Public spurned at fire meeting | Orcas Island Letters to the Editor

Letters from Orcas Island residents on a variety of issues.

Public spurned at fire meeting

After taking notes for two hours at this month’s Fire District meeting on topics ranging from the Deer Harbor station construction, purchasing five new pumper truck chassis, and a presentation by the paramedics, I hoped for an opportunity for some clarity but the public was not allowed to ask anything. We just listened to the commissioners vote to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars.

At the point where the topic was increasing one salary by $10,000, I raised my hand and asked Commissioner Duke for a clarification on the budgeted amount. I was told by Commissioner Coffin, in a very nasty tone, that it was not public comment time and that they didn’t need to ask for any public comment before they voted. He then proceeded, in a very condescending tone, to lecture the audience on how “we” should behave and how we should address the commission. A member of the audience asked him if he had received and read the information they had sent and his answer was “I do not feel I need to answer you.”

Nice way to treat the voting public! It is unconscionable to me to see what is going on here and the money being spent.

One of the reasons for purchasing the mini-pumpers is our narrow, steep roads. So why are we considering extended cabs/crew cabs whose wheel bases and turning radius are compromised?

The $10,000 raise was contingent on EMT certification. Since the employee was unable to finish the course with our department we paid $3,800 to fly to Oakland. California, where apparently they don’t have any of the equipment that we consider standard equipment/practice.

The presentation made by the paramedics was very good; however, my last question to the commission was what is plan B and who is working on it? I received no answer. There has to be more than one option. This presentation has been given several times and most seem to think it is the greatest thing since the whistling yoyo. It will be presented to the strategic planning group. I really hope some thought is given to other solution(s) because this can not be the only one.

Leith Templin


Orcas In Bloom

Orcas residents and tourists alike eagerly await the Orcas Island Garden Club’s annual “Orcas In Bloom” Garden Tour. This year the tour included seven interesting and delightful gardens. The Garden Club would like to thank Barbara and David Evans of Emmanuel Episcopal Church and the Dale Pederson Memorial Garden, Rosemary Kimball from the “Crayola Cottages,” Rick and Jackie Cohen, Sam Bullock and the Bullock Permaculture, The Lahari Garden, William and Valerie Anders and Robert and Jody Hamaker for sharing their gardens with us this year.

The purpose of the Orcas Island Garden Club is to promote interest in gardening, civic beauty, conservation and roadside beautification. To this end, among other things, we have donated funds to the Senior Center landscaping and the Orcas High School scholarships; we maintain Fowler’s corner and the Information Park gardens and this year we are donating funds to the Historical Museum landscape renovation. The funds raised from our tour will also allow the club to hold its meetings and continue to educate and inspire Orcas Island gardeners.

Yvonne Ashenhurst

For the OI Garden Tour Committee

First, do no harm

Last week, a sentence was left out of Walt Corbin’s letter. We reprint his full letter, with our apologies for the omission.

Last Thursday a meeting on the San Juan Initiative was held to make builders and real estate people aware of environmental issues. These organizations are generally the first contact that people moving to the County have. Their counsel is important in advising clients of the sensitivity of environmental issues, especially those that are building new structures. As admirable as the meeting was, only when you have ordinances and building codes that make sense in addressing environmental issues, will you achieve the cooperation and support of these organizations.

When ordinances and codes defy common sense, I question the wisdom of our bureaucracy. Hatching now is another plan of how to raise six million dollars for a storm water abatement plan in Eastsound to mitigate and prevent pollution and storm water damage to our environment. The first thing that I asked of Public Works and our Council members was how much damage are we doing. Like how much are we polluting the waters around Orcas Island? No one has yet offered that assessment. And therefore it seems these same people are willing to spend millions of our dollars with no idea of the cost-benefits of such an expenditure.

People cause pollution. So perhaps it might be better to spend our six million by extinguishing many of the developmental rights of lands in Eastsound. That would certainly mitigate storm water runoff and at the same time provide the land to recharge the aquifer, and besides there would be no on-going and reoccurring costs to maintain the costly storm water infrastructure.

Maybe that seems like a farfetched solution. But I sure would like to hear more justification than: we have to do it because Big Brother says we have to. It sure isn’t Big Brother’s six million to pay back.

Walter Corbin