SMILE! – The Pacific High School graduating class poses outside Harrigan Centennial Hall Saturday afternoon prior to their commencement ceremony. Because of COVID-19 concerns the ceremony was not open to the public. Pictured are Eric Alvarado,Chelsea Taylor, Madison Roy-Mercer, Lindsey Bartolaba, Melissa Gibson, Douglas Johnson, Korbin Tugmon, George Stevenson, Jayvan Iya-Kowchee and Elizabeth Newell. Sitka High School will hold its graduation ceremony Monday, May 24. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

March 4, 2016 Community Happenings

Joe Ordóñez to discuss book ‘Where Eagles Gather’

 Joe Ordóñez, a longtime photography tour guide in the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve near Haines and Klukwan, will give a free slide show presentation and sign copies of his new book, ‘‘Where Eagles Gather: The Story of the Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve,’’ at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 30, at the Sitka Public Library.

 Every year thousands of bald eagles arrive in the Chilkat Valley to feast on salmon. This is one reason the preserve is known as the “sacred gathering place for thousands of bald eagles.” 

In his book, Ordóñez combines his love of storytelling and photography to share his passion for the Chilkat Valley. He also will discuss the ominous threat of a proposed toxic mine (the Constantine Mine, also known as the Palmer Project) on the Klehini River, a tributary of the Chilkat River that flows just upstream from the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve. The Constantine Mine is wholly U.S.-owned and a breach could impact the preserve and the transboundary rivers nearby, as seen two years ago with the tailings pond breach at the Mount Polley Mine in British Columbia that flowed into Alaska waters.

Ordóñez has lived in Alaska since 1987, and has been guiding tours in the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve for nearly 30 years. A graduate of the Huxley College of Environmental Studies at Western Washington University of Bellingham, Wash., Ordóñez has worked on all seven continents in his career as a guide, naturalist and educator. 

Ordóñez, who is of Italian and Guatamalan descent, had an early fascination with photography, kindled during childhood by Ordóñez’s father’s slideshows of his travels throughout Latin America.

He also had an early exposure to Zen practice and Eastern thought, earning a black belt in Goju-ryu karate when he was 14 years old. He also has owned a karate dojo in Alaska. Ordóñez went to Western Washington University to study art and music, but instead pursued his love of nature by earning a bachelor of science degree in environmental education with an emphasis in field biology.

After college Ordóñez moved to Alaska, where he worked as a naturalist and wilderness guide in Glacier Bay National Park, the Pribilof Islands and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge before settling in the Chilkat Valley.

The combination of Zen, art, music and the intimate connection with nature imbue Ordóñez’s photographic vision with a sense of spiritual communion. Ordóñez’s artistic goal is to share images that celebrate the profound, as well as the subtle beauty of nature.

In addition to being the sole creator of ‘‘Where Eagles Gather: The Story of the Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve,’’ Ordóñez also is co-author of the book ‘‘The Complete Guide to the Tatshenshini and Alsek Rivers.’’ 

Ordóñez believes in giving back with his photography, and travels extensively to speak about the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve. He owns and leads photography tours through his Haines- and Skagway-based eco-tour company, Rainbow Glacier Adventures LLC. He lives adjacent to the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve with his wife and two daughters. Ordóñez’s is being coordinated by the Sitka Conservation Society.


 Author, Pilot

Sassara To Read 

Longtime Alaska pilot and former state legislator Chuck Sassara will tell stories and read from his book “Chuck Sassara’s Alaska: Propellers, Politics and People,” 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 15, at Sitka Public Library. 

All are invited to attend. For more information, call the library at 747-8708.


Drop-In Art Club

At Fine Arts Camp

Spring break drop-in sessions of Art Club for second- through fifth-graders is planned 3-4:30 p.m. Monday, March 14, in the Yaw Art Center Room 101 on the SJ Campus.

The cost is $10 for new students. Call 747-3085 to sign up.

The class session is included in tuition for current Art Club students.


Youth Advocates

Board to Meet

Youth Advocates of Sitka’s board of directors will meet 5:15-7 p.m. Thursday, March 10, at YAS’s 805 Lincoln Street office. Meetings are open to the public.


Preschool Screening

In School District

Sitka Borough School District will provide Child Find Preschool Screenings for children ages 3-5 on Friday, March 25, at the Rasmuson Building on the SJ Campus. 

An appointment is required. For more information, or to schedule one, parents should call the Rasmuson Center at 747-8356, or Mandy Evans, special education director, at 966-1253.

The Child Find program is provided without charge to families who live within Sitka Borough School District boundaries. The purpose of the program is:to identify children who are having difficulty in their development; and to provide special education services to them, when it is appropriate.

Parents may have concerns about their child’s development in the areas of hearing, vision, speech/language skills, motor skills, thinking skills, emotional or social skills.

A screening is a series of short tests and professional observations in various developmental areas. Children who are unable to pass one or more areas of the screening may have a developmental delay. 

Screenings will be held at least once per quarter, and those dates will be publicized. Additional appointments at other times or locations may be scheduled as needed.



Unitarians Meet

Sunday’s Unitarian Fellowship program will be “What Is Spirituality, Anyway?”

Fellowship begins at 10:30 a.m. with the program beginning at 10:45 a.m. Soup and bread follow at noon. The Fellowship Hall is located at 408 Marine Street, with parking behind off Spruce Street.


ANS to Meet

The Alaska Native Sisterhood will meet 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 8, at the ANB Founders Hall, 235 Katlian Street. With questions, contact Stephanie Gilardi at 646 510 0596 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .



