Opinion

Take charge of your health care | Editorial

It’s taken 18 months of researching and planning, but the Shared Care program is now available on the islands. And we think it’s a great thing. Shared Care is a regional service based in Bellingham. It is operated through PeaceHealth, which operates St. Joseph’s Hospital and proposes building a hospital on San Juan Island. Because the San Juans are in the St. Joseph’s service area, PeaceHealth agreed to extend the program to us (the Orcas Island Fire Department worked with PeaceHealth to bring the program here).

  • Apr 15th, 2009

We can be part of the solution | Editorial

April gives us a lot more to think about than spring. This month is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Child Abuse Prevention Month, and Alcohol Awareness Month — three issues that plague our society yet three issues on which we can make such a big difference. Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services of the San Juan Islands is using this month to make you aware of some important facts.

  • Apr 7th, 2009

Our children are depending on us. Let’s make sure we are there to help | House Calls

Hard times are always harder on children. The challenges of ordinary life are magnified when the stress of economic difficulty is imposed on a family. Foreclosures, layoffs and budget woes can lead to desperate behaviors. The overall gloom of the times affects even those who are not at immediate risk.

  • Apr 8th, 2009

Fixing up the current transfer station is not the cheapest option | Guest Column

Minimally fixing up the current transfer station has been widely advocated, because at first glance it appears to be obviously the cheapest option. In fact, it would be wasting money. To see why requires delving a bit deeper. There is another option that is not only cheaper but also better.

  • Mar 31st, 2009

Restoring a great natural place | Editorial

When non-Native settlers began flooding into the Pacific Northwest in the 1850s, the prairies were the first to undergo considerable change because of their easy conversion to farming use. The result? Today, Western Washington’s prairies — including that at American Camp — are widely considered the most imperiled ecosystems in the region.

  • Mar 31st, 2009

Family Umbrella Group making a difference for 11 years | Guest Column

In its 11th year, The Family Umbrella Group has never turned down a qualified preschool scholarship application, making it possible for more than 200 local island children to attend the preschool of their choice. Our annual fund-raiser will be held on April 3 in Mullis Community Senior Center. The theme this year is “Spring at the Seashore” and will include a silent auction and social hour beginning at 11, gourmet lunch served at noon, followed by a live — and lively — auction led by Eugene Cuomo.

  • Mar 27th, 2009

Give children a healthy start on education | Editorial

We are born wired to learn. By age 3, our brains have one trillion synapses — more than we’ll have in adulthood. By age 6, our brains are 95 percent the size of mom’s and dad’s. We’ll spend 13 years in school preparing for college or the workplace. But it’s our first five years of life — those years before we ever set foot in a classroom — that have the most impact on our ability to learn, control our behavior and build relationships. By age 5, we either have the building blocks for success, or we have a tough road to hoe.

  • Mar 27th, 2009

Learn about, and comment on, Navy plans | Editorial

April 13. That’s the new deadline for public comment on the U.S. Navy’s plans to extend its training over the San Juan Islands and the Pacific Northwest. Hear those planes rumbling over the San Juans? That should compel you to learn more about what the Navy has planned. Read the draft Environmental Impact Statement – the name of the document is the “Northwest Training Range Complex Draft Environmental Impact Statement / Overseas Environmental Impact Statement.” To review the document and submit a comment, visit www.NWTRangeComplexEIS.com or write to Naval Facilities Engineering Command Northwest, 1101 Tautog Circle, Silverdale, WA 98315-1101, Attn: Mrs. Kimberly Kler – NWTRC EIS/OEIS.

  • Mar 20th, 2009

Be heard on proposed major changes | Editorial

San Juan Island is at the threshold of major changes that will be felt 50 years from now. Attend these meetings. Be sure you are heard.

  • Mar 12th, 2009

Beth Williams-Gieger did well in the Lions’ den | Column by Howard Schonberger

I had my skeptic's guard up Tuesday when I attended the San Juan Lions Club meeting, where Beth Williams-Gieger, superintendent and clinic administrator of San Juan County Public Hospital District No. 1, was scheduled to speak about the proposed integrated medical center. Williams-Gieger was impressive enough to make a believer out of me.

Help take a big stride against cancer | Editorial

Support Relay for Life and you are helping someone win a battle with cancer. You are helping educate people so they know how to live better to reduce their cancer risk. And you are helping to fund research that will someday make cancer go the way of polio.

  • Mar 4th, 2009

Don’t give up your voice on health care | Editorial

Today, if you have a concern about the quality of medical care at Inter Island Medical Center, you can take your concerns up with your elected board of commissioners. They work for you. You can talk about issues of concern at public meetings. If you are not satisfied with a commissioner’s performance, you can vote for change at the ballot box. In the future, if you have a concern about the quality of medical care at the new integrated medical center operated by PeaceHealth, you can take your concerns up with ... well, that’s not clear.

