Letters | Aug 12 edition

RTL recipient of Island Market’s receipt collection program

Last week, the Readiness to Learn program at Orcas Island School District learned it has been named as the recipient of Island Market’s receipt collection program for 2009-2010.

The Island Market receipts program involves a year-long collection drive of the receipts from Island Market registers, dated from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 1020. Each quarter, the Readiness to Learn coordinator will run a tape of the receipts collected and send Island Market a statement. The Market will then award 1 percent of the receipt totals to the Readiness to Learn program.

With state funding for our program cut again, and with two grant sources amounting to nearly $8,000 no longer existent, we are extremely appreciative of Island Market’s support in helping educate Island kids.

Readiness to Learn is the name of the program that enlists community social services when a student has some obstacle that makes it difficult to come to school each day “ready to learn.” Some of those difficulties that Readiness to Learn (RTL) students and their families face are: lowered household incomes due to unemployment; increased housing costs; family dissension; mental health problems; academic struggles; drug and alcohol abuse; and other social and interpersonal problems.

Through the County Mental Health Tax grant, RTL serves all school-aged children on the island, not just the ones who attend public schools.

Islanders can contribute to Island Market’s donation by placing receipts in the RTL-Island Market Receipt envelopes that are posted on the community bulletin boards at Templin Center, The Post Office building and outside Island Market, as well as at other island business locations. Also, calls to the Readiness to Learn office at 376-1566 to arrange receipt drives and pickups of receipts are welcomed.

RTL welcomes community concerns – if you should know of a child in need of financial, emotional, social or academic support, contact Readiness to Learn at 376-1566. All information and services are confidential.

Thank you again, Island Market, for helping us help Orcas Island students and their families.

Margie Doyle

Readiness to Learn Coordinator

Through the Fence response

It’s not surprising to me that the bureaucrats at the FAA are mandating something they won’t define. I agree that the property owners adjacent to the airport are as good as it gets security wise. The owners of the properties with runway access bought those properties in good faith and for good reason, and to now arbitrarily deny them access would be unfair in the extreme.

I hate to be the one to bring this up but anyone from anywhere can access the airport property anytime by simply driving in “though the fence,” right there by the airport sign, on the access road. Denying the property owners on the west side access to the airport from their property would have a security impact of exactly zero.

I would be interested to know what kind of money we’re talking about in tax increases if the Port of Orcas told the FAA to butt out. Even though they’re with the government and are here to help. If it’s reasonable I’m leaning in that way.

Jerry Reger



A novel “air conditioning system”

The recent heat wave we experienced several weeks ago made many of us desirous of turning on the air conditioning. However, for those not having such a luxury, please find a description of an “air conditioning system” that is inexpensive and easily constructed.

First, position an 11-inch portable fan about three feet in front of you, with the oscillating option turned off. Next, two one-gallon, plastic, square juice bottles, filled with frozen water, are placed close behind the fan. Square bottles are better, since they present a larger surface area to the air being sucked through the fan. Last, the fan is turned to “low.” This low speed allows the air adequate time to cool down as it moves past the bottles. This simple system reduces the temperature by about 5 degrees F. That may not sound like much, but in 95 degree F heat, even 5 degree F is a blessing!

Dr. James C. Allan

Deer Harbor

Questions for the sheriff

I’m referring to Mary Telford Gibson Hatten’s open letter to Sheriff Bill Cumming in the Aug. 5 Sounder. I’d also like to query our elected Sheriff: To which deputy was she referring? Does he need additional training, or does he merit a “Beer Summit” with you, County Administrator Pete Rose, or higher officials?

Ed LeCocq


Driver of crash is not the victim

The front-page article (Aug. 5) on the recent fatal car crash on Lopez Island, in which a 15-year-old Lopez Island High School student, operating his vehicle at an extremely high rate of speed, mowed down and killed a pedestrian, quoted Principal Mark Vermeer as referring to the driver and his 17-year-old passenger as “the two victims of this tragedy.” The language is regrettable, as is the idea it represents.

