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San Juan County has just begun its annual budget process and the outlook for all County services is grim. The County has felt the pressure of the weakened economy and needs to make adjustments to its spending. Many of us are already cutting back on discretionary spending like travel and entertainment, economizing on necessary expenses such as transportation, shopping more diligently for bargains and, for some, reducing spending on essential requirements like food, heat and medication. For many people, reduction in spending on essentials is the only recourse available. These are the same people who must also depend on the County to make their lives bearable. These people are the most vulnerable in our community, generally elderly, often not in good health, in need of medications, lacking transportation, occasionally requiring assistance for daily tasks and frequently unable to make ends meet. These are the people who will be severely affected by the proposed 23.1 percent reduction in Health and Community Services. The County has proposed to reduce the few services it now provides to these members of our communities. For example: elimination of transportation for seniors; reduction of congregate senior meals; reduction of nursing staff/clinic hours: elimination of immunizations/vaccinations; reduced nurse home visits and travel assistance to Medicaid clients; and finally, reduced staffing at our Senior Centers. Each of the items I mention is a line item for reduction in the County Administrators 2009 Budget Proposal.
While water may be a scarce resource on Orcas Island, controversy over water seems plentiful. Of course the scarcity has a great deal to do with the controversy. Unfortunately, a lack of understanding of both vagaries of Washington water law and our island hydrogeology also play a role.
Everyday heroes are rarely acknowledged, and often, when they are singled out for credit, the response is “I was just doing my duty.”
To our new Rosario caretakers, in my letter to the editors (Sept.24, 2008 issue), regarding the re-visioning of Rosario to reflect a community dream, I neglected something. I failed to convey what I understand to be the Rosario/Moran Legacy. Largely ignored by previous owners of the Rosario Estate, the vision-as-resort has been unsuccessful for numerous and practical reasons. Now, with a plummeting economy, the challenges can only be magnified.
I was saddened by the death of Natalie White of Deer Harbor. She has been a valued friend of my family for many years and an important part of our community for all the years I’ve ben here. I was positive her passing would be acknowledged with an obituary worthy of her visit here on planet earth, in our tiny island community.
2009 Annual Budget Message: Washington’s Shrinking Counties
With reference to Guest Opinion by Shawn O’Bryant in your Oct 15 issue, I want to express my strong support for Shawn’s article which I think is well done and expresses very sound argument to keep the Skate park open.
First, there is a ballot drop box at the Orcas Senior Services Center in Eastsound. It is free to use (no postage required). The box is located at the north end of the driveway that directly abuts the lobby doors.
When I agreed to work on Richard Fralick’s campaign for county council, it was the first time I had participated actively in a political campaign. I did so because of my conviction that he was a man of unique abilities and character. Now that I have watched him work for this office, I am more convinced than ever that he is of the best that our system can seek in a representative. He has worked tirelessly, personally attending to details, studying issues, attending meetings, calling voters, distributing signs, giving parties, and writing letters. If he works this hard to get elected, imagine how he will conduct himself if elected.
Last week we hosted a “meet Kevin Ranker” gathering at the home of Christina and Bruce Orchid in Westsound. Kevin spoke to a varied group of neighbors, young and old, liberal and conservative, Republican and Democrat alike. He ably showed each one of us that he is ready to be state senator. Kevin does his homework, staying on top of the issues. He is heartfelt and smart, dedicated to his chosen causes and open-minded. He listens. His priorities include education, the environment, transportation (particularly ferry issues), and the local economy. He knows how to work constructively with fellow politicians to make a positive impact. He has what it takes.
I am expressing a personal view of the measure 1000 having attended my late wife’s death from stomach cancer 20 years ago. Plese be patient with the following comments. It is difficult for me to know the answers.
These are troubling times, and more clouds loom on the horizon.
The decision by the OPALCO Board of Directors to spread the wealth of its $1,000,000 settlement among the 10,000 cooperative members on the island is not just a happy surprise, it’s a model of the simple but true island ethic of working together.
Could you please explain how newly issued property assessments are higher in a plunging real estate market?
With the passing of Darlene and now Dana, I am reminded of how valuable each human life is and how close knit Orcas islanders really can be. I am particulary hopeful that all of us will realize that regardless of our political, religious, or philosophical differences, we have more in common as human beings than our conflicts with each other.
We are lucky to have Richard Fralick willing to run for County Council! The job that this position entails is so tremendous that it’s a wonder any one wants to take it on. Yet we all know that some one has to do it.
Dear Council Members,
With the annexation of the Rosario Utility Area and soon Orcas Village, plus the recent county issues, Eastsound Sewer and Water District (ESWD) is being inundated with issues to address.
Orcas Family Health Center would like to thank everyone who participated in our Dinner Winner Sweepstakes. We appreciate all the community members who gave us support as we use these treasured funds to assist in providing medical care for those who are unable to provide for themselves and for our new X-ray facility.
We have two great people I know personally who are running for the County Council seat for Orcas West. I am happy that the hard work that all of us (former) freeholders did in restructuring our county government has lead to the kind of candidates who are running.
