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Island Guardian

Greetings Teachers, Staff, Parents, Students, and Community Members:

On Saturday, June 10, I participated in the graduation ceremony of the Class of 2017. They were rising juniors when I started my position two years ago. The accomplishments of these talented young men and women are obvious and highlighted by the number of scholarships that were distributed by our community organizations. As the superintendent of schools, I am proud of each and every graduate. Congratulations on your success!

I would also like to personally thank the community organizations for their dedication by helping finance our students’ college careers. You are amazing!

The following are just a few of our accomplishments for the 2016-17 school year:

• First year for K-5 Science specials w/ Sue Kareken
• Art instruction with Leisha for grades K-5
• The Board adopted the Balanced Literacy curriculum
• Sixth grade will re-join FHMS
• K-12 Science teachers met to ensure they align instruction with the Next Generation Science Standards
• FHHS completed their accreditation process with flying colors
• Community health committee recommended a health curriculum pilot, which we completed with great success
• Our new websites and ParentLink communication tool are up and running smoothly
• Twenty-one instructional technology courses were offered to our staff
• Fifty-seven staff took five hundred and twenty-four hours of professional development in Instructional Technology
• New School Bus added to the fleet
• Turnbull Gym Remodel
• Regular updates on our Facebook page. (Don’t forget to like it!)

Congratulations to our fifth, sixth and eighth grade students on their transition to middle school and high school, respectively. I know you have a bright future ahead of you!

On June 30, 5:30 pm " 7:30 pm, we will have an Immigration Workshop at Friday Harbor Middle School. The Immigration 101 session includes an overview of the immigration system and immigration status as well as which resources are available in the community. Katie Loring, local attorney, will provide information regarding Durable Power of Attorney documents.

Finally, I would like to thank every student, parent, teacher, staff, and community member for making the 2016-2017 academic year an extraordinary one! I appreciate you and I hope you have a restful and joyful summer!

If you have any questions, you may contact me at 360.370.7905 or email Thank you for your continued support.

Kind regards,
Danna Diaz, PhD

Open Letter re: Vacation Rental Proposals

Dear Councilmen & Staff Persons,

Several Reasons I oppose further regulation:
• There are a finite number of dwelling units in SJC. Additional steps to push more of those units into lower cost housing will have several adverse effects. You can divide a finite pie only so many times. You still have the same pie differently sliced.

• If we have fewer rental units and more low cost units, the units available for vacation renters will decrease; off-island revenue to county residents will decrease; lodging tax revenue will decrease.

• It seems that San Juan County officials are prone to blame owners of vacation rentals for the problem. However, since 2007 the county will not permit construction of additional dwelling units for vacation rental purposes. If this is the case, it is county regulations exacerbating (or causing) the perceived problem.

• When I recently visited the SJC County Permit office it was remarked by a staff member that the real problem is absentee owners who either leave their house empty all year making it available for their occasional use instead of renting it on a long term low cost basis or, alternatively renting it out part of the year as a vacation rental without proper lodging tax collection and associated permits. It was mentioned that these owners or properties are difficult to identify. When I told the staffer I have lived here fulltime over 26 years and am having an increasingly hard time remaining in SJC on a relatively fixed income; that we love it here, and would love to stay, but we might have to leave because of increasing costs and regulations along with advancing age, the response was, “That’s too bad.”

• The situation does not have an easy solution. We do not want to overdevelop the island and lose our rustic character. But we have tourism as our major industry and as long as we remain seasonally maladjusted in terms of economics the problem will continue. Just as a local business owner dependent on tourism cannot provide year-round jobs at summer employment levels, so vacation property rental owners cannot afford to charge winter or long term rates over the summer with little hope the renter will stay all year when his tourism dependent job goes away.

• The steps under consideration opt to pick the low-hanging fruit by aiming ill-considered remedies at those compliant property owners who can be readily identified because they have appropriate permits, pay the lodging tax and comply with existing legal parameters instead of tackling the harder job of identifying violators and aiming possible (partial) solutions their way. Not only that, but many of the new considerations are said to be retroactive and most will cost owners money, time and vexation.

• It also appears that recommendations are to charge compliant vacation rental owners to hire another code enforcement person to nab violators. How is it fair or just to charge the compliant persons for the costs associated with enforcement among the non-compliant?

Sometimes I feel as if San Juan County is not my friend and that it thinks it can manage my property better than I can. Proposed elements under consideration are that the owner must conspicuously post all of the new SJC rules about property use and explain to SJC how we would handle violations by our customers. I told the SJC staffer that I have learned in my sixty-three years of work is that there is no successful cookie cutter approach to handle every problem we may encounter with differing backgrounds, situations and personalities. Therefore, I would just call the most available SJC Councilman to handle the problem. The response from the staffer was “Just kick them out!”. If I were to use that simple rule, would the staffer assume responsibility to handle the ensuing suit over breach of contract when it was a “he said, she said.” situation any court might consider trivial contingent on the totality of circumstances?

