Letters | Dec. 16 edition

Catch Orcas Treasures at the center

Be sure to drop into Orcas Center between now and Christmas to see the “Orcas Treasures” show organized by Joe Floren. It is a quintessentially Orcas show of things old and treasured. The show will be gone by Christmas, so drop in soon. Joe put a great deal of effort into putting the show together and it is well worth a visit.

Martin Taylor

Orcas Island

Book fair/reading night a success

In these times of chronic state underfunding of our public schools, especially including our school libraries, we here on Orcas have yet another example of how fortunate we are to live in such a caring community. On Dec. 3rd, the PTSA sponsored its third annual Family Reading Night at the school library, and simultaneously held a Scholastic Book Fair, which continued through Dec. 5. Both were resounding successes and enabled us to directly provide hundreds of new books to our school library and classrooms!

Of course, events such as these don’t succeed without many dedicated volunteers. First, thank you to my fellow PTSA Board members (and book fair volunteers!) Anne Garfield, Michelle Kostechko, Vicki Vandermay, Jennifer Pietsch, Kristen Wilson and Susan Stolmeier, for their work to make the events a success, and to the many other volunteers who staffed the Book Fair, helped with set-up, etc.: Dawn Light, Kate Long, Nancy O’Brien, Ellen Goldberg, Laurie Mayhew Waage, Bob Connell, Mathew Chasanoff, Lynne Howe, Scott and Judy Whiting, as well as Santa and Mrs. Claus, who took time from their busy schedule this time of year to read at the Reading Picnic. Special thanks to school librarian, Maria Doss, who helped every step of the way, and whose enthusiasm for the book fair and love of reading helped make the Reading Night and Book Fair the success it was. Finally, and most importantly, thank you to all the students, teachers and community members who purchased books – you’ve helped our school immensely!

Barb Skotte, PTSA President


Recognizing the Lopez Fire and EMS volunteers

I want to take this opportunity to recognize the above and beyond call of duty that the Lopez Fire and EMS volunteers perform all year long for us.

You all know that when you dial 911, your Lopez Fire and EMS volunteers are standing by, ready to come to your aid. This year your volunteers will give more than 7000 hours in donated time, both training for and responding to our emergencies. What you may not know is all the uncounted hours these women and men contribute to you as volunteers.

This past year your volunteer emergency medical responders and firefighters took on projects ranging from: fundraising for 10 new Automatic External Defibrillators, repairing weather damage outside fire stations, repairing roof leaks, weeding, repairing radios and tank gauges, decorating fire stations, changing the burn level signs, preparing to teach drills, EMT classes and fire recruit classes, painting the exercise room, recycling paper and containers, assisting at Tour De Lopez, the fourth of July parade and fireworks show and the Holiday Lighting Ceremony, raising tents, taking down tents, funding local youth scholarships, teaching first aid classes, helping at Camp Norwester training day, computer maintenance, installing radios in fire apparatus, repairing light bars, cleaning fire stations, washing fire and aid vehicles, attending meetings and acting as recording secretaries, attending off island training, shuttling vehicles back and forth for tests and service, inventorying equipment, testing and servicing small tools, teaching fire extinguisher classes and fire prevention programs, bicycle safety classes, bike helmet sales and fitting, delivering a safe and sober message to graduating seniors on the dangers of alcohol and driving, and participating in the school safety fair participants.

As your Fire Chief I get to see the contributions these professionals make for us every day, and I thank you for taking the time to read this tribute to them. Our lives on Lopez Island are better and safer thanks to their dedication.

Here are your 2009 Lopez Island Fire and EMS volunteers, who every day bring their best for us: Mica Arps, Ken Bair, Larissa Berg, Suzanne Berry, Sarah Brady, Orrin Burt, Rodney Burt, Richard Carter, Kevin Dengler, Kathy Dretske, Jamie Eaton, Rita Elliott, Lilly Ewert, Tom Felber, David Fisher, John Garcia, Geoff Green, Jordan Haber, Jerry Hancock, Larry Harris, Heather Harris, Dean Inman, Doreen Kana, Liz Malinoff, Terry Marshal, Monte Midkiff, Leland Nopson, Rob Nou, Steve Oles, Myles Paige, Caleb Pal, Pam Pauly, Lucas Peralta, Danny Post, Stu Post, Mike Reinmuth, Tommer Roush, Dayvid Rypinski, Mike Strom, Richard Tetu, Dick Wilke, and Alex Zoerb.

Jim Ghiglione

Lopez Island Fire Chief

Night time bikers: wear lights

A reminder to people who ride bicycles after the hours of darkness: wear bright, hopefully reflective clothing with appropriate lights, hopefully flashing lights on both the front and rear of the bike. We are receiving complaints and concerns about how unsafe some bicycle riders are, especially when it gets dark now before 5 p.m.

Sheriff Bill Cumming

Sink or swim – you decide

As our last week of swimming lessons finish up, it is my job to decide if Orcas Rec can afford to host another session of lessons.

Although we have a waiting list of children who want to take lessons, we struggle with the cost of this program because it exceeds the amount that we make from the user fees. We need a $500 sponsor (or several small sponsors) to help off-set the costs of our next swimming session, which we hope to offer in February.

