Sitka National Historical Park celebrates ‘Helping Hands for America’s Lands’ during National Public Lands Day on Sept. 28

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SITKA NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK — On Saturday, Sept. 28, tens of thousands of volunteers, including those in Sitka, will visit their favorite parks, beaches, wildlife preserves, or forests and chip in to help improve these treasured places. They will be taking part in the 20th annual National Public Lands Day, the largest, single-day volunteer event for public lands in our country. This event brings together thousands of volunteers from coast to coast to improve and restore the lands and facilities that Americans use for recreation, education, exercise and just plain enjoyment.

In Sitka, join local Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, volunteers and staff at Sitka National Historical Park as we celebrate National Public Lands Day from 1:30-3:30 p.m. at the park. Once again, this annual event will be held in conjunction with the Ocean Conservancy and Turning the Tides as a way to contribute to the International Coastal Cleanup Day. Together we will use our hands to clean up our park and nearby beaches while keeping an eye out for interesting or unusual coastal debris. Bring some water, a friend, and a willingness to give back to your community.

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

• Park Cleanup, 1:30-3 p.m. — Meet at the Sitka National Historical Park Visitor Center at 1:30 p.m. for some light refreshments.  We will meet with Margo O’Connell from the Sitka Sound Science Center who will give a short introduction about the importance of cleaning up beaches followed by a joint effort to clean up trash in the park. There will be prizes for all volunteers and a Golden Ticket Mystery Word Treasure Hunt for youth participants. Trash bags, safety vests, and protective gloves will be provided.

• Photo Contest Awards Ceremony, 3-3:30 p.m. — Join Ranger Jasa Woods at 3:00 p.m. in the Sitka National Historical Park Visitor Center for the announcement of the winners of the park’s annual photo contest. The photos will be on display in the Visitor Center lobby through the end of October.

• Park Prescriptions Prize Drawing, 3:30 p.m. — The Sitka Community Hospital Foundation will sponsor its second quarterly drawing for a $100 cash prize for qualified Park Prescriptions program participants. The last prize winner used the money to purchase new walking shoes. Information about how to sign up for this healthy initiative will also be available.

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New jumping salmon bike racks start to appear around Sitka

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BikeRackJumpingSalmonEmptyRecently, the Sitka Downtown Revitalization project installed a new bike rack at 110 American St., just in front of the ASRC-McGraw Constructors office. But this isn’t an ordinary bike rack. It’s a work of art, a jumping salmon by lSitka metalworker/welder Mike Litman of Precision Boatworks.

This is the first one of six jumping salmon bike racks that will be installed in the downtown area as part of the revitalization project. Applications are being accepted from downtown businesses who would like one of the new racks in front of their establishment. The project spent $3,800 for the six jumping salmon bike racks, which also includes installation costs, as a way to add a decorative touch downtown while also providing Sitka cyclists a safe place to lock up their bikes when they shop or work downtown.

Downtown businesses that want one of the other five jumping salmon bike racks need to have a place that is out of foot traffic and near an entrance. Bonus points are given for locations under an awning or other covering. To learn more, contact Doug Osborne at 966-8734 or doug.osborne@searhc.org. The jumping salmon bike racks and installation are free for the selected downtown businesses, but they do have to sign the attached hold-harmless agreement with the City and Borough of Sitka.

• Hold-harmless agreement with the city for jumping salmon bike racks

Conquer Chiari walk on Saturday, Sept. 21, helps raise awareness about Arnold-Chiari malformation

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Sitka will host its first Conquer Chiari walk on Saturday, Sept. 28, to help raise awareness about a neurological disorder called Arnold-Chiari malformation. Registration for the walk starts at 9:30 a.m. and the one-mile walk is at 11 a.m. at Sweetland Hall (116 College Dr.) on the Sheldon Jackson Campus.

joejanechiariArnold-Chiari malformation, or Chiari, is a serious neurological disorder that affects about 300,000 people in the United States. In order to raise research money and awareness about the disorder, they created the Conquer Chiari Walk Across America, a series of Conquer Chiari walks takes place in several communities around the country on Sept. 21. September is National Chiari Awareness Month, and Saturday’s Conquer Chiari walk in Sitka is believed to be the first event in Alaska.

A personal connection to Chiari is why Hillary Martin organized this event. “My sister, Sarah Martin, was diagnosed with this illness in the spring of 2012,” she said. “Sarah was living with a 25-millimeter Chiari malformation, one of the largest ones the doctor had seen in his career. She needed a brain decompression surgery to stop her suffering. The surgery was performed on Jan. 15, and it was an amazing improvement to Sarah’s life. Sarah will still live with  permanent damages that were caused by Chiari, but she is becoming stronger and happier every day.”

Chiari is a serious neurological disorder where the bottom part of the brain, the cerebellum, descends out of the skull and crowds the spinal cord, putting pressure on both the brain and spine and causing many symptoms, according to the Conquer Chiari website.

