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Patience is waning within South Whidbey Fire/EMS’s leadership ranks over continual permitting delays concerning the district’s planned new headquarters in Bayview. Officials say months have turned into years, and complaints about the sluggish process has rarely produced results. Currently, the district has been waiting since November for what they believe is a rather simple short plat amendment, which is one of the final boxes that need to be checked before the South Whidbey can begin traversing the building permit process.
Making good on its promise to bolster back up volunteers with paid day staff, South Whidbey Fire/EMS has hired three new firefighters. The new additions will start July 11 Two of the hires, Bill Piepenbrink and Alex McMahon, were selected from the district’s existing volunteer ranks. The district also hired Travis Zimmerman, who lives in West Seattle and has been working as a full-time paramedic in Hanford. He will serve at South Whidbey in a lieutenant position.
School is out, the sun is shining and summer is officially here. While the adults still have to work the same schedules, the little ones need to be sent to summer camp where they can be kids and learn from the South End’s many childhood educators. South Whidbey is home to a range of summer camps that are available throughout the season and offer something different from program to program.
With the reverberating metallic sound of the rin gong, or singing bowl, meditation at Tahoma One Drop Zen Monastery in Freeland has begun. For the next two hours, those in the meditation hall will sit still, exhale and refresh their minds. Tahoma has been a place for meditation and practicing Zen Buddhism for twenty years, a milestone the monastery will be celebrating as they look forward to many more.
The Organic Farm School has found a new home in the Maxwelton Valley, and it’s now accepting applications for enrollment.
Clinton has a new community gathering space, and it involves one of South Whidbey’s favorite hobbies: gardening. Pastor Mikkel Hustad of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church had a vision to bring together the Clinton community by giving the downtown area the community garden it never had. Hustad and his church recently decided to convert a portion of the church’s land into a multi-purpose community garden. The 50-by-40-foot patch was designed not only as a way for St. Peter’s to grow food for Good Cheer Food Bank and those in need, but also for Clinton residents to grow their own produce for self-sufficiency.
Linda Good hands children an instrument when they’re young.
Father Rick Spicer of Langley’s Saint Hubert Catholic Church loves to walk. Walking is something he enjoys so much he makes an effort to stroll through town on a daily basis. His usual circuit is up and down Second and First streets, making pitstops at favorites like Good Cheer Thrift Store and The Star Store. The library is the usual turning point where he heads back towards the church.
With winds swirling left and right on Lone Lake, sailors were doing their best to use their sails to harness the erratic gusts, in order to be the first boat in their class to cross the finish line. Despite the patchy wind, which usually separates competitors, the boats raced neck and neck to the finish line and produced some photo finishes. The race was the first ever Whidbey Cup Regatta held this past Saturday and Sunday afternoon by the South Whidbey Yacht Club. Nineteen boats in total raced for at least one day, with a few competitors dropping out on the second day for a variety of reasons. The tricky wind conditions made a day’s-worth of sailing more strenuous, and was a factor behind the smaller attendance on Sunday, Regatta Chairman Bill Brown said.
The participants of the “mixxed fit” classes at Whidbey Flex Studio can make walls shake. Loud cheers and stomping feet fill the room over raging hip-hop and electronic beats as owner and instructor Christine Lincks enthusiastically leads groups of people through quick and intense pops, locks and thrusts, all while smiles are etched on the faces on every person in the room. This class is the result of the fitness studio’s members pooling funds together in order to help Lincks purchase the business. Previously named Island Time Fitness, the Ken’s Corner business was on the verge of death when it went up for sale in early May.
The Farmhouse Bed & Breakfast is more than the name entails. While the Clinton homestead is located on a large, rural lot that overlooks Useless Bay and offers quaint rooms as vacation rentals, a walk to the backyard shows a different side to homeowners Gary and Janie Gabelein.
State grant money has paired a University of Washington-based suicide prevention program with Island County Public Health in an attempt to raise awareness about suicide and depression in Island County.
