Support Orcas Schools through Education Foundation "One-armed" videos raise awareness and donations

— from Janet Brownell for OIEF — [As of July 19], the Orcas Island Education Foundation is in its last 7 days of the “One Arm Tied Behind Your Back” challenge. Started on June 22, OIEF created the campaign to raise both donations AND awareness. Public education is under-funded in … Continue reading

Orcas Issues Looks to the Future Summer Interns Bring a Fresh Perspective to Orcas Issues, News and Views

— by Margie Doyle — Orcas Issues is proud to introduce its two summer interns to our readers. Emma Heikkinen, daughter of Phil Heikkinen and Ellen Goldberg, has worked as editor on the revived high school newspaper, the Viking Voice. You may already have seen her articles about the Pet … Continue reading

Economic Development Council Seeks Assistant

— from Victoria Compton, Director, San Juan County Economic Development Council — Title of Position: Economic Development Program Assistant Job Description: Plan, organize, develop, implement, oversee and review economic development programs and activities. Involves: Organize and coordinate a wide variety of business workshops. Analyze regional and local economic data and … Continue reading

Guest Opinion: An Innovative Proposal for Housing Affordability


— by Ken Wood — Okay, let’s talk about HOUSING AFFORDABILITY; specifically here on the island, though the basic problem is actually everywhere: 1. There is a disparity between what it is possible to earn and what a mortgage payment costs each month. I say mortgage payment and not rent, … Continue reading

Groundbreaking at the Library: Smiles and Sharing a Special Secret

— by Madeleine Treneer — There was an excited, joyful feeling in the air as islanders gathered to witness the groundbreaking ceremony for the Eastsound Library expansion on Saturday morning.  This event attracted entire families, ranging from young kids to older seniors, to enjoy this groundbreaking moment. Some people stood … Continue reading

OPAL Announces Progress in Addressing Housing Crisis The first major apartment project on Orcas in nearly 30 years


— from Judy Whiting — While the lack of affordable housing continues to frustrate island employers and employees alike, OPAL Community Land Trust has quietly made significant progress in developing 30 affordable rentals on North Beach Road – the first major apartment project on Orcas in nearly 30 years. “We … Continue reading

Editorial: Join the Movement to Keep Ferry Food Local!

— by Margie Doyle — A petition by Susan Meyers to maintain local vendors for ferry and ferry terminal food services is circulated through a campaign. The petition will be delivered to Governor Jay Inslee. Orcas Issues readers are encouraged to sign the petition and circulate it. Earlier this … Continue reading

Crow Valley Gallery Welcomes Guests to Open House


Friday, July 22 from 4-7 p.m. at Crow Valley in Town –by Margie Doyle — Wendy Shinstine, the new owner of Crow Valley Gallery (or more familiarly known as “Crow Valley in Town”), is happy to announce upcoming summer events at the historic art gallery on Main Street. On Friday, … Continue reading

Business Spotlight: Sugar Shack Brings Orcas Adventures to Cascade Lake

sugarshack feature

— by Madeleine Treneer — Looking for a snack at beautiful Cascade Lake? Then the Sugar Shack is the place for you! Here, at the little booth at the end of the dock on Cascade Lake you can enjoy a range of tasty goodies, from mouthwatering panini, to grilled cheese … Continue reading

Influencing the Future of Eastsound Task group produces report and survey to invite community participation

— from Jim Jonassen– The process for updating the county’s comprehensive plan has begun and will unfold over the next eighteen months. Things missing from the Eastsound Urban Growth Area in the existing plan include parking and traffic plans and anything significant about a vision for the future. Out of … Continue reading

Eastsound Planners Discuss Vision and Details Upcoming projects also reviewed by County advisory committee

— by Margie Doyle and Madeleine Treneer, updated July 16 at 4 p.m. — The bulk of the Eastsound Planning Review Committee (EPRC) monthly meeting on Tuesday, July 12, was spent on refining the allowable uses in the tables of the Eastsound Subarea Plan update, approved by the County last … Continue reading

Writers: Sign Up for “Local Writers Read”

— from JoEllen Moldoff — SHARK REEF Literary Magazine, founded on Lopez in 2001, is organizing “Local Writers Read” evenings in conjunction with the Lopez Bookshop. Editor Lorna Reese and publisher Iris Graville are compiling a list of writers to invite for these first Friday events (October through May/June) on … Continue reading

San Juan County Council Candidates Speak Before the Public First of a two-part series

— by Margie Doyle — Attendance was sparse (about two dozen) at the League of Women Voters of the San Juans Election Forum on Tuesday, July 5. Yet the audience asked knowledgeable questions that elicited the positions of the five candidates running county-wide for the seat from San Juan Island … Continue reading

An Art Auction for Every Taste

Saturday, July 9th at 4:30 p.m at the Orcas Senior Center — by Emma Heikkinen — Those who have never set foot in the Orcas Senior Center are invited to enjoy a wide display of art within, alongside long-time visitors of the establishment. The Live Auction will take place on … Continue reading

Extra Ferry Runs for Extra Busy Weekend

— from Washington State Ferries — The Fourth of July weekend is Washington State Ferries’ busiest travel weekend of the year, so please plan ahead for heavy vehicle traffic heading westbound from Thursday, June 30 through Saturday, July 2, and eastbound July 5-6. The San Juan Islands routes will operate … Continue reading

School Board Hires and Seeks Teachers and Administrators

— Capital Bond Considered — by Margie Doyle, updated June 28 at 12:45 p.m. — At the Orcas Island School District regular board meeting on June 23, 2016, the board agreed to hire  the following teachers: Lisa Jenkens as a 4th Grade teacher Kimberly Malo as a 5th Grade teacher … Continue reading

News from Hughes: Islands’ Housing and Transportation Summer Plans

Council Member Rick Hughes

— by Margie Doyle — San Juan County Councilman Rick Hughes commented on government matters that impact Orcas Islanders recently. So many active projects “are coming to the front of the queue,” he says. Still, housing issues dominate his concerns for the county. Hughes commended the work of a task … Continue reading

Changes at the Port of Friday Harbor

— from Barbara Marrett, Port Commission President — The Port of Friday Harbor Commission is pleased to announce Ted Fitzgerald of Brookings, Oregon as the new Executive Director at the Port of Friday Harbor beginning July 1. After evaluation of more than 30 applications from around the country, Ted was … Continue reading

Guest Opinion: Vacation Rentals Create Problems

— by Steve Mckenna — One year ago I wrote a “Guest Opinion”, referenced here (, suggesting a moratorium on Vacation Rentals until the County addresses the issues caused by their continued proliferation. While the County appears to be starting to take a look at Vacation Rentals I would … Continue reading

County Permit Office Now on Orcas

 – Also on Lopez and Shaw Islands every week — by Margie Doyle — County Building Inspector Jason Hensel now occupies an office in the Orcas County Building (shared with Orcas Senior Center) in order to facilitate the permitting process for Orcas residents. Hensel shares the office with County Councilman … Continue reading

Score! Nifty Thrifty Thanks Orcas

Score feature

— by Margie Doyle — Score Nifty Thrifty Turns Three! Score! Nifty Thrifty is a unique shop tucked into the Eastsound Post Office building. It was started three years ago this week as an Orcas “Community Sharing” venture, where donated goods of all kinds are available at great savings to … Continue reading