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)

May 12, 2020, Letters to the Editor


Dear Editor: I am writing to voice my concern about the possibility of reassigning four of our principals and vice principals to different schools. I read the article in Friday’s paper and am shocked and unnerved that this is being considered right now. We are literally in the middle of a global pandemic that has drastically changed our school system this year and will continue to negatively impact students this fall. We need all the school district administrators operating at top capacity; this is not the time for them to be thrust into new jobs with steep learning curves. 

The school district superintendent stated that the goal behind this plan is to close the achievement gap. While I fully support the importance of working toward this goal, I believe this solution is likely to have the opposite effect. One of the best things about our school district is the relationships that the staff have with the kids. These foundations of trust and care are one of the most important ways our schools can support students who are falling behind. Our kids need safe learning environments before we will ever be able to make a dent in the achievement gap. Right now our kids are under unprecedented stress; the district should provide them stability they need by allowing our principals to greet them by name when they (hopefully) return this fall. 

These are the principals who already have connections with the students in their buildings. They have connections with the parents. They are the ones who have called us to check in during this difficult time. They are the ones who have driven to the homes of their students during a pandemic to make sure their students are safe. They are the ones we count on to personally know their students and provide emotional security. 

This proposed change is simply not in the best interest of our students. Keep the principals where they are right now.  Reassignments of this magnitude should be studied comprehensively, should only be implemented under a more permanent superintendent, and should allow ample input from the capable principals we trust.

Kate Johnson, Sitka



Dear Editor: I sent the following letter to the City of Sitka Assembly and mayor.

Dear Mayor and Assembly: It is my contention that you took an oath of office to basically serve and protect. If you know for 100% that the medical community, the hospital, all the first responders, all the people on the front lines are 100% sure, that we can safeLy end the quarantine, then that may be an OK thing to do.  Again, you are 100% sure, not guessing, praying, and not hoping. BUT, if you are not 100% sure, then you are gambling with lives and you were not elected to do that - you were elected to serve and protect. I do not believe that Sitka is 100% ready and able to guarantee, promise us of our safety. Keep the quarantine. Thank you.

 Jeff Budd, Sitka


School Principals

Dear Editor: I am writing this letter to express my opposition to Mary Wegner’s recent proposal concerning the principal placement changes. In regards to meeting School Board achievement goals, she is quoted in the Sentinel as saying, “This is just the first step in the process.” 

It concerns me that Mary would want to make such a huge and impactful first step in a process that she will not be a part of come July 1. This type of process needs to happen with a leader who is onboard to stay and guide the district administrators and teachers through not only the first step, but all of the subsequent steps that will follow. 

This year has already been extremely trying and difficult for students because of the of pandemic. To throw this into the mix while Mary is on her way out the door is a haphazard and reckless move. It will only add more confusion to an already uncertain and confusing time, and ultimately, it is the students who will pay the price.

Now is NOT the time! 

Kristin Hames, Sitka

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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.