Want to sail the high seas? Island Rec can get you started page 11
Artists Studio Tour: gateway into the heart of the creative spirit page 9
Auditor’s first quarter financial review: How are we doing? Mystified by revenue backslide page 6
The 75¢ Wednesday, May 29, 2013 Vol. 106 Issue 22
of the San Juan Islands
Meet the new ‘Boss’
No ‘quick fix’ for broken bridge By Steve Wehrly Journal reporter
By Steve Wehrly Journal reporter
The only candidate who owns property in San Juan County (a vacation house on Decatur Island) and the only finalist who lives in the state of Washington was selected Tuesday to be the new county manager in a unan imous decision by the County Council. On the same day, May 21, Mike Mike Thomas Thomas, 49, of Enumclaw, Wash., was extended an offer of employment at an annual salary of $120,000, plus a deferred compensation match of up to 5 percent of his salary and the usual public employee benefits. Thomas accepted the offer May 22 and will start work on June 24. Interim county manager Bob Jean said he thought Thomas was a “great fit for San Juan County” and that he will be available to help with the transition, but expects to be relieved of interim duties by the end of June. Since 2010, Thomas has been city administrator of Enumclaw, Wash., population 10,699. Before that, he was director of that city’s Department of See Boss, Page 4
Photo/Everett Daily Herald/Jennifer Buchanan
A hovercraft crew examines a upside down car in the Skagit River after the I-5 bridge collapsed Thursday, May 23, at about 7 p.m.
New look for island factories
Replacing the collapsed bridge over I-5 in Mt. Vernon will take “months, not weeks” according to State Senator Kevin Ranker, who briefed county and town officials at a hastily organized “emergency meeting” of the San Juan County Council the day after the 55 yearold bridge crashed into the Skagit River May 23 in Mount Vernon. That timetable caused consternation for local officials, concerned that the first months of the tourist season on the islands might see significant disruptions for travelers trying to reach the San Juan Islands. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is working to locate a suitable “Bailey bridge” to temporarily replace the fallen span, but any solution won’t happen until mid-summer at the earliest, according to Ranker. “Alternate routes can get travelers to the Anacortes ferry dock with only a few minutes of additional drive time,” Councilman Rick Hughes said. After speaking with Governor Jay Inslee early on the day after the collapse, Hughes said the governor understood the problem and promised that the Department See Bridge, Page 4
Rich Anderson of San Juan Distillery demonstrates how apples are turned into cider with use of the company’s cider press.
By Steve Wehrly Journal reporter
Part 1 of a two-part series on island manufacturing Who says manufacturing can’t work in the San Juan Islands? Not Travis Ayers of Luxel, David Marsaudon of Window Craft, Robert Herrick of Lacrimedics, or Hawk Pingree of San Juan Distillery. All four companies have become established, and all four owners intend to stay. Hard work and unique products are the founda-
Journal photo / Steve Wehrly
tions of their success here, but each credits their employees (except the distiller, which has a single, new, part-timer) and each thinks this is a great place to be headquartered. San Juan Distillery Employees don’t play a big
part yet at San Juan Distillery, near Westcott Bay, just outside of Roche Harbor, because partners Rich Anderson and Suzy and Hawk Pingree do it all themselves, from crushing apples for cider to See factories, Page 3
2011 Special Award; Second Place: General Excellence from the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association
Parks & Trails Guide
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May 29, 2013 edition of the Journal of the San Juans