A Message from Commissioner Bacon

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Island County

District 1 News - June 23, 2023

MB pic

Commissioner Bacon and Mayor Hughes


Thank you for reading my newsletter for the 25th week of 2023.

  • Regular Session. The agenda and video recording for this week’s Tuesday meeting can be found here: https://media.avcaptureall.cloud/meeting/2a6ac047-3585-4211-ae67-d37c46d0bcf2
    • We take Public Comment at the beginning of our meetings. Public comment this week focused on fireworks, the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI), and a neighborhood permitting issue.
    • On the consent agenda the Board approved Resolution C-33-23, Disposal of County Surplus Property (8 public works vehicles that have reached total depreciation).
    • In regular agenda the Board approved Resolution C-34-23 adopting the Island County Equity Statement.
    • The agenda for the meeting to be held next Tuesday, June 27, can be found here: https://media.avcaptureall.cloud/meeting/cb319302-01f0-4d6d-b404-c5eb2dc22321. At that meeting we will vote on the Management Agreement with the Holmes Harbor Activities Club for Maintenance of the Freeland Community Hall.
  • This Wednesday’s Work Session agenda is here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_06212023-574. You can access the June 21 streaming recording here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/DocumentCenter/View/3760/06212023-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 moved agenda items around quite a bit on Wednesday, so I apologize if you tried to attend for a particular item at the scheduled time only to find that the Board had discussed it already.
    • The first item was a presentation by Risk Management on our internal Safety Program. This begins on page 3 of the agenda.
    • At mark 0:19:58 in the audio recording, page 121 in the agenda, using this presentation  https://www.islandcountywa.gov/DocumentCenter/View/3772/06212023-LAP-Presentaton, DEI Manager Kenesha Lewin talked to the Board about our upcoming language access plan, which will make it easier for people who do not speak or hear English to be able to access County documents and discuss their issues with County staff.
    • The Board discussed the latest draft of the Animal Welfare code, beginning at mark 0:55:20 in the audio, page 143 in the agenda. The next steps: the code will be sent to our code reviser, then we’ll schedule a public hearing, then the Board will vote after that public hearing is held. I will let you know when that public hearing is scheduled.
    • At mark 1:29:15 in the audio, beginning at page 92 in the agenda, the Board had our first discussion on the three items being considered for Conservation Futures Funding (CFF) this year: Freeland Wetlands Preserve Acquisition (Whidbey Watershed Stewards), Fossek Forest Conservation Easement (Whidbey Camano Land Trust), and Freund Marsh Preservation Project (City of Oak Harbor). Public Health will bring these items back for a standard presentation to the Board sometime in the coming weeks.
    • Oak Harbor has applied for Rural Counties Economic Development (RCED) funds for a sewer expansion in North Whidbey. You can hear that discussion beginning at mark 1:57:47 in the audio, page 177 in the agenda.
    • The Board approved moving a fireworks code revision and resolution forward, which would eliminate July 5 as a lawful fireworks date and would also make mortar-style fireworks illegal in Island County. Mark 2:38:06 in the audio; page 411 in the agenda. The next steps: the code will be sent to our code reviser, then we’ll schedule a public hearing, then the Board of County Commissioners will vote on the proposed code change after that public hearing is held. Note: due to the RCW that says no fireworks codes can take effect until one year after adoption, and since a public hearing cannot be scheduled prior to July 4 of this year, if a revision to our fireworks code is passed by the Board it will not take effect until July 2025. I discuss this issue in more detail below.
    • We discussed options for assessing a maintenance levy for Diking District No. 4. Mark 4:05:12 in the audio recording, page 36 in the agenda. There will be a public hearing scheduled in the future.
    • The County badly needs to replace the trash compactor at the Coupeville Transfer Station. But this is a big item, requiring some creating funding solutions. Discussion begins at mark 4:23:40 in the audio, page 40 in the agenda.
    • We need to install snow gates at some roads on Camano Island, and some citizens have concerns. We discussed the snow gate communication plan, mark 4:59:15 in the audio.
    • The next work session will be held on Wednesday, July 5. You will be able to access the agenda for that work session on Friday, June 30 here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/AgendaCenter
  • The Board of Health met this week. You can see the agenda here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/AgendaCenter/Board-of-Health-2. If you click on the little television icon for June 20 here, you can watch the video: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/AgendaCenter/Board-of-Health-2.
    • Presentation: ICOM911 Executive Director Sophia Kohfield gave a review of content and timing of behavioral health calls and discussed the ICOM interface with 988. Mark 0:06:27 in the video, page 6 in the agenda. Sophia said they love giving tours of the dispatch center (email them to schedule). See below for information on emergency vs non-emergency calls.
    • Presentation: Northwest Educational Service District, Behavioral Health and Prevention Services. Mark 0:36:35 in the video, page 27 in the agenda.
    • Presentation: Human Services Community Mental Health Services Overview. Mark 1:13:20 in the video, page 35 in the agenda.
  • Next week the Council of Governments (COG) and Island Regional Transportation Planning Organization (IRTPO) will meet.
  • More on the fireworks code:
    • As you no doubt know by now, I have done a lot of work to pass a revision to our fireworks code including attending many meetings and writing an editorial in the local paper. My main concern about fireworks: wildfires.
