VIGIL – More than 300 people share seven minutes of silence on Totem Square during a vigil for George Floyd, who died last week while in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The large turnout for event made it difficult for participants to maintain the six-foot social distance that organizers had hoped for. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

“Big John” McKenzie

“Big John” McKenzie

“Big John” McKenzie, a former Sitka resident, passed away peacefully in his sleep Aug. 15, 2017, in Juneau. He was 49.
John was born May 24, 1968, in the Bronx Borough of New York City.
He came to Alaska on a processing boat in the late 1980s, and like so many fell in love with Alaska. He worked many jobs to remain in Alaska but loved cooking the most. He was a chef at Sitka restaurants, and in Juneau.
Another love was poetry, and shortly before his death he was notified he had won third place in a competition.
A few weeks ago he said that he was never leaving Alaska again and that he was going to die sober. (John had struggled with sobriety most of his life).
“Little did we know it would be so soon,” friends said. “He had been clean and sober just over a year.” 
John was preceded in death by his mother, Mary J. McKenzie, and his sister, Lisa McKenzie.
He is survived by four children, Gianna and John McKenzie of Sitka, and  Jazmin Perez and Mike Valentin, both of New York; his father, Neil “Mac” McKenzie, Sitka; sisters Linda Bailey and Tina Bailey; his grandmother, Mary C. McKenzie; and  multiple aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews. 
John  had a special love for children and poetry.  Anyone wishing to honor him can make a memorial donation in his name  to the SEER School,  Box 1031, Sitka, to introduce children to the joys of poetry.



Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 6-2-20)

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 10:20 a.m. Tuesday.

New cases as of Monday: 20

Total statewide – 487

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 47, and the cumulative number of deaths is 10.

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 sitkasentinel.com. 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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