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Wednesday, September 15, 2010 • The Islands’ Sounder


Orcas Food Bank has $60k left to raise for new building by COLLEEN S. ARMSTRONG Editor

Every dollar is one step closer to a real food bank facility for Orcas Island. The campaign is officially underway for a 24x48foot modular distribution building to house the Orcas Food Bank, which is experiencing a sizable increase in its number of patrons. On average, it provides food for 60 families per week, about twice the number seen in recent years. The new building will be outfitted with shelving for food storage, sinks, a restroom, office space and refrigerators and will do away with the need for warehouse storage. The building has been designed to make the movement of visitors easy and more efficient. The community has been watching the Food Bank’s financial progress via a large wooden dial in Eastsound. Anonymous donors have pledged $65,000 in matching funds, which will be facilitated by the Orcas Island Community Foundation. The goal is to raise $65,000 by Thanksgiving, bringing the grand total to $130,000, which is enough to purchase, place and furnish a modular building. “It’s a push,” said board member George Post.

“We’re hoping everything goes smoothly, but it’s a tough time. Everyone is looking for money.” Post recently moved that dial to the 55 percent mark after receiving $6,000, a combination of donations collected during an Aug. 28 open house and local contributions. The food bank was first housed at the Emmanuel Episcopal Church in the mid 1980s, followed by a building at the airport, and then in a space provided by OPALCO. In 2009, it moved into the Orcas Island Community Church basement. Greater visibility and easier accessibility, coupled with the economy, have brought increasing numbers to the Tuesday daytime and Thursday evening open hours. The church has agreed to lease space for the new building for $1 a year. “Our (current) agreement with the church is only temporary, and our intention has always been to use this time there to proceed with plans to build our own facility,” said food bank vice president Joyce Shaw. “The church’s offer of an extended lease at $1 a year makes this possible.” Shaw says the food bank’s lunches will not be served in the new digs, but will continue at the church.

To donate to the food bank Checks can be made out to OICF/OIFB Building Fund and mailed to P.O. Box 1496, Eastsound, WA 98245.

Colleen Smith Armstrong/staff photo

George Post moves the building fund progress to 55 percent. “The food bank does not have anything to do with the lunches served each week,” she said. “The community of churches on the island have taken this service on themselves and under the coordination of Barb Griffin of the Community

Church, they cooperate together in providing the hot meals each Tuesday. It is my understanding that they will continue to do this in the Community Church. The close proximity of the two buildings will make it easy.”

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OPINION Islands’ Sounder

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Neighbors helping neighbors Although food bank recipients may be reticent about publicly discussing the importance of the service to their lives, it doesn’t mean they aren’t grateful. And it doesn’t mean that the service isn’t vital. And in line with its motto, “Neighbors Helping Neighbors,” the Orcas community needs to step up and donate to give the food bank a new home. Since January of this year, it has served more than 250 households, which averages to around 60 families per week. If each family included only two people, that is a minimum of 500 people, which is 10 percent of the Orcas population. This means that men, women, and children who otherwise would be hungry are given what they need to survive. A typical bag for a family of four includes canned goods, fruit, pasta, baked goods, and personal care products. Families can also pick up peanut butter, jam, cereal, dry milk, flour, sugar, rice, Mail checks payable to OICF/ dried beans, corn meal, and fresh vegetables OIFB Building Fund, P.O. Box bread, from local farmers. It all adds 1496, Eastsound, WA 98245. up to about 65 pounds of Email goods per family. The food bank does not for more information. have a paid staff. Instead, it relies on 30 volunteers, led by Larry and Joyce Shaw, who work out of the basement of the Orcas Island Community Church. The food bank has had many homes over its 25-year history, but the current spot is crowded and limited in storage space (Island Market currently houses a lot of the food bank’s goods). In a nutshell: its needs are increasing and usage is up. A new space is needed. In order to operate efficiently, the food bank needs a refrigerator, freezer, and dry storage under one roof. It also needs prep areas to repackage bulk foods into appropriate portions. The answer? A 24’ x 48’ modular building. The community church has already agreed to lease space on its property for $1 a year. Generous island donors have pledged $65,000 for the building – but it’s a matching fund. Which means you and I have to donate. Whether it’s $1, $10, or $1,000, it all goes to helping feed our island families. The food bank has already raised $10,000, so all that is left is $55,000. The goal is to raise it by Thanksgiving of this year. Those who can afford to give, need to give. As winter approaches and seasonal work dwindles, the food bank is only going to see more islanders in need of help. If we can band together as part of the effort to raise $18.5 million to buy Turtleback Mountain, then raising $55,000 should be a breeze.

