Posts Tagged ‘Pacific County’

Vaccination Report from The Old and Infirm

Saturday, January 23rd, 2021

Two arms from our household received their first doses of the Moderna vaccine yesterday in South Bend.  Neither of the arms is complaining and so far, neither of their attached people feels tired, vomitty, or in any way out of the ordinary.  WOOT!  WOOT!

We were extremely pleased to see that the Point of Delivery behind South Bend’s Fire Hall was beautifully organized with nurses and other volunteers ready to explain the procedure, handle the paper work, get the vaccine into arms, observe us during a fifteen-minute recovery period, and give us instructions for next steps.  A smooth operation from start to finish.  Highest of marks for the Pacific County Health Department!

On the other hand, Nyel and I spent a good deal of our homeward journey speculating about the total mess the scheduling has been.  Why was the scheduling so hard and the vaccine delivery process so easy?  Last night, in response to my spasmodic weekly report to our usual Friday Nighters, we heard the scheduling frustrations, as well as the “success stories,” of some of our friends.  It seems incredible, since we’ve known for months now that eventually the vaccine would be “ready,” that the scheduling could be such a mess.  Especially when contrasted to the actual delivery process!  Obviously our Health Department is up to the second task.  What happened in getting ready for it?

I hope that when all is said and done we’ll find out the whys.  Could “they” not have used census records to list every Pacific County resident by age and access us that way?  Or by address?  Or by both?  Surely with all the computer possibilities there could have been a way to sort contact information and get in touch with the residents of our small county?  But maybe not.

Meanwhile, we’ve been told that our county is out of vaccine for this go-round.  Does that mean that they’ve put aside the second doses for which  some of us have been scheduled?  Unclear.  Does it help to know that other areas are having just as much trouble as we are?  Not really.  We’re all in this together and the only way out is all of us together, as well.  We are holding positive thoughts.

Anyone else feeling vaguely “unwanted”?

Friday, December 18th, 2020

R.H. Espy, born 1826 in Allegheny County, PA – died 1918, a 64-year resident of Pacific County, WA

Somehow, Wednesday’s front page headline in the Observer — “Out-of-state seniors drive up county age” — was a bit unsettling.  As I read the article, I realized that the finger-pointing by the U.S. Census Bureau was specifically directed to a group of us old ducks that I don’t quite fit into.  Almost but not quite.  And I’m not at all sure why I care.

The article’s statistics specifically target an influx of older residents who were born in states other than Washington and who moved here between 2015 and 2019.  Well, I moved here permanently (check!) and was born in Massachusetts (check!) but that was in 1978 and I was still twenty-plus years shy of being a senior.  Even so, the tone of the article made me feel a bit uncomfortable about being old and born out-of-state.  And then I felt annoyed.  And then totally pissed off.

I dragged out my copy of the 1860 Pacific County Census and took a quick look.  As expected, the only residents listed as born in Washington Territory were under seven years old!  Duh! At a time when our indigenous people were not allowed to be counted in the U.S. Census and when Euro-American settlers were just beginning to arrive, ALL  adults who were counted in Pacific County had been born elsewhere.  Double duh!

The one exception to the 7-or-under pattern  was 16-year-old George Johnson who my great-grandfather, the census-taker, counted despite George’s Indian heritage.  Knowing what I do of Great-Grandpa R. H. Espy, he snuck in as many Indians as he could.  I’ve been told that he mostly preferred their company to many of the early “born-elsewhere” settlers.

Julia Jefferson Espy born 1851 in Marion County, OR – died 1901, a 31-year resident of Pacific County, WA

Granted, most of those listed in the 1860 count were not “seniors.”  Actually, make that “none” were seniors in the present-day understanding (65-and-over) of the term.  Settling the wilderness was not an occupation for old folks.  The oldest people listed were John Crellin, Sr. from the Isle of Man who was 60 and George Wills from Kentucky who was 58.  Both were farmers and came here with younger family members.

The total number of residents in Pacific County in 1860, according to my GG and the U.S. Census Bureau, was 470 — all born out of Washington Territory with the exceptions noted above.  The total number today is 21,668, 46.9% of whom were born out of state.

I don’t find these latest statistics very compelling.  As in so what?  What I’d much rather like to know from our present-day, newly arrived, born-out-of-state residents is this:  What brought you here and what, if any, “connection” do you have to our area?  I’ll bet the answers would be fascinating.  Much more interesting than the latest census analysis of our changing demographics.  Just sayin’…



A Whole New Meaning for PC

Monday, November 9th, 2020

In recent days “PC” has taken on an entirely new meaning for me.  Not your Personal Computer.  Not Politically Correct.  Not Police Constable or Probable Cause.  No.  It’s PANDEMIC COMPLACENCY.

