Sitka Spruce Tips 4-H program to hold open house on Thursday, Oct. 20, at UAS Sitka Campus

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Sitka youth ages 5-18 and their parents are invited to an open house from 4-6 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 12, at the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus for the Sitka Spruce Tips 4-H program.

The Sitka Spruce Tips 4-H program offers a variety of programs for kids, including gardening, biking, photography, hiking/expeditions, healthy living, climbing, shooting sports, and environmental stewardship. The program focuses on the Alaska Way of Life, with a variety of activities common to life in Sitka.

The program is coordinated by the Sitka Conservation Society, in partnership with the Sitka District Office of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service (which operates the Alaska 4-H program throughout the state). For more information about the Sitka Spruce Tips 4-H program, contact Jasmine Shaw of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service in Sitka at 747-9440 or jdshaw2@alaska.edu.

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Tenth annual Sitka Health Summit planning day to take place Friday, Oct. 21, at UAS Sitka Campus

Sitka Health Summit Poster FINAL

newsitkahealthsummitlogoDo you have any good community wellness ideas for Sitka? It’s time 10th annual Sitka Health Summit planning day, which takes place from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 21, in Room 229 at the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus.

The Sitka Health Summit got its start in 2007 when then-Sitka Community Hospital CEO Moe Chaudry and then-SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) Vice President of Hospital Services Frank Sutton decided they needed to bridge the gaps between Sitka’s largest two health services. They launched the Sitka Health Summit, with the help of other supporters in Sitka, as a way to improve community wellness, honor local wellness champions, and more.

One of the highlights of the Sitka Health Summit has been the annual community wellness planning day. During planning day, Sitka residents get together to discuss the health needs of the community and create community wellness projects to address these needs.

Over the years there have been a variety of Sitka Health Summit projects — create a local market for local fish and produce, build a Sitka community greenhouse, become a Bicycle Friendly Community, become a Walk Friendly Community, encourage more kids and families to get outdoors for recreation, support a community health and wellness center (Hames), plant fruit trees around town, get more local fish into school lunches, build a Choose Respect mural, Revitalize Sitka, the Sick-a-Waste compost project, the Sitka Community Food AssessmentPark PrescriptionsTogether for a Meth-Free Sitka, the Sitka Kitch (a project to create a community rental kitchen and improve Sitka’s emergency food storage capacity), Celebrate Katlian Street: A Vibrant Community, and the Southeast Youth Resource Guide.

The 2015 Sitka Health Summit projects were to develop an American Disabilities Act-compliant Sitka Community Playground near Crescent Harbor, build a community garden plot behind the Island Institute (this started off as a project to build a community greenhouse on top of the Sitka cold storage plant, but it morphed into a different project), and to create a way to honor and support the well-being of elders in Sitka.

This year, Sitka residents are invited to submit community wellness project ideas before the Sitka Health Summit. They can do this by going to the Sitka Health Summit website, http://www.sitkahealthsummit.org/, and clicking on the Submit Ideas link at the top of the gateway page (link opens a short SurveyMonkey survey). You also can submit ideas to Doug Osborne at 747-0373 or dosborne@sitkahospital.org. The top two projects this year will receive $2,000 in seed money to get the projects started.

To register for the Sitka Heath Summit planning day, call Zachary Desmond at 747-4600 or email him at zachary@braveheartvolunteers.org. In your email, please include your name, email address, phone number, organization (you can list self if you’re not representing an organization), and any food restrictions. A free lunch with locally sourced seafood (in honor of the Fish To Schools project from 2010) will be provided.

• Sitka Health Summit chooses three 2015-16 community wellness projects

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newsitkahealthsummitlogoSitka residents decided to find ways to honor and support our elders, build an accessible community playground near Crescent Harbor, and build a community greenhouse on the roof of the city cold storage building (or a similar-flat-roofed structure), choosing those as the three community wellness projects Sitka residents chose to pursue in 2015-16 at the ninth annual Sitka Health Summit planning day Friday, Oct. 9, at the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus.

VotingForBroadProjectsThese three projects (one broad topic, and two specific topic projects that tied as top vote-getters) each were awarded with $2,000 in Tier 1 seed money to help get them started. The three projects were picked after 57 Sitka residents brainstormed and discussed the advantages and disadvantages of a wide variety of community wellness projects. In addition to the Tier 1 awards, the Sitka Health Summit also made applications available for Tier 2 grants of $10,000 for projects dealing with nutrition (applications are due Oct. 23, contact Lauren Hughey at lauren.hughey@searhc.org or go to http://www.sitkahealthsummitak.org/ for more information).

LynneBrandonAwardThe Sitka Health Summit also honored Lynne Brandon with a lifetime achievement award for her work promoting healthy lifestyles during her 13 years as Sitka’s Director of Parks and Recreation and now in her new position as executive director of Sitka Trail Works Inc.

