NEWS BRIEFS Dec. 26, 2001

Early holiday deadlines

With New Year’s Day falling next Tuesday, news and advertising deadlines have been moved ahead considerably for the Whidbey News-Times issue of Wednesday, Jan. 2.

Production of the newspaper will have to be finished Saturday, so the deadline for all news items submitted by the public will be Thursday, Dec. 27 at 5 p.m. This includes community events and notices as well as letters to the editor and obituaries.

The display advertising deadline for the Jan. 2 issue will be at noon Thursday, Dec. 27.

Legislators to appear in

Oak Harbor

The 10th District’s three representatives in Olympia will attend “Brunch with our Legislators” on Saturday, Jan. 12 at 9 a.m. at Henderson’s Restaurant in Oak Harbor.

The event is sponsored by the Whidbey Island League of Women Voters. This year may be particularly interesting due to the budget woes that have befallen the state. The Washington State Legislature convenes on Jan. 7 for a scheduled 60-day session.

“We’re assuming all three will be there,” said the League’s Joyce Peterson, referring to Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen and Reps. Barry Sehlin and Kelly Barlean. The public is invited to participate and hear about 2002 legislative issues. Cost of the brunch is $10. The reservation deadline is Jan. 7; call 679-2299.

Budget cuts force fewer pet prosecutions

Due to “some difficult restructuring” of district courts following recent budget cutbacks, the Island County Prosecutor’s office will no longer prosecute criminal animal control violations that are violations of county code, an interruption in service that chief prosecutor Greg Banks said he hopes is only temporary.

Banks’ office recently lost a part-time legal secretary position as county commissioners made difficult departmental cuts to balance a 2002 county budget in the hole by nearly $1 million.

In a memo dated Dec. 17 and sent to both Whidbey Island and Camano Island Animal Control centers, Banks notified officials that his office will only continue to prosecute cases involving “properly presented dangerous animals” and animal cruelty in the first degree, which he cited as instances where public safety issues were involved.

Other cases involving animal control were deemed less immediate, and thereby put on the backburner, at least for now. “Dog off premises, inherently dangerous mammals and animal cruelty in the second degree cases were determined to be cases for which criminal prosecution can be delayed,” wrote Banks, noting that less than 10 cases fitting such criteria have been processed by the prosecutor’s office this year.

“Please bear with us, as we adjust to these unfortunate events,” Banks requested of animal control professionals. “As soon as we adjust to our new lower staffing, we will make a determination about whether we can continue to prosecute the listed animal control violations.”

Banks suggested that, when permitted by law, animal control workers dealing with dangerous animals could take actions short of filing misdemeanor charges such as impoundment.

Low paid workers receive pay increase

Minimum wage workers on Whidbey Island and throughout the state will receive a present on New Year’s Day.

That’s when an 18 cents per hour pay raise goes into effect, boosting the state minimum wage to $6.90 per hour. The new wage applies to workers age 16 and older, both in agricultural and non-agricultural jobs.

Workers can thank Washington’s voters for the pay increase. In 1998 they passed an initiative linking the minimum wage to the federal consumer price index for urban workers. As a result, the state Department of Labor and Industries calculates the new state minimum raise each year.

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