Page 1

YOUTH CONSERVATION Orcas Island youth conservation corps Page 10

FINAL CONCERT WITH LUND High schools’ last concert with director Martin Lund Page 7


PEOPLE | Find out what your neighbors are up to [2] COMMENTARY | OIFR looks at after-hours medical care [5] SPORTS | Orcas Island rowing team update [8]

Serving Orcas, Lopez and San Juan County

WEDNESDAY, May 29, 2013  VOL. 46, NO. 22  75¢

Change is in the air San Juan County hires manager; swears in three-person council by STEVE WERHLY Staff 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 last Tuesday, in a unanimous decision, by the county council to be the new county manager. Mike Thomas will start work on Monday, June 24. He is expected to be paid roughly $150,000 a year, plus benefits. Interim County Manager Bob Jean said the he will be available to help Thomas with the transition, but expects to be relieved of his duties by June 28. Thomas has been city administrator of the city of Enumclaw, population 10,669, since 2010. Before that, he was director of the city’s Department of Community and Economic Development for five years. From 1998 to 2005, he was a senior policy analyst in the King

County Executive’s Office. Thomas graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor of Arts in geography, and then earned a master’s degree in public administration from Seattle University. He is married and has two children. The county manager will replace the previous position of county administrator, originally created by the county charter, then eliminated in one of three amendments endorsed by the Charter Review Commission and approved by voters in November. That vote also reduced the county council from six part-time legislators to three full-time elected positions vested with both legislative and executive duties. The new three-person county council is comprised of Rick Hughes from Orcas Island, Jamie Stephens from Lopez and Bob Jarman from San Juan, who were sworn in on May 17. They were

Contribted photos

Above: County Manager Mike Thomas. Right: Rick Hughes during the swearing in ceremony.

elected by voters in April. The duties of the county manager included assisting the threeperson county council in overseeing the functions of local government and departments not managed by another elected county official, such as the sheriff, auditor

or prosecuting attorney. Thomas was reportedly the top candidate of the citizens’ committee and of the county employees’ committee that for several hours last week interviewed the five finalists seeking the job. Although the two review committees did

Inside look at mental health in SJC by CALI BAGBY Staff reporter

The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting left Americans horrified and confused as to how this could happen. On Orcas, islanders gathered in response to this violence by holding a series of meetings to discuss everything from gun violence to psychological distress. For Anne Gresham, an advanced nurse practitioner and clinical nurse specialist, the meetings have been positive, but she said the average person has no clue what they are up against when it comes to dealing with mental health. “They don’t know how the system works and in Washington it’s quite complicated,” she added, “and getting more complicated everywhere.” Anne works with her husband Steve Gresham at Full Circle Counseling and Recovery on

Orcas. Steve is also a designated mental health professional for the county. Over the years Anne has seen not only clients struggle to afford mental healthcare, but private therapists grapple with making a living. For instance, Anne currently has two clients who have Medicare, a federal system of health insurance for those requiring financial assistance, and through that program, Anne gets paid $0.75 for each person and the patients pay a $25 copay each. “It’s getting harder and harder to provide mental healthcare,” she said.

The issues According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the United States spends $113 billion on mental health treatment. That works out to about 5.6 percent of the national healthcare spending, according to a 2011 paper in the

journal Health Affairs. According to the same national survey, the largest proportion of mental health care expenditures (31 percent) went to pay for outpatient care broadly, followed by inpatient care (24 percent) and retail prescription medications (23 percent). But only a certain amount of people are even tapping into help – whether in the form of counseling or prescription drugs. Although cost is a factor in people deciding to get help, studies show that nationwide, attitude barriers about the value of mental health care seemed to be the biggest obstacle. “People tend to think getting help is a ‘weakness,’” said Anne. “There is a big stigma about it … that you should be able to pull yourself up from your bootstraps and just get over it and … that there is something wrong with you.” A 2007 study in the journal Psychiatric


not rank the candidates, Jean said that the citizens and the county employees both gave Thomas their unqualified support. Jean called the new manager “a great fit,” saying that Thomas impressed the council and others with his “listening ability and approach-ability.”

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Islands' Sounder, May 29, 2013  

May 29, 2013 edition of the Islands' Sounder

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