Sitka Tribe of Alaska’s office building on the corner of  Siginaka Way and Katlian Street is pictured Tuesday. The building’s HVAC system was replaced using Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding. The Supreme Court recently ruled that Alaska Native corporations are also eligible for CARES Act funding. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Sentinel Cartoon Drawn to an End

Sentinel Staff Writer
    In the comic strip Bilge, two bald eagles are having a conversation while perching on the cross atop St. Michael’s Cathedral.
    “Bilge is kind of a stupid name for a comic strip,” says one.
    “What do you suggest?” says the other.
    “How about Peanuts?”
    “How about Just Sue Me Now?”
    A kingfisher sitting just below comments: “Peanuts. That’s about what he’s going to make with this comic strip.”
    That was the first of hundreds of Bilge strips Tina Johnson would write for the Sentinel. The last is appearing today, as she and her husband, Marty, move south to Boise, Idaho, for new adventures.
    “I can’t do a comic that’s Sitka-centered if I’m not living in Sitka,” she said.

Tina Johnson (Sentinel Photo)

    Tina is a writer, whose poetry and stories have been published and shared on occasion at the Monthly Grind, Writers Read and other Sitka events. She has used comic-style drawings in her journaling, but this is her first comic strip effort. The first Bilge comic appeared in the Sentinel on Feb. 1, 2017.
    “I’ve been playing with comic strips over the last few years, more as journaling about funny things that happened in my family,” she said.
    The idea for the strip was in part inspired by an exchange with a customer at Old Harbor Books, where Johnson worked at the time. He rushed into the store in an excited manner, announcing to the staff,
    “I just saw two eagles sitting on the cross of the church,” he said. Tina and a co-worker exchanged a look, prompting the tourist to realize, “I guess you see that all the time.”
    “It was a funny exchange,” Johnson said.
    Eagles, other Alaskan birds, fishing and other everyday occurrences provided plenty of material for the daily strip, which has become one of the most popular features in the Sentinel.
    “So many cartoons take place in bars,” she said. “That was a setting that was humorous to me for some reason.”
    The Johnson family fishes, which was another source of inspiration.
    The name of the comic came from Tina’s wish to have something short.
    “I like the idea of trying to make light of things in life that run down underneath everything and aren’t that pretty to look at,” she said.
    Tina and Marty moved to Sitka in 1988, and over the years she has worked at the Sentinel, Old Harbor Books, Sitka Public Library and Sitka Community Hospital, while she and Marty raised their two boys, Amon and Jenner, who are now adults. Jenner and his wife, Lakrisha, live in Sitka; Amon, his wife, Megan, and their daughter Olivia live in Boise.
    After they move to Boise, Tina and Marty plan to continue coming back to Sitka to gillnet in Deep Inlet.
    Tina said she’s enjoyed writing Bilge.
    “It has been really fun, actually,” she said. “It’s been a good brain exercise. It’s been good for me to do something new. Also, having to do something funny in a couple of panels has been a fun challenge.”
    She has also enjoyed the feedback from readers.
    “People have been really, really nice in their comments,” she said. “I’ve appreciated that feedback.”
    She’s not sure what the plans will be once settled in Boise, although she will continue writing.
    “I might like to do cartooning,” she said. “I’m not sure what form that’s going to take.”
    In some of the cartoons, Tina pokes fun at her own basic drawing ability, and she says there’s room for improvement. “I need to take drawing lessons,” she laughed.

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August 5, 2020

A Note To Our Readers

Reopening: Phase One:


On March 30, 2020, the Daily Sitka Sentinel began taking precautions against the coronavirus, which was starting to show up in Alaska.

We closed our building to the public and four key employees started working remotely. Home delivery was suspended to protect our carriers from exposure to the virus.

Four months later, the virus is still with us and the precautions remain in effect.

In appreciation for the willingness of our subscribers to pick up their daily paper at drop-off sites, the Sentinel was free to all readers, and subscriptions were extended without charge.

As of August 1 the Sentinel is once again charging for subscriptions, but the present method of having subscribers pick up their papers at designated sites will continue.

The expiration date of all subscriptions has been extended without charge for an additional four months.

We thank our readers for their support in these uncertain times, and especially those who paid for the paper despite the free offer.

We look forward to the time when we can safely resume home delivery.

To check on the expiration of your subscription or to make a payment please call 747-3219. The subscription email address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . We also will be mailing out reminder cards.

The single copy price is again 75 cents. The news racks do not require coins to open, but we ask that the 75 cents for a non-subscription single copy sale be paid with coins in the slot.

– The Sitka Sentinel Staff


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Alaska COVID-19 
At a Glance

(updated 8-4-21)

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 11:27 a.m. Wednesday.

New cases as of Tuesday: 323

Total statewide – 72,584

Total (cumulative) deaths – 385

Total (cumulative) hospitalizations – 1,738

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

The City of Sitka posted the following update on COVID-19 cases in Sitka as of 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Active cases in Sitka – 123

Hospitalizations (cumulative) in Sitka – 37

Cumulative Sitka cases – 873 (797 resident; 76 non-resident)

Cumulative recovered – 748

Deceased (cumulative) – 2

The local case data are from the City of Sitka website.

• • •


Sitka Vax Stats 

The State of Alaska DHSS reported Wednesday the following statistics on vaccinations for Sitka.

Partially vaccinated – 5,682 (77%)

Fully vaccinated – 5,242 (71%)

Total population (12+) – 7,385

Sitka has vaccinated fully vaccinated 79 percent of its senior population (1,478 total), age 65 and older. 

Vaccination data for the City and Borough of Sitka can be found online at:





August 2001

The Assembly agreed Thursday to place ballot questions on cell phone usage, downtown traffic lights and a fire hall before the voters in the Oct. 2 municipal election. Assembly members emphasized the election results would be used as a rough guide, not a mandate, on policy issues.

August 1971

Sitka student Phillip R. Wyman is among new admissions for the fall at Washington State University.