Editor's Column

"Don Grove of Oak Harbor wrote a nice note to our newsroom recently. It raises the issue of obituaries:Dear Sir or Madam, Mr. Grove wrote, Where are the obituaries? Have I missed something? In about the last five of your issues I have found only one obit. ... Are none of our elder citizens passing away? I pretty much depend on your newspaper for information on which of our local citizens has ridden on into the sunset. Over & Out ... Don Grove.Mr. Grove is right. We did indeed print a stretch of newspapers recently in which we had nary an obituary. But I would like to take this opportunity to clarify that this was not an editorial decision. It was made at a higher level.In fact, while us folks in the newspaper business like to believe we wield power, we have yet to figure out a way to control the timing and quantity of obituaries.Sometimes, as you will notice on page A7 of today's Whidbey News-Times, we print several. Sometimes we print none.As editor, I would prefer to feature a predictable number of obituaries on a regular basis so I can more efficiently plan the layout of our newspaper. We have worked at this and made progress, but just when we think we have a handle on it, we find that this particular section of the newspaper is completely beyond our control.As fellow human beings, we trust that you share our frustration. We are lobbying the highest authority about this matter. Frankly, though, we hold out little hope we will be able to affect change. Obituaries, alas, are likely to be forever printed at unpredictable intervals in the pages of the Whidbey News-Times.(Just a reminder: Many newspapers charge a fee to print obituaries, but the News-Times provides this service at no cost. We ask that obituaries be written in a concise manner, preferably with the assistance of a funeral home. They can be e-mailed to, faxed to 675-2732, or sent to P.O. Box 10, Oak Harbor 98277.)Turn out for community athletic events: The Wildcats and Wolves are back on the fields, courts, and running trails this week. If you haven't been to a high school sporting event in some time, you might be surprised at how fun it can be.As News-Times sports editor D. Patrick Connolly detailed in last Saturday's paper, nine teams from Oak Harbor and Coupeville high schools will be competing this fall: Oak Harbor football, volleyball, girls soccer, boys and girls cross country, girls swimming and boys tennis; and Coupeville football, volleyball and boys tennis.There's nothing like watching the Oak Harbor football team compete against a foe at Memorial Stadium, or watching many of Coupeville's residents turn out for a football game on the field behind the elementary school. Volleyball and tennis matches can get the adrenaline pumping, while the grace and speed of soccer, cross country and swimming is always fun to watch.Unlike a trip to Safeco Field, it won't break the bank. Sporting events in Coupeville are free of charge for Whidbey Islanders, while there's a small fee for Oak Harbor events. So get out there this fall, show your support and enjoy yourself. "

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