WEEKEND HANGOUT – Gina Lusher, foreground right, and other Sitka Cirque aerialists rehearse Thursday night for this weekend’s show, Cirque Noir, at the 207 Smith Street studio. The show includes cage dancers, live music and champagne. Kids from first grade through high school will have a separate fundraiser showcase event Saturday afternoon from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Tickets for both shows are available online at sitkacirque.com. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

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Daily Sitka Sentinel

Animals in Spotlight Tonight at Sitka Tells Tales


Sentinel Staff Writer

A turtle relocation, an encounter with a wild buck, and a zoo story will be front and center at tonight’s edition of the long-running Sitka Tells Tales.

Under the theme “Tales of Tails: Stories of Cuteness, Chaos & Connection,” seven Sitkans will deliver short true stories at the live event that starts 7 p.m. tonight at Harbor Mountain Brewery.

The theme of this show grew out of a conversation between Kristina Tirman, board director of the Friends of the Sitka Animal Shelter, and Ellen Frankenstein, director of Artchange, which organizes Sitka Tells Tales.

“(Tirman) queried me whether it was a crazy idea to do a Tales of Tails-type theme,” Frankenstein said. “She was almost hesitant, but I loved it. Because we all have connections – many of us do - to animals, or pets or – wild animals.”

Tonight’s tales will be a collaboration among Artchange, Friends of the Sitka Animal Shelter, and KCAW-FM, which will broadcast the event live. KCAW and Artchange will work together to create a podcast for a later time. 

Storytellers are Louise Brady with Tory O’Connell and Matthew Jackson; Johnny Elliott; Janet Clarke; Kari Paustian; Mischa Lopiano; April Wheldon and Emily Pound.

Tirman, a fan of Sitka Tells Tales, will co-host with Frankenstein.

“I’ve been to many of the Sitka Tells Tales,” Tirman said. “It’s such a fun way to bring the community together, to get to know each other a bit better, and connect with one another.”

Tirman added that the event also lines up well with the goals of the Friends group to bring together the community of pet and animal enthusiasts.

“And what better way to do that than partner with Sitka Tells Tales and put on events?” Tirman said. “The goal is to bring these people together, sharing stories of connection but also of chaos and the cuteness that comes along with owning a pet or encountering animals.”

“Sitka Tells Tales and Artchange itself is all about what makes communities stronger and makes people’s lives better,” Frankenstein said. “Our pets are solace. And being in a place with wild things, it’s so much about who we are.”

The seven “tellers” stories will run the gamut but include stories about zookeepers, a turtle, dogs, a buck and polar bears.

Tirman said hearing the stories in the practice run made her think of the role of animals in people’s lives.

“Some of the stories, the ones about companion animals, make you think about the steadiness and the constant, that animals are in our lives,” she said. “Especially during COVID, people realize that.”

Johnny Elliott is one of the storytellers, and will share a tale of relocating his turtle to Sitka. Elliott has run a few storytelling events of his own for the LGTBQ+ community here, called “Our Stories.”

“Ellen and I have a mutual interest in storytelling and she invited me to tell this theme - she knew I had a good pet-related story,” he said.

Elliott is originally from Juneau, but came to Sitka as a youth to attend Sitka Fine Arts Camp and has now lived here four years. He moved here to work for Outer Coast, but has also served as a Sitka Fellow.

Other storytellers are 

The event is free, but Frankenstein said a donation of $15 would help cover expenses and support Artchange and the Friends group.

The Friends group was started as a way to help raise funds and coordinate volunteering for the animal shelter. The position of city animal control officer has been vacant for months.

The volunteer organization schedules and trains more than 40 active volunteers who care for the animals in the shelter every day and perform other tasks.

“We have three to five different shifts that people come to the shelter, feed, socialize, walk dogs and clean areas,” Tirman said.

The Friends plan fundraising events, and other ways for volunteers to become involved with the shelter.

“We want to make it feel like it’s a place people can come to for information,” she said. “Maybe they don’t have an animal of their own but enjoy being around animals so they can come to the shelter and visit with them.”

The Friends organization has partnerships with other groups in town, spreading the word about animals, pets and the needs at the shelter.

Kittens snuggle at the Sitka Animal Shelter. Pet stories is the theme for the Sitka Tells Tales event tonight. (Photo provided by Kristina Tirman)

The group is off to a good start, attaining 501c3 status as a tax-exempt nonprofit in March, just six months after the first organizational meeting. Members have had fundraisers, received grants from Sitka Legacy Foundation and Alaska Community Foundation, and are working with the Rotary Club on a new welcome sign for the Jarvis Street shelter. Outer Coast students are pitching in with work parties to remodel the Adult Cat Room into a more engaging environment.

“It’s been great to have so much support from the community,” Tirman said.

Frankenstein and Tirman said tonight’s Sitka Tells Tales program was made possible through a special events permit from the Alaska Alcoholic Beverage Control Board to use Harbor Mountain Brewery for the event.

Doors open at 6 p.m. and the stories will start at 7. Pizza and beer will be available, and $1 will be donated to Friends of the Sitka Animal Shelter for every beer and pizza purchased.

Frankenstein is always looking for tellers and themes for the six live storytelling events Artchange puts on every year. The “work-in-progress” theme for March will be “It was a Dream: Stories of Visions, Longings and Imaginings and Seeing What Comes True.”


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At a Glance

(updated 9-12-2023)

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 8:57 a.m. Tuesday, September 12.

New cases as of Tuesday: 278

Total cases (cumulative) statewide – 301,513

Total (cumulative) deaths – 1,485

Case Rate per 100,000 – 38.14

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

COVID in Sitka

The Sitka community level is now "Low.'' Case statistics are as of Tuesday.

Case Rate/100,000 – 152.50

Cases in last 7 days – 13

Cumulative Sitka cases – 3,575

Deceased (cumulative) – 10

The local case data are from Alaska DHSS.






December 2003

The Sawmill Cove Industrial Park board of directors endorsed a final contract tuesday for the city to sell a minimum of 40 million gallons of reservoir water per year to an export company based in New York City. ... under the contract Quest would have the right to purchase up to 1 billion gallons of water per year at 1 cent per gallon



December 1973

 The City and Borough of Sitka conducted a community public opinion poll evaluating municipal services and facilities. ... The overall results gave this priority order: 1. roads and highways; 2. water and sewer; 3. downtown parking; 4. garbage collection and disposal; 5. hospital and medical facilities; 6. planning and zoning; 7. boat harbors.


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