A Memorable Memorial Day Weekend Brings the Community Together

A Memorable Memorial Day Weekend Brings the Community Together


The Guemes community came together over the three-day Memorial Day weekend to celebrate island life.


On Saturday the Summer Art Studio Tour welcomed residents and visitors to 10 gallery locations to view and purchase a variety of artists' offerings. Guemes Connects and the Soup-to-Go volunteers reconvened to provide a drive-through lunch of four soup choices, cornbread, and a cookie. The proceeds were donated to a Ukraine charity.


Sunday brought a break in the weather and a celebration of Samish traditions followed by a day of music, food, and community connections. The new Community Stage was festooned with cedar boughs and cloth sashes in the traditional Coast Salish colors. Rosie Cayou honored all who had a hand in building the stage. Old and young alike were tasked with observing and carrying on the memories of the day. Attendees received gifts of gratitude for being part of the celebration. The "dreamers" and the "builders" untied the sashes for the ceremonial ribbon cutting to officially open the Stage. The ceremony was closed by Jim Denovan in traditional Scottish dress playing the bagpipes. There were few dry eyes in the crowd.


Mike Gwost on guitar and Sue Gwost playing her father George's fiddle opened the day of music. The Island Explorers, led by Gale Myles sang a song of mountains, ocean, and flowers. Ian Woofenden and Lisa Grace engaged the audience with their gentle acoustic style. Kids and adults were wowed by Wren Schultz, juggler extraordinaire.


As the afternoon progressed, the music gained momentum and energy with the 13-member Dog Island Drums, our island's African drumming ensemble. Guemes favorites, The 720 String Band, The Haul Outs, and The Clark Point Rounders brought people to their feet. Nick Allison with Nightingale transitioned the crowd into the evening. Children of the Blues and Savage Blues Band were the crescendo that ended a memorable day of celebration.


Dozens of volunteers made the event possible. Dave Baumert provided all the sound equipment and "front of house" support. Don Bird was stage manager with the help of Cliff Christianson and Sean Sternberg doing the heavy lifting and providing audio support.


Ray Poorman of San Juan Cable provided WiFi capability so token sales could be streamlined for the purchase of wine, beer, ice cream, and commemorative bandanas.


A huge thank you to Jeff Schackman of Patterson Cellars who donated the wine for the Beer & Wine Garden. Rockfish Grill and Anacortes Brewery provided the beer.


The Guemes Island Fire Department entertained the kids with tours of their fire trucks and equipment. They also provided the first aid tent which thankfully was not needed.


Food vendors kept the crowd fed throughout the day. Thanks to Rosie Cayou and her family crew for the fry bread and Indian Tacos. DIGS Food Truck served pizza by the slice. Gourmet hot dogs with all the fixins' served by Road Dawgs. Ice cream sandwiches and cups from Lopez Island Creamery were a welcome treat. GICCA kept their popcorn machine working overtime giving away free popcorn throughout the day.


Thank you to all the volunteers who helped with promotion, signage, moving tables and chairs, setting up tents and the beer garden, managing the parking lots, tending the water tables, picking up trash, and helping clean up. Rosie Cayou and her family taught us all to be gracious and grateful for what a community can accomplish when we all work together.


Monday of the long weekend brought people to the Guemes Cemetery for observance of Memorial Day. The many people lost during this past year were remembered.


Pickleball instruction and play and organized walking tours of Guemes Mountain, Kelly's Point, and Dogwoods rounded out the busy weekend. It was truly a time to Celebrate Guemes!

Don Bird – Music, Broadcast, Film, and More

Don Bird - Music, Broadcast, Film, and More

Photos and narrative provided by Don Bird


Born and raised in Seattle, Don Bird started learning to read and write music before he learned English. Those lines, dots, and squiggles and the sounds they produced fascinated him. With a mother classically trained on piano and pipe organ, and an uncle who was a semi-professional trumpet player, Don grew up surrounded by a wide range of music and styles and learned to play numerous instruments including trumpet, fluegelhorn, guitar, bass, piano, and organ. He turned professional upon graduating high school and enrolled in UW School of Communications (Radio/TV). Working his way through college, he played for the Bellevue Symphony, various Seattle shows/musicals, and local acts like the New Deal Rhythm Band, Shots, Gabriel, and his own progressive rock band, Ears, voted Seattle’s best band in KZOK’s 1977 contest.


