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I would like to use today’s column to convey a couple of things to my supporters. First, I’d like to extend our sympathies regarding the loss of flamboyant mayoral candidate Pearl Boy. Secondly, I am profoundly moooved by those of you who have been generously donating for my care and upkeep. Thank you so much!
You will be seeing a new face behind the camera at local events. The Sounder has hired staff reporter Cali Bagby, who made her way here via the Journal of the San Juans, where she has been a reporter since April 4.
You’re driving down the road, car loaded up with recycle and garbage, on your way to the transfer station. Along the way, you see a flattened cardboard box by the side of the road. Then you encounter a truck with loosely secured recycle items in the back. You watch as the wind works paper towels free of the load. This may not happen every time you venture out on a dump run, but most islanders will agree that this scenario is not unfamiliar.
It detailed some of the experiences of Diane Emerson, a global volunteer, in working with time banks, particularly in New Zealand, and her advocacy for establishing a time bank here in San Juan County. Emerson has witnessed repeatedly the capacity of time banks to increase the economic and social resiliency of the communities where she has worked. In the two months that have passed since Emerson’s visit, through considerable research, communication with Timebanks USA and the efforts of a core group of local volunteers, the task of establishing a county-wide time bank (aka, time exchange) is well underway.
Ferry funding has been an ongoing issue every year since the motor vehicle excise tax (MVET) disappeared 12 years ago. And each year, after threatening cuts in service, the legislature has been able to beg, borrow and steal funds from other transportation accounts to keep the ferries going.
Policing San Juan County is different than the mainland. Your Sheriff’s Office is the only law enforcement agency in the county. There are no city police departments. There are no state troopers here. And the Sheriff’s Office has its sworn staff, currently 19 officers, deployed on three different islands, serving a population of 16,500.
Evidence is mounting, showing the full extent of the plastic problem in the Salish Sea. Not only do these bags choke wildlife, but they also break into small pieces, posing an even greater threat. These small pieces of plastic concentrate deadly chemicals like PCB. This is horrible, especially since Southern Resident Orcas and Chinook Salmon have some of the highest concentration of PCBs in their bodies compared to other populations along the West Coast.
The county has created a webpage for the review commission. It lists all of the members and has links to the meeting schedule, the charter and meeting minutes. The commissioners for Orcas are: William Appel, Robert Gamble, Stephen Garrison, Ralph Gutschmidt, Moana Kutsche, Edwin Sutton, and Linda Tretheway. Their email addresses are: first name and first initial of last name followed by .email@example.com. For example: firstname.lastname@example.org
It was the beginning of a winter storm cycle when we got the call: “50-year-old male, difficulty breathing, chest pain.” Orcas Fire and Rescue was paged out to Doe Bay on Jan. 13 around 10 p.m. Snow had already begun to mix with freezing rain. Paramedic Jeff Larsen was immediately concerned about getting this patient off the island. Larsen had no idea that an epic, six-hour journey had just begun.
We’re nearing the end of the Colton Harris-Moore saga, after his sentencing in December. Did the punishment fit the crime? Not really, but we’re hopeful this whole mess will have a somewhat happy outcome. Harris-Moore is one very fortunate criminal. He is lucky that his antics captured a nation’s attention. He is lucky that he secured accomplished lawyers and that he’s from a small, middle-class town. He is lucky to have never hurt anyone with the guns he stole. He is lucky that when he stole planes, it was not considered a threat to homeland security.
What an incredible gift, words canoooot describe my feelings of gratitude and looove for my constituents. I signed on as Mayor to dooo whatever I can tooo improve the environment of my beloooved bipeds. I never dreamed, yes quadrupeds dream, that you would be doooing that for me. I am incredibly moooved by the love and support generated by the letter tooo the editor raising the idea of an ooold fashioned barn raising. My assistant opened a bank account for me at Key Bank and some of you have made generous depooosits.
We are on the cusp of a new year. It’s a time for reflecting on the past 12 months and setting goals for the days to come. Here at the Sounder, we are thankful for our advertisers, readers and story subjects, who made it an excellent 2011. As we prepare for another year of covering our island communities, we are also announcing a new way of delivering the news.
We received a slew of emails from angry readers after we wrote about a local medical professional being investigated by the state department of health last March. So this time around, we’re being proactive: sometimes the Sounder is tasked with reporting a story that casts a community member in an unfortunate light.
One of the best parts of being a volunteer at the library is the opportunity to observe the expressions of patrons when they sheepishly walk up to the front desk to apologize that a book is overdue. Then a question follows, “How much is the fine?”
We made our dissatisfaction with the Discover Pass well known in the pages of this newspaper. In theory, we thought the $30 pass to park a vehicle, motorcycle or moped at any state park was a reasonable way to keep our parks open. But the legislation came out with a few flaws, and we commend Senator Kevin Ranker, who sponsored the original bill, for putting forth new legislation that not only eases the financial burden on the consumer but will likely bring in more revenue for the state. The problem: the Discover Pass lacks transferability. Because the pass is assigned to a vehicle, rather than an individual, that means it can’t be swapped between cars.
The county is going to be taking its time making major changes to our solid waste system. We’re happy public works is approaching this in a methodical manner, and we hope that community input will be an integral part of developing a plan.
Before you are standing in line at that big department store, Christmas gifts flung across your arms, we want you to take a moment to think about where your dollars are going. We can’t say which foreign manufacturer is benefiting from your hard-earned cash, but we can say where your money is not going: to your community. The best way to keep our islands thriving is to support local businesses.
