Letters to the Editor – March 19, 2008




Members of the Music Advocacy Group (MAG) send their heartfelt thanks to all the enthusiastic island folk in the audience for the Music-Music-Music concert on March 2nd. The three adult groups and our featured school ensemble from the fifth- and sixth-grades were delighted to see so many of our friends and supporters of the school music program in the audience and having as much fun as the musicians.

This was the 11th concert produced by MAG and allows Islanders to share in the future of music education in our schools. Music education provides a lifetime of joy for all who participate and is a valuable learning tool. We thank you all for your generosity and enthusiastic support.


Joyce Burghardt



for our


OI-VEH! What a conference!! Thank you, Salmonberry School, for the gift of a conference for educators and community.

Orcas Island-Visioning Education Holistically was a remarkable day of enthusiastic learning, experiencing, sharing and expanding our minds.

Expanding with joy, filled with hope for the future. With minds joined like this, sustaining, we nurture!

Working together for a better world for our children,

Rivkah Sweedler


Unidentified patrols

Thank you for your editorial, dated March 12, 2008, entitled “Fear itself”. We were two of the many people recently funneled off into the Customs/checkpoint area without warning and without reason. The official asked only if we were U.S. citizens and did not identify who he was or what was going on. On our return to Orcas, that same day, we asked the toll booth person what was happening at the checkpoint. He replied. “Not sure, they aren’t talking to us. I have seen people detained and it appears to be an immigration check.”

Orcas to Anacortes is not a border crossing. Orcas does not appear to be a haven of illegal immigrant activity. We are baffled by the expense taken to create a checkpoint engaging the time of at least six personnel. Are we next to expect traffic stopped further east on SR-20 and I-5 as we travel through the Skagit valley and beyond?

We are currently contacting our state and local representatives, who are probably as unaware of this activity as we were. Again, our thanks to the Sounder for bringing this matter into greater public awareness and providing a detailed contact list.

Michael Budnick and Laura Gibbons


Thanks for

rolling up


On behalf of patients in our community’s hospitals, I wish to extend our thanks. During your blood drive on March 13, Puget Sound Blood Center registered 89 donors (1 more donor than San Juan Island!) and collected 77 units of blood. This will benefit up to 231 patients.

Special thanks to Paul Losleben for organizing the drive, the Orcas Island Lions Club for their assistance and blood drive sponsorship and the Orcas Fire Department for providing the drive site.

Each weekday, 900 people must donate blood to meet the needs of patients in western Washington hospitals. Your blood drive has played an important role in helping meet that goal.

Attached is a link to learn more about some of the many patients who benefit from blood drives like yours: www.psbc.org/video/patient.htm

The following patients are just a few of the many who have received blood from Puget Sound Blood Center in the past few days. The blood was available for them, thanks to blood drives like yours:

• 23-year-old patient (diagnosis: motorcycle crash) has been issued 27 units red blood cells, 4 units platelets, 14 platelet pools, 6 units plasma & 3 cryoprecipitate pools.

• 43-year-old patient (diagnosis: heart transplant) has been issued 35 units red blood cells, 12 platelet pool, 35 units plasma & 10 cryoprecipitate pools.

• 48-year-old patient (diagnosis: amputation) has been issued 20 units red blood & 8 units plasma.

• 76-year-old patient (diagnosis: ruptured ascending aortic aneurysm due to auto accident) has been issued 36 units red blood cells, 32 units plasma, 4 unit platelet & 3 cryoprecipitate pools.

• 58-year-old patient (diagnosis: spinal surgery) has used 18 units red blood cells, 18 units plasma, 3 units platelets & 2 cryoprecipitate pools.

• 45-year-old-year-old patient (diagnosis: spleen laceration) has been issued 16 units red blood cells, 12 units plasma & 12 units platelet.

Next blood drive date is Thursday, June 5

Carol Rondello

Puget Sound Blood Center

Mobile Representative Whatcom, San Juan and Northern Skagit Counties



to security

I wish to commend The Islands’ Sounder for its editorial “Fear itself” on recent activities by the U. S. Border Patrol.

There is no question that our country has real enemies contriving to attack us again. These truly are the “bad guys” against whom we must focus our resources here and abroad.

But under the aegis of “National Security” our government has not limited its related targets to potential terrorists instead adding them to a roster of old fashioned “bad guys” including immigration violators, drug law violators and criminals involved in human and drug smuggling. Illegal activities having nothing to do with National Security obviously occur within these groups.

