Evening fog on its way into the Gravel Pit

Posted October 20, 2022 at 10:15 pm by

Letter to the Editor: Materials re-use and the new library building

Posted October 20, 2022 at 9:00 pm by

Here are some help­ful facts and cor­rec­tions about the new library con­struc­tion expens­es and re-use of materials.

First, the total pro­ject­ed cost of the new library build­ing itself is $18 mil­lion. For a 15,000 square-foot build­ing, that works out to $1,200 per square foot — about the same cost as an upper-end sin­gle-fam­i­ly res­i­dence here on San Juan Island. Keep in mind that a sin­gle-fam­i­ly res­i­dence doesn’t have any­where near what’s required by the Uni­form Build­ing Code for a pub­lic build­ing. The struc­tur­al design, elec­tri­cal, plumb­ing, hand­i­cap access, pub­lic bath­rooms, rail­ings, floor struc­ture, even sewage all must meet high-capac­i­ty reg­u­la­tions required by the State.

That said, the price per square foot for con­struc­tion is well with­in reason.

Sec­ond, the exist­ing build­ing has been sit­ting vacant for five years. It has suf­fered from seri­ous neglect by the pre­vi­ous own­er, in addi­tion to water dam­age and mold from last winter’s flood­ing. What has been removed already is asbestos and areas severe­ly dam­aged by water and mold — all paid for by the insur­ance car­ri­er and not a part of the pro­posed project budget.

Any mate­ri­als that are reusable will be. That includes sol­id wood doors, sinks, wood mold­ing, and win­dows. As a pub­lic enti­ty, the Library can­not give away reusable mate­ri­als, but they will be sold or auc­tioned off.

Third, there were lengthy fea­si­bil­i­ty stud­ies done over the past few years to deter­mine whether the exist­ing build­ing could some­how be saved and remod­eled. It was decid­ed that it is not fea­si­ble for a new library project. The fea­si­bil­i­ty study can be found on our Library’s own web­site.

So, before you let your­self be talked out of this oppor­tu­ni­ty by the folks that claim to love libraries but are vot­ing no, edu­cate your­self with the facts and con­sid­er all the ben­e­fits an expand­ed library can offer our community.

Brad Pil­low
San Juan Island

Turning waste metal, plastics and glass into art at SJIMA

Posted October 20, 2022 at 7:53 pm by

Contributed photo

The San Juan Islands Muse­um of Art shares details about their upcom­ing artist event.

How do you do this? It’s made of what? Learn the answers to these ques­tions and more at Kevin Christison’s spe­cial gallery walk-and-talk at his San Juan Islands Muse­um of Art exhib­it on Fri­day, Oct. 28 at 5:30 p.m.

The New For­bid­den’s stu­dio works arise from an array of upcy­cled waste mate­ri­als — PET plas­tics, glass, alu­minum, paper, and nat­ur­al fiber. The use of sus­tain­able ener­gy in the art-mak­ing process­es is empha­sized and under­scored through­out the exhibition.

As the title The New For­bid­den sug­gests, this body of work inves­ti­gates the ever-chang­ing bound­aries of what is deemed accept­able, or allowed, in soci­ety, and what is for­bid­den. Works address such top­ics as cli­mate change, ethics, social accep­tance, the con­cept of prop­er­ty, per­son­al and com­mu­nal bound­aries, man­age­ment of nat­ur­al resources — includ­ing waste mate­ri­als — and the use of sus­tain­able ener­gy. Sur­round­ed by his excit­ing work, explore Chris­ti­son’ cre­ations and his inspirations.