How to donate

Sounder The Islands’

Publisher Elyse Van den Bosch Editor Colleen Smith Armstrong Staff Reporter Meredith Griffith

County Reporter Scott Rasmussen Advertising Sales Elyse Van den Bosch Administrative Kathy Everett Coordinator Circulation/ Gail Anderson-Toombs administrative gandersontoombs assistant

Write to us: The Islands’ Sounder welcomes letters from its readers. Letters should be

typewritten and not exceed 350 words. Preference is given to local writers and topics. They must be signed and include a daytime phone. Send to PO Box 758, Eastsound, WA 98245; fax to 376-4501; or email Letters may be edited.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010 • The Islands’ Sounder

To the Editor: Vote yes for Parks and Rec District levy I’m writing in support of funding the Orcas Island Parks and Recreation District. I am a longtime soccer coach and have seen the many-fold benefits of soccer as a sport and of team participation. I also believe in the wholechild development opportunities that come from Orcas Rec’s mix of sports, arts, music, theatre and exploration. The soccer program, Whale of a Show and many other Orcas Rec offerings give kids a chance to be seen, appreciated and celebrated — by coaches, parents, peers and the community. It gives them a sense of belonging — and a connection to mentors in the community. One of the most basic things we can do in support of our community is to give of our time and presence. If you don’t have a way to connect with children in our community, or you can’t give of your time, please support the people who do. The Orcas Rec programs not only give our children the chance to grow and develop physically, but they give our kids the chance to be seen and recognized in significant ways. And, if any of these kids are like me, they will be inspired by their coaches and mentors to pass it on. When adults give kids that kind of focused attention — whether through sports or art or just listening well — it makes a difference way beyond the moment and can influence the way those kids go on to make their own lives, the kind of communities they will build with their confidence and leadership. I am also encouraged by the prospect of the Parks and Rec District taking on Buck Park — the epicenter of so many family and recreational activities. From the soccer and baseball fields to the tennis courts and world-renown skate-park, it has the potential to be a gem in our community but is currently the neglected and shabby Cinderella of Orcas Island. It needs more attention, funding and maintenance in order to be a safe and sustainable recreational asset. The tax district is an elegant Marketing Artist Jim Sullivan Legals/Office Staff Mailing/Street Address P.O. Box 758, 217 Main Street, Eastsound, WA 98245 Office (360) 376-4500 Classifieds (800) 388-2527 Fax (360) 376-4501

and tested solution. Let’s step up and provide the appropriate public funding so the staff can continue its good work of running quality programs and our children can thrive. Suzanne Olson Eastsound

Reject the ‘safe and sane’ fireworks ban I am writing to ask voters to reject the ban on fireworks. The ballot language is not clear but my message is clear: if you do not vote to overturn the ban, all fireworks will be illegal and even “safe and sane” products will be banned. I understand that many people may not personally use fireworks, but please do not take the right to celebrate away from those of us who do want to celebrate our freedom. We do not need more regulations and restrictions on our rights. Please vote to reject the ban and keep fireworks legal. Shawn Alexander Olga