Suzey Frank has been teaching kids how to swim on Orcas for more than 10 years and she does an amazing job with all ages and with all swimming abilities. I asked her to tell me about a success story from swimming, and she talked for over 20 minutes about all of the wonderful kids she has seen excel in her lessons. The pride in her voice was evident, and more than once she said “each and every kid who swims is a success story.” Suzey knows how scary getting in the pool for the first time can be for kids, but she also knows just how to make kids comfortable and confident in the water. I am sure that we agree that swimming is more than just a sport. It is a lifelong skill that all children should have the opportunity to learn. If you would like to be a sponsor for our swim program or if you would like to make an end of the year donation to Orcas Rec, please send your checks to OIRP, PO Box 1644 Eastsound WA 98245. Thanks for your support!

P.S. A new program we are offering is a boys’ 5th and 6th grade basketball program starting Dec. 15. If you are interested, check out our website at www.orcasrec.org

Linda Sheridan

Orcas Rec Coordinator

The energy crisis is real

In a letter in last week’s Sounder, Sheridan Johnston, PhD, tells us that global warming is not an urgent problem. He is wrong.

It has been known for some time that we face a number of serious and urgent problems. For a detailed discussion of these, and what it will take to solve them, I refer you to “Plan B 4.0” by Lester R. Brown.

If we had acted as soon as the dangers facing us were pointed out, we might have avoided any serious consequences. But instead we spent the time arguing, and now it is too late; the problems are already serious, and the longer we wait the more serious they will become.

In addition to global warming, we have to face: an increasing world population; not enough food to feed everybody; a severe water shortage; finding places for all the displaced people to live; failing states, with no effective government; and wars. These are world problems, and it will take the whole world working together to solve them.

The root cause of all these problems is that we are using the gifts of nature faster than nature produces them; and we are discarding our waste faster than nature can handle it. Nature has no waste – everything is reused, and her system is sustainable. We need to copy nature: eliminate waste, and reduce our use of nature’s gifts to less than what she produces, so that she can rebuild her stores.

It will take time to reach this point, and during this time the problems will be getting worse.

If we follow the advice of Dr. Johnston, we will be able to put off doing anything that will impact our lifestyle seriously. The troubles will fall on our children, our grandchildren, and the following generations. Now consider: would you rather have them celebrate your efforts, or curse you for not doing anything when you knew of the problems in time to fix them?

Kiko Harrison, PhD


Thanks to Santa and Mrs. Claus

We’d like to send a special thanks to Santa and Mrs. Claus for another wonderful holiday season! The two jolly friends visited the Children’s House Annual Holiday party on Dec. 9 and made many children very happy. Santa and Mrs. Claus distributed wooden cars (thanks also to Orcas Kiwanis!), stuffed animals, and other great gifts. We hope Santa and Mrs. Claus have a vacation planned on a warm, sandy beach sometime soon in 2010 – you both deserve it!

Kate Long

Orcas Island

Keep it about Christ

This is an open letter to the retailers on Orcas Island who by choice want to take “Christ” out of Christmas. If this is their choice, I will make my choice to spend my dollars off of Orcas Island.

Henry D. Weeks


Thanks for wonderful lighting festival

A holiday tradition continues! The annual lighting of the Christmas Tree at the Village Green took place on Dec. 4, and it was another success, kicking off the Chamber of Commerce’s “Shop the Rock” promotion to begin the holiday season. And it couldn’t have happened without the help of a great many people.

Thanks must be offered to the following: the Orcas Island Community Band (who played beautiful Christmas and seasonal tunes – in the chilliest of conditions); Ron Gilleland and Perry Pugh (who “climbed” the tree and strung the lights); Scott and Judy Whiting (who embody the spirit of Christmas as Santa and Mrs. Claus); the Orcas Island Fire Department (who magically located Mr. and Mrs. Claus and transported them to the Village Green); George Garrels and Orcas Kiwanis (who spend long hours creating many of the toys given away by Santa); Ray’s Pharmacy (who stepped in at the last moment to provide extra toys for the large number of children visiting Santa); and to all the Chamber of Commerce members who provided treats and sweets, and hot apple cider to nourish all those in attendance. It was truly a magical evening.

This year – more than ever – the Orcas Island Chamber of Commerce hopes you will spend your dollars locally, and support the Orcas Island business community that does so much for our island.

Holiday wishes to all.

Board of Directors and staff

Orcas Island Chamber of Commerce

CAO will affect property owners

San Juan County is in the process of drafting a new Critical Areas land use ordinance that would establish new restrictions, regulations and permitting processes that could affect over 70% of the privately owned property in San Juan County. Existing parcels with homes as well as undeveloped properties would be encumbered by the proposed ordinance.

The Citizens Alliance for Property Rights, (CAPR) a San Juan County non-profit organization, is presenting an informational meeting the afternoon of Saturday, Dec. 19 from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Orcas High School cafeteria to discuss the implications of the proposed ordinance with Orcas property owners and to answer questions from the public.

Maps of Orcas Island will be available so property owners can see if or how they may be affected by the proposed ordinance. Information will be available on how property owners can do additional research to understand the implications for their particular property.

For many homeowners, their property represents both security and a substantial investment. Understanding how the new critical areas regulations could affect a homeowner’s use of their property, as well as the value of the property, is an issue of general interest to County residents and one that CAPR believes deserves more public attention than it has received thus far.

John Evans

Orcas Island