When the Sitka Assembly met on Tuesday (1-11-22), it approved the receipt of a $75,000 grant to purchase three radio repeaters to bolster local emergency response. 

The money is coming from the Division of Homeland Security. The new equipment will be installed at the Mud Bay repeater site located on Kruzof Island. But while Mud Bay is more than a dozen miles outside of Sitka, Fire Chief Craig Warren said it would actually improve their radio reception closer to town. 

The fire department and police department both have range issues when it comes to Granite Creek. Nelson Logging Road and Katlian Bay Road could be a very big problem for us in the future,” Warren said. “Increased road transportation means that more people could go off road and get lost or need assistance…so this is going to solve some of our existing communications holes, but will also help us cover the expansion of the Katlian Bay Road.”

Assembly member Dave Miller said the Mud Bay project has been in the works since the state announced the Katlian Bay Road extension.

“And it really came to light when there was that excavator that went in the water out there,” the retired fire chief said, recalling a construction accident in 2019 when an excavator slid into the bay, claiming the life of the man operating the equipment.

“And our resources were taxed to the limit for getting radio conversations back and forth,” Miller said of the local emergency response. “So this is a great project. This is one that is, in my opinion, really needed.”

The Assembly unanimously approved the funding on second reading.