Chiari has a diverse and wide-ranging set of symptoms, and 95 percent of patients with Chiari experience at least five of them. The symptoms include severe headaches brought on by coughing or sneezing, extreme pain in the neck and shoulders, trouble swallowing and sometimes speaking, respiratory problems and sleep apnea, loss of bladder and bowel control, loss of fine motor control, balance problems, numbness in the hands and feet, the inability to feel hot and cold, and weakness, stiffness and pain in the arms and legs. In severe cases, patients can experience paralysis.

Participation in the walk is free, and people who donated more than $26 before Aug. 16 will receive a t-shirt. This event is part of the Sitka Community Health Fair (part of the Sitka Health Summit) that takes place from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Sweetland Hall. To learn more about the event, contact Hillary Martin at 738-0314 or hillary@cityofsitka.com.

 

Seventh annual Sitka Health Summit helps celebrate a culture of wellness in Sitka

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The seventh annual Sitka Health Summit is coming up, and this year’s event features health fair, lunch-and-learn, community planning day and community wellness awards.

This annual event got its start in 2007, when leaders from Sitka Community Hospital and the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) got together to try and build bridges between their health organizations. Working with other partners, they created the Sitka Health Summit as a way to help improve the health culture in Sitka.

Summit_LogoThis year’s summit opens with the Sitka Community Health Fair, which takes place from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 21, at Sweetland Hall on the Sheldon Jackson Campus. This event features workers from the Alaska Health Fair Inc., who will provide a variety of medical tests such as cholesterol checks, glucose tests, vision screenings, flu shots, and more. It also includes informational booths from a variety of health-related programs in Sitka.

WalkLunchAndLearnAt noon on Monday, Sept. 23, at Kettleson Memorial Library will be a lunch-and-learn with Dr. Don Lehmann, a local physician and sports medicine specialist. He will give a brief talk called “Whistle While You Walk,” which will feature highlights about Sitka’s trail system. Participants can enter for a chance to win a set of walking sticks.

The “Community Planning Day: Selecting Sitka’s Wellness Goals” is from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 27, at Sweetland Hall. This all-day event is when members of the community get together and select two community wellness projects to work on this year. The two projects will receive $1,500 in seed money, plus facilitation to help get the project going. Last year’s three winning projects included the Sitka Downtown Revitalization project, Walk Sitka‘s work in applying for a Walk Friendly Communities award, and the Sitka Community Food Assessment. Some of the top projects from previous years include the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community award applications in 2008 and 2012, the Choose Respect mural at Blatchley Middle School to raise awareness about sexual and domestic violence, the Sitka Outdoor Recreation Coalition’s Get Out, Sitka! project to get more families and kids outdoors, supporting the Hames Athletic and Wellness Center as a community resource, etc. There also have been several projects related to local foods, such as creating a Sitka Farmers Market, expanding community gardens and building a community greenhouse, planting dozens of fruit trees around town, promoting more local fish in school lunches, community composting,, and more. The first 65 people to RSVP will receive a free lunch (contact Clara Gray at clara.gray@searhc.org).

Finally, this year’s Sitka Community Wellness Champion Awards will be presented as part of the Monthly Grind at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 5, at the Sheet’ká Kwáan Naa Kahídi on Katlian Street. The awards are made in a variety of categories, such as physical fitness, nutrition, tobacco control and policy, holistic health, injury prevention, and general wellness.

For more information, call Doug Osborne at 966-8734 or go to the Sitka Health Summit’s website at http://www.sitkahealthsummitak.org/.

19th annual Running of the Boots costumed fun run raises funds for Sitka Local Foods Network

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It’s time to dig your XtraTufs out of the closet and gussy them up. The 19th annual Running of the Boots begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 28, at the big tents near St. Michael of the Archangel Russian Orthodox Cathedral on Lincoln Street. This year’s event features a new meeting point and course, allowing the race to be a bigger part of the End-of-Season Celebration festivities hosted downtown by the Greater Sitka Chamber of Commerce and the Alaska Cruise Line Association.

“I’m excited about the Running of the Boots joining the End-of-Season folks under one big tent … literally,” race organizer Kerry MacLane said. “We’ll have music, hot chocolate, and folks can enjoy a complimentary lunch after oodles of prizes have been awarded.”

So what is the Running of the Boots? It’s Southeast Alaska’s answer to Spain’s “Running of the Bulls.” Sitkans wear zany costumes and XtraTufs — Southeast Alaska’s distinctive rubber boots (aka, Sitka Sneakers). The Running of the Boots raises funds for the Sitka Local Foods Network, a nonprofit organization that hosts the Sitka Farmers Market and advocates for community gardens, a community greenhouse, sustainable uses of traditional subsistence foods and education for Sitka gardeners.

