Letters | Feb. 24 edition

Camp Orkila raises $47k for scholarships

Do you ever wonder where the money comes from to supply scholarships to those who can’t afford full tuition? Is it the general fund? Do others pay more, so that some can have scholarships?

At YMCA Camp Orkila, scholarships, or “camperships,” as we like to call them, are funded entirely by dollars raised during a one-month period by teams of volunteers. During the annual Partners With Youth campaign, these volunteers ask other members of the Orcas community to join them in making it possible for local kids to go to camp.

Many of you have given money and time to the campership campaign, and on behalf of Orcas youth, we thank you for supporting their participation in day camp, overnight camp, teen trips, and outdoor environmental education.

A very big thanks to all of our campaigners, including chairs Audrey and Dean Stupke, and captains Sophie Lappas, Lynn Richards, and Denise Wilk. They inspired a crew of campaigners: Bill Buchan, Ethna Flannagan, David Johnson, Kay Miller, Megan Stackhouse, Jenny Rosen, Ted Grossman, Maggie Kaplan, Charly Robinson, Matthew (Wally) Wallrath, Rita Bailey, Katie O’Rourke, Monica Erikson, Aaimee Johnson, Laurie Michael, Lorena Stankevich, Linda Tretheway, Heather Watts, April Pollock, Bill Pollock, Phil Branch, and Ann Lister.

This group of dynamos has had record-breaking success, already raising more than $47,000 this year, and is predicted to surpass $51,000, the local campaign goal. In the current economic climate, it is clear that the teams have worked very hard, and that the community has been very generous. There are more donors than ever before, and more small gifts, combined with a few larger ones, help to add up to a successful total campaign.

We are also very grateful to all the local businesses that provided gifts to help us thank our volunteers and celebrate their victory!

Dimitri Stankevich

Lynda Sanders

Kaitlyn Richards

Beth Wangen

Camp Orkila

Use community buildings instead of building new school campus

I believe there are few, if any, residents of this community who do not want a quality and safe education for our children. The recent bond was a lot of money, for many years. We need to face the reality that this county may have diminishing revenues for many years. When you look into the crystal ball, the future is fuzzy, at best. What is our tax base going to look like five, 10 or 20 years down the road? How many families with school-age children will live here? Is today’s model of bus loads of kids pulling up to the school each morning even realistic for 2020? All these are unknowns.

What I do know is that in the last decade or so, thousands of square feet of buildings have been built around and near the school: Kaleidoscope, Orcas Center, the fire hall, Children’s House, senior center, The Funhouse, and the library. Much of this space is underutilized and often in need of more public support. As I walk around Eastsound, too, I see lots of commercial space sitting empty.

What if the school district got a five-year lease on the space that used to house Radio Shack, reworked it a bit and it became the new Oasis classroom or a community/school art center? What if we approached Thad and Angela Douglas at Orcas Athletics and rented some blocks of time throughout the year and our “jocks” could work out there? What if we approached Mr. Bredouw about converting some of the footage in The Funhouse to become the school/community music center? (it is in part already there). What if some cooking classes happened at the senior center during unused times? Could the “spec house” across the street from the elementary school become a new admin. building or art center? Is there some space over at the Orcas Christian School that might be shared?

I have not researched the feasibility of any of these ideas, but perhaps others have and for a variety of reasons they will not work. I am just looking for possibilities that might shave down the cost of the bond, do what is most urgently needed now, and step back and reexamine all of this a few years down the road. Perhaps something to consider.

Joe Ciskowski

Orcas Island

Levy/bond tax would have been a burden

This letter is intended as a brief footnote to the recent school levy/bond issue. The assertion was made, by the school, that the increase would be “only” $1.33 per thousand dollars of valuation. Considering the generally high assessment rate in San Juan County, especially after our last year’s revaluation, this is a lot of money for all land owners. Owners of only modest homes could easily pay an additional $400-$500 a year. This is no “only” for many of us.

Additionally, and this bothers me more, was the repeated assurance that San Juan County has the lowest tax rate in the state. This is true for the mill rate, but considering our high property assessments our total tax paid is fourth highest in the state. We are exceeded only by King, Snohomish, and Whitman counties. In all the remaining 34 counties property owners pay lesser property taxes, many substantially less.

I also fault the Sounder for taking as fact a publicity handout. A responsible paper should do some investigation to verify its information before publishing.

Enough now, but in the future let’s stick to the facts.

Steve Hopkins


What happened to majority rules?

What has happened to the word “majority”? The dictionary defines it as, “The greater number or part; a number more than half of the total.” A second definition states, “the amount by which the greater number of votes cast, as in an election, exceeds the total number of remaining votes.”

