Taxes, varmints and heros

Besides our sales tax rising to 9 percent on April 1, the deadline on April 15 for federal income tax returns, and our property taxes due April 30 — what’s new?

Time to set your trap for the yellow jacket queen, says Terminix.

Tulip-bud warning: Just as we were about to enjoy hundreds of tulip blooms in our pots, some critter gnawed off all their bloomin’ heads! Who might enjoy such delicacies — meandering pets, night-marauding raccoons, squirrels, rats, moles? Not the recent deer visitors!

Hope you’re enjoying the first sightings of wild trillium along trails and woodlands. But watch out for those stinging nettles shooting up next to the audacious horse tails crowning everywhere.

King of our Roads: Wallace Maier, the 80-something gent we referred to last week who gleans litter during weekdays on the northern quadrant of the Island, says he gathers one ton of litter each year. You’ll see him in his “uniform” — red shirt, gray baseball cap and Levis — filling as many as four QFC bags a day (goal 10 pounds). He has five routes, different each day, and he climbs Gallagher Hill once a week.

In Maier’s 2 1?2 years here, he says litter is not declining. He collects cans, bottles, lots of fast-food trash, clothes, dead rats and birds, and he has turned wallets and credit cards into the police. He says it’s not the neighborhoods where it’s bad, but mostly the arterials and their daily influx of workers. His destination is usually McDonalds, which treats him well, and he gets to use their dumpster.

“Pay’s not bad — as many as four thanks or thumbs-up a day from folks. I’ve found $28.53 over 2 1?2 years. Mercer Islanders don’t throw their money around.” Maier drove transit bus in Bellingham for 25 years before coming here in 2004 to be near his daughter, Melinda LeClerq. When he’s not performing his “adopt-a-town” duties, he drives fellow Covenant Shores residents to their appointments.

Also in response to last week’s column, wondering if “Adopt-a-Park” is dead: Margaret Amory said she was surprised that the work done by Rita Moore and Judy Roan in restoring the North Mercerdale Hill was omitted. “Granted, they are just a group of two, but they have done a marvelous job.”

Global lights out: Did you turn off your lights last Saturday at 8 p.m. for Earth Hour? The symbolic gesture coincided with our local snow blast, dusting the Isle in white. It was an eerie sight driving past Island Park’s empty playfields around 8:20 p.m. — night lights ablaze on the vacant white blanketed field, said Marilyn and Keith Blue. City communications coordinator Joy Johnston says the field had been reserved, and the players neglected to cancel. Lights at South Mercer playfields have a touch device for walkers or temporary players that automatically turns off in a half hour. Johnston adds that the rest of city building lights (except safety lights) are always off after business hours.

Toot your horn on April 16, 7-9 p.m., at the Community Center at Mercer View about the temporary traffic diversion at Merrimount and Island Crest Way. Installed last October, results of monitoring will be posted; next steps considered. See for details, or contact project manager, Anne Tonella-Howe, (206) 275-7813,

Next week is National Library Week and the distribution of “Washington Reads,” posters of famous Washingtonians. MI Library is deep into films. Saturday, April 12, is the final showing of its Hitchcock series: “Spellbound,” starring Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck. Saturday, April 19, is Shakespeare’s 444th Birthday Celebration, beginning at 11 a.m. with cartoons, magic, cake and ice cream for all. Then, older audiences may stay for the film at 1 p.m.: “Westside Story,” starring

Also, at the Bellevue Library, 7 p.m., on Monday, April 21, Book-It Repertory Theater will stage Mercer Island author Jim Lynch’s novel, “The Highest Tide,” a coming-of-age story centered around a boy’s discoveries on Puget Sound tidal beaches.

Other Island authors whose works are at MI Library: Paul Barlin, Lynne Bragg, Fran Davidson, Merle Dowd, Bruce Ferguson, Judy Gellatly, Meg Lippert, Elliott Marple, Julian May, Fred Mednick, Clare Hodgson Meeker, Reed Parsley, Jack Prelutsky, Ted and Gloria Rand, Marjorie Reynolds and Christine Widman.

Junior sleuth: From Grant Callahan (age 8, Island Park): “I have an update for you on the missing book [from the metal sculpture of children reading in front of The Mercer.] As we reported earlier, The Mercer has the [replacement] book and waits for sunny weather to weld it back in. I learned this when I visited The Mercer office and talked directly to the maintenance guy. I will check with The Mercer again in about a month. Thank you for asking and for putting this story in the paper. From, Grant.”

Spring ahead: To whoever sets the clock in the Town Center plaza in front of the U.S. Bank — you forgot to change it to Daylight Savings Time a month ago.

To contact Nancy Hilliard, e-mail her at

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