Letters to Editor
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Wednesday, November 30th
Gov. Petitions To Allow Medical Use Of Pot
OLYMPIA ~ Gov. Chris Gregoire today announced she filed a petition with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration asking the agency to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule 2 drug, which will allow its use for treatment -prescribed by doctors and filled by pharmacists. Gov. Lincoln Chafee (I-RI) also signed the petition.
Tuesday, November 29th
Council Sets Tax Levies
The County Council held five public hearings Tuesday on the setting of the Property Tax Levy for numerous programs. The levies set were:
* the Property Tax Levy for Current Expense for 2012
* Property Tax Levy for Land Conservation Futures for 2012
* Property Tax Levy for County Roads for 2012
* an Ordinance Setting Certain Fees and Charges for 2012
* an Ordinance of San Juan County, Washington, Adopting an Annual Budget for the Year 2012 and Setting Forth the Estimated Revenues and Appropriations
As to what they are they, and why did the Council hold public hearings on them, County Administrator Pete Rose explained in a staff report to the Council:
Major Public Meeting Thursday
David Moseley, head of the WSF system, and members of his management team, will make a presentation Thursday Dec. 1 from 5:30-7:00 PM at the County Council Chambers, 55 2nd Street in Friday Harboron state and local ferry issues.
This meeting is intended for both the San Juans and Anacortes, and it and a video will be streamed live from the county website, ( http://sanjuanco.com/council/video.aspx#mode.live ); with opportunity for questions and feedback, either in person or via email for those watching the video.
Friday, November 25th
Comment Wanted On The “Voluntary Agricultural Stewardship Program”
San Juan County and the ESHB 1886 “Voluntary Agricultural Stewardship Program”
San Juan County is currently deciding whether to participate in or opt-out of the State’s Voluntary Agricultural Stewardship Program (VSP) that was developed as part of ESHB 1886.
The County Council will accept public testimony at a meeting on Tuesday, December 13, 2011 in the Legislative Hearing Room (55 Second Street, Friday Harbor). Council action on this matter is scheduled for public hearing on January 10, 2012.
Workshop On Understanding Financial Statement
Reading your business’s financial statements -or those of a potential investment- can be daunting. Join noted speaker and financial advisor, Cathy Cavanagh, CPA, as she explores what you need to know in order to run your business better and to make well-informed investment decisions.
Presented by the San Juan County Economic Development Council on Tuesday, November 29, from 9 to 11 a.m. in the San Juan Island Library community room.
Wednesday, November 23rd
A Celebration Of Family
(L to R: Josephine Rylie Rosalie Jensen, Sara, Thor & Henry -David Newsom photo)
National Adoption Day took place this month, and what better way to acknowledge it then hold an adoption proceeding. Legal adoptions normally take place in a private proceeding closed to the general public and press, but Sara and Thor Jensen saw it as not so much as a legal process, but rather an opportunity to share, honor and celebrate the formal adoption of a new member of their family -a sister for their son Henry Jensen.
Tuesday, November 22nd
-- Guest Column --
Time To Review Priorities
By Nick & Sara Jones
The issue we are objecting to is whether or not it is reasonable to demand that farm-stands come up to commercial code.
The price of the permit is irrelevant if compliance with the permit is going to cost $20-30,000(contractor friends came up with this estimate).
Soroptimist Women’s Opportunity Award
December 1st is the final day for applications to be accepted for the Soroptimist Women’s Opportunity Award to apply for the Friday Harbor Award of $5000. and NW regional award of an additional $3000.
Given annually by Soroptimist of Friday Harbor the award is intended to help “head of household” women who are enrolled in or accepted to an undergraduate degree program or a vocational skills program.
Monday, November 21st
-- Guest Column --
A Charter Proposal
By Sam Buck II
My big concern is for the people of the San Juan Islands: working people, retired people and the preservation of all the life styles on all the islands. We have assets: 16,769 people, a wonderful population of very well educated, very capable and responsible individuals of all walks of life - from cabins to castles - who love the land, waters, and peace and tranquility of the islands.
Saturday, November 19th
Sheriff Deputies & Detective Honored
(Sheriff Nou (center) with LtoR: Dep. Menjivar & Ashe r-SJC Sheriff photo)
Detective Brent Johnson (photo left) received a plaque from the Sheriff’s office "in recognition of the outstanding work he did on the Arson / Homicide case this year". Detective Johnson was the lead investigator in the Hammel murder case.
