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NEWS | Islanders mourn tragic death of a VHS student. [4] COMMUNITY | State cleans up [3] Dockton Park. ARTS | Ciderfest culminates in a barn dance at O Space. [13]

VOLLEYBALL TOSS-UP Girls team chalks up one win, one loss. Page 16

PIANIST PLAYS BRAHMS VAA’s fourth Chamber Music Series begins with a prodigy. Page 12



Vol. 57, No. 41


Questions plague Vashon’s newest ferry VMICC slated to Chetzemoka’s higher fuel costs, performance issues raise concerns

undergo wholesale changes


As Vashon’s newest ferry nears one year of service, lawmakers, Islanders and even state ferry workers are raising concerns about a boat that burns more than twice as much fuel as the one it replaced and requires a larger crew. And despite claims by state officials that the $80 million Chetzemoka and its two sister ships are well built and don’t require mechanical fixes, concern and confusion persist over the boats’ slight lists and perceived vibrations, as well as the Chetzemoka’s struggles on the TahlequahPoint Defiance route, where the crew must take special measures to keep the powerful boat’s engine temperatures high. “It’s a travesty,” said Jack Barbash, who rides the Chetzemoka daily to his job in Tacoma. “The public should be aware of how much the boat cost, how much it costs to operate and how much more cars it holds relative to the


office on Tuesday and will likely spend about three weeks poring over the agency’s financial information. The review is considered an accountability audit — a look at the kinds of internal controls the district has in place when it comes to both collecting revenue and spending it and the degree to which the park district is following both state law and its own policies. She expects to have the audit completed by the end of October.

A group of Islanders is seeking a large-scale restructure of the Vashon-Maury Island Community Council, proposing bylaw changes they say would make meetings more conducive to conversation and allow the council to reach a greater number of Islanders. “It’s a radical change, but when I explain it people are usually supportive,” said Tim Johnson, president of VMICC. Johnson has been working for months with a handful of other Islanders to form what he calls a new direction for the council. Recently defunded by King County and stripped of its official status, the community council has struggled to find its way. The council can’t fill its nine-person board, and it often fails to attract the 25 attendees required take a vote. The restructuring motion, which was put forward last month by Johnson and five other Islanders — several of them active in AllIsland Forum or Greentech — would make meetings less formal by ending the use of Robert’s Rules of Order. Johnson said the rules have proved problematic at meetings and even discouraged participation. Some who know the rules well abuse them, he said, and they have prevented open discussion of important issues. “A lot of people were



Natalie Johnson/Staff Photo

The Chetzemoka replaced the Rhododendron in January. Since then, some have questioned its performance. Rhody.” Lawmakers, meanwhile, say they’re asking the state for answers. Though they’re currently struggling to get to the bottom of a multitude of complaints and claims made about the boats, they’re also pledging to tackle the issues during the legislative session in January. “We’ve got some issues

with brand new boats that we hope we’re going to resolve,” said Sen. Sharon Nelson (D-Maury Island). The Chetzemoka began service on the Port Townsend-Coupeville route in late 2010 and was moved to the south end of Vashon in January, where it replaced the Rhododendron. The oldest boat in the fleet,

the Rhody had served the Tahlequah route for nearly two decades; it was taken out of commission because the aging vessel no longer met U.S. Coast Guard safety standards. But in the months since its arrival, the Chetzemoka has proved far costlier than the 55-year-old boat it replaced.

It uses about 67 gallons of fuel per hour compared to the Rhododendron’s 24 gallons per hour — a rate of fuel consumption that costs about $1.02 million more over the course of a year, said Marta Coursey, a spokeswoman for Washington State Ferries (WSF). What’s SEE FERRY, 19

Concerned by reports, state audits Vashon Park District By LESLIE BROWN Staff Writer

The state auditor’s office, prompted by press reports and citizens’ complaints, began an audit of the Vashon Park District this week in an effort to get a handle on the state of its accounting system. The auditor’s office is required by law to conduct such a review at least once every three years, and the park district was due to have an audit sometime next year, said Carol Ehlinger, audit

manager for the state. “We’re just doing it a year early,” she said. Citizen reports that the office received via its hotline system plus articles staff read in The Beachcomber “signified to us that there might be some risk out there that we need to address or take a look at,” Ehlinger said. “We’re not saying anything bad is going on,” she added. “We just don’t know what is going on.” A staff member arrived at the park district’s

Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber, October 10, 2012  

October 10, 2012 edition of the Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber

Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber, October 10, 2012  

October 10, 2012 edition of the Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber