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NEWS BRIEFS Dec. 12, 2001

Toys for Tots needs a lot more donations

The Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots program on Whidbey Island is shifting into high gear as Christmas approaches and is seeking even more toy donations for needy children.

“Island County is really short for toys this year and we need all the help we can get,” said Gunnery Sergeant Mark Colston, Toys for Tots coordinator.

Toys For Tots collects toys for needy children throughout American. Since 1947, Marines have filled the dreams of millions of disadvantaged children during the holiday season. The Marines believe a shiny new toy sends a message to a needy child that someone cares, that he or she hasn’t been forgotten.

The public can help simply by dropping off a new, unwrapped toy at neighborhood locations. In Oak Harbor, drop-off sites are located at the police department, city hall, chamber of commerce, Godfather’s Pizza, Alaska Federal Credit Union, Kmart, Wal-Mart, Navy Exchange, First Command Financial, Concordia Lutheran Church, VFW and Wells Fargo Bank.

Taxable sales down all over

Oak Harbor joined the rest of the state in suffering a dip in taxable retail sales during the second quarter of this year.

According to the state Department of Revenue, gross business income and taxable retail sales both declined for the first time since 1995.

State-wide, gross business income declined 1.4 percent during the quarter. The last such decline occurred when Boeing workers went on strike in 1995. Taxable retail sales dipped about one-quarter of 1 percent, the first decline since the Boeing strike and only the fifth quarterly decline in the last 25 years.

Oak Harbor’s taxable retail sales declined by 5.2 percent compared to the second quarter last year. Sales amounted to $59,048,000 in 2001, compared to $62,299,000 in 2000.

Vandals bash mailboxes, van

Someone spent much of Monday night bashing mailboxes and a van in the area of Frostad and Jones roads on North Whidbey.

According to the Island County Sheriff’s Office, vandals destroyed mailboxes along an estimated three miles of roadway. In one instance, two windows in a van parked near the road were smashed.

As of Tuesday morning, reports of vandalism were still being made as residents awoke to the damage. There was one report by someone who heard a loud car at about 10 p.m. Anyone who noticed anything suspicious Monday night is asked to report it by calling to call 911.

Less building done in county

The amount of new construction in Island County declined this year, according to Assessor Tom Baenen.

New construction in 2001 totaled $132.5 million, about $18.5 million less than the prior year.

Baenen said the number of building permits was higher than the prior year, but total dollars spent were down. “Maybe there was more remodeling,” he said.

The reduced amount of new construction means less property taxes for Island County, and explains in part some of the cuts being made in next year’s budget.

Arrest follows bomb threat

Oak Harbor Police arrested a 12-year-old girl Tuesday in the aftermath of a combined arson and death threat at North Whidbey Middle School.

At about 11 p.m. Monday, a note was found written on a restroom wall at the school announcing, “I will burn the school tomorrow at 1200.” Two female first names were listed as those who would be killed.

Capt. Rick Wallace said police worked with school officials to identify the suspect, who could face felony charges.

Officers and the school’s janitorial staff searched the school that night as well as Tuesday morning and found nothing suspicious.

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