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)

May 29, 2020, Community Happenings

Sitka’s Farmers Markets


Changing for the Summer

The Sitka Local Foods Network will be scaling back the Sitka Farmers Market this season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state has issued a shelter-in-place order, and many public gatherings have been canceled or postponed. 

SLFN is finalizing its plans, but is looking to use the online sales portal Salt and Soil Marketplace so people can order $20 and $40 boxes of produce during the week. The pickup day will be Saturday.

The organization is negotiating the location and the dates and times, but  hopes to hold the first delivery day on June 20, continuing on Saturdays from July through September. Middle Island Gardens will help on delivery days. Other vendors and Alaska Grown products will not be included this year.

Ariane Martin-Goudeau and Nalani James have been named Sitka Farmers Market co-managers. Nina Vizcarrondo, market manager for the past three years, has been a new port of call with the U.S. Coast Guard.

Lead gardener Laura Schmidt continues to grow fresh, local produce at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm. She has had that post for about a decade.

‘‘We want to get fresh, local produce to Sitka residents, but we will need to make changes to protect the health and safety of our customers and volunteers,’’ the foods network said. ‘‘We will wear gloves and masks, and we ask you to wear masks, too. We also will ask you to stay in your cars while we bring your order to you, so we minimize contact.’’

One problem the organization foresees with using the new plan is not being to accept accept WIC/SNAP benefits using an online portal.

‘‘We want to find a way to make sure we can still get fresh, local produce to lower-income Sitkans,’’ SLFN said. ‘‘We are still trying to work through this issue, and we might end up setting up an email address and/or phone number for people to SNAP/WIC beneficiaries to contact us so we can give them a $20 box of produce every other week.’’

Customers will drive up to the pick-up location, and wait in their cars (with engines turned off) until greeters obtain their orders so they can be placed in their vehicle.

‘‘There will be no at-market sales, so please stay with your vehicles and don’t come up to our tables,’’ the organization said. ‘‘If you bike or walk, we will ask you to maintain proper social distancing until we can bring you your order.’’

The first half-hour of the opening will be designated for seniors and those with high-risk health issues, so they can get in and out before the big rush.

‘‘Periodically, we may stop what we’re doing so everybody can wash their hands and reglove, and we can wipe down our tables. We want to make this safe for our customers and our volunteers,’’ SLFN said.

To find out more, go to



Climate Connection: Feeling Change: Part 5

By John Lewis

Spring flowers usually signal a renewal of life. A reminder that life has cycles, ups and downs, ebbs and flows. You are not alone if you did not have time to notice the flowers much with everything going on. Time has become difficult to pin down in these last couple months. 

But as parts of our lives begin to open back up, there are new signs of life. A business reopening or a visit to see a friend in person. With a mix of anxiety and hopefulness, many are looking forward to beginning to recover.

In times like these, people in recovery have a lot to teach us. As individuals we recover from things like illness and addiction. As groups we can recover from natural disasters or economic downturns. When we look at our situation with a changing climate, it has all these elements. It is a dependence on a substance, fossil fuels. And it impacts our personal health, economic health and the broader natural world. 

So as we look to recover from a pandemic and think about climate recovery, what lessons are there? 

The first lesson is that recovery is not a “going back to the way things were.” Instead, it is about reconnecting with that which makes us who we are. The deeper parts we lose touch with when we are invaded by illness or addiction. It can also be habits, attitudes, or activities that may be helpful at first. But over time, they can become a burden, causing us to lose touch with what we value.

The second lesson is that recovery is about letting go. Like an overstuffed backpack, we carry around these burdens and feel their weight. During times of  change, crisis and recovery, we have to ask ourselves what really matters. Which items in my backpack are going to be helpful in the next leg of the journey? 

For most of us, this next leg looks a lot different than we imagined. Which brings us to the third lesson: recovery is not a one-time event. Instead it is a process with a lot of unknowns. By letting go of what is not us, we can meet this future without spending all our energy recreating the past. We can go with the flow, even if that means stopping and starting or opening and closing again.

The last lesson is that what we need most is usually found within us. As individuals we can find new ways to use our skills and abilities to meet new circumstances. Or recover the time-honored practice of mediation to calm our minds in turbulent times. And let go of what we do not need.

As groups, we can also uncover wisdom from the past to help us adapt to an uncertain future. This could be the wisdom of gardening together or subsistence activities. These can help us better tune into the natural rhythms of life. Which might make those spring flowers just a little more noticeable.



John Lewis is a behavioral health professional and a member of the Sitka Citizens’ Climate Lobby


On Dean’s List

Misha Bekeris, of Sitka, was named to the University of Utah’s spring dean’s list. His major is chemical engineering.

Bekeris was among more than 7,500 students named to the list. To qualify, students must earn a grade point average of 3.5 or higher in at least 12 graded credit hours during any one term.


