2013 in review: Landslides big and small plague Central Whidbey news




Volunteers examining the future of the Greenbank Farm recommended that the Port of Coupeville explore selling the publicly owned farm. The proposal sparked discussion about the farm’s future, but the port renewed a contract with the farm management group.



• Coupeville High School senior Jai’Lysa Hoskins was honored by the Boys and Girls Club as the Youth of the Year.



• With the addition of the Pole Building at the Island County Fairgrounds, the fair is the first in the state to have all its barns on the Washington State Heritage Barn Registry.



• Whidbey General Hospital installed a new CT machine.



• The Front Street building that previously housed the Mad Crab was purchased by Seattle businessman Thom Kroon.



• Glenda Merwine was appointed to fill a Coupeville School Board seat vacated by Carol Bishop.



• Langley Mayor Larry Kwarsick resigned. He had pleaded guilty the month before to falsifying city documents when he was planning director, but still earned $50 an hour working for Coupeville.



• The Department of Natural Resources ruled that arson caused a fire that preceded the sinking of the Deep Sea crab boat in Penn Cove in 2012.



• Whidbey Island Naval Air Station announced it would start releasing flight scheduled for the Outlying Field near Coupeville. The release of information was abandoned years prior.

• Former lovers came face to face after years apart during a court hearing in a murder case. Peggy Sue Thomas, a former beauty queen, faced a murder charge for her alleged role in the 2003 shooting death of 32-year-old Russel Douglas on South Whidbey. James Huden, her former boyfriend, was convicted of first-degree murder in a high-profile trial in 2012 and was sentenced to 80 years in prison. Thomas later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge under a plea bargain and was sentenced to four years in prison.






• A massive landslide at Ledgewood, the Central Whidbey neighborhood, destroyed one house and left residents of 30 other homes homeless. The disaster made international headlines. Gov. Jay Inslee later visited the site and a fundraiser netted more than $10,000.



• A section of eroding bluff along Northeast Front Street cause part of the sidewalk to crack and had officials looking at how to repair damage and deal with future erosion.



• Under one of several options being considered by the Coupeville Town Council to address staffing woes in the Marshal’s Office, law enforcement services may be contracted out to a neighboring agency. Council approved a contract for consulting services to look at the issue.



• Statistics show that the new ferries for the Coupeville-to-Port-Townsend route are plagued by fewer riders and canceled trips.



A longtime Coupeville artist and educator Roger Purdue was honored for his work helping the Penn Cove Water Festival.



•  In response to public concern, the Washington State Department of Transportation, working with Island Transit and Island County, unveiled plans to alter three intersections on Highway 20 near Outlying Field and Island Transit’s headquarters.



It was just another day of work for Island County Assessor Mary Engle, who saved a mother goat by helping her deliver a baby.



• Bill Hawkins was appointed as the new judge in Island County District Court, which is also the Oak Harbor Municipal Court. Hawkins was formerly the county prosecutor and was briefly the city attorney for Oak Harbor before being fired by Mayor Scott Dudley.




• Festival season kicked off with record numbers attending the annual Mussel Festival.



• Two visiting pre-med students discovered a human jawbone on a beach about 200 yards west of Coupeville Wharf. The remains appeared to be very old and possibly Native American.



• Former Island County Superior Court Judge Richard Pitt passed away March 1 at his home in Langley. He was 85 years old. He was remembered as far and compassionate.



• Island County filed a lawsuit against a Greenbank property owner in an attempt to reclaim a disputed public beach access on Wonn Road. The civil action for ejectment and quiet title, declaratory relief and abatement of a public nuisance is ongoing.



• U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen announced that a $7 million investment in a hangar for P-8A Poseidons at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.




• 3 Sisters Beef opened a shop in the San de Fuca area.



• Whidbey Island residents and business owners raised $10,000 to help victims of the landslide that damaged homes in Ledgewood.



• David Broberg, owner of the Blue Goose Inn on North Main Street in Coupeville has a National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration certified weather station installed at his historic bed and breakfast.



• Ebey’s Forever Fund granted $100,000 to 13 projects in Central Whidbey.



• The Muzzall family, the owners of 3 Sisters Beef, negotiated a conservation easement to preserve 113 acres of farmland located north of Penn Cove.



• Just before leaving his job as county planning director, Bob Pederson ordered Island County Commissioner Kelly Emerson to pay $37,000 she owes to the county in civil fines related to a sunroom and other accessory structures built at her Camano Island home in violation of land-use rules.


• Law-and-justice leaders lobbied Island County commissioners to allow them to ask voters this fall for more than $2.6 million in funding through a levy measure.



• In a 2-1 vote, Island County commissioners killed a curbside recycling program on Earth Day.



• A community-driven funding program that to preserve historic buildings in Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve kicked off its third year with the award of $100,000 from the Ebey’s Forever Fund to 13 different property owners on Central Whidbey.



• Roger Case, 78, announced his resignation as Island County health officer and commissioner for Whidbey General Hospital.




• The Navy announced plans to more than double the number of P-8A Poseidons destined for Whidbey Island Naval Air Station. Instead of the planned 24 planes, the Navy will station 49 of the sub-hunting jets at the NAS Whidbey.



• Greg Lange, owner of Draft Works Horse Logging and Custom Farming, brought his two draft horses up from his Freeland-based farm to plow 7 acres of land located on the edge of Ebey’s Prairie off Fort Casey Road near Coupeville.



• Commissioners for Port of Coupeville approved to extend a lease with the Greenbank Farm Management Group.



• More than 100 volunteers participated in the annual Central Whidbey Hearts and Hammers workday.



• Coupeville Town Council member Larry Cort decided against running for election.



• Officials at Whidbey General Hospital prepared to run a new $50 million bond to pay for a new wing.