Dep. Jeff Asher and Dep. Felix Menjivar received awards from Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission for " Marine Law Enforcement Lifesaving."
Friday, November 18th
County Action Against Lopez Farm-Stand
Nick and Sara Jones report the County has effectively closed down their award winning farm-stand on Lopez (Jones Family Farm) due because the building does not have a Provisional Use permit, or a building permit.
Jones said after "two and a half years of operation the San Juan County CD&P (Community Development & Planning has determined that we are operating our farm-stand 'without the benefit of a permit'”.
The Jones family states they "had believed up to this point, and as previous planning department officials had informed us," that as a farm-stand they were exempt from codes for commercial buildings.
Thursday, November 17th
“Forts” Are Allowed At American Camp
Steve Gibbons, the Acting Superintendent of the San Juan Island National Historical Park, was interviewed by The Island Guardian recently about complaints that at least one of the Park Rangers has been heavy-handed (including hand on weapon) in a number of contacts with visitors to the park related to dogs not on a leash. (see related story below : “Dog off leash..”)
One of the other complaints against Barry Lewis, a new Ranger recently assigned to San Juan County, is the enforcement of rules that prohibit “disturbing from its natural state…plants or the parts or products thereof,” to mean that kids making “forts” out of driftwood are breaking the law.
Wednesday, November 16th
Dog Off-Leash Trial Ends With Small Fine
When San Juan Island resident Karl Muller let one of his dogs walk at American Camp without a leash, he was warned by the Park Ranger to keep his dogs on a leash.
A few days later Muller came back to the park, found a secluded location away from the beach, leashed one of his dogs, but let the smaller older one walk along side. Park Ranger shows up, Muller takes offense to the Rangers handling of the incident, argues with the Ranger, cops an attitude of his own, and ends up arrested and in hand cuffs.
Tuesday, November 15th
Citizens’ Salary Commission Grants 3% COLA To Some, But No Salary Increases
The Citizens’ Salary Commission (Commission) sets the compensation of elected officials, and on Tuesday, (11-15-11) they took up the issue of cost of living adjustments (COLA) for 2012, and authorized a 3% COLA for the (elected) Auditor; Assessor; Clerk (of the Court), and the Treasure. Other elected officials will not receive an increase, and they left the base salaries for all elected officials the same as they have been since 2006.
Monday, November 14th
Take The Ferry Rider Survey On Ferry Fares
We know a lot of folks have an opinion or two on how to improve the ferry system. The Washington State Ferry system has some good news: ferry riders are being asked for their ideas in a survey about how Washington State Ferries could change customer’s methods of paying fares to better integrate the system with highways and transit, while improving the customer experience.
Saturday, November 12th
Man Disappears Before Boat Race, Found Drowned Near Boat
At approximately 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, divers located a missing person, Donald J Mierzeske, 42, of Bellingham, deceased on the bottom of the Blakely marina near his sailboat.
The Sheriff’s Office had conducted a search for the Bellingham sailboat captain when he went missing early Saturday morning on Blakely Island. The 35 foot sailboat was moored at the Blakely marina in anticipation of a racing event that was to begin on Saturday.
The captain was reportedly last seen around 12:30 a.m. walking on the dock back towards the boat. Deputies searched the marina and surrounding area without success and the dive team was called after daybreak to conduct a search in the water.
Deputies are investigating events and circumstances leading up to the man’s death.
Friday, November 11th
Veteran’s Day 11-11-11
A day to be thankful, a day to remember, a day to say thank you to all those who have served, for each veteran represents all who have served, and all who gave their lives in the service of our country.
Thursday, November 10th
Town Hall Meeting Saturday
A second Town Hall event will be held from 9:00am to Noon, Saturday (11-12-11) in the FH Middle School Commons to discuss the reviewing and updating of the Shoreline Management Program ("SMP"); which is a part of the overall review and revisions of the Critical Areas Ordinance (“CAO”) regulations for SJ County.
Visual Artist Registry Is Online
The Island Museum of Art & Sculpture Park (IMA) is pleased to announce that their online Visual Artist Registry is now a reality. This registry is a generous resource extended to the visual artist community to highlight the artists living on the islands and promote the diverse artworks created by them.
