Last Dance

Sitka Fine Arts Camp elementary age campers dance with instructor Brendan Jones in their final day of camp today at the Sheldon Jackson College Campus. Middle School Camp, for grades seven thru nine, begins Monday. Registration is still open at 907-747-3085. (Sentinel Photo by Klas Stolpe)

Simply Three Return to Perform at Harrigan
14 Jun 2024 14:46

By SHANNON HAUGLAND
Sentinel Staff Writer
    The Simply Three trio promises an evening of original [ ... ]

Two Sitka Projects on Fed Funding List
14 Jun 2024 14:17

By SHANNON HAUGLAND
Sentinel Staff Writer
    The Assembly received a piece of good news Tuesday wi [ ... ]

Peltola Bill Gives Coast Guard Boost
14 Jun 2024 13:58

By Sentinel Staff
    The U.S. House of Representatives gave unanimous approval today to a bill sp [ ... ]

Local Trails Repaired By Citizen Volunteers
14 Jun 2024 13:04

By GARLAND KENNEDY
Sentinel Staff Writer
    Volunteers turned out in force June 1 to repair damage [ ... ]

No Sign Yet Of Missing Woman
14 Jun 2024 13:03

By Sentinel Staff
    The search for a woman reported missing near Ketchikan is focused on Ward La [ ... ]

High School Sues For Lower Sports Division
14 Jun 2024 13:01

By JAMES BROOKS
Alaska Beacon
    This March, the Monroe Catholic Rams were among the four best lar [ ... ]

Dunleavy Names New Fishery Panel Member
14 Jun 2024 12:59

By NATHANIEL HERZ
Northern Journal
    In May, the Alaska Legislature narrowly rejected a conservat [ ... ]

2 Accused of Smuggling Snowmachines to Russia
14 Jun 2024 12:55

By JAMES BROOKS
Alaska Beacon
    Federal officials have indicted two men for allegedly attempting  [ ... ]

June 14, 2024, Police Blotter
14 Jun 2024 12:48

Police Blotter
Sitka police received the following calls by 8 a.m. today:
June 13
At 1:33 a.m. a woman  [ ... ]

June 14, 2024, Community Happenings
14 Jun 2024 12:47

Climate Connection: Electric Panels
Electrifying our lives prompts questions about whether our home e [ ... ]

No On-Site Attorney Poses City Problems
13 Jun 2024 15:09

By SHANNON HAUGLAND
Sentinel Staff Writer
    After extensive recruiting efforts and no prospects i [ ... ]

Oil Spill Traced to Forgotten Boat Sinking
13 Jun 2024 15:08

By GARLAND KENNEDY
Sentinel Staff Writer
    An oil slick that appeared on the surface of the water [ ... ]

Arts Camp Veteran to Play Concert
13 Jun 2024 15:07

By SHANNON HAUGLAND
Sentinel Staff Writer
    Thirteen years ago Raph Shapiro spent the summer in S [ ... ]

Royalty-Free Leases Fail to Entice Bidders
13 Jun 2024 14:41

By YERETH ROSEN
Alaska Beacon
    A state oil and gas auction that offered royalty-free leases in t [ ... ]

June 13, 2024, Police Blotter
13 Jun 2024 14:39

Sitka police received the following calls by 8 a.m. today:
June 12
An incident of drunkenness was repo [ ... ]

June 13, 2024, Community Happenings
13 Jun 2024 14:37

Soil Core May
Offer Portal to
Sitka’s Past

A soil core sample will be taken from Swan Lake Saturday [ ... ]

Assembly Postpones Visit Sitka Funding
12 Jun 2024 15:32

By SHANNON HAUGLAND
Sentinel Staff Writer
    Assembly members discussed possible future paths for  [ ... ]

Sitka Breaks Decades-Old High Temp Record
12 Jun 2024 15:26

By GARLAND KENNEDY
Sentinel Staff Writer
    A decades-old record for Sitka’s highest temperature [ ... ]

Woman Missing In Ketchikan
12 Jun 2024 15:25

By Sentinel Staff
    A search was under way today for a 48-year-old Ketchikan woman reported miss [ ... ]

State Supreme Court Posts a Job Opening
12 Jun 2024 15:24

By JAMES BROOKS
Alaska Beacon
    A wave of retirements on the Alaska Supreme Court is nearing its  [ ... ]

Ranked Choice Repeal Measure Wins Ruling
12 Jun 2024 15:21

By JAMES BROOKS
Alaska Beacon
    An Anchorage Superior Court judge has ruled in favor of a propose [ ... ]

Fairbanks Woman Accused Of Theft from Bingo Parlor
12 Jun 2024 15:16

By JAMES BROOKS
Alaska Beacon
    Federal prosecutors have accused a Fairbanks woman of stealing fr [ ... ]

June 12, 2024, Community Happenings
12 Jun 2024 15:14

Elder Coffee Time
On Summer Break
Sitka Tribe of Alaska’s community elders coffee time is on summer  [ ... ]

