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RECORD D SOUTH WHIDBEY

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Island Consort See...A12

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 23, 2013 | Vol. 89, No. 94 | WWW.SOUTHWHIDBEYRECORD.COM | 75¢

Langley police dept. ponders staff needs, again

The robo awards

By BEN WATANABE South Whidbey Record Langley’s interim police chief has been plenty busy lately, and among his many duties is reconsideration of an old staffing issue — does the department need three officers or four? The Langley Police Department is down an officer after former chief Randy Heston retired this August. David Marks was named interim chief while the city seeks its next top cop, and two of Marks’ recent duties were to evaluate his department’s activities and propose a department budget for the city’s $1.5 million general fund. The police force survey is expected to be presented in February or March. Langley’s police department had a $384,706 budget for 2013, about 22 percent of the city’s total operating budget. The law enforcement budget may be reduced if the city determines it should operate with two full-time officers and a chief. The department had four officers — including the chief — for 15 years but cut the number to three several years ago. “The size of the department is a really important decision that should be based on data gathering,” said Mayor Fred McCarthy, adding that it was too early to speculate on the impact of reducing the department to three officers. The reconsideration comes after Heston and former Mayor Larry Kwarsick successfully swayed the council last year to restore the number of officers to four for the 2013 budget, arguing that the cost of the additional SEE POLICE, A16

County considers hobbling Futures Fund for one year By JANIS REID South Whidbey Record

Ashley McConnaughey photo

Whidbey Island’s underwater robotics team poses for a picture at the international competition this summer at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way. From left to right are Derrick Riley, Christopher Wilson, Hannah McConnaughey, Austin Drake and Haley McConnaughey.

Team takes 11th at world competition By JANIS REID South Whidbey Record Members of Whidbey Island’s homegrown underwater robotics team were honored by the Island County Board of Commissioners on Monday for placing 11th in an international competition. After becoming Pacific Northwest Champions in early May, the Atlantis, Inc. team members competed at the

12th Annual MATE International ROV Competition against more than 30 of the best high school teams from around the world, including Macao, Egypt, Venezuela, Scotland, Taiwan, Canada, Singapore, Macau, Hong Kong and the United States. More than 620 teams around the world participated SEE COMPETITION, A11

The Island County commissioners are considering an ordinance Monday that would put new Conservation Futures Fund purchases on hold for one year. The proposal has raised concerns from program supporters who fear that the measure, which would reduce the levy and prevent new projects, would be a permanent decision and halt the Conservation Futures projects for good. A public hearing on the ordinance will be held 6:15 p.m. Monday at the Board of County Commissioners Hearing Room. Commissioner Kelly Emerson said Friday that she supports the proposal. She said that she has repeatedly asked for a moratorium on new Conservation Futures purchases, and that the ordinance is a compromise she and Johnson reached during the budget process. During the budget process, Emerson had called the program “out of control.” Commissioner Jill Johnson said Friday she has received more than 100 emails from concerned citizens accusing her of “attacking” the program and saying, “Don’t get rid of the program.” Several letters to the editor have appeared in the Whidbey News-Times and South Whidbey Record. Johnson said this is not her intention. “Where I’m coming from SEE FUND, A16


South Whidbey Record, November 23, 2013