Letters | Nov. 2 edition

Firehouse serves community

An Oct. 7 letter from Errol Speed criticizes our Orcas Fire Department, stating “our volunteers are our most important asset, not huge buildings, expensive equipment and technical gadgets.”

I respectfully disagree with his characterizations.

About two months ago, having (in common with many other islanders) fairly difficult access to our home, we requested fire department inspection of our site. Some trees were found to need pruning, but thanks to recent purchase of smaller and more mobile equipment, we were okayed for fire and rescue access.

This spring, along with some 20 other volunteers, I enrolled in a two-month “Beachwatchers” course sponsored by WSU. Classes rotated between islands, with the Eastsound firehouse as the Orcas venue. During this year, I have also attended county council and Puget Sound Partnership sessions in the firehouse meeting rooms.

I have checked the fire department meeting records and found that in addition to the training administered by staff to some 30 fire and medical emergency volunteers, the meeting rooms accommodated steady use by a variety of groups – some large like OIFFA, Orcas Lions, OICF Board, Orcas Community Fund, SJC Land Bank, Orcas Recreation, and some smaller such as Beachwatchers, and two groups from Raccoon Point.

Along with its fire and public safety requirements, this “huge” building is truly a central gathering place for the volunteer organizations of our community. Check it out yourselves.

Bruce M. Hall

Orcas Island

Orcas Library and the Patriot Act

The USA Patriot Act was signed into law in October 2001 and reauthorized in March of 2006. The intent of the legislation was to update wiretap and surveillance laws for the internet age, to address realtime communication and stored communication (email, voicemail, etc.), and to give law enforcement wider powers for conducting searches and investigations.

Section 215 of the legislation, known as the “library provision,” which grants wide authority to law enforcement to search records and investigate library patrons, is due to sunset on December 31, 2009. Congress is debating this authorization, and while libraries everywhere are hoping that Section 215 will be modified to coincide with state’s laws and regulations, it is not at all clear that this mitigation will occur.

Our Orcas Library Board of Trustees would like to engage Orcas library users in this discussion, since they feel that a democratic society must provide free access to all forms of self-expression and information without undue interference or monitoring. Many libraries have reported misuse of the Patriot Act where it has been used for other than its stated rationale and it has clashed with people’s constitutional rights concerning research, exploration, and reading. The Orcas Library has pledged to consent to legal court orders to obtain specific information about specific individuals, but it stands behind its users’ rights to privacy and freedom of inquiry, and plans to resist vague and nonspecific “fishing trips” by law enforcement officials.

Our library board feels it is important for the public to share their thinking about this issue and we invite participation at our next board meeting on Monday, Nov. 9 at 9 a.m. You’re also welcome to provide comments directly to me, as I serve as the Community Services Chair.

Alan Lichter

Trustee, Orcas Library

Thank you Orcas Christian School

I wanted to express gratitude to the Orcas Christian School for the clothing drive this past Sunday. When I arrived around 12:30 p.m., the parking lot was full! I saw people carrying large plastic bags full of clothing back to their cars. I was greeted with warmth and sincerity at the door by Pastor Will and the good feelings just kept rolling in the whole time I was there.

I just want to say, “Thank you so much for caring and for this wonderful offering.”

Dawn Macaskill

Orcas Island

Support kids from all schools

OHS needs more money. The community has supported bonds, fundraisers, and donations. OHS did not support all of last year’s seniors. Seniors voted last year on Baccalaureate, a dedication for the future, and graduation party at The Funhouse was only for those at Orcas High School. Graduation party at The Funhouse was started as a safe and sober place for the seniors to have a last night, if you will, since they grew up together. Last year, my daughter was a Running Start student through OHS, but was not welcome at either of these events. This decision was left up to the OHS students to vote. Although they felt it was ok to ask for donations for the party from the place where she is employed, leading that business to believe that it was for all seniors, it was not until that night we learned she was not welcome at the party due to the vote of OHS seniors. The donations from that company may not have happened had they known that their own employee would not be allowed to go.