Vote no on the fireworks ban The bigger fireworks you buy at the reservation aren’t legal – haven’t been in quite some time, and are not the subject of Referendum 2008-2. Referendum 2008-2 is about the subsequent banning of safe and sane fireworks. You see, in 2008, an ordinance was passed banning all fireworks in San Juan County (without a permit). Yes, all fireworks in San Juan County –

The Islands’ Sounder (USPS #764230) is published weekly for $30 a year to San Juan County addresses; $55 per year to Washington state addresses; and $55 per year to out-of-state addresses by the Islands’ Sounder at 217 Main Street, Eastsound, WA. Copyright © 2010 by Sound Publishing, Inc.

including sparklers, pinwheels and those crazy smoke balls and snakes. Remember the thrill you got as a kid when you got to hold your first sparkler? I do. And I remember the anticipation and excitement of all the kids and the cousins each year waiting for nighttime to arrive on the fourth of July when the parents would finally say –“okay now its time” and “now you can get the box – let it begin!” Sure, its chaotic and crazy and the dogs go a little nuts. But this is America. This is our one day a year when we can celebrate Independence Day with safe and sane fireworks. Of course it goes unsaid, we need to be careful, and we are. We teach the kids the rules of how to play safe. I believe in independence, freedom and safe and sane fireworks. Don’t let the county protect us from ourselves. Please join me to reject the ordinance banning safe and sane fireworks on the one day a year it is legal – the fourth of July. Stephanie Johnson O’Day San Juan Island

Support for Brent Johnson for Sheriff As a former County Commissioner and a member of SJC’s Veterans’ Advisory Board, I’ve worked with Brent Johnson and witnessed his leadership qualities, his personal and professional integrity, and his ability to deal with high-pressure scenarios. Brent’s work in law enforcement over three

See LETTERS, Page 5 Periodicals postage paid at Eastsound, Wash., and at additional mailing offices. Postmaster: Please send address changes to The Islands’ Sounder, P.O. Box 758, Eastsound, WA 982450758.

Independently Audited

WEDNESDAY, October 27, 2010

The Islands’ Sounder •

Island Living

Food bank seeks to put down Orcas Food Bank has $35,000 left to raise by Thanksgiving to buy a modular building by COLLEEN SMITH ARMSTRONG Editor

After being diagnosed with breast cancer, “Eleanor” had to quit her job. Now Eleanor’s family of four is relying on her husband’s social security to get by. This past year has been difficult, but one of the bright spots is coming to the Orcas Island Food Bank each week. “They really care about you,” Eleanor said. “Since I’ve been ill, people come and check on me and bring me food if I need it. They want to make sure no one is going hungry.” A typical bag for her has tuna, fruit, soup, pasta, tomato sauce, jello, refried beans, eggs, cheese, milk, bread, and fresh veggies. “And bringing things home like freshly baked cupcakes makes a big difference when you are down,” Eleanor said. She said food bank volunteers make everyone feel welcome, often greeting patrons by name. “It’s more than a food bank,” Eleanor said. “It’s almost like family ... There’s no reason to feel reluctant or embarrassed. You'd be surprised to see who is here. It is not for lowlifes, as some think. This is strictly about helping families, single people, and the elderly.” Since January of this year, the Orcas Food Bank has served more than 250 households, which averages to around 60 families per week. If each family included only two people, that is a minimum of 500 people, which is 10 percent of the Orcas population.