Swedish Medical Center patients suffering from multiple sclerosis began a therapeutic horseback riding program in Greenbank on Thursday. The first day went smoothly, and the initial results were powerful. There were poignant moments for patient Maria Peccorini, whose multiple sclerosis has limited her mobility and caused a loss of feeling in her lower body. She was excited yet anxious about riding since one of her main conditions is multiple sclerosis fatigue. Yet the best moment was saved for last, as she felt a sensation in her hips that she hadn’t felt in some time. “I haven’t felt my hips in decades!” Peccorini said. “I have my hips back! When you haven’t felt your hips in decades and you suddenly do, it’s amazing. I can’t really describe it.”
With the smacking of a mallet against the wooden bars, the party has begun. The sound emanating from the marimba vibrates through the body, causing the people in the room to shuffle with the beat.
The Whidbey Open Water Swimmers are a bold bunch. Rain or shine, summer or winter, 20 or so regulars plunge into Puget Sound. At a minimum, they do it once week — sometimes it’s daily. Yet, tough as they are to willing to submerge themselves in water that can dip into the low 40s, there is a group of five ladies who are the craziest of the group. According to the swimmers, Teresa Wiley-Forsyth, Megan Scudder, Sarah Manchester, Marni Zimmerman and Danielle Rideout are the most ardent swimmers and cheerleaders of the group. It can be expected that they will be out on the water facing the elements in December or January, while others may not be as open to the idea of a wintertime swim.
Runners, dog owners, sunshine and excessive amounts of drool were out in full force Monday morning for the fourth annual Pawz by the Sea 5K Run/Walk in Langley.
In an area that many believe is in its economic death-throes, one new business is on the verge of celebrating its one year anniversary. Meet MAKE Whidbey Market, a small-town shop nestled between Cozy’s Roadhouse and Cadée Distillery in the heart of downtown Clinton. According to owner Janae Cameron, the business didn’t just survive the tricky first year, it’s growing. In fact, she’s reporting increased sales for the past two months as a result of adding a wider variety of products to their storefront. And she’s not an isolated success story. Sixteen new businesses have come to town in the past 18 months, and another — a noodle bar — is slated to open this summer. So if Clinton is supposed to be dead, what gives?
With a flutter of his baton, Jerry Mader signals to his pupils that the time has come to belt it out.
Whidbey Children’s Theater Executive Director Cait Cassée is stepping down from her role after four years at the helm of the Langley-based non-profit organization.
Walking into Freeland Art Studios feels starkly different from other art studios or chic gallery spaces. The roar of the industrial-calibre masonry saw and the sound of hammers hacking away at a chiseled sculpture-to-be give the studio an industrial aura upon entry. Inside, the process of creation is happening, and it’s happening all the time. The public will have the opportunity to view and purchase the latest works out of Freeland Art Studios during its sixth annual open house from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 4. A plethora of artistic styles and media will be on display at the 7,000-square-foot complex, ranging from stone sculpting and cast glass to resin art. Refreshments and live music will be provided, and artist demonstrations held throughout the afternoon. Admission is free.
Nearly 100 people and Island County government officials gathered at the South Whidbey High School commons on May 19 to address property crime issues facing the South End. Organized by the Island County Sheriff’s Office, the meeting began as a calm informational session on new resources available to the public and what residents can do to secure their possessions, but became a heated and open discussion once questions started rolling in from community members.
Clinton resident Dale Kerslake and her timid 4-year-old poodle, Keiko, anxiously step up to the starting line as they await the signal to search. Keiko makes no attempt to interact with people nearby, instead cowering by Kerslake’s leg. But when the signal is given, Keiko suddenly leaps into action to lead her owner through the course, confidently sniffing her way through every nook and cranny. The game is nose work, a fast-growing dog sport that teaches owners to develop their canine’s natural scenting ability. Individual pups are tasked with sniffing out scents left in designated areas by a nose work instructor, with owners often unaware of the scents’ locations at the higher skill levels.
