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 19, 2020, Letters to the Editor

Clear Air

Dear Editor: Many parts of the world are seeing scenery in the far distance for the first time in quite awhile. The COVID-19 virus has aided this in an unusual way. Sounds ludicrous, but humans have been encouraged by doctors and scientists worldwide to stay at home and nonessential services are shut down. That in turn has helped to clean up the air pollution. There are fewer cars, trucks and motorcycles on the road and airlines are decreasing he number of scheduled trips. There is now less air contamination.

Before COVID-19, Delhi, India, was considered the world’s most polluted city. The quality of the air now brings blue skies and clean air. Dramatic changes have shown, without a doubt, the relationship between human behavior and air quality. 

The Los Angeles, California, skyline has been noted for smog that is made up of smoke and fog (first coined in 1905). In 1943 there were 2.8 million internal combustion engine vehicles registered in California. When it was smoggy, the field of vision was only about three blocks. There were problems with people having difficulty breathing, some were vomiting and many had stinging eyes. The state of California passed the Air Pollution Control Act in 1947.  However, the pollution problem continued unrelentingly. That is until this year, 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and within several months of “stay home” mandates, Los Angeles now has the cleanest air of any major city. California Air Resources: “California’s Air Quality History Key Events.” 

Copernicus Sentinel-5 satellite: “Readings from this satellite show a significant decline in the concentrations of nitrogen dioxide over Rome, Madrid and Paris.” Strict quarantine actions were first implemented in Europe in these cities. 

Here in Sitka we are seeing less traffic, more bicycle riding, and many people enjoying the hiking trails. The beginning of the fishing season will bring in many people to work in the fish plants and hopefully some visitors. This will help our economy, though there is a worry about COVID-19 coming to town. We won’t see any cruise ships this year and that will be very hard for many businesses. There will be no Sitka Fine Arts Camp and no Sitka Summer Music Festival. I would like to suggest that we residents of Sitka WELCOME the visitors and workers who are able to come to Sitka.  

Judy Kearns-Steffen, member of Citizens Climate Lobby

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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.