Saying goodbye to a great community

I let the news leak out weeks ago that I was going to the Whidbey News-Times in Oak Harbor. I wanted the give North Whidbey residents time to organize a protest or erect a road block in Greenbank.

But, to my surprise, the response has been positive, so today I begin my new job as editor of the Whidbey News-Times. I cleared out my office in Langley last weekend and this is my final column for The South Whidbey Record.

I've spent 20 years covering news and activities on South Whidbey. During that time my wife and I raised three beautiful and talented daughters, the last of whom left for college earlier this month. They all turned out fine, thanks to the many South Whidbey residents who helped us raise them, from preschool, high school and Sunday school teachers to music tutors, drama and dance instructors, baseball, soccer and basketball coaches, and even a baton twirling advisor. Our house is still filled with musical instruments and children's cleats that will likely never be used again, but they represent a lot of education and good times.

It has been a privilege for me to cover the activities on South Whidbey for 20 years. When I think back on the "big stories," I don't immediately think of plane crashes, fires, major crimes, tragedies or the infamous neo-Nazi shootout. Those were all passing incidents that left no permanent impact on the community.

For me, the "big stories" all dealt with community improvements. School levies and bond issues that passed, the creation of the Parks and Recreation District, purchase of Double Bluff, the Greenbank Farm and Saratoga Woods, development of Possession Beach Waterfront Park and Community Park, Langley's small boat harbor, Whidbey Island Center for the Arts, the drive to build Playground in the Park, new public libraries in Freeland and Clinton, and the new ballfields and school additions that our kids have all enjoyed.

Not many places in the Puget Sound region are better now than they were 20 years ago because excess growth has overwhelmed them.

But I think South Whidbey today is far better than it was in 1982. Our cities and towns are better, our schools are better, our recreational and artistic opportunities are better, and we have even more caring citizens dedicated to the continual improvement of South Whidbey Island.

Through the years South Whidbey residents have been entirely supportive of their newspaper. You could have complained more, with good cause in many cases, but complaints have been minimal. I appreciate all the support through good times and bad.

And after 20 years, I can truthfully say that I like everyone I've ever dealt with on South Whidbey. A newspaper editor couldn't ask for a finer cast of characters to appear in the pages of his newspaper.

Thanks for all the help. Maybe I'll see you at Wal Mart.

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