However our government has demonstrated increasing willingness to ignore national and international laws in the name of National Security. And to cast such wide nets that lily pure citizens or non-terrorist violators are surveilled and at times incarcerated or deported – as were the eight caught in the Anacortes “spot checks”.

In the Presidential debates illegal immigration has become an emotional hot button subject. A vocal minority has encouraged a fence across our southern border supplemented with citizen vigilantes. Most of the candidates made vapid or contentious comments echoing the mean spirit on the subject now abroad in the country.

Border Patrol Agent Joe Giuliano has stated that more “spot checks” will be conducted at the Anacortes terminal once Canadian service resumes. He adds that “Similar inspections are being conducted on the roads and highways across the region.” Does this mean that we can expect the occasional roadblock between Eastsound and Orcas Landing and the apprehension of a few more Mexican workers in the name of National Security?

Aside from civil rights issues and the economic impact on our islands I ask if such activities are meaningful safeguards to our National Security. Or do they represent a frivolous dissipation of our finite resources in this area? As frivolous as the ill conceived DEA operation against the drug fiends of Decatur? Or as our invasion of Iraq while the real “bad guys” slipped away to Afghanistan?

David K. Schermerhorn

Deer Harbor

Public access

on Turtleback

The Turtleback Mountain Preserve draft stewardship and management plan is in, and it appears upon review that most public access options are out. The Turtleback Draft Plan was created as an insider document, with little or no input solicited from any citizens group, committees or individuals during its preparation. The public is then only given less than a month for comment; that’s not enough time. Again, the appearance is, that given too much time for comment, the public may form organized input.

During the fundraising campaign the fear of development, in the form of residential structures on Turtleback Mountain was used constantly. Everyone’s participation for fund raising was encouraged and accepted. I do know that many groups including bikers, hikers and horseback riders were expressing excitement about the prospect of having such beautiful mountain habitat available for public recreational access. No clarifications about public access or limitations were discussed openly during the fever of the campaign funds. Turtleback was purchased to protect in perpetuity its ecological, scenic and low intensity recreational values. It appears that the Land Bank has unilaterally defined low impact and low intensity public access as hikers or pedestrian traffic only. When asked what studies or scientific evidence they relied on to arrive at this conclusion, the Land Bank representative could cite no specific studies or evidence based reasons for the public access restrictions.

I believe the time has come to create a more citizen-based process in establishing public access policy and restrictions related to the land we the citizens of San Juan County purchase through our “Citizens Land Bank.” The top-down paradigm of creating policy for publicly owned county lands seems to be just another way of disenfranchising we the citizens. I urge our council members Alan Lichter and Gene Knapp, to support the establishment of a citizen’s committee that includes a diverse cross-section of county residents.

It appears to me that the San Juan County Land Bank staff highly values diversity in nature, but not when it comes to the creation of public access policy that affects us all.

Errol Speed


From the Fire Chief

To the Orcas Island Community,

Many of you are aware that our fire department is struggling through some very important growing pains. We have just lost an important and key member of our administrative staff, Buddy Wright. He was the training officer, web page master and one of four people who answer questions, phone calls and do the day-to-day tasks to keep the “office door” open.

However, we are still ready to respond the moment we are called to action. In fact, I believe in my heart, this painful and necessary time is pulling us closer together as a group of people who have never lost sight of why we are here. We are ready and willing, because we care deeply and with great passion. I feel very fortunate and proud to be part of this incredible “family” of dedicated people who, without hesitation or often even a moment’s warning, will throw down whatever they are doing and go help someone who could be a neighbor, a friend or a complete stranger.

Finally and perhaps most importantly, we all make mistakes but what really matters is what we do about them. I ask you to bear with us while we work through this moment of pause and make it our opportunity to improve our performance, our image and our connection with both our members and our residents.


Chief Harris

Fire Commissioners


To the Orcas Island Community,
First of all, the Board of Fire Commissioners wishes to thank you for caring enough to bring to our table, your concerns for the betterment of our Fire Department. We all have the same goal – to insure we have the best help in the moment of need. 
We heard you. We are listening and, we are going to make changes.
We heard the need for a change in the Fire District hiring policy and now have a draft policy that clearly defines the steps of the hiring process. We strive to hire the best person for the job and there must be a process to ensure it is a positive step in the right direction.
We heard the need for a change in the Cross Training requirement and we are directing Chief Harris to work with our volunteers to replace the current requirement with a sustainable solution that best meets the needs of both the volunteers and the community.
We are contacting the Strategic Planning Committee groups to come back to us with a review of our progress and needs for the level of service.
We wish for continued input and have made available the following options in an effort to keep the solutions process moving forward.

