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Sound of Freedom to get face-lift

"North Whidbey motorists may have noticed something missing at the corner of Ault Field Road and Highway 20 lately. The well-known Sound of Freedom billboard, which has stood at the corner for many years, has been removed by the Navy as part of a long-range plan to improve the appearance of the highway leading into and out of Oak Harbor.Navy officials say a new sign will likely go up in its place - probably a more permanent structure similar to signs at other military bases around the country, said NAS Whidbey Public Affairs Officer Kim Martin. Martin said plans for a new sign have been in the works for some time but have been awaiting design approval and funding.Oak Harbor Mayor Patty Cohen said rumors around town have insinuated that city officials raised objections to the most recent paint job on the Sound of Freedom sign. Cohen said the rumors aren't true. The sign itself sits outside city limits on Navy property.Cohen said she has talked with base commander Capt. Larry Salter and expects the Navy and city will work together in developing a new sign.The 8-by-24-foot wide billboard got a face-lift in May when a new image of Navy aircraft flying over the Deception Pass Bridge replaced a 10-year-old version featuring squadron insignia. Signs in general are coming under more scrutiny lately. Island County recently adopted new sign regulations that reflect a national trend toward fewer and environmentally friendlier signs. Though the new county rules do not cover the Sound of Freedom sign or similar signs that were in place before the rules changed, the regulations call for signage to be limited in size and subdued so that it blends in better with the rural character of the island. "

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