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REAL ESTATE SPECIAL Monthly special section inside this edition

Real Estate in the

San Juan Islands November 2013

VENDOVI ISLAND Preservation Trust saves island treasure Page 10

SOUNDER THE ISLANDS’ Contributed photo

NEWS | Human error caused ferry collision [3] COMMENTARY | Fire Chief’s monthly news report [5] ARTS | Final local showcase at Orcas Center [9]

Serving Orcas, Lopez and San Juan County

Published the third Wednesday of each month by the Journal of the San Juan Islands, Islands’ Sounder and Islands’ Weekly

WEDNESDAY, November 20, 2013  VOL. 46, NO. 47  75¢

CenturyLink fixes cable; answers community questions

State commission to investigate the outage by COLLEEN SMITH ARMSTRONG Editor/Publisher

When communications technology is interrupted, residents of the San Juans are thrust into uncertainty. After a CenturyLink underwater cable was severed on Nov. 5, islanders experienced that unnerving feeling for nearly a week. Telephone, 911 and internet service was down for many citizens until a temporary fix was put in place with the aid of OPALCO. On Nov. 15, crews installed a five-foot splice onto the severed cable, and by 9:30 a.m., services were fully restored. The line will continue to be monitored. “We don’t believe we will ever know what exactly happened,” said CenturyLink Regional President Brian Stading, who led a forum at the Orcas Senior Center

on Nov. 14. “There are no anchor drag marks and it is very unlikely a current would be able to cause it.” Early reports indicated that an earthquake caused the break, but Stading says it now seems unlikely due to lack of evidence.

The investigation

Colleen Smith Armstrong photo

The Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission announced on Nov. 16 that it will open an investigation into the CenturyLink voice and data service outage that affected the San Juans for 10 days. “I am extremely pleased that the Utilities and Transportation Commission will do a formal investigation on the CenturyLink outage, as it will allow us to understand exactly the cause and response to this crisis,”

Library profile

Martin Arnold

Above: CenturyLink Regional President Brian Stading. Right: A barge near Lopez working on the cable. Senator Kevin Ranker said. The commission is the state agency in charge of regulating the rates and services of telephone companies operating in Washington, as well as promoting a competitive telecommunications marketplace. It is the commission’s responsibility to ensure that regulated companies provide safe and reliable service

Noel McKeehan photo

to customers at reasonable rates, while allowing them the opportunity to earn a fair profit. The commission does not regulate the rates of broadband, cellular, cable or internet services. “We recognize this outage caused serious disruption and inconvenience to the people of the San Juan Islands,” said David Danner, UTC Chairman.

Editor’s note: The Orcas Island Library is hoping to embark on an expansion of its facility. In the next year, there will be public meetings, design work and fundraising for $700,000. As part of the library’s community outreach efforts, the Sounder is featuring profiles of staff members. by COLLEEN SMITH ARMSTRONG Editor/Publisher

Martin Arnold delights in helping islanders get the answers they need. “We do so much more than just recommending books,” he said. Patrons of the Orcas Island Library often ask Arnold for help with finding phone numbers, navigating websites and locating books without knowing the title or the author’s name. “Finding things out for people is the most fulfilling part of my job,” he said. Citing the huge range of people who walk through their doors, Arnold says, “Libraries are considered the most democratic of institutions.” Books have been a big part of Arnold’s life, but his career in library services is

“Our investigation will look into the cause of the outage, the company’s emergency preparedness and response, restoration efforts, and communication with the public.”

The outage The San Juan County Council unanimously declared “A State of

relatively new. While he has been a life-long Washingtonian, Arnold had never visited the San Juans. When he and his wife Loreen first came to Orcas in 2004, they immediately bought property. Yet after returning to their home in Silverton, Ore., they realized it was a mistake. “We thought we would never get jobs here,” he said. They were able to back out of the property deal, but just 18 months later, Loreen landed a job at Islanders Bank. Martin had planned to be a house husband, but a volunteer job at the library sparked a whole new direction for him. At the age of 51, he went back to school, earning his masters in library science from San Jose State’s online program. The degree covers all aspects of how the library is run from cataloguing to research to web design. “It gives you an understanding of how the theory of information works and more tools to better serve the public,” he said. Martin has a background in econom-


Emergency within San Juan County, Washington” due to the outage’s severity. The cable was originally laid in 1999. Located at a depth of 280 feet approximately 5,000 feet from Lopez Island, after being severed, the cable was suspended along a rock face south of where it was first


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Islands' Sounder, November 20, 2013  
Islands' Sounder, November 20, 2013  

November 20, 2013 edition of the Islands' Sounder