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Island County put the brakes on a plan to help Langley pay for an eight-acre conservation easement this week. On Monday, the Board of Commissioners was scheduled to vote on a contract that would have provided the city with $175,000 in conservation futures funding for the Noble Creek project.
Oak Harbor resident Chris Klieman has always been into what some call “the creepy crawly.” Not so much bugs, but cold-blooded reptiles. Scaly or slimy, he loves them both.
Draft horses named Otto and Jim took Central Whidbey on a ride back in time this week. Hired by a local farmer, the massive American Belgians and their owner, Freeland resident Greg Lange, spent most of Tuesday seeding a seven-acre field east of Engle Road.
Beginning next year, Island County could be served by a new public defender. During the Island County commissioner’s weekly work session Wednesday, the board informally agreed to seek proposals from qualified law firms interested in being the county’s primary public defense contractor.
A controversial low-income housing project in Freeland may be moving forward after all. Teri Anania, executive director of the Island County Housing Authority, confirmed this week that the major permitting problem facing the $6.3-million project is in the process of being resolved.
Concerned residents and business owners took one last opportunity this week to voice their thoughts about Island County’s Shoreline Master Program. On Wednesday, the state Department of Ecology held an open house and public hearing in Coupeville.
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.
Environmental disasters such as the 2012 sinking of the F/V Deep Sea in Penn Cove may soon be a little more avoidable. The state Legislature approved a bill last week that preserves funding for the state’s derelict vessel program and sharpens the effectiveness of existing laws.
Hoping to learn more about the ginormous landslide that rocked Ledgewood last month, geology experts spent much of this week drilling a 280-foot deep hole atop the bluff. Under the direction of GeoEngineers, a Seattle-based firm hired by Island County, a drilling team dug a hole so deep that it went below sea level. It was drilled in the county’s right-of-way along Firecrest Avenue. Taking regular samples along the way, the idea is to find out a little more about what caused the slide, when it will happen again and determine the overall stability and safety of the area.
Island County Law and Justice Council formalized its hopes for a $2.6 million fall ballot measure this week when the group unanimously approved a recommendation to move forward with the request. The council, an advisory group comprised of police, court, municipal leaders and community members from Whidbey and Camano islands, decided it was time to proceed with the property tax and passed a resolution urging the Island County Commissioners to formally green light the proposal.
North Whidbey residents may have seen a house burning in a rural area just north of Oak Harbor Saturday. North Whidbey Fire and Rescue and the Oak Harbor Fire Department conducted a training burn on an old farmhouse on the Northwest corner of East Sleeper and North Taylor roads. The exercise began at 7 a.m. and ran to about 4 p.m.
Two arterials on Central and South Whidbey may see soon significant speed limit reductions. Last week, the Island County Commissioners gave traffic engineers the green light to conduct detailed speed studies on Patmore Road, located just a few miles southeast of Coupeville, and the eastern half of Classic Road, between Greenbank and Freeland.
The Island County commissioners delivered a bit of irony this week when they killed a curbside recycling program on Earth Day. The board hammered the final nail into the coffin of the controversial program aimed at bringing curbside service to Langley and unincorporated areas of Whidbey Island. The vote Monday was 2-1.
A community-driven program aimed at preserving historic buildings in Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve kicked off its third year with some record-breaking funding. Reserve officials announced the award of $100,000 from the Ebey’s Forever Fund to 13 property owners on Central Whidbey. That’s the most money paid in a single year. It’s also the largest number of recipients in a single year.
Island County Commissioner Kelly Emerson appealed her recently denied building permit. Unless the matter is forwarded to another authority, she may have the chance to serve as a judge in her own case.
An unattended kitchen fire nearly destroyed a condominium in Oak Harbor Wednesday. Oak Harbor Fire Department Chief Ray Merrill said the incident was reported by a 911 caller at about 2:30 p.m. and occurred at the Courtyard Condominium complex off Southeast Eighth Avenue. Firefighters arrived within a few minutes and found smoke pouring from the building.