  • Feb 26th, 2009

Lincoln Day dinner at the Grange — bloodied but unbowed | Ferry Home Companion

One thing you can count on after a general election: most of the speakers at this San Juan County Republican Party gathering like to face things as they are. That certainly was the case down the line Saturday at the San Juan Island Grange,

Help available to weather the financial storm | Editorial

Times are tough. Retirement investment plans have taken a beating. Local businesses are scrambling to keep doors open and paychecks coming. If you’ve tightened your belt and find you’re on the last notch, take note: Help is available locally as you weather this financial storm.

  • Feb 17th, 2009

Happy 100th, Friday Harbor | Editorial

Feb. 9 is Friday Harbor’s 100th birthday, and it’s our birthday too — all of us who call this place home — for we are all a part of the community and the culture and the history of this place.

  • Feb 9th, 2009

Industries should help pay for oil-spill prevention | Editorial

The state Legislature has introduced two bills — one sponsored by our state senator, Kevin Ranker; the other co-sponsored by our state representatives, Jeff Morris and Dave Quall — which would require the cargo, cruise and oil industries to pay for a year-round response tug at Neah Bay to prevent oil spills. The Legislature should make the requirement law.

  • Feb 3rd, 2009

It’s time to cut the cord on the Sutton Road site | Guest Column

In 1979, Beckwith and Associates conducted a study on siting solid waste processing on San Juan Island. Where are we 30 years down the road? Still talking about siting solid waste processing. Why has it taken so long when Orcas and Lopez have had exemplary solid waste transfer stations sites?

  • Jan 30th, 2009

Obama’s victory has carried us across an important frontier in our national journey | Commentary

John F. Kennedy was the first Catholic president. He was also the last Catholic president, if by that characterization we mean a political personality defined by his faith. So too Barack Obama will prove to be both the first black president and the last black president.

  • Jan 21st, 2009

Keep public business open, not on a PDA | Editorial

This hasn’t happened here yet. But in this new technological age, it could. And it shouldn’t. That’s the reason for the following editorial.

  • Jan 21st, 2009

Sidney ferry is part of San Juans’ charm | Ferry Home Companion

WSF is an iconic symbol of our home and charm to visitors. In fact, it could be one of the principal reasons to live here if it were improved and reliable. And a reason why the value of our homes would be secure, rather than shaky.

Enforce the existing law, and stop pursuing the orca | Guest Column

The plight of our resident killer whales has become simple to understand, as is the most likely means of saving them. After years of argument driven as much by money as by science, we have suddenly, unfortunately, reached a moment when the causes and remedial actions are relatively clear.

  • Jan 9th, 2009

Anacortes/Sidney ferry is a vital economic resource that deserves state support | Guest Column

Current law contains clear language that prevents the elimination of any ferry route without Legislative approval. It also states that service on a ferry route cannot be substantially reduced without public hearings. This ensures there will be considerable discussion on this subject at both the state and local levels before any decision is made.

  • Jan 9th, 2009

We’re not giving up on trying to save salmon | Being Frank

I don’t understand how you can get tired of trying to save the salmon. What those infected with salmon fatigue are really saying is, “Stop coming to me and talking about salmon.” I have news for them. We’re just getting started.

No health hazard posed by cell phone towers | Counterpoint

I was surprised to read Steve Ludwig’s guest column finding him still in panic over perceived health dangers from cell phone towers. I would have assumed that Ludwig, a learned man, would have made himself aware of the solid, valid, peer-reviewed and universally accepted scientific findings pertaining to cell towers.

  • Jan 7th, 2009

Muster solidarity needed to defeat cell tower threat | Point

The name of the game is “Beggar Thy Neighbor.” You sign a lucrative contract to put a cell tower on your land and let the people living around you suffer the consequences: The health effects from around-the-clock electromagnetic radiation, loss of property value, loss of the enjoyment of your land and the sight of the ugly tower itself.

  • Jan 7th, 2009

No compelling reason to move transfer station | Editorial

We commend the county Solid Waste Advisory Committee for its work in studying the options for a solid waste transfer station site on San Juan Island. However, in its recommendation, the committee failed to provide compelling reasons why the Beaverton Valley Road site is more suitable for a solid waste transfer station. At this point, The Journal is compelled to stick to its earlier editorial arguments that the solid waste transfer station should stay on Sutton Road.

  • Jan 7th, 2009

Let islanders vote on waste transfer station location | Guest Column

As a community member, potential neighbor to the Beaverton Valley Road site, and avid SWAC meeting attender for over three years, I am writing this in response to the latest SWAC meeting -- the last meeting before the SWAC recommendation goes out to the County Council for the proposed site of the new transfer station to be built at the Beaverton Valley property. Please educate yourselves to a seldom-printed portion of the history and background of this project by reading my response below.

  • Dec 31st, 2008

A good time to count our blessings | Editor’s Notebook

An arctic storm brought a big freeze to the islands. Our school district faces a $717,000 deficit. Our community and state are caught in the national recession. Businesses are struggling to hold on as islanders tighten their purse strings. It’s easy to be grumpy, what with having to navigate icy roads while worrying about the economy and that IRA and/or 401K. But a neighbor said something to me the other day that set me on a path of realizing just how fortunate we are.

