Harbour will be missed as stalwart of Intercity Transit

Mike Harbour, the general manager of Intercity Transit for 17 years, is leaving his post next month to serve as deputy chief executive officer of Sound Transit in Seattle. Intercity Transit’s loss is Sound Transit’s gain.

Harbour has been an exemplary public servant in his years at the helm of the Olympia-based transit system. He’s credited with steering the transit through some major growth spurts, then contractions brought about by the 2000 passage of Initiative 695, which eliminated the motor vehicle excise tax, a main source of income for IT. Among his many accomplishments was the continued expansion of the transit agency vanpool services, the overhaul of the bus fleet to more fuel-efficient vehicles, passage of sales tax increases to stave off service cuts in 2002 and 2010, and stepped-up frequency of buses serving the agency’s more well-traveled routes.

Under his leadership, Intercity Transit in 2009 was named by the American Public Transportation Association the top mid-sized public transit system in the United States.

As he prepares for his new job as second-in-command of the regional transit authority serving Pierce, King and Snohomish counties, friends and colleagues have asked him – half in jest, half seriously – what he can do to expand rapid transit south to Olympia. It’s a question he can’t answer, but the asking speaks to how highly regarded he is as a public transit manager.

The maritime history of South Sound and beyond was on full display for all to enjoy Labor Day weekend at the 39th annual Olympia Harbor Days. Tugs of all shapes and sizes gathered along Percival Landing in downtown Olympia, then raced up and down lower Budd Inlet Sunday, much to the delight of the crowds.

While the tugs were the focus of attention, food vendors, musicians, arts and crafts vendors and children’s activities made for a lively weekend under sunny skies.

There was someone missing this year after being a fixture at the festival every year since 1975. Longtime tugboat skipper and maritime historian Jon Robin Paterson died in June and was sorely missed at this year’s event.

A recent study by the Archives of Internal Medicine revealed that about one out of every two doctors in the United States is experiencing symptoms of burnout. The research results are disturbing for both doctors and patients alike.

Doctors in the fields of emergency, internal and family medicine are most likely to show signs of emotional exhaustion and declining interest in their work, the study showed.

It also appears that the high rate of burnout is associated with long work hours. Some 37 percent of the nearly 7,300 physicians surveyed said they are working more than 60 hours a week.

The problem could grow worse in the years ahead as the medical field faces a shortage of doctors at the same time that demand for physicians is on the rise. Some 34 million Americans are likely to receive health insurance by 2014, which will certainly increase the number of people seeking medical care.

Fortunately, there was no sign of increased depression or suicide among the doctors when compared with the general population. But the burnout rate is about 10 percent higher than the overall population.

Lacey Fire District 3 has some good news for taxpayers. A refinancing plan for $1.1 million in outstanding bonds will save taxpayers some $144,000 over the nine-year life of the bonds.

It means the fire district tax assessment next year will be slightly lower than originally expected.

The bond money was used to build the fire district’s new headquarters, and to purchase a ladder truck.