How An Aquifer Works

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!

Photo provided by the McCracken family

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!

David and Paul on the beautiful bench made for the Dog Woods entry meadow by John Hoenselaar

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

John Strathman, Adventure During A Pandemic

John Strathman, Adventure During A Pandemic

John Strathman is no stranger to memorable moments on the water. He’s been kayaking in the Pacific Northwest for years. Since moving to Guemes Island in 2014, John has kayaked in the 2015 inaugural  R2AK “Race to Alaska” (Port Townsend, WA to Ketchikan, AK), rowed in two “SEVENTY48s,” (Tacoma to Port Townsend), and completed a solo kayak adventure from Ketchikan to Guemes. His most recent leisurely trip around the San Juans with his friend, Tim, was memorable in its own way.

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NOTE: The stalwart Odyssey has been repaired “good as new” and is safely tucked away, awaiting next year’s “moments.”

Tom Sternberg, GICCA Board Member

Tom Sternberg, GICCA Board Member

The GICCA Board welcomes its newest Board member, Tom Sternberg, who was recently appointed to fill the vacant Trustee position. Like many of us, Tom and his partner Virginia’s visits to Guemes grew into a desire for a peaceful, rural place to make their full-time home. The pandemic changed their work situations and working from home became the required option. A small tight-knit rural community with an active community center was just the place they were looking for.

 

Tom quickly made friends with neighbors and fellow ferry passengers. Community involvement is important to Tom and he was interested to learn more about our island organizations and activities. A recent opening on the GICCA Board provided him with the opportunity to bring his work and hobby experience to the Community Center Association. He answered the call and submitted a letter of interest. The GICCA Board voted unanimously to appoint Tom to the Board.

 

Currently a high-end web and software developer, Tom has also worked in the restaurant industry in both staff and management positions. He started his own commercial landscape business overseeing five condominium complexes. Acting as the general contractor, Tom built two homes and remodeled three in the Seattle area. These varied and useful skills will be invaluable to the Association and to our island community. Tom’s enthusiasm and willingness to be involved are his greatest assets. He has already hit the ground running and is helping to design GICCA’s new “sister” website that will feature the many artists of Guemes Island.

 

We welcome Tom and Virginia and their sweet dog, Trigger, to our community

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You – An Encore Performance

You - An Encore Performance

This month we are, once again, featuring YOU because you deserve an encore!  YOU are a neighbor. YOU are a part of what makes us a community.

In the recent CDC (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention) Newsletter, Public Health Matters, we are reminded that “the word community can mean different things." It can describe a geographic area, a group of people with shared interests, or a feeling of teamwork and fellowship.” At the core is YOU.

 

The Center for Preparedness and Response (CPR) is a part of the CDC and they outline ways that YOU can create community where you live. The following are excerpts and links from the CPR’s “create community” newsletter.

 

Care for Each OtherTake care of yourself and others.

The greatest strengths of a community might be its people and their relationships with each other. People who are personally prepared, invested, and socially connected are often better able to protect themselves and more willing and ready to help others through adversity.

 

Improve AccessSupport the needs of the whole community.

Community health preparedness and resilience is not achieved until everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as prepared as possible. It is the shared responsibility of the whole community to find ways to make preparedness more inclusive, available, and achievable for everyone.

 

Lead by ExampleInspire others’ healthy behaviors.

Get in the habit of being a preparedness role model for your family and in your community. Modeling healthy behaviors, attitudes, and habits, like getting a seasonal flu vaccine and frequent handwashing, can inspire others to do the same.

 

Get InvolvedTake action to help improve everyone’s health and resilience.

People who are resilient and ready to care for their neighbors can have positive and even life-saving impacts on their neighbors and in their communities at large. Response training and exercises, donations, and volunteerism are just a few of the many ways that you can help yourself and others prepare for, respond to, and recover from an emergency.

 

The Guemes Island Community Center Association has recently posted, on our website and on island bulletin boards, a list of our Top Ten Volunteer Opportunities. YOU can help to “create community.” There are many ways, even during a pandemic, to safely connect with or inspire others, to become more resilient, and to become more involved. Whether it is just neighbor helping neighbor or through greater involvement with island organizations, your efforts will build “community.”

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Dog Island Dogs, Then and Now

Dog Island Dogs, Then and Now

The dogs of “Dog Island” are carrying on the long tradition of canine companions on Guemes Island. Few bear resemblances to the historical “wool dogs” raised by the Samish tribes in the late 1700s and early 1800s, except for one island favorite, Dakoda, or “Koda”, as he's best known.

 

The now extinct Wool Dogs were described as looking like the modern-day Spitz and stood about 17 inches high with long white fur. They were raised in “flocks” on Guemes and other nearby islands and kept separated from other village dogs in order to preserve their prized white fur. They were shorn like sheep and the fur was woven into blankets used as valuable trade items. As island settlement displaced the native tribes, the weavers switched to more accessible sheep wool and the Wool Dogs became extinct.

 

One-year-old Koda joined the family of Wendy Saver and Dave Rockwood in 2012 as a rescue from a local animal shelter. It was one of those “meant-to-be” moments when the planets were aligned and the time was right. Koda found his new family and a happy life on Guemes Island. He was “Best Dog” at Wendy and Dave’s wedding on North Beach in 2018.

