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)

Save It or Spend It ­– Sitkans State PFD Plans

Sentinel Staff Writer
    Disbursements of Permanent Fund Dividend checks – for $1,600 each – began today for the more than 600,000 eligible Alaska residents.
    And Sitkans had no end of ideas of how to spend the money – or not.
    This year’s payout is up by 45 percent from last year’s $1,100 to each of the state’s 615,590 eligible residents.
    The state used a five-year rolling average to calculate the fund market value, with a 5.25 percent withdrawal that was divided between PFDs and state operations. The dividend was originally expected to be $2,700 this year, but was decreased under a new formula.
    The state issued 70,452 printed checks and 523,012 direct deposits to residents’ bank accounts.
    Sitka Sen. Bert Stedman said the Permament Fund is a great asset for the state, but says fixes to the system are needed.
    “The great thing about the Permanent Fund is, when you have a finite resource – in this case oil – it saves some of the value for future generations,” he said. “The concern I have with the 5.25 payout is it’s too high and the current generation is using too much of the future value of the fund.”
    He has pre-filed legislation for the upcoming session that would lower the drawdown to 4.5 percent, and divide it 50-50 with a minimum of 50 percent going to dividends. That would have increased the payout this year to $2,000.
    He hopes lawmakers will pass his legislation for a more even split between dividends and government costs.
    “The rest will go for schools, DOT, prisons, cops, general state overhead,” Stedman said.
    Putting earnings into the pockets of residents makes sense, he said, because Alaska is the only state in the U.S. that owns the “subsurface.” In other states, the subsurface is privately owned.
    As to how he’ll spend his own dividend, Stedman said, “I’ll give it to my wife; it goes to pay bills, general bills.”
    Most of the Sitkans who spoke to the Sentinel today said they planned to spend their dividends on every day expenses. One lifelong Alaskan said she will divide her dividend check among charities, including Planned Parenthood.

Wendy Alderson, a full-time resident since 1995: “I am saving my Permanent Fund, I’m saving my husband’s Permanent Fund and I’m saving my daughter’s Permanent Fund, for a rainy day. We haven’t had very many lately but I know we’re due for one.”

Lester Hays, a 6-year resident: “Traveling.”

Patrick Swedeen, resident for 40 years: “I’m using it for our kids schooling; we have a couple of kids getting to college age, that’s the plan.”

Charla Bernhardt, a born and raised Sitkan: said she’ll be paying bills, and paying for food.

Kelsey Marks, a born and raised Sitkan: “I’ll probably use it to start up at UAS, taking classes at UAS.”

Robert Truman, raised in Sitka: “Travel ... to Las Vegas, Phoenix or Hood River, Oregon, and to visit family.”

Spencer Severson, resident since 1981: “Expenses. I have hardly any surplus. I’m impressed with people who are donating their PFDs; I always need it.”

Jamie Jackson, resident since 1980: “I’m spending it on my new house – buying the cabinets.

Ellie Schmidt, who hopes to be eligible for her first PFD next year, said she looks forward to spending her first one on the Alaska Airlines PFD sale. “And probably on rent, so I don’t have to work so much.”

Cliff Richter, a resident since 2004: the family’s PFDs go into savings “before it goes anywhere else ... before we make any decisions.”

Bobbi Jordan, resident for 26 years: “I am paying off my credit card for this month.”

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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 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.