A Coupeville man was sent to the hospital for injuries he sustained in a one-car accident on Highway 20 late Wednesday evening. According to the Washington State Patrol, the accident took place at about 9 p.m. just west of Sherman Road. Jon Vidoni, 63, was southbound in a 2000 Ford Econoline van and passing the cow crater on the south side of the highway when he lost control and drove off the embankment.
Reports of a suicidal woman with a gun at an adjacent housing development put Coupeville Elementary School in emergency lockdown for about 45 minutes Wednesday.
Law-and-justice leaders are once again lobbying the Island County commissioners. They are asking the commissioners to sign off on a proposal allowing them to ask voters this fall for more than $2.6 million in funding. “I feel like we’re one big fish away from the line snapping,” Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks told the commissioners.
Congressman Rick Larsen delivered good news about Island County’s largest employer this week. The Second District Democrat said in a news release Wednesday that the Navy is hoping to spend more than $127 million on construction projects at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station over the next few years. That includes $85 million for a hangar and training facilities for the incoming P-8A Poseidon, the Navy’s planned replacement aircraft for the P-3 Orion. “The Navy is making the kind of long-term commitment for NAS Whidbey that I’ve been fighting for and that the community has wanted,” Larsen said in an interview.
Another chapter was added last week to a 15-year legal battle between Island County and a environmental watchdog group over critical area rules. On April 2, a Thurston County Superior Court judge overturned a 2006 decision by the Growth Management Hearings Board that the county can use farm plans as a management tool to meet state environmental protection laws.
A burning pot of beans nearly destroyed a home on West Beach Road Tuesday. According to Mike Brown, assistant chief of North Whidbey Fire and Rescue, a 911-caller reported a fire at a home just south of the intersection at Fort Nugent Road just after 6:30 p.m.
Ten days after Ledgewood was rocked by an enormous landslide, the tiny Central Whidbey development was visited by Gov. Jay Inslee Saturday and a host of other state and local elected officials. The troupe that toured the neighborhood included Congressman Rick Larsen, a Second District Democrat; Sen. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor; all three Island County commissioners and Coupeville Town Councilman Bob Clay. A handful of county and utility officials were present as well to help provide information.
A downtown bar in Oak Harbor is the latest casualty in a string of recent car-versus-building collisions on Whidbey Island. Off the Hook, located on Pioneer Way at the corner of Southeast Hathaway Street, was struck Monday by a 2012 Mazda 3 sedan shortly after 11 a.m.
Oak Harbor City Council is suspending its regular scheduled standing committee meetings for the next three months. Instead, the council will hold monthly workshops to discuss emerging issues, works in progress and pending action items. The decision was approved by unanimous vote during Tuesday’s regular council meeting. The workshops are scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. April 24 and May 22, both Wednesdays, and June 18, a Tuesday.
A Central Whidbey community group that formed last year in opposition to jet-noise at Outlying Field Coupeville is ramping up its efforts to curb flights at the practice airstrip. Ken Pickard, a founding member of the Citizens of the Ebey’s Reserve for a Healthy, Safe, Peaceful, Environment, confirmed Friday that the group has an attorney and has been busy in recent months preparing for legal action. “I’ve never felt this frustrated,” Pickard said.
In one of his final acts as Island County’s planning chief, Bob Pederson ordered Commissioner Kelly Emerson to pay $37,000 in fines or face action. In a second supplemental enforcement order signed March 28, Pederson gave the commissioner, his former boss, and her husband, Ken Emerson, a tight deadline of 14 days to pay the fines. “If you fail to pay this fine and civil penalty, Island County will initiate the process to file a lien against the subject property,” the enforcement order said.
A proposal by Oak Harbor Mayor Scott Dudley to change the makeup of the Marina Advisory Committee is taking on water fast and may sink under the weight of an unswayed City Council. “I haven’t heard any compelling reason to change the formula,” Councilman Rick Almberg said. Last month, Dudley proposed increasing the size of the group from five to seven members saying he hoped it might bolster input and effectiveness.
