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Island County Commissioner Kelly Emerson's status as chairwoman of the board could be in jeopardy following her approval of what appears to be a second non-board-sanctioned special session notice.
Bouncing up to the scale with her prize clutched tightly between two tiny hands, Breanna Lewandowski’s ear-to-ear grin was absolutely infectious. The 8-year-old fisherman had just become the first to land a fish at the 33rd annual Kids Fishing Derby in Oak Harbor Saturday and it didn’t matter that her catch was barely three inches long.
They’re 13, fraternal twins, excellent violin players and know karate. Black belt karate. By just about anyone’s standards, Dustin and Avrey Scharwat are cool kids. Whether you’re listening to them play music or watching them practice martial arts, the Central Whidbey brothers inspire. They’re no slouches when it comes to putting their skills to good use either, especially when it’s to the benefit of the community.
The Island County Board of Commissioners rejected this week community requests to lower the speed limits on two rural roads. On Monday, the board agreed to support the recommendations of traffic engineers and not reduce the speed limits on Classic Road on South Whidbey and Patmore Road south of Coupeville. Residents from each community submitted separate but formal petitions this past December to lower the existing limits from 50 mph to 35 mph for safety reasons. News of the rejection was mixed from disappointment and anger.
After more than six years at the helm, Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve Manager Mark Preiss is hanging up his hat and headed for high country. Preiss has accepted a position as chief executive officer of Glacier National Park Conservancy, the nonprofit fundraising partner for the Montana-based park.
A plea made by Ledgewood residents to the governor and state lawmakers paid off this month with a $200,000 appropriation. The money, which comes from the state Department of Natural Resources, funded additional drilling and aerial radar mapping in the community.
Island County Commissioner Kelly Emerson was scolded by her fellow commissioners Monday for taking action as chairwoman that conflicted with an informal but majority decision by the board. The heaviest hand slap came not from Commissioner Helen Price Johnson, a South Whidbey Democrat, but from fellow Republican Commissioner Jill Johnson.
The first round of public meetings concerning a proposed $2.6 million law and justice tax was held on Whidbey Island this week. If attendees were an accurate reflection of the community, backers of the proposal may have their work cut out for them.
Some call him courageous. Some say he’s crazy. Others think he’s a bit of both. Whatever your opinion of Rimas Meleshyus, he plans to sail out of Oak Harbor next month and into history.
Despite the pleas of a handful of residents, fireworks season in Island County will not be shortened beyond state law. The Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Monday to alter county rules for the sale and discharge of fireworks so that they align with state regulations but nothing more.
Jet noise over Central Whidbey is loud enough to cause permanent hearing damage, a privately-funded acoustics study asserts. Jerry G. Lilly, president of Issaquah-based JGL Acoustics, was hired earlier this year by Citizens of the Ebey’s Reserve for a Healthy, Safe and Peaceful Environment to conduct an auditory study on jet operations at the U.S. Navy’s Outlying Field Coupeville.
A Coupeville couple were involved in a rollover accident on State Highway 525 this weekend. According to Sgt. Bruce Maier with the Washington State Patrol, the accident occurred Saturday evening at about 7:30 p.m. just south of Donahey Road in Central Whidbey.
With the crowd numbering more than 200, a rallying cry to close the U.S. Navy’s Outlying Field south of Coupeville spilled into the parking lot Wednesday. Held at the Recreation Hall on Alexander Street, the building’s 150-person fire capacity was quickly reached and entrances blocked.
Years of financial uncertainty in Island County government may finally be coming to an end. One of the first orders of business may be a pay raise.
Oak Harbor taxpayers will save at least $76,300 over the next 10 years thanks to a decision this week to refinance the city’s outstanding water and sewer bonds. In 2004, the Oak Harbor City Council authorized the sale of $2.86 million in revenue bonds. It paid for the construction of several infrastructure projects, including repairs to the sewer lagoon liner on the Seaplane Base.
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.
Oak Harbor Mayor Scott Dudley took a council member to task at the close of Tuesday’s meeting, but the scolding may have been unwarranted. Dudley accused a council member, whom he did not identify by name, of misconduct for failing to recuse himself from an earlier vote concerning city employees and their pay.
The public will get its first chance to weigh in on a prospective $2.6 million law-and-justice levy during community meetings to be held on Whidbey and Camano islands. The meetings are 7 p.m., Thursday, June 27, at Fire Station No. 25, 2720 S.W. Heller Road on North Whidbey; 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 9 at the Camano Senior Community Center, 606 Arrowhead Road; and 7 p.m., Wednesday, July 10, at Trinity Lutheran Church, 18341 State Highway 525.
The discussion is over. The Island County Board of Commissioners Monday directed Human Services Chief Jackie Henderson to begin the process of replacing the troubled Island County Recovery Services with a private chemical dependency agency.
