Letters | Jan. 20 edition

We are not in Puget Sound

As I read the latest Sounder I can’t help but notice how many people don’t really know what the bodies of water are that surround the San Juans. We are not in Puget Sound. Puget Sound begins at the south end of Whidbey Island: “Puget Sound extends approximately 100 miles (160 km) from Deception Pass in the north to Olympia, Washington in the south” (Wikipedia). We are constantly being lumped into the category of Puget Sound, especially where environmental concerns are at issue, and the corrections need to be made.

From the story about “drain rangers” and the storm water run off in which the outreach coordinator for San Juan County Marine Resources Jeff Hanson states, “We are working in conjunction with Puget Sound Starts Here…to provide local solutions…” Look at the map please, Mr. Hanson. We are not in the waters of Puget Sound.

In the Salmon Recovery story “Our waters have 30 percent of the kelp in Puget Sound which provide refuge for salmon,” and “Our shores are some of the least impacted in all of Puget Sound.” Well that’s not hard to believe, but again WE ARE NOT IN PUGET SOUND.

Please look at the map of our region and see that we are surrounded by Rosario Strait, the Strait of Georgia, Haro Strait and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, with our local channels between the islands.

Adopting the regulations of the Puget Sound Partnership is ridiculous for our waters. Again, take a look at a map of our Pacific Northwest area. A sound, as in Puget Sound and/or East Sound, is defined as a narrow inlet of water or a deep bay; a channel connecting two larger bodies of water. In the case of Puget Sound, it includes Hood Canal and Admiralty Inlet, all surrounded by land for the most part. No wonder Puget Sound is polluted, with the population surrounding it and the amount of shipping in and out of the area. Puget Sound is actually very small in comparison with the Straits, and hmmm … it appears that the Strait of Juan de Fuca actually feeds Puget Sound? Why then are the waters here always referred to as “the Sound”? We should be calling these waters the Straits.

Here in the Straits, we are obviously going to have better ebb and flow and circulation of water, therefore allowing for a healthier marine environment. Here in the San Juan Islands, the water surrounds us. Of course we need to be good stewards of our shorelines and waters and I happen to think we are, but to put us in the same category with Puget Sound’s ecosystem is junk science and misleading. Let’s not blindly adopt the severe regulations of the Puget Sound Partnership and others that are not applicable to our area. Let’s use our common sense and realize that the residents and property owners here in the San Juan Islands are better stewards of our area than some from the big cities.

Karey Keel-Stidham


Don’t forget to vote

The League of Women Voters of the San Juans wants to urge all registered voters to check their mail for ballots to be mailed to them this week. The ballots are for a special election and must be returned by February 9.

This election involves several issues. Voters in the San Juan Island Hospital District will be asked to approve renewal of the 6-year EMS district levy.

Several issues involve education. The League of Women Voters of Washington believes that it is the obligation of the state to fully fund basic education, however most school districts find they need additional local funding to serve their students. Orcas Island voters will vote on a capital bond and 2-year maintenance and operations levy for the school district. On San Juan and Lopez Islands there are 4-year maintenance and operations levies for the school district. Maintenance and operations levies require only a simple majority to pass, in accordance with a 2007 Washington State constitutional amendment which the League supported.

The League encourages all voters to become fully informed on the issues and exercise their right to vote.

Ann Jarrell, President

League of Women Voters of the San Juans

Free playgroup for kids

Since Jan. 18, the School of the Salish Sea has been offering a parent/child playgroup for children two to four years old at no charge. It will be held every Monday morning from 10 a.m. to noon at Camp Orkila in the Tracy Strong Building. Come play, sing, dance and make bread with Ronna McEldowney, who has 33 years of experience in Waldorf education. I encourage all parents to come have a wonderful experience with their child. It will be fun and nurturing. Please call 376-4552 or email orcaswaldorf @yahoo.com.

Leith Templin

Orcas Island

Support for Orcas School bond and levy

I recently served for two years as a member of the Orcas Island School Board. It was a privilege to do so. I saw firsthand the devotion and competence of Superintendent/Principal Barbara Kline, the outstanding teachers, staff, and extraordinary students. I’m proud that our two children, Gemma and Julian, completed their high school education at Orcas Island High School. It served them well and launched them on to college.

I also participated with the outstanding members of the school board, who spent countless laborious hours evaluating and re-evaluating the prospects, needs, and costs insofar as the proposed bond and levy are concerned. Their judgment and conclusion for this bond and levy are absolutely correct. This is the right time and right place to pass these measures and thereby address the profound needs of our schools. Your vote in favor of these measures will benefit our kids, their educational future, and equally the well being of our community. I believe firmly that the passage of these measures will assure not only the continued success of our schools but it will also enhance our property values and our island economy, I urge you in the strongest possible way to vote in favor of these measures.

Thank you.

Charlie Glasser

Former Orcas School Board member

The children and young people of Orcas Island School District need us now, more than ever.

It makes me proud and grateful, year after year, to hear that our schools continue to earn national and state recognition for excellence. I want that to continue on a campus that safely supports student growth and learning! It can and now is our opportunity to help with that by voting yes and yes.

Our middle school students attend classes in buildings that the district has been told are deteriorating, riddled with rot, and have been found unsafe should an earthquake occur. All K-12 children use a cafeteria and library with the same problems. The siding on the high school building is failing and the elementary building, while solidly built, has plumbing and heating systems that work occasionally and erratically, among other problems. Not good enough!

Some of these items should have been addressed in past bonds, but they were not. Why? As I recall, time and again, the school district has been reluctant to go to the voters asking for “too much” money, so cutbacks and compromises have been made to fund only some of what has been needed with less money than has been needed to do it right or cover it all. Thus, buildings do not last, ceilings fail, plumbing and heating fixes are postponed, etc., etc., etc.

Now is the time to make a difference. Please join me in voting yes! Yes, for the replacement levy to keep our basic school operations going and yes for a bond to provide safe, clean and supportive structures for our children’s learning environment into the future.

Coleen O’Brien

Former prinicipal of Orcas elementary

We are going to have the chance to approve a tax levy to fund major and much needed improvements, and in some cases replacement to the buildings on the public school campus on Orcas Island. The situation is serious. Several of the school buildings do not meet earthquake codes, have deteriorating roofs and siding and no longer meet the basic education environment needs for the students of today or tomorrow.

The school board has done an excellent job of selecting an architect with great qualifications and experience in the design and construction of public schools. Further, the board has had the foresight to work with the architect to design the project in a manner that will maximize the ability of our local contractors and trades to be part of the building project. Providing employment opportunities for our neighbors in the construction trades and keeping revenue on island is an important plus. Additionally the board is making sure that the architect chooses materials and construction systems for buildings that will last, with minimal maintenance costs.

These are difficult economic times, but when it comes to the children on our island, we need to pull together and do what is necessary to provide them the best opportunity to grow into productive adults. A quality education is a key foundation for success. A decent school environment is one thing we can all get behind. Please vote in favor of the upcoming school bond levy.

John Evans


Salmonberry School Christmas tree sales a success

We’d like to say thank you to everyone who helped to make Salmonberry School’s Christmas tree fundraiser a success!

We had a great time and hope those of you who bought trees enjoyed having them in your homes this holiday season. When we started this project, we wanted to give something back and have committed to plant at least one tree for every tree we sold. As a result, this spring we will be working with local conservationists, planting about 80 native trees and plants. The money we earned through the sale will directly benefit the children who attend Salmonberry through tuition assistance and other school related projects. We are grateful for the support of our community! Thanks again!

Amy Lum

Salmonberry School