Letters to Editor
To Contact the Editor
Friday, December 31st
Close Call On Orcas
(Orcas Fire & Rescue photo)
Gildardo Becorra, 36 years old, is being treated for serious multiple injuries after what could have been a fatal single vehicle accident Wednesday night on Orcas.
Mr. Becorra was trapped on the ground, face down in the mud, in what was left of his minivan after it left Crow Valley Road, rolled over and hit at least one tree.
2011: New Approach On Environmental Policy Would Be A Good Thing
By Todd Myers
After years of failed top-down approaches, it is time for a fresh start for environmental policy in Washington.
It is time for a fresh start that places environmental sustainability over the fashionable-but-ineffective approach of the past decade.
Thursday, December 30th
What The? Snow, Sun, & Ice
Walking or driving this morning, be careful: Ice. We had it all on Wednesday in San Juan County, starting with a clear sky to a full on snow storm, (loss of power just in time for lunch) then some hail, followed by blazing sun, to slush and mud.
And then Thursday early morning it all froze, making driving -and even walking- something to think about, not just do.
As for the rest of the week on into the weekend, those weather experts tell us sun and some rain. But then again, they also said maybe we would have only some light rain yesterday.
Wednesday, December 29th
A Call For Action On Solid Waste Problem
A number of "concerned Lopezians" have sent a letter to the County Council, the SJC Administrator and the Auditor, suggesting "some drastic actions will help" to address the problems of the county solid waste program. One recommendation: move management to the SJC Health & Community Services.
The letter was submitted by a former SJC politician, a manager, an employee, and a current member of the SWAC and an Executive Director of past and current non-profits in SJC.
The letter to the County was also sent out as a press release:
Tuesday, December 28th
Get Ready: WSF New Fees & Less Service
The January 2011 Monthly Pass is now available for purchase at tollbooths, kiosks, retail outlets, and online at: Wave2Go
As for the Holiday Schedule, on Saturday: Jan. 1 the Anacortes/San Juan Islands route will operate on a normal weekend schedule. On Friday, Dec. 31, this route will operate on a regular weekday schedule. Check WSF website for Schedule Details by clicking HERE (or the ferry logo upper left top of this page)
Monday, December 27th
Water & Land Conservation Projects Wanted
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is seeking proposals for projects that will bring partners together to help farmers, ranchers and private nonindustrial forest landowners implement beneficial water and land conservation practices.
The requirements for submitting project proposals for the Agricultural Water Enhancement Program (AWEP) and the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI) can be viewed at wwwregulations.gov..
Saturday, December 25th
Free Christmas Tree Chipping Service
SJC Public Works Department is sponsoring a Christmas tree collection program this year. Trees will be chipped for mulch for use at a public project and not sent to a landfill. Help us reduce the volume of holiday trash by bringing your CLEAN, UNDECORATED natural trees (no flocked or artificial trees) to your island's solid waste facility during regular open hours.
Friday, December 24th
Full Reverse! AG Changes Course On WSF Fee Increases
How are scientific and legal opinions the same? The answer depends on the three “W”s: the What, When and Who, you ask. Within days of each other two memos from the state AG’s (Attorney General) office were sent out, the first stated WSF could not raise fees without legislative approval, and then later this week the Associated Press reported that a new memo from the AG states WSF can increase them; or at least some of them.
Some of them in this context means all of the ones that pertain to the, yes, the San Juan County runs: The 2.5 percent increase + 2%, and the no discount for early-week-day-of-week tickets.
The mainland press is calling this a victory for the governor, and a set-back for Tim Eyman. The reasoning in the second AG opinion is reported to be that because the proposed fee increases were approved prior to the voter passed I-1053, the hikes can go forward for the San Juan runs. Merry Christmas!
Thursday, December 23rd
Petitions Okay On Ferries
The San Juan Islands Ferry Group (FG) reports it is legal to collect signatures on WSF (Washington State Ferry) boats, but there are rules and location requirements.
