Jim Larsen

Our national symbol can be annoying | Sound Off

I hate to bring this up but the national symbol of the United States is getting a little annoying on Whidbey Island. Twice in the last week the bald birds have interfered with my driving. One was playing daredevil at 5:30 a.m., seeing if I would slow down and perhaps swerve a bit to the right to miss him. It’s as if he knew he had national protection, and he was daring me to damage even a single feather. I chickened out and let the eagle have his way, swerving to the edge of the road so he could have the center line. He may have been looking for fresh road-killed rabbit or raccoon.

Monstrous rhododendron is a late bloomer | Editor’s Column

Finally, our flower is blooming. We have only one flower in our front yard, as it’s the one thing that grows naturally in our dark, damp surroundings. The rhododendron is native to the Northwest, but this one is the result of some mad hybridizer’s experiment years ago.

Editor’s column: TSA has sights set on children’s bubble gun

Good gosh, now they’re thinking of bringing TSA to AMTRAK. For those who aren’t familiar with acronyms, that’s the Transportation Security Administration to American Track. So to be precise, some Congress people want the dreaded TSA found at airports to search AMTRAK passengers as well, which is quite an alarming prospect.

Corporation has eyes for Whidbey General Hospital

A private health care company interested in purchasing or otherwise operating Whidbey General Hospital may confuse the $50-million expansion bond election now in progress. Hospital officials see little chance that the facility, beloved by many, will be sold, but worry that the unexpected brouhaha could affect how people vote.

Editor’s Column: Bank finds another way to exploit its customer

Saturday was bill paying day but there were no stamps in my wallet or the special box that usually holds them. The post offices were closed, but a small memory popped up: At one time, “Buy Stamps” was seen on the list of choices offered by a bank’s ATM machine.

Editor’s Column: The beginning of the world’s first thawbook

Cookbooks abound on store shelves. Anyone who has ever successfully baked a cake ends up writing a book about it and peddling it on Ellen, Oprah or dozens of other shows on cable. Often they sell thousands which join the millions of other unread cookbooks on the nation’s shelves. The best thing about Kindle and other electronic reading devices is that they can store thousands of books but since nobody else can see the titles, they impress no one. So let’s put an end to the decorative cookbooks and use all that extra kitchen shelf space as guest beds for thin visitors.

Editor’s Column: Seattle Mariners finally elude longtime TV fan

Seattle Mariners base runners seldom elude the tag, but Mariners management has finally managed to elude this fan who for many years watched part of most games on TV and went to Seattle once or twice a summer to see them in real life.

Find a Boeing job in Oak Harbor

Finding a job with Boeing will be easier for islanders who attend a special aerospace workshop at Oak Harbor WorkSource next week. “It comes at a good time with Boeing averaging 100 new hires a week, plus getting the tanker contract,” said Rick Van Cise of WorkSource communications.

Former Island County Commissioner Gordon Koetje.

Former Island County commissioner Gordon Koetje passes away

Former Island County Commissioner Gordon Koetje of Oak Harbor died Wednesday, March 30, at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Koetje held office in the days when Republicans dominated county politics. In 1992, for example, he served on a board that also included Republicans Dick Caldwell, who represented District 1 on South and Central Whidbey; and Dwain Colby, who represented Camano Island and North Whidbey.

Former Island County Commissioner Gordon Koetje.

Editor’s Column: We must be prepared when Whidbey’s disaster arrives

Catastrophes are happening all around us in the “Ring of Fire,” so it seems certain that Whidbey Island is advancing toward the front of the disaster line and islanders should be fully prepared.

Editor’s Column: There’s something about loners and sardines that go together.

I’ve been eating about a can of sardines a month for many, many years. Unlike wine, sardines are not a convivial treat best enjoyed with others.

Editor’s Column: Who’s to blame for February’s late snowstorm

In the spirit of the old True Confessions magazine, I must confess that the last week of snow and ice on Whidbey Island was entirely my fault.

Editor’s Column: Boost Whidbey tourism with Raccoon World

In their never-ending quest to attract more tourists to Whidbey Island, business leaders might consider creating the nation’s first Raccoon Reserve. I can boldly state it would be the first such reserve in the world because my Internet access is down so I can go back to making up facts since there’s no way to check them out.

Editor’s Column: Deer tired of getting the blame for accidents

The Whidbey Island Scapedeer Association is in the works to protect the innocence of our most maligned species. Ask a Washington State Trooper, and he or she will tell you that deer get the blame for almost every traffic accident that occurs, particularly after midnight when few people have a good reason to be driving around unless they just got off the late shift.

Editor’s Column: It’s time for Whidbey Island to protect its rocks

Whidbey Islanders have worked extensively over the years to protect everything, whether it’s theirs or not, but they’ve entirely neglected rocks, which is a huge oversight.

Editor’s Column: This year’s legislative budget process in Olympia

Many people don’t understand the legislative process in Olympia and why it takes months to cut the budget when in private business, necessary budges cuts can be discussed over lunch and the requisite number of people laid off before 5 p.m.

Editor’s Column: What I don’t like about Washington State Ferries

People soon learn to take things for granted, so Islanders seldom give a second thought to the Washington State ferry system.

Senate Transportation chair rips governor’s ferry taxing district proposal

Even before Gov. Chris Gregoire called for a ferry taxing district, Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, declared she doesn't support the idea.

Effective Jan. 1

EDC leader resigns, plans ‘grandma’ role

After 10 years at the helm, Sharon Hart, executive director of the Island County Economic Development Council, is stepping down effective Jan. 1.

Effective Jan. 1
Dan Ollis relaxes next to a picture of the perfect cup of coffee taken on one of his trips to Guatemala.

Island native makes a splash in coffee biz

A curved seating bar, the smell of fresh roasted coffee and various comfortable nooks and crannies from which chatter and laughter emanate tell the visitor this is no longer a bank or jewelry store. It’s Whidbey Coffee’s newest cafe at 980 Pioneer Way in Oak Harbor, adjacent to a drive-through Whidbey Coffee facility that has been a fixture with North Whidbey coffee addicts for years.

Dan Ollis relaxes next to a picture of the perfect cup of coffee taken on one of his trips to Guatemala.