Youth Basketball

Benefit at Brewery

Baranof Brewery will donate a portion of its proceeds from Community Night, 4-8 p.m. March 9, to the youth boys basketball traveling teams.

The family-friendly event will also feature root-beer floats. The event will help fund travel to the Mike Jackson Basketball Tournament in Juneau. Contact Kealoha Harmon at 738-0046 with questions.


Story Time Set

‘‘Two Little Monkeys’’ by Mem Fox, a sweet, surprise-filled story about two clever monkeys and a hungry creature on the prowl for a tasty lunch, will be one of the readings during the next story time sessions 10:30 a.m. Thursday, March 10, at Sitka Public Library.

Rhymes, songs and a craft project will be part of the program. For more information, call the library at 747-8708.


Dr. Seuss Magic

Show March 15

Sitka Public Library will host a free Magic Show with magician Dr. Fribush 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, March 15.

The program is best for children 7 years old and older. For more information, call the library at 747-8708.


SHS Seniors’

Parents Meet

The Sitka High School senior parent party planning meeting will be 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 9, at the Blatchley Middle School home economics room.


Choose Respect

Event March 24

All are invited to join the Sitka Youth Leadership Committee and Sitkans Against Family Violence to walk in the Seventh Annual Choose Respect March noon-1 p.m. March 24. 

The march will begin at Totem Square at noon, head down Lincoln Street and gather at the Crescent Harbor Shelter.

‘‘Let everyone know that you support the movement to stop the epidemic of domestic violence, sexual assault, and child sexual abuse in Alaska,’’ a press release from SAFV said. ‘‘At the rally, you will learn about some of the exciting programs in the community which empower youth to prevent violence before it ever occurs.’’ 

Organizers are asking employers to allow their staff members to participate in the community event. The goal is to be seen, statewide, as a community that cares, SAFV said.

‘‘Almost every other woman in Sitka (47 percent) has experienced domestic violence, sexual violence, or both in her lifetime, according to a 2012 survey by the UAA Justice Center,’’ organizers said. 

For more information call Martina or Julia at SAFV, 747-3370.


White E Shop

Meeting on Tap

The White Elephant Shop monthly meeting will be 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 9, at the Swan Lake Senior Center. Meetings are open to all.


Baseball Items

On Sale at White E

The White Elephant Shop has several baseball items for purchase, including mitts, balls, pants, bats and cleats. The store will be open noon-3 p.m. Saturday and 6-8 p.m. Monday.


White E Plans

Half-Price Sale

The children’s store at the White Elephant Shop will have a half-price sale on all pink and orange tags noon-3 p.m. Saturday.

The main store will have a storewide half-price sale on Saturday. The exceptions are bags of rags, baseball items, boutique items and Easter items. 

‘‘There is a good selection of coats and sweaters but we need to make room for sunny summer clothes,’’ the White Elephant said.



Story Time Set

Preschool story time at Sitka National Historical Park is set 10 a.m. Monday, March 7. The theme is ‘‘Raven.’’

The event will include a reading of ‘‘Ten Rowdy Ravens,’’ a song about ravens, a movement activity, a craft and a snack. For more information about the program, call at 747-0110.


Housing Needed

Region V basketball will begin this week and Sitka High School is seeking housing for 95 placements for cheerleaders, pep band and dance teams. 

Those who can house two or more students March 8-14 can contact Sitka High Activities Director Lindsey Jorgensen at 966-1956 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .






Operating Budget

Hearing on Tap

The Senate Finance Committee statewide operating and mental health  budget hearings will be heard March 7-9. Sitka’s participation is scheduled 2:30-3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 8.

Sitkans should call the Legislative Information Office to testify or listen in. To be heard, individuals should arrive by 2:15 p.m. to sign up at the LIO. Comments can be faxed to the committee at the LIO or emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

For more information call Marie Murray, Sitka Legislative Information Office, 201 Katlian Street, Suite 200A, 747-6276 or fax 747-5806.



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 5-17-21)

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 12:45 p.m. Monday.

New cases as of Sunday: 50

Total statewide – 66,814

Total (cumulative) deaths – 358

Total (cumulative) hospitalizations – 1,542

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 5 p.m. Friday.

Active cases in Sitka – 7

Hospitalizations (cumulative) in Sitka – 5

Cumulative Sitka cases – 372 (325 resident; 46 non-resident)

Cumulative recovered – 364

Deceased (cumulative) – 1

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

• • •


Sitka Vax Stats 

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

Partially vaccinated – 4,978 (71.64%)

Fully vaccinated – 4,612 (66.37%)

Total population (16+) –6,949

Sitka has vaccinated (with at least one dose) 1,245 (84.24%) 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:





May 2001

Sitka High boys track team ran to a 2nd-place finish in Juneau while the girls finished fourth. Sitka long-jumper Derek Hirai leapt 19’9.5” for the 2nd highest jump in the state this year. ... Others doing well were Thor Hartwig, Matt Mangini, Damien LaMar, Jeff Loiselle, Logan Wild, Elgin Hollins, Brian Friske, Brian Mork, Mike Bagley, Cody Campbell ....

May 1971

New Loyal Order of Moose officers, installed Saturday, are Earl Arnold, Grant Laiblin Jr., James Gardner, William Wakefield Jr., Eddielee Hodnett, Basil Riley, Lloyd Van Doren, James Firestone Sr. and Lynden Kincaid.