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 15, 2020, Letters to the Editor

Port Protection Water

Dear Editor: The Department of Environmental Conservation may be unable to decide how much damage the Pebble Mine will cause, but they are hot on the case of water in Port Protection.

Our village has a grand total of 32 water service hookups. It seems our water, which we test monthly, does not meet some government standard, so we either must spend $3 million-plus, to build a 100% unwanted chlorination plant, or else have our wonderful water system destroyed, and go back to drinking untreated muskeg water from our local creeks. The resultant sanitation hazards (no flush toilets, no hand-washing, no bathing), general health hazards, and fire hazards – these are not the concerns of DEC.

I have lived in Port Protection for 42 years, and have never been sick from drinking our fabulous, unchlorinated water. What are we paying the people who work for the government to do? Sometimes federal regulations need human interpretations. Message to DEC: protecting the fish is important. Depriving a remote village of its water is criminal.

Gretchen Goldstein, Port Protection


School Principals

Dear Editor: In politics, waiting until 5 p.m. on a Friday to share a large amount of information that you don’t want the general public to pay attention to is called a “news dump.” It’s done this way because journalists and the public rarely have the resources to dig deep over a weekend and it’s old news by Monday.

Sitka Schools Superintendent Mary Wegner has pulled a news dump on all of us, heading out the door and leaving a mess with her intention to demote or fire three building-level administrators and moving a fourth into a new building.

She blames this action on the schools’ achievement gap, though she celebrated the narrowing of that same gap six weeks ago in her resignation letter.

Soon-to-be-former Superintendent Wegner is creating instability, uncertainty, and chaos for our students at a time when they are experiencing plenty of uncertainty and chaos already. When we should be looking to our schools as a haven of relative normalcy for our stressed children, Dr. Wegner is muddying the waters right before skipping town.

I encourage anyone concerned about this to send a quick note to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Stephen Courtright, Sitka


Recall Dunleavy Petition

Dear Editor: I am writing to urge Sitkans to sign the Recall Dunleavy petition to put this issue on the ballot for all voters to decide. Perhaps you read the news that the Alaska Supreme Court has given the final go ahead for the Recall Dunleavy group to collect the 71,252 signatures needed to put a Recall on the statewide ballot. 

This is exciting news and I want to encourage every Alaska voter who has not yet signed a recall petition this spring to take action to sign. You may think you have signed already but if you haven’t signed a petition since February 2020 we need your signature! The final petition signature round is totally separate from the initial application round.

We have collected over 30,000 signatures even with the limitations imposed by Covid19 social distancing. There are quite a few people in Sitka who signed the initial application last summer that were unable to sign the final petition this spring before we had to stop group gatherings in March. 

You must sign this latest round to have your voice heard, but it is easy to do. Go to to request a signature page be sent to you. The Governor continues to undermine Alaskans with his funding cuts to the ferry, to education, his attack on the judiciary and the rule of law. Do not let the pandemic keep you from expecting a Governor who keeps his word, follows the State Constitution, and values all citizens. 

Tory O’Connell Curran, Sitka


Science Standards

Dear Editor: We, members of Sitka’s Citizens’ Climate Lobby, would like to express our enormous appreciation and accolades to the Sitka School District’s recent adoption of the state of Alaska’s new science standards. NGSS, Next Generation Science Standards, are based on the most current research of the day, including climate change, both teaching about it and what can be done to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Our children who are currently in grades K-12 will be key players in understanding climate change. They will need to be critical thinkers and be the change-makers in vitally important decisions, as we move forward.

We understand that it is a process as a new curriculum is being chosen. We want to encourage a speedy, efficient process…Time is of the essence and a critical factor for the health of our earth. To quote an SSD science teacher, “All of earth systems are interconnected; change in one could impact another.”

Thank you to the SSD School Board, administrators, and teachers for their focus on this critically important issue.

 Toby Campbell and 

Judy Kearns-Steffen

for Sitka’s Citizens’ Climate Lobby


Heroin Overdose

Dear Editor: Recent information from the State Office of Substance Misuse and Addiction Prevention has indicated heroin coming into the State of Alaska has resulted in several overdoses in Juneau. The heroin may be laced with fentanyl, a much stronger opioid, and may make its way to other Southeast Alaska Communities.

Local prevention and treatment providers are encouraging harm reduction strategies such as not using alone, having Narcan available, and calling 911 if an OD occurs. If you know of someone at risk of a potential overdose, please make sure you have an opioid reversal (NARCAN) kit available and communicate with them the increased risk of heroin use at this time.

Local residents may access NARCAN kits free of charge from the following locations: Harry Race and Whites Pharmacies, SEARHC Pharmacy, Sitka Counseling, Public Health Office and the Sitka Tribe of Alaska Social Services Department.

Treatment for substance misuse is available and recovery is possible.

For more information contact me Loyd Platson at Sitka Counseling (747-3636 Ext. 226) or Denise Ewing at Sitka Public Health Office (907-747-3255)


Loyd Platson, 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.