Read more

GICCA Welcomes Two New Board Members

GICCA Welcomes Two New Board Members

The Guemes community turned out during the month of November to vote in members for the 2022 GICCA Board of Directors. Two new members, Nancy Fisher-Allison (left) and Darlene Klister (right) were elected to the seven-member Board.


Nancy Fisher-Allison was raised to lead a life of service. Throughout both her private and professional lives, she has found ways to give back to the communities where she has lived. Nancy is a former public-school librarian with interests that include history, the arts, and the natural world. Using her experience as an educator, Nancy hopes to establish an adult education series aligned with the wide-ranging interests of Guemes islanders.


Darlene Klister is known to many for her unique jewelry creations and the art classes that she teaches from her island studio, Firelight Designs. Her creative path has led her from painting in different mediums to silver and coppersmithing. Darlene's professional career included over 30 years as a paralegal. Her intention is to bring a balanced business and creative perspective to her work with the GICCA Board.


The three incumbents, Libby Boucher, Tom Sternberg, and Barb Ohms were reelected. Two returning Board members, Kathy Whitman and Mary Hale each have one year remaining on their terms.


Your 2022 Community Center Board looks forward to a productive and creative year ahead.

Neighbors Helping Neighbors – Guemes Connects Needs You

Neighbors Helping Neighbors – Guemes Connects Needs You

A "community" is defined as a group of people living in the same place. There is also a more internal definition. A community is a group of people that takes care of each other. As Guemes Islanders, we are geographically connected but when we feel we are part of something bigger than ourselves, we truly function as a community.


For many years, Guemes Connects has brought neighbors together to help neighbors. Their mission is to foster a network of support for the Guemes Island community. This group of dedicated volunteers is committed to meeting the needs of anyone requesting assistance, regardless of age, illness, disability, race, or religion. Now Connects needs new volunteers as several of the founders are retiring.


The group's goal is to provide on-island skilled, compassionate assistance in the following areas:

  • Emergency Meals
  • Respite care (temporary relief for caregivers)
  • Transportation to medical appointments (not available during COVID)
  • Home Maintenance (helping needy island residents with uncomplicated maintenance tasks)
  • Housing (availability information)
  • Medical equipment (free wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, bedside commodes, grab bars, etc.)


Guemes Connects also sponsors the popular Gathering Lunch (not available during COVID) and Soup-to-Go (a COVID safe alternative). These weekly lunch programs are open to everyone. Meals are served on Thursdays from 11:30 to 12:15 from November to April at the Guemes Community Church. A suggested donation of $5.00 helps to fund the program.


When the in-person Gathering Lunch is possible, free blood pressure testing is available from 11:15 to 12:30. The "Gathering" began as an opportunity to visit with neighbors, meet new friends, and enjoy a home-style hot lunch cooked in the Church commercial kitchen by island volunteers.


Soup-to-Go provides the same home-style soup lunch, bread, and a cookie as a COVID-safe alternative. Drive through at the front of the Church from 11:30 to 12:15, beginning on Nov 4. No lunch i served on Thanksgiving, Nov 25.


Following is the current contact list of the coordinators for the areas Connects serves.

Meals Lorraine Francis 360-293-8364 (H)
Respite Care Juby Fouts 360-293-2704 (H)
Transportation Open
Home Maintenance Bill Clark 360-299-3230 (H)
Housing Ron Knowles 360-588-9922 (C)
Medical Equipment Juby Fouts 360-293-2704 (H)
Barb Ohms 360-298-1885 (H) 303-521-9094 (C)
Gathering Lunch/Soup-to-Go Beverly James 206-660-1447 (C)
Sharon Hughlitt 360-588-0179 (C)

Contact Lorraine or Juby with questions or if a specific coordinator cannot be reached, OR if you wish to volunteer! Guemes Connects needs YOU to help keep these valuable services going.


"Do more than belong: participate."
"Do more than care: help."
"Do more than dream: work."
Words of wisdom from William Arthur Ward

Be a Good Neighbor — Conserve Water!

Be a Good Neighbor — Conserve Water!

