Inside the sawmill in the 1940s, students of the Sheldon Jackson Training School learned to mill wood and build boats. The Sitka Sound Science Center is applying for a federal pass-through grant to renovate the sawmill building. (Photo courtesy of SSSC)

The Sitka Assembly museum has moved to give a local museum the support it needs to finish construction. They also approved four federal grant applications for historic restoration projects.

Last year, the Assembly appropriated $50,000 for the Sitka History Museum out the Commercial Passenger Excise Tax Fund. That money was not fully spent, with the museum’s interior still under construction. Located in Harrigan Centennial Hall, the grand opening is scheduled for this year.

To complete that project, the Assembly approved re-appropriating that $50,000 on first reading Tuesday night (10-24-17).

Mayor Matthew Hunter also shared that news from China may affect Sitka’s recycling program. Reuters reported in July that China plans to stop accepting shipments of “foreign garbage,” such as waste plastic and paper, and global recycling prices have already dipped. A local contractor currently ships all of Sitka’s garbage and recycling south on a barge.

“China will no longer be the junkyard of the world,” Hunter told the Assembly. “They’re refusing to import any country’s waste, which means all [of Sitka’s] recycling is in question. ”

This could mean Sitka will have no place to send paper or plastic products, but Hunter added he would need more information to determine local impacts.

North end of Fraser Hall. Alaska Arts Southeast is applying for $25,000 to restore this area and the east exterior wall. (Photo by Rebecca Poulson)

The Assembly also approved four grant applications, drawn up by non-profits seeking pass-through money for historic preservation work. If granted, the money would come from the federal government’s Historic Preservation Fund through a state award for certified local governments (“CLG” grants).

The Sitka Sound Science Center (SSSC), Alaska Arts Southeast, and Sitka Maritime Heritage Society are each seeking $25,000 to renovate old buildings. See their plans in detail here: Sitka Sound Science CenterAlaska Arts SoutheastSitka Maritime Heritage Society.

Executive Director Lisa Busch said SSSC would put the money towards architectural plans for the Sawmill Building. Students at Sheldon Jackson Training School once used the facility to mill wood and build boats.

The Sawmill Building, which is currently being used as a gift shop and chowder cart. SSSC wants $25,000 to draw up architectural plans to fix the building for future use. (Photo courtesy of SSSC)

“That building has a wonderful feel to it. I guess you could say she has a good bones, but her foundation is a bit shaky and the roof is leaky and the siding is not in very good shape,” Busch said, adding with a laugh, “But other than that it’s ready to go!” Busch went on to say the money would cover the full cost of renovation design.

The backside of the Japonski Island Boathouse. Sitka Maritime Heritage Society seeks $25,000 in CLG money to construct an entryway shell for the building that includes a ramp and toilet. (Photo by Rebecca Poulson)

Alaska Arts Southeast is focused on renovating the exterior of Fraser Hall, while the Sitka Maritime Heritage Society seeks money to continue rehabilitation of the Japonski Island Boathouse. Grant manager Rebecca Poulson spoke to both projects. The fourth application is from the Sitka Historical Society for $6,000 to create a pamphlet about the city’s architectural history. See details here: Sitka Historical Society.

The money is a 60-40 match, with 60% coming from the Historic Preservation Fund for Certified Local Governments and 40% from the organization itself.

The Assembly also adjusted the budget to include $75,000 for repairs broken harbor meters. The project was planned for and meter rates raised accordingly, but the figure was missing from the FY18 budget. They approved a license for Justin Brown to operate a marijuana cultivation facility called AK O Farms on Beardslee Way.

In local boards, they re-appointed Doug Osborne and appointed Vera Gibson to the Health Needs and Human Services Commission and appointed Robert Hattle to the Sitka Community Hospital Board. Hattle is a former employee, having worked three years in the nursing department.