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Island Scene

Wolverines cash in with clean sweep over Coupe’

Guest Column

Home for the holidays, with a little less hair, too

page 9

State background checks; tough on attorneys, not so much on guns

page 11

page 7


The 75¢ Wednesday, December 26, 2012 Vol. 105 Issue 52

of the San Juan Islands

Top 10 of 2012

State crew cracks down on creosote Creosote next for crew that pitch in to bail out after ‘Sandy’ By Steve Wehrly Journal reporter

The top 10 stories of 2012, based on local impact and interest, as determined by the staff of The Journal of the San Juan Islands.

No. 6:


Broadband Initiative unveiled:

n 2012, when Orcas Power and Light Cooperative unveiled its proposal to extend high-speed internet service to 90 percent of San Juan County, several hundred islanders showed up at five community forums to cheer OPALCO on. A few islanders, however, raised questions at the forums and in letters to the Journal, and current internet providers complained that the proposal would unfairly compete with their ser-

vices. One current provider, Rick Boucher of Orcas Online was nevertheless optimistic. “We’ll make lemonade out of these lemons,” he said. OPALCO explained they would extend their present companyoperated fiber-optic system across all four ferry-served islands, providing islanders with access to 10 megabyte-per-second internet service and “smartgrid” electricity conservation technology. Cellphone coverage could be improved if providers utilized some of the 100 or so new fiberserviced hi-tech towers, accord-

ing to OPALCO, and radio-coverage “dead zones” which hamper emergency service communications would be virtually eliminated. All at a cost of less than $18 million, financed in part by a U.S. Department of Agriculture low-interest loan announced in October. OPALCO says the financing would be repaid by Opalco customers at $5-10 per month, and operating costs would be paid by internet subscription fees. Approval by Opalco’s board is expected early next year, with

About the photos

See TOP 10, Page 3

Top left; Lighting strikes over Griffin Bay on Friday the 13th, in July. Top right, biologist search for clues to explain the untimely and mysterious death of a 3-year-old orcas, L-112. Bottom right, the outdoor plaza of Brickworks proves to be a popular location for summer activities and Saturday’s Farmers’ Market.

The weather was wet, windy and cold. The work was dirty, stinky and heavy. No way to spend the holidays. But the PugetSound Corps conservation crew, part of the Department of Ecology's Washington Conservation Corps, just kept working — hauling creosote-laden timbers and logs over Jackson Beach jumbled with driftwood, chain-sawing the bigger logs into 4-foot long pieces, and using a small mini-track loader to fill two 7-ton-capacity transfer boxes. “Not one complaint from the crew, they’re great workers,” said Kevin Anderson, supervising the project for the Department of Natural Resources Beach and Waterways Restoration Program. Anderson pointed out that the crew had returned recently from New York City, where they helped clean up in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Back in San Juan County, the six-member crew led by Jerry McMullen spent Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 17 and 18, removing about 10 tons of creosoted debris from the lagoon and estuary at Neck Point on Shaw Island, then the next two days doing the same at Jackson Beach on San Juan. According to the DNR, the cost of the two projects totaled about $30,000, including removal of the detritus from Shaw by a Neptune Marine boat and from San Juan by San Juan Sanitation trucks.

2011 Special Award; Second Place: General Excellence from the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association

Creosote cleanup is an integral part of the multi-agency efforts to restore and increase salmon populations in the state. Creosoted pilings and timbers are detrimental to pteropods that salmon smolt feed on, and to spawning grounds of forage fish, such as sand lance and surf smelt that juvenile and adult salmon also feed on. Since 2004, DNR’s Restoration Program has removed more than 15,000 tons of pilings, creosoted debris and other harmful beach detritus from Puget Sound beaches. The San Juan Islands have been a major focus, but more than 20 other Salish Sea locations have also seen clean-up projects. Hundreds of civilian volunteers have participated in the clean-up projects, as have numerous entities See Creosote, Page 4 IN YOUR COMMUNITY SHOP SAN JUAN ISLAND FOR THE HOLIDAYS!



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Journal of the San Juans, December 26, 2012