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West to east, Larsen rounds the bases on SJ Island tour
It’s good to have friends in high places, like in the U.S. House of Representatives.
On the heels of a recent tour by Rep. Rick Larsen of his Friday Harbor window and door manufacturing plant, David Marsaudon of Window Craft is now reconsidering Canadian markets, where figuring out what it takes to make a successful bid previously appeared to be formidable at the least, and daunting at best.
“If I have an opportunity I would certainly think of submitting a bid,” Marsaudon said.
Larsen and his team have helped one of Window Craft’s rival manufacturers develop a healthy and regular business with clients across the international border. Larsen, D-Everett, believes that they may be able to assist Marsaudon and Window Craft to do the same.
He is also delighted and evidently somewhat relived that after nearly a dozen years the pending relocation of a portion of Cattle Point Road threatened by erosion, which winds across National Park Service property, is moving full steam ahead. Along with fellow members of the state’s congressional delegation, Larsen helped to earmark $5.5 million in funding for preservation and improvement of the local roadway as part of the most recent federal transportation bill.
“My first visit was back in 2001,” Larsen said. “It’s been a long time coming but it now looks like it’s going to happen.”
A stop-over at Cattle Point Road kicked off Larsen’s Aug. 28 afternoon tour of San Juan Island. He was accompanied on stops along the way by numerous local officials, including the three members of the county council.
The veteran congressman, reelected by a comfortable margin to a seventh two-year term in November and a member of the House Armed Services Committee, fielded questions about veterans’ benefits from about a half-dozen former military men at the American Legion Hall in Friday Harbor, the second stop on the tour. It was also the fifth of five forums tailored for veterans along Larsen’s week-long tour of the state’s 2nd congressional district, which consists of San Juan and Island counties, and large portions in the western regions of Whatcom, Skagit and Snohomish counties as well.
Larsen said the Veterans Administration has whittled down a backlog of up to 640,000 cases nationwide to about 480,000 cases over the past three months, a 25 percent reduction. The VA’s caseload swelled by about 230,000 in just two weeks after Congress passed the so-called “Agent Orange Bill”, tailored for illness suffered by Vietnam War veterans, about two years ago, he noted.
“I think the VA would say a 25 percent decrease in 90 days is good, but that a 480,000 backlog is not good,” he said, adding the goal of the VA is to eliminate the backlog completely by 2015, and resolving cases with a 98 percent accuracy. “From the congressional side, what we’re trying to do is first off meet this goal and second make sure they have the resources to meet that goal.”
At the tour’s final stop, Larsen surveyed the charred remains of the Port of Friday Harbor building that until Aug. 17 was home of Downriggers Restaurant. The congressman spoke with several business owners displaced by the blaze and was briefed about the fire, and about what happens next by port and town officials. For now, he said it appears federal resources may not be needed to renovate the site.
“The message I”m getting from the folks here is that they’re heading forward and moving ahead,” he said.