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Tuesday, April 27th

"Satisfaction" Owners Thankful For Fire Fighters

To the Editor:

I would like to express my most sincere gratitude to the Town of Friday Harbor Volunteer Fire Department for saving my commercial fishing boat, Satisfaction, during the fire at Jensen's Shipyard fire at Jensen's Shipyard on Sunday Morning, April 25. Ironically, this is the second time a boat I owned survived a boat yard fire, and both times mine was the closest boat to the origin of the fire. I guess that shows there really is an element to luck in being a commercial fisherman.

Fortunately, this time there were no vessel casualties, because the FH VFD is on standby and saved the day. In the previous fire in Alaska, in which my Bristol Bay gillnetter was involved, 40 boats went up in smoke, and the whole place burned to the ground in a matter of hours. I stood on the mudflats and watched that fire burn out of control (a boat burns like CRAZY when it goes up), so I know firsthand how fast a boatyard fire--or any fire--can get out of control.

I also know it takes a fast response and a well-trained team effort to knock a fire down and keep it from spreading. That is what happened on Sunday morning, because my boat is still right where I left it, and it looks like it will be back out there helping me earn my living and also bringing fresh, locally caught fish back to the people of San Juan Island to enjoy.

So if you like eating my fish, thank a fireman. Not to overlook the efforts of the County VFD, every volunteer fire fighter on the island puts in a lot of time at drills and incident response, and they all provide an invaluable service to our community. Whether they are saving a commercial fishing boat, somebody's house and the people inside, or just responding to another false alarm at the High School; they're always on standby, listening to their radio, ready to drop everything and be on the scene when they get the call.

So thank you, firefighters, for being there, and a special thanks to those who woke up at 4:00 a.m. on Sunday to knock down that fire and keep the whole boatyard, hillside, and God knows what else, from going up in smoke.

(Think Fish!)

Matt (and Maureen) Marinkovich
Matt's Fresh Fish / Compost It


Monday, April 12th

Letters On National Bike Month

Response To Bikes & Cars Editorial
To the Editor:
would like to thank Sheriff Cumming and Joe Cussen for their recent Guest Editorial about bikes and cars. As a parent of two young boys who will soon be bicycling on our roads, safety is a huge concern. On Saturday May 15th beginning at 10:30 a.m., Island Rec and San Juan Island Trails Committee is hosting the Share the Road bicycle celebration at San Juan County Fairgrounds. This free event will include a bike skills challenge, helmet sizing & fit demonstrations, a bicycle parade through town escorted by the Sheriff, Fire Department, and EMS, "share the road" stickers and educational handouts, and a group bike ride all aimed at improving bicycle safety.

I have been a bicyclist on island roads my entire life, and can attest that with the increase in population and visitors, our roads are more dangerous today, than twenty or thirty years ago. I cannot tell you how many times over the past few years people have told me that they rarely or never ride a bike because they don't feel safe. I invite each of you to join me on May 15th (yes I remember who you are…), this fun event will provide a great environment for people of all ages and abilities to hone their skills as well as raise bicycle safety awareness in our community, improving safety for us all.

With the current economy, there is little funding for physical safety improvements, therefore it is critical that our entire community practice courtesy and respect on our narrow roadways. When you see a bicyclist, remember she is someone’s child, grandchild, and loved one, a valued member of our community that could even be your neighbor. When I bike with my five year old, my biggest fear is cars that pass too fast and too close. Please slow down and use caution when passing bicycles, allow at least 3 feet between you and the bike, and wait until there is clear visibility and no oncoming vehicles before attempting to pass. As a Motorist, my biggest fear is bicycles that travel on the wrong side of the road, or stop in the roadway at places with poor visibility. Using a bicycle pullout or driveway is the courteous and safe option. Parents, teach your children to bicycle safely and set a good example for them by wearing your helmet. Bicycles should always travel in the same direction of traffic, use hand signals, and stop at all stop signs. One cyclist or motorist, who does not follow the rules, causes frustration and makes it dangerous for us all. Let’s all do our part in sharing the roads.

Tracy Roberson
San Juan Island
Bicycles Are Considered Vehicles
To the Editor:

May is National Bike Month. I realize that for many of you riding a bicycle went away with childhood or is the result of a car breakdown or losing a drivers license. But for many of us there are few better ways to enjoy the fresh air and scenery as the days lengthen into summer. Not to mention the benefits of endorphins and improved health.

As a recreational rider I find cycling island roads to be a bit like the old saw about soldiering...hours of uneventful pedaling punctuated by a few seconds of terror. With the narrow country roads, distracting scenery and lack of shoulders (let alone bike lanes) combined with pulses of vehicles often over the speed limit we have a potentially dangerous mix. Aside from excessive speed by distracted drivers and cyclists not following the rules of the road more often the real issue is a lack of understanding of the rights and responsibilities of sharing the roads. All of us can be at fault.

We all know, or should know, that bicycles are considered vehicles under Washington State laws. Same road, same rules, same responsibilities. Yet you would not know it when you take to our roadways on a bike and have to resort to full-on defensive tactics at nearly every turn to avoid close encounters of the worst kind with vehicles. I am sure that folks walking their dogs, riding horses or strolling with kids on our neighborhood roads, both in and out of town, would agree that respect for those outside of autos is a little lacking to say the least.

