NEW ROUND – Sitka Fire Chief Craig Warren chats with Patrick and Catharine Weaver this afternoon at the fire hall during a COVID-19 vaccination clinic. The Weavers were waiting fifteen minutes after receiving the Moderna version of the COVID-19 vaccine. About 100 Sitkans were scheduled to receive their first dose today. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses for full efficacy. Sitkans can sign up to receive vaccinations at covid19.searhc.org. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

CARES Budget Gets Sitka Assembly’s OK

By SHANNON HAUGLAND
Sentinel Staff Writer

The Assembly gave its approval Tuesday to the proposed budget and a plan for distributing the $14 million in CARES Act funds to Sitka individuals, businesses and organizations.

The purpose of the federal funds under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is to provide “fast and direct economic assistance for American workers and families, small businesses, and preserve jobs for American industries.”

With approval of the proposed budget, the Assembly still has to introduce and pass individual ordinances setting the figures for the separate categories.

Votes on the ordinances are scheduled for July 14 and 28.

Applications for the utility and moorage programs are already being accepted.

Only five of the seven Assembly members were present, and the motion to approve the proposed CARES budget passed on a narrow 4-1 vote.

Voting in favor were Kevin Knox, Kevin Mosher, Richard Wein and Mayor Gary Paxton. Valorie Nelson cast the lone vote against.

The plan was submitted by a committee created for that purpose and called the Working Group. It calls for funds to be apportioned and distributed in a number of categories:

Moorage and Utilities relief - $4.5 million (application period will be open until the end of July).

Business and Nonprofit Grants - $5 million total (business and nonprofit grants from $2,500 to $10,000).

New City Programs - $2.5 million, including funding for childcare centers, food security, behavioral and mental health, housing support, transitional employment

Impact and Mitigation - $1 million, including internet technology, protection of employees and public, continuation of city services, CARES funding consultation, public safety.

Sitka School District - $430,000 for Americorps volunteers, and computer purchases for students, for distance learning options. 

Contingency - $627,653.

Mosher and Knox, who are members of the Working Group, said they realized the plan was not perfect, but they were eager to get help to those who need it - including individuals, businesses and nonprofit organizations.

“This is the best we have with the limited resources we had,” Mosher said. “It’s not a perfect plan.”

Valorie Nelson voted against. She said she liked most of the ideas for distributing funds, but needed more information about the source of the economic data, and the social programs category.

“I know there’s an urgency to get the funds out but there is too much left unknown,” she said today.

Wein said he was inclined to be “Doctor No” on the proposal. He said he’d like to see more funding available for improving food security in the short- and long-term, and more details on projects envisioned under the “transitional employment program.”

“There are some things that haven’t been adequately thought about,” Wein  said.

He suggested that the city start accepting applications to get a better idea of the demand for each category. But in the end he voted in favor in order to “move it along.”

Paxton said the Assembly could make adjustments once city staff sees how many and who are applying for the funds. He and a few others said they’re interested in getting funds out as soon as possible to provide help to those in need.

Commenting today, City Controller Melissa Haley said the distribution plan for CARES funds is still a work in progress.

“This is still being developed but we need to know the amounts to further develop the programs, and know what we have to work with,” she said.

The Sitka School District recently offered to return its share of Secure Rural Schools funding to the city ($229,000), in return for receiving an equivalent amount from the CARES funds. But at the beginning of Tuesday’s meeting City Administrator John Leach said the proposal had been withdrawn.

From the public, Gayle Young voiced her support for funding for services for the “unsheltered” population of Sitka. She told of the increased challenges faced by this segment of the population during the pandemic and the decline in the number of buildings available as shelter. Other communities are using CARES funds to provide shelter for men, a need that persists in Sitka, she said.

“When there is an opportunity to submit a grant request, I hope we can finally make a spot for those who have no spot,” she said.

 

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August 5, 2020

A Note To Our Readers

Reopening: Phase One:

 

On March 30 the Daily Sitka Sentinel began taking precautions against the coronavirus, which was starting to show up in Alaska.

We closed our building to the public and four key employees started working remotely. Home delivery was suspended to protect our carriers from exposure to the virus.

Four months later, the virus is still with us and the precautions remain in effect.

In appreciation for the willingness of our subscribers to pick up their daily paper at drop-off sites, the Sentinel was free to all readers, and subscriptions were extended without charge.

As of August 1 the Sentinel is once again charging for subscriptions, but the present method of having subscribers pick up their papers at designated sites will continue.

The expiration date of all subscriptions has been extended without charge for an additional four months.

We thank our readers for their support in these uncertain times, and especially those who paid for the paper despite the free offer.

We look forward to the time when we can safely resume home delivery.

To check on the expiration of your subscription or to make a payment please call 747-3219. The subscription email address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . We also will be mailing out reminder cards.

The single copy price is again 75 cents. The news racks do not require coins to open, but we ask that the 75 cents for a non-subscription single copy sale be paid with coins in the slot.

– The Sitka Sentinel Staff

 

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Alaska COVID-19 
At a Glance

(updated 1-15-21)

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 10:55 a.m. Friday.

New cases as of Thursday: 296

Total statewide – 49,835

Total (cumulative) deaths – 228

Total (cumulative) hospitalizations – 1,126

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

The City of Sitka posted the following update on COVID-19 cases in Sitka as of 5 p.m. Thursday.

Active cases in Sitka – 17

Hospitalizations (cumulative) in Sitka – 5

Cumulative Sitka cases – 301 (274 resident; 27 non-resident)

Cumulative recovered – 281

The local case data are from the City of Sitka website.

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20 YEARS AGO
January 2001

Photo caption: Sarah and Jeremy Pickard and Dr. James Brooks show off Lauren Marie Pickard, the first baby born in Sitka this year. She arrived at Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital at 10:05 a.m., Jan. 4, weighing 7 pounds, 8 ounces and measuring 20 inches. She’s the first child for the Pickards,who moved here in May with the U.S. Coast Guard.

50 YEARS AGO
January 1971

Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd Foster and daughter Marchele have ended a two-week vacation trip to Idaho. They bought a new Mustang in Seattle, drove it to Sandpoint, Idaho, to visit relatives and stopped in Everett, Wash., to visit Mrs. Foster’s cousin, whom she hadn’t seen in 13 years. Mrs. Foster and Marchele returned by plane and Foster is following with the car, on the ferry.

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