“Grow Your Own Food” Program

Posted on May 27, 2020 at 2:16 pm by

With so many unknowns happening for all of us it is easy to stray from the positive events happening every day that make our world better. Often, those events are acts of kindness that deserve celebration. Sometimes those events are as simple as helping others plant a garden.

Last spring, the WSU Master Gardener program, Family Resource Center and San Juan County Health and Community services worked together to provide a five week, hands-on gardening program titled “Grow Your Own Food” using the WSU Master Gardener demonstration garden. The program served ten families and was successful in providing participants with skills and resources to garden at home.

Due to the COVID outbreak, the organizations knew that while they wanted to continue to support families growing their own food, they would have to do it differently – encouraging families to venture into growing food, based on the Victory Gardens of the early twentieth century, and the concept that we ensure sustainability for our community when we contribute to the food supply. After all, growing food is life-changing. It connects us to the natural world, to our own nourishment, and to each other. It is one of the most resilient acts we can make. Read More »

Letter to the Community from San Juan Island School District Superintendent Kari McVeigh

Posted on May 26, 2020 at 12:20 pm by

Superintendent Kari McVeigh – Contributed photo

May 2020

Dear Wonderful Community Members,

The 2019-2020 school year is winding to a close, and what a year it has been! We started last summer with our Aerospace Design team under the guidance of teacher Dan Garner, becoming international champions and we end this school year with our First/Second grade Science Team under the guidance of teacher Sue Kareken and Para educator Dena Royal, becoming national champions. That these two honors bookended our year is a great reminder of our purpose and of how amazing our students and staff are!

Last summer we welcomed two new administrators, Elementary School Principal, Caspar Van Haalen and Special Student Services Director, Becky Bell.   Both of these administrators have become integral members of our leadership team and vital community members.

As we end the school year, we will welcome new High School Principal, Martin Yablonovsky and new Superintendent, Fred Woods. With our uncertain pandemic future, this leadership team will be exactly what our District needs to lead us through these trying times. Read More »

Kokoda Sketches

Posted on May 26, 2020 at 8:14 am by

Know Your Islanders: Thane Pratt, Kokoda Sketches: A Birding Trek across Papua New Guinea

Lace up your (virtual) hiking boots and join wildlife biologist Thane Pratt and artist Szabolcs Kokay on a trek across the mountain ranges of Papua New Guinea.  We’ll relive some of the adventures and experience the biological wonders of this, the world’s largest tropical island.  Authors of the field guide Birds of New Guinea, Thane and Szabi were there to search for and paint the remarkable birdlife of this remote corner of the planet.  Co-sponsored by the San Juan Island Trails Committee.

San Juan Island Library is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Know Your Islanders Thane Pratt Kokoda Sketches
Time: Jun 1, 2020 07:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting: Read More »

Spring Black Bears on the Yukon River

Posted on May 26, 2020 at 8:14 am by

Image by 272447 from Pixabay

FREEZER BURNED: Tales of Interior Alaska is a new regular column on the San Juan Update written by Steve Ulvi…

After gritting through another sub-arctic winter, there was celebratory pleasure in first plying the roiling, wood-strewn waters of the Yukon River in spring. The boat season followed seven to ten days of heavy running ice. The big show was over. Skimming the wide water was an indescribable feeling of freedom.

Of course, there was preparation: uncovering the old outboard, hauling river water to fill a rusty drum, chamois filtering stored gas, greasing the lower unit, checking this and that, then with some necessary cussing getting it to run smoothly.   Then to wrestle it over the ice to get it onto the transom. A canoe could get us to town in a pinch, but lining back upriver wouldn’t be possible for quite some time.

There was a reshuffled landscape to be reckoned with. After a highwater, bank to bank breakout 600 yards across, the river can quickly drop several feet as the meltwater surge subsides, leaving a jumble of car-sized ice blocks mashed along the shores and back sloughs to melt in place.   Read More »

San Juan County Granted Variance to Move to Phase 2

Posted on May 23, 2020 at 4:53 pm by

This story has been updated since it was first published…

The variance application submitted Friday afternoon was approved by the Secretary of Health mid-day on Saturday, allowing San Juan County to proceed to Phase 2 of the Governor’s four-phased Safe Start Washington plan effective immediately.

San Juan County Council Chair Rick Hughes highlights the importance of this approval, “Our community can now start to slowly re-open, a much-needed step for many of our local businesses. I appreciate the quick work of the San Juan County team in submitting the application, and the State Secretary of Health for prompt review and approval. If we all closely follow the requirements in place to minimize the risk of transmission, I’m confident we can proceed to Phase 2 safely and responsibly.”

