Local News

Sitka 2010: The Year in Review

SITKA, ALASKA
• Coast Guard 6017: Lt. Sean Krueger, Petty Officer 1st Class Adam Hoke and Petty Officer 2nd Class Brett Banks were remembered on July 13, by more than 1,000 mourners in Sitka. The three were lost when their helicopter, CG6017, crashed in the water off La Push, Wash., on July 7.

• Robert DeArmond: The author and journalist died Nov. 26 at age 99. With his name on 17 books about Alaska History, DeArmond was arguably Sitka’s best-known historian, though he shied away from that title, according to Daily Sitka Sentinel Editor and Publisher Thad Pouslon.

• McAdams runs for Senate: At the end of May, news broke that Sitka’s then-mayor would run for the U.S. Senate. McAdams’ campaign received a boost when powerhouse incumbent Lisa Murkowski lost the primary. But with Murkowski back in the race as a write-in candidate, McAdams fell to third place, with 23 percent of the vote on election day. McAdams wasn’t the only Sitkan to run for higher office. Reber Stein, then an Assembly member, challenged Peggy Wilson for her District 2 House seat. Stein pulled out 35 percent of the vote, to Wilson’s 65 percent.

• Two votes, two recounts: If photo-finishes are what you’re looking for when it comes to politics, look no further than Sitka’s mayoral race – one of the closest in city history. Cheryl Westover won with two more votes than John Stein. The race went into extra innings after two recounts and a delay in receiving absentee ballots.

• Paul’s removal: The Sitka Tribe of Alaska’s tribal council removed council member George Paul. That action, plus the appointment of Mike Baines to fill the vacancy, came shortly after tribal council elections. Some citizens of the Tribe voiced concern about the timing during subsequent meetings, and have threatened to initiate a recall of Chairman Woody Widmark.

• ALPS: The former chief operating officer of ALPS Federal Credit Union admitted she took about $190,000 from the institution. Vicki Weidenhof was fired in March, and sentenced on Dec. 17 to serve two years behind bars for embezzlement.

• Cold case: In January, Jane Reth was arrested for the 1988 death of her husband, Scott Coville. Coville and Reth were living in Sitka when Coville went missing around the time of his 26th birthday. Sentencing is scheduled for March.

• Abbott sentenced: In 2008, Jason Abbott, then 18 years old, killed his grandparents, an aunt, and the aunt’s boyfriend at the family home on Monastery Street. He also attacked another aunt. He received 140 years in prison from Sitka Superior Court Judge David George, who told Abbott that his actions impacted the entire community.

• Park centennial: The Sitka National Historical Park celebrated its 100th anniversary this year. Teri Rofkar wove a raven’s tail robe for the occasion, which was marked by a months-long celebration commencing in March.

• Dubuque walks away: The University of Dubuque walked away from a deal to manage the campus of the closed Sheldon Jackson College, after two years of talks with the leadership of the school. In the months since, College President David Dobler was removed from that job and replaced with an interim manager, John Holst. And parts of the property have been divided off and sold, in an attempt to pay down debt.

Life in Sitka in 2010 was about more than the contents of this story, of course. It was about days at sea, victories on the field or diamond or court. Birthdays, deaths, commutes, conversations. We’ll have all of those things again in 2011, and like every year, we will be here with you, watching, learning, and reporting.
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