Letters | Feb. 10 edition

Raising fees could result in illegal trash dumping

I am writing concerning your article regarding a “recycling fee” reported in the 1/27/10 edition.

The proposed increase in rates and new fees may save the financial woes of the transfer stations, but the downside is, will people step up to pay them?

With an economy of the populace barely able to put dinner on the table, the council wants to create new fees and raise existing rates for garbage and recycling. Yes, it is tough trying to balance the financial scales of the transfer stations; however, a decision to raise rates/fees may have dire consequences.

The newspaper reports a 5-1 decision by the council to endorse the proposed rate and fee increases with one Councilwoman, Lovel Pratt, casting a dissenting vote. The kicker, for which she is absolutely correct, is, “She fears that a hike in tipping fees could lead to an increase in illegal dumping and environmental degradation.”

Because the economy is in the “dumps” people may not have the funds to pay the proposed transfer station increases, but instead garbage will be dumped in wooded areas around the county, which to some extent may be going on currently.

When the economy is down, raising fees is not a good idea. The council should encourage people to use the transfer stations but rates must be kept low so folks can afford to use the county facility. This next comment is difficult to say, but instead of raising costs, keep the transfer stations open only a couple of days a week and shut down the stations for the remaining part of the week. The goal is to keep the rates low yet still offer transfer station services but limited to fewer days per week. As the economy becomes stronger, the closures can be re-opened.

Let’s strive to keep other people’s garbage out of our backyards.

Paul Dossett

Friday Harbor

Re: “We are not in Puget Sound”

I write in response to “We are not in Puget Sound,” a letter published in the Jan. 20, 2010 Sounder. My role at the Puget Sound Partnership is to support local communities in their efforts to implement the Action Agenda for restoring Puget Sound by 2020. The Action Agenda is an ecosystem scale plan that, among other things, integrates watershed scale plans, including those of the San Juan Islands.

A couple of points are worthy of clarification. First, the statute creating the Puget Sound Partnership defines “Puget Sound” to mean all salt waters of the state of Washington inside the international boundary line between Washington and British Columbia, and lying east of the junction of the Pacific Ocean and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  RCW 90.71.010(11). Thus, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the waters surrounding the San Juan Islands have been included by the State Legislature as part of “Puget Sound.” While we are bound by the Statute, we endeavor to be sensitive to place names like “Strait of Juan de Fuca,” “Puget Sound,” and “Salish Sea.”

A second point of clarification is that the Puget Sound Partnership has no regulatory authority whatsoever. The Puget Sound Partnership Act clearly states that the Partnership has no “regulatory authority, nor authority to transfer the responsibility for, or implementation of, any state regulatory program, unless specifically authorized by the legislature. RCW 90.71.200(2)c.”

 The Puget Sound Partnership strongly believes that the wisest, most durable solutions for Puget Sound recovery will be locally generated. We are not asking the people of the San Juans to adopt “our regulations.” We don’t have any regulations and don’t intend to adopt any. We are eager to collaborate with the San Juan County community to protect and restore the San Juan Islands, a jewel of Puget Sound.

Joseph W. Ryan

Puget Sound Partnership

Thanks for help with stranded animals

The SJC Marine Mammal Stranding Network (SJCMMSN) would like to thank the community for all their assistance in reporting stranded (live and dead) marine mammals over the past year.

Amy Traxler, Network Coordinator, says they received over 230 calls in 2009 reporting a variety of marine mammals on shore including harbor seals, harbor porpoise, elephant seals, and Steller and California sea lions. With the fresh carcasses that were collected, 33 complete necropsies were performed, primarily on harbor seals and harbor porpoise.

“We depend on the community to be our ‘eyes and ears’ to let us know what’s happening along our shorelines,” Traxler said. “Only by documenting these strandings, gathering the pertinent information, collecting fresh carcasses for necropsies, and recording all this information in our long-term data set can we monitor diseases, contaminant levels, and the impact we humans potentially have on our local populations.”