According to a posting on their webpage, the problem came up when a Bremerton ferry crew member said signatures could only be collected if prior permission was obtained from WSF.
Wednesday, December 22nd
$75K To Woman Who Refused Entry To Officers
The insurance risk pool that San Juan County belongs to has once again done the math and decided it is cheaper to pay off a claim then fight it. The action will cost the insurance pool $65 thousand, plus the County a $10 thousand deductible payment.
Tuesday, December 21st
No Ferry Fare Increases Without Legislative Approval
The Wa STC (State Transportation Commission) has received a legal setback in their attempt to ignore Initiative 1053 and raise ferry fees .
Initiative 1053 was approved by the voters to reinstate a two-thirds vote on tax increases proposed by the Legislature.
Monday, December 20th
$1 Million “Whistleblower” Claim Filed
George Johnson, former Information Services Manager for San Juan County, (and husband of SJC Auditor Milene Henley) filed a Claim on Thursday at the Auditor’s office for $1 million dollars, claiming he was fired for being a “whistleblower.”
Johnson’s position was eliminated in September of this year when the computer and web Information services for the County, and PW’s (Public Work) GIS (Geographic information systems Information Services were reorganized and added to the responsibilities of David Kelly, the Deputy Director of Administration (with the resulting reduction in staff of one manager).
Sunday, December 19th
Local Farm Wins State Award
(SJI Conservation District photo)
Mitchell Bay Farm on San Juan Island has received the “Vim Wright Stewardship Award’” from the Office of Farming and the Environment.
Farm and Forest Planner, Bruce Gregory and his wife, Colleen Howe are one of three recipients of the annual award to recognize those who promote the environmental stewardship of the state's working agricultural landscape in Washington state.
Saturday, December 18th
Orcas: Are We Loving Them To Death?
By Berit Anderson:
Washington State’s lucrative whale-watching industry is partly responsible for a sharp decline in the Puget Sound’s Southern Resident Orca Whale population, according to a 3-part investigative series recently released by Seattle television news station Q13 Fox. Since 1998 48 members of the Southern Resident population have gone missing or died.
Friday, December 17th
BC & Local Governments Call For Cross-Border Action On Oil Spill Risks
(Fred Fellerman photo)
VICTORIA - The Islands Trust and San Juan County Councils are asking their respective federal governments to begin working together immediately to improve oil spill protection for the Salish Sea, the inland sea that includes Washington’s Puget Sound and British Columbia’s Georgia Strait.
Randi Dooley-Park Resigns - Hospital Board Seat Vacant
San Juan County Public Hospital Commissioner Dooley-Park receiving a plaque of appreciation for her work with the San Juan County Public Hospital District #1 Board. Commissioner Dooley-Park will retire at the end of December; which will leave the Hospital District’s Seat #1 vacant on January 1, 2011.
The District will be accepting letters of interest for the commissioner vacancy.
SJI EMS & Island Air Partner For Air Ambulance Service
Beginning in 2011, there will no longer be any out of pocket costs -the patient’s available insurance will continue to be billed- to the residents of the San Juan County Hospital District for air medical transport when transported aboard Island Air Ambulance’s fixed wing aircraft.
San Juan Island EMS has partnered with Island Air to provide Island Air Ambulance since 2007. In these past three years, Island Air Ambulance has become a FAA and State of Washington verified air medical service capable of transporting advanced life support patients to the mainland.
Thursday, December 16th
Official Release On State Budget
Gregoire’s office has release the official statement and explanation on her proposed 2011-13 budget that will “transform state government” (see related story on the ferry impacts):
(Press Release) - "Gov. Chris Gregoire today proposed a balanced 2011-13 budget containing necessary cuts while transforming the way Washington provides essential services to the public.
The governor’s budget addresses a $4.6 billion shortfall created by dropping revenue due to the national recession affecting virtually every state across the country, and rising costs to provide basic services such as kindergarten-through-12th grade education and health care.
