Justin Burnett

Finally ready to launch: Possession Beach boat ramp redesign to begin in November

After years of dreaming and planning about a better boat launch at Possession Beach Waterfront Park, the project is finally about to become a reality. The Port of South Whidbey recently hired a construction manager, and officials say work on the new ramp and docks will likely begin within two months. “I’d say the first week of November is a safe bet,” said Jan-Marc Jouas, interim executive director for the port. Regular users of the popular launch are looking forward to the improvements.

Ferry ridership growth slowed by capacity problems in Clinton

At a time when state ferry leaders are heralding “record” ridership increases throughout the system, statistics for the Clinton-to-Mukilteo route reveal second quarter growth is at its lowest level in five years.

Port of South Whidbey makes counteroffer for marina parking lot

Taxpayers may end up paying more than top dollar for a small parking lot in Langley.

Pot farm: Legal is allowed, Island County Hearing Examiner says

You may not like having a pot farm sprout up in your backyard, but that doesn’t mean it’s illegal. A key land use official made that clear to a crowd of about 30 people during a public hearing in Coupeville on Thursday. The meeting was the final step in the review process of a site plan for Now in Zen, a proposed 30,000-square-foot marijuana production facility located off Bayview Road.

EDITOR’S COLUMN | New neighbor thinks he owns the place

I’ve got a new neighbor, and I admit I don’t like him. He’s loud, rude and spends way to much time looking in my bedroom window. Squirrels — they think they own the world. This one seems convinced he owns the tree just a few feet from where I sleep.

EDITOR’S COLUMN | Vacation is great, but there’s no place like home

Well, here I am again. Back at my desk penning my first column in weeks. For those who didn’t know, and it appears that’s limited to a very few, I’ve been away on vacation. For two full weeks, the family and I cruised British Columbia getting sunburned, swimming in Desolation Sound, enjoying phenomenal sailing and spending way too much money, though much of it was on basics such as food.

Port of South Whidbey commissioners mull next fairgrounds step

The Port of South Whidbey got what it asked for this week, becoming the proud new owner of the Island County Fairgrounds.

Bicyclist killed by suspected drunk driver in Freeland; man released following court appearance

A South Whidbey bicyclist is dead and another man facing charges of vehicular homicide following a collision on East Harbor Road in Freeland Thursday evening. The Washington State Patrol identified the deceased Friday morning as Randall L. Lorraine, 58, of Langley. According to a press memo, Lorriane was riding a bike eastbound on the right shoulder of East Harbor Road shortly after 9 p.m. when he was struck from behind by a 1997 grey Lexus E300, also eastbound. He died at the scene.

UPDATE | State police identify Langley bicyclist; suspected drunk driver to make court appearance

A South Whidbey bicyclist is dead and another man in jail following a fatal collision on East Harbor Road in Freeland Thursday evening. The Washington State Patrol identified the deceased Friday morning as Randall L. Lorraine, 58, of Langley.

Port plan passing; voters OK fairgrounds transfer, tax hike

It appears a majority of South End voters are in favor of a port-owned fairgrounds and are willing to pick up the tab. According to the first round of primary election results released by the Island Auditor’s Office Tuesday evening, the Port of South Whidbey’s fairgrounds proposal is passing with 61.76 percent of voters casting “yes” votes.

Port of South Whidbey officials promise slow, measured approach to fairgrounds

For better or worse, voters will decide the fate of the Island County Fairgrounds in just two weeks time. The primary election is Aug. 2 and it will determine whether ownership of the 13-acre facility is transferred to an optimistic Port of South Whidbey and a property-funding 5-cent tax hike OK’d, or if stewardship will remain with a reluctant board of county commissioners, a body that’s said the fairgrounds’ proverbial checkbook is quickly running out of pages.

Support, skepticism voiced at fairgrounds open house hosted by Port of South Whidbey

The Port of South Whidbey held the second of two planned open houses on the district’s fairgrounds proposal this week, and was once again met with a small, albeit largely supportive audience.

Landslides prompt research: graduate student hunts for clues, triggers at Old Clinton

A University of Washington researcher is hunting for answers about last year’s landslides in Old Clinton, and he’s looking for the community’s help. Justin Brooks, a graduate student with the university’s Earth and Space Sciences, applied geoscience masters program, is studying the series of slides that destroyed or damaged several cabins on Campers Row Walk in 2014 and 2015. He’s got a hunch that the events’ triggers were more complex than the old “lots of rain” explanation, and that understanding the circumstances better will not only further scientists’ knowledge about how and why landslides occur, but may also help predict future movements.

EDITOR’S COLUMN | Rabbits are trouble

So NASA made it made it back to Jupiter. Big deal. Donald Trump could become the next president, Choochokam has been called off and rabbits are back in my yard. Yeah, things couldn’t be worse.

First Choochokam in 40 years scrubbed

Choochokam Music & Arts Festival organizers confirmed Thursday what many have suspected for more than a month — there will be no show this year. The 2016 event was cancelled late last week, according to Celia Black, president of the Choochokam Arts Foundation. Blaming “logistical” problems associated with the move to Community Park, she said the challenges hampered planning efforts over the past few months. By the time they were finally hammered out it was too late to responsibly move forward, she said.

Low open-house turnout thwarts Port of South Whidbey’s ballot eduction hopes

The first of two open houses on the Port of South Whidbey’s fairgrounds proposal took place this week, but public sentiment on the August ballot measure remains unclear. The Wednesday evening meeting in the Coffman Building was attended by only about 20 people, not including district staff and vocal supporters. At least one commissioner said he’d been hoping for more.

Independence Day: South Whidbey preps to party on Fourth of July

America will celebrate its independence this weekend, and like every year South Whidbey won’t be left out of the fun. The 22nd annual Celebrate America blasts off Sunday, July 3 at Freeland Park, and the Maxwelton Fourth of July Parade will follow Monday at Maxwelton Beach. Organizers for both events are banking on sunny skies and healthy attendance. “It’s an optimal day because it’s Sunday… and it looks like the weather is going to cooperate so we’re expecting a good turnout,” said Matt Chambers, pastor of South Whidbey Assembly of God and Celebrate America event organizer.

Langley considers request to chop down tree at Boy and Dog Park

The large evergreen tree at Boy and Dog Park may get the ax, a Langley official announced Monday.

Richard “Buck” Francisco: veterans, children’s warrior dies at 92

An estimated 2,000 disadvantaged children and their families will visit the M-Bar-C Ranch in Freeland this summer. They’ll dress up in Old West-style clothes, ride… Continue reading

South Whidbey man carves out niche in Native American art | CORRECTED

Nathan Gilles is an artist. His medium is wood, his focus Native American carving. He makes bowls, masks, drums, boxes, hand tools — pretty much anything in the genre. He even made a traditional dugout canoe once, which you may have seen. It’s been on display in front of the museum in Coupeville for years. But it’s totem poles that are Gilles’ specialty.