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)

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Other Articles

Daily Sitka Sentinel

Assembly Approves Garden, Pay Raise


Sentinel Staff Writer

The Assembly gave the go-ahead Tuesday night for continuing work to permit a local nonprofit to lease a tract of city land for a community garden at the end of Jarvis Street.

A few pieces still need to be worked out but Assembly members took note of wide support for the Jarvis Street location for the garden.

The half-acre parcel is near the Alaska Raptor Center trail, and uphill of the waste transfer station and the animal shelter on Jarvis Street.

The main question at the meeting was whether competitive bidding or a request for proposals would be preferable in completing the lease agreement.

“What I’m hearing from the Assembly is yes, we want to go forward leasing this property and we want to go forward in a way that allows this to happen,” Mayor Steven Eisenbeisz said. “Is there a way to that is appropriate to go forward without competitive bidding, and if not how do we develop an RFP that captures the public’s wishes for the land?”

City Attorney Brian Hanson said he would review the question, and Planning Director Amy Ainslie will come back to the Assembly with an RFP if that is the recommended option.

Hanson said today that city code allows for cases in which competitive bidding is “inappropriate” for specific reasons, including “best interest of the city and borough.”

The nonprofit Transition Sitka and the Sitka Local Foods Network have presented a conceptual plan to the Planning Commission calling for 51 10x20-foot garden plots, 15 2x8-foot vertical garden beds for climbing or tall plantings, one teaching plot, and onsite water and toilet facilities. The garden perimeter would be fenced and gated.

The Planning Commission has unanimously recommended approval of the lease, but had a mixed response to a similar garden site off Osprey Street.

The nonprofit groups are moving forward with their planning, which includes a permit for agricultural use of wetlands.

Other Business

The Assembly in other business:

– voted to increase Assembly members’ pay from $300 to $500 per month, and the mayor’s pay from $500 to $800 per month. 

– approved sales tax holidays for the two days after Thanksgiving, Friday, November 24, and Saturday, November 25. 

– appointed Robin Sherman to the Sitka Planning Commission.

Other appointments were Steve Black and Ben Hughey to the Parks and Recreation Committee and Woody Widmark to Health Needs and Human Services.

– approved a lease assignment from McG Constructors to Secon for two Granite Creek lease areas.

– directed staff to move forward with preparing a lease of 1.463 acres of tidelands to Evergreen Properties, owner of Schafers Trailer Court. The Assembly stated their desire for a noncompetitive 30-year lease at a rate of 5 percent of the assessed value to the historic owner, and that the land continue to be used as a trailer park.

– reviewed plans for an upcoming community poll and construction plans for the airport terminal expansion and renovation. (Story in a later Sentinel).

– held an executive session for City Administrator John Leach to update the Assembly on the status of the lease negotiations with the state of Alaska for the airport terminal building lease. No vote was taken after the 30-minute discussion.

– passed a resolution in favor of applying for $3.6 million from the U.S. Department of Energy, to go toward Phase II and II of the Green Lake rehabilitation project. The estimated cost is $11 million.

Cord Christianson, generation system manager for the electric department, said Phase I of the project was the “waterworks phase” and II and III are the inside electrical work within the power plant.

“It’s been 45 years of operation, and so we’re doing a restoration to refurbish it and make it where it’s hopefully good for another 40 to 50 years,” he said.

Planning Commission

Robin Sherman received a number of positive comments in the Assembly’s discussion of the merits of the three applicants for an opening on the Planning Commission.

The other two applicants, Jeremy Twaddle and Chris Spivey, previously served on the commission. Assembly members agreed they were well qualified, and thanked them for their service to the community.

But in the end, a majority favored Sherman, a Sitka resident for eight years, who cited her experience in planning and housing in her application.

“I think a little bit of a change-up would be healthy,” Kevin Mosher said. “I believe she is a very thoughtful, well-balanced person who cares very much for this town and would bring some fresh direction.”

“I appreciated what I read about her experience and I think it would be a benefit to our committee,” Tim Pike said.

Chris Ystad spoke in favor of Twaddle for his experience as a contractor in subdivisions and affordable housing. Thor Christianson spoke in favor of Spivey for his experience and impartiality on the commission but cast his vote for Sherman.

Sherman was selected with five votes, from Christianson, Mosher, Eisenbeisz, Pike and JJ Carlson. Ystad voted for Twaddle. 

Assembly Pay

There were a few public comments against raising Assembly pay. The vote was 6-0 in favor of approving the pay raise ordinance, which will be effective on the first Assembly meeting after the ordinance has been adopted. Administrator John Leach sponsored the ordinance, basing the amount of the raises on the rise in the cost of living over the past 21 years.

The last time Assembly pay was increased was in 2002, when it went up from $100 to $300 for Assembly and from $250 to $500 for mayor.

“Twenty years is a long time,” Carlson said. “This isn’t necessarily voting us a raise, it’s just to keep averages average. There’s nothing self-rewarding in this. It’s just addressing something that is baseline and to keep it consistent.”

She noted that an additional $200 a month is not much compensation for reviewing over 100 pages of Assembly supporting material every two weeks, making decisions for the town, and talking to people individually and in groups.

Other Assembly members spoke in favor of the pay raise at their last meeting, when it was passed without amendment on first reading. Mosher affirmed Tuesday that he’s in favor. 

Leach said he calculated inflation at 62.09 percent since the last raise. “If the CBS had raised Assembly salaries by inflation since they were last set in 2002, the mayor would be paid $810.44 per month

today and members would be paid $486.26 per month today,” he said. 

The Sitka charter states that the Assembly “by ordinance shall determine the salary of the mayor and the other Assembly members,” and “an increase shall not take effect until the Assembly meeting following the regular election after the ordinance has been adopted.”     

The city finance office said the increases will cost $18,000, bringing the annual total for compensation of elected officials to $46,500.

Speaking against the raise was Valorie Nelson, who served on the Assembly and as mayor. She said she believes the question should go to voters, and referred to an advisory ballot question that went to voters in 2002 after the Assembly voted a pay raise for its members.

The advisory question on the October city election that year asked: “Do you concur with the ordinance giving FUTURE Assembly members and the FUTURE mayor raises?” It passed 1,408 to 998.

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June 2004 

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


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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