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)

May 13, 2020, Letters to the Editor


Dear Editor: At Sitka Conservation Society we are committed to protecting the Tongass and building socially, ecologically and economically sustainable communities. This work looks different depending on the opportunities and pressures facing our region, but it always means valuing our relationships with people and place. It is with this mindset that on March 18 we launched the Sitka Mutual Aid Network, a new initiative meant to build Sitka’s resilience and culture of health in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Through this network, we match requests for assistance with offers of support, connecting Sitkans who can be of service to one another. Our primary activities are doing errands for those with health risks or who are self-isolating and working to improve food security by providing grocery assistance. We know that many folks are experiencing economic hardships and uncertainty due to the pandemic, and we are committed to showing up for one another as best we can.

We wanted to share some of the outcomes that we – local individuals, organizations and businesses – have achieved together so far. In the two months since we started the Network, 80 volunteers and over 100 households have signed up; we have fulfilled 148 requests for assistance, including 71 grocery gift cards, 68 custom grocery deliveries and five requests for information or other needs; and we have completed eight special bulk distributions and facilitated a few others, getting the following goods out to folks via no-contact, doorstep deliveries: 320 bags of groceries;190 wild salmon dinners; 60 loaves of fresh baked bread; 18 bags of coffee; 12 packages of sweet treats; 6 custom family dinners; and 6 children’s books.

All told, the network has provided over $15,000 in grocery assistance. The majority of this aid benefited both the households who received the goods and the businesses who supplied them. We are happy for this opportunity to support the local economy.

Thank you to the 82 individuals who have made a financial contribution. Thank you to the many businesses that have donated money or goods, including AC Lakeside, Sitka Salmon Shares, Trinity Business Services, Sitka Food Coop, Southeast Dough Co., Highliner Coffee Co., Old Harbor Books, Mean Queen, Graceful Pastries, Woven in the Waves, Hook, Line and Bobbin, and Alaska Tokens. Your generosity is appreciated.

Our sincere gratitude to local artist Jerrod Galanin who ran a benefit raffle on our behalf and donated a gorgeous killer whale cuff, two sets of earrings and two gratitude bracelets. This effort raised $8,000 for our grocery assistance fund.

Thank you to all of the Sitka Mutual Aid volunteers, Our Town Catering, Sea Mart Quality Foods, Backdoor Cafe, Sitka Youth Advocates and Sitka Bulk Goods for your support and collaboration.

Thank you to the households who have reached out for assistance and openly communicated with us. We are grateful to be in community with you.

Special thanks to the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association for creating a seafood donation program that has already delivered more than 500 pounds of local seafood to folks experiencing food insecurity. Sixty-eight mutual aid households and counting have been enrolled in this program.

In short, thank you Sitka for making this network come alive. It has been an honor seeing neighbors stand in solidarity with one another. To get involved or to learn more, please visit sitkamutualaid.com, text 907-738-0357 or check out @SitkaMutualAid on Facebook.

Chandler O’Connell and 

Sitka Conservation Society


Assembly Vote

Dear Editor: I’m saddened that a super majority of the Assembly doesn’t think enough residents are dying.

Pete Roddy, Sitka


SSD Principals

Dear Editor: “Children and teens may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis” (cdc.gov). 

And, change always comes with a cost. 

The entire world is dealing with these two truths. Our community here is dealing with these two truths.

Our children, pre-kindergarten to grade 12, and the entire staff of the school district, as well as all parents and families, are experiencing varying levels of stress right now, as they deal with learning and teaching online, something very new for the vast majority of them. Classrooms that are often seen as havens to children of all ages are empty now, but it is hoped that they will be open this fall, yet it is certain that our students and staff will still be suffering some form of stress because of this world pandemic. 

So why would Sitka’s lame-duck superintendent choose now to throw names of school principals and vice-principals into a blender, and let it spit out new assignments/schools for those administrators, for a school year she will not be part of? This is supposed to raise achievement levels on standardized tests? And now is the best time to do this? I am not buying it.

Common sense tells us that our children and staff will need stability and familiarity upon their return to the schools this fall. This latest move by our current superintendent makes no educational nor professional sense. 

Please share your concerns with members of the School Board. And allow Mr. Holst, incoming superintendent, and our administrators, teachers, staff, and children a chance at some form of familiarity to have a good start to a school year that already will have enough pitfalls and challenges to keep them very busy for the entire year. 

G. L. Hammons, Sitka

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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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