Lighthouse may travel statewide

People all over the state, including folks who live in landlocked Yakima, Oroville and Walla Walla, could have lighthouses of their own by 2006 — if volunteers can gather enough signatures by mid-August to send to the Department of Licensing.

Washington state has a new law that allows non-profit groups to sponsor and receive proceeds from the sale of license plates containing an illustration of the group’s choosing.

If history buffs and lighthouse aficionados get their way, one of the first new license plate designs will commemorate the state’s lighthouses. And it will raise needed funds to help keep them open to the public. The art for the proposed special plate is adapted from an original watercolor by Janet Orso, a WSU/Island County Beach Watcher. A raffle will be held at a later date for the water color, with proceeds going to Friends of Admiralty Head Lighthouse.

People up and down the island are collecting the John Hancock’s of every Tom, Dick and Harry they can find to complete the application process.

“We’re asking families, friends and strangers for their signatures,” Elaine Ross of Clinton said. She and friends have spent weekends at Bayview Farmers Market gathering names. “We go wherever we need to to find people,” Ross said. Her family plans on getting two plates if the drive is successful.

Those who decide to purchase the special plates will pay about $35 to $40 extra for them the first year and about $25 to $30 more at each renewal. Most of the extra funds the state collects will be turned over to the non-profit sponsor.

Friends of the Lighthouse, the volunteer group maintaining Admiralty Head Lighthouse at Fort Casey State Park on Whidbey Island is working with groups at North Head, Mukilteo, Point No Point and Westport lighthouses. The lighthouse groups must gather 2,000 signatures from supporters by mid-August to submit the special design to the Department of Licensing and the Special License Plate Review Board. Before the plate can become reality, the Special License Plate Review Board must forward the proposal to the legislature to pass enabling legislation.

“Proceeds from this plate will support docent programs at lighthouses throughout the state. In Island County, the funds will support Friends of the Lighthouse in developing high-quality exhibits and an interpretive museum, environmental education and creating an endowment for long-term funding,” Gloria Wahlin, coordinator of Admiralty Head Lighthouse said. Washington State University houses its Island County environmental education outreach programs at Admiralty Head Lighthouse. Funds will be managed by Lighthouse Environmental Programs (LEP), a 501c (3) non-profit organization.

Those wishing to help collect signatures asking the Special License Plate Review Board to consider the proposal may obtain the forms from Gloria Wahlin at Admiralty Head Lighthouse, e-mail, or call (360) 679-7391. You can download a signature sheet by going to the Admiralty Head Lighthouse website at www.admiraltyhead. and clicking on license plate under News.

Those who sign the forms are not obligated to purchase the special plate, but will be notified of the opportunity when the plate is available.

Admiralty Head Lighthouse is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily in Fort Casey State Park.

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