To report marine mammal strandings or sightings, call the Whale Hotline at 1-800-562-8832. If you would like more information on the Stranding Network, please contact Amy at The Whale Museum at 378-4710, ext. 27.

The Stranding Network is authorized by NOAA and administered through The Whale Museum.

The Whale Museum

Please help Kelly

My name is Eric Beemer and I am writing this letter on behalf of my good friend and neighbor Kelly O’Brien.

On the morning of Jan. 25, a fire severely damaged Mr. O’Brien’s home, making it unlivable and displacing all of its occupants. Having gone through a similar experience when I was younger, I can relate to the feelings of loss and helplessness from such an event.

I’ve lived in this amazing place for a better part of my life and started out in the building trades as a teenager working for my father. I now operate a small construction business of my own here on Orcas Island,(Beemer Building Co.).

It’s always amazed me how caring and thoughtful this community can be when a tragedy strikes one of our neighbors. I believe strongly in a “pay it forward” way of life and now it’s time to step up and help out those affected by this unfortunate event.

Mr. O’Brien has a garage/apartment on his property behind his damaged home that needs finishing. I have volunteered to rally the troops and coordinate getting this apartment finished for him so he can somewhat feel a sense of normalcy again.

In the past, Mr. O’Brien has helped out several islanders by offering rooms to rent and even meals when they had nowhere else to go. If you are in the trades or not, and could volunteer any labor, spare materials, or both to help out, it would be forever appreciated!

The local nonprofit group Orcas Angels stepped up immediately to begin fundraising for materials and other costs. If you can help out in any way, feel free to give me a call with any questions or comments at 376-6968. You can also contact Orcas Angels at 1-800-420-4542 or www.orcasangels.org.

Eric B. Beemer

Beemer Building Company

Thank you, Don

Tonight it was a red heart on the barn that made me smile driving south on Orcas Road out of Eastsound. Many thanks to Don Thompkins who provides seasonal holiday “night brighteners” for the community.

Tony Giefer

Orcas Island

Save the bees

Save the bees! Spring is just around the corner and bees are already starting their work on warm afternoons. But bees, both wild and domestic, native and non-native, are threatened! Evidence continues to accumulate that radiation from wireless devices is the primary cause of colony collapse disorder (CCD) and the disappearance of wild bees. The radiation seems to affect the bee’s ability to navigate.

Do you like to eat? Most of our food crops (especially in San Juan County) must be pollinated by bees to produce fruit, vegetables, or most important, seed. When enough bees disappear, so will people.

What can you do? It’s simple!

Turn off wireless devices during hours of daylight when the temperature is above 50 degrees F (10 degrees C) and tell visitors and tourists to do the same.

Steve Ludwig


Kynch got it right

Thank you, Sounder Staff, for printing the article by Minnie Kynch (12/30/09 edition) about the economy. It was titled, “Until Jobless Rate Turns, Economy will be precarious.” This is the very first comprehensive article that I have seen relative to the economy in a very long time. I wish our leaders had this insight. I wonder if Minnie Kynch would like to run for the Senate or if she would consider replacing President Obama’s economic advisor. I had also perceived President Obama as being very intelligent and opposed to “trickle-down economics.” Therefore, I wonder why he does not seem to have the same perception about the situation as our Minnie Kynch from Friday Harbor.

Implementation of her ideas could be accomplished by re-instituting the Comprehensive Employment Training Act and funding government jobs that were cut because of the economy while the demand is still there for the work to be done. It could also be used to rehire workers that were let go because of the economic down turn in various private sectors of business. Finally, while those items would be priming the pump, it would require work to overhaul NAFTA and finally quit importing workers to further displace Americans. There should be no green cards given out at this time. The funding from this would be, as it once was before Reagan took office, from import taxes and cutting waste in the defense department relative to defense contractors for starters.

Marilyn Parman

Orcas Island