Response to Santa letter
To Joe Reigler:
It was with great excitement that I read your letter in last week’s Sounder. How lucky you are to have found the sure signs of Santa’s visit to your rooftop! It seems that the reindeer ate well, too.
And what wonderful parents you have! They helped get the ladder to climb, the bags to collect the evidence and I’ll bet they were as thrilled as you were with your discoveries.
I think you should try to hang on to the “Santa dust” as long as possible, maybe for your own children someday. Thanks so much for sharing your story with us.
Goodbye, Sea View Video
Sea View Video Center closed its doors on Dec. 31, 2009. I heard the news on Dec. 29 when I called to reserve some movies. The news made me sad because the “Video Store” has been an old friend for 16 years. Ingrid, Connie and the many people who worked there over the years were special. They will be missed in so many ways.
Sea View Video has a wonderful collection of new, old and classic movies. Upstairs is “Memory Lane,” a movie history of the good, the bad, and the ugly – what a treasure! Goodbye Sea View Video. My movie viewing is sorely hampered by your closing.
Swimming sponsors found for Orcas Rec
We found our swimming sponsors just in time for the New Year! This past month I sent out a letter to the editor and several emails asking for a sponsor for the Orcas Rec Swimming Program for February. That request was filled, and my expectations were exceeded! We raised enough money to run three separate swimming sessions instead of just one. A huge thank you goes out to all of our sponsors. We could not have done it without you. Swimming sponsors include Rolf Eriksen at Happy Acres, Dr. Steven Bailey and Rita Bailey, an anonymous donor, Chris Sutton and Kate Long, and Susen Oseth.
As the new coordinator for Orcas Rec I plan to hold more recreation-based fundraisers that get people active and raise money for the program. Our first Orcas Rec fundraiser for 2010 will be a kids swim-a-thon at Orcas Spa and Athletics on Feb. 6. If you are under 18 and would like to participate, let us know. We need kids to find sponsors and swim laps to help us raise money. Detailed information is on our website at www.orcasrec.org.
We hope to see you and your family at Orcas Rec programs, events, and fundraisers in 2010. Thank you for your support.
Orcas Rec Coordinator
Public discussion of middle school problems
The school district is planning a bond measure for a new middle school building. My understanding is that this is necessary in large part because the current building was built in a way that did not meet code at the time it was built. Information on that subject has been minimal from the Sounder and from the school district. It would be nice to hear a frank and public explanation of what went wrong the last time before going forward with a new building. There must have been failures in the construction and in the inspection process, if not in the design. What happened? How come the contractors, inspectors, engineers and architects didn’t detect the problems?
Rest in peace, Doyle
On Saturday, Jan. 2, my beloved little dog Doyle was struck by a car and killed. Doyle was the most beautiful creature I’ve ever known. He was the happiest and dearest companion. Doyle had only been outside for a short time, and when he didn’t return, I went out and found him in the ditch just a few yards from our home. He was still warm when I found him, but it was too late. Whoever hit him did not stop, and I will never know if those precious moments would have made a difference. Doyle was a gentle soul who deserved a long life. He will be greatly missed. Please, if you own pets, keep them close, and don’t let them near the road. Love them with all your heart, as they may not be here tomorrow. And, if you think you may have hit something, STOP and do what is right, for time may make a difference between living and dying.
EPF contains nothing essential
At the Jan. 5 county council meeting the council began writing one of the most potentially destructive bits of legislation ever. It’s a new “Essential Public Facilities” (EPF) Ordinance.
Remember the days when people only needed air, water, food and shelter to live? Well, now the county council thinks you need about 20 other things that are “essential.” Air, water, food and shelter aren’t even mentioned. It’s all about airports, roads, ferries, schools, equipment storage, the electrical grid, water systems, sewer systems, etc. It makes you wonder how humans could have become the dominant species on this planet without all their “essential” stuff.
Here’s the destructive part: If the council or anyone with “influence” wants to bulldoze your house, or your neighborhood, or your island for something designated an EPF, pack up and move – ‘cause there’s no appeal process. Only thing you can do is go straight to Superior Court. Oh, haven’t got a spare $30,000? Sorry. Also, if they want something not on the EPF list they can add it, no problem.
