Monthly Archives: May 2009

School is out for another summer in Sitka

Sitka High School students celebrated the end of another school year with an ice cream social on Friday afternoon and kids are busily making plans for the next three months. Emily Schwing stopped by the high school to find out who’s doing what this summer.

SJ Hatchery releases continue without college

Despite the closing of Sheldon Jackson College two years ago, the education program at the former college hatchery is still in full swing. An organization called the Sitka Sound Science Center has been releasing fish from the hatchery all week. (5-27-09)

Marine Highway to dock fast ferries this winter

The Alaska Marine Highway system plans to take both fast-ferries out of service this winter. The move will leave Sitka with only two mainline ferry calls a week from October through June 2010. Sitka city and school officials registered their objections to the proposed schedule in a teleconference on Wednesday (5-27-09).

Assembly hammers out island cabin definition

After six months of wrestling with the issue, local government has finally settled on a definition of “private recreation cabin” in the island zoning districts. The Sitka assembly voted last night (5-26-09) to limit the structure to 650 square feet, and to non-paying guests only.

Holocaust survivor to students: "The hate must end."

Middle-school students in Sitka learned about life during the Holocaust from someone who was not much younger than they were when Hitler developed his “Final Solution.” Peter Metzelaar was five-years old in 1940 when Nazis rolled into his native Amsterdam. Now in his seventies, Metzlaar is an active member of the speaker’s bureau of the Washington State Holocaust Education Center. He was in Sitka this week (5-20-09) to speak with students about his life, his narrow escape from death, and his regrets during the Holocaust.

Aleut artist finds way between the modern, traditional

Patrick Lind is a contemporary artist and educator thoroughly grounded in Aleut cultural tradition. The Homer-based carver and painter spent a week in Sitka participating in the Native Art Demonstrator program at the Sheldon Jackson Museum. KCAW’s Robert Woolsey spent a few minutes with Lind during his visit, discussing the rich tradition of Aleut art. Learn more about the SJ Museum Native Art Demonstrators Program at

"Stream Team" helps restore Starrigavan Valley

A consortium of resource management agencies in Sitka is using kid-power to help restore an important watershed. Before it was logged in the late 1960s, the Starrigavan Valley had a monumental spruce and hemlock forest, and large runs of coho and other salmon species. The valley has since been removed from the timber base in the Tongass, and the Forest Service, Park Service, the state, Trout Unlimited, and the Sitka Conservation Society are all interested in restoring Starrigavan. But it takes a lot of work – a lot of data collection, measuring, and digging – to rebuild a watershed. Each spring for the last few years, seventh-grade science students at Sitka’ Blatchley middle school work side-by-side with biologists and hydrologists in the valley. KCAW student reporters Robert Miller and Thor Becker spent a day with the Blatchley “stream team” and sent this audio postcard: (To see a slideshow, click on this story's title, then click on the word "more...")

Bradshaw defends district budget

Superintendent Steve Bradshaw said benefits and utilities have pushed up the Sitka School district budget over the last five years, despite a decrease in the student population. Bradshaw defended district spending in an address to the Sitka Chamber of Commerce today (5-20-09). He also said meeting the needs of special education students was among several factors contributing to higher expenses in schools.

Man faces new charges of attempted murder

A Sitka grand jury has re-indicted a man on charges of attempted murder in the first degree. 47-year-old Thomas J. Kito was originally indicted last fall for stabbing a friend in a drunken brawl, but Kito’s defense lawyers found irregularities in the grand jury proceedings, and the DA later withdrew the indictment. However, the faulty indictment does not invalidate the case. Prosecutors last Friday (5-15-09) brought the matter before a new grand jury, which returned new indictments of assault in the first degree, as well as attempted murder.

Jason Abbott pleads out to murder changes

A Sitka man accused of killing four people last year today admitted to committing the acts. He will likely be sentenced to at least 40 years in prison.