$350,000 will be awarded to the Sitka Summer Music Festival to help renovate Stevenson Hall, the festival headquarters on the Sheldon Jackson campus (Photo/Stevenson Hall/Provided by SSMF)

Three Sitka nonprofits are celebrating a bigger bottom line today (Tuesday 12-11-18) after the Rasmuson Foundation awarded them money to renovate or expand existing facilities and projects.

At their biannual meeting on Nov 27th, the Rasmuson Foundation board awarded $6.5 million dollars in funding to organizations across the state. Lisa Demer, communications manager for the organization said there’s a reason Sitka is one of the small towns in Alaska that often receives support from the foundation.

“Sitka has a large number of nonprofits who are active,” Demer said. “Some of these particular projects are good capital projects, with community support, with other funders that will help improve quality of life.”

$300,000 will go to the Alaska Community Foundation to expand the Sitkans Against Family Violence shelter. At a Sitka Chamber of Commerce meeting in March, Executive Director Michelle Mahoney said that the SAFV Shelter provided 3,745 bed nights in 2017 for 117 women and 28 children, explaining that this level of service requires facility improvements.

“We provide these services to the community of Sitka from a 60-year old building that’s in dire need of repair,” Mahoney said. “A condition survey in 2015 identified over $510,000 just in repairs. In addition to that, we’ve been so full that we’ve had to create bedrooms out of our meeting space, and both living rooms, and the children’s playroom at one point.”

$117,000 will go to Sitka Trail Works to help complete the final few miles of the Cross Trail. The extension is part of “Phase 6” of the trail’s multi-phase construction, which began in 2006. Demmert says the funds will complete the section from Harbor Mountain Road to the ferry terminal, providing an alternative to using Halibut Point Road for non-motorized travelers.

“For bikers, for walkers, for hikers, it sounds like this is going to be a real plus,” said Demer.

$117,000 will go to Sitka Trail Works to help finish the Sitka Cross Trail project that began in 2006 (Photo provided by Rasmuson Foundation)

Finally, $350,000 will be awarded to the Sitka Summer Music Festival to help renovate Stevenson Hall, the festival headquarters on the Sheldon Jackson campus. In 2015 the organization bought the 100-year-old building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Executive Director Kayla Boettcher said updates to the heating and electrical systems are on the docket, as well as expansion of performance spaces.

“The structure itself is in desperate need of upgrades, like all the campus buildings were. But also to dial it in a little bit better for the music festival’s needs and for what we envision for future programming,” Boettcher said. “We can do a lot more with a building that’s habitable year round and we look to add some additional musician residencies or additional education seminars, those types of programs, in the off season.”

Boettcher said that the Sitka Summer Music Festival is still raising funds for the renovations, which it hopes to begin in 8 months after the conclusion of the 2019 festival season.