READY TO ASSIST – Baranof Island Housing Authority staff members are pictured in the lobby of the Katlian Street office this morning. BIHA is helping administer a rent and utility assistance program with Alaska Housing Finance Corp. Sitkans with a household income of less than $71,280 may be eligible for up to a year of rent or utility assistance. The deadline to apply is March 5. From left are Cliff Richter, Denise Salter, Joy Klushkan, Charlene Hoffay, Melanie Barker and Mary Ann Nells. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Jose Benson, SHS Grad, Dies in Florida at Age 66

Jose Benson

Jose Benson, 66, of Tampa, Florida, passed away on February 6, 2021, due to complications from Covid-19.

Born in El Tigre, Venezuela, he moved to the United States in 1959, when the family settled in Ridgefield, Hockinson and Battle Ground, Washington.

In 1970 the family moved to Sitka where he graduated from Sitka High School in 1972. He was active in SHS sports including baseball, wrestling and cross country. After graduation he received his associates degree from Northwest Nazarene College in Nampa, Idaho, and later received his bachelor’s degree from National Louis University.

In 1984 he married his wife Betzaida and they moved to Tampa, where he worked for many years for JPMorgan Chase. After leaving that company, he started his own insurance agency, Compass Insurance. 

He was an active member of Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church where he was a part of the men’s group, choir, livestream video team and leadership team. He loved serving the Lord by serving the homeless people of Tampa.

Jose will be remembered for his love of the Lord, genuine kindness, and charming and funny personality. 

Jose is survived by his wife of 36 years, Betzaida, son Brent, 35, and daughter Brenda, 27.

He is also survived by siblings, Vilma Perales (Freddy), Julie Hames (Randal), Iris Uchytil (Rod), Ivan Benson (Nilda) and Roy-Parker Benson;  and many nieces and nephews.

He is predeceased by his father, Ralph Benson, mother Carmen Benson and older brother Hector Benson.

A small funeral was held on Thursday, February 11, 2021, followed by  burial near his mother’s grave at Rest Haven Memorial Park, Tampa.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church, 6100 Memorial Highway, Tampa, FL. 33615 or to a charity of choice.

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 2-26-21)

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 3:25 p.m. Friday.

New cases as of Thursday: 102

Total statewide – 55,989

Total (cumulative) deaths – 287

Total (cumulative) hospitalizations – 1,238

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

The City of Sitka posted the following update on COVID-19 cases in Sitka as of 5 p.m.Thursday.

Active cases in Sitka – 4

Hospitalizations (cumulative) in Sitka – 5

Cumulative Sitka cases – 323 (290 resident; 33 non-resident)

Cumulative recovered – 319

The local case data are from the City of Sitka website.




February 2001

Sitka Trail Works has announced that six weeks into its fundraising effort it has raised over $10,000. “We knew there were trail lovers out there, but I didn’t think we’d see such a strong early response,” Charles Horan, Sitka Trail Works president, said. “This is a great way to get things rolling toward our $25,000 goal.”

February 1971

Photo caption: Valerie Beacom and Rhonda Hames, members of the Order of Rainbow for Girls, get badges ready for a door-to-door heart fund drive Sunday. All members of the Sitka Assembly No. 12 will participate in the drive. Rainbow Mothers will assist with the counting of funds and providing transportation.