A Message From Commissioner Bacon

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Island County

District 1 News - April 28, 2023


Message from Commissioner Bacon


Well, it looks like Spring is finally really here! Thank you for reading my newsletter for the 17th week of 2023.

  • Regular Session. You can find the agenda for this week’s Tuesday meeting here: https://media.avcaptureall.cloud/meeting/a7b52a09-e7ec-4af9-ba71-4545f657a0e7
    • There were no resolutions or public hearings this week.
    • During Commissioners’ Comments, I spoke about an issue I was made aware of during this Monday’s Tea with Melanie—the closure of The HUB After School program in Langley this week. The HUB is an after-school drop-in program offering social and recreational activities for middle and high school youth in a safe, supportive setting. In this place, young people can access free food, games, art activities, workshops, and adult mentors. They closed temporarily this week due to a lack of funds, and I asked the Board to consider authorizing ARPA funds to help the program. My colleagues were receptive to hearing more about the situation and instructed our Human Services Director, Lynda Austin, to investigate. I am glad to report that Lynda followed up with the HUB administration, and I expect the Board to hear more about this next week. The HUB program is extremely important to our South Whidbey young people. I was especially horrified to learn of its closure after last week’s Board of Health news about the mental health struggles our local youth are experiencing now. You can hear this conversation beginning at mark 00:04:38 in the video. If you are interested in knowing more about the HUB, including how you can donate to the program, click here: http://www.thehubafterschool.org/.
    • The agenda for next Tuesday’s meeting is here: https://media.avcaptureall.cloud/?customerGuid=7953d90c-21b5-49e8-b2bb-c8e5a65a54ca&target=foo&view=thumbs&tabs=past|today|upcoming&defaultTab=upcoming
  • Upcoming Public Hearings
    • May 2nd, at 10:00 am: Franchise Consolidation PW2019-0117 – Cascadia Water, LLC; Water Distribution System; Whidbey Island; Various Sections, Townships, and Ranges
    • May 9th, at 10:00 am: Franchise Renewal PW2022-0151 – Waterloo Acres Community Association, Whidbey
    • May 9th, at 10:00 am: Franchise Renewal PW2022-0208 – Possession Shores, Inc, Whidbey
    • May 9th, at 10:00 am: Franchise Renewal PW2022-0012 – Andy Bernstein and Grand Gard., Sewer Collection System, Camano
    • May 23rd, at 10:00 am: Resolution C-27-23, Amending the Island County Code Chapter 2.32 Damage Claim Procedures
  • The Council of Governments (COG) met this week. The April 26th agenda and audio recording are available here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/Commissioners/Pages/COG.aspx The Chair of the COG is Curt Gordon of the Port of South Whidbey.
    • If you follow up on only one of my links this week, I encourage you to listen to Sheriff Rick Felici’s discussion with the COG, beginning at mark 00:32:04 in the audio recording. He provided important information on the stressors faced by our criminal and corrections divisions. He introduced an idea I expect you will soon be hearing more about: his desire to construct a new jail that will include mental health treatment beds, in recognition that much, if not most, of the criminal behaviors we see are due to mental health issues. If we pursue this route, Island County would be one of the first communities in the country to take this approach in its jail. An exciting idea, and I applaud Sheriff Felici for his vision.
    • At mark 01:09:25, the Sheriff talks about the impacts of recent legislative inaction regarding drug possession.
  • The Island Regional Transportation Planning Organization (IRTPO) met after the COG. The Agenda and three presentations for the April 26th meeting are here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/PublicWorks/Roads/Planning/Pages/Itpominutesandagendas.aspx
  • Work Session: There was no work session this week.
  • I am very happy to announce that the new budget adopted by the State Legislature includes funds for two requests made this year by Island County. My sincere thanks to Senator Ron Muzzall, Representative Dave Paul, and Representative Clyde Shavers for their work in getting these approved for us.
    • Explore Septic/Sewer Solutions to Accommodate Housing Needs – $300,000 Operating request. The County requested $300,000 in the Operating budget to contract for a study of alternative solutions to septic and sewer and emergent technology to provide waste treatment services in the unincorporated parts of Island County. The final Operating budget fully funds this request, allocating funding between fiscal year 24 and 25 evenly. The study will include an opportunity for the Department of Health for consultation and review the study, and the contractor will include recommendations from the Department in the final report. This could ultimately be a groundwater protection game changer for South and Central Whidbey. I am very grateful to my colleagues, Commissioner St. Clair and Commissioner Johnson, for their support of this request.
    • Island County Emergency Generator - $375,000 Capital request. The County requested $375,000 in the Capital budget to replace the emergency generator that powers the jail and administrative annex. The final Capital budget provides $386,000 for the request.
    • Two more important projects that we supported were also funded:
      • The County supported the City of Stanwood’s request for funding to restore their dike; $1.9 million was provided in the final Capital budget for the project (this dike protects the only road in and out of Camano Island).
      • The final Operating budget also includes funding to continue the County’s Youth Behavioral Health pilot program established in the 21-23 biennium--$300,000 is provided for the program.
    • The Budget also includes significant investments in Behavioral Health facilities and programs, which both of my colleagues have worked hard for, as well as large investments in the environment and climate resiliency, which are issues critical to all of us.
  • Monday Tea with Melanie happens most Mondays at 3:00 pm at the WiFire Community Space, 1651 E. Main Street, Freeland. This is an open discussion, a time when citizens can tell me their concerns and listen to what other citizens have to say. Tea is on me.




"Believe you can, and you're halfway there."     

       ~Theodore Roosevelt