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A glimpse at 2012

One of Central Whidbey’s top stories of 2012 was the fire and sinking of the Deep Sea, a derelict crabbing boat, in Penn Cove in May. The effects of the incident were ongoing, costing millions of dollars to clean up as well as the halt of recreational and commercial shellfish harvesting. - 2012 File Photo
One of Central Whidbey’s top stories of 2012 was the fire and sinking of the Deep Sea, a derelict crabbing boat, in Penn Cove in May. The effects of the incident were ongoing, costing millions of dollars to clean up as well as the halt of recreational and commercial shellfish harvesting.
— image credit: 2012 File Photo

January

State officials reject a request to allow paragliding in Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve.

The Port of South Whidbey approves an AT&T cell tower in Clinton.

Penn Cove Water Festival gears toward native traditions. The annual festival works to focus on the island’s native culture.

New baby orca J48 is spotted near the Kingston-Edmonds ferry route in Possession Sound by Northwest Fisheries Science Center scientists. The calf was with its mother, J16, and sister, J42, born in 2007. The new baby is J16’s fifth calf since her first, J26, was born in 1991. Three orca calves were born last year, bringing the Southern Resident population up to 89.

Former Coupeville resident Shea Saenger, 60, must make $2.16 million in restitution for mail fraud involving an elderly Alzheimer’s patient from Ellensburg. She also must serve 46 months in prison and three years of supervised release.

An old, dilapidated crab-fishing boat anchored in Penn Cove raises concerns that the vessel may have been abandoned and could put the nearby mussel farm at risk.

Whidbey Island businesses see a drop in sales as a result of the big snowstorm that kept many people stuck at home. Many posted “closed” signs during the worst of the weather, but a few remained open despite the heavy precipitation.

 

February

Gifts from the Heart food bank celebrates 10 years of providing food to families in Central Whidbey.

Former Coupeville dermatologist Donald Russell Johnson dies after a high-speed car chase with police near Deception Pass. With his death, Johnson left debt and doubt in the community.

Coupeville schools benefit from a technology grant with new equipment and tools aimed to improve education.

Coupeville history is preserved with a new book, “Images of America: Coupeville,” compiled by locals Judy Lynn and Kay Foss.

March

The Tour de Whidbey bike ride is canceled after organizers couldn’t pull it off. The annual event raises money and public awareness for the Whidbey General Hospital Foundation.

Penn Cove MusselFest draws a big crowd in Coupeville. An estimated 5,000 people attend the annual event.

Blue Fox Drive-In starts efforts to raise thousands of dollars needed to convert to digital. The year-long effort raised a large portion of the funds needed. The new digital equipment is to be installed during the business’ winter closure.

April

Island County rejects a golf-cart zone law that allows golf carts and automobiles to co-mingle in certain areas.

Island Transit breaks ground on its new facility near Parker Road south of Coupeville.

May

Coupeville real estate agents see renewed optimism from home buyers. Property showings have increased since the 2008 downturn in the economy and people feel prices won’t drop much more.

Island County Commissioner Kelly Emerson continues her battle with the county about permit violations related to a home construction project. Attorneys continue to battle over court costs.

Coupeville student athlete Breeanna Messner helps raise money to battle leukemia by climbing 69 floors to the top of the Columbia Tower in Seattle.

Occupy Your Bike movement is established by a group of Whidbey bike lovers.

Camp Casey Conference Center gets a $1.9 million grant to protect a parcel of 60 acres of land from development.

Penn Cove shellfish harvesting is closed following the burning and sinking of the Deep Sea, a 128-foot derelict crabbing vessel. The closure affects recreational and commercial harvesting.

June

Cleanup of the Deep Sea disaster comes to an end after oil-spill response efforts reach $2.5 million.

Coupeville pertussis outbreak grows with more than 10 reported illnesses.

Western tent caterpillars invade Whidbey, eating up plants at local homes.

Shellfish harvest re-opens in most of Penn Cove following the Deap Sea cleanup.

Port of Coupeville seeks easement along Wonn Road at Greenbank Farm. The easement was approved in late 2012.

July

Karen Koschak starts as interim superintendent for Coupeville School District.

State Health Department considers re-opening shellfish harvesting in Holmes Harbor. Harvesting was originally closed in 2006 due to high bacteria counts.

Residents ask Island County commissioners to look at changing county shooting regulations after concerns of gunfire in neighborhoods.

A solar pea patch grows at Greenbank Farm. The project will triple its current size and cover one acre of land.

Fog and the recent heavy rains wreak havoc on the alfalfa and grass and put a significant dent in its market value to family farms in the heart of Ebey’s Prairie.

August

Researchers from the Central Puget Sound Marine Mammal Stranding Network salvage whale bones from a gray whale recovered off a North Whidbey beach earlier in the year. The body was submerged beneath a dock to allow marine life to remove flesh. The skeleton was processed to be sent to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Coupeville Town Council considers a new ordinance that aims to protect historic structures by requiring owners to maintain the structures to prevent deterioration.

Town council discusses ending park impact fees, which are used to create and maintain open spaces for Coupeville residents. Town Planner Larry Kwarsick was looking at current space and the town’s goal. At the time, the fund had $58,000, which could be used for a variety of outdoor projects, including a new viewing deck on Front Street.

