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SOUNDER THE ISLANDS’ Serving Orcas, Lopez and San Juan County Election results Read about Orcas Fire’s levy election at WEDNESDAY, April 23, 2014  VOL. 47, NO. 17  75¢  Using strength Lopez senior creates powerful final project Editor’s note: April is Sexual Assault Awareness month. This is the Sounder’s second story on the topic and how it affects our local communities. by MIGAEL SCHERER Special to the Sounder Miriam Drahn wasn’t satisfied with the minimum requirements of her graduation project. “I wanted to go beyond a 12-page report on the subject of sexual assault,” she said. Using painting, photography, powerful language and the help of fellow students, she launched an awareness campaign for the month of April – Sexual Assault Awareness Month – that she hopes will change hearts and lives. Drahn knew she needed eyegrabbing posters. She began with “I Use My Strength,” a phrase she encountered in her research, designing and painting two-foot Migael Scherer photos Above: Senior Miriam Drahn. At right: 12th grader Chase Schober and 10th grader Vinny Kramer display one of Drahn’s signs. by three-foot signs using her own statements. “I Use My Strength to Stand Against Rape” reads one against a swirl of color Others include “I Use My Strength to Love, not to Hurt” and “I Use My Strength to Stand Up for Mysel.” She then posed and photographed classmates holding the signs. The results are compelling: postersized photos of Lopez kids looking directly at the viewer, positive and powerful. Familiar faces, many of them athletes, challenging the rest of us to follow their lead. Each poster stops you and stays with you. Creating the posters was an awareness campaign in itself. Drahn made sure the students in the photos believed in the message, and were committed to respecting women, stepping up if they saw harm being done, and speaking up for themselves. She explained to them the long-lasting impact of sexual violence and the silence that surrounds it. “We’re kind of sheltered on Lopez,” Drahn says. “We’re blind to the reality and commonality of sexual assault. It becomes a problem when we grow up here and Broadband for those who want to pay by COLLEEN SMITH ARMSTRONG Editor/Publisher For those who are willing to pay the connection fee, broadband is available in several core areas of San Juan County. Orcas Power and Light Cooperative created a division in 2004 called “Island Network” that allowed individual broadband connections that were close to its fiber optic infrastructure. This includes most of Friday Harbor, Eastsound and Lopez Village and a few other areas close to fiber lines. Broadband is defined as high speed internet and other communication services. As OPALCO investigated a county-wide broadband solution in early 2013, a moratorium was placed on new Island Network connections. The board lifted that freeze in February. As of today, there are 28 members hooked up to the co-op’s broadband. “OPALCO may not be a broadband solution for everyone,” said Communication Specialist Suzanne Olson. “But we will give our members the option to connect to our infrastructure, where available.” To see a map of existing and future fiber connections, visit and click on “Service Locations.” The website also offers a request form for new hook-ups. “We’ve put a lot of work into this site to answer questions for the community,” Olson said. “While all co-op members help pay for our grid control infrastructure, only those who connect to the Island Network pay for those costs.” New connections include a one-time hookup cost, which extends the network to the customer’s location from the closest backbone access point. This price will vary depending on the customer’s location. Once connected, the member pays for the service monthly. OPALCO recently hired a new manager, John Graminski, to oversee the Island Network division. A little Broadband history In 1999, in order to improve electric system reliability, OPALCO started installing fiber optic lines connecting its offices to field devices and the mainland. Since then, it made highspeed data connections available to institutions like the public schools, libraries, medical facilities, government offices and certain small businesses. In 2011, the San Juan County Economic Development Council and the San Juan Island Community Foundation asked OPALCO to explore how its fiber optic network might be used to bring broadband services to most of San Juan County. The result was a proposed $34 million dollar project to build a hybrid fiber-wireless infrastructure that would serve at least 90 percent of the county. That initiative was shelved in the summer of 2013. “As we continued our feasibility study, the board determined the financial risk was too great,” Olson said. “It was not because we didn’t get enough members signed up.” Although the scope was scaled back, OPALCO is still expanding its fiber optic network to improve the safety of field crews and increase reliability of its electric operation. This expanded network can be used as a backbone for local connections – for those willing to pay the connection costs like trenching. Olson says public interest in individual broadband connections grew considerably after a CenturyLink underwater cable was SEE OPALCO, PAGE 2 then enter the real world with this false sense of security the Lopez bubble can create.” Sexual assault is an underreported crime, especially when perpetrated by someone known to the victim, as is most common in small communities. The trauma – with nightmares, flashbacks, depression – is long-lasting. And SEEbuy STORY, it’s easy to intoPAGE the Xmyth that a woman is partly to blame if she’s been drinking, or that it’s okay for men to be aggressive on dates. SEE STRENGTH, PAGE 6 Sounder deadlines Display advertising: Friday at noon Classified advertising: Monday at noon Legal advertising: Thursday at noon Press releases, Letters: Friday at 3 p.m. How to reach us Office: 376-4500 Fax: 1-888-562-8818 Advertising: advertising@ Classified: 1-800-388-2527, classifieds@ Editor: editor@

Islands' Sounder, April 23, 2014

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