Justin Burnett

Yes indeed, Trillium forest deal becomes official

With a swish of a pen, the effort to save Trillium Woods, the largest single owned tract of forestland left on Whidbey Island, came to an end. On Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 29, Whidbey Camano Land Trust Executive Director Pat Powell recorded the deed and transferred the title to the 664-acre property, located off Highway 525 between Freeland and Greenbank, at the Island County Courthouse in Coupeville.

Commissioners consider fireworks rules reform

A public hearing on a proposal to shorten the Fourth of July fireworks season in Island County by one day next year will be held in Coupeville Monday. The Board of Commissioners will discuss a plan to bring county code into conformance with state standards.

Third Oak Harbor car dealership folds

As of Monday, the number of new car dealerships in Oak Harbor is now down to just one. Whidbey Island Auto Group, LLC, more commonly known as Whidbey Island Volkswagen Mazda, closed its doors Friday after 10 years of business. The business was located on Highway 20 just north of NE 16th Avenue. According to owner David Sommerville, the dealership was forced to close because of poor operating results.

Emerson ballot proposals falls in heated debate

The fate of lone Republican Island County Commissioner Kelly Emerson’s advisory ballot proposals was decided in a fiery debate with her Democratic colleagues in Coupeville Wednesday. Over the course of a heated 40-minute brannigan, commissioners Angie Homola and Helen Price Johnson made it clear that they would not support either of Emerson’s proposals for reasons that ranged from ballot expense and labor demand concerns to accusations of “political grandstanding.”

Whidbey to get double the P-8As, congressman announces

The Navy this week said it plans to more than double the number of P-8A Poseidons destined for Whidbey Island Naval Air Station. Instead of the planned 24 planes, the Navy will station 49 of the sub-hunting jets at the NAS Whidbey, said U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, a Second District Democrat.

Big Rock for sale: Giant stone goes with Coupeville apartments

A Central Whidbey landmark and arguably Coupeville’s very first tourist attraction has been put up for sale. The massive rock, commonly known as Big Rock, went on the market last month along with the 28-unit apartment building complex behind Coupeville Coffee and Bistro on South Main Street.

Tides raise concern about Ala Spit project

A restoration project at Ala Spit is once again making waves with concerned North Whidbey residents. Besieged with high tides and blustery winter conditions, a section of the spit the county spent nearly a month removing rip-rap from this past fall began to give way Wednesday, Nov. 23, when large amounts of newly placed sediment began washing into the adjacent estuary.

Freeland low-income housing project faces permitting issue

A $6.3-million, low-income housing project planned for Freeland may be derailed because of a permitting issue. Island County Housing Authority officials confirmed this week that the costs of septic system requirements may exceed initial expectations and the increase in costs may torpedo the project.

Island Transit lands $896,000 for major project

Island Transit expects to spend more than $1 million on a transit park, roadway safety improvements, and preserving native plant species on a project just east of Coupeville. Located on the 3.2-acre island of property surrounded by Highway 20, and Smith Prairie and Parker roads, the project will see the construction of a bicycle-centric transit park. It will double as a gateway for Smith Prairie and a preserve for a population of relic prairie plants.

Community helps Whidbey man left homeless after fire

After losing everything but his most faithful companion to a fire in Greenbank last month, good fortune may finally be blowing Dan Weehunt's way.

Oak Harbor Marina to net 30,000 foster fish

Beginning next week, Oak Harbor Marina staff will once again become the proud parents of 30,000 coho salmon. They will spend the next four months feeding them, protecting them from predators, and then sometime this June send them into the world with wishes for the best. Unlike most parents however, if they do see them again it’s with hopes that they’ll be dangling from the end of a fishing pole.

Civilian employees at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station face furloughs under sequestration

If sequestration goes into effect this Friday, an estimated 1,200 civilian workers at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station will be subject to furloughs, Navy officials have confirmed. According to base spokesman Mike Welding, the furloughs would come in the form of one mandatory day off per week, beginning April 1 and running through the fiscal year to Sept. 30.

Transit’s Martha Rose a no-show for second public forum

Pending Island Transit service cuts will hit the community hard, and residents let IT officials know it this week.

New sign regulations give Oak Harbor small businesses options

Sign rules in Island County that have been a headache for the business community for years got an overhaul this week.

Exiting commander reflects on Whidbey accomplishments

After three and a half years at the stick, Capt. Jay Johnston turned over leadership of Whidbey Island Naval Air Station this week. Command was passed to Capt. Michael K. Nortier, a native of Sodus, N.Y., during a formal ceremony on base Friday. Nortier reports to the airbase from U.S. Pacific Fleet’s Operations Directorate.

Oak Harbor mayor picks Merrill as fire chief, council OK needed

Following a national search for candidates, Oak Harbor Mayor Scott Dudley said he is recommending the appointment of longtime community firefighter Ray Merrill as the city’s new fire chief. The mayor is expected to put his choice before the city council for ratification at its meeting Tuesday, March 6. The meeting will be held at City Hall on Barrington Drive and begins at 6 p.m.

Downtown, where all the lights are bright

An estimated 500 people braved Old Man Winter’s chill to attend the eighth annual tree lighting ceremony in downtown Oak Harbor Saturday. It was a frosty evening with temperatures dipping into the high 30s but it didn’t seem to cool the holiday mood on SE Pioneer Way. Whether grinning over the rim of a prized cup of hot cocoa, taking a frigid carriage ride or craning their necks for a glimpse of Santa Claus, people seemed to be having a good time everywhere you looked.

Deep Sea fire was arson, investigation concludes

The fire that preceded the sinking of the Deep Sea crab boat in Penn Cove last spring has been determined to be the result of arson, according to a report released by the state Department of Natural Resources today.

Candidates now finalized for primary races

The close of the official filing period for elected offices earlier this month didn’t yield any new candidates in popular local races but it did show that for the first time in years a Whidbey Islander will not be filling the 10th Legislative District’s position 2 seat for state representative. Running for the position is Democrat Tom Riggs and Republican Dave Hayes, both of Stanwood. Riggs, a park ranger and manager for Camano Island State Park, is trying for the second time to claim the seat while Hayes, a sergeant with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, is a political newcomer.

Islanders pork out at free picnic on Oak Harbor’s Fidalgo Avenue

Bright sunshine and enough barbecued pork to feed a small army proved the right recipe for thousands of smiling, greasy faces at the Fidalgo Avenue Block Party and Free Pig Roast in Oak Harbor Sunday. According to Scott Fraser, event organizer and owner of Fraser’s Gourmet Hideaway, the annual block party was as popular as ever with volunteers plating up free lunches for about 3,500 people. It took more than 2,150 pounds of pork, 600 pounds of potato salad, 525 pounds of beans and about 510 pounds of pasta to do it, to name a few of the items served, but they managed to get it done with a little left to spare.