Letters to the editor – March 11 edition

A night of beautiful music

Once again, Orcas spilled over with music when the three volunteer adult performance groups – Community Band, Choral Society and Sinfonia – joined together for a benefit concert in support of the school music program. This year they were joined by the 5th and 6th grade strings and choir under the direction of Pamela Wright. The future of school music is in very capable hands.

MAG thanks all who participated, planned, practiced, set up, contributed and attended to make the afternoon another special musical memory to be added to the unique history of the “old gym.”

Our special thanks to directors Catherine Pederson and Joe Babcock, music teachers and directors Lizz Hanks and Pamela Wright, MC Mark Padbury, custodian Bob Beckner, School Music Boosters, and for all the yummy cookies from Rose’s, Enzo’s, erb’s, Teezer’s and Sunflower Cafe. You are all proof that it takes an island to feed the musical souls we have on Orcas Island.

Joyce Burghardt


Music Advocacy Group

A parent’s thanks for Kids’ Fest

On Friday, Feb. 27, my wife, our eight-year-old daughter and I joined several other families with children, as well as singles and couples of all ages, at Orcas Center for a joyful concert by Mariachi Huenachi of Wenatchee. On stage were 23 accomplished Hispanic high-school musicians playing violins, trumpets and guitars, led by their enthusiastic music director on trumpet and assistant music director on violin. Several of the young musicians also performed beautiful vocal solos.

For me, the evening was all about the amazing influence that music can have on a community’s youth, while entertaining and inspiring others. There were positive role models on stage for all of us, beginning with the teens, who devote as much time to rehearsing and performing their music as top high school athletes devote to their sports. And then there were the adult music directors, “coaches” who have chosen the music of their cultural heritage as a proud means of expression for their teens.

The concert, preceded by a Mexican dinner served in the Madrona Room, was a fitting finale to the February Kids’ Fest at Orcas Center. Our family and many others attended all of the Kids’ Fest events. Each event provided a different way for our children to become more familiar with Orcas Center. Hats off to everyone who planned, booked and funded the Kids’ Fest project, especially to Bob Lundeen, whose generosity made the series and its ticket prices affordable to so many on the island.

Ed Wilson


New cell ordinance unsafe

The Cell Phone Task Force has leaked the first drafts of its new ordinance. As feared, it allows cell towers and antennas everywhere and every place in San Juan County with only a 50’ (or less!) setback. We can do better! We can improve emergency communication without endangering public health, causing world-class uglification, and destroying the property values of our low and fixed income residents. The world standard for cellular phone antenna setback is 1500’. SJC has plenty of SAFE locations for new cell towers – we don’t need to put them right next to places where people live and work.

Please contact County Council Members Knapp, Myhr, Pratt, and Rosenfeld and ask them to keep our existing ordinance (SJCC Chapt. 16.80). We need to act fast as the new rules are being rushed through.

Steve Ludwig

Lopez Island

Orcas Center is a gem

What a gift we have in Orcas Center. In just one week the Center hosted three world-class musical groups: Lorraine Feather and Shelly Berg (jazz); the Chiara String Trio (classical); and the Klezmatics (Klezmer). A friend was visiting last week from the east and couldn’t believe that we had a live performance of the Klezmatics here on the island.

Those who went to the center were treated to superb performances by artists who previously have worked with the best of the best in their fields. We are fortunate to have access to so much pleasure, so regularly. Orcas Center is a gem on our island.

David Kobrin


PTSA Math/Science Night a success

The PTSA’s recent Family Fun Math/Science Night was a success yet again, 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.

Thank you to fellow PTSA Board members Lorena Stankevich, Marian O’Brien, Vicki Vandermay, Anne Garfield, Pat Hunt, Michelle Kostechko and Susan Stolmeier for their hard work, and to Superintendent Barbara Kline and Principal Tom Gobeske for their assistance.

Thank you to the many guest presenters who came from outside our school: Fiona Norris of San Juan Nature Institute and Russel Barsh of The Center for Historic Ecology of the Salish Sea (KWIAHT), who came with “cool bugs” found in island waters and an exhibit on pollination, to Lana Hickman of The Funhouse, who helped kids build their own volcanoes, to Linda Sheridan of Moran Outdoor School, who came with a display of animal furs, skulls and other touchables, to Friends of Moran and to the Orcas Chess Club, represented by third-grader Kellen Maier, Sam Windsor and Public Library Director Phil Heikkinen.