Here is something to think about. Studies that look at bicycle-riding patterns in the United States and in Europe, have found that in nearly every instance, when the number of riders on the road increases, the likelihood of accidents declines. This surprising result is known among its researchers as the “safety in numbers effect” and it has been repeatedly documented. The more frequent the encounters with others lawfully using public roads under their own power the more likely it is that vehicle operators make better decisions that increase the safety of all concerned.

A first-time event called Share the Road is planned for May 15 in and around Friday Harbor. A celebration of the fun and many positive benefits of cycling joined with increased awareness of the responsibilities of both drivers and cyclists making use of our roadways. Oil up your chain, air up the tires and strap on your helmet for this community event for all ages and abilities!

Steve Ulvi
Friday Harbor
‘Share the Road’
To the Editor:

Summer is approaching with the influx of many tourists. Lonely Planet has named the San Juan Islands as one of the 10 best places to cycle in the world. This makes some residents in the islands think this is the worst season of the year but to most of us it is the best.

Welcome the cyclists--think one less car for each bicycle. Think ferry lines and wish everyone was on a bike. Think clean air. Not only the tourists but also the locals will be out there on their bikes. All drivers have a responsibility to ‘Share the Road’ with all vehicles. Bicycles are vehicles under RCW 46 - Bicycle Laws in the State of Washington.

Tips to help make your cycling in the islands safer and more enjoyable:

• Always wear a helmet. Wear bright colored clothing during the day time and white or reflective clothing at night. How many times have you spotted the cyclists in their bright yellow-green jackets? Make yourself visible so other vehicle drivers know you’re there.

• Ride on the right side of the road- "it’s the law. Stop for all stop signs and obey all traffic laws. Signal your turns so the motorists know what to expect. Ride in a straight line; do not cut in and out between parked cars. Be courteous and wait your turn at stop signs; it is especially dangerous to come up on the right side of a vehicle expecting the vehicle to go straight ahead when all of a sudden the driver may make a right turn in front of you.

• Be predictable! Drive your bike the same way you drive your motor vehicle. Give yourself ample clearance to the side of the road; 3 feet is recommended. This is your escape route in case a car tries to pass you too closely. Stay alert using your ears as well as your eyes.

• Be a defensive cyclist.

Judy Packard
League Cycling Instructor #282,
League of American Bicyclists
Friday Harbor, WA


Monday, April 5th


To the Editor:

All residents of the San Juans should be aware of the very real implications of the recently leaked information in a US Department of the Interior document revealing an intention by the National Park Service to possibly seek Congressional Authorization to declare The San Juan Islands as a National Monument.

Although there are claims that “it will only include current federal properties of NPS and BLM” or that it will somehow increase tourism and local business; ask yourself why such a declaration was quietly proposed. The federal government already has complete control of the 900 acres of federal lands in the San Juans. What is the intended result of National Monument designation?

This designation could increase the government's ability to condemn and otherwise control your property and lives through eminent domain, buffers and/or other government mandates that authorize federal government to increase its authority over our homes and properties at the expense of our state and local governments.

The San Juans are a pristine and desirable place to live because of our local residents who have been good land stewards. A Declaration of our beloved Islands as a National Monument sets in motion a host of possible future actions. History has shown that in the instance of National Monuments, National Parks and National Heritage declarations, there is a process of growing federal controls over everything from local roads and private shed construction to sewer projects, docks, boating, and a host of other local and private activities follow this kind of designation.

Additional properties could be identified by federal realtors and funding secured opportunistically for select parcels as well as the consolidation of scattered parcels. Federal interference by federal politicians and federal bureaucrats will steadily increase over our unique island communities while the authority and jurisdiction of our state and local governments could decrease to the detriment of our rights and our way of life.

Claims of more tourism and business are not to be believed. People tour and spend their money in visits to and in private communities run by local governments that are responsible to local voters, rural economies and local businesses; not federal enclaves run by bureaucrats and government concessionaires. Federal bureaucrats are responsive to federal overseers and the organizations that lobby them. They come from and go to other areas as career opportunities devised by federal politicians and their appointees find convenient.

Please consider the potential unintended consequences of this National Monument designation. Help us do all we can to “save” our community in the San Juans. We must keep our San Juan Islands under the county, state and local authority that has allowed each of us to make this the desirable place to visit and raise a family that it has become without federal interference and control.

Minnie Knych
San Juan Island

Saturday, April 3rd

A Victory for landowners

Land owners in San Juan County were handed a major victory last week in the Skagit County Superior Court. Judge Susan K. Cook ruled that San Juan County has illegally been requiring property owners to set aside 60% of their land when dividing or sub dividing their property This has been going on for some time.

The so- called “Residential Exclusion Zone” eliminated all but growing trees and some agricultural activities. San Juan County already has a 30% set-aside on the books, but in 1998 this was expanded to 60% but only if you further divided property. This act was found by Judge Cook to be an illegal tax on development.

Yes, my wife, Attorney Stephanie O’Day won that decision which involved our land. I want to make it clear we have no intention of doing anything with that land and it will remain wooded and quiet. The lawsuit was filed on principal to counter the “we know what’s best for your property” position that has run roughshod over the rights of property owners. The county went too far on this one, so we offered our property as a test case.

As a result of this decision, hundreds of acres in our county are now returned to their rightful owners.

Pat O'Day
San Juan Island


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