Letters | Mar. 24 edition

Sundays at the library

Sundays are hopping on Rose Street.

For the past two months, starting at about 11:50 a.m., people of all ages have been lining up outside the Orcas Island Library waiting for staff member Susannah Beck to open the doors and welcome people inside. It’s refreshing to see so many people excited to use the library on a Sunday afternoon. Patron use runs the gamut: newspaper and magazine readers, books being returned, and people leisurely browsing before making a book selection. And the seats at the computer stations are all occupied.

Two Orcas Island residents, Bob Lundeen and Bob Henigson (or as the board affectionately refers to them, “The Bobs”), are generously financing our Sunday hours test for six months.

I have been volunteering on Sundays, and am hearing almost every person who comes to the front desk tell us how happy they are about the additional hours.

If you haven’t stopped by yet, Sunday hours are noon to 3 p.m.

Rachel Newcombe

Library Board of Trustee, Community Relations Chair

PTSA math/science night was a success

The PTSA wants to thank all those who helped make our recent Family Fun Math/Science Night a reality – thanks to our dedicated teachers and talented students, as well as the many involved community members who all came together to celebrate the fun of learning about math and science. The kids (and their families) who came were treated to math games, interactive science exhibits, chess matches and more. Thank you to Superintendent/High School Principal Barbara Kline and K-8 Principal Kyle Freeman for their support, and special thanks to the guest presenters who came from outside our school: Fiona Norris and Noreene Ignelzi of San Juan Nature Institute and Russel Barsh of its partner in science, The Center for Historic Ecology of the Salish Sea (KWIAHT), to Lana Hickman of The Funhouse, Phil Heikkinen, Director of the Public Library, who represented the Orcas Chess Club, and to PTSA Afterschool Math Instructor Marta Nielson. Thanks also to the teachers and students who brought exhibits and put on demonstrations: elementary teachers Marny Gaylord, Anne Ford McGrath and Marilyn Storey; middle school teachers Lori Oakes and Laura Tidwell, and to their sixth, seventh and eight grade student presenters: Melanie Flint, Mikaela Hansen, Jay Zier, Nate Lawson, William Coe, Cedar Parker-Pavitt, Lindsay Lancaster, Ray Doss, Michael Harlow, Zach Waage and Hailey Crowe. It was great seeing kids, parents and community members get excited about learning!

Orcas Schools’ PTSA

We don’t need great buildings to teach kids

Why can’t they spend a couple million bucks and re-pipe and re-HVAC? That would take care of the two complaints teachers made. As far as the buildings are concerned: fix them, as needed, don’t go “whole-hog” when it’s just a waste of money! I went to high school in 1941 “temporary” U.S. Army hospital buildings, Birmingham High. It’s still operating, now nearly 70 years old! There was nearly no HVAC, certainly no A/C, and we’re talking the San Fernando Valley! I got a fine education. The quality of the buildings took a back seat to the quality of the teachers. We had great teachers. Great teachers are what make great citizens, not fine buildings.

Our county is acting the same way the state and the federal government has acted that has gotten the entire country financially upside-down! Spending money they don’t have! Blithely raising taxes on citizens without first doing the math and doing what’s smart. If our administration insists on building a $25,000,000 facility (for $35,000,000 no less!) and they think it’s such a good idea, let them issue REAL BONDS. Pay a decent interest rate and let the RICH folks who live on Orcas or elsewhere in the country buy them!

Many residents here live on Social Security. They didn’t even get a COLA this year nor will they next, and their budgets are relatively fixed. School taxes levied on all real estate will double under the proposed school bond. And don’t think for a minute that in 20 years it will go away. It will simply be replaced by another. What this state is in dire need of is a Prop 13.

Melvin Shapiro

Orcas Island

“The summer of our lives”

there are those of us

held in the pull of Orcas

we are the lucky ones

there is a place for us

where body and spirit

are at home in one place

and none of us owns it

we are merely stewards

physical and spiritual

but you know all this

the summer of our lives

moments on Orcas Island

feel a certain radiance

and a perfect ripeness

the spirit unfolded

in full bloom of self

on a fir encrusted rock

adrift in a salish sea

Stephen Guy

Eastlight Farm, Orcas

Complete your census form

It takes less than 10 minutes and could make you $3,900!