That things like this can happen so easily in San Juan County illustrates how lopsided the power structure is here. The things on the EPF list aren’t essential for residents – they’re essential for development. They’re essential for the real estate industry, the construction industry, local business – in short, the growth industry. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. People and corporations in the growth field have every right, even a duty, to try to influence local government – that’s the way the game is played. The problem is, there is nobody on the other side.
There are more people in San Juan County who want to be a part of the landscape than those putting blots on the landscape. People who farm, garden, fish, make art, gather, and need quiet, clean air and water, and low taxes. People living on pensions, social security, odd jobs, who can’t, as individuals, afford to go to court, hire lawyers, fund election campaigns or threaten the county government with lawsuits. Yelling man interrupts: “Hey! I’m talking to you! There’s more of you than them! You can organize! The powerful and privileged are scared of you! You can win! It’ll be fun! Oh dear, oh dear, what am I saying! They’ll never do it, the lazy sods.” Yelling man exits, weeping.
Now the good news. There is another public hearing on the EPF ordinance on Jan. 26. We can fix this. EPFs that are proposed for areas where the zoning wouldn’t normally allow them should have to meet all the ten criteria of SJCC18.80.100 and administrative appeal process as would any conditional use. Write a comment letter or show up on Jan. 26 and make your comment in person. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
Possible changes to cell tower regulations
Let me start out by saying that I’m not sure I wholly understand what is happening, but according to what I’ve been learning, troubles are afoot regarding the potential for installing cell towers where they may become obstructions and eyesores, thereby affecting property values. Worse still, the addition of more cell towers may not in fact assure service in the many “dead” spots here in the islands, the ostensible reason for putting them in anyway.
At present, telecommunications regulations for San Juan County are contained within a subarea plan within the county-wide Comprehensive Plan. I remember when that plan was created and developed over a decade ago. Many conscientious people worked hard on it for a long time, evaluating each ordinance from multiple perspectives. It was created to serve the best interests of the islands and their inhabitants. The present telecommunications ordinance can only be changed once a year, and then only with significant public input and careful study. Such a process does not allow for hasty decisions because the implications of changing a regulation involve consideration of the far-ranging consequences of any change before revising ordinances, giving permits, etc.
Some of the county commissioners and the Cell Phone Task Force (with input from T-Mobile) reportedly find the present regulations somewhat obstructive and cumbersome. By taking control of the telecommunications ordinances through the UDC, the county could make changes in the ordinance as often as three times a year. There is some concern that changes could be made without adequate study of the towers’ impact on property owners and without the extensive public review presently required for changing the current plan. According to my reading of a draft ordinance put forth by the Cell Phone Task Force Committee last March, cell phone towers could be installed within 50 feet of a property line (yours, maybe?) without a permit or public hearing.
The issue is far more confusing and complex than I’ve presented here. But we all need to get it straight before any unpleasant surprises pop up in our backyards. I urge people with any kind of question or concern about this matter to attend the meeting on Friday, January 15 at 8:30 a.m. in the council chambers.
Hope to see you there.
Plunge raised $500
The Orcas Island Rowing Association would like to shout out a big thank you to our wonderful community. Our 13th Annual Polar Bear Plunge was a great success. The Hippie Nippy Dip theme was well received, and some of the costumes were “far out.” The team raised approximately $500!
We would also like to especially thank Island Market for allowing us to camp out on their sidewalk, once again, for our pre-plunge t-shirt sales.
OIRA’s next event will be our Island Madness Indoor Rowing Fest (I-MIRF) on Sunday, Feb. 7 at OddFellows Hall from 2 to 4 p.m. This event is open to all ages as well as all levels of rowing.
For more information, visit orcasislandrowing.org or call Tina Brown at 376-7677.
Giving Tree made Christmas bright
I would like to extend a “thank you” to everyone who helped fill the needs of our Giving Tree children this year. The response was tremendous.
I would also like to thank Bob Bearchell from our local Salvation Army. Bob was instrumental in the Salvation Army donating toys and games to help supplement with. This was greatly appreciated as our numbers were up this year. We had approximately 170 children.
Thank you everyone, and may you have a wonderful new year.
The Giving Tree