The food bank relies on around 30 volunteers, who work out of the basement of the Orcas Island Community Church. It has had many homes over its 25-year history, but the current spot is crowded and limited in storage space. Larry and Joyce Shaw, who run the organization, are leading the campaign to raise funds for a new building that would provide the space for a refrigerator, freezer, dry storage, and a prep area. The food bank has its sights set on a 24’ x 48’ modular building. The community church has agreed to lease space on its property for $1 a year. Island donors (through the Orcas Island Community Foundation) have pledged $65,000 in matching funds. The food bank has already raised $30,000, leaving around $35,000 to bring in by Thanksgiving of this year. “I think it is close, but we will do it,” said Leslie Ginnes, who is on the building committee. “It’s a hard time for a lot of people. But I’m confident the community will step up and do it.” The food bank is open on Tuesdays from 12:30 to 2 p.m. and Thursdays from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Every Tuesday, an island church prepares a hot meal for patrons. Every fourth Thursday of the month, Emmanuel Episcopal Church hosts a "Dinner Kitchen" in the church Parish Hall. The meal is intended for food bank clients and island seniors. As winter approaches and seasonal work comes to an end, the food bank is anticipating a surge of new clients. “We’re in line with the national average,” Ginnes said. “The rate of hunger and poverty is at 9 percent. We’re simply an example of what's going on in the rest of the country. And work here is very hard to come by.” Food bank volunteers and islanders who use the ser-

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vice are encouraging the community to give whatever they can. “I can’t imagine why someone wouldn’t do this for their community,” Eleanor said. “You never know – someday it might be you.” Added Ginnes, “Like air, it's something that we all need. We are all entitled to food. I happen to believe that people can get into circumstances that are outside of their control, and feeding themselves can become a burden. And as human beings we are responsible for making sure everybody has air and has food. It's so fundamental.”

How to donate Mail checks payable to OICF/OIFB Building Fund, P.O. Box 1496, Eastsound, WA 98245. Email or visit for more information.

Colleen Smith Armstrong/staff photo

Orcas Food Bank volunteers who help twice a week with the operation out of the community church basement. Back row, from left to right: Mike Dupas and Maria Webster. Second row: Bev Ohlman, Ezekiel Barr, Jeannie Doty, Nancy Weatherspoon, and Wanda Ryberg. Front row: President Larry Shaw, Pam Carpenter, Yvonne Ashenhurst, Sharon Bearchell, vice president Joyce Shaw, Joanne Selph, and Gordon Hansen.


Serving Orcas, Lopez and San Juan County

WEDNESDAY, November 17, 2010  VOL. 43, NO. 46  75¢

Food Bank on brink of meeting building fund goal

Round the County: race results ...PG 7

Trimming their tresses


One charge related to the San Juan Islands By MEREDITH M. GRIFFITH



Staff reporter

They are so close they can taste

The campaign to raise $65,000 for the food bank’s new building is very likely to reach a positive conclusion. “I’m overwhelmed,” said Larry Shaw, who runs the food bank with his wife Joyce. “It’s been fantastic.” Island donors (through the Orcas Island Community Foundation) pledged $65,000 in matching funds. The food bank has been collecting money from the community for the past few months, with a big push in October and November. The deadline is Thanksgiving, and as of press time on Nov. 15, they only had around $5,000 left to raise. Since January of this year, the Orcas Food Bank has served 271 households. The organization relies on around 30 volunteers, who work out of the basement of the Orcas Island Community Church. It has had many homes over its 25-year history, but the current spot is crowded and limited in storage space. The food bank has its sights set on a 24’ x 48’ modular building, which would provide space for a refrigerator, freezer, dry storage, and a prep area. The community church has agreed to lease space on its property for $1 a year. A wide range of community members have donated towards the $65,000, ranging in contributions of $10 to $4,000. “Anywhere from $500 to $1000 is typical (from individuals),” said Larry, who added that local organizations like the Lions Club and Kiwanis have also been generous with donations. If all goes as planned, once the Thanksgiving goal is met, the Shaws will send in a down pay-


HarrisMoore indicted by grand jury Camano Island teen Colton Harris-Moore was indicted by a federal grand jury in Seattle on Wednesday, Nov. 10 on five criminal counts. Only one of the charges relates to crimes committed in San Juan County. Harris-Moore is scheduled to face the charges before the U.S. District Court on Nov. 18. Assistant United States Attorney Darwin Roberts is prosecuting the case and the FBI is leading the investigation, according to a press release from the United States Attorney’s Office. According to the release, charges announced against Harris-Moore include: • Theft and interstate transportation of a Cessna from Bonners Ferry, Idaho to near Granite Falls, Washington on Sept. 29, 2009.


