2010 in review


The Steilacoom II was pulled from the Keystone to Port Townsend route for one week for a mandatory inspection, forcing motorists to take the long drive around.

Ending a tumultuous series of budget cuts, the Island County commissioners eliminated five more jobs, including one sheriff’s deputy.

A sailor, 32, died when he jumped from the Deception Pass Bridge, the fourth such death in 2009.

Aiyana Michele Clements was the first baby born on Whidbey Island in 2009, at the Navy hospital.

A man stole drugs from Linds Pharmacy in Coupeville, launching a manhunt by police.

The old Kingma farmhouse at the Navy’s Outlying Field was saved from demolition in an effort led by citizen Curt Youderian.

Oak Harbor High School help an open house so the public could see the new auditorium and other facilities.

Creepy sounds at night led police to theorize that a homeless person was sleeping in the Whidbey News-Times building in Oak Harbor.

North Whidbey Island resident Trish Koorn, along with her husband and son, survived the devastating earthquake in Haiti. She has been teaching school in Port au Prince.

The roof over Oak Harbor Marina’s “C” dock was blown off by a high wind.

Kelly Emerson, a tea party Republican, announced she would run for Island County Commissioner against incumbent Democrat John Dean.

Assessor Dave Mattens announced property values declined in 2009, the first time that had happened in at least two decades.

In a tumultuous meeting, the Oak Harbor City Council by a 4-3 vote refused to rescind its decision to make Pioneer Way one-way downtown. Many merchants objected to the moved.

The man who robbed Linds Pharmacy in Coupeville was caught in Oregon when he was stealing drugs from a pharmacy there.

The skeleton of Samson the sea lion was hung in the Coupeville Wharf, joining the skeletons of Rosie the gray while and Rudy the Dall porpoise.

Deputy Robert Mirabal saved the life of a woman in Greenbank shortly before he was laid off for budgetary reasons.


Police arrested a 10th-grader for starting two small arson fires at Oak Harbor High School.

Whidbey Camano Land Trust purchased 152 acres in the Dugualla Bay area for purposes of preservation.

Oak Harbor celebrated the inclusion of 26 more EA-18G Growlers in President Obama’s 2011 defense budget.

Marcia Van Dyke, publisher of the Whidbey News-Times in Oak Harbor and the South Whidbey Record in Langley, announced the two papers would move to one facility in Coupeville.

Ignoring the recession, Coupeville School District voters resoundingly passed two levies, one for maintenance and operation and the other for technology.

Oak Harbor Choir Teacher Darren McCoy took advantage of a popular TV show by starting the school’s own Glee Club.

The “Barefoot Bandit,” Camano Island native Colton Harris-Moore, stole and airplane in Skagit County and made his way to Orcas Island, where he burglarized a market.

Coupeville resident Everett Coffman, 77, died when he was struck by a pickup while walking down the southbound lane of Highway 20 near Ebey Road at 5:30 a.m.

The Whidbey A-3 Skywarrior Memorial Foundation started raising money to bring one of the beloved old airplanes to Whidbey for stationary display.

Tom Tack took over the reins as president of the Oak Harbor Area Council of the Navy League.

Island County’s first driver to be charged with felony DUI pleaded guilty to felony driving under the influence and other charges. Kelly Wayne Shields, 45, was sentenced to four years and three months in prison.

Pastor Fannie Dean was honored as Oak Harbor’s first Black History Pioneer in a ceremony at the Navy base.


The threat of a nude dancing club prompted Oak Harbor to start working on an ordinance to restrict such establishments.

Whidbey Playhouse in Oak Harbor celebrated its 30th year, thanks to a successful fundraising effort three decades ago.

Oak Harbor police formally reviewed the case of Deborah Palmer, the little 7-year-old girl abducted on her way to school and killed 13 years ago. No arrest has yet been made.

