A Message from Commissioner Bacon

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Island County

District 1 News - September 22, 2023

Downtown Coupeville

Thank you for reading my newsletter for the 38th week of 2023.

  • Regular Session.  The agenda and recording for the September 19th regular session can be found here: https://media.avcaptureall.cloud/meeting/5a42f293-acdc-4a6c-99de-6af1360ff8b0
    • Public comment was offered on the Harbor Inn Housing Project in Freeland and on firearms discharge.
    • Last week we approved providing $289,488 in 2023 Conservation Futures funds to the City of Oak Harbor for the Freund Marsh Acquisition; on this week’s consent agenda we approved using $293,002 from the 2024 Conservation Futures Funds to complete this important public watershed acquisition.
    • We approved Resolution C-55-23, Cancellation of Warrants as allowed under RCW 39.56.040 (basically, voiding checks the county wrote that no one ever cashed. If you had one of these, and you want the County to write you another one, contact Auditor Sheilah Crider).
    • I pulled item 8 from the consent agenda: scheduling a public hearing for the Marshall Road drainage district assessments. We need to have another work session to discuss other options for this.
    • The agenda for the September 26th meeting is here: https://media.avcaptureall.cloud/meeting/b862d494-2000-416e-99fe-18b0db4f484c.                                                 
  • Work Session. The agenda for the September 20th work session is here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_09202023-619. The audio recording is here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/DocumentCenter/View/4772/09202023-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 started the meeting with my rant about someone almost killing me fifteen minutes earlier by passing other cars on the highway without paying attention to the traffic coming on the other side. Happily I was driving at a place that had a wide shoulder and no bicycles or pedestrians in the lane at that moment.
    • We went over anticipated disruptions to our regular meeting schedule through the end of the year. The Board will not meet on Tuesday November 14, Wednesday November 15, Tuesday December 26, or on Tuesday January 2, 2024.
    • We spent 90 minutes talking about policies we have or could have, that we enforce or don’t enforce, on homeless encampments. Sheriff Felici joined us. You can listen to this discussion beginning at mark 0:06:48. The Sheriff is adamant that we’re going to do a cleanup of Hoffman Road, but when I asked him for a timeframe it became clear this won’t happen immediately. One interesting idea all three of us like, that could have fast results (mark 1:22:53): asking if the County’s churches could each invite one or two families who live in their cars or RVs to park in their church parking lots. Churches who are interested but who worry about County regulations about this should talk with the Commissioners. Note: yes, we know that’s not the best solution, or the most permanent solution. But we think it would be the fastest.
    • A citizen spoke to me at one of my Monday meetings about his disgust over the condition of the restrooms at Rhododendron Park. That citizen would be glad to hear that we approved applying for a grant with the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office to fix that problem; it sounds like we’ll have to approve a resolution to go with the application, which should appear on an upcoming consent agenda. Mark 2:14:00 in the recording.
    • We went over the revised Animal Welfare code and set a public hearing for October 17 at 10 am. Discussion at mark 2:28:42 in the recording.
    • The next work session for the Board of Island County Commissioners will be held on Wednesday, October 4—but we will be opening that meeting only to announce that we’re going into Executive Session. The next real work session for the BOCC will occur on October 11.
    • Unfortunately, we had to move all the work session items we had planned for October 4 in order to hold that Executive Session. See below for the new tentative schedule of issues of interest for the rest of the year.  
  • The Board of Health met this week. Agenda: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_09192023-620. Recording: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/DocumentCenter/View/4761/BOH-09192023_Recording-MP3.
    • There was a presentation on the mobile health unit that Public Health and Human Services want to buy and put on the road. This was pretty much the same presentation they gave the BOCC a few weeks ago. The BOH voted in favor. This presentation begins on page 78 of the agenda, audio at 0:15:10 in the recording.
    • A presentation was also given on Foundational Public Health Services. Begins on page 100 of the agenda, mark 0:43:30 in the audio recording. Looking at that presentation today, I found another comprehensive presentation by Dr. Shawn Morris, our Public Health Director, embedded on page 102 -- “10 Essential Public Health Services” https://prezi.com/view/6FG3x1pdMMCwYLjUlqpP/.
    • The always-splendid Susan Wagner, who’s been with the County for 32 years, is retiring soon and gave her final presentation to the Board of Health, the COVID-19 Community Update. Begins at page 121 in the agenda, mark 1:41:58 in the recording. Our cases are up, but few hospitalizations.
  • The Council of Governments (COG) and Island Regional Transportation Planning Organization (IRTPO) will meet next Wednesday, September 27.
  • Our Department of Emergency Management is sponsoring an Emergency Preparedness Fair on September 30 at North Whidbey Middle School from 10 am – 2 pm with many of our emergency partners. For more information go here: https://islandcountywa.gov/754/September-Preparedness-Fair.
  • As I mentioned above, the items planned for October 4 had to be moved out later in the year because of an all-day Executive Session. Below are a few of the important issues still planned for Board discussion and action yet this year:
    • October 11 work session: finalize 2024 Budget (to be voted on in December)
    • October 17 regular session (10 am): public hearing on the Animal Welfare code revision
    • October 18 (afternoon): Emergency Management tabletop exercise
    • October 18 (evening): Listening session with builders and developers on the County permit processes
    • November 1 work session: discussion of County/community work to prepare for King Tides
    • November 1 work session: discussion on 2024 legislative priorities
    • November 8 work session: Fireworks code revision discussion
    • Note: because the Commissioners attend the Washington State Association of Counties meeting in mid-November and Thanksgiving occurs at the end of the month, we have constricted work session time in November. Also, the Board tries to limit meetings and important decisions during the end of December. Therefore, most of our remaining work needs to be done in October or the first two weeks of November and December.
  • The Planning Commission is meeting in the Commissioners’ Board Room next Monday, September 25, at 2 pm, to hold a public hearing to hear public input on the Draft Public Participation Plan for the 2025 Periodic Update of the Comprehensive Plan and consider a recommendation to the Island County Board of County Commissioners. The agenda and zoom info is here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_09252023-621
  • Reminder: there is still a Type 2 Burn Ban in Island County, which means no outdoor burning of natural debris even with a burn permit, and no recreational fires. The risk of fire remains high (as of now there are over two-dozen wildfires burning in Washington State, 6 of them pretty serious https://www.fireweatheravalanche.org/fire/state/washington) but at the meeting I attended yesterday of the state’s Wildland Fire Advisory Committee, State DNR said that they think we’ve reached peak wildfire season and we should see the wildfire threat begin to decrease now.
  • On Friday of every week the Board of Island County Commissioners meets, I write a newsletter. You can find all of my newsletters for 2023 here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/Directory.aspx?EID=62
  • Most Mondays I hold Monday Tea with Melanie at 3:00 pm at the WiFire Community Space, 1651 E. Main Street, Freeland. I WILL NOT BE THERE THIS NEXT MONDAY due to yet another unpleasant dental procedure.


“I'd rather fight 100 structure fires than a wildfire. With a structure fire you know where your flames are, but in the woods it can move anywhere; it can come right up behind you.” ~Tom Watson