May 9, 2014 Community Happenings

White E Group
    Meets May 14
    The White Elephant Shop monthly meeting will be held 7 p.m. May 14 at the Swan Lake Senior Center. Meetings are open to the public.

    Toy Sale Set at
    White E Shop
    The Sitka White Elephant Shop will hold a toy sale noon-3 p.m. May 10.
    Toys will be $5 per grocery bag, bags are provided. The mission of the Sitka White Elephant Shop is “Sitkans Helping Sitkans” and since 1992 has provided over $1 million of support to local non-profits and the community.

    Spring Migration
    Bird Walks Set
    At National Park
    Those interested in observing and learning about the migrant and resident bird species of Sitka National Historical Park are invited to join a ranger for free guided bird walks Saturday mornings during the month of May.
    Spring Migration Bird Walks will be held 8 a.m.-10 a.m. May 10, 17, 24 and 31. Free bird walks are open to beginner and experienced bird watchers and will offer participants the chance to identify and learn about the bird species that depend on the park’s coastal and rain forest ecosystems.
    Participants should dress warmly and to be prepared to spend two hours outside in variable weather conditions. Participants who have binoculars are encouraged to bring them to the program. A limited number of binoculars are available for participants to use during the program and field guides will be provided.
    The programs will begin and conclude at the park’s visitor center. For more information about the park’s Spring Migration Bird Walks contact Ryan Carpenter at 747-0121 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Island Institute Symposium
Back for Another Summer    The Island Institute’s Sitka Symposium, a local summer fixture from 1984 to 2009, earned acclaim nationwide. After a five-year hiatus, the Institute is reviving the program and will host the 2014 Sitka Symposium July 20-26 on the SJ Campus, marking the 30th anniversary of the first symposium.
    The symposium earned its reputation as a literary gathering because of the ways it differs from other such conferences. With its theme-based approach and interdisciplinary faculty, it aims to engage writers as well as others with contemporary social, cultural, and environmental issues, and to consider our collective roles in sustaining our communities and effecting social change. Because of the approach, the symposium became known for its challenging ideas and transformative conversations.
    This year’s theme, “Radical Imagining: Changing the Story With Stories of Change,” will ‘‘explore dominant stories of our culture in relation to the challenges of our time, and look at empowering examples of transformative change initiated by people in communities large and small – including Sitka,’’ the Island Institute said.
    Leading the symposium will be Winona LaDuke, Anishinaabekwe author, activist, mother and Green Party vice-presidential running mate to Ralph Nader; Luis Alberto Urrea, critically acclaimed author of 13 books of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction, American Book Award winner and Pulitzer Prize finalist; Alan Weisman, best-selling author of ‘‘The World Without Us’’ and winner of the 2014 Los Angeles Times Book Award for his latest book, ‘‘Countdown’’; and Molly Sturges, co-founder and artistic director of Santa Fe’s renowned Littleglobe, an artist/activist collective, and founder of the national project COAL, a musical fable and catalyst for climate engagement.
    In coming weeks, the institute will host discussions about the symposium faculty’s work to allow Sitkans to become familiar with them before the symposium begins.
    At its core, this year’s symposium will be akin to the program that ran for 25 years, but will also include new elements. Daily faculty talks on the theme, discussions, evening faculty readings and open mic readings by participants remain strongholds of the daily schedule.
    This year, faculty will teach workshops, and community change initiatives – including the Sitka Conservation Society’s Fish To Schools Program, the revitalization of the Sheldon Jackson Campus, and the Sitka Health Summit – will be highlighted in special presentations.
    Other evening activities will include a film night, an improvisational choral event, a community potluck to showcase local hidden talents, and an evening dinner cruise.
    The symposium returns to its original home on the SJ Campus and will be part of this year’s SitkaFest activities. Sitka Fine Arts Camp’s Vocal Jazz Workshop will feature renowned jazz vocalist Dee Daniels in a concert preceding the symposium on July 19, and the third annual Sitka TEDx event (which will include symposium faculty) will be held July 20.
    As the symposium winds down, participants can attend  this year’s musical theater performance the weekend of July 26.
    Enrollment is open to 60 students. Full registration is $375 before May 16 and $425 afterward. Interested people in need of scholarship assistance are encouraged to contact the institute. Individual events will also be open to the public.
    Further information, including registration options, is available on the Institute’s website,, or by calling 747-3794.
    Symposium support is from the Alaska Humanities Forum, the Skaggs Foundation, and Island Institute members.

