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 18, 2020, Letters to the Editor


Dear Editor: We are all hopeful that students will be allowed to return to the classroom in the fall, but this may not be the case. 

It is better for Superintendent Mary Wegner to courageously deal with potentialities than to leave the situation to her successor, who will not have the background of her association and experience in our school system.

Alice Zellhuber Smith, Sitka


International Response

Dear Editor: We are a global community and if we work together we will do better than just get through this pandemic. The House of Representatives did not include any real international response to the coronavirus in their new bill.

Worldwide challenges aren’t solved in isolation – they’re solved in partnership. Yes, the needs in the USA are off-the-chart critical, but we are all connected and need to act globally. We need a strong response from Congress here and around the world. We are calling on our senators to make sure our country does its part in an international response to this global pandemic.


Michele Friedman, Kari Sagel, Cindy Litman, Kim Kirkness, 

Libby Stortz and Debra Brushafer



Dear Editor: The strangest school year in 100 years is coming to a close. As it does I find myself completely full of respect and gratitude for the parents, grandparents, and guardians in our town. Be proud of yourselves. You have been thrust into something unprecedented and extremely challenging. You have done a wonderful job.

I know how difficult it is. I have two schoolchildren of my own. When my kids went to school they were entering a building full of resources and dedicated, experienced staff whose only focus every minute of the school day was educating them and their peers. I have almost 35 years of teaching experience but in my sometimes chaotic home and with my full time job I couldn’t even begin to approximate what they get every day at school. I worried about that for a while but then I let it go and you should too.

 During the 1918 pandemic the schools closed and children went home to a situation far worse than ours. There was no on-line school, there was no home school, and as many as 50% of them had parents who were sick. Those children went on to become part of what many historians refer to as the greatest cultural, industrial, creative, scientific, and academic revolution of modern times. They became the ‘‘greatest generation.’’ They must have learned some things and our children are as well. Our children are learning about science and government first hand. They are learning that sometimes we do things (like stay home and wear masks) because we respect and care for others. They are learning that we are one race and that our fates and fortunes are intertwined. They are learning to adapt in the face of adversity. They are learning that life can be challenging and difficult but that it is still good. My experience tells me they are learning things we don’t even know.

Give yourself a huge pat on the back. You are doing a wonderful job. They have you and they have dedicated educators who are already preparing to offer them what they need when normal returns. They are going to be fine. We will successfully face the fall together and, in the meantime, have a wonderful summer with your kids. You deserve it.

Stephanie Peterson, Sitka


Thank You

Dear Editor: We would like to express our gratitude and a big thanks to the Sentinel, and especially to James, who has been faithful in delivering the daily newspaper every evening to our senior housing complex on Monastery Street in our commons area. He has gone beyond the call of duty. I feel everyone in town has been so thankful for receiving the free paper during this COVID-19 Emergency. 

Thanks, again, to all of your wonderful staff.

 Bill and Carolyn Fredrickson, Sitka


My Latest Idea

Dear Editor: I was remembering today how it was before World War II started, in the depression of the l930s (yes I am an old lady) and remembered how my mother got molasses of a good sort from our local store. We almost never went to a store because my parents grew a huge garden, Mom canned a lot for the winter (especially tomatoes) and we raised hens for eggs and occasional roast and a pig in a fenced place in the back yard. Pig butcher day is a public festival and NOTHING on a pig went to waste. One winter we raised a turkey in the attic (it’s too cold in Boston to have stock outside.)

Mom liked molasses a lot and a local store carried the good kind. They had it in an enormous container which I never saw but it must have been easily useable. She would take a jar that would hold all she wanted and fill it from the big container. 

We are inundated with plastic which seems to be immortal. 

My idea is to ask a local store to buy things in bulk and local folks take their glass jars to the store to fill with whatever we want (don’t we all have lots for canning?)

Grocery folk know what has to be on the shelves for sale and we could quickly learn to bring a jar when certain edibles are on the shopping list.

This came to me when I looked at the large, plastic of course, bottle of soap for the washing machine. It would be so easy to eliminate the clutter of plastic bottles and let me take my own glass container to the store and fill it with liquid soap. 

The store could make labels available to label our jars.

Judy Johnstone, Sitka

You have no rights to post comments



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.                                                                          

Login Form

Most recent Sentinels — PDF edition

July 27, 2020 

July 28, 2020

July 29, 2020

July 30, 2020

July 31 2020


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.