I believe the staff writing these proposals really does have the best long-range interests of our beautiful county at heart. It is a difficult balance to maintain " especially when every loss to our natural rustic charm could probably not be regained. At the same time, I believe micromanagement is an issue and that the proposed targeting of compliant owners is misplaced.

Dennis R Hazelton
San Juan Island

'Thank You' From The Family of David Hall

We would like to express our sincere 'Thank You' for helping us through such a difficult time.
Perhaps you sent a lovely card, or came to visit while Dave was in hospice care, perhaps you sent flowers, made dinner or made a donation to help with the medical expenses. Perhaps you sent us prayers and positive thoughts. Perhaps you helped with his Celebration of Life event.

Whatever you did to console our hearts, to ease our pain, we 'Thank You' so much whatever the part. You gave us a gift and your kindness has made such a difference and will always be remembered. We hope you know how much you and our community means to us.

Thank you & much love from,

Nadine Hall, Jacob & Relissa Hall, Ian & Jessie Joujan, Katie Hall & Cory Parsons

Annual LEO Club Golf Scramble was another success

We wish to thank the local businesses that generously give to our annual Golf Scramble: Harbor Rentals and Saw Shop, Friday Harbor House & Bluff Restaurant, Williams Enterprises (gravel), Friday's Crabhouse, The Cheesecake Café, Mike's Cafe and Wine Bar, China Pearl, Blue Water Bar & Grill, Sweet Retreat & Espresso, The Bean Café, and Joe Crisanti Glass.

We had beautiful weather for this event! We give thanks to the enthusiastic golfers and the staff at the SJI Golf & Tennis Club. Much appreciation goes to our hamburger chef, Lion Jeff Neely and his wife, Gail and the many volunteer LEOs. Thanks to Lion Lisa Brown for helping me before the event. Thanks also to soon-to-be Lion Stacey Smith (auction set-up), Lion Dan Sorgen, the Urbach family, Lion President Jon Zerby and his wife, Kris, for coming out to support our event.

The annual Golf Scramble and auction earns money which our high school LEO Club gives back to the community in the form of community project grants, donations to worthy causes, and the most fun donation of all: the Santa Ship event over winter holiday, where LEOs provide a toy for each child who visits our Lion Santa!

Lastly, my deepest gratitude goes to my co-advisor, John Bostrom. Without his experience, optimistic attitude, and non-stop involvement in the LEO Club, this event would not be possible.

-Lion BJ Brandli
FHHS LEO Club advisor

It's Filing Week

We often assume that someone else is more qualified, somehow more secure, or more able to contribute. Perhaps this is part of why nearly 50 vacancies exist on government boards across the county. It's also filing week this week for a many public offices, from port districts to school boards to Lopez's new hospital district. Many will only see one applicant.

It can be hard taking on a public position. You are often paid nothing, people never give you the benefit of the doubt, and there are a ton of rules and regulations governing everything you do -- as though integrity can be legislated.

Please consider running to be part of the solution. It can be a daunting task, but we need good people of all political persuasions to step up and do their part. And as the public and as political parties, we can do our part to be civil and respectful when we disagree so that more people will be willing to participate and run for office.

Details on the SJC elections website HERE.

Nathan Butler
Chairman, SJC Republican Party

Vote For Us

OPALCO is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year, and as we approach the Annual Meeting, we are also electing Directors from District 1, covering San Juan, Henry, Pearl, Brown, and Spieden Islands.

We are Mark Madsen, and Vince Dauciunas, we currently serve as the District 1 board members, and we are running for election. Two weeks ago, we had the opportunity to meet and talk with members at the Candidate Forums, hosted on each island. Since not everyone can attend those forums, we want to take the opportunity to share some of our ideas about OPALCO, the progress that we have made during our terms, and what the important issues are for members and the Coop.

OPALCO, and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Rock Island Communications, are in a strong position as we begin 2017:

• The submarine cable between Lopez and San Juan islands will be replaced in 2017, and will provide for our power and communications needs for decades to come.
• The Coop strengthened its ability to purchase power, invest in renewables, and negotiate with Bonneville Power by joining PNGC, a consortium of rural electrical coops that share our challenges and approach to community power.
• Rock Island added over 2000 new customers, more than 115 miles of distribution fiber, 75% of the planned LTE wireless internet/T-Mobile installations are complete, and RIC averages adding 7-8 new customers every day. Rock Island is on track to break even in mid 2018 and be profitable thereafter.
• 40kW of solar panel capacity has been added at 4 schools, with our first community solar project and large-scale battery storage coming in 2018.
• A new Energy Assistance Program complements Project PAL by working with County social services and local nonprofits.
• The election process has been strengthened and examined by the board with strong feedback from the community
• OPALCO’s financial position is good, with TIER (the measure of our ability to repay our loans) rising to 3.24, equity as a percentage of capitalization of 48.7% (higher than most of our peer cooperatives), and borrowing for projects in 2016 reduced by almost half because Rock Island repaid the startup loan from the Cooperative and refinanced its operations at favorable interest rates.