Some kids don’t go to OHS maybe because they have taken a different path, one not at OHS. Diversity is a good thing. The fact that not all students here on Orcas go to the public school should be a good reason for the students, staff, district and everyone to take notice. OHS has stated that they are more than happy to work with other schools as well as homeschoolers. Well, it is time to step up and back up those words. Support all the kids no matter what school they go to because really it is not about what school they attend. Or is it? We still pay taxes to OHS with a YES vote.

Melissa Lowry

Orcas Island

Participate in growth planning

At our next meeting on Nov. 5th at 3 p.m. at the Orcas Senior Center, the Eastsound Planning and Review Committee will be looking how the proposed new Critical Areas Ordinance, or CAO, designed to protect our sensitive natural resources, will impact Eastsound. As the islands designated UGA, Eastsound is expected to accommodate 50 percent of the growth on Orcas. The focus of this meeting is to hear the impacts upon essential community services.

Representatives from the Eastsound Sewer and Water District, Public Works, and Eastsound Water Users Association will discuss the changes these proposed regulations will have on their operations and the implications for development within the Urban Growth Area. Large maps, prepared with support from Public Works, show the three setbacks under consideration from shorelines and streams. After EPRC has completed its review of the CAO, it will present its recommendations to the County Council and Planning Commission. We would like to invite anyone interested to come and participate. The progress on EPRC’s 2009 priorities and those considered for 2010 will also be discussed.

Patty Miller


Thank you soccer coaches, refs and sponsors

Orcas Island Recreation Program had an amazing and wonderful fall soccer program this year. We lucked out with some great weather for practices and games, but even in the rain the kids had a great time. This was my first soccer season as the Orcas Rec Coordinator and I loved it! I could have never pulled it off without the help and generosity of the coaches. A huge thank you goes to each and every one of them for being dedicated to such a time-consuming schedule and giving it their all! These coaches showed up rain or shine each Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday to teach and support their team. The coaches were not just teaching these youngsters soccer skills. They were also teaching each of them how to be a team player, how to communicate with others, and how to have good sportsmanship in all situations. These are valuable lifelong lessons that these players will take with them throughout life. Thanks Coaches!

I also want to thank all of the volunteer referees that showed up on game days to make our games run safely and smoothly! We had a number of high school soccer players help ref each Saturday for the seven to nine year-old level and we had two special refs that would come nearly every Saturday to ref the nine to 12 year-olds. Thanks Tony and Megan for being such dedicated refs!

Last, but not least, I would like to thank the 12 separate Orcas business that sponsored Orcas Rec Soccer this year. We appreciate your support!

It truly is a wholehearted island effort to run such a great program, and it is wonderful see such dedication from players, coaches, refs, local businesses, parents, and family members of players. Good job to all of the players that participated this year. We hope to see you out on the field next fall!

Linda Sheridan

Orcas Rec Coordinator

United Way needs support

The Primary Intervention Program or (PIP) at Orcas Elementary School helps to promote young children’s success by assisting them in discovering their personal strengths and enhancing their self-esteem. PIP has become a mainstay within our school and continues to assist up to 25% of children in grades K-3.

United Way of San Juan County has also become a mainstay in providing funds to help PIP continue the support for these children. Last year, the program served over 23 children with year-end results showing positive and measurable growth in their academics and social success.

Children who experience early school success are more committed to education, more resilient to difficulties, more empowered to overcome challenges and to make healthy lifestyle choices.

Your support for United Way helps our island children in many wonderful ways. Your dollars will keep PIP and many other local children’s programs alive and help future adults to feel competent, resilient and oriented toward success. Please support United Way of San Juan Count during their funding drive through the end of December 2009. Your dollars will stay in San Juan County and may even be designated for a specific supported program. Please support prevention. Please support United Way.