    Circuit Training
    Slated at Hames
    Circuit training is being offered at the Hames Center 5:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays.
    The challenging class for all levels provides an effective workout as students move through a series of stations designed to elevate heart rate and challenge muscles. Nicole Eagan, personal trainer, will instruct.

    TRX Cardio Fusion
    Classes Set at Hames
    TRX cardio fusion classes are being offered 4:15 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at the Hames Center.
    Classes combine the traditional TRX class format with heart-pumping circuit and high intensity interval training to give a challenging strength and cardio workout.
    Hillary, Jessica, Michalene and Linda will provide instruction. Go to for information and to sign up.

    ANS to Meet
    Alaska Native Sisterhood Camp 4 will hold a regular meeting at the ANB Founders Hall 6:30 p.m. May 13. All are welcome. Those with questions may call Jean at 623-7355.

    Footbridge to be
    Closed at Sitka
    National Park
    The Indian River footbridge in Sitka National Historical Park will be temporarily closed from Tuesday, May 13, through Sunday, May 18. Passage between the east and west side of the park will not be possible and visitors are being asked to plan their routes accordingly.
    SNHP said that the temporary closure is necessary to accommodate a geotechnical investigation on the Indian River footbridge abutments.  The geotechnical investigation is being conducted as part of gathering information for a future bridge replacement project.
    “Although the Indian River Bridge has served us well for nearly 50 years, we do need to start looking at replacement options for this bridge,’’ said Park Superintendent Mary A. Miller. ‘‘The geotechnical investigation is part of our early work, and we hope to begin dialogue with the public about this project in the near future.”

    Hospital Auxiliary
    To Hear from CEO
    Sitkans are invited to join the Sitka Community Hospital Auxiliary. Four yearly business meetings are held and dues are $10 a year.
    The May 13 meeting will be on the lower level of the hospital. Following the short business meeting, CEO Hugh Hallgren will give a final update on SCH before leaving Sitka to join his wife, Tawnya, in Arizona where she has already taken a job.
    The meeting begins at noon. Interested persons are being encouraged to join the group in the classroom. They could pick up lunch or a beverage at the Basement Bistro.
     Spring Troll Areas
    Remain Open
    The Alaska Department of Fish and Game today announced that the  Sitka Sound spring troll area (113-41) and Hidden Falls terminal harvest area opened 12:01 a.m. May 1 and will remain open until further notice.
    Also, the following spring troll areas will open at 12:01 a.m. their opening date and close 11:59 p.m. on the closing date: Western Channel May 12, Redoubt Bay and Goddard May 12-13; and Salisbury Sound May 12-14.
    For more information contact the local office of ADF&G.

EMT-1 CERTIFIED – In March, the Sitka Fire Department finished an EMT-1 class taught by EMS Capt. Rob Janik. Eight students completed the class. They recently received their state certifications and have started running EMS calls, Sitka Fire Department said. Pictured from left are: Anthony Crews, Tim Kucerovy, Herb McClenahan, Michelle Fleming, Parker White, Bailey Standerwick, Molly Shepard and Broderick Neameyer. (Photo provided to the Sentinel)

    Concert May 13
    The fifth-grade band’s Hello Summer Concert will be held 7 p.m. May 13 at the Performing Arts Center. Admission is free and open to the public.