As I look at the reports of new Covid-19 cases world-wide,  in the United States, in Washington State, and in Pacific County, and see what is being done about it, I think we are now well established in the PC zone.

What is wrong with us?  While European countries are taking extreme measures — like France’s total lock-down, Spain’s border closures, the Czech Republic’s closures of restaurants, bars, and other gathering places, our country has no overall mandate and little enforcement.

Meanwhile, coronavirus continues its spread across the world and has now passed 50 million confirmed cases in 190 countries and more than 1.2 million deaths.  The United States is leading the pack…  and not in a good way.  According to the BBC World News, as of four hours ago today (November 9, 2020) the U.S. has had the most Covid deaths (236,591) and the highest number of total cases (9,893,685) in the world.

Right here in Pacific County, we are at an all-time high of newly confirmed Covid-19 cases — 28 as of November 6th bringing the County total to 155 cases since the beginning of the Pandemic.  Yet, as far as I can determine, life goes on pretty much as usual.  Most kids are in school, most businesses are open, the tourists continue to arrive in large numbers, and we are free to come and go as we please.

Too, it seems obvious to me that the public is half-hearted in following “suggested” health measures.  How else to explain the numbers?  And where is our leadership? The Public Health Officials continue with the same old, same old — wear masks, socially distance, wash your hands, stay home if you can.  We haven’t heard lately from Governor Inslee.  Pandemic Complacency seems to be the name of the game.

P.S.  Just after I posted this blog, President-Elect Biden spoke to the nation about his new task force on Covid-19 and the work he is already doing in preparation for immediate action once he has been inaugurated. YAY!  Finally after four miserable flailing-around years,  there will be a Leader in the White House!!



A Footnote to Our Local History

Saturday, September 19th, 2020

Sealand-Nahcotta 1890s

Perhaps you read my article about Sealand in the July 23rd Chinook Observer.  If not, you should be able to read it by cutting and pasting this link:

It was the fifth story in my series, “Once Upon A Time in Early Pacific County” and it’s one I thoroughly enjoyed writing — perhaps because I had a bit of first-hand knowledge about Sealand “the town across the tracks.”  Although I was a generation too young to have known it personally, I grew up hearing my grandparents refer to it — always.  When it came to the town four miles south of Oysterville, they never spoke of Nahcotta.  Only of Sealand.

Dorothy at Graduation fron IHS, 1948

So, I can hardly express to you the pleasure I felt when I received a note the other day from my friend, Dorothy Trondsen Williams.  Dorothy grew up here on the Peninsula — in Ocean Park — and was the granddaughter of J.A.  Morehead who figured prominently in my Sealand article.  Some years ago, I had written about Dorothy’s growing up years in my series “North Beach Girls of the Teens and Twenties.”  I drew from some of her reminiscences for the recent Sealand story.

In her note to me she said:  I especially enjoyed the Sealand Morehead articles in the Observer recently and thought you might be interested in the fact that I recently obtained J.A. Morehead’s desk.  Daughter Barbara plans to laminate the stories and they will be stored in the desk in a cubby hole for future generations to enjoy.

I couldn’t be more pleased!



I can’t imagine… but just in case!

Sunday, August 16th, 2020

As far as I know, our mail-in balloting process in Pacific County has always gone smoothly and I expect that voting in the November election will be seamless this time, too.  But it’s always good to have a back-up plan.  Just in case.

Since most of what we mail from here goes first to Portland for sorting (don’t ask) it is within the realm of possibility that there might be a hang-up there.  Portland’s had more than it’s share of the evening news lately, and I’d hate for our general election to be cause for yet more headlines.

Our ballots have to go to South Bend, of course, which is just a spit and a holler to the northeast of us.  And, there is a special mail slot at the Long Beach Post Office for mail that goes directly to South Bend as in do not pass go and do not mess around with an out-of-state sorting facility.  If you get your ballot in the mail, in Long Beach, before 11 o’clock in the morning, it will go to South Bend that very day.  Post haste, as they say.

I actually can’t imagine why anyone would wait until the last minute.  Not on this election!  Ballots will be mailed to us on October 16th.  That gives us a full two weeks to mark our choices and get those ballots in the mail.  Most of us already know how we will vote.  Mark ’em and mail ’em, I say.  It’s a no-brainer.

The Big News from Oysterville!