Two very lucky pooches are alive and well this week thanks to the efforts of persistent firefighters. According to Mike Brown, deputy chief of North Whidbey Fire and Rescue, the dogs were rescued Sunday afternoon about 150 feet down an approximately 500-foot bluff along West Beach Road. Brown said it’s unclear how the canine duo, described as large lab mixes, ended up on the cliff face, but emergency responders from the fire district and Navy Region Northwest Fire and Emergency Services spent several hours retrieving them.
Driftwood Way homes marooned by a massive landslide in Ledgewood became accessible by vehicle for the first time in nearly a week Monday. Island County Public Works road crews began building an emergency, one-lane gravel road Friday. Working through the Easter weekend, they were able to wrap up work at about 3:30 p.m.
Joseph Mosolino, owner of Windermere Real Estate South Whidbey, has been appointed to the Conservation Futures Citizens Advisory Board. The Island County commissioners selected Mosolino to fill a vacant seat on the group at the board’s regular Monday meeting in Coupeville. The boards’ decision was unanimous.
An enormous landslide in Ledgewood this morning has severely damaged at least one home and impacted more than 30 others. The slide occurred in the Central Whidbey Community at about 4 a.m. Hundreds of feet of earth sloughed off from the bluff above Driftwood Way, destroying much of the road and knocking one home off its foundation.
Island County Board of Commissioners will hold its first regular nighttime meeting next month and one of the first items on the agenda is the repeal of a controversial curbside recycling ordinance. This week, the board unanimously adopted a code amendment that changes the official start time of the commissioners’ fourth Monday meeting of the month from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Oak Harbor resident Karen Ekberg would like to be able to look out her back windows without seeing a yard filled with junk. It may take awhile, code enforcement officer David Anderson said, but she’ll get her wish. Oak Harbor Mayor Scott Dudley put a special emphasis on code enforcement last year. The aftermath of the Great Recession left a lot of foreclosed and abandoned homes in the city; without anyone to care for them, the grass grows tall and garbage accumulates.
A Marysville woman has stepped forward, claiming that she too witnessed strange lights in the sky last weekend. Katie Kinman, 59, contacted the Whidbey News-Times after reading a story published Wednesday about Dick and Carol Johnson's account of unexplainable lights over their Bush Point home this past Saturday.
Health department Director Keith Higman has been appointed Island County’s interim planning chief. Higman, who also leads the Department of Natural Resources, will shepherd the planning department until a permanent replacement for Director Bob Pederson can be selected. Pederson submitted a letter of resignation earlier this month.
he Island County commissioners will consider the appointment of an interim planning chief next week. The board is scheduled to discuss the matter at its regular meeting today, March 20, in the Commissioner’s Hearing Room, 1 NE Sixth Street in Coupeville. The meeting begins at 9 a.m. The leading candidate to temporarily head the planning department is Keith Higman, director of Island County Public Health, though it’s not yet certain whether the board will move forward with an interim director at all.
Unidentified flying objects over South Whidbey last weekend have left a Bush Point couple baffled and scared. A series of mysterious orange lights appeared in the sky over Dick and Carol Johnson’s home Saturday evening. While they are used to seeing all kinds of marine and air traffic from their picture windows overlooking Admiralty Inlet, the couple admits this has left them scratching their heads. “We’ve seen a lot of stuff, but this was the weirdest thing we’ve ever seen,” said Dick Johnson, a retired civil engineer.
Island County Planning Commission has a full plate this year. The 2013 Annual Review Docket was approved last week and tasks the commission with the completion of three major items: a fish and wildlife critical areas update, work on the 2016 comprehensive plan update and a proposed change to the Port of Coupeville’s Greenbank Farm master plan. While the list is rather short compared to past dockets the first two items on this year’s agenda are complex issues that will not be completed quickly, said Val Hillers, a Coupeville resident and vice-chairwoman of the commission.
Steady erosion over the next 50 years may damage portions of Front Street as well as dent the town’s pocket book. Fixing a problem area of about 400 feet now may cost Coupeville as much as $260,000, according to a town-hired consultant.