Sasha Stortz. (Photo provided)

    Sitkan Earns
    Master’s Degree
    Sasha Stortz was awarded a master’s degree in environmental science and policy from Northern Arizona University, summa cum laude, May 9.
    Her thesis was titled “Participatory Analysis in Natural Resource Management: Legitimacy, Learning and the Production of Actionable Science.” At NAU, she was selected as a Wyss Scholar for leadership in western land conservation.
    She will join the Landscape Conservation Initiative at Northern Arizona University as a senior research associate, where she’ll manage projects relating to participatory science, collaborative planning and experiential education. The Sitka High School graduate is the daughter of Libby and William Stortz of Sitka.

    ‘Our Town’ Play
    Presented by SHS
    The Sitka High School theater department will perform the classic play “Our Town” by Thornton Wilder 7 p.m. May 23 and 24, and 2 p.m. May 25 at the Performing Arts Center.
    Tickets are available at Old Harbor Books and at the door at $10 for adults, and $5 for students and children.

    Safe Boating
    Week Launched
    The Alaska Office of Boating Safety is inviting Alaskans to celebrate Safe Boating Week by participating in “Wear Your Life Jacket to Work Day” on Friday, May 16.
    Boating Safety Week, which runs May 16-23, focuses on the importance of safety during the boating season. The goal of “Wear Your Life Jacket to Work Day” is to increase awareness of the versatility and comfort of modern life jacket designs.
    “Wear Your Life Jacket to Work Day” participants are invited to post pictures on the Alaska Boating Safety Program Facebook page. 
    While boating is an important part of the Alaska lifestyle, every year, some lose their lives in boating accidents. Five out of six Alaska boating fatalities are a cold water immersion related drowning, following a vessel capsizing, swamping or falling overboard.
    “Most victims are adult males. Many could have survived if they had simply been wearing a life jacket. Even on calm, sunny, clear blue sky days, Alaskan boaters of all experience levels should commit to always wearing a life jacket when in an open boat or on deck,” said Jeff Johnson, state boating law administrator.
    The Alaska Office of Boating Safety, located within the Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation, works to reduce Alaska’s boating fatalities and promote safe, enjoyable boating, with an emphasis on education. Resources for boaters can be found at

    Legos and Books
    Program at Library
    The last Legos and Books program at Kettleson Memorial Library will be 4:30 p.m. May 13. The program is for children ages 7 and up. For more information call the library at 747-8708.

    Library Teen
    Board to Meet
    Kettleson Memorial Library’s Teen Advisory Board will meet 7 p.m. May 9. Updates about grants, the Summer Reading Program and the library relocation will be some of the agenda items.
    Teens ages 13 and older are invited to join the board. Registration is preferred. Snacks and pizza included. For more information, call the library at 747-8708.

    Reading Buddies
    Sought by Library
    Kettleson Memorial Library is seeking adult reading buddies for the summer.
    Those who enjoy reading with a child are being invited to sign up to participate in a program that promotes literature among children.
    Buddies meet up to one hour each week with an assigned first- or second-grader. The program runs June 7-July 26 with time off for vacation.
    If interested, fill out an application at Kettleson Memorial Library or call 747 8708 for more information. Applications are due May 16.

    Story Time Breaks
    The preschool story time program at Kettleson Memorial Library is taking a break during the rest of May due to school field trips to the Library.
    Unitarians Meet
    Sunday’s Unitarian Fellowship program will be a celebration of Mother’s Day. Participants are invited to take a poem or story to share.
    Fellowship begins at 10:30 a.m., with the program beginning at 10:45. A potluck follows the program at noon. The Fellowship Hall is at 408 Marine Street, with parking behind off Spruce Street.