    • Normally fireworks code changes come to the Board from the Sheriff, but Sheriff Felici has been unenthusiastic about working on this issue due to his concerns about enforcement (which I understand). Since there was no office or department to work on the matter, in December I wrote a draft resolution and code revision myself that would have banned fireworks entirely in Island County. My colleagues on the Board did not support moving that strict ban forward.
    • The Board discussed the issue with the Sheriff in May, and asked him to provide us with a code revision that would eliminate July 5 from the authorized fireworks calendar and also make mortar-style fireworks illegal.
    • Since we did not receive this code revision from the Sheriff (as an independently elected official this was his right), I finally wrote the revised code and resolution as discussed and brought it myself to the Board at work session on Wednesday June 21. The Board approved moving it forward to public hearing.
    • I have often heard that when you’re a politician, if everyone’s mad at you you’re doing your job right. If that’s true, I’m a success—because everyone’s mad at me right now. People who support consumer fireworks are mad that we are considering making mortar-style fireworks illegal. People who support a ban are mad that we are not voting to make everything illegal. I get it.
    • I’ll let you know when the public hearing is scheduled.
    • I am very grateful to the group Safe and Humane Fireworks of Island County which has continued to bring this issue to the Board’s attention. In response to their advocacy, Island County undertook an educational campaign this month to let citizens know that all fireworks are illegal in Island County parks, and to remind us all about which fireworks are illegal anywhere in Washington State under state law. For more information on what’s currently legal and illegal in Island County, see: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/636/Fireworks-Laws-Safety-Tips.
  • More on ICOM911:
    • ICOM911 has 3 non-emergency numbers that citizens can use: 360-679-9567, 360-240-1924, and 360-240-9041
    • Since the same dispatchers answer both emergency and non-emergency numbers, people can also use 911 for non-emergency calls. But: ICOM prioritizes answering 911 calls over non-emergency calls, so if there are two calls coming in at the same time, one on the emergency number and the other on a non-emergency line, they will answer the emergency call first.
    • So I encourage citizens who are calling for non-emergency reasons to call to one of the non-emergency numbers so that heart attacks, fire, criminal activities, etc, get priority response.
  • The Island Regional Transportation Planning Organization (IRTPO) is developing its first Regional Transportation Plan, which is a long-range planning framework that will help guide our organization’s efforts through the year 2040. To see this plan, go here: http://pubweb/PublicWorks/Roads/Planning/Pages/Regional-Transportation-Plan.aspx. The IRTPO is hosting a public meeting on the plan Thursday, June 29, 2023 from 4 – 5 at the Coupeville Library. If you'd like to attend virtually, contact Ben Jones, Transportation Planner, to have the Teams link send to you: Benjamin.jones@islandcountywa.gov.
  • Next Tuesday, June 27, from 1 - 2:30, MRSC is presenting a free webinar on Climate Action Funding Opportunities and Other Resources for Local Governments. This webinar is directed toward policymakers, elected officials, local government staff, and members of boards/commissions who are interested in learning more about climate action. If interested, you need to sign up by Monday the 26th, here: https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_T7ugA1UCSLSGKGSCsDgexA - /registration. This webinar will distill funding opportunities, highlighting key ones, and will discuss several technical resources that can help your agency successfully develop and implement your climate action plans.  
  • In a disaster we will rely heavily on our local radio operators and local airports. That’s why I’m so pleased about a couple of opportunities coming up.
    • Noon – 5 Sat June 24, Amateur Radio Field Day in Greenbank, hosted by the Island County Amateur Radio Club.  The Public is welcomed to experience hands-on learning. Reserve your spot here: https://allevents.in/greenbank/whidbey-island-field-day-2023/10000622958895827.
    • 3 pm Sat June 24, the Whidbey Airpark will hold safety procedures classes for volunteers who will work near aircraft—this is in preparation for the 'Thunder Run' drill discussed next. If interested in attending, email W10@QuickSilver.aero or call Tara at 360-321-0510.
    • July 8, ‘Thunder Run’ at Whidbey Airpark and at AJ Eisenberg Airport. An official county event through Island County's Department of Emergency Management, Thunder Run is a drill in preparation for large scale disasters. At Whidbey Airpark, pilot volunteers will fly to Bellingham to pick up food donations and return them to Whidbey where the volunteers on the field will help package it and load it into Good Cheer's truck. There will be similar routes supplying other outlying communities. Local HAM operators will be volunteering as well, in case you ever wanted to find out more about communications during an emergency.  
  • On Thursday I attended a retirement party at the Island County Historical Museum and learned about these three wonderful videos on local Native history: Native Fishing on the Salish Sea, First People on Penn Cove, and Canoe Culture. https://www.youtube.com/@islandcountyhistoricalmuse3578. Thanks Rick—we’ll miss you!
  • Last night I also attended a forum at WhidbeyHealth on Rural Health Care, which focused on the issues of rural hospitals, veterans’ health resources on Whidbey, and the financial and service improvements we’re seeing at the hospital. The presentation was recorded, and I will provide a link to the recording here after it’s posted.
  • Reminder: 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.
  • Monday Tea with Melanie happens most Mondays at 3:00 pm at the WiFire Community Space, 1651 E. Main Street, Freeland. I will be there this next Monday, but will miss the first 3 Mondays in July due to the holiday and travel for a family celebration.
  • This next Monday, June 26, I will also be available at the Clinton Community Center at 5 pm, just before the Clinton Community Council monthly meeting. 


“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”
~ F. Scott Fitzgerald