Robert Woolsey, KCAW - Sitka
Robert Woolsey is a reporter at KCAW in Sitka.
Search crews have recovered the final victim of the Aug. 18 Sitka landslide. The body of 62-year-old William Stortz was found Tuesday afternoon.
Sitka Fire Chief Dave Miller reports that a team of cadaver dogs from Juneau led searchers to a sweatshirt on the west side of the slide, and subsequently to the body. Miller would not confirm the identity except to say, “It’s one of the boys.”
As crews continue to cautiously work through debris searching for the three victims of Tuesday’s deadly landslide in Sitka, it’s clear that the event could have been much worse. There are many homes below and to either side of the slide, and there were two other people directly in its path who escaped.
The landslides that struck Sitka early Tuesday morning are the latest in a series of similar events that started in 2011. Although these slides are triggered by a combination of wind and rainfall, forecasters believe it’s too early to correlate these incidents with changing weather patterns — but that may change.
Three people are missing after heavy rain triggered a series of landslides in Sitka Tuesday morning. Governor Bill Walker plans to be in the city Wednesday to visit the affected areas.
Those missing were all likely involved in the construction of several new homes on Kramer Avenue. The slide in that area destroyed one of the new homes entirely, and damaged another.
Smaller boats in Alaska’s offshore fisheries may no longer have to carry human observers in the future, if a plan to deploy cameras proves feasible. At its Sitka meeting this month, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council gave the green light to an inter-agency effort to develop Electronic Monitoring. The council would like to see cameras in action within three years.
Four people are safe after their fishing tender sank off Cape Fairweather early Wednesday morning. A helicopter from Air Station Sitka hoisted the crew of the 80-foot tender, just as the vessel rolled and sank in six-foot seas near Lituya Bay.
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council will likely recommend some significant changes to the current version of the Magnuson-Stevens Act — but not during its meeting in Sitka. Council members have concerns over amendments that would exempt fisheries decisions from the National Environmental Policy Act, and open the door to potentially biased science.
The Alaska Board of Fisheries closed some waters near Angoon to purse seining in order to improve subsistence harvests, in action over the weekend. They also shot down the use of unmanned aircraft to aid in salmon fishing.
Some king salmon reared in Southeast Alaska are traveling farther north as ocean temperatures rise. This news was delivered to the Alaska Board of Fisheries as their spring meeting opened in Sitka Monday afternoon.
Sitka Community Hospital has an interim CEO. The hospital board named Chief Nursing Officer Raine Clarke to the post at a special meeting on Monday. The term of Clarke’s service is not known at the moment. What is known, however, is that former CEO Jeff Comer will not be receiving anything more than his paycheck for his work through last Friday, as Sitka’s embattled hospital struggles to balance its books and find direction.
The appointment of Michelle Putz wasn’t all the assembly drama Friday night. A scheduled discussion on hospital issues with CEO Jeff Comer was sidetracked when Comer didn’t appear. Instead, he sent hospital board president Celeste Tydingco to read a statement.
Sitka Community Hospital will get a $1-million infusion of cash from the Sitka assembly, in order to meet short-term expenses. A long-term solution for the hospital’s cash woes is still on the horizon.
The herring spawn-on-kelp fishery in Hoonah Sound will remain closed in the 2015 season – for the second year in a row. The Alaska Department of Fish & Game announced the closure this week after forecasts for the area predicted herring numbers far below the threshold required for commercial harvest.
The Sitka School District has reached a settlement in a gender equity dispute over the community’s new ball field.
On AK we often travel to wild and strange places and meet the people who live there. Today’s journey is no different, except the place is inside each of us. Earlier this year Sitka had a tarot card reader in residence. The Tarot, it turns out, is mystical — but not magic. Like professional therapy, it’s really about looking into a mirror, as tarot skeptic Robert Woolsey discovers.
High rainfall this month is being blamed for a major landslide near Sitka. The U.S. Forest Service reports that a 100-acre slide came down in the Starrigavan Valley, about ten miles from town. Although there was no structural damage in the event, hundreds of thousands of dollars of watershed restoration projects in the valley have been wiped out.
A number of regional fishing associations are joining forces to strengthen the Magnuson-Stevens Act.The Sitka-based Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association announced last week (9-9-14) that it’s reached an agreement with the Alaska Marine Conservation Council and several east-coast industry groups to form the Fishing Community Coalition. The new organization wants to ensure that Congress makes protecting fish stocks a priority as it prepares to reauthorize the nation’s most important law governing the harvest of seafood in federal waters.
It’s got a Vietnam vet with a big heart and anger management problems, a small-town newspaper reporter, and a hippie radio station. Throw in some meth-fuelled wildlife crime and a few cruise ships and you have the makings of an adventure mystery set in Southeast Alaska. Dale Brandenburger is a former biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish & Game who’s combined decades of journaling and a knack for storytelling into a new novel called Grizzly Trade.