A Navy request for public comment on an environmental assessment of the relocation of EA-18G Growler jets to the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station draws the ire of some Coupeville neighbors who worry the noise could become worse or more frequent.

A California company that wants to install solar panels at Greenbank Farm needs more investors so it can qualify for a renewable-energy incentive from the state of Washington. The company was seeking Puget Sound Energy customers to sign up as investors in order to complete the project.

Well-known Coupeville pastor Garrett Arnold breaks his back in a 25-foot fall down a steep embankment in the Ledgewood neighborhood. Arnold was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center and Hospital in Seattle. Friends, family and the community rallied to raise money for Arnold and his family. He is now home with his family, though bound to a wheelchair.

Coupeville joins the growing list of tourist destinations that are viewable online through the Google Maps Street View Partner Program. A Google crew will come to the historic waterfront town and film the streets from a specially outfitted car or trike.

Town of Coupeville drafts its own road map for handling a disaster. It will provide a framework for preparing for, responding to and recovering from emergencies. The plan will help ensure that the town’s elected officials and employees in leadership positions — as well as trained volunteers — know who to call, where to go and what to do.

Researchers with the Central Puget Sound Marine Mammal Stranding Network investigate a rare six-gill shark that washed ashore on a beach at Admirals Cove. The shark was damaged by children, who jammed a piece of driftwood into its mouth.

September

Central Whidbey Chamber of Commerce changes its name back to Coupeville Chamber of Commerce.

Sarah Richards, owner and founder of Lavender Wind Farm, expands her operation to include a manufacturing plant and commercial kitchen in downtown Coupeville, at the corner of N.W. Coveland and N.W. Alexander streets. Richards purchased the Cushman family home, a Craftsman-style wood-frame house built in 1916, to house her commercial kitchen, manufacturing operation and retail shop. The house has been used for various purposes over the years, including housing a gift shop.

Two separate community fundraisers raises more than $25,000 for injured Coupeville pastor Garrett Arnold.

Coupeville Library celebrates 50 years with the Sno-Isle Library system.

Greenbank Farm celebrates 15th birthday as a publicly owned property.

A state expert has reviewed Island County Commissioner Kelly Emerson’s allegations that the board has run afoul of open public meeting laws and believes further investigation is warranted.

Coupeville Marshals Office looks at reorganizing after several deputies leave the department. With 75 percent of the department leaving the office, the town may lose 24-hour police coverage.

Nichols Brothers Boat Builders lands a $17 million contract to work on a 144-car state ferry.

Coupeville School Board has second thoughts about purchasing iPads for board members.

October

Penn Cove Shellfish owner Ian Jefferds is cautiously optimistic his business won’t be too impacted by the Deep Sea disaster that happened in May.

Esteban Guerro, 19, is sentenced to six months in jail for walking around Coupeville in search of his mother’s boyfriend with a sawed-off shotgun in his backpack.

Central Whidbey Lions Club members volunteer time and talent to help preserve the Alexander Blockhouse at the Island County Historical Society and Museum. The museum was awarded a matching grant from the Ebey’s Forever Fund for the restoration project.

Town of Coupeville settles a lawsuit with New Cingular Wireless PCS, LLC. The town is one of more than 100 municipalities in Washington to be sued by the mobile Internet service provider. The settlement provides Cingular Wireless, formerly AT&T Mobility, with a credit of about $5,300 against its future local utility taxes.

Coupeville accountant Georgia Gardner resigns as a volunteer with the Port of Coupeville, citing concerns about the Greenbank Farm Management Group’s financial statements. The Port of Coupeville is currently investigating concerns.

November

Town of Coupeville purchases land for future development of a road connecting Broadway to North Main, though the project is 20 to 30 years out.

Coupeville School Board creates a search committee to find the district’s next superintendent.

Jill Johnson unseats Island County Commissioner Angie Homola in the Nov. 6 election. Incumbent commissioner Helen Price Johnson keeps her seat over challenger Jeff Lauderdale; Democrat Mary Margaret Haugen loses her state Senate seat to challenger Barbara Bailey, a Republican.

Flashing speed-limit signs are activated north and south of Coupeville on Highway 20. The Washington State Department of Transportation installed the signs in an effort to mitigate safety on the road.

The issue of public beach access is a hot topic as Island County officials look to update the county’s Shoreline Master Plan.

Planning to move to Florida, Mosquito Fleet Chili owners Chris and Rita Tomayko sell the business to The Cove Thai Cuisine owners Janjira Rattanasint and Aroon Saivaree.

Coupeville School Board member Carol Bishop resigns from her position.

Carol Thrailkill is named the first Greening of Coupeville parade grand marshal.

Town of Coupeville approves contract to start curbside recycling.

December

An online petition to close Coupeville Outlying Field quickly garners hundreds of signatures throughout Whidbey Island and other areas. Officials meet to discuss resident concerns.

Coupeville Mayor Nancy Conard performs 10 same-sex marriage ceremonies, including that of Grethe Cammermeyer and Diane Divelbess, on the first day it became legal in Washington state.

High tide and strong winds wreak havoc on Whidbey’s coastline. Hill Road is closed after waves left driftwood littering the shore and the Bon Air’s bulkhead was severely damaged.

Langley Mayor Larry Kwarsick, who also serves as Coupeville’s planner, resigns his position with the town. Kwarsick pleaded guilty to falsifying documents and was sentenced to 15 days in jail.

 

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