Letters to the editor – March 18 edition

Three cheers for the Lower Tavern

On behalf of Orcas Center, I’d like to thank the Lower Tavern for their generous support by donating the delicious burgers and brews at the recent Battlefield Band concert and Visual Arts reception. Jim, Lisa and Chris worked feverishly to serve the huge crowd that enjoyed “the best burgers in town.” They even stayed late and cleaned up the kitchen until it was spotless! What a crew!

Thanks, too, to all the board members and volunteers who worked so hard to make the evening such a great success.

And thanks to everyone who came to this fun event. It was a real treat to see so many members of our community coming together and enjoying talking with each other and making new friends. That’s what it’s all about, especially in these times.

We hope you will support the Lower. They have done many things to broaden their customer base including a nicely expanded menu. As Garth Brooks so eloquently put it, we surely appreciate that we “have friends in Lower places.”

Art Lange

Board member,

Orcas Center

Orcas Island saved from eating haggis

Jim Passer and his capable crew, Lisa and Christopher, saved the island from haggis the night that the Scottish Battlefield Band performed at Orcas Center. The fundraiser to help during this challenging financial time for the center was originally going to be Scottish food, but Jim leapt to the rescue and offered to donate all the proceeds of another popular Burgers and Brew night. One hundred sixty five patient diners enjoyed each other’s company, the opening of an excellent visual arts exhibition and a fabulous musical experience whilst Lisa and Christopher displayed an amazing rhythm in the kitchen over the grill and bun. Several calls went out to Jim to bring more food and everyone was fed and into the show on time. Thanks again Lower Tavern for your exhibition of such wonderful community spirit and for great food, which added to a super night at the Orcas Center.

April Duke

Orcas Island

Homes for Islanders on Orcas

This letter is to announce the start of the building of eight homes with the Homes for Islanders affordable housing program. This program is much like Habitat for Humanity in that the home buyers-builders receive low interest loans, build the houses themselves as a team and finish with marketable skills. Homes for islanders is directed by USDA funds. The buyer-builder will own the house AND the property. Three groups of HFI houses have been built on San Juan Island and this is the first of two projects to be built on Orcas Island. Applications are being taken for the second group, which will be built on North Beach Road between Shady Lane and Bartel Road. Applications are online at Homes for Islanders.org.

For this project to succeed, building eight houses in eight months, community volunteers are essential. We are working now on Lydia Lane just off Firehouse Road which is the first right off of Rosario Road. Project hours are Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 12 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. If you feel you do not know how to do things, join the crowd, we are all learning each step. Please join us, we will guide you and team with you.

This week we would like to thank these volunteers: Bruce Russell of Russell Electric, Ed Eastman of Eastman Home Services, Ken Katz of Bent Nails Construction and Kristen Montgomery, who put in over 20 hours of labor collectively in one day alone.

Cara Russell, Carolyn Carroll, Rebecca Evans, John Russell, Chad Kimple and Aleesh, Dennis and Jessica DeHart, Jason and Wendy Wooding, Justin and Samantha Coy

The Home for Islanders building team

Thank you from the Red Cross

A huge thank you from the American Red Cross Disaster team goes out to April and Clyde Duke for donating space for our supplies – whew!

Appreciation, also, to Coach Dennis Dahl and his athletes Jacob Hansen, Justin Leidecker, Elijah Jones, Aubrey Schermerhor and Mikail VanMaren for making the actual move easier in record time. Oh the energy and enthusiasm of youth!

Mairi Stagg

Bea vonTobel

Orcas Island

Guard rails are needed

Another person, Nathan Tyler, has driven off the cliff at the turn just past Cayou Quay on Channel Road.

This time the accident was tragically fatal. It would have been prevented with a short section of guard rail at this especially dangerous spot.

For some reason the county/and our representatives do not appear interested in Channel Road. When repaved, it was not entitled to a white line down the middle. The school bus stops service just past the wooden bridge, far from the homes of children. Apparently, no stimulus monies were sought for the much needed replacement for that bridge. This is a major road with at least 175 homes that have their only access on it.

The tragic death of Nathan Tyler has reminded us that lack of attention can carry a heavy and unnecessary cost.

Richard Steinhardt

Deer Harbor

The Voices of Darfur

On Tuesday, March 24 at 6:30 p.m. the community is invited to Orcas Island Community Church for a collaboration of stories, music, and images brought to life by students from Orcas Island High School, culminating with a showing of “Sand and Sorrow” narrated by George Clooney. Come educate yourself on the genocide going on right now in Darfur and learn how we can do our part to end it. While the Orcas Island Community Church has graciously provided the venue for this event, there is no religious affiliation. Donations are welcome and will be sent to genocide intervention.

Maddy Smith

Orcas Island High School ‘09

Source of nitrate levels in question

In your article concerning the nitrate levels in Eastsound wells (March 11 issue), you quote Paul Kamin of Eastsound Water Users stating that hydrolgeologists believe the source (of high nitrate levels) to be the high density of private septic systems in the region of Blanchard Road. In fact, according to the latest study of the problem (from the Pacific Group), the most likely source of the higher nitrate levels in the Blanchard Road wells (Well # 7 is the problem one), is more likely to be the septic systems located west of Blanchard Road.

The plan from the Eastsound Sewer District to mandate sewer hook-ups as soon as possible, for the neighborhood that lies East of Blanchard Road ,is based on their assumption that it is our septic systems that are the source of the problematic nitrate levels. The latest research, as noted above, indicates that this assumption is probably incorrect. This is one of the bases for our objection and resistance to the sewer district’s plan.

Another objection is economics! Who amongst us, in this current economic climate, would easily accept going into debt to the tune of $12-15,000? Especially when the probable outcome would see no change in nitrate levels from the problem wells!

One pertinent fact that your article failed to mention was the location of the problem wells. Both of the wells with higher nitrate levels lie on the boundaries of the sewer district – one on Blanchard Road and the other on Terill Beach Road. According to the Pacific Group report, the water sources for both these wells lie beyond the sewer district boundaries! That, my friends, is the crux of the problem. In the meantime, we hope we can resolve this problem with the sewer district to everyone’s satisfaction, as well as for the benefit of the Eastsound aquifer and our environment.

Ian Van Gelder

Opal Commons


Editor’s note: Paul Kamin’s quote that is referred to in the letter above said the “Blanchard area,” not “Blanchard Road.” Kamin says the nitrate levels start in the Blanchard area, and while they do flow west, it’s not clear where they are originating from. He agrees both Blanchard Road and west of Blanchard are problem areas, but he says the Pacific Group study does not conclude they originate in west Blanchard. The community is encouraged to attend a public meeting in April (date TBD) that will cover the full results of the EWUA year-long study.