Paula Spina, owner of the historic Crockett Barn, kicked up a furor among neighbors when she sought to make the facility a formal rural events center.

Six members of the Oak Harbor City Council attended a three-member subcommittee meeting, setting up a controversy over the Open Public Meetings Act.

The Oak Harbor High School Culinary Team won its fourth state championship in a row.

Entrepreneur Michelle O’Kelly revealed she was behind the idea of establishing a nude adult entertainment club in Oak Harbor.

A woman from Everett jumped off the Deception Pass Bridge, making the first suicide jump in 2010.

The Board of Health heard complaints about the county’s new mandatory septic inspection program but defended the costs and intent of the program.

Public nudity was officially banned by the Oak Harbor City Council and restrictions placed on where adult entertainment is allowed.

The Navy announced a program to raze 69 old buildings at Ault Field and the Seaplane Base, including the highly visible Building 27, a radar simulation building that looks like a giant golf ball on a hill overlooking Oak Harbor.


A deadly blast at the Tesoro Oil Refinery in Anacortes claimed the lives of two Oak Harbor residents, Matt Gumbel and Donna Van Dreumel, as well as five others from the surrounding area.

The PBY Memorial Association announced that after 12 years of effort it had purchased a PBY Catalina for static display on the Seaplane Base.

The Coupeville Library celebrated its major expansion project with a dedication ceremony.

The tea party made its presence known in Oak Harbor with a demonstration that attracted some 200 participants.

Island County commissioners announced plans to implement a clean water tax on some 40,000 parcels of land in the county.

Business perked up at the Coupeville Liquor Store when employee Heidi Castaneda started bringing her baby goats, Alfred and Alfredo, to work.

Whidbey Island Bank took over City Bank of Lynnwood, which was a vitim of the banking crisis.

Oak Harbor’s trail system greatly expanded with the opening of the Maylor Point extension on the Seaplane Base, which had been restricted space since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.


Popular cable TV personality Carolyn Pollack, who has a show on QVC, visited Coupeville and other parts of Whidbey to work the art and scenery into a future show.

The Rainbow Alliance of Skagit Valley College hosted a “drag show” in Oak Harbor. It was thought to be the first of it kind in the city.

On Mother’s Day weekend, many mothers spent their time helping build a Habitat for Humanity house in Oak Harbor.

Hundreds of people showed up to see the rehabilitated Ferry House, one of the oldest buildings on Whidbey Island located in Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve.

The old San de Fuca fire house was decommissioned and put up for sale as North Whidbey Fire and Rescue pared its budget.

Ron Dunphy, a custodian at Broad View Elementary, was honored for employing the Heimlich maneuver to save the life of an 8-year-old boy.

Oak Harbor announced the city-owned marathon attracted nearly 2,000 runners and made about $36,000 after expenses.

The county commissioners, short of money, decided to put a property tax hike on the ballot in August.

Oak Harbor’s sewer outfall pipe broke beneath the beach at Windjammer Park, sending treated sewer water to the surface. The council authorized $75,000 for emergency repairs.


An open house celebrated the opening of the joint offices of the Whidbey News-Times and South Whidbey Record at Coupe’s Village, 107 S. Main Street, in Coupeville.

Noted Whidbey Island mariner John Stone was saved by Central Whidbey Fire and Rescue after he fell out of his boat in Penn Cove.

An Oak Harbor couple, Shane and Carol Anne Fortune, parents of six children, entered politics. She was running for Island County clerk and he was running for Island County treasurer.

Whidbey Camano Land Trust extended its drive to raise $4.2 million to buy the 664-acre Trillium property south of Greenbank.

Oak Harbor offered to house Anacortes prisoners in its jail for $65 a day. The 12-bed jail usually was only half full.

A Mill Creek man and a boy, 14, required rescuing when they tried to cross Deception Pass Bridge on the girders underneath, 145-feet above the water. Five public agencies were involved in the rescue.