Admis­sion to this artist tour is free to the pub­lic. The museum’s reg­u­lar hours are Fri­day through Mon­day from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

San Juan County Conservation Land Bank Commission agenda for Oct. 21

Posted October 20, 2022 at 11:15 am by

The San Juan Coun­ty Con­ser­va­tion Land Bank Com­mis­sion will hold a reg­u­lar meet­ing on Fri­day, Oct. 21 at 8:30 a.m. Items up for dis­cus­sion or action at Fri­day’s meet­ing include:

  • Gen­er­al pub­lic comments
  • Chair and Com­mis­sion­ers report
  • Part­ner update – Angela Ander­son, San Juan Preser­va­tion Trust
  • Coun­ty Coun­cil update – Chris­tine Minney
  • Third quar­ter finan­cial report
  • Director’s report – Recre­ation, Open Space, and Stew­ard­ship Plan update
  • Stew­ard­ship report – Cof­felt lease draft approval for legal review; final Turtle­back Moun­tain Stew­ard­ship and Man­age­ment Plan con­sid­er­a­tion for approval; pub­lic com­ments and draft respons­es for Wat­mough Addi­tion Inter­im Man­age­ment Plan
  • Out­reach and vol­un­teer report
  • Future agen­da items

You can view the live stream of the meet­ing online or take part in per­son at the San Juan Coun­ty Fair­grounds Office Con­fer­ence Room, 849 Argyle Ave.

Library capital grant proposal to receive consideration from the State Legislature

Posted October 20, 2022 at 10:00 am by

The Library shares news about a poten­tial fund­ing source for its new facility.

The San Juan Island Library is excit­ed to announce its $2 mil­lion grant pro­pos­al sub­mit­ted to the Wash­ing­ton Depart­ment of Commerce’s Library Cap­i­tal Improve­ment Pro­gram has advanced to the State Leg­is­la­ture for con­sid­er­a­tion in their 2023 reg­u­lar session.

The LCIP is a com­pet­i­tive grant pro­gram cre­at­ed by the Leg­is­la­ture dur­ing their 2019 reg­u­lar ses­sion. Its pur­pose is to assist libraries oper­at­ed by gov­ern­men­tal units, as defined in RCW 27.12.010, to acquire, con­struct, or reha­bil­i­tate their facil­i­ties. The Depart­ment of Com­merce, in con­sul­ta­tion with the LCIP Com­mit­tee, con­ducts a statewide com­pet­i­tive grant process to rec­om­mend a list of grants to be funded.

These grant funds, if award­ed, will go a long way to help make a new, expand­ed library at 660 Spring St. a real­i­ty for San Juan Islanders. The $2 mil­lion request rep­re­sents 10 per­cent of the esti­mat­ed total project cost of $20 mil­lion. This total esti­mat­ed cost includes pay­off of the exist­ing prop­er­ty note and all costs asso­ci­at­ed with design, con­struc­tion, fur­ni­ture, and fixtures.

An esti­mat­ed $6 mil­lion will come from phil­an­thropy and oth­er grants dur­ing the Library’s cap­i­tal cam­paign, and $12 mil­lion from a bond to be placed on the bal­lot on Nov. 8.

“We’re over­joyed that our library’s pro­pos­al will move for­ward to the next round of this grant cycle,” said Library Direc­tor Lau­rie Orton. “The cam­paign to build a library bet­ter suit­ed to meet the social, edu­ca­tion­al, and enrich­ment needs of San Juan Islanders — now and in the future — is gain­ing momen­tum, and this is anoth­er pos­i­tive step for­ward. We’re so grate­ful this pro­gram con­tin­ues to be fund­ed by the state to help libraries grow with the chang­ing and expand­ing roles they play in their com­mu­ni­ties. We look for­ward to hear­ing more news from the Depart­ment of Com­merce in the spring.”

San Juan Valley smoke

Posted October 19, 2022 at 10:16 pm by

Letter to the Editor: Not the right time, not the right size, not the right need and not thought through

Posted October 19, 2022 at 8:56 pm by

At the start, I need to say I have been a very grate­ful recip­i­ent of the library’s well-earned, wor­thy rep­u­ta­tion while writ­ing one book and now writ­ing a dou­ble biog­ra­phy of a hus­band and wife; and I agree the library space is tight. But after much thought, as I was ini­tial­ly in favor of the new library, I am forced to recon­sid­er with the pre­sent­ed rationale.

