Letters to the Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Asbestos

Material in pipes no health hazard

We have been asked by managers of a number of community water systems to comment on a statement that appeared in your Oct.20, 2001, edition.

In your front page story “Water district comes to a boil”, it was stated that “dangerous asbestos pipe” had been replaced. While the water system featured in your story may (or may not) have had other practical reasons to replace the pipe, neither this department, nor the state Department of Health considered that water system’s concrete asbestos pipe to present any health hazard. There was no requirement to replace the pipe by reason of its asbestos content.

Asbestos is an inhalation health hazard, not an ingestion hazard. When asbestos particles are inhaled, the unique size and shape of the particles allow them to be trapped in the lungs where they do their damage. When asbestos particles are ingested in water or food they simply pass on through the alimentary tract without any health effect. It must also be noted that asbestos fibers in pipes are bound in the pipe material, and we would not expect significant quantities to be released. We would expect asbestos cement pipe to be a credible health hazard only if the pipe were subjected to a high speed grinder and people were to accidentally breath the dust from the grinding process.

While current technology and economics favor other materials for new water main construction, there are still many existing community water systems in this county that distribute water through asbestos cement pipes. Managers of those systems are required to periodically have their water analyzed for asbestos particles. None of the laboratory analyses have found any significant quantity of asbestos in the water.

Vin Sherman

Drinking Water Program Coordinator

Island County Health Department

Water district

Many statements distort the facts

I was reluctant to air our dirty linens outside the community; however, since others have made statements distorting the facts, I feel the need to rebut.

The many changes in personnel since Lana Wallace took office just two years ago are of great concern: In my opinion she has created the “nightmare” as she referred to the situation. (a) The original engineering firm was dismissed. (b) We are on our third water district manager — the previous two having been fired. (c) We are now being represented by a fourth attorney — three previous dismissed; and, (d) at least two commissioners were either dismissed or left because they couldn’t put up with the harassment.

The present commissioners were appointed by Lana Wallace. Howard Duncan rubberstamps all of Lana Wallace’s decisions automatically. Adel Saba is not a “Yes” man and, because of the courage of his convictions, has been subjected to the on-going harassment. More power to him for not buckling under (as others have) to the whims of Lana Wallace. He tries to perform his duties under these very trying conditions. For all practical purposes, the district is being directed by one domineering commissioner.

In my opinion, Michael Shannon would be a repeat of Howard Duncan following blindly without convictions of his own. There appears already to be a close relationship between Wallace, Duncan and Shannon. Further, Shannon has been an absentee property owner. As I understand it, other commitments have taken him out of state for much of the three (3) years he has owned his property in the cove. I have never seen him at a water district meeting.

When running for Commissioner in 1999, Lana Wallace claimed in her resume to have “owned and operated a successful business” for 15 years. It might be of interest to research that claim in view of how the ratepayers’ money is being spent; i.e., the thousands of dollars for legal fees to attempt to discredit Commissioner Saba; along with the more than $600,000 (six hundred thousand) debt incurred for the on-going improvement project. It would be prudent to avoid further indebtedness — we can not risk whatever dire consequences might result.

As to the absurd allegations that Saba and Iverson want to combine the water district with the beach club. We have always recognized that these two should operate separately. This has been repeatedly pointed out throughout the years in the Admiral’s Cove Beach Club newsletter for the benefit of new residents. The suggestion by Sid Iverson was to bury the hatchet so to speak and exercise cooperation for the good of the community.

Yes, there was a shouting match at the Sept. 11, 2001, meeting brought about by the fact that we were informed that we again were not going to be allowed to speak. We are of the opinion that the Sept. 11 terrorist incident was just another excuse. I heard shouting — did not hear any cussing and, indeed, no one was “spit on.” Duncan’s imagination again is working overtime.

Duncan’s characterization of the members who ask questions and make comments and attempt to make suggestions as “little old ladies and men that don’t have anything else to do” is symbolic of his low mentality. It is not worthy of acknowledgment, but I must say this —

We “little old ladies and men” have lots to do. We are your community’s volunteers. Our men are Lions Club members, others serve at Island County Museum, the lighthouse, at the schools — helping with the children’s reading program, our garden club members donate to many charitable organizations with moneys made at various fund-raising projects. The Garden Club has beautified our town. And very importantly we serve as watchdogs at water district meetings. We try to represent our young people (military and others) who because of job and family commitments, can’t attend these meetings.

