"Hospital proposal deserves yes voteHalf of the people who will vote in the Sept. 19 primary election have already received their absentee ballots in the mail, so it's not too early to start talking about the most important item on the ballot: the Whidbey Public Hospital District bond issue.The district operates Whidbey General Hospital in Coupeville, Whidbey General South in Clinton, clinics in Freeland and Oak Harbor, and the island-wide ambulance service. The board wants to issue just over $5 million in bonds to pay for expansion and remodeling of the hospital in Coupeville.If approved, property owners won't see a hike in their tax bills. An existing bond that is about to expire will simply be continued until the year 2011. So for no increase in taxes, the people of Whidbey Island will receive a vastly improved hospital.Money from the bond sale will be used to add 6,000 square feet to the hospital building and to remodel about 20,000 square feet of existing facilities. Patients receiving physical rehabilitation services, cancer therapy, heart therapy, diagnostic imaging services, and pediatric care will see much-needed improvements.Whidbey Islanders seem to be solidly behind their hospital, which grows more crucial as the years go by. We need a modern medical facility to care for our growing population and increased number of elderly. For South Whidbey residents, the option of going to the mainland for treatment grows less appealing as the ferry lines grow longer.The hospital bond proposal has no public detractors. Supporters searched for someone to write something negative about it in the local voters pamphlet published by the Island County Auditor's Office, but found no one willing to come out against it.Hospital improvements are needed and the bond issue is affordable, so it makes no sense to vote against the bond issue. The only threats are ignorance and apathy. Informed voters will vote yes to the hospital district proposal.Park ranger will be sorely missedSouth Whidbey State Park won't seem quite the same without the presence of Dick Ambrose, who for 17 years did an excellent job of maintaining and preserving one of the state's finest but lesser known parks.Ambrose was well known in the community, and actively recruited such organizations as the Lions Club and Boy Scouts to help maintain and improve the park. Through the years financial support from the state was usually marginal, so Ambrose supplemented it with a cadre of enthusiastic volunteers. His good humor was alway welcome, and his sense of humor manifested itself through such things as the Hobbit Trail and the annual Labor Day slug races. On the serious side, he expanded the trail system and gave many a guided hike to inform the public about the park's natural allures, from lichens to majestic old growth fir trees.It wasn't all peace and quiet in the park. For several years in the 1980s it was the gathering place of neo-Nazi sympathizers, who in turn attracted large numbers of protesters bused in from Seattle. But thanks to Ambrose and good police supervision things never got out of hand. Eventually the park was closed for a few months in the winter and that problem went away. But Ambrose always encouraged islanders to use the park's paths and picnic areas in the winter, so no harm was done to our recreational opportunities.Dick Ambrose and his wife Katie have moved to Ellensburg where they will start a new life in their newly built house. Our loss is their gain. Thanks, Dick, for the outstanding job you did at South Whidbey State Park. You set an excellent example for your replacement, Patty Anderson, who starts her new job with the full support of the community. "

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