Inn-keepers Corner: They keep the lights on for us

  • Saturday, January 13, 2007 12:00pm
  • Business

It was a dark and stormy night . . . no, I’m not writing a bad story for Snoopy and the Peanuts gang. It’s just that those words describe so well what we have been faced with this fall and winter and I don’t think we are in the clear yet.

We Whidbey Islanders have faced a wetter (more rainfall in the last 10 days than in all of last January), windier (by more than a 10 mph average over last year), and darker (more power outages in November ’06 through January ’07 than the last two years combined) winter season than I can ever remember.

Granted, my memory only goes back for eight years of local residency, but you get my point. It’s just plain nasty out there!

But from a tourism standpoint, all is not lost. There is sometimes a silver lining in the proverbial big dark cloud. I’ve read many letters to the editor lately, thanking the Puget Sound Energy employees who spend long days and nights, risking their very lives to get the power back on for us and I wish to formally add my thanks to go along with those other letter writers to the linesmen working hard for 18-hour stretches so we can stay warm or cook and eat hot food.

Well, I’m here to tell you that they do even more than that. They also help the local economy in big ways, other than providing us light to read by and especially at Christmas ­— to shop by.

The power outages this year have been so severe and so widespread that PSE has brought hundreds, maybe thousands, of men from all over the western United States, just to attempt to keep up with the demand for more power. These hale and hearty fellows have been here alone, away from friends and family. They’ve been here alone during Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s holidays, separated from their own loved ones. When they’re not working, what do they do? They don’t have much time, but they must sleep and eat. Where do you suppose they perform these mundane everyday tasks? No place else, but right here in Oak Harbor.

Just at the Coachman Inn, over the last three months we’ve welcomed more than 100 workers. All of these men were here for more than one or two nights; all of them dining out. The sales tax revenue to the city was more than $2,100 from lodging alone. Anymore, when I see a PSE or Potelco truck, I smile and wave.

The other tourist aspect of all this wonderful winter weather is that some of these men may be back with their families at a later (more than likely summer time) date. And locally, with all the news coverage about power, wind, and waves; at least the folks around the Puget Sound will know where we are located (as opposed to an Eastside poll a couple of years ago, when Kirkland residents could barely pick us out on a map).

So, these storms are not all bad, but I am getting just a little tired of keeping an eye on my neighbors’ trees and trying to heat canned chili over my gas fireplace flame (it helps if you remove the glass screen and suspend a kettle over the log set – just keep an eye on your carbon monoxide alarm).

More in Business

Growing a new program at Greenbank Farm

Veterans become farmers in Boots to Roots

Kennedy joins Peoples Bank as VP, commercial banking officer

Peoples Bank has announced the hiring of PATRICK KENNEDY as a vice… Continue reading

Family brings flowers to Greenbank Farm

Greenbank Farm, currently known for its retail stores, pies and dog park,… Continue reading

Rich Murphy uses an old barn as a warehouse for a line of backpacks called Aarn that are designed in New Zealand and sold worldwide. Murphy and his wife, Genie, are the new North American distributers for the backpacks that emphasis balance and reducing strain while hiking. (Photo by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News Group)
                                Rich Murphy shows tandem packs that can attach to backpacks and be worn in front to help with balance. (Photos by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News Group)
                                The backpacking equipment company called Aarn began when New Zealander founders Aarn Tate and Devi Benson began designing outdoor products to be more “body-comfortable.” The material is extremely tough but light and durable. The store’s balance bags run around $70 to $150 and the full backpacks $200 to $400.
Couple brings New Zealand packs to Whidbey Island

Distributors leap from buying outdoor gear to selling it

Central Whidbey nonprofit has big plans for tiny house

A recent donation to Ryan’s House for Youth proved too good of… Continue reading

Clinic getting new name

Whidbey Island Internal Medicine in Coupeville is becoming WhidbeyHealth Primary Care Coupeville.… Continue reading

Habitat for Humanity will host groundbreaking ceremony

Habitat for Humanity of Island County is inviting the public to attend… Continue reading

ROCKIN’ A HARD PLACE: SPIN Café will finally get its spin | Corrected

O ak Harbor’s SPIN Café is about to get the spin cycle… Continue reading

Building a North Whidbey Hearts & Hammers

Home-repair nonprofit extends its helping hand

Clothing event for those with challenges

Nonprofit giving brand-name clothes to those with special needs

Support is great, but WAIF still has its critics

Debating risks vs. benefit of ‘enriching’ dogs’ lives

New Indian restaurant opens on Pioneer Way

Gary Purewal and his traditional clay oven have come to give Oak… Continue reading