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News-Times Whidbey INSIDE: Fiber Quest kicks off Saturday Page A11 WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 31, 2012 | Vol. 114, No. 87 | | 75¢ City overlooks $131K in fees By JESSIE STENSLAND Staff reporter For three years in a row, the city of Oak Harbor missed out in collecting thousands of dollars in fees from Whidbey General Hospital for emergency medical services. Now the elected officials at each entity are going to consider a new interlocal agreement for emergency medical services, but Mayor Scott Dudley promises that the reimbursement system will go more smoothly from now on. “I don’t know how that could have been overlooked, but it won’t happen again,” he said. Exactly how $131,000 in fees went uncollected, or unpaid, for three years without anyone noticing is unclear, though the hospital has now paid the bill in full. Dudley said Fire Chief Ray Merrill corrected the oversight after he was hired in March. According to a hospital spokesperson, the contract with the city expired during See FEES, A4 Political signage up for debate By JESSIE STENSLAND Staff reporter The campaign signs that bespeckle or besmirch, depending on your point of view, the city of Oak Harbor are supposed to disappear completely from the public cityscape two weeks after the election, while the dancing pizza people can continue to shake their pepperoni indefinitely. These amendments to the city’s temporary sign code are scheduled to be considered by the Oak Harbor City Council Wednesday, Nov. 7, the day after the election. The proposed changes are aimed at bringing the code in compliance with case law regarding free speech. “Essentially, it addresses the types of signs that can be placed on private property and within the public right-of-way,” said Steve Powers, development services director. The city’s planning commission decided to tackle the issue last summer after Scott Dudley, then a canSee SIGNS, A2 Lightning downs hospital phones By NATHAN WHALEN Staff reporter Justin Burnett/Whidbey News-Times Coupeville kindergartner Navaeh Hertlein-Darby, 5, cuddles a hard-chosen pumpkin from Sherman’s Pioneer Farm Produce in Coupeville. She was one of hundreds of students that have visited the farm over the past few weeks. Pumpkin patch offers harvest fun By JUSTIN BURNETT Staff reporter been buzzing with pumpkin-hunting kids, teachers and parents. “It gets better and better every year,” said a smiling Sherman, after giving See PATCH, A2 functional, but outside callers aren’t able to leave any messages. She encouraged people such as solicitors and vendors making non-patientrelated calls to the hospital should use email. “We are relieved that the phones are still in operation,” Rose said in the email. “From a patient care aspect, the loss of external voicemail has minimal impact.” She said she will post updates on the hospital’s website, FREE GAS FREE GAS FREE GAS FREE GAS FREE GAS FREE GAS FREE GAS FREE GAS FREE GAS FREE GAS FREE GAS FREE GAS Est 1991 830 SE Pioneer Way Oak Harbor, WA 360-679-3700 Tues-Fri 11-5:30 Saturday 10-5 20 years at the same location YOUR LOCAL GOLD BUYER We Buy Gold, Silver, Coins, Diamonds, & Estate Jewelry FREE $20 Gas Card FREE $100 minimum with our purchase of your jewelry. FREE GAS FREE GAS FREE GAS FREE GAS FREE GAS FREE GAS FREE GAS FREE GAS FREE GAS FREE GAS FREE GAS FREE GAS FREE GAS FREE GAS FREE GAS FREE GAS Finding the perfect pumpkin is no easy task. You can look at a thousand and still find yourself searching for more. Well, a small army of Central Whidbey students have been giving it their best shot over the past few weeks. Since he opened his squash patch to the masses earlier this month, Coupeville farmer Dale Sherman’s fields have A bolt of lightning struck a transformer two Saturdays ago, damaging the phone system at Whidbey General Hospital. w The lightning struck at approximately 8:15 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 20 hitting the transformer that was located near the area where the hospital houses its electronics for the computer and voicemail systems, hospital spokeswoman Trish Rose said in an email. She said both the telephone and voicemail systems were affected by the lightning strike but engineers worked all day Saturday to repair the phones. The phone system was online by Saturday evening. “We were fortunate that the system was adequately protected to prevent a catastrophic failure of our phones,” Rose said. “The voicemail is a different story.” It turns out the voicemail system needs to be replaced. Rose anticipated it will cost the hospital approximately $13,000 for a new system. She said she hopes the new system will be installed by the end of this week. With all the repairs and staff time, the cost of the lightning strike will be around $25,000, Rose said. The hospital’s internal voicemail system is still

Whidbey News-Times, October 31, 2012

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