PASSING THROUGH – Orca whales swim near the Indian River estuary Thursday night. A pod of more than a half-dozen adult and juvenile orcas spent the late afternoon in Sitka Sound near shore as people along Sawmill Creek Road photographed and video recorded them. NOAA Fisheries recommends staying at least 100 yards away while viewing whales from boats. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Asa Demmert to Run With the Skyhawks

Sentinel Staff Writer

After years of running track with the Sitka High Wolves, senior Asa Demmert has signed to run track and cross country with the Division II program at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado.
“It felt good,” Demmert said in an interview. “I had talked with the coach for a while and I felt good about the decision.”

Asa Demmert races in September in Totem Park. (Sentinel file photo)

That degree of comfort was backed up by conversations he had with another Sitkan runner at Fort Lewis, David Wilcox.
“Everything he had to say was good,” Demmert said.
A lifelong Sitkan, Demmert has run track every year since he was a freshman. At first he tried to be a sprinter, without much luck. He transitioned to distance running as a sophomore, and excelled.
In the state tournament as a junior, he ran his personal record mile in 4:45.
“It was good enough that I felt like I should start running in the off-season,” he said.
Wolves track and field coach Jeremy Strong described Demmert as a hard worker.
“He puts a lot of work in. He is a real hard worker, very coachable. He’s the kind of kid you want to have on the team,” Strong said.
In his first three years of high school, Demmert played basketball as well as running track.
But this season he chose not to play basketball, worried about potential injuries, wanting to put more time into running.

“After I realized I could run in college, I realized it would be best to run before track season,” he said.

His stunning sub-five minute mile at the end of his junior year made him look at cross country a bit more seriously, too.
Wolves’ cross country coach Shasta Smith remembered that “somewhere during his junior year of track, I could see he was becoming a little more receptive of the idea (of running cross country).” Smith wrote a running program for Demmert to train with over the summer.
During the summer of 2019, Demmert said, “I finally realized how much I enjoy running.” He set his sights on the cross country squad, which already had a star in Dominic Baciocco.
“I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t leave Dominic alone as the only senior,” Demmert said. “I started going on easy runs, running as many hills as I could. I didn’t know what to expect.”
When the cross country season opened in August, Demmert ran near the front of the pack.
At an early-season meet in Juneau, he broke 17 minutes in his five kilometer race, clocking in at 16:59.
“It was my first cross country race, I actually broke 17, which was very surprising, because that’s a big accomplishment.”
His coach agreed.
“That was a fantastic debut,” she said.
Strong, who also works as the cross country assistant coach, was happy with Demmert’s performance in his only year running cross country.
“For only having one year, he really had a strong impact on the team, in terms of performance and the way he went about going through the season,” Strong said
“His potential is so untapped, the sky is the limit,” Smith said. “In running, you work your behind off and your time will show that, and I think Asa found peace in that. A comfort in knowing there will be direct results in this grind.”
Citing Demmert’s initial reluctance to run cross country, Smith said “he almost never ran cross country, and what a shame that would have been... The biggest victory was just having him do what we knew he always could.”

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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 7-31-20)

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 12:50 p.m. Friday.

New cases as of Thursday: 108

Total statewide – 2,990

Total (cumulative) deaths – 23

Active cases in Sitka – 15 (10 resident; 5 non-resident) *

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

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 133.

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. 



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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July 2000

Clinton Buckmaster shot and wounded a large brown bear Tuesday night when it charged him near his Thimbleberry Bay home in the 2100 block of Sawmill Creek Road. As of press time, the bear was still at large.

July 1970

The city council agreed at a special meeting Thursday to consider the request of Alaska Native Brotherhood Camp No. 1 for redevelopment planning funds for the Indian Village. Cost has been estimated at $12,000.