Staff photo/Hayley Day The sign honoring the orca Granny is located where vehicles park to load onto the ferry.

Around Town | Granny’s Way, April election

Want to know what is going on in town? Check out these recaps an orca memorial and the April special election.

Granny’s Way

Cars loading onto the ferries will now park across from Granny’s Way, not East Street. The name change is a memorial for Granny — the oldest recorded Southern resident killer whale who was reported missing and presumed dead, last January. Above the road sign, it reads “In honor of J2,” her alphanumeric identification given by the Center for Whale Research.

“Granny was the matriarch of the entire Southern resident orca population,” said Town Administrator Duncan Wilson. “When the news came out, it was sad; it was an end of an era.”

In February, town officials announced the decision to rename a street at a community potluck honoring Granny, in partnership with The Whale Museum. The sign was installed in late March in an area where businesses and residents didn’t have to change addresses.

April 25 special election

The county will hold a special election on April 25, which only includes issues regarding the creation of a Lopez Island hospital district. Lopez residents will vote for or against the creation of a public hospital district, as well as the five commissioners, who will serve six-year, staggered terms.

“It would be great to vote in support of the district so the clinic can continue operations,” said Christa Campbell, vice chair of the Catherine Washburn Medical Association.

In mid-September, Island Hospital officials reported that their service contract to run the Lopez Island Medical Clinic will end on June 30.

Campbell said if the association partners with the University of Washington to run the medical clinic, Island Hospital will extend the contract to Sept. 30. If UW doesn’t partner with the clinic, and the clinic has to run independently, the “likelihood of the clinic closing for a short time is high,” said Campbell. This is due to the lack of time to transition partners, including transferring records and updating insurance company credentials.

The hospital district revenue from property taxes will fund the operations of the clinic under either circumstance. If UW is selected, elected commissioners will finalize a contract with them. Commissioners will also determine the taxable amount, which cannot exceed over $.75 per $1,000 of assessed Lopez property. Tax revenue will be collected starting in April 2018.

Island Hospital has operated the clinic since the 1990s, while the Catherine Washburn Medical Association has owned the building since the 1970s.

Transitioning from Island Hospital to the new partner is estimated to cost up to $600,000, said Campbell. The annual anticipated shortfall of the clinic is $450,000 to $600,000, she added.

“Without the district, there would be no funds to operate the clinic,” said Campbell, who is running for commissioner position No. 1, uncontested.

Three commission candidates are running for uncontested positions, three are running for position No. 3 and two are running for position No. 4. The positions are not based on any physical jurisdiction; some candidates chose to run against certain opponents.