Thursday, May 21st, 2020

Dan Driscoll, 2017

Maybe if we hadn’t been seriously sheltering, we would have had a heads up.  As it happened, though, we had no idea until we read it in the Chinook Observer — Dan Driscoll is running for County Commissioner!  About him, the article said:  Driscoll, an oysterman, owns Oysterville Sea Farms and had a well-documented legal battle with Pacific County over land-use and licensing issues to his seafood shop.  The battle escalated to the state Court of Appeals, which sided with Driscoll and upheld an original South Court ruling in 2018.

Oysterville Sea Farms, 2015 — A Bob Duke Photo

What the article does not say, of course, is that said “legal battle” did more to qualify Dan for candidacy in this election than any experience that either of his opponents have had, notwithstanding that one is the incumbent!  For years, Dan tenaciously examined, researched, interviewed, investigated county documents, employees, elected officials, state and county law etc. etc.  When the county won their appeal of Dan’s initial win, Dan kicked it up a level and, ultimately,  he prevailed.  It took five long years.  Or was it seven?  Whichever it was, it was unconscionable.

Dan Driscoll, Oysterville Oysterman

It’s not everyone who has the fortitude to take on “the system” or the tenacity to stick to his position no matter the financial or emotional cost.  That Dan did so is, in my opinion, a great example of his character and his ability to stand firm for what he believes is right.

Furthermore, his experience gave him a clear look at the underbelly of Pacific County government — how it works and how it doesn’t and, most important, what an ordinary resident and citizen could be up against in seeking justice here.

Which brings me to what Dan said last evening when I spoke with him briefly on the phone.  His campaign slogan (maybe he didn’t call it exactly that) is “fair and just treatment under the law.”  I can’t think of anyone better qualified to run on that principal.  Way to go Dan!

Pride cometh before… approaches re-open.

Saturday, May 16th, 2020 online photo

I’ve been feeling proud of our county these past few weeks — especially with regard to their decision to close the beach approaches on the Peninsula to help allay the spread of Covid-19.  It was a hard decision to make.  And yet, it seems to me, it was a no-brainer.

Today’s breaking news story in the online Chinook Observer is headlined: “Pacific County approves plan to reopen beach approaches next Monday, May 18.”  Apparently, after due consideration, our commissioners, in concert with the county health department and law enforcement, have looked at various reopening options — including, perhaps,  waiting for a bit or opening only on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.  The decision has been made.  Open!  Seven days a week!

I wish I’d been at the meetings.  My question, as always, would have been, “Why?”  One of my earliest memories of my mother being disgusted with me was her answer to my persistent “why” about something.  “Oh, Sydney,” she said, “why’s a hen?”  And I understood perfectly, even at the tender age of three, that I was being a pain in the ass and there would not be a satisfactory answer to my question.

Seattle Times Photo

About opening the beaches, the answer to my “why” question is clear:  The residents of Pacific County are chopped liver.   It’s all about tourism and the economy.  In an earlier story about the deliberations,  Commissioner Frank Wolfe was quoted:

“Closing the beach approaches did seem to help reduce people traveling to the area at first,” Wolfe said. But as the weather improves, he expects more visitors to come regardless of the closures. “The beaches give people a place to go and spread out,” Wolfe said.

“Other than building barricades on 101, I don’t know how we could keep people out if we wanted to, and quite honestly those people are our life’s blood here and we really don’t want to have them stay away,” Wolfe said.

Chinook Observer Photo

Why am I not surprised?  When has our County ever been able to hold a line — any line?  And now, right when the infection rate in Pacific County has been on the rise, we are encouraging tourism?  Will the tourist-related businesses be opened next, regardless of the health-related numbers? Whose “life’s blood” is being considered here, anyway? I thought our County was going to consider health first…   Why did they change their minds?  Why is short term economics more important than the possibility of life/death?

“Why’s a hen, Sydney?”

Was it a honeymoon? Is it over?

Saturday, April 25th, 2020

Well, whatever it was (and I don’t believe “honeymoon” is the correct appellation) there are strong indicators that it’s over.  I’m talking here about our initial dealings with one another as we accepted sheltering and distancing and masking and disinfecting as part of daily life.  The newspaper and social media were full of the kindnesses and outpourings among us here in Pacific County.

At first no one said much about the people that were not complying with the Governor’s directives.  Granted, they were probably the minority.  Surely, they’d step up as time went by, we said.  (Whenever I begin a statement with “Surely, ” my husband is certain to say, “Don’t call me Shirley.”  Which always puts me in better touch with reality.)

A letter went out to all the owners of second homes here (49% here on the Peninsula; 63% here in Oysterville) asking them to please, stay away for now.  (They haven’t — not here, anyway).  Then our one of our county commissioners was quoted in a Seattle paper, “If you live in Seattle, stay in Seattle.  If you live in Portland, stay in Portland.” The edges began to unravel…

As one could predict, the movers and shakers  in the hospitality industry spoke out, worried about getting back to “normal” if we alienate the tourists now.  Long time visitors spoke out resentfully feeling that the dollars they’ve spent here over the years entitles them to come when they want.  Part-time residents quietly just kept coming. And going.  And coming back… perhaps feeling safer here and letting it be known that they were bringing nothing other than their own food.