The victims of this horrific event are the 26-year-old jogger who was killed and the 7-year-old girl who was injured (when the same car plowed through her family only moments before killing the jogger). It takes a facile kind of pseudo-tolerance to characterize the driver as a victim (let alone “the” victim).

Perhaps Principal Vermeer meant to refer to “the surviving and non-injured victims.” That at least does not discount the victimhood of the two unfortunate people who were hit by the car. But it ignores a more important (and morally relevant) group of surviving victims: the friends and family of those who were struck by the car.

The perpetrator of a tragedy should not automatically be deemed a victim.

Marc Cohen


Editor’s note: Although the quote was ambiguous, we believe Mark Vermeer was not referring to the driver and his passenger as the victims, but those hit by the vehicle. We apologize for any confusion.

Paul Jaholkowski’s family thanks community for sympathy

On Sunday, July 26, our beloved son, Paul Jaholkowski, was tragically killed after being hit by a car on Lopez Island.

We would like to thank all the thoughtful people of your community for all the kind cards, e-mails and phone calls we received.

We don’t even know most of you people and we are so grateful for your support in this most difficult time for our family.

We will always remember all of you in our hearts.

Anna (mom) Bushby, Gary (stepdad) Bushby, Mark (brother) and Irene (sister)

Abbotsford, BC

Orcas prosperity in long-term downturn

The three legs of the Orcas economy of the past 20 years are broken and will need a decade or more to recover: 1. Construction of custom homes and major renovation; 2. Rotation of moneyed retirees to and then off the island in later years; 3. Growth of stock market prices.

Boards of the Fire, Library, and the School Districts and the Orcas Center need to look beyond the “Fantasy Economic Statistics” and “cheerleading” pronouncements of DC and NY and the print and TV media by reading the published articles and web blogs of the big-name economists at the eastern elite universities and business consultancies. In short, un-repayable debts by governments at all levels, the banks, and particularly a majority of U.S. households will lead to further crises in 2011/12, which will be greater than we have just experienced. The predominant view of economists who analyze economic cycles is that full recovery is a decade or more in the future.

Virginia Tech echoed by the Real Estate Studies Center at George Mason University estimates there will be 22 million high value, large lot homes abandoned for lack of affordability in 2025. J.P. Morgan recently released a study that prices of over $750,000 homes will fall on average of 60 percent from peak values. These are the homes retirees have bought on Orcas and expected would fund their old-age needs and are the homes prospective relocations to Orcas were counting on to fund retiring to a new community.

Significantly for Orcas, a second wave of retirees able to afford Orcas is unlikely – demographics for retiree numbers and wealth are now turning negative permanently. Non-profits such as the Orcas Center and taxing districts need to adjust budgets to rebuild reserves to cover future operating funds gaps because the stock market remains in a multi-year decline with lower lows forecast for 2011/12 when the next round of debt defaults peaks. Orcas is going to be unable to continue the current level of services provided by the county, taxing districts, and non-profits and charities.

Hugh Hendrick


Support for Andrews

As I prepare to vote on the contested election for the position #2 for Fire District Commissioner, I urge you to consider the following:

Henry “Duff” Andrews spent eight years working closely and diligently with the Fire District during the extensive strategic planning that went into the long range plan. That plan ultimately was voted upon and the levy that now funds those plans has resulted in many positive achievements. Some, but not all of these components have been accomplished according to the plan.

Yet, we are now over 2/3 of the way through the time in which the levy will expire in 2014. Why are there still concerns about the handling of the money allocated through the levy?

You, the public, need to realize that monies have been spent on administrative costs that exceed the mandates of that levy. This happens when Commissioners, at the behest of the Chief, “rubber stamp” staff additions duplicating existing functions. Why have salaries increased so substantially?

Ask questions! The current commissioners have an obligation to respond with civility. I suggest that perhaps changes are needed.

