Life on Whidbey: Don’t forget the art in downtown

The power of one can ...

Last fall, NANCY SANDERS of NS Frames on East Pioneer Way realized art was missing from Roger Brooks’ plan to boost tourism in Oak Harbor. Our city doesn’t have a permanent gallery as do other towns on this island rich with artists.

She presented her ideas to the Oak Harbor City Council and stressed that artistic community projects would not be an alternative to the Brooks tourism plan, but could be a part of it.

“The city has just finished interviewing people who will sit on the board of the Arts Commission,” Sanders said. “Once they are confirmed, they will have the big job of completing the blank canvas that is Oak Harbor.”

Sanders envisions a place where oil paintings, sculpture and the performing arts can come together in harmony, for the enrichment of all. The new Oak Harbor Arts Commission will be an arm of the government of Oak Harbor. Everything they do still needs City Council approval.

KAREN CROUCH, Administrative Assistant, City of Oak Harbor will act as liaison with the Arts Commission.

Last October, Sanders gave a slide show for the City Council to show how communities from Mount Vernon to Tokyo have made arts a priority for tourism and the well-being of its citizens.

“We have to take this all the way,” Sanders said. I applaud her vision and determination.

Next up is another story of how one woman’s activism made a difference.

Leading the stadium charge ...

A lot of time and talent goes into producing this newspaper. The product would fall flat, however, without a genuine sense of community.

MARCIA VAN DYKE, Whidbey News-Times Publisher, knows this is true. When she believes in a particular cause, she carries the banner from start to finish line.

One such mission was the recent Oak Harbor High School Stadium project. She was a relentless promoter right from the start, from those purple paw prints that magically appeared around town to pep talks before business meetings.

JIM SLOWIK, Rotary president, said this about Van Dyke’s Paul Harris Award, given at Rotary’s last meeting. “In addition to promoting Rotary activities, she served on the stadium steering committee, organized students and sponsored a sweepstakes at the high school and most significantly, she won over the business community, convincing them that this was a good thing for our city.”

The measure passed by a narrow margin last fall, and one wonders if it would have succeeded at all without her activism.

“Marcia went above and beyond and provided the leadership that was critical to the stadium’s success,” Slowik added.

PAUL BROWN, who also worked on the stadium project, won a Paul Harris Award, as did PATTY ENCINAS who managed the successful Rotary auction and JOHN BOLTE, who worked hard on several internal projects.

And the Big Heart Award goes to...

More than the dentist’s drill was humming on Valentine’s Day at the Whidbey Avenue clinic of TIMOTHY D. WEZEMAN, DDS.

His latest gift of kindness to the community (he did a free dental makeover for a deserving single mom last year) was to give 59 people of all ages free dental care on Feb. 14.

“We ran an ad for a few weeks, asking people who were in need to come on in,” said DARLENE KIEFER, office manager. “We wanted to be able to see all the people who were in pain. People were seen on a first-come, first-served basis, and we cleaned teeth and did other procedures all day for those who could not afford to see a dentist.”

Staff members, who normally see around 40 patients a day, were in high spirits and worked hard all day.

Not that he expects one, but I hereby name Tim Wezeman winner of the Big Heart Award for humanitarian service. He was born to take care of people, and we’re glad he’s ours.

Bits and pieces ...

If you missed the Evening at Angelo’s on Valentine’ Day, don’t worry. Evenings at Angelo’s will be a monthly event from now on, the next being Saturday, March 18, from 6 to 8 p.m., with dinner served and fabulous live music. BRENDA PIKE, a renaissance woman you’ll soon read more about in this column, sang to a packed house on Feb. 14. She’ll be a regular at these monthly events, so catch her if you can.

Happy Birthday to JOHN ALLGIRE who turned 91 last week. LYLE and DIANA BULL took him to breakfast to celebrate and asked if I knew John sailed in China when he was first in the Navy and even slept in a hammock on the decks.

See BILL THEIS and BOB LARSEN in a documentary on The History Channel on March 25 at 8 p.m. The two will relate their experiences in the Aleutians in World War II, fighting the Japanese and awful weather from the controls of their PBY Catalina seaplanes. They and the hundreds of others who served in treacherous conditions are our heroes.

People who travel on board Naval Air Station Whidbey Island should know regulations state headphones must be used when talking on a cell phone. Rules is rules.

I’ll be back March 8. Meantime, call 360-675-6611 or write to me at

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