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INSIDE: Falcon fall sports previews... A7-A11 Record South Whidbey SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 1, 2012 | Vol. 88, No. 70 | | 75¢ Freeland man champions ‘steel challenge’ competition Nearly blind, but his shooting is sharp By JUSTIN BURNETT Staff reporter At his private range behind his Freeland home, Mike Gallion stares down the specialized barrel of his High Standard .22-caliber pistol. His targets are small white-painted steel plates, placed in staggered positions about 65 feet away on posts about chest high. They are much smaller than those used in actual competition matches, but he’s made them that way on purpose. Sucking in a breath, he rattles off a succession of blazingly fast shots and is rewarded with a nearly equal number of gratifying pings. “The trick is to find your speed limit,” and then work to exceed it, Gallion said. It’s a trick he’s learned pretty well. The nearly lifelong South Whidbey resident is undoubtedly the island’s quickest and greatest crack shot with a record in Steel Challenge competition shooting to prove it. He’s also nearly blind. Suffering from presbyopia, a condition in which the eye loses the ability to focus and makes it extremely difficult to see objects up close, Gallion is severely farsighted. His vision is roughly 20/400. The condition forces him to wear three different pairs of glasses. It’s a hurdle few in his sport have to contend with — most of those who do well don’t wear glasses at all. However, poor eyesight hasn’t seemed to hurt Gallion’s record. Since he started a little more than a decade ago, the 67-year-old has secured about 100 first place finishes — at least five of which are state championships — including a gold medal at an international compe- Justin Burnett / The Record Mike Gallion practices with his High Standard .22-caliber pistol in his private range behind his Freeland home. Gallion has bad vision but is an accomplished steel challenge competition shooter. tition in Holland this past May. He has trouble remembering just how many competitions he’s won but if you really wanted to count them up, he has plaques and trophies on walls and tables scattered around the house. “We lose track,” said Jennifer Kelly, Gallion’s wife. She’s quite the sharp shooter herself, having recently taken first in the super senior women’s division in the West Coast Challenge in Piru, Calif. She concedes that Gallion is the far superior shooter, however. See Champion, A6 Langley residents may be asked for levy lid lift, officials say By JUSTIN BURNETT Staff reporter The Village by the Sea needs a little spiffing up and the time may be fast approaching to rack up some debt and make a pitch for a levy lid lift, according to Langley elected officials. The City Council, Mayor Larry Kwarsick and city department heads convened in a special meeting Wednesday to go over proposed policy changes for the 2013 budget and to voice their individual wish lists. As designed, the meeting resulted in the free-flow of ideas about where money could be spent if it was available. They ranged from property and equipment purchases to hiring a gardener to handle summer landscaping. But, like any wish list, many of the proposals are currently out of reach and city leaders talked about several ways of drumming up additional funding. One of the more popular ideas was to borrow it. The current lending market is alluring — rates are 1 percent and lower — and the construction industry continues to struggle for work, which increases the likelihood of getting low bids on capital projects. And the city has very little existing city debt. “If there were a time to borrow money, this is probably the time in history to do it,” Councilman Hal Seligson said. Kwarsick also spoke favorably of long-term investment, but said city coffers will need to be a bit fuller first. He suggested that the council consider moving forward with a tax hike in the not-so-distant future. “Even though it’s a great time for debt, we need money to pay that debt,” Kwarsick said. Kwarsick opened the workshop by telling attendees not to be shy, that this is the time to make their wants known without having to worry about existing funding levels. Council members and staff alike needed little prodding. Councilman Jim Sundberg emphasized the pursuit of grants, but talked about his hopes of continuing existing city initiatives with select capital projects, such as infrastructure improvements and the Second Street renovation. He also pushed for additional staffing help in the police and planning departments, both of which have seen personnel reductions in recent years. Councilwoman Rene Neff said volunteers have been helping to take care of the city’s landscaping for several years, but it’s a big job. “We’re all 55 and older,” she said, earning a round of chuckling from those in the room. “It’s really difficult.” She said it’s beginning to show with dead plants. That’s a See Levy, A6

South Whidbey Record, September 01, 2012

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