Sitka celebrates completion of Sawmill Creek Road Upgrade Project and opening of new trail


HIGHWAY RIBBON-CUTTING – TOP: Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities Commissioner Pat Kemp and Sitka Mayor Mim McConnell cut a ribbon to mark the completion of the Sawmill Creek Road Upgrade Project on Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014, at the Gary Paxton Industrial Park. About 80 Sitkans attended the noon ceremony which included a picnic lunch hosted by the city. In his remarks at the ceremony Kemp recalled working on Sawmill Creek Road during the summer when he was in college in the 1970s and thinking then about how it would be nice to someday improve the winding road that was susceptible to slides. Sitka Trail Works board president Brian Hanson told about the trail portion of the project and how it was an early goal of the organization. State Sen. Burt Stedman (R-Sitka) also spoke at the ribbon cutting. He told about the decades-long efforts to create the road and trail project. Gary Paxton in his remarks noted the diligent work of Stedman to secure state and federal funding. He praised the work of former city attorney T. Cole in ironing out legal agreements between stake holders; George Ishiyama, president of Alaska Pulp Corporation, who donated land used in the project; and Deborah Lyons, for her work on the project through Sitka Trail Works. Pictured are, from left, DOT Southeast Regional Director Al Clough, Paxton, Stedman, Hanson, Kemp, McConnell and Lyons. ABOVE: A group of walkers led by Roger Higley, left, and Brian Hanson use the recently opened Sawmill Creek Road Trail on Thursday, Aug. 21, to get from Whale Park to the Gary Paxton Industrial Park. Sitka Trail Works organized the walk to celebrate the completion of the final phase of the road project that included the trail. (Daily Sitka Sentinel Photos by James Poulson)

Below are four additional photo of the event taken by John Stein.

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Sharing the road safely with child pedestrians



(Note, the following item was posted on the Sitka Soup website on Aug. 22, 2014)


All drivers need to recognize the special safety needs of pedestrians, especially those that are children. Young, elderly, disabled and intoxicated pedestrians are the most frequent victims in auto-pedestrian collisions. Generally, pedestrians have the right-of-way at all intersections; however, regardless of the rules of the road or right-of-way, you as a driver are obligated to exercise great care and extreme caution to avoid striking pedestrians.

Drivers should not block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn. Do not stop with a portion of your vehicle over the crosswalk. Blocking the crosswalk forces pedestrians to go around your vehicle and puts them in a dangerous situation.

In a school zone when a warning flasher or flashers are blinking, you must stop to yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a marked crosswalk or at an intersection with no marked crosswalk.

Always stop when directed to do so by a school patrol sign, school patrol officer or designated crossing guard. Don’t honk your horn, rev your engine or do anything to rush or scare a pedestrian in front of your car, even if you have the legal right-of-way.

Children are the least predictable pedestrians and the most difficult to see. Take extra care to look out for children not only in school zones, but also in residential areas, playgrounds and parks.

Conquer Chiari walk on Saturday, Sept. 20, helps raise awareness about Arnold-Chiari malformation


Sitka will host its second Conquer Chiari walk on Saturday, Sept. 20, to help raise awareness about a neurological disorder called Arnold-Chiari malformation. Registration for the walk starts at 11:30 a.m. and the one-mile walk is at noon at the Moller Field Track.

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. 20. September is National Chiari Awareness Month, and last year’s Conquer Chiari walk in Sitka was 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 (2013), 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. 15 will receive a t-shirt. To learn more about the event, contact Hillary Martin at 738-0314 or