Whidbey Island fire district’s volunteer emergency medical technician numbers are about to swell. The newest batch of trainees have all passed the National Registry Examination and are on the verge of becoming certified medical responders for their respective fire districts. While all 16 who took the exam passed, two more trainees are scheduled to take the test next week.
Sitting atop the saddle 10 feet off the ground is a powerful feeling. Regardless of the reason, be it the lofty heights, the sensation of being top dog or simply being perched on a towering horse is empowering. The sensation doesn’t exclude the disabled, either. Riders of all kinds, from internationally recognized dressage riders to the physically impaired have opportunities to ride right here on South Whidbey as riding season is in full swing.
The water is tranquil in the Langley Marina at 8 a.m. The morning haze is still burning off and the air is crowded with the songs of a number of bird species. With each stroke of the paddle, the kayak distances itself from the shore as the senses are overloaded with the sounds and smells of Puget Sound. An eagle soars above, and sea lions pop their heads out of the water nearby. Life could be worse. This is what late spring and summer is like off Whidbey’s shoreline. One way to enjoy the picturesque nature of Whidbey Island is via kayak, and Whidbey Island Kayaking offers rentals and tours.
The Exxon Valdez oil spill will be forever burned into the memories of many. With large amounts of oil constantly moving through Puget Sound, the prospect of a similar catastrophe in our waters is a frightening possibility.
Ryan’s House for Youth has teamed up with Glass Alley Cafe chef Tom French to offer a pathway to culinary careers for at-risk and homeless youth.
While the boys are being boys by running in circles, laughing hysterically and occasionally stopping in their tracks to watch their daily dose of cartoons, mom looks on with a smile. Even as the wilder boy, 9 year-old Liam, wields a boomerang seemingly out of nowhere, mom giggles. It’s fun having boys. As crazy as it can be, it’s fun, according to Johnna Dow, the mother of 11 year-old Bugsy and 9 year-old Liam. “It’s important to spend time with the boys,” Dow said. “They grow too fast!”
Greenbank resident Earl Overstreet is the recipient of the 2016 8(a) Graduate Award of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration. Awarded to the highest achieving graduates of the Business Development Program, an assistance program for small disadvantaged businesses, Overstreet was chosen due to the overall successes of his business, Bellevue-based IT company General Microsystems Inc.
It’s 7:45 a.m. on a Saturday and it isn’t too early for the South Whidbey High School cafeteria to buzz with the cheerful voices of 350 people of all ages, genders and backgrounds.
Twenty years ago, the people behind the genesis of the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts (WICA) could never have imagined the organization’s success over the years. Yet two decades later, WICA remains the creative hub of the South Whidbey community and a place that performing artists of all kinds call home. In celebration of WICA’s 20th birthday, the multi-use arts center is inviting the South Whidbey community to an open house at 6 p.m. on May 12, followed by a two-night variety show featuring acts from over the years. The shows will be hosted on May 13 and May 14.
Spring is a savory time of year. The bloom is in full and the weather is warming up as the sun grows less and less shy, and with the rays come new flavors from our very own backyards. The annual Savor Spring Food, Wine & Spirits Tour is an opportunity to sample the distillery’s best spirits and some of the best bounty South Whidbey has to offer. Put on by Whidbey Island Vintners and Distillers Association since 2010, the self-guided tour takes guests on a trip through four wineries and Whidbey Island Distillery for a day of tasting and food pairing. Pairings are done by Whidbey restaurants mostly on the South End, but Mile Post 19 Farm in Coupeville will also be featured. The tour is from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days
As she stands with her hummingbird hat perched on her head and binoculars firmly in hand, Frances Wood patiently awaits the flutter of wings or the tune of a bird’s song. It’s an indicator that she’s found what she is looking for.
Two historic log cabins at the Island County fairgrounds are getting a new lease on life.