Image credit: Guemes Island Planning Advisory Committee


It’s been a long, dry summer on Guemes Island. The Guemes Island Planning Advisory Committee (GIPAC) noted in a recent post on myguemes.org entitled, “Be Water Wise,” that, “During the dry season, we are tempted to increase water usage by watering lawns, washing cars and boats, and entertaining visitors who are not familiar with the need to conserve water.” In an August 3, 2021 article on postalley.org entitled, “Reckoning: Guemes Island Keeps Growing; The Water Supply Isn’t,” which also cites GIPAC members, the author, Elisa Claassen, conveys that more people, more wells, increasing water use, and rising sea levels are putting Guemes’s two aquifers, the island’s main source of potable water, under stress – causing many wells to fail already.


Funds have recently been appropriated for a new U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to update the 1995 USGS report on groundwater on the island. The study is set to begin in 2022 and is estimated to take a year and a half to complete. GIPAC and fellow islanders hope that the results of the upcoming study will motivate Skagit County to take quick and decisive action to protect our very limited water supply - before it is too late.


Learn more about how we ALL can protect our limited water supply.


Be a good islander – be water-wise!

Phil McCracken, Long-time Guemes Resident and Art Legend

Phil McCracken, Long-time Guemes Resident and Art Legend

A difficult period of pandemic isolation is punctuated by the loss of another longtime islander and renowned artist, Philip Trafton McCracken. Phil passed away after a long illness on June 6, 2021, at the age of 92.


"Though most will remember Philip primarily as the renowned artist he was, his family and close family friends will hold the memory of a complicated but dearly loved man who adored family gatherings, took a childlike pleasure in small moments, never aged out of playing animals with young children, loved dreamy whimsy and strange little objects as much as he loved esoteric ideas and theoretical paradigms, relished telling humorous stories about the past, had a distinctively wry smile and a memorable high pealing laugh." For the complete tribute and obituary provided by his family, click here.


Phil's art lives on in many public venues and in private homes. For a map of Phil's sculptures accessible for public viewing, click here.


As a mentor, Phil drew a number of artists to Guemes Island. His legacy of connecting to the mysterious energies of the animal and plant world continues to inspire generations of new artists. Guemes provides a nurturing sanctuary for all the creative arts.

Adam Mimnaugh, What It Means to Be an Islander

Adam Mimnaugh, What It Means to Be an Islander

After years of discussion, many options considered, an architect consulted, bids entertained, grants denied, budgets constrained, and many heads scratched, the Guemes Island Community Center Hall finally has a new front porch and walkway. Wheelchairs and food carts can now reach the front door unimpeded by stairs or detours onto gravel. Only two steps now lead onto the deck to reach the Guemes Library. Soon the walkway near the Church will also be repaired providing a smooth interconnection between facilities.


The community is grateful to islander Adam Mimnaugh, Mimnaugh Excavation, and his crew for a job well done. Thanks to workers Dan Raynor, Adam Pahnke, Chris LeBoutillier, and Max Boucher. Several other volunteers also lent their expertise to the project and wish to remain unacknowledged. Mimnaugh is donating the labor costs with the Guemes Island Community Center Association (GICCA) covering the cost of materials. Retired builder and resident, Bill Heft, worked with Adam to develop the plan and elevations. Bill was part of the crew that leveled and finished just over 10 yards of concrete.

Mimnaugh Excavation has been serving the Guemes Island community since 2003. Adam offers professional service for Guemes Island residents that includes general excavation, septic system installation and inspections, utilities, road building, and more. Adam and most of his employees live and work right here on Guemes Island. With their equipment here on the island, Adam has the ability to get whatever is needed to a job site minimizing delays and commute costs.


“Being an islander” means sharing your success and giving back to the community. Over the years Adam has employed many islanders and has donated equipment time, labor, and materials to a number of island community projects including the Stage Project at Schoolhouse Park, Kelly’s Point, and now the welcoming new entrance to our 107-year-old Community Center Hall.


The GICCA Board and the Guemes community wish to thank Adam and his crew and all the volunteers!

Paul Beaudet and David Wertheimer

Paul Beaudet and David Wertheimer

Photo and narrative provided by David Wertheimer


Paul Beaudet and David Wertheimer have been island residents since 1998 when they visited Guemes after reading Valerie Easton's article "The Secret Gardens of Guemes" in the Seattle Times. Paul and David purchased a home at Kelly's Point where they spent nearly every weekend since, commuting back to Seattle for work on weekdays.  With David's retirement in 2019 and a shift to remote work during the pandemic, they now consider Guemes their permanent year-round home.