Email: Clyde Duke at kookaburra51@hotmail.com (Chairman of the Board) or chiefharris@yahoo.com.

Phone: 376-5873 or 622-6149.

Writing: Chief Harris c/o Orcas Island Fire Dept. POB 217, Eastsound, WA 98245 or drop it in our suggestion box at the Eastsound Fire Station front desk.
 And, lastly we believe this time of pause, regardless of how painful, is a chance to rise to a higher level of understanding our entire communities needs and then delivering the best service we can to our citizens and our volunteers.
Board of Fire Commissioners
Clyde Duke
Harvey Olsan
Jim Coffin

Truck touts Tiger

You may have seen the white Ford truck around the Island with a 48″ x 36″

sign on each side with a photographic image of “Tiger” the lost cat.

Marcia and I run Edna Gallery in Eastsound and I put

our large format, high resolution printer to good use to broadcast

information about “Tiger” our lost cat.

Tiger was lost when he leapt from the back of my truck at

Orcas Center on Friday Feb. 29. around 4:30 p.m. He had hitched

a ride from home. Probably crept in and took an afternoon nap. He

didn’t awake until too late and was so “freaked” by the journey he

ran for his life when I started to unload equipment for a Camera

Club show I was helping to setup at Orcas Center.

Since then his family – Marcia, Samantha and I have spent

many hours searching and chasing down leads. Tiger’s brother Autumn

and his dog Cosmo are also anxious for his return.

Tiger and Autumn as kittens were our daughter Samantha’s big prize for moving to Orcas

from Santa Cruz California almost ten years ago when Samantha was

seven years old. That was before the Animal Shelter

was built. Elyse Van den Bosch helped put us in touch with

Autumn and Tiger, the last two of a litter of Orcas kittens.

We are extremely grateful to all of the Islanders that have offered

help and kind words. We are still hopeful even after 2 weeks. We have

heard many stories of cats finding their way home after weeks or even


As the sign suggests, call 376-6935 if you have any information about Tiger.

Thanks again for your help,

Martin, Marcia and Samantha Taylor, Cosmo and Autumn

Editor’s note: On March 17, Tiger was found and returned to the Taylors

Stopped at the terminal

The following letter was sent to Senator Harriet Spanel and approved for reprinting in the Sounder

Dear Ms. Spanel:

On two recent occasions when my husband and I were going from our home on Orcas Island to the hospital in Bellingham to see the physician there, we were delayed at the Anacortes Ferry Dock by the Border Patrol.

On Monday, March 3, 2008 at 4:40 p.m., and on Friday, March 14, 2008 at 8:20 a.m., we were led into the lanes normally used for the security area for boats coming from international waters, generally from Canada. On both of the above occasions, the ferry from which we had disembarked had not come from Canada, nor had it been in international waters. All riders on these ferries were from the San Juan Islands, which are in the United States of America.

I am deeply concerned about the Border Patrol placing itself in a position of questioning ordinary citizens going from one place to another within the U.S. We crossed no borders on our journeys to Anacortes from Orcas Island. Granted, there is a sign just outside the ferry landing that says “welcome to Washington” – but the reality is, we never leave Washington, nor the U.S. when we take a ferry to Orcas Island.

The ferry is my highway–my only link when I need to drive to another part of my state for personal business or medical appointments. I am appalled that I have to be stopped and questioned about my citizenship when in the normal course of my business day within the boundaries of my own country.

I ask for a quick and certain cessation of this harrassing behvior on the part of the U.S. Border Patrol.

Francie Greth Peto


Within our borders

Regarding the harassment and deportation of people by the Border Patrol, I don’t see how it can be appropriate for the Border Patrol to patrol within our borders.

I don’t care if there’s an illegal immigration problem – this isn’t how you solve it (enforcing minimum wage even for illegal immigrants would – but that’s really another issue). And for government officials to play the terrorism card is insulting to our collective intelligence.

Do we really want to let this turn into one of those places where government agents are just grabbing people mid-transit and checking their citizenship papers? There’s a word for that kind of culture, and it’s not “American.”

And calling people “the bad guys” might not go over so well in small communities. Legal or illegal, these are our neighbors.


Don Yerly III