SUPPLY CHAIN WOES – James Pelletier, Yellow Jersey bicycle mechanic, is surrounded by cycles waiting to be repaired as he points to empty display racks at the Harbor Drive store. The main showroom rack, which can hold two dozen new bicycles, now holds only three bicycles (including an unclaimed special-order $5,000 electric mountain bike) for sale. A nationwide supply chain disruption of bicycles and parts is not expected to be alleviated any time soon. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

City Tries New Tack On Haulout Project

Sentinel Staff Writer

The Assembly on Tuesday moved forward with three items related to Sitka’s harbors, including a $100,000 appropriation to continue moving forward on having a boat haulout at the industrial park.

The motion on the haulout spending ordinance passed on first reading and will be up for public hearing and final reading at the Aug. 11 Assembly meeting.

It calls for spending $100,000 from the city’s Southeast Alaska Economic Development fund to “support specialized consultant services for the technical analysis and design related to the development of a haulout basis of design and RFP.”

“This $100,000 seed money is to help design a slip and a washdown pad – what is appropriate,” Leach told the Assembly.

“We have set a goal to complete Stage 1 by the end of November assuming we receive full grant funding or the end of April 2021 if we need to secure a general obligation bond,” Leach said in a memo to the Assembly.

The city wants to have a haulout – essential infrastructure in a fishing community – in operation before Halibut Point Marine closes Sitka’s primary haulout next spring.

Stage 1 includes a pier and concrete washdown pad..

The Gary Paxton Industrial Park board and staff have been working for years on plans for a haulout under city control. The most recent request for proposals process, calling for private investment, ended with the Assembly’s rejection of all proposals.

Public Works Director Michael Harmon told the Assembly when asked to describe the project: “My understanding, and the idea behind this item, is to shift this project to be more of a city project, that we would be in more of a leadership role to bring that project forward. We would be looking at the grant funding we have applied for ... and have a plan to address leading that project forward with or without that grant funding.”

Leach and Harmon described the team approach that they hope will result in “strong buy in” from various groups.

One of the major changes that occurred after the city issued the RFP was the city’s application for an $8.2 million federal BUILD grant. The city expects to hear in mid-September whether the application is successful. The first RFP did not mention the availability of federal funding for the haulout.

One of the main goals, Leach told the Assembly in his memo, is to develop a plan with “strong buy-in” by user groups and the public in general. Although the initial stages will be taken on by the Technical Working Group (consultants, city staff); and the Haulout Task Force (city commission members, GPIP director, city staff), the public will have a chance to be involved when the plan comes before the park board.

“The GPIP board will give ultimate direction to task the HTF to refine and improve work products as needed,” Leach said in his memo.

Leach told the Assembly, “That will be the stage where there’s public comment and public input to the process. There will be some working sessions where Port and Harbors will be called in with GPIP to assist with that, and the final stage will be presenting that product to the Assembly.”

He said some overlap exists between the committees and other groups, and Assembly members will be asked to participate on the committees.

Assembly member Thor Christianson asked why the city was moving forward before hearing whether federal funds will be available.

“If we don’t (get the grants) it’ll be a waste of time and money,” he said.

Mayor Gary Paxton said he believes the work of the groups will be valuable with or without receipt of the BUILD grant.

“If we don’t get the grant we’re going to be faced with two options: do a revenue bond or go back with an RFP for the public to do,” he said.

Answering a question about a new study and consulting work, Harmon said the work previously done needs to be updated to take into account changes at the park.

“We really need to update and we really need to hit this right, and cost – especially if we don’t get the grant – is going to be of the essence,” he said. “This is very, very expensive construction, and so we really want to hit a home run in where we site this, so operationally you’re not regretting that for the next 20 years – and we do it in a way that’s cost-effective. The current concepts I don’t believe do that, and I don’t believe the (GPIP) board believes that. ...”

Harmon said the city is using experts and consultants in order to “get the biggest bang for the buck” and accommodate the wide range of boats home-ported in Sitka.

On a question about the private sector’s participation, Harmon said he believes there will be “partnership” opportunities after the initial infrastructure is built.

“We’re the infrastructure builders that put it in – the grant is going to drive us, that we need to be doing that because it’s federally funded and there’s a lot to that,” he said. “But beyond that immediate core infrastructure, the upland development, the operations ... that’s where the partnership could be ripe. And I would encourage us not to give up on that, absolutely.”

The vote was 6-1 in favor of the appropriation, with Valorie Nelson opposed. If it passes at the next meeting, the funds will come out of the Southeast Alaska Economic Development fund, which has more than $2 million in unencumbered funds, plus outstanding loans.

In other harbor-related business at Tuesday’s meeting, the Assembly:

– authorized the administrator to execute a Clean Vessel Act grant with the state Department of Fish & Game for $39,000 to support the Crescent Harbor float replacement project. The project, a sewer pumpout at the bottom of the Crescent gangway, requires a 25 percent match from the city ($13.000).

– passed a resolution to apply for a $1.76 million grant from the state DOT for the Eliason Harbor electrical replacement project. The city is hoping to qualify for the DOT’s 50 percent harbor matching grant program to help fund the project.

“I’m hoping we get it this time; otherwise we’re going to have to move forward and do it ourselves,” said Harbor Master Stan Eliason. 

The vote was 7-0 to apply for the grant.


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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.

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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.

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– The Sitka Sentinel Staff


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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 9-21-20)

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 10:45 a.m. Tuesday.

New cases as of Monday: 46

Total statewide – 6,950

Total (cumulative) deaths – 45

Active cases in Sitka – 17 (7 resident; 10 non-resident) *

Recovered cases in Sitka – 41 (37 resident; 4 non-resident) *

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 266.

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

* These numbers reflect State of Alaska data. Local cases may not immediately appear on DHSS site, or are reported on patient’s town of residence rather than Sitka’s statistics. 




September 2000

Enrollment is down by more than 100 students from last year, a decline four times greater than anticipated in the budget, Sitka School District Superintendent John Holst said today. The budget was based on an enrollment down by only 25 students.

September 1970

The borough assembly approved unanimously an ordinance authorizing expenditure of $12,000 for a redevelopment plan for the Sitka Indian Village. ... Judy Christianson, a member of the Sitka Community Action Group board of directors, has suggested that the planning be handled by a private social service organization called Habitats West.