Paul is the Executive Director of the Wilburforce Foundation, which works to protect and preserve North American wildlands.  David retired after 13 years at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where he served in various roles on the Pacific Northwest team and as Director of Community & Civic Engagement.  Both have been actively involved in island organizations over the years.  Paul served on the Community Center board for 7 years, David served on the board of Friends of Guemes Island, is an occasional speaker at the Guemes Island Church, and both have been involved in various land conservation campaigns, including the efforts to save Guemes Mountain and to permanently protect Kelly's Point.  David has also stepped in to serve as a Commissioner for the Guemes Island Fire Department after the tragic and untimely death of Frank Crawford.


A few notes on Dog Woods:  After years of walking past the wooded parcels on West Shore Road on a regular basis, Paul and David decided in 2020 to acquire 120 acres of woodlands, portions of which had, in the past, been heavily logged.  The land is designated as forest land.  They call the property "Dog Woods," both to honor the Samish history of the island as a place where this First Nation community raised their unique Woolly Dogs, and to celebrate the dogs that populate and enjoy the island today.  Paul and David are working with local naturalists Peter Dunwiddie and Samantha ("Sam") Martin to learn more about the unique features of the Dog Woods environment, and to determine the best ways to nurture the forest lands and restore its full health. Their primary goals in the years ahead are to remove invasive weeds, restore and enhance the native plants, and maintain a trail network to welcome community access.  In time, they plan to donate the land to Skagit Land Trust.  (For additional information, see:  https://guemesisland.info/dog-woods-trail/)


David and Paul planting paper birches at Dog Woods, a restoration forest (ARF!)

Photo Credit: Mary Lascelles


Dog Woods is truly becoming a community effort.  There are numerous community members involved with Dog Woods that we'd like to acknowledge.  These individuals include, (in no specific order):

  • Jimmie and Lu Lemieux (who are building the Dog Woods trail network)
  • Rick Petrick
  • John Hoenselaar
  • Sam Barr and Eric Licata
  • Manuel, Lynette, Ioanna, Elia and Aiden Mattke
  • Jim, Joanne and Lisa Cieko
  • Dyvon Havens and Jep Burdock
  • Rebecca and Bud Ullman
  • Terri and Joe Gaffney
  • Barbara and Randy Schnabel
  • Jeff Hale and Mary Parker-Hale
  • Robert Olson
  • Marc Beaudet

The Long Road to Permitting the Stage

The Long Road to Permitting the Stage

Anyone who has built on Guemes Island or in Skagit County knows that the permitting process is long, tedious, and expensive. That was certainly the case for GICCA's Schoolhouse Park Stage.


The permitting process for this long-running project began in 2012. Mark Linnemann was the first of four project managers. A Pre-Development application is required prior to receiving a building permit. The Stage Project site was determined to be adjacent to a wetland and therefore in a Protected Critical Area (PCA) requiring a Critical Area Review. Mark and then GICCA President, Julie Pingree hired the necessary consultants to complete the review.


In the Pre-Development Meeting Notes, GICCA was told that in order to comply with the Rural Reserve zoning requirements of the project property and to allow for public events, a Special Use Permit must be obtained along with a designation as a Community Park. Special Use Permits also require review under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA).


The first three-year building permit was issued on Oct 5, 2012 with conditions to complete mitigation within the adjacent wetland buffer zone and with the requirement that GICCA must obtain a Special Use Permit.


The building permit was renewed in 2015 by then President, Kathleen Phillips and extended for another three years. After a final six-month grace period, the permit expired. A new building permit was obtained on April 22, 2019 by then-president, Barb Ohms.


Work began in earnest to complete the project and work through the very tedious tasks of completing the Special Use Permit Application and the painstaking SEPA Checklist, obtaining a Reciprocal Agreement with Skagit County Parks & Recreation (SCPR), another Pre-Development meeting with the County Planning Dept., and in March of 2021, filing the required documents, site plans, parking plans, and landscaping plans. Special thanks to the GICCA Board for their many hours of work on this process. GICCA also paid the required application fee to the County of $4925.