Another error and new information about Island County Recovery Services spurred strong and decisive action by law-and-justice leaders this week. On Monday, Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks, in cooperation with Superior Court judges Alan Hancock and Vickie Churchill, announced the immediate cessation of new defendants to the county’s drug courts.
Island County and Coupe-ville elected officials are meeting next week with citizens to hear concerns about jet noise from operations at the U.S. Navy’s Outlying Field. The meeting is 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 19 at the Coupeville Recreation Hall, 901 N.W. Alexander St.
Business on North Whidbey is reaching new heights this month with the addition of a skydiving drop zone. Long-time Kirkland skydiver Rick Mangan partnered with local businessman Jeremey Jackson to open Jet City Skydiving Center at Oak Harbor Airport, formally known as AJ Eisenberg Airport.
David Wechner accepted the job as Island County’s new planning head and is expected to report for work beginning next month. There are, however, a few details remaining before the agreement is formalized, according to Melanie Bacon, director of human resources for the county.
More than two months after the Ledgewood and Bon Air communities on Central Whidbey were rocked by a natural disaster that made headlines across the country, the dust is finally starting to settle. On Monday, the Island County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to dissolve a declaration of emergency enacted just after the massive landslide occurred March 27.
Business meetings of the Island County Board of Commissioners may soon begin with a dash of the divine. At the request of Chairwoman Kelly Emerson, the board is scheduled to discuss next week whether or not the formal Monday meetings should begin with a prayer.
A public participation strategy for Island County’s multi-year comprehensive plan update was approved by the commissioners last week. The plan, in the works for months, is required under state law. It lays out a framework of public involvement and a schedule of events for the update process.
Island County commissioners green-lighted a plan recently to extend Rhododendron Trail on Central Whidbey. The board gave the $237,500 project an informal nod Wednesday during the commissioners’ weekly work session.
Hoping to garner more attention and excitement over its newest project, Whidbey Animals’ Improvement Foundation will hold a grand opening for its building reuse store on Central Whidbey this weekend. The building and reclamation center, dubbed Barc Re-tail, was opened on a limited capacity in March with a goal of capturing construction and building materials from the waste stream.
Island County’s controversial clean water utility will be under a microscope of scrutiny next week. At the request of the county’s newest commissioner, two department heads are charged with giving the board a detailed presentation about the program, its funding and projects, at the commissioners’ work session next Wednesday, June 5.
A dangerous dip on a rural North Whidbey road is slated for a $1 million fix this summer. Island County Board of Commissioners last week gave a green light for public works to shave down a car-hiding hill on Zylstra Road just north of the Hastie Lake Road intersection.
Whidbey General Hospital officials are putting out a call for people interested in serving as the District No. 4 commissioner. Roger Case held the position for nearly 18 years but is stepping down. His last day is June 15.
An Oak Harbor home on Northwest Hyak Drive was damaged Sunday when an unexplained fire began in the garage. Cause of the blaze was unknown as of press time Tuesday but fire officials say it started just before midnight.
An Oregon planning director was offered the job of Island County planning chief Monday. David Wechner, head of the Josephine County Planning Department, was unanimously selected for the job by the Island County Board of Commissioners during the board’s regularly scheduled meeting. Wechner was offered the job Monday afternoon but asked the commissioners for 24 hours to make a decision on whether to accept it.
Close of filing week for open public offices on Whidbey Island promises a busy election season ahead. In Oak Harbor, the four City Council positions up for grabs are now all contested races. That includes Position 7, which is held by Danny Paggao.
Island County Recovery Services was on trial before the county commissioners Wednesday. A contingent of Drug Court officials lobbed weighty allegations of sexual misconduct, abusive language and repeated errors, some of which nearly led to clients being sentenced to undeserved jail time.
A fire of unknown origin claimed a mobile home on North Whidbey this morning. The blaze is believed to have started sometime after midnight in a single-wide trailer at the back of an undeveloped lot on Van Dam Road. Firefighters worked to extinguish the flames for at least an hour, but the building was completely destroyed.
Central Whidbey farmer Sarah Richards was appointed to the Conservation Futures Citizen Advisory Board this week. Richards was selected by unanimous 2-0 vote of the Island County Board of Commissioners Monday to fill one of two positions within the Coupeville School District boundaries.
Island County may have a new planning chief as soon as next week. The Board of Commissioners interviewed four finalists during two closed-door interviews Monday. The commissioners are expected to hold two more later this week.
Filing Week for open public offices in Island County began Monday and the first 24 hours yielded a few surprises. With days to go, the following are among the candidates to file so far.
The signature list of the state’s new 64-car ferries was corrected on the MV Salish with 80 tons of ballast recently. The other two boats in the class are expected to receive the same improvement later this summer.