June 12, 2024, Police Blotter
12 Jun 2024 11:40

Police Blotter
Sitka police received the following calls by 8 a.m. today:
June 11
At 3:25 a.m. a driver [ ... ]

Other Articles

Daily Sitka Sentinel

State Welfare Office Returning to Sitka

By ABIGAIL BLISS
Sentinel Staff Writer
    Sitka’s welfare office is on the road to reopening, says Monica Windom, director of the Division of Public Assistance (DPA) in Alaska’s Department of Health and Social services.
    The department’s office at Totem Square closed in June due to budget cuts, she said.
    When two of its staffers left – one for retirement, and the other for other reasons – DPA decided against filling the vacant positions and instead closed up shop in Sitka. An indication of how big a hole that created in the social safety net was provided by Dolly Alberston, an office assistant at the Sitka welfare office until it closed, who said staff would assist 20 to 40 people a day.

Andrea Thomas works at her SEARHC office. (Sentinel Photo)


    Within the past few weeks, however, DPA has advertised for staff to reopen the Sitka office.
    Fran Schwuchow of the Sitka Job Center said an Eligibility Technician position for Sitka was advertised on Workplace Alaska March 16 to April 2. An office assistant position was posted slightly earlier, she said, and closed on March 28.
    “We have recently decided to go ahead and restaff that office and leave that open,” Windom confirmed. She predicted that the doors will open in two or three months.
    “It depends on how the hiring goes...They have to review all the applications, and then do the interviews, and then get hiring approvals,” she said, adding that, once selected, staff would have to undergo extensive training.
    Jeanne Young, an administrative assistant in the Division of Public Assistance in Juneau, said the two recent advertisements were the first job postings for the Sitka office since its closure last summer.
    “We just got approval to hire recently,” she said. “This is the first time they’ve been posted since those positions were vacant.”
    The Department’s outpost in Kotzebue had also been closed, Windom said, and there are no plans to reopen it.
    “It’s a tough decision to close an office,” she said. “We don’t want to close the small offices. We know how important they are to the economic security in smaller communities.”
    For Sitka organizations that have been picking up the slack in welfare referrals since the June office closure, the reopening of a local welfare cannot come soon enough.
    Sitka Community Hospital assumed the role of “fee agent,” assigning three staff members to respond to inquiries once handled by the local welfare office.
    Andrea Thomas, SEARHC’s Outreach and Enrollment Manager, is another point person who stepped in to help take up the slack in services.
    “They (DPA) just closed their door, basically telling people that they should call Juneau,” she said. “It’s been really difficult for people. The biggest disservice is for people who don’t know where to get assistance ... They’re on their own, and they just don’t know where to go. These are very difficult systems to navigate.”
    She said the fee agents at SCH are able to take applications for Medicaid or other health coverage and fax them to the state, but at SEARHC she often sits down with Sitkans to walk them through the application processes.
    “We’re the only people that actually sit down and meet with people,” she said. “We have a lot of people that used to go to the Division of Public Assistance, and they’re coming to us. And we can only do so much.”
    Thomas was quick to note that the lack of a local welfare office has put stress on organizations such as Youth Advocates of Sitka, Sitka Counseling, and the Sitka Tribe of Alaska.
    “All of these people have been negatively impacted by the closing of the office,” she said.
    STA’s social services director Melonie Boord, said the Tribe had “absolutely” seen heavier traffic since the DPA office closed last June.
    “We have seen an increase in those accessing our food pantry, as well as other financial assistance programs,” she told the Sentinel.
    Sitka’s Legislative Information Office manager Ken Fate said the closure had an impact on his work, too.
    “We definitely saw an increase in traffic of folks who not only didn’t know where to go, but had stopped receiving any communication from the Division of Public Assistance,” he said. “The biggest issue was that the Division of Public Assistance simply stated that they weren’t even going to try to respond.”
    Thomas said that the underlying issue was a shortage of staff and funds at the state-run Division of Public Assistance. She estimated that the staff was “incredibly backlogged” by some 20,0000 applications for both Medicaid and food stamps.
    “(It’s) extremely understaffed,” Thomas said. “That’s the bottom line ... There’s nobody to call, no one to answer the phone.”
    She said the lack of communication has made it difficult to discern what exactly the Department is doing in order to reopen an office in Sitka.
    She expressed hope, however, that the department would be able to get its Sitka location back up and running. It is, in fact, essential that they do it, she said.
    “I’m really hopeful that they can hire staff soon so that we can get local assistance because we really are in dire need of it,” she said. “We need to have a local office.”





   

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20 YEARS AGO

June 2004 

Advertisement: Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital Caring Employee of the month! Franklin Thomas Hospital Nutrition Services.

50 YEARS AGO

June 1974

Edna Revard is enjoying a much-deserved vacation: she and youngest son Joe are in Italy visiting her older son, Jack, his wife and child. Jack is with the military, stationed in Italy. Edna will be gone a month, the crew at Revard’s Restaurant says.

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