Letters to Editor
To Contact the Editor
Sunday, April 29th
Too Afraid To Bicycle, So Drive Instead
I was dismayed to read in your recent news story, "What is the Driving Force On Road Design & Use" (or was it an editorial?):
“The problem for the current County Council is can they, will they, find a way to retain the country roads of the islands, while also providing walking paths and bicycle lanes for—let’s be honest here--primarily the tourists….”
So many responses spring to mind it’s hard to know where to begin.
You apparently don’t talk with the same people I do, many of whom yearn to ride their bicycles but fear for their lives on our narrow roads with speeding traffic (I’m one of them). Here we are, a lot of us just a few miles from town or wherever we need to go, but fear of traffic throws us back into our cars instead.
Many of our children would enjoy riding their bikes to school or elsewhere—which would give a lifetime boost to their health--but their parents are fearful of the traffic.
And walking! Think how many of us live within three miles of town, just one hour or less, and how many of us are retired and able to take that much time to get there. Or still working, but sufficiently concerned about our health that we would allot time to walk. But it’s no pleasure when you need to be constantly on the alert for cars and trucks.
Besides, enticing visitors to leave their cars on the mainland would lessen their impact on our roads, not to mention opening up spaces on the ferries. And if you’re a driver who’s annoyed by tourists on bicycles in your way, think how wonderful to get them off the road and onto a path.
Try thinking outside the (automobile) box and dream a bit about what life could be like with a hiking/biking trail available to you wherever you want to go.
There are 250 of your neighbors now on the San Juan Island Trails Committee email list. You might join them and see if there’s a way you can help. Check us out at www.sanjuanislandtrails.org.
Friday, April 27th
Thank You For Caring
Dear San Juan Islanders-
As most of you already know, the APS-FH is funded solely though the generosity of individuals and businesses who provide support for our efforts during the year in the form of monetary donations, goods and services, and overwhelming and heartwarming support for our fundraising efforts. Without this generosity the APS as we know it would cease to exist.
On behalf of the Board of Directors, the shelter staff, the volunteers and especially the animals in our temporary care, thank you once again for your support. The continuing coverage in the local media, the receipt of grant monies through the San Juan Island Community Foundation for Duncan’s Yard construction, the support for our efforts in Spay/Neuter and the Trap-Neuter-Return program all make a difference in the lives of our four-legged friends and companions.
Thank you for caring!
A Plea For Change
To the Editor:
The last few years have shown us that the county council is rivaled only by the US Senate in their inability or unwillingness to govern effectively for all their constituents. This November we have an opportunity to change that a bit. Patty Miller is running unopposed for Gene Knapp's seat. I have worked with Patty and found her to be very very accomplished. I don't know of anybody who is better at doing their homework. Lovel Pratt also does her homework and is not up for election this cycle. If the district two voters will be kind enough to replace Rich Peterson with Laura Jo Severson we will be in the position of having 50 % of the county council being accomplished motivated women. Then maybe we could get something done.
This has to be good for all of us.
Please elect Laura Jo Severson for County Council District 2.
District #2 SJI North
An open letter to John Evans
Mr. Evans, you owe a public apology to the family and friends of Ryan LoBue. In your recent editorial you stated that you do not recall any serious "events" involving car/bicycle accidents. Less than three years ago Ryan LoBue was killed by an automobile while riding his bike home from work. The accident occurred on Bailer Hill Road where there is about 6 inches of paved shoulder to the right of the white fog line. Ryan was a much-loved and well-known member of our community. His death was front-page news for weeks after the accident. His passing was a tragedy for his family and for the entire community.
Your lack of recall regarding this tragic event suggests that you are either out of touch with the community for not recalling the pain felt by most of us or prefer to only recall details that support your particular views. I hope that you are merely suffering a loss of memory. If you have dismissed Ryan's death because it was contrary to the view you espoused, that is a most callous stance.
Please acknowledge that our community has recently lost a loved and valued son to an accident on our "scenic roads". It honors Ryan's memory and gives us all hope that good will someday come from that tragedy.
(John Evans responds)
In rereading the piece that I wrote for the Guardian regarding the discussion on the Council about wider roads, it is clear that I should have originally referenced the accident on San Juan Island that took the life of Ryan LoBue three years ago. Ryan died after an automobile driven by Ms. Giovanni Drew struck the motorized bike Ryan was riding on the uphill climb on Bailer Hill Road. It was a tragedy for everyone connected with the accident.
Ms. Drew was convicted of vehicular homicide and felony hit and run and was sentenced to 34 months in prison. According to stories published at the time, there were four people in the car when the accident occurred and apparently all had been drinking. The Journal report indicates that Ms. Drew was tested for alcohol two hours after the accident and had a blood alcohol reading of .19. The legal limit is .08.
I do not know if a wider road would have prevented the accident that took Ryan’s life. I was a volunteer firefighter for quite a few years and had occasion to responded to accidents involving drunk drivers. There were incidents where, in my opinion, the width of the road would not have mattered.
I do think extra width on uphill portions of County roads is a good idea and, in this case, may have made a difference.
Please accept my apology to anyone who was offended that I did not reference the accident that took Ryan LoBue’s life.
Tuesday, April 10th
Roadside Memorial Ordinance
The public response to the County Council’s adopting the roadside memorial limitation ordinance has been generally negative and has, in some cases, reflected considerable anger. This issue, of course, is very emotional for those who derive comfort from the public memorials along the roads that recognize the loss of a family member or friend and offer continuing recognition of lives tragically cut short. Others argue that these memorials serve the public by identifying spots where, in some cases, alcohol was a factor in the accident. We on the Council were aware of these deeply-held viewpoints and others that argued in favor of unregulated memorializing of accident victims.