One cit­ed rea­son for a larg­er build­ing is that the library has pro­grams where cur­rent­ly atten­dees over­flow the read­ing space and into the cir­cu­la­tion desk space, maybe into the front entry space and some­times even into the children’s library. One rea­son for the new build­ing is a place to present such pro­grams which seems a lot of usu­al­ly unused space and trans­lates as mon­ey poor­ly spent. More­over, in town there is already a vast sup­ply of under­uti­lized spaces from small meet­ings to large con­fer­ences avail­able at a minus­cule cost com­pared to the cost of con­struc­tion plus annu­al util­i­ties there­after. The Grange, Key Bank, Mason­ic Lodge, Her­itage Bank — and even the Fair­grounds — are already avail­able, which gives argu­ment the library staff may be under-think­ing poten­tial events caused by think­ing all events must be locat­ed in-house. Last, all the list­ed places already have ade­quate park­ing, thus reduc­ing required park­ing con­sid­er­a­tion of any future library park­ing needs.

A large por­tion of the cur­rent build­ing is ele­vat­ed. The building’s main floor could be strength­ened, remain­ing base­ment ele­va­tion low­ered and space cre­at­ed with access via inte­ri­or stair­well for staff. This leaves only cir­cu­la­tion on the main floor. This cost is prob­a­bly 10–15 per­cent of the request­ed $20 million.

Last, it seems by mov­ing staff into the new space and uti­liz­ing the new space on the main floor for book shelves and video equip­ment uti­liza­tion, plus main­tain­ing cur­rent seat count, the addi­tion­al park­ing require­ment should be eliminated.

The recent years of soar­ing prop­er­ty val­ue and assess­ments have already result­ed in a huge tax wind­fall when jux­ta­posed to increas­es of coun­ty res­i­dent income. As stat­ed in a recent San Juan Update let­ter, tax­es have raised close to 50 per­cent in just five years. This pro­posed addi­tion­al debt ser­vice through the Library Dis­trict only adds to the already ruth­less tax bur­den the island work­ing pop­u­la­tion and fixed-income retirees. Where does this stop? The stop needs to begin — sor­ry library — but here. Seems your first need is a pro­fes­sion­al fundrais­er with a three-year goal for $15 mil­lion in 2025 dol­lars. Con­tin­ue Reading

EDC offering introductory auto technology course on Nov. 5

Posted October 19, 2022 at 7:06 pm by

The EDC shares news about the next course in its Trades Train­ing Initiative.

The Eco­nom­ic Devel­op­ment Coun­cil of San Juan Coun­ty will offer an Intro­duc­tion to Auto­mo­tive Tech­nol­o­gy Course as part of its Trades Train­ing Ini­tia­tive. This course is open to par­tic­i­pants from San Juan Coun­ty, ages 18 and over, who plan to use auto­mo­tive main­te­nance or repair skills for pay­ing work.

The course will pro­vide an overview of basic auto­mo­tive sys­tems, tools, and shop safe­ty. Stu­dents will gain hands-on expe­ri­ence in chang­ing oil, check­ing flu­ids, rotat­ing tires, bat­tery main­te­nance, jump start­ing, and basic diagnostics.

The course will be held Sat­ur­day, Nov. 5, from 1–5 p.m. at the Fel­low Shop in Fri­day Har­bor. The reg­is­tra­tion fee is $20 and space is limited.

For more infor­ma­tion or to apply, vis­it the EDC web­site.

Letter to the Editor: Sheriff Ron Krebs — he’s a long-time islander

Posted October 19, 2022 at 10:42 am by

It was fall 2018 when Bob could still dri­ve. That’s when I first learned that Ron Krebs was more than just a pub­lic fig­ure but also a friend. Bob and I want­ed yard signs for his re-elec­tion cam­paign for sher­iff. He came to our home after work and the three of us sat around and dis­cussed the The Lit­tle Store, my books, and Ron’s cam­paign. We also talked about crime and law. I’m a big advo­cate of law and order. My uncle was an attor­ney in Phoenix before he passed away in 1996, the same year my dad died, and a year before I moved to the island.