Margie Sabine

PIP Coordinator, Orcas Island School District

Thanks to the United Way

Here at the Orcas Montessori School, it has been a true pleasure to see the United Way working for our program. With their amazing support, we have once again been able to offer our long-standing tuition assistance programs. Quality childcare holds countless benefits for our community, but the cost of offering such a rich experience to the children of Orcas Island continues to grow every year. Without local support from the United Way, many of the island’s preschools and daycare programs would lack the means to meet the needs of many of our families. A generous yearly donation to the United Way not only makes a direct investment in the most formative years of our children’s lives, it enriches us all with a network of support that will ensure the future of our island’s unique community. We feel proud to work with the United Way, and hope that everyone reading this letter will consider giving generously in this year’s fund raising drive.

Board of Directors and Staff

Orcas Montessori School

Responding to H1N1 Flu

H1N1 Influenza, also known as Swine Flu, has arrived on Orcas Island and we are seeing a growing number of cases, especially in our schools. The severity of the illness and its symptoms are similar to the seasonal flu, and in most cases symptoms can be treated with bed rest, fluids, and fever lowering medicines. Most children will have fever and either cough or sore throat, and occasionally vomiting and diarrhea. Among adults, over the age of 18 years, fever, cough and/or sore throat are common and are often associated with body aches and headaches. It is usually not necessary to see your physician for diagnosis or testing since in most cases recovery occurs without complications. Because it is likely that the number of cases of H1N1 flu will peak very quickly, medical providers will need to concentrate their time and resources on cases that are more serious than most people will experience.

Who should seek medical care? Any child or adult with flu-like symptoms who has a chronic underlying medical condition such as obesity, diabetes, asthma and heart disease should contact their health care provider to discuss antiviral treatment early in the course of their illness. Antiviral treatment must be started within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms in order for it to be effective.

Contact your physician if any of the following symptoms exist:

1. Age less than 12 weeks and fever over 100.3

2. Dehydration – no tears, little urine, not drinking

3. Labored breathing, i.e., grunting, wheezing, skin between the ribs sink in with each breath, flaring of the nostrils with each breath.

Medical care should also be sought if there is difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, pain in the chest, dizziness and/or confusion, severe vomiting, or the return or worsening of illness following an initial improvement.

Currently, vaccines are in short supply and only the highest priority groups are being vaccinated. Those groups are:

1. Pregnant women

2. Caregivers of infants up to 6 months old

3. Children 6 months through 4 years of age (healthy or high risk)

4. Children 5 years to 24 years with high risk medical conditions, i.e. diabetes, asthma, etc.

5. Health care workers/EMS involved in direct patient care

If you or your child is in one of the priority groups for vaccination, please contact your heath care provider or the San Juan County Health Department at 378-4474.

Finally, if you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, help slow the spread of H1N1 by staying away from others, remember to wash your hands frequently, cover your coughs, avoid sharing utensils or food, and stay home until your fever is gone for 24 hours.

A local H1N1 Hotline is available 24/7 with information in both English and Spanish. Dial 2-1-1 and listen to the prompts. Information is updated frequently, so check back often.

Local H1N1 news, including information about the availability of vaccine, is also available on the H1N1 section of the San Juan County website at: http://sanjuanco.com/flu

Frank James, MD, MPH

Dale Heisinger, MD

Evan Buxbaum, MD

Thomas Frazer, MD

Anthony Giefer, MD

David Russell, MD

Orcas Family Health Center

Support Orcas Montessori

On behalf of Orcas Montessori School, I wanted to personally invite my fellow Orcas Islanders to keep an eye on your mailbox for our mailer set to arrive around Nov. 10. Our mailer will include the order form for our 15th annual Holiday Wreath Sale as well as news on what’s new, an overview of our school program and fundraisers. Subscribe to our quarterly enewsletter for a chance to win a free round-trip airfare between Seattle and Orcas courtesy of Kenmore Air. If you’re interested in placing your wreath order now, simply go to www.orcasmontessori.com/wreaths. Fall is a crucial fundraising time for Orcas Montessori as we are all weathering the current economic climate. Orcas Montessori School is such a wonderful environment for our island children to learn, grow and thrive. My humble and sincere thanks for taking time to check out our mailer.