• Coupeville Mayor Nancy Conard reports the town’s sales tax revenue is steady.



• Island County commissioners hire David Wechner as the new planning director.



• A command master chief from Whidbey Island Naval Air Station and his wife were plunged into the chilly waters of the Skagit River when a portion of the Interstate 5 bridge collapsed.



• Canoe racers from tribes all over the Pacific Northwest gathered to take part in the annual Penn Cove Water Festival canoe races.




• Coupeville officials inadvertently violated the state Constitution by paying bonuses to town employees over two years, the Washington State Auditor’s Office found.



Coupeville Lions Club held its annual garage sale at the middle school. The event was widely attended and is one of the club’s main fundraisers each year.



• Heni Barnes earned first place in the Senior Individual Documentary division at National History Day in College Park, Md.



Whidbey General Hospital commissioners voted to put a $50-million expansion proposal on the ballot.



• The majority of people attending a public meeting at Coupeville Recreation Hall said they wanted the Navy to close the Outlying Field near the town.




• Mark Priess resigns his position as manager of Ebey’s Landing Historic Reserve. Lisbeth Cort was named acting manager in his place.



• Island County Commissioner Kelly Emerson and her husband settled one part of a three-year dispute with the county planning department by agreeing to pay $5,000 in fines, which was a fraction of the $37,000 fine levied against them for building code and critical areas violations.



• County commissioners Helen Price Johnson and Jill Johnson voted to revoke Commissioner Kelly Emerson’s status as chairperson after she sent out special-meeting notices against the will of the board majority.



• Members of Coupeville United Methodist Church served more than 200 pounds of strawberries during the annual Strawberry Social.



Coupeville Liquor Store announced its closing at the end of the summer.



• A Central Whidbey man was arrested after leading deputies on a slow-speed chase down State Highway 20 on a stolen John Deere farm tractor.



Citizens of the Ebey’s Reserve filed a lawsuit against Whidbey Island Naval Air Station in federal court, alleging that the Navy failed to meet requirements outlined in the National Environmental Protection Act in regard to practice at the Outlying Field in Central Whidbey. The group asked a federal judge to require an  in-depth review, known as an environmental impact statement; the Navy later announced it would conduct an EIS and halt practices at OLF for the year.



• Joseph Itaya, a 1996 graduate of South Whidbey High School, announced plans to film his first feature film on Whidbey Island. His plans for filming fell through, but he is still hoping for the future.




• Coupeville resident Jim Sebastian won $440,000 playing Washington’s Lottery Hit 5 game. The winning ticket was purchased at Coupeville Country Store.



• Greenbank Farm held its annual Loganberry Festival, which featured pie eating contests, live music, food and more.



• Island County Commissioner Jill Johnson pushed officials to drop plans for a law-and-justice ballot measure, which would have increased property taxes to increase funding for the sheriff’s office, the prosecutor’s office and the courts.



• Artist and vendors filled the streets of downtown Coupeville for the 49th annual Coupeville Arts and Crafts Festival. All proceeds from the festival go back into the community each year in the form of grants to other community organizations.



• Students participating in the University of Oregon’s Pacific Northwest Field School visited Ebey’s Landing last week to install a cedar shake roof on the Comstock Barn, which is located off Engle Road south of Coupeville.



• Karla Jacks, a Camano Island resident, announced she will run for the county commissioner seat currently occupied by Kelly Emerson.




• An episode of “Shut Up and Drive” was filmed in Ebey’s Landing as part of the Fox Sports 1 TV show. The segment featured race car drivers racing around a sharp corner on Hill Road.



• Fewer students means fewer funds for Coupeville Schools. The district braces for an estimated $124,000 less in its 2013-2014 budget.



• The guild for sheriff’s deputies claimed county officials don’t understand their budget and demands that the county retain an outside budget expert. The county declines.



The Navy announces it will conduct an Environmental Impact Statement for Outlying Field and Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.



Port of Coupeville hires new director Tim McDonald, who began in December.



• Gifts of the Heart food bank announced a new program providing weekly food supplies to needy students at Coupeville Elementary.




• The shutdown of the federal government furloughed employees at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.



• Harvest Fest raises $10,000 for Gifts of the Heart food bank with its annual relay race.



Hundreds of people filled Front Street for the annual Halloween Torchlight Parade.



• Coupeville School Board discusses renewing two levies in early 2014, including a technology levy.



• A jury found 63-year-old Robert “Al” Baker of Greenbank guilty of murdering his wife, Kathie Baker, in June of 2012.



• Whidbey Island Bank announced a merger with Olympia-based Heritage Financial Corporation.




• Voters approved a $50 million bond for Whidbey General Hospital’s new expansion.



• Pat Powell was elected to serve on Coupeville Town Council in place of Larry Cort, who did not seek reelection. Vanessa Matros, Chris Chan, Glenda Merwine and Kathleen Anderson all ran uncontested for Coupeville School Board. Mike Diamanti and Bill Larsen were elected to the Port of Coupeville.



Downtown Coupeville became a wireless hotspot with the help of the Coupeville Historic Waterfront Association. The organization headed a project to make wifi access available in the downtown cooridor.



• Citizens of Ebey’s Reserve held a meeting with experts to discuss the health effects of jet noise.




• The Coupeville Arts and Craft Festival Association awarded $30,000 in grants to local organizations.



• Town of Coupeville approved a $5.1 million budget for 2014.



Lyla and Phil Snover were the 2013 Greening of Coupeville parade grand marshals.



• Coupeville School District got a new phone system and with it, new phone numbers.



• The Navy announced it will limit the number of practice touch-and-goes at the Outlying Field.



• Local historian Roger Sherman was honored by the Island County Historical Society for his years of service.



• Coupeville Rec Hall will get a new heating system after the existing furnace dies.


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