A World War II era PBY Catalina was airlifted by helicopter to Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, fulfilling the longtime dream of the PBY Memorial Foundation.


A new North Whidbey Fire and Rescue policy to charge for auto accident responses had brought in $28,000 so far in 2010.

Oak Harbor started workshop meetings on building a new sewer plant, which might ultimately cost $70 million or more depending in the site selected.

A salary survey showed Island County’s highest paid employee in 2009 was a sheriff’s road deputy who took home $98,003.37.

The Department of Transportation announced it would remove some rumble strips it place alongside Highway 20 due to safety concerns from bicyclists.

The “Barefoot Bandit,” Colton Harris-Moore, was captured in the Bahamas. Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks wanted to try him in Island County. Many of his crimes were committed on Camano Island.

The Washington Transportation Commission changed the name of the Keystone Ferry Terminal to the Coupeville Ferry Terminal at the request of Central Whidbey business boosters.

The Muzzall Family Farm near Oak Harbor celebrated its 100th year with a party for the community.

The Whidbey General Hospital board gave staff the go-ahead to start educating the public about the need for an expansion costing more than $50 million and requiring a public vote.

An inferno totally destroyed the Westerdyk family barn on Crescent Harbor Road.

Central Whidbey’s Junior Little League team of 13 and 14-year-olds won the state title: a first for its district which includes Skagit and Island counties.

Siblings Matt Iverson and Mimi Johnson announced plans to reopen Ebey’s Bowl in Coupeville.

A celebration marked the 75th anniversary of the opening of the Deception Pass Bridge, still the island’s only physical link to the mainland.


Whidbey Island Volkswagen/Mazda on Highway 20 closed after 10 years of doing business due to the poor economy. Whidbey Island Ford and Frontier Chevrolet had closed earlier, leaving Oak Harbor Motors as the only new car dealer in town.

The Keystone Ferry Terminal officially became the Coupeville Ferry Terminal Aug. 29, although some people protested the name change.

Capt. Gregory Jay Johnston took over leadership of Whidbey Island Naval Air Station from Capt. Gerral David.

An Oak Harbor School Board policy to control “sexting” among students gained widespread media coverage.

Coupeville sold its old fire station for $1,000 on condition it be renovated within 90 days. It will house the chamber of commerce office and public restrooms, as well as an upstairs apartment.

The Oak Harbor City Council added the creation of a plan to replace the Deception Pass bridge to a “wish list” to be presented to legislators in Olympia.

Island County’s Proposition 1, seeking $2 million annually to shore up the budget, lost badly at the polls, garnering only a 30 percent “yes” vote.

Rebellious Oak Harbor City Councilman Scott Dudley asked the county commissioners to take back $1 million earmarked for the Pioneer Way project in Oak Harbor, which he opposes. The commissioners refused.

Greenbank resident Carol Magee went to jail for 30 days over an easement dispute. Rather than concede to a plea bargain she opted for a criminal trial.


The Whidbey Camano Land Trust achieved its goal of preserving the 664-acre Trillium Woods by raising $4.2 million in donations.

Three people were killed in a head-on, drug-related auto accident north of Oak Harbor. Two Oak Harbor men, Jacob Quistorf and Francis Malloy, died in one car, and a Canadian man died in the other car.

Oak Harbor High School opened its new “A” wing. During the three years of construction, students had to travel to the old Crescent Harbor Elementary for some classes.

Central Whidbey firefighter Jerry Helm was “Mr. October” in the 2011 Washington State Firefighters Calendar.

An Anacortes woman, 26, died Sept. 18 on her way to work in Coupeville. Alexis Gilman lost control of her Volkswagen Cabriolet near the intersection of Arnold Road and Highway 20.

A draft budget for Island County called for the elimination of 25 more jobs.

A Snohomish County PUD crew aboard a barge photographed the seabed below Admiralty Inlet in preparation for a tidal energy project.

