San Juan County Elections Office explains barcode confusion

There seems to be some confusion as to why there are barcodes on your ballot. Some people think that San Juan County has a list of which ballots are given to which voter, and someone could find out how your ballot was voted. Nothing could be further from the truth. All of us who work with your ballot in San Juan County respect and protect your right to vote a secret ballot.

  • Aug 12th, 2008

Remove barcodes from county ballots

San Juan County should drop its ballot-tracking system until a better system is found. We have a right to cast a secret ballot, a right guaranteed by the state Constitution. While the current ballot-tracking system is well-intentioned, it is possible — improbable, yes, but not impossible — to identify a voter and how he or she voted. And that’s violates the secret-ballot provision of the state Constitution. How important is a secret ballot? Ask voters in Zimbabwe.

  • Aug 5th, 2008

Response to Orcas Fire Department coverage

To the Islands’ Sounder:

  • Aug 5th, 2008

Letters?to the?editor

There were two letters concerning the upcoming election for our Superior Court Judge in the July 9th issue of the Sounder. One which commented favorably about our Prosecutor Randy Gaylord, the other was a mean-spirited attack on our Superior Court Judge John Linde. The former is the appropriate way citizens should express their opinion and support for any candidate running for elected office. The latter was nothing but character assassination and an attempt to interject partisanship in a non-partisan election.

  • Jul 30th, 2008

What can I do?

When a relative or friend is fighting cancer, we often feel limited in what we can do to help and support them. And our neighbors are a curious blend of relative (we don’t choose them) and friend (we do choose them).

  • Jul 23rd, 2008

Clarification to Fire/Medics Interim Division Chiefs proposal

RE: Editorial “Haste makes Waste”

  • Jul 22nd, 2008

Orcas Interim Division Chief plans a bad idea

The Fire District Commissioners should not authorize an interim contract to hire the Fire/Medics to assume the duties of Assistant Fire Chief. The interim contract, proposed to start Aug. 1, would organize the Fire/Medics as three Division Chiefs to undertake the Assistant Chief’s duties.

  • Jul 19th, 2008

San Juan County needs to enforce permit rules

San Juan County needs to make a priority of enforcement of its development regulations.

  • Jul 16th, 2008

High fire danger means only recreational fires

Robert Low, San Juan County Fire Marshal announced on June 30 that starting July 1, the fire danger in San Juan County will go up to high.

  • Jul 10th, 2008

Waldron Candidates Forum

On Saturday, July 12, from 2 to 4 p.m., the Waldron Community Meeting (WCM) will host a candidates’ forum for the Orcas West District of the County Council and Judicial Candidates. Those wishing to attend may arrange transportation by calling Waldron Freight at 360-317 8041 or provide their own. The WCM will provide transportation to and from the Waldron dock. Please confirm at 360-317-8380. Each candidate will have five to ten minutes to present their position, followed by a question and answer session. Candidates are asked to bring their latest donor list and any literature to distribute.

  • Jul 10th, 2008

Orcas Family Health Center to expand cardiology services

Less than a year ago, Bellingham-based North Cascades Cardiology (NCC) initiated an outreach program to serve the residents of the San Juan Islands by having one of their cardiologists see patients in Friday Harbor one day per month. With the success of that clinic, beginning July 18, NCC will now begin serving the residents of Orcas Island.

  • Jul 10th, 2008

Orcas Medical Center expands skin treatment

“Most skin conditions that cause Orcas Island residents to make appointments with mainland dermatologists now can be addressed at Orcas Medical Center,” said the Medical Center’s Dr. Anthony Giefer, “thanks in part to equipment such as our new palm-sized Dermatoscope.”

  • Jul 10th, 2008

Council hears from local transportation service

Representatives from Orcas Island Shuttle, Island Energy Systems and the Agricultural Resources Committee spoke to the County Council at its June 24 meeting on Orcas Island.

  • Jul 10th, 2008

Youngren tells County Council of energy alternatives

Eric Youngren, whose new business, Island Energy Systems, creates small-scale “kits” for home-use alternative energy systems, addressed the County Council regarding solar and renewable energy on June 24.

