FIELDING VICTORIES Pirate baseball team heads to state playoffs. Page 14 NEWS | Suspicious activity reported by Vashon moms.  COMMUNITY | Event will focus on healing after tragedy.  COMMENTARY | Park board member reflects on service.  AUTHOR RETURNS Award-winning reporter to talk about latest book. Page 10 BEACHCOMBER VASHON-MAURY ISLAND WEDNESDAY, MAY 15, 2013 Vol. 58, No. 20 www.vashonbeachcomber.com Business owners respond to spurt of theft By NATALIE JOHNSON Staff Writer Several Vashon merchants are taking measures to improve security at their businesses following a string of commercial break-ins earlier this month. Between Thursday, May 2, and Tuesday, May 7, thieves reportedly broke into at least four Vashon businesses, sometimes making off with just change and in other cases stealing more expensive items. The Blue Heron Art Center was also broken into during that time, but it appeared nothing was stolen, said Sgt. Cindi West, a spokeswoman for the King County Sheriff’s Office. Kathy’s Corner, a nursery that has been hit several times over the past year, was broken into twice over the course of the week. The suspect or suspects broke through a fence as they have in the past and took hundreds of flowers, trees and other plants, said nursery owner Kathy Wheaton. She said the nursery has now been burglarized eight times in the past nine months. “It’s not funny anymore,” Wheaton said on Friday as she manned the cash register at the nursery. A sign taped to a pot by the register said she was collecting donations to help purchase a 75¢ Bank of America branch to close in September Corporate officials say a new ATM will be installed on the island By SUSAN RIEMER Staff Writer Matlock said she lost less than $100 in cash but also had to purchase a new cash register. She added that she was disheartened by the incident and decided Bank of America’s Vashon branch will close this fall after serving the island for 35 years, the company recently announced. The reason behind the closure is a decline in transactions at the island facility, according to Britney Sheehan, a spokeswoman for the bank. More and more, she said, instead of going to the bank, people are relying on new technologies, such as mobile and online banking, to deal with their banking needs. The branch is set to close Sept. 20. Bank of America will send out letters to its Vashon customers later this month, informing them of the decision to close on the island, Sheehan said. “We will give them ample time to discuss options,” she said. She noted that Bank of America has branches in West Seattle and Tacoma that may be convenient for some islanders. Sheehan declined to say how many individuals or businesses bank at the Vashon branch, but according to the Federal SEE THEFT, 18 SEE BANK, 20 Natalie Johnson/Staff Photo Kathy’s Corner owner Kathy Wheaton, right, helps a customer last Friday, before she learned a suspect was arrested for breaking into her nursery. A pot with a hand-written note on it is full of donations for added security. new fence and security cameras. “It’s embarrassing, to be real honest. I’m not good at accepting help,” Wheaton said. Dig, another nursery near town, was also broken into during the crime spurt. Syvlia Matlock, who owns the business with her husband, said she arrived at the nursery on May 7 to find that someone had climbed the fence and used bolt cutters to steal their cash register, which was locked down. Mukai opens to public, dispute continues Historic property is now listed as endangered by state organization By NATALIE JOHNSON For The Beachcomber As Island Landmarks, the nonprofit that owns the Mukai Farm and Garden, finished a weeklong open house at the historic site last week, the organization was dealt another blow by its critics. The Washington Trust for Historic Preservation has added the farmhouse to its list of the most endangered historic properties in the state. The site was nominated for the list by the nonprofit Friends of Mukai, a group of islanders who say they’re concerned about the state of the historic farmhouse and Japanese gardens and would like to see them protected and restored. The Washington Trust, the state’s only nonprofit historic perservation organization, will announce the farmhouse’s listing, along with a half-dozen other additions to its Most Endangered Historic Properties List, tonight at its annual conference in Vancouver, Wash. “This is validation that the property needs attention,” said Lynn Greiner, a Friends of Mukai board member. “We just think the more visibility this gets, the more people will appreciate that our effort to save it is appropriate.” However, the head of Island Landmarks, Mary Matthews, expressed surprise and disappointment at the listing, which she learned of last week. “I don’t think the Mukai Farm and Garden is threatened,” Matthews said, standing outside the farmhouse on Saturday, the last day of Island Landmarks’ SEE MUKAI, 19 Natalie Johnson/Staff Photo From left, Mukai caretaker Ken DeFrang, Mary Matthews and Nelson Happy pose outside the farmhouse during their open house.