  • Dec 30th, 2008

Non-point pollution is our problem, and that’s the point | Editorial

Scientists call it “non-point pollution,” meaning it emanates from sources that aren’t specific or readily identifiable. Oil leaks from automobiles and chemical treatments on lawns are two good examples, swept as they are by rainwater through ditches and storm drains and into the waters of Puget Sound. Another example: the septic systems of shoreline homes, which over time send untreated waste oozing out to contaminate our waterways.

  • Dec 30th, 2008

Education must be our top priority | Editorial

Undoubtedly, the financial situation that the 2009 state Legislature deals with when in goes into session in January will be far more difficult than when those legislators announced their candidacies for office in spring and summer 2008. With the state in a recession, Gov. Christine Gregoire is looking at cutting several billion dollars out of the state budget. The budget deficit could reach $6 billion, some reports stated last week. Education must be a priority, not just for the Legislature but for all of us.

  • Dec 29th, 2008

Stop being adversaries on ‘crumb’ issue | Editorial

Crumb rubber is messy. It smells. It’s impossible to drive a wheelchair through it to get to the playground equipment. On those points, everyone agrees. And both sides on the issue — parents who want crumb rubber replaced, and the school district which can’t afford to replace it — need to take a breath and realize the lessons here.

  • Dec 10th, 2008

Annexation should not impact ratepayers | Editorial

Proponents laid out some good reasons Nov. 20 for the town to annex the Buck property. The most compelling argument came from those who said that, without affordable housing, they may have to move off the island. Town residents also gave a compelling argument against annexation — not against affordable housing, but annexation — saying that the cost of adding a proposed 240-home community to the town’s water and sewer systems would boost utility rates to even more unaffordable levels.

  • Dec 3rd, 2008

San Juan schools need ‘substantial changes’ to balance budget | Michael Soltman

Since 1993, the State of Washington has fallen from 11th in the nation for per-student funding to 44th in the nation today. Several recent studies have found that the current shortfall of basic education funding is about $2.4 billion annually.

  • Dec 3rd, 2008

‘Friday Harbor residents should not be further burdened with more infrastructure costs associated with annexation’ | Ron Warden

The real issue is, how much is the annexation of free land going to cost the residents of Friday Harbor? Annexation does not make sense. I hope the Town of Friday Harbor seriously considers its actions. Unfortunately, the word I hear on the street, talking to locals and local businesses, is that the deal is already done. I sincerely hope not.

  • Dec 2nd, 2008

‘This annexation, and its companion as proposed by the county, is long overdue’ | John M. Campbell

This annexation, and its companion as proposed by the county, is long overdue. In evaluating this proposal, it is necessary to review closely both the staff report by Mr. Bertrand and an earlier report by county Planning Director Ron Henrickson dated Aug 24, 2007. The latter report projects San Juan Island population growth, as mandated by GMA, that can only be accommodated in the Town of Friday Harbor.

  • Dec 2nd, 2008

Prosperity, as well as charity, starts at home | Editorial by Howard Schonberger

Let’s take a good look at what we can get locally before buying gifts elsewhere. Maybe we should have a “Blue Heron” poster and badges made, like in the 1930s, to show we believe that prosperity, as well as charity, starts at home.

Toward more efficiency in the new year | Editorial

Anticipate revenue to come in lower than expected and budget accordingly. If revenue comes in higher and you have money left over at the end of the year, put that in reserve for future major expenses. Sounds like a good policy for all local governments, not just in lean times but all times.

  • Nov 20th, 2008

We have overcome | Commentary by Howard Schonberger

It seems like only yesterday when I was a kid in Omaha working at the Omaha theater as an usher for the first time and Jimmy Hall, a star halfback on our football team, came in with his mother. I greeted him warmly and the doorman came over when they started forward. "Kindly take the stairway to your right, please," he said gently. They nodded and started upstairs. The doorman turned to me and said: "Don't ever forget those words when Negroes come in."

What you should know about Steller sea lions | Beach Watchers

Tragically, as with many marine species these days, the Western stock is listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act and our Eastern stock’s official status is threatened. Steady decline in the populations of these amazingly powerful creatures, who have flourished in these waters for centuries, has been attributed to over fishing and the decimation of habitats that support their food supply. This just happens to parallel with an increase in the population and activities of a two-legged environmental predator who has moved into the region over the last 100 years.

  • Oct 30th, 2008

Lessons for the San Juans from Hurricane Ike | Guest Column

I’m just back from South Texas and, as is always the case when I find myself close to a disaster working on the response, I wonder how our own community will fare when it’s our turn. The islands aren’t hurricane country, but the impacts of an earthquake or severe winter storm (google “1962 Columbus Day Storm” for an example) are similar to what Texas is facing. No fuel, food, water or electricity. Limited medical care. Damage to roads and homes. The list goes on.

  • Oct 30th, 2008