  • Jul 10th, 2008

ARC reports to Council on farm sustainability

Tim Clark, Agricultural Resources Committee (ARC) Farm Preservation Coordinator, spoke to the County Council on June 24.

  • Jul 10th, 2008

Pest control chemicals can quickly pollute Puget Sound

Garden and yard chemicals used by San Juan Islanders are likely to reach some water body in the islands within 48 hours, due to our geology of thin soils over rock.

  • Jul 10th, 2008

What sounds good to some won’t sound good to all guest Opinion

There is a growing concern internationally about noise-induced hearing loss. In settings as diverse as the workplace, our homes, and recreation, we are all at risk of exposure to noise that may cause permanent hearing loss. This potential danger exists when we use power tools or farm equipment, ride a snowmobile, listen to our iPod or attend rock concerts. Many factors contribute to dangerous sound levels, including the intensity, frequency, duration and distance from the source. There are discrepancies in what is a harmful decibel level over what duration of time. The good news is that wearing earplugs minimizes or eliminates the risk of noise-induced hearing loss, as does taking breaks from loud noise.

  • Jul 9th, 2008

Letters?to the?editor

Windermere agents beautify school grounds

  • Jun 24th, 2008

Wrightsman counsels middle and high school

Like many of the teachers at Orcas Island High/Middle School, Nancy Wrightsman constantly changes her job “hats.” Arriving on Orcas Island in 1995, she already had many years of teaching experience behind her. She taught as a substitute for one year and then accepted the job of school counselor. Wrightsman remains in that position, but also teaches classes both in the middle and high school.

  • Jun 24th, 2008

Superintendent sets the tone for district

School’s out for summer, but not for the Superintendent, Glenn Harris. His desk, as usual, is covered with paperwork for 15 to 20 projects demanding documentation, decisions, consultation, research, communication, or all of the above.

  • Jun 24th, 2008

Stewards of the future

In thinking about and reporting on the school budget situation, we’ve gone into the records from last year, and those from the Sounder archives two, three and four years back. And we’re struck by the progress that has been made.

  • Jun 24th, 2008

More thoughts on the Border Patrol protecting the U.S. from San Juan Islanders

I have often been prompted to write concerning the Border Patrol actions at the Anacortes Ferry Terminal, but others have already expressed excellent points of view over the past four months. But two recent events have finally spurred me to action. The first was that I ran across a lead article on the subject in this week’s Seattle Weekly, with the great cover “Rough Seize – kicking Juans out of the San Juans,” in which several Orcas Islanders told their stories. The second: today (June 18) getting herded into the customs enclosure in Anacortes yet again (fifth time) for a citizenship check. So here goes.

  • Jun 24th, 2008

A time to fly for Orcas graduates

At the graduation ceremonies signaling the beginning of a new era for 22 Orcas High School graduates, it was difficult to leave, not only because of the celebration and happiness, but also because the time when we could look out for them, guide them and watch over them is ending.

  • Jun 17th, 2008

Orcas principals see both big picture and details of education

Continually visualizing the “big picture” while supervising the academic infrastructure to meet the needs of the individual students is the on-going charge for the Orcas Island School District school principals. Tom Gobeske oversees the K-6 elementary school program while Barbara Kline cares for the Orcas Island Middle School, High School, OASIS, and Waldron Island schools. They are both visible in their schools and strive to know their students. Both have many years of teaching and principal experience, although Kline has been with the district for about 20 years and Gobeske has just completed his first year at Orcas Elementary.

  • Jun 17th, 2008

County helps deliver veterans’ aid

The recently established San Juan County Veterans’ Advisory Board (VAB) has completed its initial planning and is pleased to announce the availability of San Juan County’s Veteran’s Assistance Fund (VAF).

  • Jun 11th, 2008

Letters?to the?editor

The following Letter to the Editor articulates the position of the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington regarding the Border Patrol’s questioning of passengers at the Anacortes ferry terminal.