“The budget I am proposing for the 2011-13 biennium is not a budget I ever expected to see in the state of Washington, and the choices it reflects are the most difficult ones I’ve ever faced,” Gregoire said. “The reality of this recession is that it has dismantled many of the programs that I, and millions of others in the state, value. In any other time I would not sign this budget. It’s difficult to support something that goes against all we have accomplished over the past six years. But these are the circumstances we find ourselves in, and we have been left with few options.”
Deep cuts are made across all areas of state government. The most significant of these include:
• Elimination of the Basic Health Plan, which now offers subsidized health insurance to 66,000 low-income individuals. This saves $230 million in state funds and $117 million in federal funds.
• Elimination of the Disability Lifeline grant for the temporarily unemployable, which serves 28,000 individuals each month, and the Disability Lifeline Medical Program, which serves 21,000 clients each year who have a temporary disability and are unable to work. This saves $327 million.
• Suspension of the Student Achievement Program under Initiative 728, which provides smaller class sizes, extended learning time for students and professional development for teachers. This saves $860 million.
• Suspension of employee salary increases under Initiative 732 for K-12 and higher education teachers and other employees. This saves $280 million.
• Elimination of K-4 class-size reduction funds provided to school districts that exceed the state’s basic education allocation. This saves $216 million.
• Reduction of 3 percent in compensation for state employees. This saves $176 million in state funds and $269 million in all funds.
• Elimination of state general fund dollars for State Parks. This saves $47 million.
• Closing McNeil Island Corrections Center by April 2011. This saves $17.6 million.
“The safety net will be stretched thin in some places and eliminated entirely in others,” Gregoire said. “For the functions that government no longer will be able to provide, we must turn to neighbors, private charities, faith-based organizations and other local programs. Our communities, more than ever, will be asked to step up.”
The budget addresses the shortfall through approximately $3 billion in cuts and $1.1 billion in savings by suspending Initiatives 728 and 732. The balance of the solution is achieved through pension reforms, fund transfers and use of the state’s rainy day fund.
The governor’s budget requires that government services that benefit a relatively small number of people and businesses, like processing permit applications, be paid for by the beneficiary and not the general public. The budget also requires state agencies to deliver important state services at a lower cost. This includes charging higher fees to visit state parks, obtain fishing and hunting licenses, process water rights applications and license adult family homes. Many actions taken by the governor were advanced by her Transforming Washington’s Budget Committee, a group of business, nonprofit and government leaders asked to provide input on how to fundamentally change how the state provides services.
“We must not only cut, we must restructure, modernize, prioritize and position our state as a 21st century government,” Gregoire said. “It’s not just about this crisis -it’s about setting our state on a trajectory that ensures a strong financial foundation for our kids and grandkids. This is a budget that builds the platform for better service and recovery in the years to come.”
The governor announced additional transformative reforms earlier in the week, including plans for controlling costs in pensions and health care as well as consolidating central service, natural resource and civil rights offices and agencies. Additional reforms will be announced in early January.
Wednesday, December 15th
San Juan Preservation Trust Acquires Vendovi Island
The San Juan Preservation Trust, a non-profit land trust based in the San Juan Islands of Washington State, announced today that it has successfully purchased Vendovi Island, the third largest island under single private ownership in the entire San Juan archipelago. This acquisition ensures that this 217-acre island will remain permanently protected from development.
Gov Budget Cuts Will Be Felt Here With Less Ferry Service
Last night David Moseley told the 30 some folks who showed up for a public meeting that the budget cuts by the governor's proposed budget were expected to affect service levels for WSF (Washington State Ferry) system. The budget has been released, and it appears he was correct; big time
Gov. To Announce Budget Today
Gov. Gregoire is expected to announce her new budget today, and due to a $4.6 billion shortfall it is expected to have massive cuts and shifting of money from some departments to others, on Tuesday she gave a preview of what is to come by announcing her plan to consolidate state agencies, eliminate boards and commissions.