Thank you to the many teachers and students who brought exhibits, games and demonstrations as well: elementary teachers Pam Jenkins, Lorena Stankevich, Marny Gaylord, Denise O’Toole (math tutoring to teach adults how to teach their kids), Susan Stolmeier, and Peggy Garcia (with students Chris Edwards, Melanie Flint, Mikaela Hansen and Jay Zier), Marta Nielson and her “Quark Academy” Astronomers (represented by Zach Waage, Wylie Kau, Dana Sabine, Jake Bottner, Anthony Kaskurs and Desmond Graves), Lori Oakes (and her seventh graders Tara O’Neill, Jack Russillo, Bella Nigretto, Shelbi Rogers, Alena Janssen, Emily Jackson, Chris Babcock, Eric Eagan, Wayne Foster, Diansa Anuenue and Lindsay Lancaster), Laura Tidwell (and her eight graders Jessica Gudgell, Rose Stasen, Max Blackadar, Jake Zier, Cameron Schuh, Liana Bense, Courtney Ray, Freeda Crow and Tamara Klein), and high school science teachers Greg Books and Brett McFarland (and their students Jacqlyn Zier, Cameron Smart, Robbie Padbury, Sam Prado and Nick Van Maren). It was great seeing so many kids, parents and community members get excited about learning!

Barb Skotte,

PTSA President


Thank you from Orcas Open Arts

Orcas Open Arts would like to express sincere thanks to all those in the Orcas community who have responded to our annual 2008-09 fundraising letter and have so generously contributed to support our nonprofit organization, which for almost 15 years has provided quality arts education and experiences in our schools.

As the second semester of the school year begins, OOA again embarks on its Artists-in-the-Schools program, providing art classes in the elementary classrooms taught by local artists, as well as the art bus program which offers our high school students excursions to off-island performances and museum and gallery shows.

We would like to thank all of the folks who have recognized the real importance of arts education in the lives of our children by supporting OOA’s work over the years and in these challenging economic times, in particular. OOA expresses very special gratitude to the anonymous donor of a fantastically useful $2000, and to the Artisans Faire who most generously donated their proceeds from the Holiday Faire to Orcas Open Arts! These funds go directly to arts education in the Orcas Island schools.

Mimi Anderson, Penny Sharp-Sky, Ann Lister, Hannah Alex-Glasser

Orcas Open Arts Board

Support for Lambiel Museum sign

Museum is a top attraction

I’m writing to express my concern over the requested removal of the sign at the entrance of Lambiel Museum on Orcas Island.

I’ve visited the museum several times in recent years and consider it one of the top attractions (though largely undiscovered) in the region. Recent upgrades to the front of the museum, including the entrance sign, enhance the visibility of the museum greatly. Tastefully and uniquely done, this essential signage will allow many more people to discover and experience this local treasure.

The museum provides incredible educational opportunity for Skagit Valley College Elderhostel participants, who often visit the museum independently. The signage is essential to help guide their way.

Please know that the community supports the Lambiel Museum and its efforts.

Randy Martin

Elderhostel Coordinator

Skagit Valley College/

San Juan Center

Friday Harbor

Orcas is fortunate to have Museum

It saddened us to read the letter in the Sounder from Leo Lambiel. We live in the Rosario area so we pass his property every time we go into or head home from Eastsound. His sign is beautifully done, as are the backdrops that screen the front of his property. Is the sign really a “public safety hazard”? We don’t feel that it is. Is there a reasonable solution or variance that would allow the sign to remain in its present location?

Orcas Island is very fortunate to have this unique museum that displays creative works by many islanders.