I have already spoken with John Kulseth and Alan Lichter regarding my property valuation for 2009, which increased by $100,000, or nearly 40 percent. Obviously, economic times are tough for us all. I own a small yarn store on Orcas Island and business is down. I can barely pay my rent, nor all of my other expenses, and every month I fight to get my mortgage payment in on time. I cannot afford gas for my car, I cannot afford to go off-island for groceries (but I cannot afford to buy them here, either). I grow what vegetables I can, and we make do as best we can.
Hi. It does not sound like the school board has a complete picture of the damage that would be done by closing the skatepark.
I am so sorry to have to say goodbye to you.
There are some factual matters and a few points of view that might be carefully considered regarding the franchise for a water line from Crow Valley.
Re: “Land Bank acquires Judd Cove property, Sounder September 3, 2008.”
Please complete the “Ticketing Ordinance” as soon as possible. I am among the many citizens of San Juan County who are outraged by the clear-cutting of old-growth trees near Moran State Park.
There have been rumors flying around that the Constitution Seminar in Friday Harbor on Saturday, Oct. 18, from 8:30 in the morning to 4:30 p.m., is Republican propaganda. While the Republican Party is flattered that people would think the Republicans were responsible for the studying of the Constitution, I must confess that the San Juan County Republican party has done nothing more than volunteer to sponsor five student scholarships to the seminar which is being put on by the Friday Harbor American Legion Auxillary.
Thanks to a wide variety of generous donors and conscientious users, the new Eastsound Off-Leash Dog Area is seeing a lot of use and well on its way to meeting the mission to provide a place for dogs to exercise and socialize and for their owners to do a bit of the same!
By state law, each county is required to control the spread of noxious weeds; invasive and/or dangerous plants which threaten animal, humans, and native plant communities. In the six years since the Noxious Weed control Board has been functioning under this mandate, the two hard-working staff members have provided many services to our citizenry. These have included free land surveys to identify noxious weeds, advice based on research to show best how to eliminate those weeds non-toxically, public educational events to help indicate which plants are “good” and which one should NOT be put in our gardens. They themselves have done a tremendous amount of cutting, chopping, and pulling harmful plants.
An open letter to the County Council
The Islands Sounder recently reported that there are plans formulating to close the Orcas Island skatepark because it does not “benefit the local kids.” I can hardly believe that such an inadequate reasoning is being cited. In San Juan County over the past ten years the Orcas Island skatepark is one of the only successful community projects funded and approved to benefit primarily the younger generation. The islands have agreed to multiple other community undertakings for seniors and middle-agers, but the Orcas Park represents a real triumph for the kids, an acknowledgment that the new generation is important in our community.
On Orcas Island, we are fortunate to have recently acquired two outdoor attractions for our pleasure that also bring visitors to the island –Turtleback Mountain Natural Preserve and a world-class skatepark.
Over the past year, I have been helping Woody Van Valkenburgh, his wife Nancy, sister Blaire, and brother-in-law Bob (collectively known as RHBR, LLC) wade through the myriad of regulations and permits necessary to proceed with a nine lot plat on 80 acres on Dolphin Bay Rd. The first part of this long process is now before the County Council for a request to locate a waterline within the public right-of-way along McNallie Ln. and Dolphin Bay Rd.
The understatement of the year may have been Fire Commissioner Jim Coffin’s when he said last January that they “would probably take a lot of heat” for assigning and funding the assistant battalion chief at $90,000 a year salary plus benefits. Since then, many in the public and in the department have protested the procedures and policies of the Orcas Island Fire Department, as witnessed by two petitions circulated in the community in February and March.
What a heart Orcas has!
On Sept. 16, Barbara Kline and I went to testify before the Legislative Joint Task Force for Basic Education Finance.
I’m just back from South Texas and as is always the case when I find myself working on a disaster response, I wonder how our own community will fare when it’s our turn.
As Jeffri and I expanded Crow Valley Pottery in early 2007, from our long-time, solo-location at the Cabin in the valley, to our second shop in the heart of Eastsound, our perspective – on Orcas as a whole and Eastsound in specific – changed. As expected, the new location brought many great new things ... a warm and dry year-round location, increased shop traffic and the opportunity to expand our offerings. But what we really did not expect to find was perhaps a clearer reality of life on Orcas Island. Maybe we were a bit insulated out at the Cabin (we were) and perhaps we really did not want to acknowledge some of the changing realities of Orcas (also true). But one thing is for sure ... our eyes were opened wider recently when a group of Orcas teenage girls were caught in the middle of a shoplifting spree. They had victimized numerous shops in Eastsound, including ours. And I’m told that some of their haul was quite substantial (not that it should matter).
As a builder, I work with people every day who want to enjoy their property without causing harm to the natural beauty of the islands. As a long-term resident of the San Juans, I feel the same way. Unfortunately, I have found that often the laws and programs designed to protect the environment actually make it harder for people to do the right thing.
The national election and the financial market crisis have focused our attention on the political process and the importance of our vote as never before. It is a good development that more of us than ever feel we have a personal stake in government, law and policies.