Each of the three Tier 1 projects will host a kick-off event in the near future, and these events are open to the public and anybody who wants to help with the project. More information about the projects, their kick-off meetings, and contact people are listed below.

  • Design and build an ADA-accessible Sitka Community Playground, 6 p.m., Monday, Oct. 26, Sitka Community Hospital classroom, contact Kealoha Harmon, 747-3500 — This project is to create an accessible, attractive, low maintenance and safe community playground that will meet the needs of both children and their families. Right now Sitka does not have any playgrounds that are compliant with the Americans with Disability Act. Building the community playground was selected as a Sitka Health Summit goal in 2011, and a lot of important work has been done. Now it’s time to move this community-supported project forward.
  • Build a Sitka Community Greenhouse on the roof of the city cold storage plant (or similar flat-roofed building), 6 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 28, Sitka Pioneer’s Home Manager’s House (Brave Heart Volunteers building), contact Charles Bingham, 623-7660 or charleswbingham3@gmail.com — This project’s goal is to increase local food production and food security by using greenhouses, including ones situated on rooftops, a practice growing in popularity around the world. Everyone needs the nutritional boost that only vegetables provide and the more we grow locally the better. There are so many benefits to growing food here; freshness, nutritional value, sustainability and the economic benefits that come from keeping dollars in Sitka. Rooftop greenhouses also can capture waste heat and provide a flat, slug-free growing environment that will help us with food security. Rooftop greenhouses can be a point of interest for visitors, a point of learning for students, and a point of community pride for everyone who believes in innovation and using space wisely.
  • Create a way to honor and support the well-being of elders in Sitka, 3 p.m., Friday, Nov. 6, Hames Athletic and Wellness Center, contact Caitlin Blaisdell, 747-5080 — One of the largest and fastest-growing populations in Sitka is its elders. The Elder Connection action group is focused on organizing systems to support the health and well-being of seniors living is Sitka. We want everyone’s Golden Years to be just that, and we know that we can do more to support this critical group of wisdom keepers.

NutritionGroupDiscussesProjectIdeasThe Sitka Health Summit is coordinated by a coalition of local groups that includes the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC), Sitka Community Hospital, Brave Heart Volunteers, the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus, and the State of Alaska Division of Public Health Nursing, with financial help from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco-Seattle Branch Community Development Division.

Over the years there have been a variety of Sitka Health Summit projects — create a local market for local fish and produce, build a Sitka community greenhouse, become a Bicycle Friendly Community, become a Walk Friendly Community, encourage more kids and families to get outdoors for recreation, support a community health and wellness center (Hames), plant fruit trees around town, get more local fish into school lunches, build a Choose Respect mural, Revitalize Sitka, the Sick-a-Waste compost project, the Sitka Community Food AssessmentPark PrescriptionsTogether for a Meth-Free Sitka, and Sitka Kitch (a project to create a community rental kitchen and improve Sitka’s emergency food storage capacity). The 2014 Sitka Health Summit projects were Celebrate Katlian Street: A Vibrant Community and the Southeast Youth Resource Guide (which evolved into Family Fun Days at the Hames Athletic and Wellness Center).

For more information about the Sitka Health Summit and its current and past projects, go to http://www.sitkahealthsummitak.org/.

• Sitka Health Summit planning day to be Oct. 9 at UAS Sitka Campus

SHS 2015 Promo Flyer 2 (1)

newsitkahealthsummitlogoJoin us for the ninth annual Sitka Health Summit planning day, which takes place from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 9, at the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus.

The Sitka Health Summit got its start in 2007 when then-Sitka Community Hospital CEO Moe Chaudry and then-SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) Vice President of Hospital Services Frank Sutton decided they needed to bridge the gaps between Sitka’s largest two health services. They launched the Sitka Health Summit, with the help of other supporters in Sitka, as a way to improve community wellness, honor local wellness champions, and more.

One of the highlights of the Sitka Health Summit has been the annual community wellness planning day. During planning day, Sitka residents get together to discuss the health needs of the community and create community wellness projects to address these needs.

Over the years there have been a variety of Sitka Health Summit projects — create a local market for local fish and produce, build a Sitka community greenhouse, become a Bicycle Friendly Community, become a Walk Friendly Community, encourage more kids and families to get outdoors for recreation, support a community health and wellness center (Hames), plant fruit trees around town, get more local fish into school lunches, build a Choose Respect mural, Revitalize Sitka, the Sick-a-Waste compost project, the Sitka Community Food Assessment, Park PrescriptionsTogether for a Meth-Free Sitka, and Sitka Kitch (a project to create a community rental kitchen and improve Sitka’s emergency food storage capacity). The 2014 Sitka Health Summit projects were Celebrate Katlian Street: A Vibrant Community and the Southeast Youth Resource Guide.