The Orcas School Bond levy received 55 percent of the votes, and yet it “failed” because it needed a 60 percent “super majority.” What the heck does “super” mean? Even in the U.S. Congress, they play around with majority figures that are not majorities. Nonsense. If there is even one vote past 50 percent, an issue should be declared approved.

It is obvious that the majority of the Orcas Island voters approved the school bond, as well as the levy, yet only the levy passed because it received 67 percent support versus 55 percent for the bond. Apparently the majority no longer rules.

Can someone explain how this flouting of the term “majority” has happened in our country?

Grace Muse


“Noises Off” is a must-see

I had the wonderful opportunity to spend an evening at the Grange Theater, enjoying another production from The Actors Theater of Orcas Island, “Noises Off.” Opening night was packed, with all ticket proceeds going to Kaleidoscope Preschool and Child Care Center. (Thank you to Doug and the cast.) We all enjoyed refreshments thanks to Lopez Vineyards and the entertainment was incredible!

The storyline was complex and the coordination that went into the production was evident with every door slam and character line. I want everyone to know that I laughed so hard I cried and plan on catching the production again this upcoming weekend with our kids. We hope to see you there!

Amber Paulsen

Kaleidoscope Director

Thank you to San Juan Sanitation

What do you do about disposing of a dead deer on private property?

That was the question I recently put to various San Juan County offices, which were unable to supply answers or suggestions other than burning or ignoring it, neither of which seemed appealing. Finally, I called San Juan Sanitation where, by chance, the owner, Dan Leidecker, happened to answer the telephone. When I told Dan about my dilemma, his immediate and gracious response was that he’d be over within the hour to collect the dead deer. Dan and Jay arrived within minutes and took the poor dead deer away. This was an act of kindness and was greatly appreciated.

It just proves that sometimes we don’t know how well served we are until something unusual comes up. Dan’s great attitude is consistent with the outstanding year-round service that I receive from San Juan Sanitation.

Phil Keene


Thank you to Artisan Faire for donation

The Salmonberry School would like to express its sincere appreciation for being named the non-profit recipient of the 2009 Artisan’s Faire charitable gift. This donation of $600 will go directly to Salmonberry’s Scholarship Fund and will allow us to continue to provide a rich educational experience to Orcas’ kids.

Thank you!

Paul Freedman

Program Director

Salmonberry School

Fire victim thanks community; is angered by break-in

I would like to sincerely thank the Orcas Island Fire Department and ALL of the community members for their hard work and compassion toward my son and me since the fire that devastated Kelly O’Brien’s home on Hemlock Street. My son, Imani, and I had barely lived there two months when the incident occurred and in that short time we had become comfortable and happy in our new surroundings. We came to love our new roommates, Kelly, Wayne, and Edmund. They were like family who we came home to every day and we would all do whatever we could for each other.

Since the fire, the community has rallied behind us, offering their help and assistance in so many different ways. I have only lived here on Orcas since 2007, when I moved from Shaw Island, where I grew up, but this experience has taught me that I have found a new home surrounded by so many friends that feel my pain and are there for me. Thank you to all for making me feel at home.

I would also like to thank Edmund Lazaroff for thinking of my son’s safety before his own. Without his valiant effort, Imani would not be here today. Imani could not see through all the black smoke to go down the stairs and it was Edmund who opened a window for him, helped him out, then ran blindly back to his room to jump out a window on the second floor, injuring himself in the process. At that point, Kelly had a ladder in place to rescue Imani from the porch roof, and the two brought him down to safety. Thanks, you guys! You both are stuck with me as a friend for life now. That’s the only way I can begin to thank you enough! If the community wishes to help further, which I know they do, please help my roommates, Kelly, Wayne, and Edmund. They have truly earned it in my eyes.

On another note, it has disheartened me to see Kelly’s home broken into and robbed. Why? Is it not enough to see his home and life devastated that one would have to kick him while he’s down?

Kelly has suffered a tragic loss and is trying to mend in various ways, dealing with the loss of his dog, home, and lifelong collection of antiques and artwork. One can only imagine the rebuilding process besides trying to emotionally heal from this ordeal. Not only were some of Kelly’s belongings pilfered, but my nine-year-old son’s possessions were stolen. Imani had precious memorabilia of his father, who was killed three years ago, which has been stolen.

The person or people that did this, you know who you are and shame on you. You are a shame to not only yourself but the community you live in, because the rest of us do not share your immorality and lack of conscience. You should have hitched a ride with Colton Harris-Moore since the two of you live by similar standards and Orcas does not want you.

Joni Fowler

Orcas Island

The sign ordinance is not working

I recently decided to eat an early dinner at Mai-Lan’s Café. I’d wanted to eat there for a few months, but because her restaurant is in Oddfellows Hall basement, I kept forgetting, due to lack of a visible sign. A few weeks ago I noticed that there was a lovely and tasteful sign placed on the corner to Oddfellows, set back a bit from the sidewalk and clearly on private property.

