Ben Watanabe

Ben posted 36 stories to Whidbey News-Times.
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Town is hopping: New event capitalizing on a burgeoning bunny population

Bunny fever is gripping Langley. Now the merchants have a new event they hope will get the town hopping during a traditionally slow time.

  • Mar 22nd, 2016 10:45pm

Lions Club members celebrated for decades of service

Freeman Boyer and Spence Purvis looked as regal as the Lions for which their service club is named.

  • Dec 18th, 2015 10:11pm

Bringing back the beat: South Whidbey band aids in restoring music to country stripped of its customs

Dana Moffett, Leslie Breeden, Donita Crosby and Dyanne Harshman went to Zimbabwe earlier this year, largely thanks to donations and fundraising on South Whidbey, to perform with the African country’s traditional instruments and donate several to an orphanage. They have become ambassadors of music, trying to aid in the restoration of a custom stripped from the land’s native people.

  • Nov 17th, 2015 11:07pm

Bunnies dominate Langley council meeting

Bunnies, bunnies, bunnies. It’s about all some people talk about in Langley these days, even in the hallowed halls of City Hall during Monday’s city council meeting.

  • Oct 9th, 2015 9:57pm

A Scotchman’s dream: Clinton man brings booze business to limelight

Colin Campbell knows how to make a splashy entrance. After a year working to get all the permits and licensing in place, the Langley resident and native Scot is ready to emerge as a power player in the growing world of craft distilleries in Washington.

  • Sep 23rd, 2015 1:00pm

Prizes landed during fishing derby, silver salmon still abundant on west Whidbey

A 9-pound, 3-ounce coho salmon was the winning catch at Saturday’s Sebo’s Whidbey Island Coho Derby.

  • Sep 22nd, 2015 10:56pm

LAKE to perform 10 years’ of music at anniversary show

Ten years later, LAKE has plenty to sing about. The indie pop band that sprung from Olympia’s music scene a decade ago is returning to frontman Eli Moore’s hometown for a free 10-year anniversary performance Aug. 22. LAKE will play every song from its 10 albums (seven published, three unreleased), an estimated 120 pieces, during a 12-hour marathon at Bayview Hall this Saturday.

  • Aug 22nd, 2015 1:00pm

Confederate flag at Whidbey Fair draws ire

A different set of stars and bars drew the ire and attention of plenty of people at the Whidbey Island Fair parade Saturday. A pair of Confederate flags were flown as part of the parade, along with the U.S. flag and the MIA/POW black flag for lost military veterans, by some American Legions Riders on motorcycles.

  • Aug 11th, 2015 11:05pm

Langley struggles with petroleum-laced pond

Discovery of pollutants in a Langley retention pond have put dredging plans in limbo and left city leaders with more questions than answers over their next step.

  • Aug 7th, 2015 11:06pm

Classics return for annual Whidbey Island fair

This year’s Whidbey Island Fair is sticking with what works — food, farming, games, rides, music and a parade.

  • Aug 7th, 2015 10:41pm

King salmon fishing nets really big opportunities on Whidbey

The early bird gets the worm, and only the earliest of anglers can get the king. A veritable fleet of small boats loaded with anxious anglers took to the waters between Coupeville and Port Townsend last week with the hope of hooking into the most regally named sport fish in Puget Sound, the king salmon.

  • Jul 24th, 2015 10:52pm

Hospital candidates will speak at forum

Three candidates for a seat on Whidbey General Hospital’s board of commissioners offered vastly different takes on leadership during a forum on South Whidbey Thursday.

  • Jul 10th, 2015 10:53pm

Choochokam celebrates 40

Choochokam Arts Festival, one of Langley’s premier weekend events and biggest crowd pleasers, is turning 40 this weekend.

  • Jul 10th, 2015 10:43pm

Restoration for historic Langley tavern moves foward

Plans to restore and reopen the historic Dog House Tavern in Langley cleared a couple of hurdles last week. Dog House owners Janice and Charlie Kleiner won conditional approval from a pair of Langley citizen boards to move forward with conceptual designs.

  • May 26th, 2015 10:36pm

Tokitae returns in March

Whidbey Island will see the state’s newest ferry return to its route in March. The ferry Tokitae is set to return to the Clinton-to-Mukilteo route March 22. The date is also the start of state ferries’ spring schedule.

  • Mar 16th, 2015 5:34pm

Slide destroys family’s South Whidbey cabin

A large slide of earth and trees crashed into a Clinton beachfront cabin, knocking it off its foundation and forcing Island County to restrict entry and occupancy.

  • Mar 7th, 2015 1:00pm

Whidbey Island RadioShacks to stay open

None of Whidbey Island’s three RadioShack stores are closing despite news this week that RadioShack Corp. filed for bankruptcy and is shuttering more than 1,700 stores nationwide.

  • Feb 12th, 2015 5:49pm

Clinton bakers sweeten up holidays

Santa and his fleet of elven workers would be mighty proud of Gerry Betz and Larry Lowary, the masterminds behind the popular Tree-Top Baking.

  • Dec 30th, 2014 11:43pm

Couple’s Wood Goods in Clinton seeing rapid growth

Kelly Cameron puts in 12-hour days in his woodworking shop, a cavernous space in Clinton off Cultus Bay Road.

  • Dec 20th, 2014 12:00pm

IRS, Puget Sound Energy phone scams rampant

Island police and Puget Sound Energy is warning Whidbey residents to beware of phone scammers who are targeting utility customers.

  • Nov 26th, 2014 10:13pm

Oak Harbor mayor urges Langley to replace Island Transit representative

Oak Harbor Mayor Scott Dudley made good on his promise to seek the removal of members of the Island Transit Board of Directors.

