Opinion

Editorials

"Pay attention to your communityIf you live in a small sewer district, water district or community association, it would be a good idea to keep track of what your governing board is doing. Their actions could cost you more than anything the State Legislature is considering.Certainly, nobody enjoys leaving their hearth and TV set in order to attend a meeting, but what these small boards do can have a big impact on your life.The prime example is the Holmes Harbor Sewer District, whose commissioners approved the sale of $20 million in bonds that the state Auditor's Office described as illegal. The negative fallout from this move will be landing on the community for years. If only more residents had been aware of what was going on, the bond sale may never have happened. It didn't take a trained accountant to know something fishy was transpiring, but few if any property owners regularly attended the meetings.Last week, some residents of the Maple Glen Community near Freeland complained about costly plans to paveroads in their area. Opponents have a right to complain, but they should have given their input much earlier in the process. They admit they were caught by surprise by the board's decision to pave. Had they attended meetings regularly, there would have been no surprise and opponents could have organized before the decision was made.A similar surprise occurred a few years ago in the Saratoga Water District, whose board members agreed to supply water to a controversial development planned for property that later became known as Saratoga Woods. Many residents opposed that decision after-the-fact, but few knew it was coming because they did not attend the meetings.People who serve on community boards do so voluntarily, and generally work with the best interests of the community at heart. But if the entire community isn't represented at the meetings they will often follow the wishes of the supporters of a proposed project. Project supporters attend meetings because it's in their interest to do so. If no one else questions their proposal because they're home watching TV, so much the better for the proponents.Lessons such as these should prompt homeowners to find out when their water, sewer, or community board meets, and to attend those meetings. Otherwise, lack of attendance could cost you a bundle.AmeriCorps team welcome on WhidbeyAmeriCorps has a new 10-member team assigned to South Whidbey, renewing a relationship that has been of enormous benefit to the community.AmeriCorps in past years, under the direction of Will Black, has made many physical improvements to our environment, ranging from wetland restoration to trail blazing and fence building.But AmeriCorps' most important contribution to the community hasn't been as easy to measure as the amount of litter collected from a wetland or the length of a new trail, but rather the inspiration AmeriCorps members have given South Whidbey school children. Hundreds of children work with the AmeriCorps team through the school year, and learn a love and appreciation of nature that can't be found in a textbook. They also learn their responsibility to take care of the natural world, and as a result the benefit of their AmeriCorps training last a lifetime.There is no doubt the new AmeriCorps team will supply similar benefits to the people of Whidbey Island. Welcome to Whidbey, we appreciate your presence. "

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