Sounder deadlines Colleen Smith Armstrong/ staff photo

Orcas School students Caitlin Fowler and Joanne Mietzner grew their hair out for Locks of Love, which provides hairpieces to children who are suffering from long-term medical hair loss. by COLLEEN SMITH ARMSTRONG Editor

Two local girls decided to do something useful with their long tresses instead of letting them fall to the salon floor and be swept into the trash bin. Fifth grader Joanne Mietzner and sixth grader Caitlin Fowler each donated one foot of silky hair to Locks of Love, a non-profit that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in the United States and Canada who are suffering from long-term medical hair loss. “It’s nice that it’s actually getting used instead of hanging off my body and making it hard to brush in the morning,” said Mietzner, who began growing her hair a year ago. She now sports a stylish bob. “I didn’t even recognize Joanne when she came in (after her haircut),” said Orcas School K-8 prin-

cipal Kyle Freeman. “It’s awesome.” Fowler says she has always had long locks, but then had an urge to lop them all off. The two friends were originally growing their hair independently of each other, and were delighted when they discovered their common goal. Both girls had their manes cut by Mandy Nigretto at Mandy’s Hair Haven. Nigretto says she will take care of sending the hair to Locks of Love for anyone who wants to donate. “Unfortunately, I don’t do it enough,” said Nigretto when asked how often she cuts hair for Locks of Love. “I’ve done it about six times for people ... I will print out the form and send the hair in. It’s easier that way. And then I know it gets there.”


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FOOD BANK FROM 1 LOCKS FROM 1 ment to the building company. The building will likely be in place by Feb. 1, 2011. Then comes concrete work, landscaping, and moving the equipment inside, which will take 60 days. “All of a sudden, we’ve gotten so doggone close to our goal,” said Larry.

How to donate Mail checks payable to OICF/OIFB Building Fund, P.O. Box 1496, Eastsound, WA 98245. Email lajoy@centurytel. net or visit for more information. The campaign’s progress will be updated on the food bank’s website, Check out the Islands’ Sounder website, www.islandssounder. com, on Nov. 24 for final results.

Mietzner and Fowler say they prefer their hair short because it’s easier to manage, but they plan to grow it long again to donate. Most of the children helped by Locks of Love have lost their hair due to a medical condition called alopecia areata, which has no known cause or cure. The prostheses they provide help to restore their self-esteem and their confidence, enabling them to face the world and their peers. “All of my friends want to do it now,” Fowler said. “It’s really fun, and after you get your hair cut, it feels way different.”

Additional info For more information on Locks of Love, visit www.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010 • The Islands’ Sounder

IOSA to offer wildlife training class Islands’ Oil Spill Association is offering a free class for islanders who want to be trained to be an oiled wildlife responder on Sunday, Nov. 21 on Lopez. The Washington Department of Fish amd Wildlife requires a minimum of eight hours training to be certified as an oiled wildlife responder and if you don’t have your eight-hour certification, you cannot help out with oiled wildlife at a spill. Four of those hours must be HAZWOPER training (Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response, which will be offered again in 2011) and the Basic Care of

COLTON FROM 1 • Interstate and foreign transportation of a .32 caliber pistol Harris-Moore stole in Canada, carried into Idaho and then flew to the Granite Falls area. • Possession of a firearm (Jennings .22 caliber pistol) while Harris-Moore was a fugitive between October 1, 2009, and May 6, 2010. • Piloting an aircraft without an airman’s certificate for a flight he made in a stolen plane from Anacortes to Eastsound, Washington, on February

