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Wednesday, December 19th

County Council Supports Voters

Council members Peterson, Lichter and Myhr vote to support the voters’ wishes on the Stormwater Ordinance issue. Congratulations and kudos. Based on some comments by Councilman Lichter it appears that they did listen to, and understand, what the voters were trying to convey.

The story in the Island Guardian stated: “Lichter said he believed that one of the reasons the voters rejected the original funding ordinance was because ‘we had not made it clear’ what the problem was, ‘and we had not made it clear what we were going to do with the money.’ He added ‘I am not comfortable establishing a fee to do research.’ He said the County should not ask the citizens to pay to define a problem they then have to pay for. He explained that ‘if we are going to the citizens and saying these are the problems we have to deal with, we (the Council) should somehow find the funding’ to do the analysis’.”

Alan has hit it dead center. Defining the problem is not only one of the reasons, but the main reason the funding ordinance was rejected.

There are many other problems with the original funding ordinance, but he has correctly identified the main issue. Now the question is, “What are they going to do with the $700,000 plus that was already collected”?

Perhaps give it back. Maybe use some of it to “Define what the specific problem is?” We the voters will be patiently waiting to see.

Ray Bigler
San Juan Island


Friday, December 14th

Thank You For Recycling!

To the Editor:

Can these islands recycle, or what? The organizers of last month’s agricultural plastics recycling events want to express their gratitude to all those who contributed to the huge success! 40 helpers; 80 participants; 12 tons of plastic recycled into useful items!!!

These collections could not have happened without the support and enthusiasm of Lisa Friend of RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, Bellingham, who graciously included San Juan County in her agricultural plastics recycling grant.

Orcas Island volunteers included Audrey Wilson, Linda Rene, Stephen Frank, Walter Corbin, George Post, and Casey McKinzie. Solid waste staff, Ronni Silva and Robert Hammermeister, helped beyond the call of duty.

On San Juan Island, Master Gardeners, Kathryn Clowers, Jacqueline Genge, Marilyn Kline, Susan Mahoney and Ervine Munroe maintained their patience and good humor while sorting and loading thousands of nursery pots and other items. Additional helpers were Grace Willows, Eric Jagel, Tom Schultz, Mary Guard, Shireene Hale, and Eliza Buck. County Public Works staff that came to the rescue in managing the overwhelming response included Ed Hale, Jeff Clark, Bud Sears, and Christina Newhall. Thank you to County Fair staff, Christine (Miller) Roberts, for providing the space and to Shel Bedsole who helped with set up.

Dawn Ritchie helped to organize and promote the Lopez Island event. Other volunteers were Debby Hatch, Todd Goldsmith and Master Gardener Janice Coltran. County Solid Waste staff, Neil Hanson, Dick Jenison, Renee Nichols, and Kate McLane helped in planning and operations.

Thanks also to Calvin Hartog and Chuck Todd of San Juan Sanitation Company for providing equipment and drivers and to Lois Young of Skagit River Recycling for the encouragement and for accepting all the materials we collected.

We look forward to another successful series of collections next spring with your continued support and interest.

Helen Venada, SJC Solid Waste Division
Candace Jagel, WSU Extension Agriculture Program
Kris Bayas, WSU Master Gardeners Program


Thursday, December 13th

Public Urged To Sign Petition

We gladly signed the SAVE OUR GRANGE HALL petition to the State Grange and urge everyone in the community who appreciates our Grange Hall--our community center--to also sign the petition. We also want to thank Jim Sesby for his leadership in support of our Grange Hall, and hope that our local press can provide further, balanced coverage of this situation. As this petition states, we need assurances from the State Grange that while the local SJI Grange is suspended they will act only in the best interests of the local membership and the local community, and will not raise the Grange Hall rental fees without a vote of the full local membership, and that they will not sell the Grange Hall.

We have renewed our membership in the SJI Grange and urge all other local Grange members to do likewise. We are frustrated by the State Grange’s actions and absence of communication to the membership (except through the local press), and we are concerned about what we hear from other local Granges, but we trust that some day our Grange will be able to function in good standing again. We are renewing our membership because we believe in the mission of our local Grange and also feel an obligation to safeguard as best we can the SJI Grange’s legacy and assets on behalf of our community. We appreciate and respect the Grange members of the past who, on behalf of our community, purchased the Spring Street property and built the farm cooperative, and to those who purchased the Grange Hall with the sales contract that promises to make the building “available for community uses”.

The Grange Hall is both historic and a little bit funky but more than anything else a gorgeous island venue currently affordable to all. The Grange Hall comes complete with a kitchen and all that’s needed to host any event at no additional cost. When we consider the awful possibility of the Grange Hall being sold and razed for another hotel or condominium complex, we hope that some other organization will come forward to offer an affordable community center, but know that nothing would ever replace our historic Grange Hall. It would also be a tremendous loss if the Grange Hall were to stand empty more of the time because it is not affordable for the many events, celebrations, and gatherings that are so essential to our community.

On a broader level, this situation provides a cautionary tale for our community, and has led us to re-examine our participation in and our financial support of local chapters of larger organizations.

Boyd and Lovel Pratt
San Juan Island

(Editor's Note: The head of the state Grange has stated the SJI Grange building will not be closed ( Related Story)


Wednesday, December 12th

Thank Your For Your Vote

Dear Friday Harbor Voters,

The final tally of votes of the November 6th election once again demonstrates the commitment San Juan County has in supporting its public schools. The Committee for San Juan School District Levies & Bonds wishes to thank each and every voter who cast their vote in support of EJHR 4204 – approving the simple majority for public education levies.

Schools across the state are dependent upon local levy support for basic operations, capital maintenance projects and technology. State funding only pays for about 80% of basic education costs. .As Disraeli said,” Upon the education of the people of this country the fate of this country depends.” The future of Friday Harbor, and our country, will continue to be in our educated youth.

Thank you all for the support.

Sharon Fishaut
Committee Chair


Monday, December 10th

State Ferry = State Funding -But on the other hand...

Dear Editor:

I was interested to see the idea put forth for a property tax increase in the ferry served counties. (Related Story) We have always been told that the ferries can't favor local residents in either boarding or fares because they are state funded. If this idea gains traction, then we should be able to include some boarding preference and fare considerations in the process. (not that I am in favor of a property tax increase in the first place.)

As a matter of principal, I'd be curious to know in the entire state how much of property tax anywhere goes toward transportation needs. A regional sales tax at least spreads the cost to include visitors as well. But it's a state system, so state taxes and fees should support it.

Dan Zaehring
Friday Harbor


Tom Bauschke
John Evans
Mary Kalbert
Ron Keeshan
Gordy Petersen
Janice Peterson
Bruce Sallan
Terra Tamai
Amy Wynn
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