Cathy Faulkner

Board Member/Parent

Orcas Montessori School

Financial update from Orcas Rec

A few weeks ago there was an article in the Islands’ Sounder explaining the financial hardship that the Orcas Island Recreation Program is going through due to the complete cut of County funding. My supervisor Dona Wuthnow explained, “This is pretty urgent. If we don’t see more donations in the next few weeks, we’ll have to discuss closing its doors.” Our overall goal for the end of the year was $28,000 from donations, fundraisers, and user fees.

Although we are not out of the woods yet, I am happy to report that we have had a huge increase in donations this past month. Last week, we totaled up the amount of private donations we have made since October 1 and we have just reached $10,000. This includes two separate sponsorships that helped fund the first session of swimming lessons, making them available this November.

It is a great feeling to have all of this community support and we appreciate all of you who have donated this year and this past month.

With this huge show of community support, I am convinced that together, we can accomplish our goal of $28,000 by the end of this year. We still need to bring in at least $18,000 from donations, fundraisers, and user fees in order to stay open and continue our winter programs. This may sound daunting, but with our upcoming Benefit Dinner and a bit more fundraising I think we can pull it off. We have received nearly $500 just from the “Madison Match.” (See last weeks paper for the article on Madison Pollock.) If we can continue to inspire people to donate, we will surely accomplish our goal.

A fun and easy way that you can help support Orcas Rec is by attending our annual benefit dinner Thursday, Nov. 5th at LuLu’s Past Rustica. Each year Dave Nesse generously donates his location, talent, and time to help us host this event. This delicious pasta dinner costs $17 per person and we also have a silent auction throughout the evening that helps raise money for Orcas Rec. You can get your tickets in advance at Darvill’s or by calling Orcas Rec at 376-5339. If you don’t mind waiting to be seated you can show up anytime between 5-9pm that night. Silent auction items include massages, overnight lodging, local handmade jewelry and pottery, gift certificates, baked goods, wine, and much more!

Again, thank you to all who have donated to Orcas Rec to help keep this valuable program running through October and into November. If you would like to make a donation, please send checks to Orcas Island Rec Program P.O. Box 1644, Eastsound WA 98245.

Linda Sheridan

Orcas Rec Coordinator

Council should not delay shoreline master program update

The shorelines of these islands define our community. The council is not responsible for the lack of progress since 2005, when our Critical Areas work was due, but they are now responsible for completing the long overdue endeavor; but the council wants to wait until 2012 to protect shorelines through the Shoreline Master Program Update.

What’s going on?

Our county can protect shoreline critical areas now, and update our Shoreline Master Program. The State Shoreline Management Act (SMA) allows counties to move forward with protection for shoreline critical areas as a segment of our Shoreline Management Program update. The Department of Ecology has told San Juan County that we may do a shoreline critical area segment concurrently with the upland CAO update.

The council’s decision to dismiss shoreline protections until the 2012 Shoreline Master Program Update leaves people and property unprotected and exposed to hazards. Procrastination leaves fish, wildlife and wetlands with inadequate protections; and may cost us qualification in the national flood insurance program.

This is totally unacceptable. Whose backbone is crumbling? One wonders?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has told our county that if the we wish to qualify for National Flood Insurance Program for all of our citizens, we are required to adopt an ordinance by September 2011.

The first portion of the ordinance must address building in a flood plain (low-lying areas prone to flooding during heavy rains and others subject to sea level rise due to climate change) and must be adopted by 2011. The remainder of the ordinance must be completed by 2012.

This county needs certainty and fairness for our environment and our economy, not more delay and inaction.

If you are concerned about the abundance of clean fresh water, the health of our marine ecosystem, and in particular the welfare of salmon and the orca it is time to speak up to the County Council! Make your voices heard. We don’t have to be the victims of the council’s poor judgment.

Fredrick E. Ellis, Sr.

Shaw Island


Dear Orcas Island friends and neighbors, I’m writing to invite you to consider applying to LSJI, an amazing community program I had the pleasure of completing more than a year ago. The Leadership San Juan Islands course offers a broad overview of all the county systems along with practical leadership training. Local specialists with expertise in group dynamics, facilitation skills, conflict management, communication, and community and economic development and more provided a varied and fun learning environment for the cohort.