Public notices were published and posted that opened the public comment periods for the SEPA determination, the proposed land-use change, and the announcement of the required Hearing Examiner's Hearing for the Special Use Permit. GICCA President, Barb Ohms addressed the Hearing Examiner and was available to answer any questions or concerns from the community. No concerns were presented.


On November 3, 2021, the Skagit County Hearing Examiner approved GICCA's Special Use Permit, with conditions. The complete document of determination can be viewed here.


The building permit final inspection required fulfilling several mitigation conditions in the wetland buffer zone. Stockpiled soil has been removed. All disturbed soils have been either hydroseeded or graveled. Native conifers have been planted. The County has accepted our mitigation measures and on November 9, 2021 GICCA passed the final building inspection. The occupancy permit is forthcoming.


Before celebrations can begin, all conditions of the Special Use Permit must be met. The ADA walkway and ADA parking places are still to be completed. The GICCA Board is working diligently to find the quickest option. Contractor schedules and unfavorable weather are the biggest obstacles at this time.


Please be patient. This project has taken over 10 years since the dream began taking shape. Plans are in the works for an opening celebration when the weather improves for an outdoor event. ALL volunteers, donors, and community partners will be recognized at that time. Thank you.



Remembering the “Old Normal”

Remembering the "Old Normal"


Beginning in the second week of March 2020, the world was faced with a growing pandemic that required the shutdown of all public gatherings. Our “new normal” moved meetings to online platforms and restricted social activities to groups of five or less with required social distancing. Smiles were now hidden behind masks. Even hugs became virtual.


New island residents and part-timers who have chosen to seek solace on the island for the pandemic duration may not fully realize how fervently we all miss and reminisce about the "old normal." But, have no doubt, the "old normal" will return; a vibrant island-life will ultimately prevail; smiles and hugs will again be prevalent once COVID restrictions are lifted. The Community Center Hall will once more burst at the seams with activity, as it has for so many years.


In the "old normal," GICCA would be planning a year filled with activities and events both at the Community Center Hall and at our property at Schoolhouse Park. We would also be working with other community organizations to host events at the campus on Guemes Island Road that includes the Library and the Guemes Community Church. Although it will be a long haul to get through the COVID pandemic, GICCA is confident that we will eventually be gathering and celebrating again as a community.


The GICCA Board wants to remind everyone, longtime residents and newcomers, of the “old normal” and the recent activities that were hosted at your community center properties.
• Weekly Yoga and Zumba Classes
• Community Workshops: Luminary Art, Foraging, Cheesemaking, Sourdough, Fermenting, Fry Bread, Pattern Making, Library How-to Classes, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Training
• Monthly GICCA Meetings
• Annual Organization Meetings: GICCA, Guemes Island Planning Advisory Committee (GIPAC), Guemes Ferry Committee, Holiday Hideaway Association
• Public Forums, Skagit County Community Meetings, Precinct Caucuses
• Charity Fundraisers and Community Potlucks
• Weddings, Memorials, Birthday Parties, Family Reunions, Retreats
• Concerts: Chamber Music, Folk Music, Guitar, Autoharp, African Drumming
• Poetry Readings, Nature Talks, Documentary Film Showings
• July 4th Hot Dog Picnic at the Park, Trivia Night, Island Talent Show, The Black & White Dinner, Wine Tasting Fundraisers, Woodchoppers’ Ball, Holiday Community Dinner, Kid’s Halloween Party, Trunk or Treat, Island Kids’ Easter Egg Hunt, Earth Day All-Island Clean Up, Father’s Day Strawberry Sundae Social, Fall Festival and Holiday Bazaar Craft Fairs, Guemes Kids’ Science Camp


Until all this can resume and your Community Center Hall comes alive with activity once again, please take advantage
of our virtual offerings listed in the “Social Connections” tab at the top of this page. We also invite you to visit our new Art Initiative website, GuemesIslandArt.org. Be safe, stay healthy, and treasure this caring community that we all share.


And, finally, another reminder that adversity can bring us together in times of need. This January 2021 Guemes was hit with a damaging wind storm that left many residents without power or internet for days. While still dealing with pandemic-life, neighbors rallied to remove downed trees, share food, and help with generators. Our Fire Department was called to duty to assist with downed power lines and trees on houses and cars. We are reminded of the kindness of strangers and the nurturing provided by a small community. Thank you to all who make Guemes a uniquely special place.