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News-Times Whidbey INSIDE: Oak Harbor takes on T-birds Sports SATURDAY, JANUARY 12, 2013 | Vol. 114, No. 4 | | 75¢ ‘Cup of Joe’ aided in prowler captures Eagle soars Two men apprehended in spate of vehicle prowls By JESSIE STENSLAND Staff reporter Justin Burnett/Whidbey News-Times A bald eagle takes flight from its vigil on a no hunting sign at Crockett Lake. There are several such signs along the south side of the lake along Highway 20 and they are a favorite of several birds of prey. Consequently, the area is a popular spot for bird watchers. Navy releases OLF flight schedule By JUSTIN BURNETT Staff reporter In the spirit of community partnership, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island officials released this week a flight schedule for Outlying Field on Central Whidbey – a practice abandoned years ago for security reasons. A news release Monday announced that field-carrier landing practice, commonly known as touch-and-go operations, would restart Tuesday, Jan. 8, at Outlying Field just south of Coupeville following the holiday season. Flights were planned for the afternoon to early evening hours through Thursday and during the afternoon only on Friday. The release advised that weather and operational or training requirements could result in unexpected changes to the announced schedule. According to base spokesman Mike Welding, the Navy plans to publicize a similar flight schedule in local newspapers and on NAS’s Whidbey’s Facebook page on a regular basis. “Our plan is to be consistent and get it out every week,” Welding said. “It’s an outreach program to let people know what’s going on with the training operations at OLF Coupeville,” he said. The announcement comes on the heels of a December meeting with elected officials and the base’s top brass to discuss an outpouring of community concern over jet noise this past summer. Coupeville Mayor Nancy Conard, who worked to set up the meeting, is hailing the gathering a success. The schedule was a result of the meeting and discussions about how communication with the public could be Next week Field carrier landing practice operations for aircraft stationed at NAS Whidbey Island are scheduled to occur at Outlying Field near Coupeville on the afternoons of Monday, Jan. 14 and Tuesday, Jan. 15. Flight operations are subject to change due to weather, operational and/or training requirements. improved, she said. While this will not solve the issue of jet noise, providing residents with a little more predictability about when jets will be buzzing over their homes may help mitigate the problem, she said. “It doesn’t make (the noise) acceptable but it’s nice to know,” Conard said. “I believe this is just a first step in improved communication,” she said. Attending the meeting with Conard was Island County Commissioner Helen Price Johnson, a representative from Second District Congressman Rick Larsen’s office, Navy League President Jim Slowik, base commander Capt. Jay Johnston and other leading base officials. “I’m pleased that NAS Whidbey Island has taken my suggestion to share more information about their flight operations with the community, consistent See FLIGHTS, A8 A detective’s decision to buy a cheap cup of coffee led to the apprehension of two men suspected in dozens of car prowls in Oak Harbor. Last year, three detectives with the Oak Harbor Police Department and the Navy police were investigating more than 50 nighttime vehicle break-ins in Oak Harbor and base housing from September to early December. The suspects stole purses, electronic devices and other items from unlocked cars. Detective Rob Hofkamp said the detectives had numerous images of the two suspects from store surveillance tapes. The men used stolen credit cards to purchase items at various stores in town, as well as rent DVDs from Red Box. The problem was, nobody could identify the men. Their See CAPTURE, A7 Arson cited as cause of the Deep Sea’s demise By JUSTIN BURNETT Staff reporter The fire that preceded the sinking of the Deep Sea crab boat in Penn Cove last spring has been determined to be the result of arson, according to a report released by the state Department of Natural Resources Thursday. The investigation, conducted by the King County Sheriff’s Office’s fire/arson investigation unit, determined that an unknown number of people “ignited and burned” the vessel prior to it’s sinking, May 12. The blaze is believed to have started in the vessel’s freezer hold, which was located on the forward deck, but what was used to start the fire could not be determined, said Craig Muller, supervisor for the special fire unit. “It was an undetermined source of ignition,” Muller said. Also, no suspects have been identified and Toni Weyman Droscher, a DNR spokesperson, confirmed that the agency will not be pursing the matter further. “It’s pretty much a closed case,” she said. The Deep Sea arrived in Penn Cove by tow in December of 2011. The vessel sat at anchor just outside Penn Cove Shellfish’s mussel rafts for the next four months until it caught fire and sank. The vessel spent three weeks on the bottom, spilling more than 5,000 gallons of diesel fuel into Penn Cove, before it was raised and towed to Stabbert Yacht and Ship dry dock in Seattle. The fiasco resulted in local closures of shellfish harvesting and cost state and federal agencies at least $3 million. It also severely impacted Penn Cove Shellfish, a mussel farm just west of the Coupeville Wharf. The Deep Sea was See ARSON, A8

Whidbey News-Times, January 12, 2013

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