Hodson finishes fourth term on advisory committee as ferry route name changes to Coupeville

After completing her fourth, four-year term on the Keystone Ferry Advisory Committee, member Julia Hodson she decided to step down from the three-member volunteer board.

The Board of Island County Commissioners named Ian Jefferds as her replacement.

Hodson said she chose not to apply for a fifth term because she wanted more free time, and it really has nothing to do with the name change of the Keystone ferry landing to the Coupeville ferry landing.

“I’ve been tied to public meetings for 50 years,” Hodson said of her long years of community service. In addition to her 16 years on the advisory board, she currently serves on the Housing Authority Board and the Habitat for Humanity of Island County Board.

Hodson, who is in her 70s, said she hopes to phase out her membership on several other boards in the coming years.

The Keystone Ferry Advisory Committee, which acts as a liaison between the community and the ferry system, made news last summer because it was the only group to oppose changing the name of the Keystone ferry terminal to the Coupeville ferry terminal. Hodson said the group was merely communicating the opinion of many residents the committee serves.

The committee, which includes Jennifer Meyer and Brian Martin, argued the terminal name should remain Keystone because it’s located nearly four miles outside town limits. The name change would also cause confusion if one day a ferry route connects Camano Island with Coupeville.

“We represent a wider Central Whidbey community than the chamber does,” Hodson said, referencing the Central Whidbey Chamber of Commerce, the Coupeville-based group that lobbied the Washington State Transportation Commission for the name change. She noted the chamber didn’t contact the advisory group when officials started the push to change the terminal name.

However, Hodson said the new terminal name didn’t influence her decision to step down from the advisory committee.

She said Ian Jefferds, who owns of Penn Cove Shellfish, is a good fit as her replacement because he is a frequent user of the ferry.

Jefferds said the ferry from Port Townsend to Keystone is an important link between his business on Whidbey Island and his shellfish farm and hatchery located in Quilcene Bay. Cancellations cost him time and money because staff have to make the lengthy trip to the Olympic Peninsula using ferries in Clinton and Edmonds.

He said he decided to apply for the committee because there wasn’t enough input from commercial users of the ferry route.

“I’m just ensuring viability and reliability of service on the different routes,” Jefferds said Wednesday afternoon. One area he supported is the existing reservation system on the route crossing Admiralty Inlet. That system ensures a spot for his employees on the ferry.

With a new member of the group appointed by the Island County commissioners, Hodson said she hopes the advisory committee will work to increase its visibility within the community.

The FAC holds quarterly meetings, she said, but often Whidbey Island residents haven’t shown up to share any concerns they may have about the ferry system.

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