Since 2015, Ron and his crew have assist­ed us per­son­al­ly and pro­fes­sion­al­ly and have always been acces­si­ble when we’ve need­ed help at our store or home. From scrapes with peo­ple who want­ed to cause us harm, whether direct­ly at The Lit­tle Store or at our home and around the neigh­bor­hood, Ron’s team have always act­ed fast and with empa­thy and cour­tesy when respond­ing to our calls for assistance.

Ron is an islander from way back, since before he moved back per­ma­nent­ly in 2007 when he came to work at the Sheriff’s office. He knows the island way and the peo­ple who live here. He under­stands nuances of enforc­ing laws here while apply­ing them fairly.

In July 2017, I went on a ride-along with Sergeant Eric Gard­ner. The ride-along was arranged by Under­sh­er­iff Zac Reimer, who cleared it with Sher­iff Krebs. Typ­i­cal­ly, a ride-along is arranged for peo­ple who might want to join the team of the San Juan Coun­ty Sheriff’s office. I thought it would be a slow island ride but then things heat­ed up when a young man threat­ened to kill him­self by hang­ing. The night went into warp speed. It was rain­ing and the young man went miss­ing. All the deputies knew him. It would be a tragedy if he killed him­self. They all wor­ried for this man.

After an hour-long search, thank­ful­ly, they locat­ed him. He was at his wit’s end. Ron stepped up and began talk­ing him down. I watched from the car as law enforce­ment — Ron, Eric, and two oth­er deputies — tried to help. Final­ly, the man agreed to go to the hos­pi­tal, and they called the night a suc­cess. The ride-along start­ed at five in the evening and fin­ished at eleven-thir­ty. After, I was rung out. Mine was only a six-hour ordeal and these peo­ple in law enforce­ment do this every day. And why? Because they want to help the peo­ple in our community.

That’s why I’m vot­ing to re-elect Ron Krebs. We have some expert men and women on the island whose per­son­al goals align with our per­son­al needs for them to serve us and pro­tect us.

Susan Wingate
Fri­day Harbor

Island Jobs: San Juan Canvas seeks a Sewer

Posted October 19, 2022 at 9:45 am by

San Juan Can­vas is look­ing for a part-time Sew­er for bag mak­ing, boat can­vas repairs, and sail repairs. Learn more in the Island Jobs sec­tion of the San Juan Update.

Notes from the Island — Oct. 19

Posted October 19, 2022 at 8:45 am by

Have some­thing to share with the Island? Whether the news is big or small, let us know!

Letter to the Editor: The gilding of a library

Posted October 18, 2022 at 9:01 pm by

The notion that our library is gross­ly inad­e­quate — a $20 mil­lion solu­tion being the only path for­ward — has been a mantra since 2018. Again, we are told that yet anoth­er sub­stan­tial tax increase must pass in order to avoid immi­nent com­mu­ni­ty degra­da­tion. The only alter­na­tive ever real­ly on the table is a dreamy, gold-plat­ed com­mu­ni­ty show­piece that goes far beyond need­ed func­tion­al improvements.

Sup­port­ers are chan­nel­ing Dr. Bron­ner the soap man, try­ing to make the case that a new library will be a salve for near­ly all of our social ills. Ms. Dana­her and oth­ers are right to speak to per­ti­nent num­bers. Facts are an appro­pri­ate start­ing place to keep big ideas, in a small place, teth­ered to earth. How­ev­er, our 2020 cen­sus was 7,778 res­i­dents — far from just under 10,000, as Ms. Dana­her inferred. As of 2021 5,616 island res­i­dents own free library cards. Isn’t mem­ber­ship a key num­ber from which to extrap­o­late com­mu­ni­ty need?

The indus­try rec­om­mend­ed space of 0.6 to per­haps as much as 1.0 square foot per res­i­dent, is already sub­stan­tial­ly met by our cur­rent library foot­print of 9,600 square feet and would be dras­ti­cal­ly exceed­ed by a new 15,000 square-foot space. Pro­fes­sion­al library plan­ning rec­om­men­da­tions for pop­u­la­tions of 10,000 or less pre­scribe at least sev­en seats per 1,000 res­i­dents. We have about that regard­less of con­tin­ued COVID distancing.

