The year 2007 won’t go down as a great one in Whidbey Island’s history.
Oak Harbor’s city government spent the year immersed in controversy, ranging from a 14 percent utility rate increase to the Dillard’s Addition sewer fiasco and the continuing controversy over how to implement the Windjammer Plan for downtown.
Island County’s government helped make a big property acquisition, but it wasn’t for a valuable wetland, beach access or a public park area. It was for an empty lot along the highway that the county and city want to keep empty, or virtually so, to avoid encroaching on the Navy base. A practical move, perhaps, but not inspiring to those who think of the needs of future generations.
Some of the biggest county news was made by departures: Commissioner Mike Shelton and Auditor Suzanne Sinclair, both of whom left for greener pastures elsewhere. Late in the year State Rep. Chris Strow joined the exodus from elective office, also for personal reasons.
Whidbey Island Naval Air Station continued to be a vital part of the community, but it was bad news that brought the mainland media to the base. Memorial services were held for six members of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit 11 who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq.
In Coupeville, Whidbey Island’s last surviving dairy farm gave up when 437 cows from Wilbur Bishop’s farm were shipped to dryer pastures in Idaho. And the town of Coupeville suffered financially when the state abruptly halted vehicle ferry service between Keystone and Port Townsend. In addition, Whidbey Island Bank, which was founded in Coupeville, sold out to a larger Everett bank.
Further south, Nichols Brothers Boat Builders in Freeland announced it was bankrupt and laid off most of its workforce.
It wasn’t a year of entirely bad news. Coupeville opened its new high school, Oak Harbor opened its new football stadium, and the populace as a whole seemed to prosper.
But we can do better simply by thinking more of the future than the present when making important decisions. Here’s to 2008 — may it be a very good year.