On my way there last week, I noticed the sign was gone. I asked Mai-Lan what happened to her sign and she was visibly upset. She said it had been removed and taken to San Juan Island. She called the Planning Dept. and was directed to the code enforcer for all of San Juan county. He told her that all signs in Eastsound must be removed, whether they are on private property or not. Mai-Lan asked when she could have her sign back, and he wasn’t sure when.

Mai-Lan already had permission to put her sign there, from the landowner, Massacre Bay Realty, and from the owners of Passionate about Pies, who lease that property.

I am incredulous if no provisions were made in the sign ordinance to allow a local restaurant such as Mai-Lan’s to put a sign at the corner of a low-traffic, out-of-the-way road that leads to her business.

I am unhappy with the sign ordinance for many reasons, and what I witnessed at Mai-Lan’s leaves no doubt that it’s time to go back to the drawing board. I encourage all citizens who are unhappy with the sign ordinance to come forward and work together on making our voices and our wishes heard. Not allowing Mai-Lan to have her sign hurts her business and in turn, hurts the Oddfellows, who use the rent monies collected to do a lot of good in this community.

Signs and sandwich boards have always been our way to communicate about community happenings, weddings, dances, yard sales, theater productions, non-profit fundraisers, cottage industries, and small mom-and-pop businesses. It’s time to help restore the sense of intimacy and charm about this community that we (and our visitors) all love. Bring back the signs.

Sadie Bailey


Orcas Montessori staff celebrates 10 years

On behalf of the Board of Directors, I wanted to thank our many friends of Orcas Montessori School who met for breakfast on Thursday, Feb. 11 at the Senior Center to celebrate a special anniversary. Head guide Tom Rubottom, Director Teresa Chocano, and Assistant Ina Drosu have been teaching together at the school for 10 years.

The occasion provided guests an opportunity to share humorous tales and wonderful memories of the past 10 years. All enjoyed a delicious breakfast prepared by chef (and current Montessori parent) Everett Brooks. Many thanks go to Lety Hopper, Ed Wilson, and Kristen Wilson for being part of our program as well as artist Joe Symons, who donated some of his crystal glazed pottery as gifts for the trio. Special thanks to Orcas Montessori alum Paris Wilson for her phenomenal musical performance.

Interested parties who were not able to attend are welcome to re-acquaint themselves with the school by scheduling a visit or checking out the school’s website at www.orcasmontessori.org. A new catalogue of needs has also been created for those who are interested in making a gift to the school in the team’s honor for their years of service.

I also wanted to take this opportunity to extend a friendly “Save the Date” for our upcoming auction, Saturday, May 1 at Inn at Ship Bay.

Cathy Faulkner

Board Member, Orcas Montessori

A message from Sheriff Bill Cumming

Even in “normal times,” basic security of your property should be practiced. We all know we have not been in “normal times” for some time now, both locally and nationally. I am asking our entire community to stop and assess your personal practices when it comes to protecting your property. Our island community has recently been subjected to those who don’t give it a second thought when taking advantage of our neighbors and friends. Our lifestyle of trust, slow pace, and resistance to even the basics of personal security makes it easier for them. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to steal a boat when the keys are left in the ignition or hidden but easily found.

Many homes, though not all, that have been broken into are isolated, without alarms, and inhabited only part-time. Neighbors are not apprised of your scheduled departures and arrivals. They have no idea when someone is authorized or not to be on your property. We have routinely found businesses with doors or windows unlocked, easily breached locks, and with large amounts of easily discovered cash. Many of us still leave the keys in our cars. It is time for all of us personally assess ourselves when it comes to security. We can do this. Get to know and talk to your neighbors. Let them know your schedules. Lock your house, and those who are isolated, consider alarming your house. Alarm your business. There are many very reliable home and business alarm systems that notify the Sheriff’s Office immediately of an activated alarm. We do respond to all alarm activations, 24/7. Be sure to install those systems that are reliable so we can avoid “false” alarms. Do not leave your keys in your vehicle OR your aircraft. Turn off fuel sources in your boat and aircraft. Upgrade your locking systems wherever you want to prevent someone from entering. Wipe down all your surfaces that a criminal may leave evidence. Windows, counters, doorknobs, are just a few of the places that physical evidence may be left. Gravel surfaces that may leave footprints or tire tracks should be smoothed if possible. Most of all, we need to think security.

The Sheriff’s Office is working very hard to help and protect our community. Without a doubt, “law enforcement is everybody’s business,” and working together, we can make a difference.

Sheriff Bill Cumming