Highly recommend for people newer to the islands, as well as old timers!

On completion of the course my “give back” was being the volunteer coordinator for the September 2008 first-ever San Juan County Transportation Summit at the fairgrounds, where hundreds of people came together for discussion about improving how we get around the islands and the region. Discussion topics were held “World Café” style and included inter-island and freight mobility, ferry funding, non-motorized transportation, passenger ferries, and tourism transportation management.

In the passenger ferry forum we found out there is some talks going on about the possibility on the idea of a Bellingham to Friday Harbor passenger-only ferry service – a fast, more environmentally friendly, passenger ferry would allow a commute between Friday Harbor and Bellingham in 50 minutes. Furthermore arrival at the Bellingham Cruise terminal would allow a near seamless connection to the WTA bus system, Greyhound Bus service, Am-Track, Bellingham Airport and the Alaska Marine Highway system. Folks from Orcas fantasized about the passenger ferry being able to stop at Brandt’s Landing – in walking distance to Eastsound.

Ed Masters shuttled a bus full of enthusiastic Orcas change agents amid lively conversation and great energy! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGkfFRfW-Ok

LSJI Orcas Alumni are: Owen Cheevers; Lerner Limbach; Margie Doyle; Louise Carnachan; Marta-Maria Nielson; Ethna Fianagan; Barbara LaBrash; Steve Gresham; Jeff Bossler; Bonnie Bossler; Kathy Ciskowski; Michael Greenberg; Steve Hussey; Paul King; Gretchen Krampf; Matthew Maher; Mieka Neenan; Rena Patty; Anji Ringzin; Kim Skarda Anderson; Sandy Thompson; Dacia Youngren and Dana Kinnsey.

Join us!

Anji Ringzin

LSJI Alumni Liaison

Ask council to fully fund 4H

The recession means that things are tight across the economy. Families are concerned. Seniors are concerned. Home values are down. Local tax receipts are down. County revenues from fees are down. The County Council, like many families, has had to reduce expenses to balance the budget.

One area that should not be cut is the support for the County’s 4H program. The 4H program brings parents, children and our community together in a positive manner that is not duplicated by any other program. At a time when children face many challenges, some of which lead down a destructive path, a positive program that is so beneficial for our youth, families and community should not be set aside.

4H builds and strengthens a young person’s character, fosters constructive relationships between children, strengthens families and establishes a foundation from which children grow to become successful adults in our community.

The council has the budget authority and can choose to spend a little less on roads, less on consultants, less on administration, less on attorneys or less on employee overtime and, in turn, fully fund the 4H program. Please contact the County Council and encourage them to give our local 4H program the support it needs to serve the children and families in San Juan County, whether or not the levy lid tax increase is passed by county voters.

John Evans

Doe Bay

Response to editorial

A big thank you to Walter O’Toole for responding to the Sounder’s Sept. 23 editorial regarding the Lopez vehicular homicide. I was exasperated at the strong stance the Sounder took against an unwise young man.

Teens should NOT be tried as adults. Although they need to be better thinkers before acting, often they are not; impatience rules.

This episode is strongly imprinted on many Lopez teens’ and children’s minds. Regarding your ideas for sentencing, detention time is in addition to the remorse and pain (probably lifelong) felt by inflicting injury or death when one acts wrongly. I believe the need for caution and care is now understood by everyone. Young people (and adults) on the island saw how quickly tragedy occurs when someone acts impulsively.

I remember an island newspaper staff person. While driving and using a cell phone, she took her eyes off the road for “just three seconds.” Slam-bang into the ditch she went – car destroyed. To her credit, she printed that story.

We are so human. God gives us power to be merciful and help others to redirect their lives, but too often we choose instead to snipe and judge and grind people down. Let’s change ourselves to be more understanding as those who are in trouble pay the consequences for their actions.

Lois Ludwig