2012: A year in review
January 2, 2013 · Updated 8:44 AM
Coupeville’s Big Rock, a glacial erratic in the middle of town, is put up for sale along with the apartment complex that sits behind the massive rock shrouded in ivy.
Oak Harbor Mayor Scott Dudley comes into office and immediately makes changes. He fires City Administrator Paul Schmidt, City Attorney Margery Hite and Fire Chief Mark Soptich. He later adds Police Chief Rick Wallace and new City Attorney Bill Hawkins to the list of terminations. City Council members harshly criticize Dudley for the moves, which cost the city nearly $500,000 in severance payments and other expenses.
Oak Harbor city leaders appeal the Western Washington Growth Management Hearing Board’s rejection of the city’s petition against Island County. The city is fighting the county commissioners’ refusal to allow the city to expand its urban growth area.
Peter Hunt publishes “Setting the Hook: A Diver’s Return to the Andrea Doria.”
Oak Harbor resident Beatrice Morgan donates beach for public use.
Lance Davenport, a Duvall resident, is sworn in as the new Coupeville Town Marshal.
State Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen casts the crucial vote in favor of gay marriage.
The Oak Harbor High School Choir Club and the Media Arts Club film undead dancers in various areas of Whidbey Island for the music video, “Thrill the Island,” a zombie-themed dance set to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”
Colton Harris-Moore, the Barefoot Bandit, is sentenced to six and a half years in prison by a federal judge after prosecutors revealed that he insulted the Island County sheriff and prosecutor in emails and phone calls.
Riley Grace Borden, a 12-year-old Coupeville girl, dances in Pacific Northwest Ballet’s “Don Quixote.”
The Island County Historical Society begins a restoration of Chief Snakelum’s historic canoe.
The Oak Harbor Marina receives what may be its last batch of 30,000 coho smolt. The state program that brought the baby salmon to the marina for recreational fishing falls to budget cuts.
Five Oak Harbor cheerleaders and several parents were among the 192 people who reported being ill after attending the Washington State High School Cheerleading Championships.
Coupeville dermatologist Donald “Russell” Johnson dies in a gruesome car accident at Deception Pass while being pursued by a state trooper. Johnson had pleaded guilty a few days prior to assaulting his girlfriend. Months before, he abruptly closed his clinics in Coupeville and Anacortes because of financial trouble and was being investigated by the state for alleged patient abandonment.
A 13-year-old girl is mauled by three pitbulls in Oak Harbor.
The city of Oak Harbor’s insurance provider rules that Mayor Scott Dudley cannot sign city checks because of his rocky financial past.
Oak Harbor police search for a man who robbed the DK Market at gunpoint. Chance Gill, a 19-year-old Oak Harbor resident, is later arrested for the crime. He pleads guilty to first-degree robbery and is sentenced to three years in prison.
A man is seriously injured after a patron at the Element nightclub in Oak Harbor slashes his throat with a beer bottle. Oak Harbor resident Shaunyae Allen is arrested for the crime. He later pleads guilty to second-degree assault and is sent to prison for two years and two months.
Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks announces that he won’t pursue the death penalty for Joshua Lambert, a 31-year-old homeless Oak Harbor man accused of murdering his two grandfathers on Oct. 3, 2011. Lambert is acting as his own attorney and he is pursuing an insanity defense.
The Oak Harbor City Council picks Joel Servatius as the newest council member. He is appointed to fill the seat vacated by Scott Dudley when he became mayor.
Island County Republicans make a big showing at the caucus. Mitt Romney earns the most votes, but Rick Santorum is a close second.
A police presence returns to Oak Harbor High School. Officer Dennis Dickinson is named as the school resource officer.
The Pioneer Way construction project is finally finished. The project was dogged by criticism over the conversion to one-way and then delayed when Native American remains were found.
Oak Harbor City Council criticized Mayor Scott Dudley for his process of selecting a new fire chief, which some council members felt was a charade to appoint a pre-determined candidate. Nevertheless, the council eventually confirms the appointment of Ray Merrill to the job.
Freeland attorney Peter Moote is charged in federal court with embezzling more than $1 million for clients. He later pleads guilty and is sentenced to four years in prison.
City leaders announce that it could cost more than $2 million to hire archaeology experts to sift through dirt from Pioneer Way that was dumped at Pit Road. Native American remains were found at the site.
Whidbey General Hospital commissioners approve a levy to continue the funding of ambulance services. Voters later approve the measure on the Aug. 7 ballot.
Deputies with the Island County Sheriff’s Office save a Freeland woman and her 4-year-old son from a kidnapper who threatened to drive them off Deception Pass Bridge. George Downey, a 22-year-old Greenbank man, later pleads guilty to first-degree rape, second-degree kidnapping, residential burglary and second-degree burglary. He is sentenced to 16 years in prison.
Controversy at Island County Cemetery District 1 comes to the surface after one commissioner quits and the others suspend and later fire three employees. Michael Dougliss, the longtime supervisor, later returns as a contractor employee.
Oak Harbor City Council approves the confirmation of Ray Merrill as fire chief during a heated hearing.