I trust that most would agree that the research por­tal into the expand­ing uni­verse of infor­ma­tion is tech­nol­o­gy and com­put­er sta­tions, not space-eat­ing shelves full of enter­tain­ing books and unnec­es­sary col­lec­tions. I see that the flock of local authors claim they can’t do prop­er research with­out a lot more pub­lic space.

Dis­cus­sion about using the Life Care Cen­ter for afford­able hous­ing is a train that left the sta­tion; the Library Dis­trict already owns it. Most impor­tant­ly, the library web­site insists that the remod­el of that use­ful build­ing was nev­er part of the plan, even before the egre­gious mis­takes that led to exten­sive water dam­age dur­ing last December’s cold spell.

For ground­ing, look no fur­ther than the non-prof­it work­hors­es like the Food Bank and Fam­i­ly Resource Cen­ter that raised dona­tions to mod­est­ly expand square footage based upon actu­al num­bers and essen­tial needs.

Our exist­ing library has a relaxed atmos­phere, superb ser­vice, great staff and help­ful vol­un­teers. I have been a fre­quent user for 15 years. I nev­er have a park­ing prob­lem nor feel crowd­ed. The busiest times for larg­er urban and sub­ur­ban libraries are evenings and week­ends. Our library choos­es to con­tin­ue reduced hours — 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. week­days, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sat­ur­day, and shut­tered on Sun­day. Banker’s hours. Aren’t more hours and staff one way to expand the size of an “inad­e­quate” library?

Vote no on this library levy. Send this grandiose plan back to the draw­ing board to be down­sized and de-glit­tered — using the Life Care site with room to expand if nec­es­sary down the road — giv­en the harsh real­i­ties of our fal­ter­ing econ­o­my, declin­ing ser­vices, fer­ry fol­lies, increas­ing liv­ing costs and a debil­i­tat­ing lack of rea­son­able housing.

Steve Ulvi
San Juan Island

Garden Club accepting sign-ups for off-island holiday excursion on Dec. 8

Posted October 18, 2022 at 7:44 pm by

The San Juan Island Gar­den Club shares news about their Christ­mas­time trip to the mainland.

On Thurs­day, Dec. 8, the San Juan Island Gar­den Club will trav­el to Molbak’s Nurs­ery in Wood­inville and Skag­it Acres in Mount Vernon.

Dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son, Molbak’s sparkles with the joy of the sea­son with dec­o­ra­tions from around the world, snow­men, poin­set­tias, Christ­mas trees, and Dan­ish Kringle. You will have the option of lunch among mag­nif­i­cent green­ery. The sec­ond stop is Skag­it Acres and their 12 Days of Christ­mas event, with theme-dec­o­rat­ed trees, love­ly plants, a unique gift shop, and per­haps a cup of tea. The day will be topped off with din­ner at Anthony’s.

The Club will catch the 8:05 a.m. depar­ture from Fri­day Har­bor and the 8:25 p.m. return sail­ing from Anacortes.

The $60 fee includes trans­porta­tion and a fer­ry tick­et, but does not cov­er food, shop­ping, or the dri­ver gra­tu­ity. Reser­va­tions must be made by Thurs­day, Nov. 10. For more infor­ma­tion, con­tact Von­nie Harold at 360–298-0859 or yharold99@gmail.com.

Letter to the Editor: Vote yes for the library levy

Posted October 18, 2022 at 11:44 am by

We love libraries — espe­cial­ly ours here on the island. It has ably served our needs, but for the past num­ber of years real­i­ty has hit: it’s limp­ing, old, in need of repair, small and cramped, and good­ness knows needs to be replaced.

How has it impact­ed our house­hold? The Tech Tues­day “class” has come to the res­cue count­less times when we fum­ble with our com­put­ers. Staff have found the books, new and old, that we request­ed for our read­ing and learn­ing plea­sure, it has the DVDs of the myr­i­ad films we have missed over the years, and it has host­ed speak­ers pre­sent­ing an array of very inter­est­ing and intrigu­ing issues.

Any increase in our prop­er­ty tax is far out­weighed by the pos­i­tive impact on us and what a new library and its extra­or­di­nary staff bring to our com­mu­ni­ty. We urge you to go to the web­site for the library to learn more about our/your library and the levy.

