Letters to the?editor An open letter to the San Juan County Council

Two weeks have passed since I first questioned the rationale behind San Juan County’s application for the surface water rights (rainwater collection) covering every parcel on Orcas, Lopez, Shaw and San Juan Island. In the interim I have learned:

No record of any public meeting on this issue has surfaced. Apparently even the County Council approval of the application (at their Feb. 12, 2008 meeting) was not recorded in the council minutes (per Pete Rose, County Administrator).

I am told the application is important to protect the property owners and the county from legal challenges. Unilaterally claiming water rights on property the county does not own is apparently insignificant.

The basis of the County’s legal authority to claim the surface water rights on our property has not been disclosed.

The WA Department of Ecology (ECY) is currently developing rules to exempt domestic rainwater collection from water rights permitting. ECY is holding public meetings elsewhere in Western Washington to obtain public input into these rules. Why not include San Juan County and have those public meetings here?

The San Juan County Council should withdraw the blanket applications for surface water rights. Let’s start over and get public input into this important issue and collectively decide what, if any further action by the county is appropriate.

Don Webster

Orcas Island

FEAST feast a success

 Thank you to everyone who attended the FEAST (Farm Education and Sustainability for Teens) feast and to all the volunteers who contributed to make it happen. It’s a pleasure to see so many people from our community come together in support of celebrating this highly successful program. The FEAST program involved teens learning about growing and processing food, as well as many aspects of sustainability. We would like to send lots of gratitude to all the donors for their support and to Orcas Island Community Foundation (OICF) for their timely grant. Appreciation goes out to the knowledgeable and enthusiastic people who shared their time during the summer. It has made a positive difference in the lives of teens and adults. As we saw in the slideshow, the sharing by the teens, and Whitney Hartzell, the coordinator of the program, the FEAST mission was accomplished: “To create a safe, supportive, learning environment for youth to connect with each other, their community and the land. Through community involvement, experiential learning and leadership, FEAST empowers participants with practical skills and positive solutions that are vital for a sustainable, healthy future.”

If you have not had a chance to help with financial support to the FEAST program, it’s not too late. Tax-deductible donations can be sent to FEAST (Orcas Rec. Program) PO Box 1644, Eastsound, WA 98245. What a feast it was!

Didier Gincig,


Orcas Island Recreation Program

Killing killer weeds needs taxes

This year the San Juan County Noxious Weed Control Board is going before the San Juan County Council to request an increased assessment to restore the capacity of the Noxious Weed Control Program and to fund it adequately for a minimum of five years. We are requesting a five- to ten-dollar increase in the annual assessment to each property owner, and it is important that the citizens of San Juan County understand why we are making this request and what this increase means to them.

The Noxious Weed Control Program provides important services that are legally mandated by the State of Washington, and many citizens have expressed their appreciation of the board’s efforts.

Please contact your County Council representative, and support this small increase in assessment either by writing, calling, or emailing them, or by attending one of the public hearings, which are scheduled for Sept. 30 at 2 p.m. and Oct. 14 at 1 p.m. Thank-you.


San Juan County Noxious Weed Control Board

Need and greed at Rosario

The tides of greed and need flow strongly at a time when the economy of Orcas Island is on the auction block. Yes, there was greed, which delayed the Resort Master Plan and the progress of our island’s economy. Dan Tidrington commented well on that in his letter in the Sounder on Sept. 3. But he did not relate that the delay and greed resulted in poor accommodations for guests, tough conditions for workers,and considerable financial sacrifice by the owners. Olympus Properties is to be commended for their lack of greed by keeping the resort open and trying to find a buyer that will carry out the Master Plan. Yet why do we need Rosario, and what does the island need to do to insure its future?

Beyond the importance to our island economy, Rosario fulfills a need for people to commune with nature. Rosario is the gateway to Washington’s third largest state park, and it and Camp Orkila are in fact vital resources for the mental well-being of this entire region. We would be greedy if we did not allow people to get the experiences with nature that they need. Ultimately, accommodating happy tourists means that the leaders of business and industry have a wholesome perspective of the environment.

Thus, even retirees living off investments have an interest in the resort’s success. Rosario needs to fulfill its legacy as a place to escape from stress, rejoice in nature, and forget about greed.

We, as stewards of this island, need to work together to ensure its viable economic future. Rosario is an important link between big business and nature, while the Pacific Northwest has an economic and environmental stability that will become more unique as the Earth’s resources dwindle. Orcas Island can ride the tide of the future with dignity and pride if we support the new owners of Rosario in developing all phases of the Resort Master Plan.

Phillip Bose



remembered and more

If you have not been by Station 21 (Eastsound Fire station), you have missed a very moving display. The “old” engine has a black sign commemorating the fire fighters who lost their lives and a grave mound with a small American Flag for each fire fighter is placed in lines behind it.

In regards to the Guest Opinion in the Sept. 10 Sounder, it was another great PR article. No taxpayer has said that the shared chief position is a bad idea. What the public has asked the chief, over and over, is to publicly give us information about what alternate plans he or the commissioners have explored. We have also questioned the idea of three Union members running a volunteer department.

With regard to the letter to the editor “Response to John Erly’s letter” in the Sounder, this seems to have become a personal issue. I have not said that “doing both Fire and EMT training was too much.” What I have said is, there are some, over the age of 50, retired people who have the training and background to take the EMT training and be EMTs whodo not want to be fire fighters (yes, this is an old volunteer idea, that became unfavorable with the present chief).

