News

A timeless prank turns 40

Despite his reputation as a prankster, Porky Bickar was civic-minded. He alerted local authorities to the prank -- with the notable exception of the Coast Guard, which sent a plane from Juneau.

The Museum of Hoaxes puts it at number 16 on the list of Top 100 April Fools Hoaxes of All-Time. The Eruption of the Mt. Edgecumbe Volcano was staged in Sitka 40 years ago today, on April 1, 1974. The prank was orchestrated by Porky Bickar and a group of co-conspirators known as the “Dirty Dozen,” using a helicopter and two sling loads of old tires. This story is from our archives. It was originally produced in 2009 on the 35th anniversary of the prank. more

Juneau healthier than Sitka? Don’t make us laugh!

During a break in the legislature, Juneau residents take the air in Cope Park.

A study released last week by the University of Wisconsin concluded that Sitka is the second-healthiest community in the state of Alaska — behind Juneau.The results of the study were a shot in the arm to Juneau which, frankly, seems a little more sedentary and bureaucratic than Sitka. KCAW’s Robert Woolsey spoke with Cindy Edwards, director of the Hames Center, to learn what can be done to put Sitka on top. more

Sitka shops for teachers at Seattle fair

Blatchley Middle School Principal Ben White staffs the Sitka booth at the Seattle teaching fair. (KCAW photo/Ed Ronco)

The Sitka School District went looking for teachers over the weekend. Three administrators from Sitka traveled to the Seattle area to attend job fairs full of applicants hoping to teach in Alaska. Casey Demmert is principal of Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School. He says there are 14 positions open in Sitka schools, including four at Keet, which serves grades 2 through 5. more

Herring seiners hit target — and then some — in quick Saturday opener

A seiner purses up as a tender pulls alongside to start pumping herring, during the fourth and final opening in the 2014 Sitka Sound sac roe herring fishery. (KCAW photo/Rachel Waldholz)

The 2014 Sitka Sound sac roe herring fishery is over. The 48 permit holders caught the last remaining fish in this year’s harvest limit — and then some — in a wild 45-minute opener Saturday afternoon right in front of downtown Sitka. The preliminary estimate from the Alaska Department of Fish & Game for Saturday’s harvest is just shy of 4,000 tons, bringing this year’s total catch to 17,200 tons — about 900 tons more than the guideline harvest level. more

Herring opener set for 1:30 Saturday afternoon

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The Alaska Department of Fish & Game has scheduled a fourth — and possibly final — commercial herring seine opening for 1:30 PM Saturday afternoon in Sitka Sound. This is an hour later than the start time previously announced. Biologist Dave Gordon reports that the net used by the Department’s research vessel Kestrel became seriously fouled this morning, causing the hour-long setback. more

Learning about herring, inside and out

Sixth graders Abby Saiz and Cora Dow dissect their specimen during Knowledge of Herring Camp, on March 21. (KCAW photo/Rachel Waldholz)

This year, the Sitka Tribe, Sitka School District and Sitka National Historical Park launched what they hope become a new March tradition: herring camp. During spring break, about fifteen students, in 5th grade through high school, participated in a week of research into herring biology and ecology, along the way learning a little something about what goes on inside this iconic spring fish. more

Sitka herring fleet stands down, will resume search on Saturday

The Sitka sac roe herring fleet stood down at 3:50 PM today (Fri 3-28-14) after a long, frustrating search for a marketable volume of fish — and will try again tomorrow. State biologist Dave Gordon, who oversees the fishery, did not seem too discouraged by the fleet’s inability to locate sufficient herring to open seining. more

Rioux: Good relationships are the best advertising

SCVB director Tonia Rioux. She said that Sitkans rolled out a "not just a red carpet -- but a magic carpet -- for last October's travel industry convention. (KCAW photo/Robert Woolsey)

The Sitka Convention and Visitors Bureau still relies on ad placements to attract visitors to the community, but it’s also receiving more and more referrals through social media. SCVB director Tonia Rioux told the Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday that Facebook was now her third largest source for inquiries about the community. There are over 13,000 people following and sharing the SCVB’s posts on Facebook — roughly double the number at the beginning of 2013. more

Tsunami warning test too real?

Thursday morning’s (3-27-14) live test of the state’s Tsunami Warning System went pretty well — except many people didn’t realize it was a test. Most of us are accustomed to hearing the words “This is a test” with the routine monthly broadcasts. This message however, was triggered using so-called “live codes” which broadcast a different message. more

Sitkans remember Alaska’s 1964 earthquake

Sitka resident Larry Calvin was working at the pulp mill during the 1964 earthquake. (KCAW photo/Emily Forman)

Today marks the 50th anniversary of Alaska’s Good Friday Earthquake. The largest impact was felt at the epicenter, but 600 miles away in Sitka it still made a mark. Here are three short stories from people who were living in Sitka in 1964. more