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 14, 2020, Letters to the Editor

SSD Principals

Dear Editor: My wife and I are proud to have three children enrolled in the Sitka School District. Before the global pandemic completely flipped the school year upside-down, our kids were spread across three different schools, and all of them were thriving.

For me personally, the most heartbreaking aspect of the pandemic event has been the total disruption of the lives of every student, particularly K-12 students, on a near global scale, and I cannot think of any other time in my 40 years of living where the future seemed more uncertain than it does right now. No one knows what the school routine in the fall is going to look like, and it would be naive to begin to think anyone has a clear assessment of what the “student achievement gap” will look like as teachers, students and parents settle into whatever the new normal is in the coming months and years. Unfortunately, I worry it will be at least several years before we will be able to collectively unpack the amount of damage this disruption has brought to every student’s educational growth. 

I imagine Dr. Wegner’s plan to shift building principals around in the district has been one she has been formulating for some time, probably even before she announced her resignation as superintendent. Moving principals to different buildings would create a learning curve for them and their staff members under normal circumstances, but that learning curve will certainly be even more challenging as students, teachers, and administrators begin a new school year while facing an unknown future. 

To be clear, my concern has nothing to do with Dr. Wegner’s authority to make this decision. My concern is solely as a parent who wants what is best for his children, and for the team of people charged with the noble task of teaching them. Making these changes as she leaves the district seems unfortunate to me, and considering a global disruption of routines, it is deeply concerning.

In the future, students will be returning to familiar buildings while burdened with unfamiliar routines. A search for a new superintendent will also be underway. I would strongly desire for our students to return to schools led by administrators who already have a solid pre-pandemic understanding of the challenges related to specific grades, the strengths and weaknesses of the teams they lead, and the needs and backgrounds of the students they teach. Or, we can send students back to school where new administrators must spend a year or two gaining that experience and rapport with the students and staff.

I appreciate Dr. Wegner’s years of dedication to our students and school faculty. I would ask that she please reconsider the timing of this plan.

Andrew Hames, Sitka


Front Page Photo

Dear Editor: James Poulson did it again! A captivating, action-packed front page picture of fun.  And memories.  A puzzle-perfect picture of Sandy Beach. Check the cover photo on the Tuesday, May 12, Daily Sitka Sentinel.

Somehow that photo caught my attention. The more I studied it, the better I liked it. Nineteen people engaged in different activities in the water, on the beach. Sitting, standing, watching, kicking, digging, and – note the child running in the sand. Also, the boat heading north, fishing, poles out. All with the graceful view of Mt. Edgecumbe with snow in the gullies providing a truly classy Sitka background. I can almost feel the warming sand between my wrinkling toes, and almost hear the gentle tide creeping up. Thank you, James.

Thanks to the rest of the Daily Sitka Sentinel team, too.  The up-to-date current affairs of our afternoon newspaper.  Amazing. Like so much about Sitka.

Please know you all are very much appreciated.

Nancy Y. Davis, Sitka



Roadless Rule

Dear Editor: In Thursday’s, May 7, newspaper there was an article declaring that the majority of commentators favor keeping the Roadless Rule. So who are these majority commentators? They claim there WERE 267,000 letters and comments in favor of continuing the Roadless Rule. According to the 2010 census there is less than 70,000 residents in Southeast. Since 2010, due to fewer jobs and the raising cost of living, our population has declined further.

Anyway, the census includes infants and children, Alzheimer sufferers, the terminally ill, the prison population, zoned out drug addicts, etc. In other words the census includes a lot of people that would not be able to comment with either a yea or a nay. So just who are these 267,000 intelligent and motivated commentators? Obviously they’re not the people that live here and have first hand knowledge of, in addition to being directly affected by, anything that goes on in the Tongass.

Those 267,000 commentators only know what they have been propagandized to believe. Still it is really hard to believe that 267,000 people were actually motivated enough to take the time to comment about some place and something that does not directly affect them. But, hey, propaganda can do some amazing things. Still that’s a tremendous amount of comments. Phew! Anyone want to hazard a guess about how much in-box stuffing was going on?

The supporters of the Roadless Rule are confused about a bunch of things. First of all the Tongass is not a national park. It’s a national forest. Those are two entirely different areas created for two entirely different purposes. The national forests were created to provide Americans with a steady supply of timber for building and manufacturing uses. Even so over half of the almost 17 million acres of the Tongass have already been set aside for wilderness, never to be logged or roaded, but this is still not good enough for some people. There are some hopelessly selfish people that do not, and they refuse to, play well with others. There is enough room in the Tongass for both them and a viable timber industry. Instead they demand that they be given all 17 million acres for their exclusive use. As far as they’re concerned everyone else can go pound sand.

Now they are crying because the CV-19 planned panic attack is hurting their pocket books. It’s really hard to have a lot of compassion for them because of their total lack of compassion for all the timber industry workers that they heartlessly threw out of work. It’s hard to have much compassion for a group that has so drastically harmed the economy of Southeast Alaska. 

The timber industry supported our schools and a lot of other infrastructure through stumpage fees. The “Eco” tourism industry pays nothing. The timber industry supported a 12-month economy. All their employees lived here all 12 months and supported our economy. The tourism industry is here for 4-5 months then the majority of them and their employees haul away a bunch of money to spend supporting someone else’s economy. There are a few spin-off jobs but those are very few compared to what we had when we had the timber industry.

We were not set up to be a democracy. We are supposed to be a Constitutional Republic. Under our Constitutional Republic the people that live in an area determine what happens in that area. The people that live elsewhere have NO say about what goes on in the areas they do not live in. They can visit and play, but they cannot dictate.

The lies these people promote are endless. As each one is debunked they come up with more. It’s all propaganda to convince the unknowing. A young forest absorbs more CO2 than an old growth forest because of more leaf surfaces. A mixed forest with clear cuts and older growth supports a larger animal population including deer than an exclusive old growth forest can because of more available feed. The way the forest is managed does not adversely impact fish spawning and rearing at all, in fact there are places where it has been improved.

It seems even the city council has declared war on Sitka’s residents and businesses. They are in lock-step agreement with the special interest groups to get rid of our middle class, They voted to allow the part-time ultra-rich visiting class to continue using our resources unimpeded. Then they raise taxes to force the under-employed poor class to support it all. Is this why they voted to support the Roadless Rule, and why they are now determined to keep as much of Sitka shutdown for as long as possible, and as harshly as possible? The longer this is allowed to continue the worse the outcome will be for all of us.

Theresa Helem, 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.