  • Nov 21st, 2014 4:55pm

Whidbey’s first marijuana store opens doors Friday

Whidbey Island saw its first legal sale of recreational marijuana Friday.

  • Oct 25th, 2014 2:00pm

‘Langley Lift’ design goes up for public comment

Renderings of a bridge and elevator give a glimpse at what Cascade Avenue in Langley may look like.

  • Aug 30th, 2014 11:00am

Whidbey Adventure Swim changing course for 2014

A tide change has hit the Whidbey Adventure Swim this year, its fourth as an open-water race.

  • Jul 30th, 2014 12:19am

Farmers marketing to help their small businesses grow

At Crescent Harbor Blueberry Farm, it’s all about the Patriots.

  • Jul 18th, 2014 3:47pm

Island County to cover fair’s electrical upgrades

State-required electrical upgrades at the Island County Fairgrounds will be paid for by Island County. The $8,789 reimbursement was seen as a victory for the Island County Fair Association, the nonprofit organization that produces the annual Whidbey Island Area Fair in exchange for the use and management of the 12.8 acres. However, the bulk of the fair association’s request — $18,841 to expose the ceiling of the Pole Building’s dining room — was not funded.

  • Jun 18th, 2014 9:00am

Langley steps in to prevent Dog House demolition

Responding to an inquiry about demolishing the Dog House Tavern by its owner, the Langley City Council approved an emergency moratorium on destruction of historic buildings Monday night. Director of Community Planning Jeff Arango proposed the six-month ban, which was unanimously approved by the city council in a 4-0 vote May 5. Councilman Bruce Allen was absent while tending to a family matter, but the council still had its necessary supermajority for the emergency ordinance.

  • May 14th, 2014 1:11am

Whidbey Island Fair Association wants regular county funding, new lease

Running the Island County Fairgrounds costs too much, and the managing Whidbey Island Fair Association wants county funding as part of a restructured lease. In a letter sent to the county commissioners on April 9, fair association president Diane Divelbess wrote that her group could not “in good faith” renew the lease as it exists without any county support for the property. The two-year lease is set to expire in June. “The way we are now, we are managing but without sufficient funds to manage,” Divelbess said in a phone interview Thursday. “Up to now, the county has given us what [it] has been able to give us.”

  • Apr 23rd, 2014 1:23am

Public weighs in at Island County Fair planning meeting

About 75 people crammed into the Coffman Building at the Island County Fairgrounds to hear and see the plans for restructuring the facility’s management and revamping its structures. Some of the most noticeable changes are a planned reduction from 27 buildings to 12 and paving of the RV park and campground south of the main fair area. Animal safety and comfort, failed bonds and adequate demand were among the main concerns aired during a public presentation Tuesday about significant changes proposed for the Island County fairgrounds.

  • Feb 28th, 2014 6:11pm

Smith’s focuses include education, regulation reform

Easing restrictions on small farms and improving education were the top concerns among residents at a meeting with state Rep. Norma Smith this week. At a meeting in Clinton, Smith’s hometown, ahead of the 63rd Washington State Legislature, a couple dozen people let their representative know what mattered to them.

  • Jan 13th, 2014 5:00pm

Police seek suspect in Bayview robbery

A man wearing a black ski mask, camouflage jacket and pants stormed the Bayview Valero gas station Wednesday night and forced the store’s clerk to hand him $500. The clerk was not seriously injured by the armed robber, though the Island County Sheriff’s Office reported the suspect jabbed the victim with the barrel of the weapon, leaving an impression in her skin that matches the diameter of a shotgun barrel. “Endangering somebody’s life for anything doesn’t make any sense for anything,” said detective Ed Wallace.

  • Dec 9th, 2013 4:38pm

Mukilteo Ferry project moves forward

The proposed site of a new Mukilteo Ferry Terminal moved forward last month with the Port of Everett Commission authorizing the acceptance of the fuel tank farm from the U.S. Air Force. The former fuel tank farm, located one-third of a mile east of the current ferry landing, is the proposed site of a new $140 million ferry terminal. Only $102 million is in the state’s budget through 2019, which would cover engineering and early construction. The state Department of Transportation, Ferries Division will need to drum up the other $38 million to fully fund the massive project.

  • Oct 7th, 2013 6:17pm

Line cutters at Mukilteo/Clinton ferry enrage fellow motorists

With summer nearly over, the ferry lines to reach Whidbey Island are dwindling. Line cutting remains a salty issue for many regular island commuters, and for good reason. During 2012, 523 line cutters were reported on the Mukilteo side of the ferry crossing, with the bulk in the peak summer months. A total of 231 line cutters were reported to the HERO program, a division of the Washington Department of Transportation which also cites high-occupancy vehicle lane infractions, in June, July and August 2012.

  • Sep 30th, 2013 5:45pm

Shakespeare in the big top on South Whidbey

Shakespeare in the tent is on for this August and September. Thanks to the support and open wallets of Bard fans, more than $32,000 was raised for Island Shakespeare Festival. However, if passersby missed seeing a 2,400-square foot, 18-foot-high tent behind Langley Middle School, it would be understandable.

  • Aug 6th, 2013 4:25pm

Former state rep. dies on South Whidbey lake

Former state Rep. Kip Tokuda went fishing on Deer Lake Saturday morning. A heart attack claimed his life while he was angling from his small kayak.

  • Jul 17th, 2013 5:20pm

Domo arigato, Mr. Underwater Roboto

When the robots rise against humanity, blame a handful of South Whidbey teens. Five Whidbey Island kids bested some of the Northwest’s top teen minds at an underwater robotics competition.

  • Jun 12th, 2013 7:46pm