Dan Richman

County planning chief resigns suddenly, stuns colleagues

County planning director Dave Wechner, who held that job for nearly two and half years, suddenly resigned his position at around noon Monday. In response to a reporter's phone call minutes earlier asking whether rumors of his imminent departure were true, he emailed, "Yes, the county and I are parting ways. I hope to be walking out the door for the last time in the next few minutes."

 

State auditor stings Island County Council of Governments

The Washington State Auditor’s Office last week chided the Island County Council of Governments for failures to comply with state law.

 

Road destroyed by Ledgewood landslide drops eight feet

A short stretch of Driftwood Way, the same road that was cut in half two years ago by one of the largest landslides in Whidbey’s recorded history, broke apart and slid about eight feet downhill on Monday night, isolating four houses at the northern end of the road.

 

Wonn Road settlement offer finds commissioner support

Island County’s commissioners are far apart on whether to accept an offer that could end litigation over a stone wall blocking public beach access at the east end of Coupeville’s Wonn Road.

Logging on Whidbey: the clear-cut truth

They’re big, they’re shockingly ugly, and you probably can’t do a thing about them. They’re clear-cuts, the elimination of every tree on a piece of property. Under current state and county law, clear-cuts are often permissible, and they mar the landscape from south to north on Whidbey Island — or exemplify an efficient and ecologically sound timber-harvesting method, depending on your point of view. Both may be true.

Environmental issues put on hold until new comprehensive plan

Island County wants to address some contentious environmental-protection issues when it releases its new comprehensive plan by June 1, 2016, and not before, according to a Monday filing with the state’s Growth Management Hearings Board.

Increased Island County budget includes more money for law enforcement

Driven partly by an improved real estate market, Island County’s 2016 preliminary budget will increase by 8 percent in 2016, to $83.2 million, according to figures slated for a public hearing Dec. 7.

Island County awards tourism money

Coupeville’s chamber of commerce scored the lion’s share of the county’s basic 2 percent hotel-motel tax revenues for 2016, garnering $26,450 for use at its visitor center, according to a document approved Tuesday by the Board of Island County Commissioners.

Island County Lodging Tax committee rules become more transparent

The county's Lodging Tax Advisory Committee, a volunteer group charged with recommending who gets hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in tax dollars, will face new restrictions and procedures in this year’s deliberations. Those seeking the money, including chambers of commerce, foundations and arts organizations, will also be affected by the changes. “The process is going to be more transparent and predictable,” Island County Commissioner Helen Price Johnson said. “There will be a more level playing field for the applicants.”

Beach Watchers set for split from Washington State University

On Jan. 1, the Island County Beach Watchers will part ways with long-time administrator Washington State University and become an independent, non-profit organization with a new name: Sound Water Stewards of Island County.

State regulators break precedent with OK of Island County net pen ban

Washington’s Department of Ecology is willing to let Island County ban fish farming from its waters, but only temporarily.

Oak Harbor Haggen among stores on auction block

Oak Harbor’s Haggen store is among the 33 “core” locations that the Bellingham-based grocery chain won court approval last week to try selling as part of its bankruptcy. Though the auction could spell the end of Haggen as a grocery company, it does not necessarily dictate the Oak Harbor store’s closure and the possible loss of 85-plus jobs, or even the end of the Haggen name on grocery stores, one expert said.

New law helps small distilleries, owners say

A state law that went into effect last month will ease the way for Whidbey Island’s distilleries, their owners said.

Island-wide Thrift Shop Tour set for Friday, Saturday

Prices will drop as much as 25 percent storewide at some of the 10 non-profit Whidbey Island stores participating in this year’s Thrift Shop Tour, said Shawn Nowlin, community outreach coordinator for Good Cheer Food Bank and Thrift Stores. Other stores will deeply discount selected items during the event, to be held Sept. 18-19.

Growth Management Hearings Board tells Island County to hurry up, comply

A state judicial body last week gave Island County until Nov. 10 to say how and when it will comply with a decision the body issued this summer. But two Island County Commissioners insisted the county will not be pushed.

Compliance with Hearings Board order easier on some issues than others

Three of the seven environmental-protection issues in which a quasi-judicial board found Island County lacking can be resolved with minimal effort, while four others require more research, the county’s principal planner said in a memo earlier this month.

Island County commissioners agree to hire more outside counsel

Island County commissioners on Tuesday hired the Seattle law firm of Short, Cressman & Burgess to provide legal counsel, advice and litigation services. The firm will help the commissioners navigate the unusual litigation surrounding their decision to hire an outside land-use attorney. Prosecutor Greg Banks last month brought a lawsuit against the attorney, Susan Drummond, in Island County Superior Court, claiming that the county’s hiring of her was unconstitutional and a waste of tax dollars.

Firefighters, nurses ferment good times at Rain Shadow Cellars

Wines that taste the same year after year? That’s not what the foursome who own Rain Shadow Cellars are all about, they said during a recent visit.

FEMA maps may be wrong, Island County says

Island County has given the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, the first evidence that the agency erred when it revised flood-risk maps this summer, Hiller West, director of current-use planning and community development, told the county commissioners during a work session Wednesday.

IBA seeks speedy end to beach wall dispute

Citing newly discovered evidence, one party litigation against a Coupeville couple who are blocking a Greenbank public beach access with a wall told the Skagit County Superior Court May 17 that the case’s “facts are undisputed and the law is clear,” urging the court to decide the matter without a trial.