 

Although not genetically related to the Samish Wool Dogs, Koda has become an island mascot and a source of smiles for many as he greets ferry passengers and crew and, before the pandemic, made regular appearances at island events. The pandemic is difficult for such a social dog (and for social humans, as well) but Wendy and Dave appreciate Koda’s companionship as he helps them adjust to social distancing and fewer opportunities to gather with friends. A romp on the beach or a roll in the dirt will have to suffice for now. Our furry, or woolly, or feathered, finned, scaled, or otherwise, pet-friends are helping us all through these difficult times.

 

If you'd like us to feature your animal companion and share your story, please contact us at myguemes@gmail.com.

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Guemes Island Fire Chief Gerry Francis Retires

Guemes Island Fire Chief Gerry Francis Retires

In July, Guemes Island Fire Chief Gerry Francis retired after 12 years of service to our community.

 

Gerry’s history with the Guemes Island Fire Department is chronicled in archived issues of the Guemes Tide (see guemestide.org). In the October 2010 issue of the Tide, Edith Walden writes that Gerry and his wife Lorraine “first moved to Guemes from Utah in 2004, when Gerry retired as a maintenance planner with Kimberly-Clark. They constructed their home on Samish Street in 2005. In November 2006, a storm threw a huge fir tree through their bedroom roof at 5:30 a.m., just missing Lorraine’s head. Gerry remembers the impressive help they received from then Fire Chief Carl Meinzinger and fire volunteers Bob and Nancy White. In 2008, at age 66, Gerry joined the Guemes Island Fire Department after seeing a recruiting flyer.” Gerry’s life was anything but boring after that.

 

The required firefighter training and rigorous emergency medical technician (EMT) training program are challenging for even young recruits. At age 66, Gerry excelled, graduating as class valedictorian at the recruit academy. Gerry was certified as an EMT in January 2011 after many hours of home study, classroom training, exams, and volunteer shifts in an ambulance and an emergency room.

 

The Board of Fire Commissioners for Fire District 17 appointed Gerry Francis to the assistant chief’s position in 2011. In 2014, Gerry was promoted to chief. As a first responder to many medical and fire emergencies on Guemes, Chief Francis has provided compassionate care to those in need. He has led his dedicated team of volunteers in protecting home and property from fire, as well as mitigating storm damage until other emergency responders can arrive.

 

Mentoring new firefighters strengthens every fire department while providing continuity of service. Gerry has mentored newly appointed Fire Chief Olivia Snell, who served as assistant chief for the past five years.

 

A grateful community wishes to thank Gerry Francis for his many years of service. In addition, we thank Gerry’s wife, Lorraine, who is also stepping away from the fire department where she served as Public Information Officer and “Chief Chef.” They will both be missed on the front lines.

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Joan Palmer Knows How To “Bee” Kind

Joan Palmer Knows How To "Bee" Kind

... submitted by Tom Deach

 

Early this spring I received a call from Joan Palmer on South Shore Road. She was looking for someone who might till up a small wild flower bed for her. As a result, after meeting with Joan and her friend, Heather Miller, I agreed to do what I could to help her out. About a week later, in between the cold rains which dominate our spring days, I was able to fit the job in. When I arrived I was a little apprehensive to begin working because neither Joan, nor Heather, was there to supervise the extent of the tilling, but I also knew Joan was also apprehensive about being too “late for wildflowers.” I went to work finishing the job just as the next rain squall moved in. I was disappointed with the final product, which was an area about 25' X 40', and quite dismal looking; a patch of dirt, chopped up grass and of course an abundance of Guemes rocks overshadowed by the gray sky above, which darkened a gloomy Guemes channel. As I pushed the tiller back towards my truck, I noticed how beautiful her manicured gardens would become as the weather warmed, renewing life. Joan called me when she arrived home very pleased with the new garden area, stating it was just as she had imagined. “What do I owe you?” Remembering what it looked like when I left it, I couldn't put a value on it. We agreed a donation to the Guemes Island Historical Society would satisfy both parties.

 

Fast forward to mid-June. Another call from Joan: “You need to see what we created, I'm so grateful for your help.” Chuck Farrell helped too, she added. He had smoothed out and tamped down the tilled area in preparation for the seed. I promised to stop by and take a look. While walking from the truck I couldn't help but notice the garden's transformation since my last visit, trees and flowers blooming with birds and bees everywhere. Along the pathway I was greeted by California poppies, a bright orange glow, a seeming reflection of the sun.

 

Volunteer California Poppies

Continuing along, flowers to my left; to the right a garden area with veggies, trees and of course, more flowers snuggled by the inevitable deer fencing. And then, a few steps further on, there they were: wildflowers galore. No more chewed up grass and dirt mixed with rock; in it's place white and pink and blue and yellow and....you get the picture: spectacular!

 

The Garden

Joan and Heather enjoying the view

Walking with Joan, she names the flowers in her gardens, introducing each of them to me. She smiles at both the flowers and me. She understands that I know nothing about flowers, but we share a common attraction to the scene surrounding us, the fragrances, bright colors and beauty that the flowers bring. We are not alone. Birds and bees of all manner abound, with butterflies beginning to arrive as summer approaches. Joan's dream is for wildflower gardens to cover our island. Joan's wish is to share her garden with these pollinators and two legged islanders as well. She would love for visitors to see it and perhaps become inspired to create their own joyful habitat for our all important friends, the birds, butterflies and of course, the Bees!

 

Joan pointing at the bees

Covid 19 has upset the way we visit, however with careful social distancing and wearing masks the gardens could be viewed in a responsible, safe, way. If you would like to see this spectacular garden, please contact Joan. Email: moonrisebay@gmail.com or by phone: 360-202-2540 to make an appointment for viewing.

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