Even when it’s an unhappy ending to an actual honeymoon, most things get worked out… at least for a while.  But it usually requires willingness and some conscious effort. I hope that we full-time residents can maintain our equilibrium and support one another with kindness and understanding as we make our way through this.  It will make it a lot easier as we decide what the “new normal” will involve.  Meanwhile, stay well, stay safe, stay home.

Father Tom William’s quintessential words of wisdom come to mind: “It’s the least we can do; it’s the most we can do; it’s all we can do.”

Shrapnel, Nepotism and Other Weird Stuff

Saturday, November 10th, 2018

Sheriff Scott Johnson

Sometimes I really wish I could get inside another person’s head to get an idea of how in the world they think.   But mostly, I don’t.  Certainly not in the case of our recently defeated Pacific County Sheriff, Scott Johnson.  I am totally content to let his actions speak for themselves and to keep a seemly distance from him and from the fallout that will surely occur from his most recent behavior. At least, I hope there is fallout.

And, if you don’t know what I’m talking about, stop reading this and go directly to  You will see a “developing news story” from the Chinook Observer with this headline:  “Outgoing sheriff appoints his dad to be undersheriff.”  The article goes on to say that Johnson’s 80-year-old-father is a retired county road-crew worker and, at this point, his qualifications for the job are unclear.

Screen Shot 2018-11-09 at 8:15 a.m.

Also unclear is whether or not our county has an anti-nepotism policy.  (Were I a betting woman, I’d bet not.)  According to the article, Washington state law says little about nepotism, but many cities and counties “allow staffers to supervise, or be supervised, by a close relative.”  So, perhaps, Sheriff Johnson hasn’t fallen completely down that rabbit hole.  Perhaps.

My own take on decision-making by Sheriff Johnson is (and has always been) extremely tentative.  After all, my understanding is that he still has shrapnel in his head from that 2010 shooting he was involved in back when he was a State Trooper. (See the story in the February 13, 2010 issue of the Observer:    I’ve always wondered what might happen if one of those fragments got loose.

Just sayin’…

The Safety Sign Blindness Syndrome

Sunday, September 9th, 2018

My late friend Kaye Mulvey and I had an on-going discussion about driving the speed limit.  Kaye was a proponent of driving as fast as she felt was “safe” whether it exceeded posted limits or not.  She considered me a wimpy driver and once said to me in a somewhat derisive tone, “I’ll bet you slow to the suggested speeds around curves, too!”  I conceded that she was right and I think of her every time we drive to and from South Bend.

Like last night, coming home from Seattle, Nyel (a proponent of what I’ve come to call “Kaye’s Way on the Hiway”) was the one at the wheel.  I was white-knuckling and biting my tongue.  During the sixteen-mile stretch from Johnson’s Landing to our turn at Sandridge Road, we both took note of the new signs – or at least we think they are new.  Each time we approached a curve, a DO NOT PASS sign appeared.  Immediately thereafter, a PASS WITH CARE sign would show up.  Over and over and over again.  (It’s a very curvy stretch of road.)

I wish I’d have counted how many.  It actually became humorous – a grand distraction for Sydney-the-Wimp.  “Whatever happened to noticing the solid yellow lines on the highway?” Nyel asked several times.  “Would you even have time to pass between a PASS WITH CARE sign and the immediately forthcoming DO NOT PASS sign?” I wondered.  Distracting became annoying.  And I began to ask myself when those signs had gone up and if we had just not noticed them before.  Had we become sign blind?

When we got home, late though it was, I looked up sign blindness.  It must be some sort of phenomenon or syndrome, I thought.  And, sure enough!  There is an entire article called “Overcoming Safety Signs Blindness.”  It is written by a man named David Arnold and begins:  Having worked in the safety signs industry for more years than is good for a person, I have come across the phrase ‘Sign blindness’ on numerous occasions. In my experience it invariably tends to be used in one of two ways: Cluster Sign Blindness and Familiarity Sign Blindness.

He goes on to talk about those two problems, what surveys have found, and the suggested solutions to be considered.  I don’t think WSDOT got the memo.  Not the part on Cluster Sign Blindness, anyway.   I also see (doncha love Google!) that the signs cost $21.95 plus $5.00 shipping fee from Amazon.  Plus the cost of installation.  Times how many signs?    Our highway taxes at work.