CHECKING IT OUT – Fia Turczynewycz, a visitor from Ohio, walks her dog,  Mani, past the Sitka National Historical Park Visitor Center this morning. Tlingit master carver Tommy Joseph’s newly completed yellow cedar Waas’go pole, pictured in the background, was moved out of the park’s carving shed Thursday to make room for Joseph’s latest project – carving a Tlingit canoe with the aid of an apprentice. Joseph’s Waas’go pole is the third version of the Haida pole in the past century – a reproduction of a reproduction made in the 1930s by George Benson, which is placed inside the visitor center. Rangers are working on approval for a location along the park’s trail system for the new pole. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Volunteers Take Action, Build Bike Trail

By GARLAND KENNEDY
Sentinel Staff Writer

Sitka’s new single-track mountain bike trail is about halfway done, and on target to open by early June.

“It’s beautiful, number one,” said Amy Volz, project leader in the all-volunteer trail building project.

“It’s not too hard in difficulty, in terms of uphill or downhill,” she added. “The turns are maybe a little tighter than someone who may be used to a flowing trail down south. So it’s a little more challenging than just a straight path.”

Bike enthusiast Doug Osborne, who also has worked on the project, agrees.

“I think it will be fun, and not so technical that it will be prohibitive for riders of different levels,” Osborne told the Sentinel.

Osborne noted that Sitka had a single-track bike trail in the last decade, out Sawmill Creek Road near the Gary Paxton Industrial Park, but that trail is long overgrown and unused. Once completed, the new trail will be the only one of its kind in Sitka.

While there are other, informal mountain bike trails in the area, the new trail will be the only one with formal approval from the City of Sitka.

Volz, who said she got into mountain biking about ten years ago in Oregon, described city approval and support of the project as “incredibly meaningful.” 

“What it says is that the city has an interest in expanding the uses of their property,” she said. “And a lot of it started in that area with the Cross Trail.”

Calder Prussian, 12, rides down a section of newly completed bike trail off the Cross Trail this afternoon. Calder is one of the Sitka cyclists who have volunteered time to build the spur trail. Volunteers will be following social distancing protocols while working on the new path this evening. Sitka’s new single-track mountain bike trail is about halfway done (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

While the city gave a green light on the project, the new trail has not received any public funding.

The new trail is a loop that begins and ends on the Cross Trail, immediately west of the Pherson Street Connector. The trail will be called ‘907,’ for its length in feet, as well as the Alaskan phone area code.

“It’s a really grass roots effort,” Osborne said. The new trail is under construction by volunteer labor. Volz estimated that roughly 50 working hours have gone into the project so far.

“We’ve only been working on it for perhaps a month . . . We’ve had a number of five- to seven-person volunteer days going on now,” Volz said.

One of those volunteers is Sitka High School junior Kobi Weiland.

“This has been a dream for a lot of people,” he said. Weiland first mountain biked in Haines when he was eight years old.

For the current project, he said, most of the work was simply moving gravel from the storage spot on the Cross Trail into the woods where the new bike trail is flagged.

“We’ve been clearing a path and putting gravel on it… Most of it is just moving gravel, that’s most of the work,” he said.

He added that he’s “hoping it makes other people happy, and gets more high school students outdoors.”

Other mountain biking trails are planned in the area, and Weiland said he looks forward to working and biking on them as well.

Volz added that due to restrictions on larger groups of people during the pandemic, she and her volunteers have taken measures to ensure their health.

“It’s a very coordinated effort in these COVID times to minimize the number of people... I tell people to bring masks and wear them and have them working at either end of the trail,” she said.

Anyone interested in volunteering on the trail project should send an email to amy.volz@outlook.com.

“It’s inspiring to work in these times, when it’s so hard to be able to predict the future or know where we’ll be a month from now, that we are building the first trail of many trails,” Volz said. “It’s a long term vision and it’s great to be a part of that type of vision and doing right now.”

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Alaska COVID-19 
At a Glance

(updated 9-17-21)

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 10:47 a.m. Friday.

New cases as of Thursday: 875

Total statewide – 96,002

Total (cumulative) deaths – 454

Total (cumulative) hospitalizations – 2,207

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

COVID in Sitka

The COVID alert rate for Sitka is “high,” based on 14 new COVID cases in the past 7 days, a rate of 187.73 per 100,000 population. Alert status will be high until the rate per thousand is below 100. Case statistics are as of Thursday.

New cases in Sitka – 5

Cases in last 7 days – 16

Cumulative Sitka cases – 946

Positive cumulative test results in Sitka, as of 9/10/21 – 1,090

Deceased (cumulative) – 3

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

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Sitka Vax Stats 

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

Partially vaccinated – 6,132 (83.03%)

Fully vaccinated – 5,991 (81.12%)

Total population (12+) – 7,385

Sitka has vaccinated fully vaccinated 89.85 percent 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: https://cityofsitka.org

 

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20 YEARS AGO
September 2001

Alaska Pacific Bank has opened an account for donations to be directed to the families of the World Trade Center attack of Sept. 11. The account has been opened with a $2,000 contribution from the bank and an anonymous donor.

50 YEARS AGO
September 1971

At the Sitka Historical Society’s meeting Sunday, Mrs. Esther Billman of Sheldon Jackson College presented a “surprise package” of recent donations to the Sheldon Jackson Museum by Mr. Hugh Brady, youngest son of former Territorial Gov. John Brady.

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