The Wildcat Culinary Team takes first place in a state competition and heads to nationals.
Oak Harbor City Councilman Joel Servatius sparks controversy when he proposes a hat ban in city chambers during council meetings. His fellow council members later vote down the ban over free-speech concerns.
Dr. Paul Zaverhua resigns from the Whidbey General Hospital Board to concentrate on being a doctor.
Wayne Lewis, a retired deputy with the Island County Sheriff’s Office, pulls a gun on a knife-wielding shoplifter and prevents him from assaulting a security guard.
A jury acts quickly in finding 27-year-old Ryan Stephenson guilty of raping and assaulting his girlfriend’s 21-month-old daughter, causing injuries that required a team of surgeons to repair. Judge Alan Hancock later sentences him to 60 years in prison.
Anthony Polubinski, an Oak Harbor Cub Scout leader, is arrested on suspicion of child rape, child molestation and possession of child pornography. He later pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a minimum of 15 years in prison.
A dead gray whale is towed to Whidbey Island Naval Air Station property for a necropsy.
The Island County Fair becomes the “Whidbey Island Area Fair.”
Island County Commissioner Kelly Emerson almost unseats herself by accident by requesting to have her voter’s registration address changed to her second home outside her district. The county auditor warns her and prevents the mistake.
Community volunteer Ronald Asplund is arrested for raping and molesting boys, one of whom he met through his role as a youth coordinator at an Oak Harbor church. He is later sentenced to a minimum of 11 years in prison after pleading guilty to child rape.
Oak Harbor Mayor Scott Dudley donates a kidney to a stranger in British Columbia.
Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks opens an investigation into Langley Mayor Larry Kwarsick, who’s accused of falsifying a document to help a relative while he was planning director. Kwarsick later pleads guilty to false reporting and is sentenced to 15 days in jail.
Neighbors of the Navy’s Gallery Golf Course are alarmed to discover that the Navy has been granted a permit to pump millions of gallons of water to irrigate the greens.
A derelict crab boat, the Deep Sea, catches fire and sinks in Penn Cove. The vessel causes environmental problems after leaking fuel and is eventually raised from the bottom and hauled away.
Island County Sheriff Mark Brown and the Oak Harbor police hold a special forum to address an increase in the number of sex crimes against children.
A group of people save a gaggle of geese in a top-secret operation at Honeymoon Lake. The residents of the neighborhood had planned on having the geese killed by a wildlife agent because of their habit of pooping on lawns.
North Whidbey Park and Recreation District settles a lawsuit for $1.5 million with a former swimmer who was raped and molested by former swim coach Andy King in the 1990s.
Greenbank resident Robert “Al” Baker is held on $5-million bail for allegedly murdering his wife, Kathie Baker. Her body was found wrapped in a tarp in a ravine behind their home. The couple was well known in Freeland for owning Harbor Pizzeria.
Capt. John Aydelotte of North Whidbey is among the crew on a new reality TV show, “Diamond Divers.”
Pioneer Way merchants are upset when the Fourth of July Parade is routed onto another street because the rebuilt, one-way road is too narrow.
Oak Harbor resident Joshua R. Ziegler is killed and two others are seriously injured in a two-car, head-on car crash on Highway 20 north of Oak Harbor.
Four candidates for commissioner of Island County District 2 square off during a lively forum hosted by the League of Women Voters.
Island County Commissioners turn down a request from the Island County Law and Justice Council to ask voters to pass a special sales tax to bolster law-and-justice funding. The decision sparks a verbal row between a commissioner and members of the council.
A jury finds James Huden guilty of murdering Russel Douglas on South Whidbey in December of 2003. His alleged accomplice, Peggy Sue Thomas, is scheduled to go on trial for murder this year. Huden is sentenced to 80 years in prison.
Oak Harbor’s own Marti Malloy wins a bronze medal in judo during the Olympic Games in London. She later returns to the city amidst much celebration.
Angie Homola, the incumbent, and challenger Jill Johnson beat the other two candidates for the Island County Commissioner District 2 race in the primary election, which means they move on to the general election. Incumbent Commissioner Helen Price Johnson and challenger Jeff Lauderdale come out ahead of three other candidates for the District 1 position. The EMS levy wins by a healthy margin.
State Rep. Norma Smith holds a meeting with residents concerned about proposed changes at a Highway 20 intersection near Island Transit.
Oak Harbor City Council raises alarms about 24 unfilled positions in the city and passes a measure aimed at forcing the mayor to fill administrative positions quickly.
A crowd of people angry about Navy jet noise in Central Whidbey storm the Island County Commissioners’ meeting and ask them to request that the Navy extend a public comment period regarding the transition of electronic attack squadrons from the Prowlers to Growlers.
Oak Harbor Mayor Scott Dudley breaks a tie and casts the deciding vote in the siting of the $93.5-million sewage treatment plant. The plant will be built in the area of Pioneer Way in the vicinity of Windjammer Park. An analysis shows that the cost of the new plant may double or even triple sewer rates.
A lantern house built by students at three high schools across Whidbey Island is placed on top of the Admiralty Head Lighthouse on Central Whidbey.
