valorie Nelson said that many of the economic impacts of the virus may be felt only in the longer term.

“The fallout may not even be known as far off as the next year or the year after. We are, more than most communities, a seasonal employer, and people are hurting,” Nelson said.

In his presentation to the Assembly, Sullivan also spoke about his hopes for prolonging the forgiveness period for Paycheck Protection Program loans, stabilizing the price of oil, and increasing Coast Guard presence in the state.

 

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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 7-2-20)

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 11:15 a.m. Wednesday.

New cases as of Monday: 39

Total statewide – 1,017

Total (cumulative) deaths – 14

Active cases in Sitka – 8 (6 resident; 2 non-resident)

Recovered cases in Sitka – 10 (7 resident; 3 non-resident)

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 68.

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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