Solid Waste Running In The Red $15 to $20K A Month
(County Council & Council Elect discuss solid waste problem)
The CC (County Council), Jon Shannon of PW (Public Works) and SJC Auditor Milene Henley sat down on Tuesday to discuss issues related to the County solid waste division of PW, and Chairman Richard Fralick was severely tested to keep the discussion on the agenda.
Things got off to a rough start as Henley once again tore into the Council ( Related Story) for failing to take serious and meaningful action to stop running the solid waste program in the red, and said if something is not done about it soon, she will stop signing checks to bail out the system when there is no money in the system to pay the bills.
VALMARK Accepts Community Safety Partner Award
(A few of the Valmark crew accepts award for all -SJI EMS photo)
Lainey Volk, Prevention Officer for San Juan Island EMS, presented the Safety Committee of VALMARK (King’s Market, Market Place, King’s Video, King’s Marine Center) with a certificate for their partnership in Community Safety.
Tuesday, December 14th
How To Get Flashbanged
The Puget Sound-area Coast Guard (CG) is getting serious about keeping boaters away from security zones, so If boaters see or hear a flashbang round, they should slow down, establish voice communication with the Coast Guard Patrol Commander on VHF channel 16 and follow the direction of the CG.
In The Christmas Sprit - Fundraising For An Injured Vet
(In the Christmas spirit at the American Legion -M. Knych photo)
By Minnie Knych
The cold and constant rain couldn’t dampen the Christmas spirit at Post 163 last Saturday night when members and their guest gathered for the Christmas Party that served as a fundraiser for LCPL Christopher Billmyer, who lost both legs in an IED attack in Afghanistan last October. Links
-- Guest Column --
Friday Harbor Is not Utopia Or OZ
By Harold Wilson
I have followed, with great interest, the debate and professed local outrage at the idea of bringing a Subway restaurant to Friday Harbor, most recently the discussion by the Town Council as to what could be regulated.
Various petitions have been circulated attempting to stop the opening of a Subway franchise. I would like to commend the Council for reaching an informed conclusion. They can regulate what the outside of the business looks like. They cannot simply ban the business.
Monday, December 13th
WSF Staff Coming To FH -& Soon The Chetzemoka Too?
(The Chetzemoka -WSF photo)
A series of community meetings throughout Puget Sound has begun to discuss ferry issues, and on Tuesday the good folks from WSG will be in Friday Harbor to conduct a public meeting.
WSF is in the spot light for not producing internal records on an accident (Related Story), and while that is not on the table for discussion, one topic that may come up is the new plan for budget cuts that may send the Chetzemoka to San Juan County.
Unless the WSF (Washington State Ferry) system can come up with a larger budget, and that seems a little unlikely, The Chetzemoka is now expected to be sent to serve SJC.
Sunday, December 12th
This Year’s Flu Vaccine Said To Be “An Excellent Match”
“Flu season normally begins at the end of December and peaks in February and March,” said County Health Officer Frank James, M.D. James pointed out that because families gather during the holidays, the disease can spread very quickly between very young and older family members.
Saturday, December 11th
Another New Baby Orca...But Where Is The Mom?
(All photos contributed by TCWR)
The Center for Whale Research (Center) informed The Island Guardian the Center has reported the sighting on Monday of a new orca in L-pond . The calf was seen with L-5, who is believed to be 45years-old, and unlikely to be the mother of the calf. There were approximately 40 individuals in the pod, but the likely mother was not identified.
Click below for more photos from the Center
Friday, December 10th
Bahrych Receives Federal Award
Lynn Bahrych, Commissioner, from the Washington State Conservation Commission recently received a “Legacy of Conservation Award” from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
Ms. Bahrych received the special award medal and certificate during the Washington Association of Conservation Districts’ annual meeting in Cle Elum for “Creating a Conservation Legacy through sustained, on-going efforts to protect and enhance natural resources on Washington’s working lands.”
Thursday, December 9th
Flooding In The Islands? It’s possible.
