Benye Weber worked through many changes during her 12 years serving on the Port of Coupeville’s publicly elected board.
When she was elected as commissioner, the Port of Coupeville operated a bit more informally. It didn’t have regular office hours, nobody manned the phones and its records were stored at the home of the then-port consultant.
“We needed a director. We didn’t need a consultant,” Weber said in an interview.
Jim Patton, who recently completed his tenure as port executive director, was hired in 2004.
During her tenure as commissioner, she tried to find grant money to help pay for maintenance of the ports facilities. Armed with a 25-year-old comprehensive plan to make a case for improvements, the results weren’t good.
“That’s when I was laughed out of the room in Olympia,” Weber said.
In the coming years, port officials worked with the community to outline visions for the port’s facilities. The commissioners eventually approved a new comprehensive plan for the Port of Coupeville and a master site plan for the Greenbank Farm.
She also highlighted the establishment of a small farmer training center at the farm and working with the Ebey’s Forever Fund to secure funding that paid for repairs of the south wall at the Coupeville Wharf.
Recently the port secured a conservation easement for the Greenbank Farm that protects the recreational, agriculture and environmentally sensitive land.
“I feel good about the results and I feel good about the leadership left there,” Weber said.
Marshall Bronson, president of Port of Coupeville board of commissioners, said Weber helped shepherd the Greenbank Farm projects.
She did have disagreements with her fellow commissioners. Most recently she voted against a proposal extending by more than one year the lease the port had with the Greenbank Farm Management Group. She voted against it because she said she wanted to be faithful to the original agreement.
Weber moved to Whidbey Island in 1965 and her children graduated from Coupeville schools. She has also been active with the Trust Board of Ebey’s Landing and she is one of the organizers for the Penn Cove Water Festival. She has been a member of the Island County Civil Service Commission and volunteered for the Coupeville Arts and Crafts Festival.
She is still planning to be involved with the Port of Coupeville and she will continue to attend the commissioners’ monthly meetings.
Weber said she wants to “bird dog” some things to make sure they come to fruition, like the funding to replace the fuel floats at the end of the Coupeville Wharf.
She also wants to see port officials apply for the county’s rural development fund to help pay for the redesign of the sewer system at Greenbank Farm.
“I’m real pleased with the state of the port right now,” Weber said.