10, 2010. • Interstate transportation of a 34-foot boat he stole from Ilwaco, Washington, and sailed to Oregon on May 31, 2010. “Four of the counts are punishable by nearly 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Piloting an aircraft without an airman’s certificate is punishable by up to three years in prison,” reads the release. Arrested in the Bahamas in July after two years spent on the lam, Harris-Moore is currently in custody at the Federal Detention Center at SeaTac, Washington. According to the Seattle

Oiled Wildlife class, which runs five to six hours. Islands’ Oil Spill Association is the only spill response group in the San Juans and the only non-profit, communitybased spill response organization in the Pacific Northwest. Free trainings are offered several times each year on the three major islands in the San Juans. Class size is limited and pre-registration is required for this class. If you’d like to sign up and/or be notified of future trainings, on-the-water oil spill response drills and other related activities email or call 378-5322. For more information, visit

Times, the federal charges are only a fraction of the criminal penalties HarrisMoore could potentially face. A recent Seattle Times article said court documents show that HarrisMoore has become the focus of 80 separate investigations; in Island County, where the teen grew up, the county prosecutor is pursuing 10 criminal charges on a local level. San Juan County prosecutor Randy Gaylord could not be reached for comment on whether he would also pursue separate charges against Harris-Moore. Harris-Moore’s lawyer John Henry Browne also could not be reached for comment.

Food bank donations instead of green fees The Golf Course is holding a food drive for the Orcas Island Food Bank the week prior to Thanksgiving (Nov. 18 to 25). Green fees will be paid in donations of canned goods or cash donations. Donations will be dropped at the front doors of the clubhouse, though they are not keeping hours at this time.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010 • The Islands’ Sounder

Food Bank volunteers serve and wait

Meredith M. Griffith/staff photos

Three of the Orcas Island Food Bank volunteers, from left to right: Tina Davidson, Maria Webster, and Bev Ohlman. By MEREDITH M. GRIFFITH Staff reporter

While the turkeys they’re handing out aren’t quite twice the size of Tiny Tim, Orcas Island Food Bank volunteers are loading up cardboard boxes of cheer and plenty with cranberry sauce, potatoes, stuffing mix and more to keep local families from a meager, Bob Cratchitt-esque holiday meal. Lending a hand is just

part of the weekly routine for around 25 islanders who show up to organize shelves, bag groceries and pass out daily bread. Right now they’re working out of a cramped storeroom in the Orcas Island Community Church basement, watching the red wooden fundraising dial inch slowly toward 100 percent of the $130,000 goal that will mean a new building for the food bank.

“It gets wild and crazy where we are, just stacks and stacks of canned goods,” said volunteer Tina Davidson. “We’re constantly trying to dodge each other; it’s a narrow area with people running through. It’s everybody’s dream to see a permanent structure for the food bank.” After the latest donation, a $500 check from the Orcas Island Association of Realtors, the dial is now

at 80 percent. Food bank heads Larry and Joyce Shaw are hoping to reach their goal by Thanksgiving. “There’s no wasted space,” said Davidson of the building’s design. “It is functional and to the point. It’s very carefully thought out; this is what we need, and no more.” The Sounder interviewed three regular food bank volunteers, and here’s what they said about their work.

Tina Davidson An Orcas High School grad, Davidson helped her parents run the Outlook Inn, served as household staff for the Kaiser family and worked as Rosario Resort’s first life guard before beginning her 30-year professional career in dental hygiene. She worked all across the U.S. before returning to Orcas, where she lives with her husband, Jerry. Davidson’s last employment before hanging up her water squirter was with dentist Brenda Ivans. She now works as a selfdescribed “bag lady” in the food bank back room. “One day somebody yelled through the door, ‘Hey bag ladies, I need a bag,’ and we just started laughing hysterically,” said Davidson. “That’s what we do: we bag stuff all day long.” It’s important to Davidson to customize food packages to fit each family’s needs. “Everyone who comes in is such an individual; they have such individual needs,” she said. She enjoys her work because, she says, “It’s being part of something where you know you’re making a huge impact on the community – because this could happen to any of us; there are a lot of

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people out there that are not very far away (from the food bank). You meet all

kinds of nifty, wonderful people.” And because, “Doggone,

when you’re doing it, you know that’s where you’re supposed to be,” she said.


