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)

After 33 Years, Pastor of Grace Harbor Retiring

By Sentinel Staff

After 33 years as the pastor of Grace Harbor, Paul McArthur will lead his final service before retirement this Sunday.

McArthur and his family have lived in Sitka since 1987. A longtime pastor, McArthur pastored churches in Oregon before coming to Alaska in 1981, and lived first on the Kenai Peninsula.

Carolyn and Paul McArthur. (Photo provided)

The service at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, May 31, will also be the first in-person service at Grace Harbor since the pandemic began.

McArthur told the Sentinel that Grace Harbor has recorded services for years, but has recently upgraded recording equipment in response to social distancing requirements which forced churches around the world to shut their doors.

“We do have a video recorder that records from the sound booth on the balcony. However, during this time we have upgraded equipment for the recording,” McArthur said.

He added that the in-person service will look somewhat different than before.

“As we start here, we are going to observe sanitation recommendations at the stations and the extra cleaning. Masks are optional, and we said even before we had to suspend if you’re sick not to come,” he said. “Communion will be a little bit different in that we will have people with latex gloves to hand the bread to them rather than using their own hands.”

McArthur said that after he came to Sitka, Grace Harbor held services both on the Sheldon Jackson campus and in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, but in 1991 moved into the current building at 1904 Halibut Point Road, across from Sea Mart.

He added that in recent years, Grace Harbor has embarked on a million-dollar expansion project, funded entirely by the congregation.

“Because God provided through the giving of our people, we never had to stop for lack of funds,” he said. The church undertook no debt in the project, he said.

“I am grateful that we have been able to do this,” he said.

McArthur described Sitka as “extended family.” He played city league basketball for a time, but now watches his grandson Wes Urias play for the Sitka Wolves.

Though he and his wife Carolyn will spend much of their retirement in Los Barriles, Baja, he said that he plans to venture north in the summer time, as well, to watch Wes compete.

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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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