This year community members will select two Tier One projects, which will receive $2,000 in seed money to get started. Also, qualifying projects will have the opportunity to apply for Tier Two funding of up to an additional $20,000.

To register for the Sitka Heath Summit planning day, call Zachary Desmond at 747-4600 or email him at zachary@braveheartvolunteers.org. A free lunch with locally sourced food will be provided.

• New Silver Bay Seafoods cannery gives bonus to Sitka Sound Science Center

Workers pack sockeye salmon on the final day of seasonal canning operations Tuesday (Sept. 8, 2015) at Silver Bay Seafoods. (Daily Sitka Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Workers pack sockeye salmon on the final day of seasonal canning operations Tuesday (Sept. 8, 2015) at Silver Bay Seafoods. (Daily Sitka Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

(Note: The following article ran on Pages 1 and 10 of the Friday, Sept. 11, 2015, edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel. It is reprinted here with permission.)

Sitka Sound Science Center Director Lisa Busch, left, and the center’s board of directors receive a $75,000 check from Silver Bay Seafoods CEO Rich Riggs and plant manager Wayne Unger recently at SBS’s new canning facility. From left are Busch, Linda Waller, Steve Clayton, Unger, Riggs, and Trish White. (Daily Sitka Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Sitka Sound Science Center Director Lisa Busch, left, and the center’s board of directors receive a $75,000 check from Silver Bay Seafoods CEO Rich Riggs and plant manager Wayne Unger recently at SBS’s new canning facility. From left are Busch, Linda Waller, Steve Clayton, Unger, Riggs, and Trish White. (Daily Sitka Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

By TOM HESSE
Daily Sitka Sentinel Staff Writer

In a story that’s going to have a lot of digits, the number 12 might be the most important.

All canned goods have a coded number on the bottom that gives the location of where the food came from, when it was canned and who packaged it.

If the code on the bottom of canned salmon starts with a number 12, it means it was canned in Sitka. It also means the Sitka Sound Science Center received a one-cent donation for the production of that can of salmon.

And — if you’re Silver Bay Seafoods CEO Rich Riggs — it’s also a call-out to the fans of your favorite football team.

“So if you’re a (Seattle) Seahawks fan, that’s good news,” Riggs said.

Silver Bay has just wrapped up the inaugural year of its canning operation. The $7 million capital investment was the latest expansion of the Sitka-based company, founded in 2007 at the old Alaska Pulp Corp. mill site where it processed salmon for the fresh and frozen fish market.

Before Silver Bay Seafoods started canning fish there hadn’t been a cannery in Sitka for more than 50 years.

Earlier this week Riggs gave a tour of the canning line to the Sitka Sound Science Center board of directors. It was to celebrate a partnership between the two in which Silver Bay donated one cent for every can that rolled off the line.

Sitka Sound Science Center Director Lisa Busch said it’s one of the best examples there is of an industry supporting research in its own field of business.

“We are linked with the fishing industry and we really wanted to find some stable support, basically from the fishing industry,” Busch said. “We want to be partnered with fishermen and the fishing industry.”

Riggs said the rationale for that connection is obvious at any fish hatchery in the state. And then there’s the fact that the Sitka Sound Science Center is heir to the fishery science program pioneered by Sheldon Jackson College, which closed in 2007.

“You look and a lot of managers in the state have had some educational component at SJ. We firmly believe that sustainable fisheries are critical to Alaska’s communities and Alaska fishermen,” Riggs said.

Canning operations started in the second week of July, with three lines for three different sized cans. The largest cans run through the system at a rate of around 250 per minute, and the other sizes at around 215 cans per minute.

To the Sitka Sound Science Center, 60 minutes of canning results in a donation about equal to the hourly rate of some attorneys.

“I’m really excited that they’re so into this idea,” Busch said. “I feel like it’s really going to allow us to move forward to have somewhat stable funding from the fishing industry.”

Because of business interests, Silver Bay Seafoods won’t disclose how many cans it produced this year, but the first payment to the Sitka Sound Science Center was for $75,000.

The new canning line expands the total Silver Bay Seafoods warehouse footprint to more than 80,000 square feet, Riggs said.

The expansion was headed up by Mike Duckworth, who has 34 years of experience building and maintaining canning lines. One of the first things he had to do was acquire all the pieces, because most of the key elements for canning salmon date back to before his career even started.

“The filling machine has actually not been replicated the same,” Duckworth said. “There have been companies that’s tried to replicate them, but they found out it’s not feasible. They literally put millions of dollars into it and just couldn’t make money off of them.”

The technology dates back to the 1930s and ’40s, and Duckworth said the last major production of filling machines ended in the ’60s.