I believe, however, that it is important for all of us to acknowledge that there are additional victims in these accidents. There are emergency responders, residents who live in the area, residents who may have been at the scene, and others who not only obtain no comfort from the memorials, but feel continually troubled by the presence of reminders of a terribly painful event. Representatives of this second group brought this issue to the Council for deliberation. I voted for the ordinance, not out of disregard for the first group, but – among other reasons - because alternatives that provide comfort exist. Memories of a loved one are sustained in the hearts and minds of those left behind and, more tangibly, in memorial parks, contributions to worthy causes, and other traditional ways.
The second group of residents, who see the memorials as something imposed upon them, have previously had no means for eliminating the symbolic reminders of a traumatic event; the roadside memorials seem, for all intents and purposes, eternal. The new ordinance will provide a 3-month period of mourning for the first group but will ultimately eliminate memorials at the sites where fatalities occurred.
There was no solution the Council could identify that would satisfy everyone affected by this dilemma. I believe the solution we chose, while leaving some residents dissatisfied, is the best we could manage after considering all the competing perspectives.
San Juan County Council, District Two
Will Someone Ask A Question On My Behalf?
Since I won't be able to attend the global warming conference on April 15 sponsored by the Spring Street International School and Navigating the Future, I'm writing to request that someone who does attend this conference ask a question on my behalf.
It's clear from the scientific evidence that the earth now is warming, and it's reasonable to assume that human activity plays at least some role. But climatologists tell us that the temperature of our planet has always fluctuated within a band of about 4 degrees Celsius. Moreover, the scientific evidence shows that the earth was "hottest" during the 11th and 12th centuries -- a period that climatologists call "The Medieval Climate Optimum". The coldest period -- what's called the "Little Ice Age" -- came late in the 18th century, just when our country was being founded. The earth's current temperature is, very roughly, halfway between these two extremes.
Here's my question: What caused the earth to become so hot during the 11th and 12th centuries?
I'm asking because -- to point out the obvious -- in those centuries human activity couldn't possibly have been the cause of the earth's warming. Yet from what I read, the organizers of this conference are convinced that human activity is the primary cause of the current warming trend. And they seem ready -- even eager -- to propose a range of economic and political measures to reverse or slow down the current warming trend whose impact on our lives, and on the lives of people throughout the world, will be enormous.
Until we know the answer to my question, doesn't it make more sense to -- so to speak -- hit the pause button, rather than to fast-forward with measures that may be irrelevant or, worse, destructive?
San Juan Island
Thursday, April 5th
Negative Impacts Of 35 Mph Limit
350 Court Street # 1
Friday Harbor, WA 98250
Dear County Council,
In regards to changing the speed limit from 45 to 35 mph, this change would have a dramatic effect on San Juan Transit and the routes we currently drive.
Residents and visitors have already questioned why the Transit doesn’t operate more frequently. The reality is that for a bus to leave hourly for destinations on the West Side and on Roche Harbor Road requires three buses. Driving one circuit around San Juan Island would take thirteen minutes longer going 35 mph than what it takes now at 45 mph. This doesn’t seem like much, but using our current schedule, driving at the lower speed will necessitate driving an additional 2.75 hours/day. Driving the lower speed limit would mean longer waiting periods for passengers, decreased fuel efficiency, wear and tear on the vehicles and harm the environment with more vehicle emissions.
Because San Juan Transit is one of two State Regulated Transit operations – Orcas Shuttle is the other one – that operate without any form of subsidy other than the fare box (last year we raised fares for the first time in 13 years). The impending slower speed will create a serious hardship with the probable increase of fuel usage and likely loss of ridership due to the longer wait times.
The reality is that lowering the speed limit will be enough of a change that San Juan Transit will operate fewer times each day, as well as eliminating the American Camp Route, as the expense of adding another vehicle just cannot be justified. Fewer departure times put us in jeopardy of not being able to serve our passengers needs, survive financially and creates the risk of not having any transportation on the island, when it is most needed.
San Juan Transit
Sunday, April 1st
“Dispatches from the field” Highlight Experiential Education
Lisa Michaelson’s wonderful recent accounts of the Spring Street International School (SSIS) students’ travel experiences are remarkable. They describe young students facing uncomfortable/unusual/unknown challenges in diverse environments while traveling in the Far East. The juniors and seniors use their learning about decision making as they sample, broaden and change their views of the world. They return to our Islands full of new ideas and exuberant with new development as they relate another chapter in their life-long journey of experiential learning.
Our young people in the San Juan Islands live in a prized, spectacular environment but many do not have enough opportunities to be immersed in the diverse surroundings these experiential trips provide. They are not tourists, they are not “do-gooders,” these students are participants. They are teachers and learners. They are listeners and observers. They plot these experiences on their individual mental maps of knowing and, in many cases, take charge of their own patterns of learning. A cognitive scientist would say they have developed excellent meta-cognitive skills.
SSIS faculty acknowledge these students have come home dramatically changed. Students continue to question what is around them. Perhaps this maturity will help them to make good decisions as they prepare for their next educational experience. Whatever their outcomes, at future SSIS reunions, their most vivid memories and stories of being students might be “When I was in Asia…” Experiential learning is a core SSIS value, part of the founders, Peg and Ted Hope’s vision for the Islands’ young learners, embraced by the SSIS Head of School, Roger Frost, and celebrated by the Board of Trustees.
We are very fortunate in the San Juan Islands to have variations on the ways our kids can be educated, excellent public schools and an excellent experiential, college preparatory private school. We need to collectively support these efforts giving our young people and their parents a variety of ways to motivate their journey for lifetime learning. I am proud to be a part of these efforts.
M. Patricia Morse, Ph.D.
Co-Chair, Board of Trustees
Spring Street International School