An individual business may only open under Phase 2 once it can do so safely by meeting the guidelines for Phase 2 opening found on the Governor’s website. A few are listed below:

Now that San Juan County is in Phase 2, face coverings are required in all public businesses as per San Juan County Health Officer order 2020-4. To help educate the public and customers of this critical requirement to ensure the health of our community several printable posters have been developed. Businesses have 48 hours from the move to Phase 2 to post signage- mid-day on Monday the 25th.

In addition, as per San Juan County Health Officer order 2020-1 and 2020-5, the ban on transient lodging for non-essential travel remains in place until the Governor moves San Juan County to Phase 3. The ban on camping and transient moorage remains in place as well, though camping is now allowed on the non-ferry served islands.

Please remember that in both Phases 2 and 3, high risk populations are strongly encouraged to stay home to the full extent possible. More information on high risk populations is available from the CDC.

For more information about COVID-19 and the ongoing San Juan County response, visit www.sjccovid.com

WWTP Solar Panel Project

Posted on May 22, 2020 at 3:21 pm by

“I am pleased to see this Project come online,” said Friday Harbor Mayor Farhad Ghatan. “It is incumbent on us to do what we can to use renewable resources. It is not only environmentally beneficial but provides a benefit to our ratepayers.”

Next week the Town of Friday Harbor will activate its first solar power project on the Island. The solar panel array, which is a 100 kW (DC) Solar Photovoltaic System, is located on a quarter acre of Town property behind the Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP). The project is guaranteed to produce 95,000+ kW hours of electricity per year using solar panels and electrical inverters made in Washington State. Apollo Solution Group (ASG), through a Washington State Department of Commerce grant, installed the array. Read More »

Unemployment Fraud

Posted on May 22, 2020 at 1:17 pm by

As more unemployment fraud reports continue to come in, it may be helpful for our victims to have a greater understanding of the vastness of this. 

Investigators from the U.S. Secret Service have information suggesting that the scheme is coming from a well-organized Nigerian fraud ring.  They are still working to pinpoint who is involved and exactly where they are.  The fraud is being aided by mules in the U.S. who are being used as intermediaries for money laundering after making connections with the fraudsters online. 

The Secret Service reports that Washington State has emerged as the primary target thus far, but there’s also evidence of attacks in Florida, Massachusetts, North Carolina Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Wyoming.  This scheme appears to be fairly sophisticated and the dollars lost in Washington State so far is in the millions.  As an example, Western Washington University has had more than 400 out of about 2,500 total employees targeted. 

The state hotline has been inundated with calls so they’ve hired additional help to answer the phones.  They continue to request that victims report their circumstance online:


Ron Krebs

San Juan County to Apply for Variance to Move to Phase 2

Posted on May 22, 2020 at 12:09 pm by

At the request of San Juan County Health Officer Dr. Frank James (link to recommendation letter), and with the support of both the San Juan County Board of Health and the County Council, public health staff are preparing a variance request that, if approved by the Secretary of Health, would allow the County to move into Phase 2 of WA State’s phased reopening plan.

Governor Inslee recently announced new criteria that allow additional counties to apply for variances to move into Phase 2 of his four-phased Safe Start Washington plan. San Juan County was one of 10 counties the Governor identified as eligible to apply.

San Juan County Council Chair Rick Hughes highlights the Council’s support for the move, “We’re looking at this as very much a soft-reopening. The Governor’s non-essential travel ban is in place until Phase 3, and the goal is to carefully start to reopen, but our intent is for this to be a way for residents to directly support these businesses and services that have been closed for so long. We agree with Dr. James that the systems are in place to do this safely and responsibly.” Read More »

San Juan County Health Officer Extends Ban on Transient Lodging

Posted on May 22, 2020 at 9:10 am, by

On May 22nd, San Juan County Health Officer Dr. Frank James extended his order limiting non-essential transient lodging operations. The order was previously set to expire on May 31st. In his extension (Order 2020-5), Dr. James ties the future ending of the order to the lifting of Governor’s Inslee’s ban on non-essential travel, currently scheduled  Continue Reading

HOT TOPIC #23: May 21, 2020: The 2020 Memorial Day Weekend in the San Juan Islands

Posted on May 21, 2020 at 3:42 pm, by

COVID-19 updates from San Juan County around subjects on the minds of islanders With roots dating back to the Civil War, Memorial Day is a time for our nation to remember and honor military personnel who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. In addition, Memorial Day weekend is the traditional kick-off to  Continue Reading

We’re Keeping the Ghost Light On!