That sounds like a good return for your time! We are a family of six as of April 1, so my 10 minutes could bring $23,400 into our community from federal dollars! WOW! Who wouldn’t want that?

Another way to think of it is if I were to toss my census form, I could cost my community the same. Ouch. Our community needs all the financial support we can get from our government, in order to lean less on the citizens for donations. The only way to ensure Orcas receives what it is entitled to, is to make sure each and every one of us is accounted for. STAND UP AND BE COUNTED! Fill out your census form now. I encourage everyone to take a few minutes to ensure you, and everyone in your household, are counted.

Amber Paulsen

Kaleidoscope Director

Coming together to help each other

Last Wednesday, I received a telephone call from a very dear friend here in Eastsound who asked me to drive him to Bellingham for a somewhat urgent doctor’s appointment. I had just returned from a lengthy off-island trip and did not feel that I was capable of waiting in the ferry line, again, and driving him to meet with his doctor. The appointment was within a few hours. What to do? His appointment was critical. I made a few phone calls to some mutual friends of ours, but to no avail. No one was available at such short notice. My next thought was to call our senior services center. I was concerned that we would not be successful due to the budgetary cutbacks and the possibilities of finding help. However, I was put through immediately to Linda Trethaway, our senior services director. She told me that with such short notice she doubted that she could find anyone for me; however, she would give it a try and call me back. Within minutes she phoned me back to say that she had found someone to take my friend to his doctor’s appointment – not only take him, but fly him! How good is that? I then phoned Robin Watson, the “angel pilot,” who instructed me where to meet him with my friend. Within an hour I was waving goodbye to my dear friend, and Robin, as they taxied down the runway at our Orcas Airport. A few hours later Robin phoned me to say that he and my friend were both back here on the island. A very successful trip. Mission accomplished!

The one thing that I have always admired about our little island is that we all pull together when and where help is needed.

Anyone who has any doubts about our island’s senior center can quickly disregard them. Thank you so much Linda and Robin. You certainly make our little island the best place there is to live!

Caroline Yarnall

Orcas Island

Don’t forget 10 percent property tax deduction

Just a reminder to all property owners in the County of San Juan to check their property tax bill for a 10 percent reduction in valuation if they are near a vacation rental property.

Last April 3, the San Juan County Board of Equalization ruled unanimously that because our property is near a vacation rental property, we are entitled to a 10 percent property value deduction.

It is my understanding that the Assessor is required to give a similar 10 percent reduction to all properties in San Juan County that are nearby vacation rentals, but since they are having software issues with the the new tax bills, you may have to go through the Board of Equalization to get your tax reduction if it is not shown when your tax bill arrives.

Here is the ruling from the Board of Equalization:

“The Board finds unanimously that the owner’s burden of present clear, cogent and convincing evidence that the value is in error has been met. The board stated that the proximity of the transient rental property next door has a negative impact on the subject property. Therefore the Board sustains the Assessor’s determination of improvement value and overrules the land value. The Board set the land value at $540,000.”

The Assessor’s original $600,000 valuation was reduced by 10 percent to $540,000, and the Assessor then lowered our property taxes by the appropriate amount. Your lowered tax bill will not affect the total tax revenues going to the county.

By the way, I had learned that properties in San Juan County near vacation rental properties were being devalued, when I saw the statement in the Maui Vacation Rental Association’s suit against the County of Maui (Hawaii). The County of Maui had written of the vacation rental problems in San Juan County in their public statements, which they did not want to repeat in the Island of Maui.

If you need a copy of the Board of Equalization ruling for your tax reduction, I’ll be glad to send you a copy by email or by mail.  My email is frankmessano@centurytel.net.

Frank Messano

Deer Harbor

Where are ya?

Wow! Another “efforta grande,” and still no cigar. Nailing down the “Barefoot Bandit” here on Orcas Island is beginning to appear nearly as unlikely as finding a tube of caulking or a can of WD-40 anywhere on the campus of our public school.

‘River Jim’ Rorabaugh