(Rain fall on the San Juan Islands)
By Brendan Cowan
As most of us noticed, the amount of rain that fell on Wednesday was remarkable. The figure below gives you a sense of 24 hour rainfall totals ending Wednesday night. That bright purple spot- that’s between 2-3 inches of rain that fell over the islands.
Susan Osborn Christmas Concert On Orcas
Susan Osborn and friends are presenting a musical celebration of Christmas and the winter season. These concerts have become a community tradition in the islands for more than than 20 years.
Joining Osborn this year will be Carolyn Cruso, hammer dulcimer, guitar, flute and vocals, and Ritambhara Tyson, cello and voice. Music included in these concerts will be traditional Christmas songs and original seasonal pieces.
Friday, Dec. 24: Victorian Valley Chapel, Orcas Island, 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Tickets $20; Children 12 and under, two for one (buy one ticket online for every two children), lap sitters free. Available online only; go to www.susanosborn.com and click on the link for “Brown Paper Tickets.”
For over 30 years, singer and songwriter Osborn has held the high ground of vocal artistry. Her voice has been described as powerful and rich with emotional expression. She was lead singer of the Paul Winter Consort between 1978 and 1985.
She has performed at the United Nations, the Berlin Wall, the Nagano Winter Olympics, the Global Forum in Kyoto and the Hague, and numerous memorial and peace ceremonies at Hiroshima and Post-9/11 New York.
For the past 20 years, Susan has made her career almost exclusively in Japan, receiving the prestigious Recordo Taisho, the Japanese Grammy.
Wednesday, December 8th
Council Removes Timing Restrictions On Land Use Changes
After a brief discussion on Tuesday, the County Council reversed themselves and removed all timing restrictions on how frequently changes to the Uniform Development Code (UDC) may be considered.
It all started back in 2005, when -some would argue- the desire by the County to put in barge landings ran afoul of the Comprehensive Plan (CP) and land use regulations (UDC) that stood in the way of developing Essential Public Facilities (EPF), and in particular the development of the LaFarge Beach on San Juan Island into a permanent barge landing; and a proposal to place/enlarge additional landings on some of the other islands.
Volunteer Opportunities On County Boards and Committees
The County Council is searching for San Juan County citizens to fill current and upcoming vacancies on various boards and committees. The following is a list of current vacancies:
SJI Ag Guild Selects Adam Eltinge As Brickworks Construction Manager
By Mark Madsen
The San Juan Islands Agricultural Guild is pleased to announce that Adam Eltinge will join the team as Construction Manager for the Brickworks Project.
Adam and his wife Deanna (Sundstrom) recently moved back to Friday Harbor to make their home and raise their two children.
Tuesday, December 7th
Agriculture Management Workshop
Thursday (12-09-10) 9:00am to 11:00 am: Nutrient Management for Farms Learn how to manage the amount, placement and timing of soil and plant nutrients to obtain optimal yields and minimize risks.
The San Juan County Economic Development Council will present the two hour workshop for small agriculture businesses and entrepreneurs on San Juan Island.
Whale Museum’s 2nd Annual “Black & White Night” Dinner Event
On Thursday, December 16, 2010, there will be a Delicious Dinner Event! The Whale Museum’s 2nd annual “Black and White Night” will be held at Friday Harbor House on San Juan Island. The unique dinner event will feature Chef Greg Atkinson, noted author and culinary instructor as well as former chef of the Friday Harbor House. Also featured is Kyle Nicholson, the Chef behind Friday Harbor House’s Bluff Restaurant.
Sunday, December 5th
“Formula Businesses” -A Bad Idea?
A plan to bring a Subway restaurant to Friday Harbor resulted in a discussion by the Town Council on the subject of “formula businesses,” which seems to be the umbrella over any business that as a condition of it’s operation has some level of standardized features that are identical to others of the same name.
Like, say the SUBWAY franchise restaurant; which has recently been proposed for Friday Harbor.
