2020 TOURIST SEASON – The 285-foot super yacht Lonian is tied up at the Old Sitka Dock Friday while its support vessel, the 217-foot Hoder equipped with a helicopter and ROV, is seen anchored in the distance. The 14-passender Lonian, which was launched in 2019, is owned by billionaire Lorenzo Fertitta, former owner of UFC. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Time Limit Near For Fee Subsidies

By SHANNON HAUGLAND
Sentinel Staff Writer

Sitka individuals, businesses and harbor users have another week to apply for subsidies on city utility and moorage bills.

The program is the first part of the city’s distribution of federal CARES Act funding to cover the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“It struck me as a way to get money to everybody,” said Thor Christianson, co-sponsor of the subsidy ordinances. “The rules for COVID money are Byzantine but one of the things listed was relief for utility (bills).”

Application forms are available on the city’s COVID website. The deadline for applications is 4 p.m. July 31.

Some $4.5 million was set aside for the utility and harbor subsidy ordinances, which the Assembly passed on June 9. Ordinances are presently in the works for distribution of the majority of the CARES Act funding for Sitka, $14 million. The application period for those grants has not yet been opened.

City officials said that so far 1,550 individuals and businesses have applied for utility help and 425 have applied under the moorage program. Forms have been posted on the city website since June 22.

“It seemed like the best way to get CARES Act money out quickly to as many people as possible,” said Kevin Mosher, the other co-sponsor of the ordinances. “It’s a great way to help those in need.”

The utility subsidy is available to both individuals and businesses, who are eligible for $1,000 and $3,000, respectively. The harbor program offers three months of moorage payments.

There has been some confusion among those applying, finance staff said, resulting in some rejections. The staff today posted an FAQ sheet to clear up some of the questions.

At the top, the application says: “Please submit separate applications for business and residential accounts.”

“It’s one (application) per household or one per business,” said City Controller Melissa Haley. “That’s very clearly written in there and that was clearly the intention of the sponsors.”

Among the mistakes the finance office is seeing include:

– businesses with more than one account applying for multiple subsidies.

– residential account holders with a business in the home applying for the business ($3,000) subsidy, or both the residential and business subsidy.

– people applying both online and on the paper application that was sent out with utility bills.

– applicants failing to check the boxes, attesting that they or a household member have “incurred economic hardship and will continue to face economic hardship” due to the COVID emergency.

“It’s very important, in order to comply with federal guidelines and the ordinance, we need people to check the box,” Haley said. “If they don’t feel they can check the box they shouldn’t apply. We’re not verifying it, and most people probably have and continue to incur economic hardship.”

Christianson said the ordinances were broad in their intent. He believes most residents with utility or moorage accounts would qualify.

“You would be hard-pressed to find someone not negatively affected by COVID,” Christianson said. “It’s not just losing your job, look at your retirement account ... everyone in Sitka has a story about how they’ve been affected. This was a way to pass CARES act money on to the people. I hope it does what it was intended to do.”

Mosher said he had fishermen particularly in mind when he agreed to co-sponsor the moorage program, but all account holders are welcome to apply.

“If you say to yourself, I’m making more money than I did before, then don’t apply,” he said.

Those whose applications have been rejected are being contacted by the finance office, which is offering help with a new application if the applicant is eligible.

“We’re going through them as quickly as possible,” Haley said.

Those with questions are asked to look at the FAQ sheet on the city’s COVID webpage. If further help is needed, residents may call 747-1859.

 

August 5, 2020

A Note To Our Readers

Reopening: Phase One:

 

On March 30 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 8-10-20)

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 1;45 p.m. Monday.

New cases as of Sunday: 69

Total statewide – 3,775

Total (cumulative) deaths – 26

Active cases in Sitka – 21 (15 resident; 6 non-resident) *

Recovered cases in Sitka – 16 (12 resident; 4 non-resident) *

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 154.

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. 

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20 YEARS AGO
August 2000

Bring your wand if you’re coming, leave your disbelief at the door (no Muggles allowed), because room 220 at Blatchley is a place where the decorations, outfits and conversations are all very, very Harry Potter. “If you want to levitate, go ahead,” said Lacy Simons addressing the young wizards of the Harry Potter Reading and Writing Club. Simons, a VISTA volunteer, formed the club ....

50 YEARS AGO
August 1970

Photo caption: Youngsters who participated in the summer reading program at Kettleson Memorial Library include, from left, Lari Cook, Nancy Erickson, Yumiko Hayashi, Kyoko Ikenoue, Lu Ann Beidel, Tiffany Rose, Jessica Roth, Gwendolyn Roth, Rhonda Audette, Heather Owen, Susan Kohler, Glenn Oen, David Oen, Eric Oen, Stephen Weddell, Robert Weddell, Randy Turner, Takahiko Hosei, Douglas Henie, Lance Robards and Timothy Von Clasen.

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