Sitka Grad Gets

DW Scholarship

Asa Demmert, a 2020 Sitka High School graduate, has been awarded the $10,000 Delta Western Scholarship.

The scholarship is awarded to a student in each of Delta Western’s operating communities. It is based on academic performance, community involvement, extracurricular activities, awards received and financial need.

Delta Western said Asa Demmert is the embodiment of hard work and dedication.

‘‘With determination, he has maintained a stellar 3.92 grade point average. His can-do attitude has also translated into athletics,’’ a press release from the group said.

This fall, Demmert plans to attend Fort Lewis College, Durango, Colo., where he will run cross country and track while studying exercise physiology. 

The scholarship was presented to Demmert on May 13 during a virtual scholarship ceremony.

He is the son of Casey and Emily Demmert.


Summer Baseball

Tryout on Sunday

A tryout will be held 2-4 p.m. Sunday at Moller Field for ages 13-19 for participation in a summer baseball league.

Participants who have not received invitations must pre-register for the tryout at the Alaska American Legion website. The league has no affiliation with Legion, however, and is organized by the Alaska Alliance For Baseball.

Participants must adhere to social distancing upon arrival, and take a neck gater, protective cup, glove and bat.

Email Brandon at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with questions.

Regular practices will start next week.


Sitka Safe Stores

Program on Tap

The Sitka Health Summit Coalition, in partnership with the Sitka Chamber of Commerce and the State of Alaska Division of Public Health Nursing, with financial support from Sitka Legacy Foundation, has launched a Safe Stores, Shoppers and Workers initiative to support the Sitka business community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The goals of the initiative are to support local businesses and protect workers and customers by helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19, a press release from the group said.

‘‘We are offering information and customized supplies, such as disposable masks and hand sanitizer, at no charge to help businesses keep their employees and customers safe,’’ the release said. ‘‘Participation is completely voluntary – there is no enforcement element to this project whatsoever. We also hope that this effort will help you feel appreciation for and encouragement from your community.’’

Those who wish to receive information and/or supplies can complete an order form as soon as possible. For information email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . A response will be given within two business days with details on what support will be provided.

Supplies are limited, so requests will be filled  on a first-come, first-serve basis. A maximum amount of assistance per business has been set to ensure that benefits are felt across the community, the group said.


Lincoln Street

Closure Sunday

The Sitka Fire Department will close Lincoln Street 7 a.m.-noon Sunday, May 31, for street cleaning. Drivers are reminded to use other street routes during that time.

Contact the fire hall at 747-3233 with any questions.


Urgent Care

Moving to

Family Clinic

Mountainside Urgent Care will relocate to the Mountainside Family Clinic at 209 Moller Avenue on June 1, SEARHC announced this week.

Urgent care services will be available seven days a week, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., with no appointments necessary to see a provider.

“Incorporating urgent care services within the existing Mountainside Family Clinic will improve continuity of care for all patients,” said SEARHC Vice President of Clinics Eric Gettis. “Shared facilities will provide enhanced imaging and laboratory options for urgent care patients seven days a week.”

Urgent care services provide patients medical treatment for non-emergent health conditions including minor injuries, acute illness, infections and others. Primary care services remain available at Mountainside Family Clinic to provide patients of all ages with preventative care, physical examinations, and treatment of chronic conditions.

Patients exhibiting emergent conditions should visit Mt. Edgecumbe Medical Center.


For information, visit or call 747-1722.



Stations in SE

GCI subsidiary Denali Media Holdings today announced the sale of its NBC affiliates in Southeast Alaska to Gray Television. The sale includes KATH and KSCT stations in the Juneau and Sitka markets.

Denali Media Holdings was established in 2012 and owns KTVA (CBS) in Anchorage along with three CBS stations in Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan.

“GCI is committed to keeping Alaskans connected,” said GCI Vice President of Corporate Communications Heather Handyside. “In today’s uncertain economic climate, it makes sense for GCI and DMH to streamline operations and to focus on our core deliverables. Viewers and advertisers in our Juneau and Sitka markets will not experience any interruption of service as the result of this transaction.”

The sale is expected to be completed within the next two months.


Special Prayer

Service June 1

A special prayer service will be held noon June 1 to mark the National Day of Mourning and Lament, a time to grieve and honor those who have died from COVID-19.

For information on how to join the Zoom service being hosted by St. Peter’s by-the-Sea, email the church office at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


Grace Harbor

Resumes Church

Services Sunday

Grace Harbor will resume holding services in its church building on Sunday, May 31.

While the recorded services provided during quarantine will no longer be produced, video recordings of the Sunday service will still be posted on the church website, app and Facebook page, the church said.

The Saturday night service will resume later, and provision for children will be limited to the nursery program and the 3- and 4-year-old’s class.

For further information, call the church office at 747-5706 between 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The church building is located at 1904 Halibut Point Road, across from Sea Mart.

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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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