June 25, 2008 · Updated 9:35 PM
"The recent rally at the State Capitol in Olympia showed how the users of the Washington State Ferries feel about the cutbacks and reduction of service, which WSF indicates are necessary because of the passing of I-695 last November.Supporters at the rally requested that funding for ferries be maintained. Because the ferries are continuations of state highways, they should be funded as fully as any state highway, they stated. It was noted that asphalt and concrete highways are not closed to traffic for periods of hours, nor were miles of their lanes removed because of funding reductions. It stands to reason that travel to Whidbey Island and other areas should not include a reduction or stoppage of service. This is tantamount to removing large chunks of I-5, Highway 525, or any other highway because there is no money to keep said highways open and usable. The ferries are part of the state highway system and as such, are like floating bridges that move.In the February 19 issue of the Record, reporter Heidi J. Stout wrote about the Save Our Ferries rally and mentioned some of the signs displayed there. Among them was the sign Jack Leengran, local chair of the Ferry Advisory Committee, made and held aloft, which stated FERRIES ARE WHIDBEY ISLAND'S HIGHWAY TO THE REST OF THE WORLD. What was not included in the article, was the fact that there were several attendees from South Whidbey representing commuters and ferry users. They and other concerned citizens submitted hundreds of petitions to the legislature containing thousands of signatures requesting help in funding the ferry system. South Whidbey provided at least 500 signatures to that total. Speaker after speaker emphasized the importance of keeping the ferry system viable. It was noted that ferries are a major influence for many visitors who come to Washington State wishing to tour the San Juan Islands, Bainbridge and Whidbey Island, or take a scenic trip to Canada. Among the many speakers was County Commissioner Mike Shelton.Seen at the rally were representatives of the Langley Chamber of Commerce, Sybil Yates, president; Cynthia Tilkin, a Board of Directors member; Mike Hill, new owner of Violet Fields; and Marisa LaRue. Representing Island Transit and WITA was Saranell DeChambeau. Also representing WITA were Jack Negus and Roger Scott. Ferry Advisory Committee members were Jack Leengran and Joan Nelson. Bill Skubi, a local correspondent, was present, as were hundreds of other participants.Hearing the chants of SAVE OUR FERRIES and KEEP THE PROMISE were all three of our legislators, Mary Margaret Haugen, Dave Anderson, and Kelly Barlean, plus Mike Shelton, County Commissioner. But as noted by the legislators in attendance, they were all in favor of helping our ferry system - it was the legislators who were not present who had to be convinced.Those attending the rally were reminded that their efforts to keep our ferries running must continue. If each of those present, plus five neighbors, would send letters or Email to legislators who do not have ferry runs in their county, the message might get across that there are parts of Washington that have highways not made of concrete or asphaltDonald O. Nelson of Clinton is active in transportation issues in Island County."