See St. David's Day School
The first two Mondays in December (Dec. 6 and 13), the staff of Saint David's Day School are inviting children (with or without their family members!) to come and spend part of their day at the school with our other children.
The Staff and Board of Saint David's Day School wants to thank all those in the community who have welcomed their involvement over the last couple school years, and especially the families who have shared their children with them.
Saturday, December 4th
Expect More Tourists In 2011?
Enthrall Marketing, a leading travel and destination marketing agency,has announced a strategic business arrangement with Seattle TravelGram to promote the travel and tourism industry, while delivering savings to Seattle area tourists and travelers.
Enthrall Marketing founder Nadra Angerman said they “can guide travelers in the direction of Seattle’s best-kept secrets while promoting business in the transportation, travel, destination and recreation industries.” One of those “best known secrets” is, of course, the San Juan Islands.
Friday, December 3rd
"Two Birds In The Bush, & I Counted 3 More..."
(IG file photo)
By Barbara Jensen
It is that time of year for the Christmas Bird Count. Make your calendar for Saturday, December 18th. We are getting the snow out of the way early this year so I am ordering calm, clear weather for that day. In any case, it will be a fund day. We also need bird feeder counters: This is an easy way to be involved. Count at your feeder or your property. It will only take a bit of time and you can monitor all day.
Gaylord Gets A Raise
(Gaylord makes his case for more money)
San Juan County PA (Prosecuting Attorney) Randy Gaylord has been granted a raise by the SJC Citizens Salary Commission.
Gaylord had previously asked for an increased based on a directive in the law that states the pay of a prosecuting attorney should be linked to that of a Superior Court Judge, but the last time the CSC met they granted the request, then Gaylord realized there was a procedural problem that resulted in the negation of the CSC’s decision. (related story)
On The Road Again..
(The last [?] road trip begins)
With a small crowd watching, the red building of many uses, was once again being moved, this time back to where it had once resided.
All About Agricuture: Fri On Orcas
The Agricultural Resources Committee of SJC (ARC) and WSU Extension of SJC are sponsoring a series of meetings about agriculture in SJC: Orcas : Friday, (12-3-10) 11:30 - 2 pm at the Orcas Firehall (potluck);farmers, producers, businesses who support local agriculture, and others interested in helping to advance and strengthen agriculture in SJC are invited.
Share your priorities, ideas and challenges related to farming in San Juan County. ARC will share information and get feedback about issues that they are currently working on, including the ARC's recent work on regulations to support direct sales of farm products, a new current use taxation program for farms, expansion of the locally grown marketing program, the small farm intern program, and a strategic planning project to identify long-term priorities for agriculture in SJC.
Thursday, December 2nd
Pay Increase Not Needed
(Miller & Stephens decline a need for a COLA)
The Citizens Salary Commission will meet Thursday, (12-2-10) to hear what is becoming an annual request by SJC Prosecuting Attorney for an “increase of County’s portion of his salary;” and will also discuss the current base pay for other elected officials, including the County Council. (Agenda)
Back With A Bite Sea Shepherd New Weapon In Whale Wars
(Sea Shepherd webpage photo)
an Juan Island's Paul Watson has a new boat to help locate, chase and get in the way of Japanese whaling boats in the waters near the south pole.
And while it is serious and potentially deadly business, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society had been able to retain a sense of humor and by naming their new boat after a Japanese monster of grade-B movie fame” The “Godzilla.”
The following is their report on the boat:
Wednesday, December 1st
Council Passes Budget, But Passes On Income Source
Citing a need to pass a balanced budget, even after adding new requests to it, the Council failed to add requested staffing to the Assessors office to increase revenue by assessing new construction, and taking action on tax cheaters in farm and timber “open space” programs. ( Related Story)
Public testimony is normally light at public hearings, in part due to the fact they are held in the middle of a work day, and perhaps in part because there is the feeling comments have little to no impact, but it was striking on Tuesday who showed up, and what was said.