A Message from Commissioner Bacon

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Island County

District 1 News - June 16, 2023


Thank you for reading my newsletter for the 24th week of 2023.

This will be a big weekend. Father’s Day. Pride Festival in Coupeville. Juneteenth Celebration at Windjammer Park. Graduation parties of all kinds. Whatever you are celebrating, I wish you all a very happy weekend.

Island County offices will be closed on Monday, June 19 in recognition of Juneteenth.

  • This Wednesday’s Work Session agenda is here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_06142023-565. You can access the June 14 streaming recording here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/DocumentCenter/View/3688/06142023-WS-Audio. If you want to fast forward to the conversations I note below you will need to download the audio instead of just streaming it, which you can do by clicking on the three dots at the right end of the streaming dashboard and clicking “download”. Depending on your internet access, this download may take a while.
    • We did not have time to get through the entire agenda on Wednesday, so a few items had to be moved to next week including the Island County Safety and Prevention Program and Oak Harbor’s Rural County Economic Development Grant application for North Whidbey Sewer Expansion.
    • The first item on the agenda was a Public Works presentation on a resolution to prohibit parking on a number of roads in Island County. You can see which roads are included on page 9 of the agenda. A public hearing on this matter will be scheduled for some time in the coming weeks.
    • We discussed changing school signage to reflect school zone timing changes, beginning at mark 0:06:07 in the audio recording. This would impact traffic around the South Whidbey and Oak Harbor schools.
    • The Freeland Hall contract between the County and the Holmes Harbor Activity Club was discussed beginning at mark 0:36:51. The documents can be viewed beginning on page 34 of the agenda.
    • Oak Harbor gave presentations on two of their requests for Rural Economic Development Grant funds, both associated with the Oak Harbor Marina, beginning at 1:23:51 in the audio recording. The documents associated with these applications begin on page 52 of the agenda. In addition, the power point slides can be found here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/DocumentCenter/View/3690/2023-Oak-Harbor-Marina--Improvement-Project-RCED-Grant-Presentation_final.
    • We discussed the resolution on the Island County Equity Statement, and made one small editing change. This draft resolution can be found on page 594 of the agenda, and the discussion begins at mark 2:10:49.
    • Washington State Association of Counties (WSAC) Policy Director Paul Jewell spoke with the Commissioners on Balancing Competing Policy Priorities, focusing on our Comprehensive Plan Update work over the next two years. This conversation begins at mark 2:15:50.
    • The Sheriff spoke to the Board about concerns being expressed by our regional law enforcement officers about a state plan to expand the potential recipients of the ~$2.5-$3 million Byrne/JAG grant funds that have been exclusively allocated to drug task forces over the last 20-30 years. He asked the Board to write a letter of support for the police chiefs and sheriffs, retaining these funds for drug task forces, which the Board voted to do. You can listen to this conversation beginning at mark 3:33:00 in the audio recording. I address this issue in more detail further down in this newsletter, including a link where you can let the Department of Commerce know how you feel on this matter.
    • We were happy to welcome Joanne Pelant back to the table to talk about a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for an experienced affordable housing developer to complete the development of a new construction affordable housing community, a 58-lot subdivision consisting of 58 residences within 17 separate townhouse-style homes on property the Board of County Commissioners purchased last year at 1215 SW Swantown Avenue, Oak Harbor. You can listen to that conversation at 3:50:50 in the recording; the documents can be found beginning on page 610 of the agenda.
    • The Board discussed the Local Tourism Advisory Council (LTAC) recommendations I mentioned in my last newsletter, beginning at mark 4:09:47. Applications for these funds will be accepted June 30 – July 31; contact Jennifer Roll at j.roll@islandcountywa.gov if you have questions.
    • The Wednesday June 21 work session agenda can be found here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_06212023-574.   Some of the items on that agenda: a presentation on the Island County Safety and Prevention Program; Diking District 4 maintenance levy assessment; Solid Waste Transfer Station Assessment Study; Camano snow gate communications; Conservation Futures Fund (CFF) recommendations; Island County Language Access Plan; Animal Welfare code amendment; Rural County Economic Development Grant application for N. Whidbey Sewer Expansion; and a revision to Island County Code 9.08A.010 - Fireworks regulations and Island County Code 9.08A.040 – Limitations on the use and discharge of fireworks. Another long day.
  • Last Saturday I attended an all-day conference at WICA on Whidbey’s Water Future, organized by Whidbey Climate ACTION (whidbeyclimate.org). Fascinating and informative presentations and discussions. If you would like to access the presentations, you can find them here: https://www.whidbeyclimate.org/water.
  • As I mentioned above, Sheriff Felici met with the Board on Wednesday to discuss the Byrne-Justice Assistance Grant (JAG), which is an annual federal grant given to each state to fund criminal legal system improvement projects and programs. In Washington, the funds flow through the Department of Commerce, and up until now JAG funds in our state have been exclusively allocated to multi-jurisdictional drug task forces. Locally, our Sheriff’s Department has counted on the resources and support from the JAG-funded Skagit County Interlocal Drug Task Force for many years. This team is very professional and sophisticated, and they have had the time and resources to invest in long term investigations into major trafficking organizations. This is really the only proactive tool we have in our region to combat the flow of illegal drugs.  
    • JAG requires that each state develop and maintain a strategic plan to guide their JAG program. In the latest draft, Washington’s JAG funds would be opened up for use by other important programs besides drug task forces, including Planning, Evaluation and Technology Improvement; Crime Victim Programming, Support and Advocacy; and Community Safety Enhancement and Law Enforcement Programs/Support.
    • Law enforcement officials in our area are deeply concerned that with the proposed expansion of the grant applicant pool we will lose the critical funds necessary to combat the flow of illegal drugs in our region. They support the need for other programs, but believe the State should find some other way to fund them. Sheriff Felici said “Should this funding be reduced or eliminated, our local task force would be faced with two options. They would have to disband, or we would need to find local funding to continue their critical work.”
    • The Department of Commerce is soliciting public comment—but only until noon on Monday, June 19. Commerce asks that you read the draft strategic plan here: https://deptofcommerce.app.box.com/s/9s4md9fdc455un21jec5nqiax6g5y8u2, and that you submit your comments (by noon Monday) here: https://app.smartsheet.com/b/form/df4904adb5b04a6cbd9a49c4123e6480.
  • Sheriff Felici expects to enact a Type I burn ban at midnight on Sunday, July 2.  Burn Ban - Type I includes a ban on all outdoor burning in unincorporated Island County except for recreational fires that occur in designated areas or on private property with the owner's permission. Type I burn bans also do not apply to the use and discharge of consumer fireworks in compliance with chapter 9.08A or chapter 70.77 RCW. The use of barbeque grills using propane or briquettes, or self-contained camp stoves are exempt from Type I burn bans.
  • The most recent issue of Public Health Matters focuses on what to do if you’re losing your Apple Health Medicaid plan, including how to enroll in Washington’s new medical assistance program, Cascade Care. You can find this issue here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/DocumentCenter/View/3719/Health-Matters-No-33---Special-edition-pdf.
  • Monday Tea with Melanie happens most Mondays at 3:00 pm at the WiFire Community Space, 1651 E. Main Street, Freeland. Since I missed two Mondays recently and will miss three in July, I plan to be there on Monday June 19 even though it’s a county holiday.
  • On June 26 I will be available at the Clinton Community Center just before the Clinton Community Council monthly meeting. 


"I would like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free…so other people would be also free."        

~Rosa Parks