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Record South Whidbey

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Family farms begin season See...A10

SATURDAY, MARCH 22, 2014 | Vol. 90, No. 24 | WWW.SOUTHWHIDBEYRECORD.COM | 75¢

KOMO helicopter crash hits home on South Whidbey

Christening of the Tokitae

By JESSIE STENSLAND South Whidbey Record

By JUSTIN BURNETT South Whidbey Record South Whidbey is mourning the loss of a well-known and respected news photographer and videographer this week. Bill Strothman, 62, died Tuesday, March 18, in the KOMO TV News helicopter crash in Seattle. He had long ties with Whidbey Island and leaves behind grieving family and friends in the Freeland area, including his sister Loretta Martin. “He was the best man I have ever known,” said Martin, of her younger brother. Born on Christmas, she described Strothman as a gift, and a man of impeccable professional and personal character who earned the respect of everyone he met. “He was a really, really nice person,” said Mike Small, also of Freeland and a lifelong friend. “Probably the best I’ve ever known.” Similarly, Ann Pearsall, another childhood friend of Strothman’s and a Freeland resident, said that although they lost contact over the years, she will always remember Strothman as a kind and generous man, and the person who introduced her to her husband, Bruce Pearsall. “He was a good friend,” she said. Strothman lived in Bothell, but he and Martin have roots on South Whidbey. Their parents purchased the second commercial property available in Freeland near the SEE STROTHMAN, A13

Feds OK Snohomish PUD underwater turbine pilot

trict commissioners agreed to do just that for Freeland resident Steve Smith, who complained that his plans to build a single family home were being hobbled by the same rule. District commissioners defended the decision, saying the size and complexity of the Sunny View Village project make them two very different developments, and that district guidelines provide water commissioners with the flexibility to make some decisions on a case-by-case basis.

Plans to install the first tidal turbines in the sea floor off Whidbey Island passed an important regulatory hurdle this week. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [FERC} issued a license to the Snohomish County Public Utility District for the pilot project. If the PUD’s commissioners decide to go forward with the project, the turbines will be the first of their kind in Puget Sound. The Island County hearing examiner, however, is yet to make a decision on appeals of permits granted to the PUD by the Island County planning department. Steve Erickson of Whidbey Environmental Action Network, which challenged the project on the federal and local level, said he expects the parties to appeal the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s decision. “This is going to be litigated for a while here,” he said. Craig Coller, an assistant general manager for the PUD, told the South Whidbey Record last month that FERC had rejected the appeals and that the license would be issued shortly, which occurred Thursday. Whidbey Environmental Action Network, the Tulalip Tribes, the Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe, PC Landing Corp. and the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community filed motions to intervene. Whidbey Environmental Action Network was concerned about the on-land portion of the project, which could impact a scarce plant community. The tribes

SEE FEE POLICY, A20

SEE TURBINES, A20

Mark Mulligan / The Herald

Washington State Secretary of Transportation Lynn Peterson, right, congratulates workers after christening the state’s newest ferry, Tokitae, Thursday morning at the Vigor shipyard in Seattle. The Tokitae was named after Lolita, an orca captured in Penn Cove in the 1970s, and will serve on the Clinton-to-Mukilteo ferry route. The 144-car vessel will replace the 124-car Cathlamet, which is being moved to the Vashon Island route. After sea trials, the Tokitae is scheduled to go into service on the Mukilteo-Clinton route in June. For the full story, see page A12.

Fee policy irks Freeland developers Water commissioners agree to work with Sunny View developers By JUSTIN BURNETT South Whidbey Record The Freeland Water and Sewer District made it clear this week that it does not consider all developments to be equal and that water commis-

sioners can force some customers to pay upfront for some services and not others. District commissioners told leaders of the 26-unit Sunny View Village project Monday that it would work to resolve a logistical problem with a years-old policy that forces future customers to pay water-right fees upfront when seeking a water availability letter — a document that states whether the utility has enough water for a development — but that it would not simply waive the rule. But later at the same meeting, dis-


South Whidbey Record, March 22, 2014