Posted on May 21, 2020 at 1:13 pm, by

A note from Island Stage Left… Normally at this time of year we would be asking you for money. But what’s normal now? For the first time in Island Stage Left’s twenty two year history, we must cancel our summer “Shakespeare Under the Stars”, which was to have been Shakespeare’s romantic comedy, “Much Ado About  Continue Reading

New Free Little Library Recognizes Serendipity Books and Its Owners

Posted on May 21, 2020 at 8:53 am, by

Friday Harbor’s latest Free Little Library is at the Post Office, dedicated to Serendipity Books and its owners Carol Jackson and Dilys Goodman. Widely recognized as an island treasure, Serendipity became a reality when two former librarians and neighbors, Carol and Betty Stewart, launched their business next to the ferry landing. Dilys joined the business  Continue Reading

Protect What You Love: Green Boating in the San Juan Islands

Posted on May 21, 2020 at 7:42 am, by

The 2020 boating season is officially upon us, and soon our anchorages will begin to fill with local and visiting private boats. Our amazing group of islands, where boaters find wonder and relaxation, are also where fish and wildlife find food and shelter. One of the Salish Sea’s most critical and sensitive marine habitats is  Continue Reading

FHHS Aerospace Team earns Entry into the 2020 International Space Settlement Design Competition

Posted on May 21, 2020 at 7:18 am, by

Last summer, the Friday Harbor High School Aerospace Design team brought home a World Championship title from the International Space Settlement Competition held at NASA. This year, the FHHS Aerospace Team (Island Orbital Technologies) has once again earned their way back to the International Space Settlement Design Competition World Finals with a top-four design proposal  Continue Reading

SBE Grant Recipients Announced

Posted on May 21, 2020 at 7:18 am, by

Commerce, EDC announce local recipients of the Working Washington Small Business Emergency Grant The Washington State Department of Commerce and the Governor’s office, in partnership with the EDC, have announced the recipients of the Working Washington Small Business Emergency Grant (WWSBEG) in San Juan County.  The program was created to provide small grants to businesses  Continue Reading

A Note from Skagit Valley College

Posted on May 21, 2020 at 7:18 am, by

We’re Online with You! Skagit Valley College announces Summer Quarter will be offered mostly online Yes, Skagit Valley College is open! We’re just doing things a little differently. Our key focus is to meet you where you are right now. We’ve adapted our instruction, services, and resources to meet your needs and support the health  Continue Reading

Plans Being Developed For Oil Spill Response Base In Friday Harbor

Posted on May 20, 2020 at 3:10 pm, by

In a joint effort between the Port of Friday Harbor, the Islands’ Oil Spill Association (IOSA), and San Juan County, plans are underway for construction of an oil spill response operations base in Friday Harbor, Washington. The intent of the project is to provide office space, maintenance bays for upkeep of boats and trailers, storage  Continue Reading

Thank You!

Posted on May 20, 2020 at 10:53 am, by

The Town of Friday Harbor would like to thank the community for their generous donations during the month of April to the Harbor Life Ring program. A total of $14,441 was donated which was then matched with a $5,000 grant from the Town and a second $5,000 from King’s Market. The total amount collected was  Continue Reading

Helping Kids Get Used to Masks -Dr. Mark Fishaut and Dr. Frank James

Posted on May 19, 2020 at 4:17 pm, by

In many places, people are wearing masks when they’re in public because of coronavirus (COVID-19). It’s an important way to help slow the spread of the virus. At first, it was mostly doctors, nurses, and others in health care settings who wore masks. But now, as other people wear them, more and more kids are  Continue Reading

Ayudar a los niños a acostumbrarse a las mascarillas

Posted on May 19, 2020 at 4:17 pm, by

-Dr. Mark Fishaut and Dr. Frank James En muchos lugares, la gente está llevando mascarilla en los lugares públicos debido al coronavirus (COVID-19). Es una forma importante de ayudar a reducir la velocidad de propagación del virus. Al principio, quienes llevaban mascarillas eran, sobre todo, los médicos, los enfermeros y otro tipo de personal que  Continue Reading

Build an Asian Hornet Bottle Trap

Posted on May 19, 2020 at 10:22 am, by

As you may have heard, asian hornets (a.k.a: Murder Hornets) have found their way to the United States and have been detected in Washington. They are an invasive species and will decimate honey bee hives. If you would like to help the State of Washington, here is a project you can do on your property  Continue Reading

Release of San Juan County Health Officer Order on Face Coverings

Posted on May 18, 2020 at 12:01 pm, by

Supported by the San Juan County Council, the Board of Health, and the Department of Health and Community Services, San Juan County Health Officer Dr. Frank James issued a Health Officer order over the weekend regarding the public use of face coverings to reduce the spread of COVID-19 illness. A Frequently Asked Questions addressing all aspects of the order,  Continue Reading