    Bear Helmet
    To be Displayed
    At SJ Museum
    The Sheldon Jackson Museum artifact of the month for May is a contemporary human bear helmet made by Tlingit artist Tommy Joseph.
    The helmet is hand carved from alder in the form of a human bear and has opercula for teeth and black and red paint. The museum purchased it, along with three other works of Joseph, in 2013 with Rasmuson Foundation funding.
    Though not a replica of any particular helmet, this contemporary piece was inspired by Tlingit artifacts Joseph saw as he traveled as a Smithsonian Visual Artist and USA Fellow researching Tlingit armor at museums around the world. The helmet, like many Tlingit pieces of armor dating back to the 19th century, is exemplary of expert construction and artistry.
    Joseph is a well-known award-winning Tlingit wood carver who has won various awards, including the Smithsonian Visual Artist Grant and USA Fellows Award.
    Joseph has thoroughly researched Tlingit armor, tobacco pipes, and Northwest Coast weaponry in museum collections around the world, taught various UAS classes, and contributed to the community of Sitka, where he has resided for more than 20 years and owns and operates the Sitka Rain Dance Gallery.
    He carves everything from masks, totem poles, bowls and halibut hooks to a variety of wooden armor components, including helmets, collars, slat armor, and wooden-handled daggers. While Joseph initially examines Northwest Coast artifacts for ideas, he formulates his own images of what he wishes to carve and then adds his own personal stylistic elements to his work.
    Joseph’s solo show, Rainforest Warriors, which opened in the spring of 2013 at the Alaska State Museum, was his first major show to exhibit a series of armor, helmets, moccasins and daggers that he worked on for nearly 10 years.
    Of the six full sets of life-size armor exhibited in the show, the Sheldon Jackson Museum purchased three pieces – the Human Bear Helmet, and the Chinese Coin and Buffalo Hide Tunic, and Knee High Moccasins. Prior to this purchase, the museum had no sets of armor made by contemporary Alaska Native artists, no Chinese coin armor, no simple knee-high moccasins without beading.
    Joseph’s artistry, his connection to Sitka and the community, and the ability of these pieces to fill gaps in the collection made them highly desirable for the Sheldon Jackson Museum. The Friends of the Sheldon Jackson Museum hosted a special event in late April of 2014 to celebrate the museum’s collecting of contemporary Alaska Native art, including these works, with Rasmuson Foundation funds awarded to museum in October 2013.
    The helmet will be on exhibit until May 31. Summer hours begin May 11 and are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission is $5. Visitors 18 years of age and younger, Friends of the Sheldon Jackson Museum and those with passes are admitted free of charge.

    Tribal Council
    Meet Rescheduled
    In observation of Sitka High School graduation on May 21, the Sitka Tribe of Alaska Tribal Council regular meeting for May has been moved to 6:30 p.m. May 20 in the Sheet’ka Kwáan Naa Kahídi.
    STA Tribal Council regular meetings are normally held the third Wednesday of each month. For information, contact KathyHope Erickson, 747-7352.

    Benefit at SJC
    Sheldon Jackson Child Care Center children will hold the seventh annual bike-a-thon 3-4:30 p.m. May 15 at the center.
    Those who wish to donate may do so with a pre-determined donation amount or by pledging a biker per lap (up to 10). Pledges may be dropped off or donations mailed to SJCCC at 111 John Brady Drive. All donations are tax deductible. For more information contact Tori at 738-2746.

    Volunteers Arrive
    At Sitka Lutheran
    David and Bonnie Huneke, members of Trinity Lutheran Church in Edmonds, Wash., will be the first volunteers at Sitka Lutheran Church this year.
    Proclaiming the gospel, explaining Sitka Lutheran’s rich Finnish-Lutheran history to tourists, caring for the historic Lutheran Cemetery are among the duties assigned to them while in Sitka.
    Native Nebraskans, the couple went to college in the Midwest and the Northwest. Bonnie Huneke’s career centered around vocational rehabilitation services and social work before retiring in 2011 in the Seattle area.
    David Huneke was a teacher in his first career, then went on to computer programming until he retired. Their hobbies include reading, traveling, cooking, gardening and learning new things.
    Regular Sunday morning worship services are 10:30 a.m. Wednesday evenings at 6 p.m. soup suppers are held, followed by a short prayer service.
    For more information call the church office at 747-3338, visit the web site at or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

    School Board Meets
    Sitka School Board will meet noon May 12 in the district office board room. The board will be approving the exterior painting request for proposal.

