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Campaign launched to save Sidney ferry run; meeting tonight in Anacortes

A meeting is scheduled tonight at 6 in Anacortes City Hall to discuss ways to save the Sidney, B.C. ferry run.

The meeting, coordinated by the Anacortes Chamber of Commerce, is part of Anacortes' "Save Our Ferry" Campaign.

"The purpose of this initial meeting is to identify the key points, come up with contact strategy, basically, determine what do we need to do to save this run," said Mitch Everton, executive director of the Anacortes Chamber of Commerce.

Friday Harbor Mayor David Jones, County Council Chairman Howie Rosenfeld and Ferry Advisory Committee Chairman Ed Sutton plan to attend, according to Debbie Pigman of the San Juan Island Chamber of Commerce.

Everton said there are two things islanders can do to help:

1. Send letters and e-mails to state representatives and to Senate Transportation Committee members Kevin Ranker and Mary Margaret Haugen.

2. Be part of the delegation that goes to Olympia when the time comes.

To learn more, visit www.saveourferry.com.

"As you may have read recently in the news, the governor issued her proposed budget earlier this week. To meet a projected deficit of some $6 billion, one of the many cuts involved the Anacortes-Sidney ferry run. Her proposal is that the international run would occur in 2009 but would cease with the end of summer sailing. There would be no international run beginning in 2010," Everton wrote in an e-mail.

"Maintenance of this run is key to the continued vitality of the Anacortes Economy and a key element in the chamber's legislative agenda. A study commissioned by EDASC which was released last July concluded that the run supports 1,470 jobs with over $30M in annual payroll and nearly $126M in annual spending. The report further concluded that ferry activity generates approximately $4.6M in annual taxes, an average of $45/rider. This is an economic stimulus that we can't afford to lose.

"To that end, we will be implementing a comprehensive Save Our Ferry (SOF) campaign, beginning early January. This will involve the chamber, city, EDASC, Sidney, ferry advisory committee, and other interested constituencies. Contacts have already been initiated with key legislators. The chamber will take an active role in planning and follow-up, specifically for the hearings and testimony that will ultimately decide the run's fate.

"The SOF will take both financial resources and manpower. If you are interested in getting involved in this campaign, either financially or personally, please contact the chamber office (293-7911). The reality is that legislators want to hear from individual business owners and the effect that proposed changes make on their livelihood. You are key to our success."

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