Tuesday, November 8th
Voters Dump New Parcel Fee For Solid Waste In Landslide Vote
The Land Bank issue is too close to call, with 51.24 % voting for an early Land Bank renewal.
Solid Waste fails big time with 69.51% against a new parcel fee to fund solid waste program, which means some form of "Plan B" will now have to be finalized -Related Story.
Both measures have one thing in common, both were not necessary. The Land Bank is not required to be renewed at this time, and based on the original discussions held by the County Council, they had intended to impose the new solid waste parcel fee, as provided by law, without a vote of the citizens.
Council Budget Discussions Tuesday
The 2011 third quarter budget report has been released, and is sub-tiled “Many Worries About Future.” That means there is, again, still, less money available to fund the many county programs and departments to provide the services the public has come to expect.
The good news is the “20,000 foot over-view indicates that things are all right;” and as required by law, the budget is balanced. The report can be accessed by clicking HERE (large 848\k pdf file)
Council Looks To New Fee Increases
The County Council will once again take a look at raising construction and park fees as a way to increase revenue.
Presumably the view is the public will not be deterred from submitting building permits simply because of the expense. Not a model that works in the private sector very well, but at least when it comes to building and development permits, it is not a matter of personal choice (or at least it is not suppose to be), it is a legal requirement. CD&PD Fee Changes (pdf 1052\k file)
As for the use parks, that may or may not have a negative impact on use, which would affect the bottom line. The question always is, will an increase in fees provide more money, or will it mean less people will use the parks? The report from Parks that will be the subject of discussion on Tuesday indicates the increases are slight, and the parks run at a 100% occupancy rate in the summer, so there may well be an increase in revenue. Parks Fee Changes (pdf 331\k file).
Monday, November 7th
Departments Present Budget Request On Monday
The Council has scheduled a special meeting on Monday (11-07-11) to receive budget report, and request, from county departments.
Money is always a problem, and this year was different from the norm only in that there is even less money to spread around than in the past, and now the Governor has announced even more state cuts to counties as the state struggles with their budget shortfall. (see related story below)
Sunday, November 6th
State Budget Reduction Alternatives Means New County Cuts May Follow
(File photo) Gov. Chris Gregoire has presented a list of new budget reduction alternatives to address a $2 billion state budget gap. In a letter (pdf 100\k file) to the Washington State Legislature, she pointed out: "We will need at least that much to balance the budget and maintain a reserve."
The list includes deep cuts in areas of the budget that many voters hold as the most important services government provides. A quick read brings two surprises: The proposed elimination of 50 percent of the state liquor profits that is now shared with counties, and an almost absence of direct reductions to the DOE (Department of Ecology). What does get hit, and hit hard are programs in education; health; public safety; social and human services; employee compensation; and natural resource programs.
Saturday, November 5th
Farewell To SJISD Board Members - New Levy Request In The Works
( L to R: Superintendent Thompson; Boyd Pratt; Heidi Lopez and David McCauley -IG photo)
A reception was held to thank & honor school board members Boyd Pratt, Heidi Lopez and David McCauley last Wednesday (10-26-11) in the FHH School library. The event recognized "their individual service on the board and for their collective insight and instruction on how to steer the school district through difficult economic waters."
Speaking of rough economic waters, the Board did accept a committee recommendation for a capital and technology levy to replace the last levy.
Friday, November 4th
"They Represent You" Contact Info Available
( L to R:Diane Martindale; Doris Schaller; Marty Huleatte; Carlys Allen. -LWV photo)
The local chapter of the League of Women Voters has produced a flyer for public distribution called They Represent You or the "TRY". The "TRY" contains names and contact information of elected officials pertinent to San Juan County residents, from the President of the United States, federal congressional members, state congressional members to local elected officials.
Wednesday, November 2nd
Hammel Pleads Guilty To All Charges: Both Juvenile & Adult Trials On Same Day
(Hammel [left] fingerprinted as Judge Eaton confers with court staff- IG photo)
(UPDATED 11-03-11; 6:30 A.M.) Taylor D. Hammel pleaded guilty in San Juan County Court on Tuesday to first degree murder of his mother, and first degree arson for attempting to hide the crime by setting fire to the house. He also waived all rights to appeals.