OPALCO does face challenges in the years ahead. The situation faced by all electrical utilities will change more in the next decade than in the previous 80 years combined. Cooperatives like ours face slow growth of electrical demand, the need to incorporate locally generated renewable power, storage of that power, the challenges to infrastructure created by electrical vehicles, and the difficulties created by unpredictable weather and warmer winters.

We have a roadmap for these challenges, called the Integrated Resource Plan, which outlines how the Cooperative is planning to meet each challenge. We have been putting that plan into action since it was approved in 2015. Modernization of our electrical grid is well underway, and our priority in 2017 and 2018 is to enable local renewable energy production not just technically, but in our electrical rates and policies.

We are doing something new in this election. Each candidate recorded a short video describing how they see OPALCO and our priorities (1-2), and the member committee on elections and governance posed questions to each candidate (3-4). We also videotaped the Candidate Forum in Friday Harbor for those who were not able to attend (5). We provide links to each of these below, and ask that you look at the questions and our answers. In particular, members in attendance at the Candidate Forums asked good and difficult questions, and we answered with solid information as well as a strong vision for the future.

We ask that you look at that information, and our vision for the future, and give us your vote to continue our work on the OPALCO board for the next three years. We work every day with our fellow board members, Randy Cornelius, Winnie Adams, Dr. Jerry Whitfield, Brian Silverstein, and Jim Lett to provide OPALCO with guidance, vision, and oversight as we execute on the Integrated Resource Plan and steer OPALCO through its challenges into a future of renewable, affordable electricity and telecommunications.

We need your participation and help to secure our energy future, and ask for your support and your voice to make this future a reality. Ballots have come out by mail and email, and your vote is due no later than May 4th, so that votes are counted before the Annual Meeting on the ferry! You can vote by email, or do it easily online.

Thank you for your consideration, and your vote!

Mark Madsen and Vince Dauciunas

Letters On Hospital District & Planned Parenthood


To the Editor:

Kathleen Bartholomew, Guest Columnist [Related Column], apparently does not appreciate the benefits of efficiency in government. If so, she would not have objected to the troika governance of our newly elected Hospital District Board.

It is much more efficient to have a troika at the control of the Hospital Board then to have to endure the messy and inefficient process of real democracy. The troika doesn't have to consider anything other than their own views; they can surf Facebook or email, knit or crochet, or even doze while their fellow commissioners speak or they go through the obligatory formality of public testimony, safe in the knowledge that they need not pay attention to any opinions or input other than those of their fellow troikians and their supporters. When it comes to voting, they can vote secure in the knowledge that their shared view will prevail without the need for discussion or debate other than is necessary to maintain the pretense of a democratic process.

It's an enormously efficient method of government, at risk only if one of the troika happens to be absent during a meeting, which fortunately can be circumvented simply by their chosen Chair tabling items until the troika is safely reassembled. But overall, we citizens should appreciate that we are spared any obligation to waste our time and energy trying to influence actions or votes of the troika, but can save our resources for more useful enterprises.

Politicians are always promising efficiency in government, but seldom achieving it. We should be thankful to the troika that at least one government body is fulfilling that promise.

Christopher Hodgkin
San Juan Island
(03-02-17)To the Editor:

Our tax money may go to charitable birth control before charitable hospice, drug abuse prevention, home health care, nutrition assistance

This comes down to a simple decision of where our hospital district citizens want their money spent. Since the commissioners have taken $50,000 from the charitable fund for our citizens hospital bills we must let them know our community need priorities. This is not a prolife or prochoice decision since abortions cannot be safely done on the island. (However many of us strongly object to PP)This is a lining up of district needs.

Do we think providing charitable birth control is more important than hospice, mental health programs, drug abuse programs, domestic violence programs, home health care programs, nutritional support programs or senior care? Does Planned Parenthood an organization boasting over $300 million is assets and eleven directors making 6 figure incomes need our local money? I think not. PIMC provides women’s reproductive needs. PP has a presence here as well. Where is the need?

Michelle Loftus
San Juan Island

To the Editor:

I write to thank Hospital District Commissioners Bill Williams, Monica Harrington and Barbara Sharp for voting to explore a contract with Planned Parenthood. Using up to $50,000 to provide reproductive health care services, especially birth control and STD education and testing, is a worthwhile expense. The hospital district pays over $1 million of its tax revenues to a Catholic institution; contracting with PP for a little over 4% of that balances things out a bit.

Sandy Rabinowitz
Friday Harbor


To the Editor:

Congratulations to the Board of Commissioners of the San Juan County Public Hospital District No.1 for their decision at last night’s meeting [related story -Ed] to proceed to draft a draft contract with Planned Parenthood to be considered at a future meeting. This is a very much needed step to address an unmet need for essential women’s health care on San Juan Island.

Dr. John Geyman
San Juan Island

John Evans
Greg Hertel
Mary Kalbert
Ron Keeshan
Gordy Petersen
Janice Peterson
Bruce Sallan
Teresa Smith
Terra Tamai
Amy Wynn
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