A Message From Commissioner Bacon

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Island County

District 1 News - March 31, 2023


Message from Commissioner Bacon

Great news to start Whidbey Earth and Ocean month—Lolita, the beloved orca kidnapped from Penn Cove over 50 years ago, is about to be freed from her Florida aquarium captivity and sent home! When she finally arrives in Puget Sound (18 - 24 months from now), free to swim in the waters of her youth, hopefully back in the comfort of her family, we are really going to party!

Thank you for reading my newsletter for the 13th week of 2023.

  • Regular Session. You can find the agenda for this week’s Tuesday’s meeting here: https://media.avcaptureall.cloud/meeting/ba2822c6-ff2c-41f2-92c1-df6f9cd0027e
    • Public Comment this week focused on animal welfare, fireworks, and Crawford Road.
    • We approved two resolutions this week:
      • C-25-23 (consent agenda): Approving Plans & Specifications and Authorizing Call for Bids for 2023 Whidbey Island Hot Mix Asphalt Overlays
      • C-19-23 (public hearing): Amending the 2022 Island County Budget to fund unforeseen expenditures and recognize unanticipated revenue related to the COVID-19 pandemic and unanticipated events
    • We held two Public Hearings
      • Amending the 2022 Island County Budget (resolution above); hearing starts at 00:31:29 in the above link
      • Franchise Renewal PW2022-9975 – Bushpoint Tracpark Division #1 for Water Distribution System, Whidbey Island; hearing starts at 01:08:19 in the above link
  • Upcoming Public Hearings
    • April 18, at 10 am: Franchise Renewal PW2022-0059 – Parkland Water Association Division, Water Distribution System; Plat of Parklane Division #1 & #2; Camano Island
    • Date not yet set: Speed limit schedule change on Maxwelton Road in front of the South Whidbey Primary/Intermediate School
  • Congratulations to Dr. Shawn Morris, the new Island County Public Health Director! Shawn has worked as a Public Health Manager for us for over a year, and before that as our Planning Manager—so we know from the great work he’s already shown that he’s going to do a fabulous job.
  • Speaking of Island County jobs: if you’re interested in working for Island County, you can always find our open positions here: https://www.governmentjobs.com/careers/islandcounty?sort=PostingDate%7CDescending
  • You may recall that I was appointed to serve on the Wildland Fire Advisory Committee, representing all of the Western counties in the state. I applied for this position because of my deep concern about the growth of wildfire danger in recent years (fire season is now 60 days longer than it used to be) and my ever-present worry about how we’ll evacuate our islands in case of emergency—but I have felt hampered in participating on the committee because of my ignorance about wildfires and the science of firefighting. So I spent the last two days in Leavenworth taking a FEMA and National Fire Academy course, “Wildland Urban Interface: Fire-Adapted Communities – Introduction and Leadership, Course 1.” I met some great emergency management and firefighting individuals (I was the only elected official in the class), and actually learned enough to get 100% on the test. I intend to take courses 2 and 3 if I can find options for taking them that don’t require my missing any of our regular Tuesday Board meetings. I will never be the person you want strategizing on the front lines of a fire—but at least now I know what “WUI” means (it means: Wildland Urban Interface, which is “the line, area, or zone where structures and other human development meet or intermingle with undeveloped wildland or vegetative fuels”). Closely related is “Wildland Urban Intermix”, which is “an area where homes, structures, and infrastructure are intermingled among wildland vegetative fuels.” Which sounds basically like the place where all of us live.
  • Public Works has just printed the newest edition of “A Bicyclist’s Map of Island County.” It shows the tour routes for the Central Whidbey Bicycle Tour and the Camano Bicycle Tour, and also provides routes for bicycling all over the county without riding on the highway. This map will be available at all of the Chambers of Commerce, and can also be downloaded at https://www.islandcountywa.gov/PublicWorks/Parks/Documents/Island%20County%20Bike%20Map.pdf Or you can contact Program Manager Catherine Kelley at 360-678-7965.
  • And since I’m on the topic of Public Works maps: you can download maps for many Island County trails here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/PublicWorks/Parks/Pages/trails.aspx.
  • I’m really looking forward to all of the events we’ll see in April to celebrate Earth Month in Island County. If you’re interested too, one good place to start looking for fun opportunities is Goosefoot’s Earth and Ocean Month Events Calendar, which can be found here: https://whidbeyearthday.org/events-calendar/
  • This week’s wildfire safety reminder:
    • Over 50% of home fires are caused by falling embers.
    • You can improve the likelihood of your home not catching fire this way if you set up a defensible perimeter around your house (which is going to be my big home project this spring—because all the stuff around my house makes for a wildfire death trap).
    • The fascinating “Ember Storm Demo” video looks at the science of all this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvbNOPSYyss
    • And now I understand why it’s important to clean out your gutters!
  • Monday Tea with Melanie happens most Mondays at 3 pm at the WiFire Community Space, 1651 E. Main Street, Freeland. Tea is on me.



Ocean is more ancient than the mountains, and freighted with the memories and the dreams of Time.”       ~ H. P. Lovecraft