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Thursday, January 24, 2013

VOL. 18, NO. 25

Johnson addresses her critics By Justin Burnett Staff Reporter

Island County Commissioner Jill Johnson doesn’t like bullies and she isn’t going to be blindly loyal to her political party. If that hadn’t already been made clear by her record during her first two weeks in office, the freshman Republican commissioner dispelled any misconceptions about how she plans to approach her job, and deal with harsh criticism from fellow party members, during an Old Goats-Fully Informed Voters luncheon on South Whidbey this past Jill Johnson Friday. “I don’t like bullying. I don’t like it,” Johnson said. “It doesn’t work well with me, it’s not effective. If you’re somebody who wants to get something from me as a county commissioner, you need to have good ideas. They need to be thought out and well presented.” “I’m not going to meet your standard, ‘My way or the highway,’” she added. “I’m not going to bully you back or call you names. I’m just going to disengage. That’s how it is. I’m a county commissioner elected to serve the people of Island County.” And for the “more conservative” members of the audience, she had a special message. “I’m disappointed in you, just like you’re disappointed in me. I’ve been on this job two and half weeks and you expected what, some kind of blind loyalty, some kind of no thought behind my decisions? That’s what you thought you were going to get? I don’t think you know who you voted for,” Johnson said. “I’m going to think it through and do what’s right. You have four years to vote for somebody else who will blindly follow your cause. I’m going to make good decisions for Island County.” Johnson’s pointed comments came at the end of a 35-minute talk and were in response to strong criticism she’s received since taking office late last month, largely for decisions she’s made that have been in opposition to fellow Republican Commissioner Kelly Emerson. The Old Goats began as a conservative and Libertarian discussion group on South Whidbey about 25 years ago. It now meets monthly at the Useless Bay Golf and Country See JOHNSON, page 6

Justin Burnett photo

Jan and Ken Pickard pose for a picture before their property in Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve. It was one of a handful of properties recently preserved by the Whidbey Camano Land Trust.

Families protect Ebey’s Reserve By Justin Burnett Staff reporter

The financial sacrifice of a few was the gain of all Central Whidbey recently when nearly 250 acres of farm and wetland were forever protected from the threat of development. Late last month, the Whidbey Camano Land Trust wrapped up conservation easements on five properties within Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve, totaling about 90 acres of farmland. And shortly before that, the land trust secured the last of a series of properties acquired in 2012 on the East end of Crockett Lake, culminating in the preservation of almost 150 acres of pristine wetland and migratory bird habitat. “We’re just delighted these properties are protected because I think it’s going to be to the benefit of all Island County residents,” said Tom Cahill, who was president of the organization’s board of directors last year. Ebey’s reserve officials are hailing the

conservation effort a success, calling it a significant achievement for the land trust and a generous gift from participating landowners. “These lands have been identified as high priorities for protection for more than a decade,” Reserve Manager Mark Preiss said. “They are integral to the reserve’s mission.” Three of the five properties protected in December belong to members of the Pickard Family. Siblings Jan and Ken Pickard sold easements on two properties totaling 33 acres between Engle and Fort Casey Road, and the family’s LLC sold development rights on 23 acres across from Ebey Bowl on the North side of Terry Road. After more than 30 years of preservation

efforts in the reserve, the properties are like islands in a sea of already protected land. “We’re the last ones on the prairie,” said Ken, with a laugh. But neither he nor his sister begrudge the wait. Both have long been champions of preservation efforts within the reserve, with Ken being one of those responsible for its creation in 1978 and Jan serving multiple terms on the trust board. They even donated portions of their total profit margins to leverage additional grant money so even more property could be protected. The family LLC donated $50,000, See EASEMENT, page 6

Whidbey Examiner, January 24, 2013  

January 24, 2013 edition of the Whidbey Examiner

Whidbey Examiner, January 24, 2013  

January 24, 2013 edition of the Whidbey Examiner