The Running of the Boots is a short race for fun and not for speed, even though one of the many prize categories is for the fastest boots. Other prize categories include best-dressed boots, zaniest costume, best couple, best kids group and more. The new course starts by St. Michael’s Cathedral, and heads down Lincoln Street toward City Hall, takes a left on Harbor Drive and loops up Maksoutov Street and back to the starting line.

The entry fee for the Running of the Boots is $5 per person and $20 per family, and people can register for the race starting at 10 a.m. Costume judging starts about 10:30 a.m., and runners hit the streets at 11 a.m. Local merchants have donated bushels of prizes for the costume contest, including a flightseeing trip for three, toys, gift certificates and pies. The Sitka Local Foods Network will host a Sitka Farmers Market booth with fresh veggies for sale. The booth takes debit cards, WIC vouchers and Quest cards.

“This is a really fun way to advance the Sitka Farmers Market and our other Sitka Local Foods Network projects,” MacLane said. “This is a must-see annual change-of-the season tradition in Sitka.”

To learn more about the Running of the Boots, contact Kerry MacLane at 752-0654 or 747-7888, or by email at maclanekerry@yahoo.com. Historical information about the race (through 2005) can be found online at http://www.runningoftheboots.org/, and info about the Sitka Local Foods Network and more recent Running of the Boots events (2008-12) is online at http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/.  Also, like our new Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SitkaLocalFoodsNetwork.

Sitka Sea Walk starting to take shape, but project not finished yet

Sarah and Eric Jordan check out the boats in Crescent Harbor while taking a hike on the Sitka Sea Walk on Tuesday, Sept. 10, (Photo by Charles Bingham)

Sarah and Eric Jordan check out the boats in Crescent Harbor while taking a hike on the Sitka Sea Walk on Tuesday, Sept. 10, (Photo by Charles Bingham)

SEA WALK WORK – CBC Construction’s Frank Kimball moves rocks near the Sitka Sound Science Center the morning of April 13,. Work has begun on the $1.22 million sea walk project including the stretch of sidewalk near the center that had dead-ended at the Crescent Harbor breakwater. The CBC bid for the scenic walk was so far below the estimated cost that five optional additional improvements were added to the project. The project will widen the sidewalk along Crescent Harbor, connect it to a new walkway in front of the Sitka Sound Science Center and add a walkway along the beach to Sitka National Historical Park. The add ons include using Alaska yellow cedar instead of treated lumber for the boardwalk; a walkway spur atop the eastern breakwater of Crescent Harbor; installing site lighting; improving Crescent Park drainage, and adding a trail from the basketball court to the entrance of the SJ Campus. (Daily Sitka Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

SEA WALK WORK – CBC Construction’s Frank Kimball moves rocks near the Sitka Sound Science Center the morning of April 13,. Work has begun on the $1.22 million sea walk project including the stretch of sidewalk near the center that had dead-ended at the Crescent Harbor breakwater. The CBC bid for the scenic walk was so far below the estimated cost that five optional additional improvements were added to the project. The project will widen the sidewalk along Crescent Harbor, connect it to a new walkway in front of the Sitka Sound Science Center and add a walkway along the beach to Sitka National Historical Park. The add ons include using Alaska yellow cedar instead of treated lumber for the boardwalk; a walkway spur atop the eastern breakwater of Crescent Harbor; installing site lighting; improving Crescent Park drainage, and adding a trail from the basketball court to the entrance of the SJ Campus. (Daily Sitka Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Sections of the new Sitka Sea Walk are nearing completion, even though there is still much work to be done before the new coastal walking path from Harrigan Centennial Hall to the Sitka National Historical Park is finished.

The section of the Sitka Sea Walk that connects to the Crescent Harbor parking lot and Harrigan Centennial Hall is mostly done, and people already are using this section. There also is a completed section in front of the Sitka Sound Science Center.

However, construction crews still are excavating the part of the Sitka Sea Walk that drops from the road down to the beach near Sitka National Historical Park.  The section by the basketball and tennis courts also isn’t ready for foot traffic.

The Sitka Assembly awarded the contract to CBC Construction in March, and city officials were able to add five add-ons to the project because the winning bid was so low. The project is funded by cruise tax money and construction is expected to continue into the summer. Click here for more information about the project.

Sitka Downtown Revitalization project to hang a second batch of banners this month

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NewDowntownBannersEarlier this summer, the Sitka Downtown Revitalization project added a bit of color downtown by hanging eight banners designed by local artists on utility poles along Lincoln Street. Now, the project has 16 more banners to add to the mix.

The new banners should be hanging in time for the Alaska Tourism Industry Association conference in October and Alaska Day on Friday, Oct. 18. They will be installed by city electric crews on utility poles along Lincoln Street and Harbor Drive, adding more color to our downtown.

The banners replaced several older banners that were showing their age (more than 20 years old) and the effects of the weather. The Sitka Downtown Revitalization project, like Walk Sitka a community health project from the 2012 Sitka Health Summit, commissioned several local artists to design the new banners in an effort to help spruce up Sitka’s downtown and make a friendlier walking environment.