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)

Assembly to Tackle Sharing of $9.5M

Sentinel Staff Writer

The Assembly will hold a special meeting tonight to consider options and methods for distributing Sitka’s $14 million share of federal coronavirus impact CARES Act funds.

The meeting will be 6 p.m. at Harrigan Centennial Hall. 

At Tuesday’s regular Assembly meeting, ordinances were introduced dedicating up to $4.5 million from the $14 million to subsidies on harbor moorage and utility bills. Those ordinances will be up for public hearing and a vote on final approval on June 9.

But the Assembly still faces decisions on the remaining $9.5 million and needs to pick a direction for the funds within the guidelines and restrictions on the uses of the funds.

Earlier this month City Administrator John Leach proposed forming a working group to provide the Assembly with a recommendation for criteria for applicants, and distribution to various sectors. “All distribution of funds will continue to be ultimately approved by the Assembly,” he added in a memo.

There were no objections from the Assembly, and Leach subsequently selected a half-dozen Sitkans to join him in the working group. They were:

– John Leach, city administrator.

– Lisa Gassman, Sitka Tribe of Alaska general manager.

– Kevin Mosher and Kevin Knox, Assembly members.

– Jay Sweeney and Melissa Haley, from the city finance department.

– Brian Hanson, city attorney.

– Melissa Henshaw, deputy city clerk.

At the Tuesday Assembly meeting, Leach reported that after receiving complaints from the public he has disbanded the working group.

“Unfortunately,” he said, “the local nonprofit sector did not feel that their concerns were being adequately heard and addressed by not having a representative assigned to the working group. However, as potential recipients or sub-grantees of CARES funds, I felt their direct involvement of the WG would present a conflict of interest since their involvement would include funding design for nonprofit grants.”

He continued: “Due to the overwhelming pressure for direct involvement from the nonprofit sector I disbanded the working group and postponed all meetings and work sessions until the Assembly can consider the establishment and membership of the recommended WG by motion.”

Leach proposed some options for the Assembly to consider:

– Approve the working group as recommended.

– Do not create a working group and leave all CARES Act funding design and disbursement decisions to the Assembly.

Video coverage of the meeting will be carried on the city’s YouTube channel, and through the city website, at A link is also available on the city’s Facebook page.




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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.



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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