The Choochokam Arts Festival’s proposed move from downtown Langley to Community Park got its final OK this week. South Whidbey Parks and Recreation commissioners unanimously approved the event’s permit application during the board’s regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, April 20. The marathon gathering lasted nearly three hours, with about half the time focused solely on Choochokam; nearly a dozen community members attended to voice their objections. Celia Black, president of Choochokam Arts Foundation board of directors and Gwen Jones, vice president of the Choochokam Arts Foundation board, were also in attendance.
When Gina Marie Mammano walks into a room, the energy levels seem to rise. The Freeland native’s smile and ever-present positivity rubs off on those around her, and her body of work has a similar impact on readers and listeners alike. Her newest piece is no different. Mammano’s new book, “Camino Divina — Walking the Divine Way: A Book of Moving Meditations with Likely and Unlikely Saints,” takes walks from multiple trails, including paths across Whidbey Island, and pairs them with mental exercises that encourage self-discovery. The walks are inspired by the ancient spiritual practices of lectio divina, or divine reading, and walking meditation.
South Whidbey’s second recreational marijuana retailer will open its doors to the public today. The store, named Island Herb, is located in Freeland at 5565 Vanbarr Place, Unit F. Doors open at 11 a.m. Island Herb is owned by a veteran of the South Whidbey marijuana business scene, Lucas Jushinski. He owns Island Alternative Medicine in Freeland, which was the first medical marijuana dispensary to open on Whidbey Island back in 2012. The old storefront previously used by Island Alternative Medicine is where Island Herb is located.
Critters, children and people of all ages, shapes and sizes gathered on Saturday, April 16, to celebrate the arrival of the gray whales that have visited South Whidbey shores for the past 25 years.
In 2009, Elea Acheson hopped on her trusty 20-year-old mountain bike, “Old Blue,” and hit the road. She had $3,000 in her pocket and one goal: to get lost and not be found. She was gone for two months. Seven years later, the Freeland woman is eyeing Old Blue again, a mountain bike modified for the road, and hit the trail again. She’s about to embark on a 12,000 mile cross-country bike tour that circles the entire country in a clockwise manner.
As spring brings warmer weather to Whidbey Island, it brings with it a wide array of new tastes for our dinner plates that come straight from South Whidbey’s many farms. Some of the seasonal produce is more popular than others, ranging from rhubarb to bokchoy to the often maligned kale, but it’s all delicious to Annie Jesperson, the cheerful and young co-owner of Freeland’s Deep Harvest Farm. And she’s going to demonstrate how to cook it fresh from the garden at a presentation this month.
Hoping to win favor and potentially future state funding, South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District officials gave two state lawmakers a tour of its new 30-acre campgrounds property last week.
As summer approaches, the weather isn’t the only thing heating up in Island County.
The lush and dog-friendly Meerkerk Gardens in Greenbank are in bloom, displaying a vast array of bright colors and smells that send the senses into overdrive. Open throughout the year, the woodland gardens are sprawled over a 53-acre property that overlooks Holmes Harbor and Saratoga Passage. Rhododendrons are the specialty at Meerkerk, as they are native to Washington, but a wide variety of azaleas and trees of all types accompany the “rhodies.” For those looking to do more than a steady stroll though the 10 gardens that are within Meerkerk, there are four miles of nature paths to hike. The real magic, however, is in the garden and those tending it.
Beth McPhee’s home garden is a colorful place filled with things that grow, from flowers of all varieties to succulent vegetables destined for the dinner plate. Naturally, it’s a place where she spends a lot of her time and the few feral cats that lived nearby lightened her labors by keeping her company. But, when she heard an unfamiliar meow while tending her tulips one evening, and then another, she knew she had a problem that was multiplying and getting out of hand. She turned to Jean Favini, South Whidbey’s one-person rescue organization.
Despite being packed with more than two dozen people, the deck of the Mystic Sea was dead silent. No one made a whisper.
South Whidbey High School boys golf recorded their first win of the season Monday, as Falcon junior Thorin Helmersen’s eagle helped lift the Falcons over Cascade Conference opponent Cedarcrest.