EXPECT DELAYS – Lines of traffic move slowly down Sawmill Creek Road today as a repaving project progresses near the Indian River bridge. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

New Electric Chief Describes Challenges

By Sentinel Staff

Keeping up with regular maintenance in order to prevent large, costly problems down the line will be a top priority of the Sitka Electric Department, the new city electric utility director told the Assembly Tuesday.

“We prioritize emergency work and outages as our first priority,” Scott Elder said. “Second priority, we need to focus on the maintenance of our system and maintenance over time saves a lot of cost in our systems. Emergencies are very expensive. Planned outages and planned scheduled maintenance become very cheap over time. And that is part of that life cycle cost analysis that we will be talking about in the future ... Then we focus on adding new customers and developing.”

“We have to focus on prioritization, especially as we are a small crew,” he said. “Our staffing, we are fairly thin ... One of my short-term goals is obviously to bring on staff.”

He said that his department currently has five vacant positions.

Elder also stressed the need to lower long-term costs.

“Anything we can do to lower the costs of long-term ownership and to develop ways to increase our capital reserves is very much needed,” he said.

Scott Elder speaks at the Assembly meeting Tuesday. (Sentinel Photo)

“Everything we can do on planning helps mitigate the impact on our rate payers, the people in the town... We want to serve everyone in the best possible way, but in order to keep costs low we have to manage and prioritize,” Elder said in a later interview.

Assembly member Steven Eisenbeisz stressed the need to keep electric rates down.

“We need to maintain our rates as low as possible throughout all the upgrades and infrastructure repairs,” Eisenbeisz said.

Elder replied that he believes the best way to keep costs low in the long term is to conduct maintenance as needed.

Eisenbeisz said later, “Repairs, maintenance, and upgrades all cost money and if we look at them with a blank check the rates will inevitably rise. If we look at it with the mindset that the citizens are already being charged a fair amount for electricity, then we may be able to temper some of the spending to keep the rates as low as possible.”

Elder stressed to the Assembly the need for routine maintenance in order to prevent larger problems in the future. “If we put off the inexpensive maintenance of today, later on they become huge tragedies that we have to come in and bail out,” he said.

“There is good, fast, and cheap. You can pick two, but not three,” Elder told the Sentinel.

Elder took over as electric department director on June 1. An acting director had been filling in since the resignation of Brian Bertacchi nine months ago. Elder hails from western Oregon, and moved to Sitka with his family.

“I’m happy to be here, Sitka is absolutely gorgeous. We enjoy living in small towns in rural America,” he 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 8-7-20)

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 11:20 a.m. Friday.

New cases as of Thursday: 53

Total statewide – 3,536

Total (cumulative) deaths – 25

Active cases in Sitka – 20 (14 resident; 6 non-resident) *

Recovered cases in Sitka – 15 (11 resident; 4 non-resident) *

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 141.

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. 




August 2000

High prices for chum salmon, low pink returns, and record numbers of fish in Deep Inlet have turned the Sitka fishing grounds into Route 66 this summer. “Overall it’s been a fantastic season so far,” said Steve Reifenstuhl, operations manager for the Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association.

August 1970

His Beatitude, Metropolitan Ireney, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, will head a gathering of Orthodox prelates from North American and abroad in ceremonies canonizing the first American Orthodox saints, Father Herman of Alaska. A group of Sitkans will fly to Kodiak for the event.