The Oak Harbor Music and Jazz Festival is a roaring success on Pioneer Way.
Oak Harbor resident Allen Frazier is awarded a Congressional Gold Medal. He is one of the surviving Marines of Montford Point, a segregated camp where African-American recruits underwent basic training in the 1940s.
Oak Harbor residents get the chance to meet the three finalists for the police chief position. Following a panel interview, the mayor picks Ed Green of Port Townsend for the job.
The Island County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team responds to a report of a mentally unstable, armed man who barricaded himself in a Crescent Harbor Road home after allegedly threatening to burn the house down. The suspect, Christopher Rogers, eventually gives himself up.
A Coupeville woman’s letter to the editor about Navy jet noise leads to a criminal investigation after people harass her over the phone and online for expressing her feelings.
Petty Officer Bart, a Navy elite military working dog, is awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal. Bart’s accomplishments included missions supporting U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Customs and the Oak Harbor Police Department.
Former Oak Harbor Police Chief Rick Wallace and former City Engineer Eric Johnston file separate lawsuits against the city after being fired by new Mayor Scott Dudley.
Nichols Brothers Boat Builders land a second $17 million contract with Seattle’s Vigor Industrial to build the superstructure of a new 144-car state ferry.
Oak Harbor man Tyson Boon is assaulted outside a downtown restaurant. He suffered a fractured skull and bleeding in the brain, which landed him intensive care. He is still recovering from his injuries. Trevor J. Gleming, of Langley, was later charged with the crime.
Coupeville faces decreased police coverage with the departure of 75 percent of its police force. Town officials will start looking at options such as contracting with Island County Sheriff’s Office.
A-3 Skywarrior Whidbey Memorial Foundation breaks ground on the new memorial site at the corner of Ault Field Road and Langley Boulevard in Oak Harbor. The new memorial will feature the jet known as “the Whale.” Construction is currently on hold.
Oak Harbor Mayor Scott Dudley begins negotiations to change city employee health plan coverage. The city spent nearly $1.8 million on medical and dental benefits in 2011. Dudley said employees received the most expensive, “Cadillac” medical plan.
A stray elk makes its way to Whidbey Island, being spotted near Strawberry Point on North Whidbey. Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife officers said it is rare to see elk on the island.
Oak Harbor City Council again stalls on plans to purchase new emergency apparatus.
Former Island County Commissioner Angie Homola accuses then challenger and later commissioner-elect Jill Johnson of slandering her husband. Homola alleged toward the end of a public political forum that Johnson had participated in accusations that her husband had abused his military position for the benefit of her campaign. Johnson denies the accusations.
Oak Harbor explores building its new $93.5-million sewage treatment plant in several locations including Windjammer Park and surrounding areas.
Accused Oak Harbor murderer Joshua Lambert pleads insanity in the October 2011 murder of several family members.
Coupeville accountant Georgia Gardner resigns as a volunteer with the Port of Coupeville, citing concerns about financial statements. The Port is currently investigating her claims.
A bolt of lightning strikes a transformer, leaving Whidbey General Hospital’s phone and voicemail system out for several days.
Oak Harbor School District gears up for its levy campaign. Voters will approve or reject a levy lid lift in February 2013.
Jill Johnson wins the race for Island County Commissioner against incumbent Angie Homola.
Commissioner Helen Price Johnson wins over challenger Jeff Lauderdale with roughly 52 percent of the vote.
Longtime senator Mary Margaret Haugen loses to challenger Barbara Bailey.
State Representative Norma Smith wins against challenger Aaron Simpson.
North Whidbey Aquatic Club Coach Neil Romney is fired from his position as swim coach for the Aquajets. He later filed a lawsuit against the North Whidbey Park and Recreation District.
Island County starts looking at approving a contract for curbside recycling. A plan was later approved and should start in late 2013.
Oak Harbor holds its first-ever Veterans Day parade down Pioneer Way. Plans are already underway for 2013’s parade.
Oak Harbor man Chris Cooper, 23, is allegedly assaulted and found unconscious on Pioneer Way. He was later airlifted to Harborview Medical Center and Hospital in Seattle where he later died from his injuries. A man was arrested and later released in connection with the crime. Prosecutors say evidence shows Cooper instigated the confrontation and the other man was acting in self defense.
Island County Commissioners look at new gun regulations sparked by resident concerns. Modifications to current gun regulations are still being reviewed.
Police seize pounds of drugs from an Oak Harbor man. An estimated $40,000 in illegal narcotics was allegedly recovered from Michael “Cupcake” Koepke, 26.
Pioneer Way hosts an Holiday Magic complete with a tree lighting and Santa.
Island County Sheriff’s deputies file a lawsuit citing the county withheld worker’s compensation and sick pay.
Two aggressive dogs are set loose in Fort Ebey State Park. They were caught after attacking hikers and later euthanized.
A combination of high tide and strong winds wreak havoc on Whidbey Island’s western coastline. A home on West Beach Road was destroyed after a bulkhead broke and several roads were closed. The Bon Air community bulkhead also broke.