  • Jun 10th, 2008

The paper chase keeps the business office busy

When Sharron Mierau began her work as the Orcas Island School District (OISD) Administrative Secretary in 1987, the district did not own a computer. Board minutes were typed on a typewriter and the monthly enrollment reports were done by hand. Mierau is now the Human Resources Officer, and along with business and district office co-workers Sara Morgan, Ben Thomas, and Amber Johnson, she finds that a computer is essential to the organization and execution of daily work.

  • Jun 10th, 2008

OIPP emphasizes the positive with lattes, treats and parent surveys

The Orcas Island Prevention Partnership (OIPP) is continuing its “Spotlight on the Positive” campaign for the parents of Orcas 6th-12th graders.

  • Jun 10th, 2008

Only the beginning

Their reasons for not completing high school until now are as varied as their futures undoubtedly will be – from needing to work for a living, to international travel interrupting senior year, to hospitalization, to personal family matters, to “not being able to get it together.”

  • Jun 10th, 2008

Orcas’ Coldwell Banker closure heralds end of an era

It is not being overly-dramatic to say that, with the closing of the Coldwell Banker Orcas Island (CBOI) office, an era has ended: the era when the real estate business flourished on Orcas Island, when prominent Realtors and Brokers such as Wally Gudgell, Stu Stevens and Rusty Post started their careers with Pat Pomeroy and Coldwell Banker Orcas Island.

  • Jun 6th, 2008

Stolen Olga flamingos were on display for breast cancer — Islands Letters to the Editor

If you are the individual who kidnapped the small flock of pink flamingos from my property on Olga Road, just past the south park entrance, you may not have realized that you flocked yourself. The birds were there to support a very important cause, Breast Cancer.

  • Jun 5th, 2008

Letters?to the?editor


  • May 27th, 2008

We shall never forget them …

Since the war for independence from Great Britain 232 years ago, almost 1.5 million Americans have died in wars and skirmishes: the American Revolution, War of 1812, Mexican War, Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Persian Gulf War, Iraq War. Spread over the life of the United States, that’s equal to 6,465 military deaths a year.

  • May 27th, 2008

Border Checkpoint at Washington State Ferries’ Anacortes Terminal

Dear Senators Murray, Cantwell, and Representative Larsen,

  • May 21st, 2008

Public school deserves all islanders’ support

We are at a crossroads as a school district and a community. Through declining enrollment, cost increases, state underfunding and, yes, past instances of spending beyond our means, our school district is facing record shortfalls. We cannot easily change inflationary factors, nor can we effect legislative changes overnight. We can, however, work on enhancing enrollment through outreach to our friends and neighbors. And we can work on ways to more efficiently provide the programs and opportunities we want our kids to enjoy. I believe our current School Board is committed to “righting the ship” responsibly and creatively.

  • May 21st, 2008

Letters?to the?editor

By now I trust all Orcas residents have had a chance to pick up one of the Orcas Island Chamber of Commerce’s 2008 Visitor’s Guides. If you haven’t yet, I encourage you to do so. The content may surprise you.

  • May 20th, 2008

Memorial Day: wars past and present and our Veterans

Formerly known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day has its origins in May of 1866 in Waterloo, New York, where its citizens honored the Union war dead with flowers and flags placed at gravesites. First resisted by the South, the holiday gradually became a national “Decoration Day,” and, finally, our national official “Memorial Day” in 1967, with its traditional date of May 30 changed, in 1971, to the last Monday in May.

  • May 20th, 2008

It takes a district to run a school

While the federal and state governments fund Basic Education and “Title I” elements of public school programs, Orcas Island School District (OISD) has known for about a month now that their budget faces a projected $667,000 shortfall for the 2008-2009 school year.

  • May 20th, 2008

Vote for directors for OPALCO Editorial

Democrats in seven more states and two territories will vote or caucus in primaries by June 3. On Aug. 19, San Juan County residents will vote for candidates for three County Council positions, for Superior Court judge and for state legislature. On Nov. 4, we’ll make our final choice for those positions and for president.

  • May 12th, 2008