Dick and Jackie Rudd


Museum provides wonderful service

I am not sure what the problem is with this sign. The museum performs a wonderful service to islanders and visitors alike. It is the only place on this island, or possibly all of the San Juan Islands, that provides what the Lambiel Museum does. I have taken the tour (more than once) and viewed this magnificent collection of San Juan artisans’ work. There are places on Orcas where an artist can show their “for sale” work but nothing like this (the art is not for sale). At the Lambiel Museum there is a large collection of work, both past and present. There is art from all of the islands in one easily accessible spot.

If there is a technical issue with this sign, then why doesn’t the county just issue a variance of some sort? That kind of thing is done all the time. It is for the benefit of the community.

In this economy, I believe that it is best for the citizens of Orcas and the San Juans to be thinking of what this museum is doing for us. If the museum does not have to spend thousands of dollars defending or even trying to move this sign, all of that money goes back into art the museum buys from local artists. More money to the local economy. More money spent at the local stores. More for the visitors to see. Everybody wins.

How many of the artists here would like to have all of the money the museum has spent defending this sign or will have to spend to move it if made to do so? I sure could use $25K.

I hope this is quickly resolved. Time and money are issues here.

Don Pencil


Mariachi Huenachi at Orcas School – thanks to many

So many thanks to all who rolled out the red carpet for this event! First to Barbara Courtney and Deborah Sparks of Orcas Center for bringing the band and making it possible for the Wenatchee students to spend time with our students. To Camp Four Wind’s Susan Babcock for being host extraordinaire. To Lizz Hanks for always thinking of ways to engage and involve our music students and making the Band feel at home on Orcas. To ASB President Maddy Smith for taking the lead with her usual enthusiasm in welcoming the Mariachi Huenachi students to Orcas High. To Key Club advisor Serra Benson and Key Club, along with Tri-M Music Honor Society students for everything from making favors to prepping dinner to serving and cleaning up. To Jan Reid for beautiful centerpieces. To PTSA for funding the dinner ingredients. To Island Market for making it possible to purchase locally by offering a discount. To Jim Hanks for rustling up delicious chili. To the Boucher and Grantham families for great brownies that nicely finished off the dinner.

Much goes into making something like this possible, and the long-lasting effects that the Orcas and Wenatchee students have taken away from this day are really the point. Mariachi Huenachi Director Ramon Rivera said to his students many times during the day that Orcas Island had really rolled out the red carpet for them, and he meant it. He and co-director Aaron Davis were touched by the hospitality and warmth that was shown to their group.

One of the most memorable things that happened that day for me was when Rivera asked our K-12 audience how many musicians there were and a wave of hands went up. He was visibly startled by the numbers and said: “You must have a really great music program here!” Our students responded with thundering applause and that said it all. The richness that music brings to our children’s and our community’s lives is the stuff of the heart and soul. All of you made that possible!

Marian O’Brien

Music Boosters

Library is used by everyone

I am writing in response to last week’s letter suggesting that the “rich” people donating the cost of the proposed library extension should also pay for its maintenance and operation.

What a strange idea. The proposed 10 percent tax increase, not 33 percent, would cost a taxpayer, with property valued at $500,000, $10 more PER YEAR, which is 85 cents per month – to add useful space to our PUBLIC library.

We live in a community that is “rich” in services for everyone. These include schools, emergency fire and medical care, the airport, and the library. These are paid for by everyone and are there for everyone. Not high income people, not low income people, but everyone. And we all pay taxes to support these benefits. We support our schools whether we have children in them or not. We pay to support emergency care, needed or not.

We have a library on little Orcas Island that is the MOST visited (per capita) library in the state of Washington. Year after year our library is among the top five libraries in the state for number of checkouts (per capita) of books, CDS, DVDs, audiobooks, etc. Our library is a treasure, and is crowded, and now has an opportunity to expand.

Some homes in our community do not have computers or a collection of books for their children. Our library is filled daily with young people using the free programs, after school events, and free computers that they need to master in today’s world.

I hope the writer of the letter will reconsider his view and realize that he is not being taken advantage of but rather is a part of a community that is always trying to improve its services. Surely he would take pride in coming up with $10 a year, or less, if he owns a smaller piece of property, to help maintain a space filled with books, computers and enrichment opportunities for little kids, high schoolers, families and seniors on Orcas Island that some of his fellow islanders built for him and for all of us.

Barbara Wheeler