Former long-time Oak Harbor teacher Dallas Kloke died in a climbing accident near Mount Larrabee.

Coupeville school leaders were surprised by an enrollment drop to 959 students, 46 fewer than the prior year.

Whidbey Island Bank purchased another troubled bank, North County Bank, in Snohomish County, increasing its number of branches to 30 across six counties.


The Island County Biz Expo returned to Coupeville after a one-year absence due to the recession.

A team of deputies including the Hard Entry Arrest Team with an armored vehicle convinced a West Beach Road man to give up his gun peacefully. He had been threatening a woman.

Island County officials refused to allow Oak Harbor to expand its growth boundary, setting off a long-term dispute over the proposal.

Island County commissioner candidate Kelly Emerson became embroiled in a controversy over construction work done on her house without a county permit.

Paula Spina won in the Crockett Barn dispute as she was allowed up to 40 large events a year lasting until 11 p.m. on weekends. Neighbors had noise issues.

Oak Harbor approved a phased 158-unit apartment complex that will replace the aging but affordable Windmill Court mobile home park on Swantown Avenue.

Businessmen Ray Sizemore and Joel Mami started Pioneer Automotive Services, a car repair shop where Frontier Chevrolet was once a fixture.


The election ended Island County Commissioner John Dean’s service after one term, as challenger Kelly Emerson won with about 52 percent of the vote. She credited her message of “fiscal responsibility.” Assessor Dave Mattens was also ousted from office by challenger Mary Engle.

Commissioner-elect Kelly Emerson sued incumbent John Dean over a campaign flyer she alleged was defamatory, among other alleged violations.

The new ferry Chetzemoka was christened at the Keystone dock and began regular service on Nov. 15.

Two women escaped a blazing trailer fire in Oak Harbor off Crosby Road. One was later charged with arson.

The first major storm of the season produce 60 mph winds on Whidbey Island, knocked down trees and branches and caused power outages.

The Whidbey Island Marathon was listed among the top 10 in the world on the Lonely Planet website.

Despite the tough times, Oak Harbor police refused to give up their contractual 2 percent pay increase slated for 2011.

Well-known Whidbey Island attorney Peter Moote resigned from the Bar Association after being accused of stealing large amounts of money from clients.

North and Central Whidbey food banks reported increased demand for help compared to the prior year.

Under public pressure, the Island County assessor agreed to delete photos of private houses from the county website.

A house fire on Scenic Heights Road claimed the life of 42-year-old Dawn Campbell. Cause of the nighttime blaze was uncertain.

A late November snow storm created a traffic mess at Deception Pass Bridge and caused other problems just before Thanksgiving.

The Grey Knights of VP-46 arrived home for the holidays at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.


The Washington State Attorney General’s office released an opinion criticizing how Oak Harbor conducts some meetings of the city council. The complaint was brought by the Whidbey News-Times. Mayor Jim Slowik pledged to comply with the attorney general’s ruling.

The Island County commissioners on a 3-0 vote created a clean water utility and associated land parcel tax to better protect the county’s groundwater resources.

Oak Harbor and Coupeville school district superintendents saw nothing but bad news in the governor’s budget message, which proposed painful cuts in education funding.

Sharon Hart announced she will retire after 10 years at the helm of the Island County Economic Development Council.

Washington State Ferries announced it wouldn’t be adding a second ferry to the Coupeville to Port Townsend run during tourist season, but Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen and Reps. Barbara Bailey and Norma Smith vowed to fight the decision.

Oak Harbor called for bids on the major portion of the controversial Pioneer Way makeover project scheduled to start in February. Making the street one-way downtown was a decision fought by many merchants.

Sailors of the year at Whidbey Naval Air Station were Petty Officers First Class Ross Beebe and Dennis Holloman, and Marine of the Year was Gunnery Sgt. Benito Chavez.

Congress abandoned the 17-year-old “don’t ask, don’t tell,” policy, thereby allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military.

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