    Talent Show Set
    At KGH School
    The fifth annual Keet Gooshi Heen talent show, sponsored by the Sitka School District-Live Well Program and Student Success Program, will be 6 p.m. in the school’s multipurpose room.
    Sign-ups are being accepted in the front office by May 9. The event will feature a ‘‘Frozen’’ sing-along for all participants and audience members.
    All are invited to support and encourage the talents of local youths. Call Alexa Sample at 747-8395 for more information.

     New Arrivals
Baby Boy Halsey
    Elliot Scott Halsey was born 9:07 a.m. April 29 at Sitka Community Hospital.
    At birth, the infant weighed 7 pounds, 4 ounces, and was 21-1/2 inches long.
    Parents are Bethanie and Daryl Halsey of Sitka. The father is with the U.S. Coast Guard.
    Elliot joins a sister, Aven.

Photo caption:  Ann Wilkinson of the Sitka Community Hospital Foundation and Park Ranger Ryan Carpenter draw the winning entrant.

Walking Has Its Rewards at
Sitka National Historical Park
    Mike Perensovich, longtime Sitka resident, Park Watch volunteer and Park Prescriptions participant, was awarded $100 for being Sitka National Historical Park’s quarter winner of the Park Prescriptions Program.
    He was given his cash prize on April 19 by Ann Wilkinson, president of the Sitka Community Hospital Foundation.
    The Park Prescriptions Program represents a partnership between the National Park Service and various healthcare providers in Sitka. The program provides incentives for the community to get outdoors and exercise to improve health and well-being.
     At the drawing, Wilkinson underscored how the “Sitka Community Hospital Foundation is proud to be a sponsor of the Park Prescriptions Program.”
    She said that “promoting healthy lifestyle habits is an important part of our mission, and the Park Prescriptions Program is a great way to encourage walking and enjoying the great outdoors in our National Park.”
    The Foundation announced that it will sponsor the program again for another year, providing quarterly $100 prizes for participants who qualify. 
    For more information on how to participate in the program, ask any uniformed Sitka National Historical Park staff or visit

    Tree Planting
    In Memory of
    Sandra Gelber
    A tree planting and dedication in memory of Sandra Gelber will be held noon Monday at the main entrance of Sitka Community Hospital.
    Gelber had been physical therapist at the hospital since the 1980s until the time of her death.
    ‘‘Sandra was loved by all her co-workers,’’ hospital workers said. ‘‘We wanted to celebrate her birthday (which is Monday) and life by planting a tree.’’
    SCH employees and board members will attend, and the public is invited.
    Gelber died May 4 in Juneau, at age 61.

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At a Glance

(updated 8-17-22)

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 12:15 pm Wednesday, August 17.

New cases as of Wednesday: 1,444

Total cases (cumulative) statewide – 277,007

Total (cumulative) deaths – 1,296

Total (cumulative) hospitalizations – 3,843

Case Rate per 100,000 – 198.11

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

COVID in Sitka

The Sitka community level is now "High.'' Case statistics are as of Wednesday.

Case Rate per 100,000 – 211.20

Cases in last 7 days – 18

Cumulative Sitka cases – 3,022

Hospitalizations (to date) – 29

Deceased (cumulative) – 7

The local case data are from Alaska DHSS.






August 2002

 Electric department officials are asking Sitkans to conserve electricity over the next few days while the city recovers from a three-hour power outage caused by a mudslide knocking out a span of the main hydropower transmission line near Heart Lake.


August 1972

Legionnaires of the American Legion, Sitka Post No. 13, have been appointed to key committees in the state department. They are George H. Inman Jr., Carroll E. Kohler, Raymond C. Perkins and Edward J. Flynn.