He was sentence by Judge Don E. Eaton to juvenile detention until he turns 21 -the maximum term allowed by law, and then and additional 31 months in adult prison.
The sentencing was agreed to by both the prosecution and the defense, and then recommended to the Court as the appropriate sentencing, in part because of the nature of the crime, and because it will provide the maximum amount of counseling and rehabilitation to take place in the juvenile system.
No Good News On State Budget
State Representative Kristine Lytton came to the Council meeting on Tuesday to discuss the state budget, and warned the council that major cuts will be made, that the cuts will have an impact on the programs and state support for local programs that we have come to expect and consider important to our communities.
Lytton said the State has to make at least $2 billion in cuts to the budget, that the cuts will be deep, and those programs that are “low hanging fruit” have already been picked.
Lytton had been presented with a copy of the current set of 16 priorities the council had drafted up, and she seemed aghast at the number, informing the council she needed only to know what their top two priorities were; and what suggestions the council may have that she could take back to Olympia for the special budget session that has been called by the Governor.
The council members were not prepared for offering up only one, or two at the most, priorities they could agree on. Chair Lovel Pratt noted that ferry related issues had been and still is one of their top priorities.
Council members Patty Miller and Richard Fralick suggested that it would be helpful if the State did not send anymore unfunded mandates to the County. Fralick said “We are on the receiving end of state requests, but not on the receiving end to pay for the costs.”
Lytton is a no-nonsense sort of person, and said she needed specific examples to take back to the Governor. It was suggested that some changes in how quickly the County had to respond to requests for documents would be helpful, but Lytton fired back “we need to keep transparency in government.”
A light moment came when Lytton was asked if there was anything they, as a council, could do to help her in the upcoming special meeting of budget cuts, and Lytton responded with a firm and resounding “No;” indicating, perhaps, that she already had too much “help” and advice from elected officials who did not want their programs cut.
Public Hearing Coming Up On Wetlands
The San Juan County Planning Commission will conduct a public hearing November 10th on an
ordinance amending the Wetland Critical Area provisions of Critical Area Ordinance (CAO) of the San Juan County Code. These amendments are proposed to fulfill the periodic update requirements of RCW 36.70A.130.
Tuesday, November 1st
Supreme Court Rules For County & The Island Guardian Against George Johnson
(George Johnson -voters pamphlet photo)
Former county employee, and a current candidate for office, George Johnson has lost his last appeal in an attempted to keep 17 pages of documents from being released to The Island Guardian.
The pages in question are part of a request of documents that Johnson had requested from the county as part of his $1 million dollar “whistleblower” law suit against the County, but when The Island Guardian asked the County for access to the same documents Johnson had requested, Johnson filed suit in Superior Court seeking an injunction to prevent the release, but was turned down by the Court.
-- Guest Column --
By Ed Kilduff
Quangos may sound like a strange kind of endangered species, but they are a political animal. From my perspective, we have a quango management problem in the County, and I hope it can be effectively and dispassionately addressed in the upcoming charter review.
“Quango” is primarily a British term that originally stood for “quasi-non-governmental organization.”
Community Support For Student Nurse Program
(L to R: Bottom Row, Sarah Clark, Roxanne Borman, Sofya Prewitt, Ciara Jimenez, Sophia Treleven, Chandra Crawford. Top Row, Blythe Parker, Nancy Wilson, Dylan Demaris, Nelson Wynn, Mindy Brandli, Levin Demaris, James Bryner, RN (instructor) Not shown: Elizabeth Taylor, Cheryl Bryner(volunteer assistant instructor) -Convalescent Center photo)
Friday Harbor High School has recently started another class for Nurses’ Assistants. This class is especially notable in its breadth of support.
Partners include Aaron Marson at the Life Care Centers of America (the convalescent center), Charlie Anderson of the San Juan Island Community Foundation, and Jim Barnhart of PeaceHealth and Peace Island Hospitals.
Financing Seminar For Businesses Presented By EDC
Learn about a variety of business financing options available from traditional and alternative agencies and lenders, during a Business Financing Seminar presented by the San Juan County Economic Development Council. The event will be held at the Mullis Street Fire Hall, 1011 Mullis Street, Friday Harbor, on Monday, November 7, from 9-11 a.m.