Most of us retired from responsible business careers — and we did not leave our brains at the office.

FRANCES SKINNER

Coupeville

Taxpayers in district are victims

When my husband Howard Duncan decided to run for the Admirals Cove Water District for a full term, it was determined, that the campaign would be about the positive things accomplished for the district. However Mr. Saba and Mr. Iverson having nothing to offer, based their campaign on personal attacks against their run off opponents. Mr. Saba presents himself as a victim. In truth the real victims are the ratepayers. Mr. Saba owes the Water District money for work he did not do. Mr. Saba has cost the Water District lawyer fees to clear his accusations against the other commissioners. Mr. Iverson’s statements have been inaccurate for a water district to say the least. I will give him credit for recreating his image with every new statement. If Mr. Iverson is really interested in the district why hasn’t he read the RCWs for the proper information? He should also have gotten up to speed by being informed from the real records of what went on for the past two years. And then we ask the question, why was Mr. Iverson asked to step down from the president’s position with the Beach Club?

The good things that have been done in the last two years by the two active commissioners Duncan and Wallace are; they joined the Washington Association of Sewer and Water Districts. They went to meetings and found information on how to run this small water district in an effective manner. Saba chose not to attend any of these meetings. They found that there were loans out there with a very low interest rate. They also found money just setting in the Admiral Cove Water District accounts that needed to be invested into long term and short term CDs. They collected past due water bills and brought in a team for good water management and bookkeeping services. They went forward with phase one. With the help of a good engineer company a contractor was picked from the bids. The water system has been up graded for part of the cove. This improvement was way past due. There were more fire hydrants added for the safety of the cove. This water district is solvent. You are welcome Admirals Cove.

Georgia Duncan

Coupeville

Historic home

There has been a little commotion in Coupeville recently over the historic Judge Still House. To Ms. Kuchenbecker I apologize for the tone of my comment letter to the town planner. While I have never met Ms. Kuchenbecker I believe her to be a fine lady and of course hold her no ill will. If as Ms. Lynn states in her letter to the editor Oct. 20, 2001, “It is her (Ms. Kuchenbecker’s) ardent wish and belief that the property will be sold to someone who will retain the property as it is”, it is puzzling why her representative, Ms. Lynn, applied for a demolition permit. I do appreciate Ms. Kuchenbecker’s stewardship of the Judge Still House over the years and thank her for that. I wholly appreciate her desire to simplify her elderly life but the demolition application did not sit well with me at all. It sounds to me like she may have been misadvised by her representatives in making the application, what with all this fuss, and now Ms. Kuchenbecker’s representative withdrawing the controversial application.

Jimmie Jean Cook was my good friend and mentor in historic preservation. She was so excited when I graduated from law school and the preservationists in town had a lawyerly voice. In my earliest suits against what we believed to be destructive, ill advised development proposals in town Jimmie Jean encouraged me to be vigilant and ruthless in protecting the town’s historic values. So when I reviewed an application to destroy one of the region’s earliest homes situated in the heart of a national historic reserve I got a little excited. Oh, by the way, I did not accuse that Ms. Kuchenbecker’s decision “to sell” was “motivated by greed’ as stated in Ms. Lynn’s recent letter. I did however express my belief that seeking demolition possibly was. You see the property is zoned commercial and my suspicion is that the landowner and/or her representatives believe that the property is worth more without the old home so that a new commercial building could be built on the property. I further suspect that the landowner did not intend to tear the house down but get grandfathered in before the town recently adopted its demolition permit ordinance, and offer it for sale with the demolition permit in place, letting someone else do the dirty work. The newly adopted ordinance still allows demolition of any historic building in town, the council lacking the courage to pass one prohibiting destruction of buildings on the National Historic Register, but one has to attempt to sell the home for six months before demolition. I’m all for making money, who isn’t? However I don’t support making extra money by demolishing a national treasure. It was the demolition application that I thought might be motivated by greed, not selling the property, I have no problem with selling. The accusation of excess greed is probably too harsh a topic to point out in a comment letter and besides, it sounds to me like Ms. Kuchenbecker never wanted to see the home destroyed in the first place. It’s too bad this all had to happen, I think the place may still be worth a substantial sum as is.

KEN PICKARD

Coupeville

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