I do not believe those who ask questions are “luddites,” they are endemic and ubiquitous. As to “12-step program” and “psychotic episode,” this comment is an insult to the tax payers who voice their opinions about the decisions made by the chief and commissioners.

John Erly


So long,

Orcas Island

It’s with bittersweet emotions that we leave our island home on Orcas. Bittersweet, because, on the one hand, we will miss the many friends and clients we have come to treasure since moving to Orcas five years ago to purchase and operate Darvill’s Rare Print Shop. On the other hand, we are eagerly anticipating continuing the business online and setting up our home in the San Juan mountains of southwest Colorado.

When we first took over the rare print shop in 2004, we were amazed at the stories from customers who had been coming to the island to peruse the prints and maps for over 60 years. Some even had grandparents who had visited the shop when it began in Salt Lake City 90 years ago! We are pleased to be able to continue offering the amazing collection online to an even wider global audience and hope to hear from many of you wonderful Orcas Islanders.

You will continue to see Wade’s name on the publications and websites of Orcas Center, Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival, Orcas Island Chamber of Commerce, and many other island businesses.

So long Orcas Island! We’ll continue to care for the island treasure that is Darvill’s Rare Prints and hope to hear from you…we’re only a few mouse clicks away.


Wade Campbell

and Chris Brussat,


Darvill’s Rare Prints

Science, shmience?

I must take Mike Stolmeier’s letter of Sept. 3 to task. When Mr. Stolmeier suggested that global climate change is the result of Priuses “running around Orcas Island sucking the heat right out of the air” and that he “entered compelling anecdotal data into the Apocolyptic Climate Change Extrapolation Exaggerator (ACCEE) computer … that’s been so popular with the consensus-based ‘science’ crowd,” he gave us all insight into the elitist ‘science-fearing’ crowd.

Stolmeier would have us believe that Global Climate Change is bunk because he prefers to drive his awkward looking, eight-mile to the gallon Buick Electra 225 (19 feet long!) that does not fit into the parking spots at Island Market and is too wide to navigate North Beach Road safely. However, it is perfect if he wanted to say, take the Governor of Alaska to the drive-in.

Or maybe he hates “science” because to him it is like a nagging mother, telling him he should really do this and he should really do that because if he doesn’t he’ll be sorry. How annoying science is! “Shut up, science! Stop telling me what to do! I hate you! You’re ruining my life!”

A quick anecdote: When Mike was a child his science fair project was “There is a Lot of Gravity Around.” He proved this via an experiment in which he picked up various household items such as underwear, his wrestling shoes and a few siblings and observed what happens when you let go of them. His conclusion was, of course, “There is a Lot of Gravity Around.”

I am quite sure that if Mike input enough data into his ACCEE that he would soon prove that “E” does indeed not equal MC squared and that Newton’s Three Laws of Motion are a result of alcohol-induced hallucinations. After all, inertia, mass and motion are connected only in the minds of the “consensus based science crowd.”

If he had his way Stolmeier would have us believe that Newton, Boyle and Einstein were self-aggrandizing men, driven by ego with very little experience in the real world and that Adam and Eve rode to church on a dinosaur.

It’s a brave new world, Mike. Global Warming – Global Cooling – Global Shmobal – the real beast?: “Global Climate Change.”

You know we love you – but Santa Claus drives a Prius – get used to it.


Bob Phalan

West Beach

Island grown, island raised

Once again, the Orcas community has come to the aid of Kaleidoscope Preschool and Child Care Center. Thanks to the overwhelming generosity of many local businesses, farmers and individuals, we were able to make our fourth Annual Island Grown, Island Raised Dinner and Auction our most successful fundraiser yet!

Each year I am amazed by the variety of goods produced by our local farmers, and I encourage everyone to visit the Farmer’s Market this month to take advantage of the “green thumbs” in our community – what a treat!

Special thanks to John Clancy for his entertaining auctioneering skills.

We often hear how unique our island home is, how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful place. I share that sentiment, only I attribute the “Island Beauty” to the “Island People.”

Our neighbors make our home what it is and all of the local businesses, farmers and individuals that participated in our event help Kaleidoscope keep working families working, in so many ways!

Thank you,

Amber Minnis

Kaleidoscope Director

Legacy of charity, community & stormwater

It has been a while since I have been in the Discovery Room, but last Thursday, the room was full of people who have donated “time, talent and treasure.” The Orcas Island Community Foundation recognized our legacy of volunteerism and applauded the entire community for their giving spirit.

This island, that is so diverse, and often disagrees, has an uncanny ability to unite and build community assets. Assets like the Orcas Center, the Fun House, and the band shell in the park, programs like FEAST, and the senior lunch. These are examples of how we can pull together financial resources as well as volunteer hours and expertise.

We have another opportunity to come together and build a community asset. The county council will be introducing the new stormwater funding mechanism in October. I encourage you all to attend public meetings and offer feedback. I ask you to look at the proposal with the same sense of community that allows us to accomplish so many great things.

Donations have saved public school programs, and thousands of dollars were donated to preserve Turtle Back Mountain. Yet funding for stormwater has been a hard sell. Appropriate wetland protection and creative stormwater management can benefit all of Eastsound. Imagine a town with areas for commerce and housing, interwoven with ribbons of green; the green being natural areas of vegetated wetlands, and rain gardens offering walking paths, wildlife corridors and natural storm water management.

We have the “time, talents and treasures,” now let us shape the vision, support the funding, and accomplish yet one more great thing.

Mindy Kayl,

EPRC Chair