Bev Ohlman A retired realtor, Ohlman

and her husband Jim moved to Orcas in 2000. “I do it because I love it,” said Ohlman. “The food bank is the most wonderful place. The people are absolutely delightful, the little children. They’re from all previous walks of life, and are just now having a hard time financially.” A front-room bag lady, Ohlman re-bags large donations into smaller bags for distribution. She sees 50-lb sacks of pinto beans, veggies from local farmers, bulk cornmeal, spices, flour and more. “I never volunteered at the other place because it was so cold and so awful, but the second they opened the place at the church (I came),” said Ohlman. “We do grab a bite of lunch with the people that come, chat with them… Some of them we really get to know: the people that need cat food, dog food. We try if we know they’re vegetarians… or have other health issues, and have it bagged for them when they come.” Ohlman has been amazed at the consistent generosity of the community. “We are so thrilled at what people on the island bring in,” she said. “People would be really surprised at how many people on the island stop by weekly bringing things.” She added that more volunteers are always welcome.

Maria Webster Natives of Canada, Webster and her husband Don moved to Orcas in 2003 from California. She became involved with the food bank a couple of years ago when she won a Lions Club raffle for $1,000 worth of groceries. Living in a temporary rental with no storage, she decided to split her winnings between the animal shelter and the food bank. “That was my first involvement with the need on the island,” she said. “I had no idea.” In 2009 she visited the food bank’s new location at the church. She recalls, “I saw all the cans and all stuff, and I love to organize! Something just clicked. I like to make order out of chaos. Then I met Tina, who feels the same way. We really connected in the back room.” Webster enjoys being a food bank volunteer. “It’s a nice group of people to be working with. It’s nice to see the cameraderie among people, the socializing. It’s just kind of like a highlight of my week to come in. We have a very generous island.”



Serving Orcas, Lopez and San Juan County

WEDNESDAY, November 24, 2010  VOL. 43, NO. 47  75¢

Sweet scent of success


Inside this edition

Council considers privatizing solid waste transfer stations by SCOTT RASMUSSEN County reporter

Colleen Smith Armstrong/ staff photo

Orcas Island Community Foundation director Hilary Canty and Food Bank president Larry Shaw celebrate their successful campaign to raise $65,000 by Thanksgiving for the food bank’s new building. As of press time, the organization had raised $70,000. The extra money will be put into a building maintenance fund. Island donors (through OICF) pledged $65,000 in matching funds. The food bank has been collecting money from the community for the past few months, with a big push in October and November. “The last two weeks have been tremendous,” Shaw said. Added Canty, “This is so exciting.” The 24’ x 48’ modular building will likely be in place by Feb. 1, 2011 on the community church property. Then comes concrete work, landscaping, and moving the equipment inside, which will take 60 days.

Could turning over garbage, recycling and transfer station operations to a private company be the answer to the county’s Solid Waste Division’s two-year tumble into the red? The San Juan County Council intends to find out. With a proposal from Orcas Island-based San Juan Sanitation in hand, the County Council agreed on Nov. 15 to explore the pros and cons of privatization and whether getting out of the solidwaste business all together will be – in the end – a financial blessing and good public policy. In a unanimous decision, the council directed county staff to prepare a “Request for Proposals” to take over the portion of the solid waste operation that accepts trash from self-haulers and commercial operators. The tasks of