Please join us in vot­ing yes for the library levy.

Gay Gra­ham and Ron Hanson
San Juan Island

Commercial composting takes next steps

Posted October 18, 2022 at 9:44 am by

The Coun­ty shares news about the path for­ward for com­mer­cial com­post­ing facil­i­ties in the San Juan Islands.

You may have noticed a buzz sur­round­ing com­mer­cial com­post­ing in the islands the past few months. That’s because San Juan County’s Sol­id Waste Pro­gram is explor­ing how to best imple­ment com­mer­cial com­post­ing in our community.

A food com­post­ing sys­tem was imple­ment­ed at the fair in August, a cit­i­zen sur­vey about the top­ic was con­duct­ed over the sum­mer, and now, with fund­ing sup­port from the Wash­ing­ton Depart­ment of Ecol­o­gy, the Coun­ty has con­tract­ed with Resource Syn­er­gy to devel­op an Organ­ics Recy­cling Imple­men­ta­tion Plan for its three most pop­u­lous islands.

Com­post is decom­posed food and yard waste. When done on a large scale, it is referred to as com­mer­cial com­post­ing. A com­mer­cial com­post­ing facil­i­ty in San Juan Coun­ty would col­lect organ­ic waste from restau­rants, gro­cery stores, oth­er com­mer­cial busi­ness­es, and indi­vid­ual res­i­dents. Com­mer­cial com­post­ing facil­i­ties can sell their com­post to farms, nurs­eries, and indi­vid­u­als, and it can be used in local municipalities.

There are many ben­e­fits to com­mer­cial com­post­ing, includ­ing waste reduc­tion and enhanc­ing soil qual­i­ty. Accord­ing to the EPA, about 30 per­cent of land­fill waste could be com­post­ed and turned into some­thing use­able. Com­post­ing food and yard waste con­verts the waste into fer­til­iz­ers that improve soil qual­i­ty. Com­post­ing reduces dis­pos­al costs and could poten­tial­ly save users mon­ey by bring­ing down garbage ser­vice bills.

“We were able to test-dri­ve com­post­ing with the com­mu­ni­ty at the fair. Over the four days of the event, 560 pounds of com­postable waste was col­lect­ed. It was a great suc­cess,” said Katie Flem­ing, Sol­id Waste Coor­di­na­tor in San Juan County’s Depart­ment of Envi­ron­men­tal Stewardship.

The cit­i­zen com­post­ing sur­vey that was con­duct­ed over the sum­mer had 312 respons­es and showed that 80 per­cent of peo­ple would par­tic­i­pate in a self-haul com­post­ing pro­gram, 70 per­cent would par­tic­i­pate in a pick-up ser­vice, and 85 per­cent would pur­chase the local­ly pro­duced, fin­ished com­post for gar­den­ing and land­scap­ing at their homes.

Now the Coun­ty is mov­ing for­ward with Resource Syn­er­gy, a sus­tain­abil­i­ty con­sul­tan­cy from Spokane, to delve deep­er into what com­mer­cial com­post­ing could look like in the islands. A plan will be draft­ed that will enable San Juan, Orcas, and Lopez to man­age organ­ics on each of their islands. This will allow San Juan Coun­ty to close organ­ic waste loops and reduce waste costs, enrich­ing the local economies and retain­ing nutri­ent streams for on-island use.

To accom­plish this, the Resource Syn­er­gy team will spend time inter­view­ing res­i­dents, restau­rants, and oth­er busi­ness­es over the late fall and win­ter. Their input will allow Resource Syn­er­gy to draft a com­pre­hen­sive plan for man­ag­ing organ­ics on the islands.

“It’s becom­ing more and more clear that res­i­dents in San Juan Coun­ty are enthu­si­as­tic about a com­mer­cial com­post­ing pro­gram. We’re excit­ed to keep the momen­tum mov­ing for­ward, reduce the amount of waste we send to the land­fill, and use this valu­able waste stream to enrich our islands’ soils,” said Fleming.