"Benefits likely as firefighters uniteThe entire South Whidbey community should benefit from the recent formation of the South Whidbey Volunteers Association, made up of the men and women who volunteer to fight fires, provide medical aid, conduct searches, direct traffic, or do whatever it takes to help the community through any emergency.South Whidbey is fortunate to have so many people willing to volunteer their time, talent and energy. For the community, one of the main benefits of the new association is that it will speak for the volunteers. Before, that joint voice was lacking. The three elected fire district commissioners received most of their input from the paid staff. Now, citizens should know more precisely what the volunteers are thinking. One important issue is how many paid staff the fire district needs and wants. The volunteers' input will be invaluable on this issue, as will their input on where to locate the fire district headquarters and generally how best to spend the taxpayers' dollars. Hopefully, the new association won't be shy in speaking up. The more voices the better when it comes to setting policy.Creation of the association will also make it easier for South Whidbey residents to express their appreciation to the volunteers. Monetary contributions can go directly to the association, which in turn will use the funds to support worthy community projects and to help the needy.The South Whidbey Volunteers Association is a great addition to the community. People and businesses who want to help the association can become associate or corporate members. For information, call Andy Campbell at 579-2510. Have fun at the Island County FairThe flowers are blooming, new red paint abounds, and the carnival rides are being tested. The Island County Fair, beginning Thursday, is ready for visitors.The county fair doesn't just happen -- it is the culmination of thousands of volunteer hours put in each year by members of the Fair Board, Fair Association, service groups and the many 4-H clubs on the island. The average visitor doesn't see all of that work, but when the fair gates swing open there would be very little to see without it. Thanks to the volunteers and a few hard working employees, the 2000 Island County Fair will boast its usual offerings -- well cared for animals, a wondrous selection of food, arts and crafts, and talented local and imported entertainment. One way everyone can help is simply by attending the fair. The fair is always scrambling for funding, and every admission ticket helps guarantee this old island tradition will continue for another year. The fair runs Thursday through Sunday, August 17-20. Have fun. "

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