Earlier this week (12-6-21) the Rasmuson Foundation announced it will distribute $15 million to organizations throughout the state, in what it said was the “largest slate of grant awards in its 66 year history.” Two Sitka nonprofits will snag nearly $800,000 in the windfall. 

The Sitka Sound Science Center will receive just under a half-million dollars to replace the organization’s salmon hatchery “spawn shack.” Executive Director Lisa Busch says the original structure was built by aquaculture students from the Sheldon Jackson College in 1974. 

“And just was way, way, way, way past its useful life. So I’m not sad to see that old building go,” Busch says. “So this new building will be safer, it will be used for training people in aquaculture and mariculture. And it will also be used by visitors who come and learn about salmon and salmon lifecycles, and aquaculture and commercial fisheries.”

The Science Center has been updating its facility bit by bit over the last decade, most recently renovating its historic mill building. Busch says the new project will cost around $1.6 million, paid for mostly by grants.

“Our hope is that this is done by May. Because, as you know, we’re having an onslaught of visitors this summer. So we really want to have the project done by then so that we can have visitors in the building and we don’t have a construction project going on,” Busch says.

The Sitka Community Land Trust will receive $265,000 toward its cottage neighborhood on Halibut Point Road. The city transferred a new section of property to the Land Trust this fall, where co-executive director Randy Hughey says it plans to build another seven affordable homes. 

“The grant itself will be used to do what’s called the site development or dirt work on the site,” Hughey says. “So we’ll shape and contour and drain the site, we’ll install the underground utilities, and get it ready for houses.”

The land trust has already built three homes in its first neighborhood on Halibut Point Road, and Hughey says demand for the units, which typically sell for around $260,000, is high. 

Both Busch and Hughey expressed gratitude for the Rasmuson Foundation which has a long history of supporting artists and nonprofits in Sitka, including the Raven Radio Foundation.