NEWS BRIEFS Dec. 5, 2001

Fire springs emus, serval

An early Sunday fire seriously damaged a home and set two emus and an African serval cat free, at least temporarily.

The Island County Sheriff’s Office reported the fire occurred a 2:27 a.m. Fire District 2 and the NAS Whidbey Fire Dept. responded to the 2700 block of Benton Place, off Fort Nugent Road. The woman living in the house, Maria Kieferwiese, 58, escaped without injury. The fire apparently started at the kitchen stove.

Kieferwiese keeps a variety of animals on her property. In the commotion surrounding the fire an African serval cat escaped, as did two ostrich-like emus.

Sheriff’s spokesperson Jan Smith said the animals could be a traffic hazard. “We need to find them,” she said. She described the serval as an “oversized cat, bigger than a house cat but smaller than a cougar.” Anyone who sees a stray emu or serval is asked to report it by calling 911.

Judge certain, Santa in doubt

A judge is committed to attend and Santa Claus is a possibility when the Central Whidbey Chamber of Commerce holds its general membership meeting Thursday, Dec. 13 at 8 a.m. in the Fellowship Hall of Coupeville’s United Methodist Church.

Island County Superior Court Judge Alan Hancock will spend a few minutes that morning talking about the need for civility in public discourse, particularly during times of strife. In addition, appreciation plaques will be presented to police and firefighters.

As is traditional at the early morning December meeting, the chamber will provide cookies and milk for all, just in case Santa is around. The public is invited to attend. Doors open at 7:45 a.m. For more information call 678-5434.

School board goes strategic

The Oak Harbor School District will soon be hosting a strategic planning session, part of a project that will decide the direction of the school district over the next five years.

With the help of a facilitator from the Washington State School Directors Association, funded by a grant from Washington Mutual, a strategic planning session will take place on Friday evening, Dec. 7, and during the day on Saturday, Dec. 8, at Hillcrest Elementary School at 1500 NW Second St.

The community is welcome to attend the planning meeting, which is scheduled for 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. Dessert will be served on Friday, and morning refreshments and lunch will be served on Saturday. Child care is available. Call 279-5010 for details.

Three similar sessions are planned for Jan. 11 and 12, March 1 and 2, and March 29 and 30.

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