Orcas prepares for another season of giving By COLLEEN SMITH ARMSTRONG Editor

For some on Orcas, it won’t be a Christmas to remember. Which is why island charitable organizations have been planning their holiday programs for months. All over the island, people are coming together to help those without this season. Since January of this year, the Orcas Food Bank has served 271 households. Every Thanksgiving volunteers give out around 135 food baskets loaded with 10-pound turkeys. At Christmas, food bank boxes include a ham. The Trailblazers 4-H Club also create stockings for the families that receive Christmas food boxes. “There are still people who are continuing to be laid off,” said food bank president Larry Shaw. “There are new faces due to lack of work.” The food bank is open on Tuesdays from 12:30 to 2 p.m.

and Thursdays from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Every Tuesday, an island church prepares a hot meal for patrons. Every fourth Thursday of the month, Emmanuel Episcopal Church hosts a “Dinner Kitchen” in the church Parish Hall. The meal is intended for food bank clients and island seniors. Island Market will have a Christmas tree adorned with ornaments representing about 200 children in need this season. Each tag provides their gender, age and three gift suggestions. Every year, there are anywhere from four to 12 tags left on the tree. Fortunately, monetary donations have allowed Island Market staff to go shopping with the donations and provide for every child represented on the tree. In addition to providing gift baskets to older residents of the community, the Lions Club hosts an annual Toys for Tots and Tweens Drive. Last year close to 200 children received gifts from

the drive. Toys for Tots and Tweens gifts will be distributed to families on Sunday, Dec. 19 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Eastsound Fire Hall. Gifts can be dropped off at Ray’s Pharmacy, Radio Shack, Windermere Real Estate, and Orcas Events. “This year, we are going to have more babies who need gifts,” said Veronica San Martin, who has been involved for five years. “We serve from babies to teenagers.” Any monetary donations to the drive will be used to purchase items from Orcas Island businesses. “We buy locally,” San Martin said. “It’s very important to us.” This season, the local Kiwanis Club has become Santa’s troupe of elves for island children by providing toys and gifts to be distributed at the Holiday Tree Lighting on the Eastsound Village Green, Dec. 3 at 4:30 p.m. For at least 10 years, club members have

made toy cars and trucks by hand, and collected stuffed animals and dolls. Emmanuel Episcopal Parish tithes more than 10 percent of its annual income for outreach to various non-profit organizations on the island with special priority given to help children, the elderly, the environment, and individuals and families in need. In addition, the church is a major contributor to the Orcas Island Community Foundation. This past year Emmanuel Parish made grants in excess of $22,000. Each holiday season, St. Francis Church adopts an Orcas Island family. Tips from various community organizations and word-ofmouth help them choose a family to help. With the parishioners’ combined resources, they give the family gift certificates for the grocery store and the drug store. Orcas Community Church


providing curbside pick-up service and hauling refuse and recycling to the mainland are already contracted out. Public Works Director Jon Shannon maintains that without a significant infusion of money Solid Waste will be forced to close its facilities on San Juan and Lopez islands. Most residents would then have their garbage and recycling picked up at the curbside. Five of the six council members have indicated a commitment, however, to keeping self-haul service on the three islands. In order to keep the three facilities operating, the council adopted a 2010 budget that included $1.6 million in capital expenses and operating costs for the solid waste utility that was to be paid for by revenue sources not identified at that time. Those would-be sources remain unidentified and the utility predicts it will end the year nearly $1 million in debt, according to Shannon. San Juan Sanitation’s Dan Leidecker made it clear that the


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Heartfelt thanks to the Orcas Island Community for funding the new Food Bank building, to the anonymous donors who gave the initial matching grant money with special thanks to O. I. Community Foundation The Islands’ Sounder The response to this effort was amazing, bringing in donations for $1 to $10,000 from so many different people. Because of the extraordinary generosity, the Food Bank will have a new facility by early spring and will be better able to serve the needs of our local families. To the many islanders who reached into their pockets to make this holiday season truly one of sharing & compassion: we couldn’t have done it without you. The Food Bank Board, its volunteers and the Fund-Raising Committee

Cat 334_community service  

Category 334, newspaper community service, Orcas Island Food Bank.