I worked for 13 years as the Administrative Assistant for the Orcas Fire District and am not unaware of many of the issues that have arisen since my departure from the department. I know, respect and believe that “Duff” Andrews has the background, dedication and time to devote to our Orcas Fire District. He will listen, carefully evaluate and appraise the best and most fiscally responsible expenditures of the public’s money.

My husband Jim and I will be voting for Henry “Duff” Andrews.

Pam Harney

Orcas Island

Thank you from Olga community

Olga Daze on July 18 was another happy and successful event on Orcas Island. A sunny warm day; a funny, short parade; wonderful, creative food; lively music; a gorgeous quilt to raffle; a great yard sale; a cherished bake sale (twice as many maple bars as last year and all snapped up) and a varied collection of 70 items donated to the silent auction.

More than 40 Olga residents worked to make this event a good one. We are deeply indebted to them, and to the Orcas Island Fire Department for their generous help. We would like to publicly thank the 21 businesses on the island who donated items for the silent auction. They are: Buck Bay Lavender Farm; Buck Bay Shellfish Farm; Cafe Olga; Cascade Bay Grill; Chez Chloe; Crow Valley Pottery; Deer Harbor Charters; Doe Bay Resort: Island Thyme; Lieber Haven Kayak Rentals; Magda Mische; Olga Pottery; Olga Store; Orcas Arts and Gifts; Orcas Trail Rides; Outer Island Expeditions; Ray’s Pharmacy; Sand Dollar Inn; Smoke Stack Services; Spring Bay Kayak Tours; and Willis Wood.

We would also like to thank the 11 Orcas Island artists who generously donated a piece of their work to the silent auction. They are: Dick Arnold; Jane Barfoot-Hodde; Ginny Bivaletz; Robin di Georgio; Robin Duis; David Haslett; Jackie Kempfer; Tracy Oniya; Maria Papademetriou; Sue Roland; and Joe Symons.

Our thanks as well to our other silent auction donors Felice Mourning, Owl, George Post, Judy Slater, Jenny Welch, Barbara Wheeler, and Ting Zimmerman, and auction chair Irene Ekberg.

Lastly, our grateful thanks to everyone who came to Olga Daze. Thanks to you, and our hard working crew, we hope to start the much-needed kitchen renovation in our Olga Community Center building this winter.

The Olga Community Club

More public process for CAO

At the Town Hall meeting on Orcas a woman stated that she felt that there were many misconceptions about what was and was not allowed under the CAO. She thought that even if your property was fully encumbered by critical areas, you would be allowed to build a 4,000 sf house. I spoke up and said that her statement was not accurate and offered a partial description of what was allowed. My description should have been stated more clearly. Her comment about misinformation is true and I do not want to further that.

In the proposed drafts (upland and shoreline) this is addressed in the section titled Reasonable Use Exception. If you own a lot < 2 acres, you are allowed up to 5,490 sf of developed area (2-5 acres = 8,710 sf; 5-15 acres = 10,890 sf; 15+ acres 10,890 plus driveway). The important piece for people to understand is the definition of developed area. It includes any area that has “any man-made change to improved or unimproved real estate.” That includes driveways, septic systems, decks, storage sheds, gardens, landscaping, and yes, of course, a house or primary structure. Additionally if you “develop” an area larger than 2,500 sf you must mitigate any impact to the critical area. Mitigation is extremely difficult and expensive. Your property must be fully encumbered by critical areas for these restrictions to apply.  

I believe that this is just one more example of the complexity of the proposed changes and the importance of a robust public process that allows citizens to better understand and make educated decisions on if they do or do not support the current versions. A public process that consists of one brief meeting per island and the balance left to individual sometimes less than accurate translations is a disservice. We received $33K from Puget Sound Partnership to facilitate a public process; let’s make sure it is spent properly. Please write your council and administrator and demand that they take the time to deliver a public process that will facilitate educated opinions versus reactions. In the long run we may find that our differences are not as great as they appear to be.

Patty Miller

Orcas Island