“Our equipment was probably cast in the late ’40s to the ’50s,” Duckworth said, adding that rebuilding those filling machines is a key piece of canning salmon in Alaska.

“It’s something everybody does. If you’re going to be in the industry then once every 7-10 years you completely rebuild these things,” Duckworth said. “We spent the last year (rebuilding). We had a crew of seasoned, Alaska canning machinists that were working with me in rebuilding and setting up the equipment and getting it ready for installation.”

The old equipment is then blended with new systems to create the modern canning system.

“That plant, it’s just a good blend of the old technology and the new,” Duckworth said.

A special slime line handles the salmon destined for canning, processing them in the usual manner. The fish are fed into one of the three canning lines where more than a dozen employees help monitor the process.

As salmon move along the line, they are packaged in cans that drop down a track from a room in the second story of the warehouse. A machine fills the can while employees check for bones and quality. Between the machine that affixes the lid and the track that kicks out defective cans is a printer that marks each can with a code, all of which start with the number 12.

Once sealed, the cans are loaded onto carts and taken to a separate station to cook before being stacked, wrapped and loaded into trucks to send them as far away as Australia.

Despite a low salmon year, Riggs said the canning operation was close to its projected target this season and there’s room to grow next year.

Tuesday (Sept. 8) was the last day of canning for the year, and it was frozen Bristol Bay sockeye that went through the process. The majority of the fish processed this year, however, cam from Southeast Alaska.

“The concept is the salmon season is over in Southeast, but then we can continue to operate the plant with the sockeye season in Bristol Bay going on,” Riggs said. “So we wanted to increase our capacity to process local fish as well as pick up some of those other Alaska fisheries, and the canning line allows us to do that.”

And if things continue to run as they did this year, the canning line also will allow for continued research into fisheries at the Sitka Sound Science Center.

“It funds all science center things,” Busch said. “So it goes toward research and education programs here in town and also toward our hatchery.”

Funding for independent science centers in Alaska can be tough to come by, and Busch said it can often be from unrelated industries, such as oil. Silver Bay Seafoods has worked with the Sitka Sound Science Center in the past, for example in the center’s cost-recovery fishery, and this new program is a logical continuation of their partnership, Busch said.

“We’re doing stuff that the fishermen are interested in,” Busch said. “To me this is so great that a big company, and a local company at that, are this invested in what we’re doing.”

Or, as Silver Bay Seafoods and the Sitka Sound Science Center are putting it, salmon makes cents.

• Scenes from the May 13 Blessing of the Garden service at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm

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Parishioners from St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church held a Blessing of the Garden service on Wednesday, May 13, at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden, where they prayed for a bountiful harvest from the garden used by the Sitka Local Foods Network to grow veggies for the Sitka Farmers Market, school lunch and food assistance programs, etc. The service was led by Kit Mellema, and as part of the rogation service tradition in the church the parishioners walked to all corners of the property as Rev. Julie Platson, the new priest in charge at St. Peter’s, sprinkled holy water on the various vegetable garden beds, trees and flowers. A photo slideshow from the service is linked below.

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• UAF Cooperative Extension Service to give presentation on preparing food in an emergency

OWL Happy Health Hour Sept. 29

Thursday’s 6.2-magnitude earthquake just north of Anchorage was a good reminder about the need to be prepared, especially in Alaska when we’re so isolated from the rest of the country. In honor of September being National Preparedness Month, the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service‘s Happy Health Hour talk this month will be about how to prepare food during a power failure.

The talk takes place from 5:30-6:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 29 (Happy Health Hour talks are the fourth Monday of every month) and is available at libraries statewide on the OWL Network. In Sitka, these talks are accessed at Kettleson Memorial Library, which right now is temporarily located in the old Stratton Library building on the Sheldon Jackson Campus.

UAF Cooperative Extension Service agent Linda Tannehill of Kenai will explain what to consider when storing food for emergencies and what food preparation options are available during a power failure. During a power failure, cooking and eating habits must change to fit the situation. We’ll cover what to consider when storing food for emergencies and what food preparation options are available during a power failure.

During an emergency — such as an earthquake, tsunami, or winter weather — the power can go out for hours, if not days or weeks. We also might lose our transportation infrastructure, meaning it could take some time to get a barge or airplane to town with emergency supplies. Individuals, families, and businesses should have spare food, medicine, portable stove and fuel, extra blankets, etc., to weather the emergency. Click this link to learn how to pack a home emergency kit. More emergency preparedness resources are available on the UAF Cooperative Extension Service website.

To learn more about the Happy Health Hour and this presentation, contact the UAF Cooperative Extension Service at 1-877-520-5211 or go to http://www.uaf.edu/ces/. You also can call Jasmine Shaw at the UAF Cooperative Extension Service Sitka District Office at 747-9440 for more information.