The Islands’ Sounder is launching an initiative that will enhance our readers’ experience online. Through the “Green Editions,” you can now access our community newspaper anytime, anywhere on our website. The full print edition of the Islands’ Sounder is available on the web as soon as the paper hits the streets every Wednesday. Online readers can now flip through the Sounder’s pages just like those who enjoy reading the newspaper in a hard-copy format.
What are you thankful for this year? If you take the time to ponder this, there are plenty of things – big and small – to feel grateful about. We asked islanders this question, and here are some of the answers:
Starting on Nov. 17, the Islands’ Sounder will introduce a new comment moderation policy through Facebook. We hope to improve your experience of reading and participating at www.islandssounder.com with this new policy.
"How Are We Doing?": A quarterly review of county finances by San Juan County Auditor F. Milene Henley. I am often asked if I like my job. That’s an unfair question, of course: to tell the truth would make me sound like a whiny public employee, and not to tell the truth would make me a liar. So I do what all good public figures do and side-step the question. “It’s a terrible time to be in government.” Or “My predecessor really knew when to retire.” Or, more directly, “It was fun the first year and a half; after that, not so much.”
Dear Washington State Business Owners and Employers: What is the one thing that makes your business the best? I’m guessing it’s your employees. How would you describe a great employee? Motivated, dedicated, high integrity, solution finder, team player. What if I told you that I can find you employees with those traits, and they can make your business even better?
Of course we all want to preserve the beauty of this spectacular environment, but perhaps the land bank tax is not such a necessary part of that task anymore. Generally taxes are problematic because most of them never terminate. In this case we have a choice.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. This is the final column in a series by local professionals.
This November’s ballot revolves around how much of our cash we’re willing to part with. We supported the school levy. We wrote in opposition of the solid waste parcel fee. It’s been harder to reach a conclusion about the third initiative on our ballots: the land bank’s REET.
This issue is not the result of public complaints. Remember, we have a waste system that allows us to haul our own garbage to our public transfer stations or have it picked up by the private franchise hauler, San Juan Sanitation. This proposition was put on the ballot by the County Council because they can no longer avoid the long-known fact that funding our waste system solely with income from the volume of garbage we export does not work and that some form of public funding is required.
Karen felt nauseated as she watched her husband, the head deacon, smiling and visiting with fellow members at their local church. Her eyes drifted to his strong hands as they so gently helped an elderly woman through the door. Why had those capable strong hands turned so hard and cruel to her?
After November, the structure of solid waste is going to change drastically. There are two very different proposals on the table, and after careful consideration, we are advocating voting no on the solid waste parcel fee.
Last week we asked you to tell us about local blogs. Thank you for the response. Check out www.islandssounder.com for three new blogs written by islanders: “A little bit too much is just enough for me,” “Bruce’s Beach: a monitoring project” and “Energy Matters.”
We support Orcas School’s levy on this November’s ballot, but we’re not happy about it. We endorsed both of the previous school bonds, which both failed by a slim margin. At $35 million and then $27 million, the project was immense, but we felt the school had conducted a thorough study of the buildings and had a great plan in place for a new campus. We feel that we have no choice but to support this new one-year, $900,000 levy. Because the school owes this money to Cashmere Bank, it must be paid back.
Do you have something to say that you want to share with the rest of the community? Are you already writing a weekly column? If so, consider becoming a blogger on our website.
There is plenty of good news in the world of volunteerism contributing to Orcas Island’s strong and healthy community. It’s uplifting to know there are people who give their time, be it with a service organization, cooking a meal for someone in need, or offering time to children, elderly, and those who may benefit from community support. Every day in many ways there are volunteers offering their time to be helpful. There are many examples of generosity and ways to be of service.
Guest column contributed by San Juan County Sheriff Rob Nou. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The Sounder will publish a series of guest columns from local professionals. Domestic violence takes many ugly, destructive forms. It is far more common than many in society want to acknowledge, and far more dangerous than many realize. Family violence, between spouses, intimate partners, parents and children, or siblings is often concealed in shame, thought of as a “private matter” or cloaked in threats of further violence. Every non-vehicular homicide in San Juan County for several decades has been a domestic violence homicide.
Guest column contributed by Pete Rose, San Juan County Administrator In the past couple of weeks the county has been on the receiving end of attacks that I can only describe as mean-spirited and ill-informed concerning the purchase of a work boat by the Public Works Department.
It’s time to defend the honor of Orcas Island. If you've read the mean-spirited Seattle Weekly blog about Orcas Island this week, you were likely left with a feeling of “What? He can’t possibly be serious!”
In the past, shoreline development in Washington tended to be piecemeal and uncoordinated, which often had negative impacts on shoreline areas.
What were you doing on Sept. 11, 2001?
It’s a great disappointment to many islanders that Madrona Point is officially closed to the public. And vandalism to the land does not help community efforts to mend bridges with the Lummi Nation. On Aug. 3, deputies confiscated a human skull from a 19-year-old Orcas Island man who claims to have stumbled upon it while digging for arrowheads near property belonging to the Lummi Nation at Eastsound’s Madrona Point. The skull reportedly still had dirt embedded in it at the time it was seized by deputies.
All vegetation except for a few trees will be torn out behind the Village Green for the stormwater construction. Any vegetation holds ground in place. Little enough exists in this area. Replanting may not correct messing with nature.
Kids strolled hand in hand with tired moms, sheep bleated in their stalls, and the smell of fried butter and cinnamon, sun-kissed skin and hay filled the air. The San Juan County Fair is four days of old-fashioned fun. But its future is at a crossroads.