OPEN AIR CONCERT – From left, musicians Ross Venneberg, Brian Neal, Wade Demmert and Roger Schmidt perform an outdoor brass concert for residents of the Pioneers Home Monday. The professional musicians, who are hunkered down in Sitka, are regulars at the annual Holiday Brass Concert. The Pioneers Home has been closed to visitors during the pandemic. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Longtime Sitkan Janet ‘Jan’ Sparks Dies at Age 77

Janet ‘Jan’ Sparks

    Longtime Sitka resident Janet “Jan” Joyce Sparks passed away peacefully Sept. 22, 2018, in Sitka, surrounded by family and loved ones. She was 77.
    Jan was born June 18, 1941, in Los Angeles, California, to Robert “Bud” Sandstrom and Viona “Vi” Elizabeth Falk. The other Sandstrom children were Wayne and Karen.
    In 1951 the family moved to Alaska, where Bud worked as a pipefitter, steamfitter, plumber and fisherman. Vi was a homemaker, worked at S&W in Haines, and volunteered there at the Salvation Army.
    In 1958, Jan married Ronald “Ron” Sparks of Haines, and they had four children: Ronald “Skip”, Evans, Curtis and Tina. After living in Haines and Fairbanks, the family moved to Sitka in the early 1960s.
    Jan enjoyed working at Sitka Community Hospital in Medical Records and as the dietary manager. In her spare time she liked to garden, paint, work with ceramics, work on puzzles, read, listen to the radio, read the newspaper, and watch game shows.
    “She was one of the strongest people we have ever known,” her family said. “Nobody had a bad word to say about her, because she accepted you for who you were. You could always turn to her for advice and she never judged you.
    “She was truly one of a kind, and she will be forever missed and never forgotten.”
    Jan was preceded in death by her parents, Robert and Viona Sandstrom, and her husband, Ronald Sparks.
    She is survived by her brother Wayne (Laurie Rumbaugh) Sandstrom of Fairbanks, and sister Karen Estrada of Tucson, Arizona; children Skip (Sabine) Sparks of Haines, Evans (Kim) Sparks of Sitka, Curtis Sparks of Anchorage, and Tina (Nick) Anderson of Sitka; and grandchildren Evans Sparks Jr. of Sitka, Samantha Sparks of Sitka, Ryan Sparks of Beaverton, Oregon, and Rachel Sparks of Wilsonville, Oregon.



Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 7-7-20)

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 11:15 p.m. Tuesday.

New cases as of Sunday: 19

Total statewide – 1,184

Total (cumulative) deaths – 17

Active cases in Sitka – 8 (3 resident; 5 non-resident)

Recovered cases in Sitka – 12 (10 resident; 2 non-resident)

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 78.

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 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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