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Serving Orcas, Lopez and San Juan County

COMMUNITY | Birdfest and wildlife celebration [5] NEWS | Dissent climbs over Navy jets [6] ARTS | Battlefield Band bridges the old with the new [9]

WEDNESDAY, March 26, 2014  VOL. 47, NO. 13  75¢ 

Preserving a tradition for generations to come


Two Orcas students are devoting their senior projects to an island tradition. The old barn on Orcas Road has been painted by graduating classes for decades. Now in serious danger of collapsing, senior Aidan Anderson is spearheading construction of a new structure. “Tearing it down is the end of an era,” Anderson said. “Since the fate of the old barn is sealed, the only real way to keep this tradition is to build a new one.” Eric Lum, in partnership with land owners Rick and Marlace Hughes, has designed and built a

new and improved senior barn. Anderson and a crew of builders have assisted in the construction. The structure will have feeding troughs inside for sheep and hay in the loft, but future senior classes will still be able to paint its walls. “We want to provide a safe structure for kids to continue to use for years to come,” Hughes said. Those driving past the property can see the project’s progress. The next step is to prime and put up slat sidings. The new barn is made almost entirely from wood grown and milled on Orcas. Anderson is asking for donations to help pay for the construc-

Colleen Smith Armstrong photo

Above: The 2014 class is the last one to paint the old barn. Above left: The new structure for future classes to paint. tion. Go to https://www.booster. com/oi-senior-barn to donate. Those who give $25 or more will receive a T-shirt that says “I saved the barn” in Viking blue. While one student is looking towards the future, another is hoping to preserve the past.

Lindsay Lancaster is collecting photos of the barn from years past and each image will be framed and permanently on display at the school. To send her images of the barn through the years, email

Drop in property values subsides – for some by STEVE WEHRLY Journal reporter

The assessed value of the 18,456 taxable parcels in San Juan County declined by a combined sum of nearly $3 million dollars in 2013, according to the San Juan County Assessor. Property tax bills for 2014 are based on 2013 assessments. That’s a small fraction compared to the previous year, in which the assessed value of all properties in San Juan County dropped by a combined $1.7 billion in 2012, or 21.4 percent. There are 1,443 tax exempt parcels in the county, most of them owned by federal, state and local governments. The largest reductions in assessed values occurred in the Rosario, Olga and Doe Bay tax codes area of Orcas Island (just under $27 million), the Friday Harbor area (down by $21.5 million) and in the south San Juan Island area (down by $19.2 million). The largest increase

in assessed values was in the remainder of Orcas’ tax code area, where assessment went up by almost $28 million. While some went up and others went down, the net reduction of the 19 county tax area codes together equals roughly $2.7 million. This is the first time that year-over-year assessed value changes are “meaningful,” according to county Chief Appraiser John Kulseth, because 2014 is only the second year that the entire county has been revalued. Revaluations are now made annually for all county properties, although only one-sixth of the county is physically inspected every year. Other valuations are made on the basis of local property sales in the areas not physically inspected. The change to annual revaluations, required by state law, will make future assessments “a lot fairer to everybody,” Kulseth said. “We’re really happy about annual countywide revaluations

on a whole bunch of levels.” Requested levy amounts by all taxing districts in the county went up by only .43 percent, mostly because the state levy request went down by 4.52 percent. All other districts except San Juan Hospital EMS and Orcas Cemetery District #2 went up. The total requested tax amount for San Juan County for 2014 is $42,654,506. Tax rates for different islands show a substantial variation: Shaw, 4.78 percent; Waldron, 5.28 percent; Lopez 6.48 percent; Orcas, 6.84 percent; and San Juan, 7.48 percent. The Friday Harbor tax code area rate is 7.18 percent. By now, most property owners have received their 2014 assessed value notices from the county assessor and their tax bills from the treasurer in advance of the April 30 “first half ” payment due date. Second half payments are due Oct. 31, 2014.

“I want to commemorate the old barn for all the past seniors who have painted it,” Lancaster said. “I think it will be great for all these photos to be in one place where everyone can look at them and remember back to when they painted it perhaps.”

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Islands' Sounder, March 26, 2014  

March 26, 2014 edition of the Islands' Sounder

Islands' Sounder, March 26, 2014  

March 26, 2014 edition of the Islands' Sounder