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South Whidbey burglaries rise 39 percent in two years

The end of an era “He’s a great guy to have in your corner.” Curt Gordon, former parks commissioner

By JUSTIN BURNETT South Whidbey Record On a late Monday evening, Carolyn Tamler and her husband came home after a few days off-island to a sight every vacationer dreads — they returned to a house that had been burglarized. Strangers had been in their home. They had entered without permission, riffled through their dressers and made off with about $10,000 worth of their belongings. But while many have asked her since if she feels “violated” or unsafe in her home, the Freeland community blogger responds with a smile and a shrug. The thieves got away with some jewelry and expensive watches, yes, but an act of goodwill by a total stranger resulted in the recovery of something far more precious: her wedding photos. “I can go out and buy another pearl necklace,” she said. Losing the photos, however, would have been heartbreaking. They were found, along with some other items, along the side of Goss Lake Road by a man out for an early morning stroll. The thief had apparently discarded them as worthless the day before. Tamler marvels at how they were stumbled upon just one day after the burglary. Had they been found much later, they almost certainly would have been ruined by Whidbey’s wet winter weather, she said. Given the choice, Tamler said she’d take the pictures or the return of her cat, that SEE BURGLARIES, A13

What kind of mayor does Langley want? By BEN WATANABE South Whidbey Record

He is one of the longest-tenured elected officials in the parks district’s history, if not South Whidbey and Island County history. The runner-up in terms of years served is Curt Gordon, now a Port of South Whidbey commissioner, who served 20 years on the parks board. “He and I were side-by-side building a lot of the things that they’re doing now,” Gordon said of Porter. “I watched Jim take that stalwart position and continue on down the line. He had this overwhelming sense of responsibility and sense of community spirit. He just wasn’t willing to leave. He knew there was more to do.” Porter’s family has lived on Whidbey Island since the late 1850s. He recalled growing up on South Whidbey, playing at the scattered ballfields around the area in Midvale and Maxwelton. When momentum built toward founding a tax-funded park district — back then the vision was for a single property — Porter joined the cause. South Whidbey

Langley city leaders are poised to finalize and approve the 2014 budget Monday, including Mayor Fred McCarthy’s $53,000 salary. The mayor’s pay, once divisive in the 1,050-resident Village by the Sea, has raised the issue of what kind of mayor does Langley want and need. Given the city council’s appointment of McCarthy in February and his subsequent unopposed election in November, it would seem the city’s residents approve of a full-time mayor loaded with credentials. McCarthy spent most of his career in education before retiring as a doctorate-level superintendent of the South Whidbey School District in 2011. “I’m finding that I’m probably putting in, conservatively, 50 to 70 hours a week, because there’s a lot that’s done on-site and a lot that’s done off-site to keep everything moving,” McCarthy said. After former mayor Larry Kwarsick resigned in early 2012, three Langley City Council members appointed McCarthy as the interim mayor. Councilmen Hal Seligson and Bruce Allen sought appointment to the mayor’s office and were



Ben Watanabe / The Record

Jim Porter will step down Tuesday, Dec. 17 after 30 years on the board of commissioners for the South Whidbey Parks & Recreation District. He was a founding member in 1983 when the levy-funded district was established with a 40-acre donation from the Waterman family, property now used as South Whidbey Community Park. The district now manages 420 acres across South Whidbey.

Porter reflects on 30 years as parks leader By BEN WATANABE South Whidbey Record Back when Jim Porter helped launch and lead the South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District, cassettes were still the preferred mobile medium for music, Ronald Reagan was president, and “Star Wars Return of the Jedi” first played for theater audiences. Now, 30 years later, Porter will attend his final parks commissioners meeting Dec. 17, the capstone to a long career in public service. “It’s a good, round year,” the 67-year-old Porter said of his decision to leave the parks board. “We can get some young, new blood, new thinking in here.” In 1983 when a group of volunteers worked diligently to found the parks district, the guiding goal was a community center with nearby ballfields. Today, that remains a goal parks leaders strive toward with renewed discussion of an aquatic and community center on South Whidbey. “If there’s anything that was unfulfilled, it’s that,” Porter said.

South Whidbey Record, December 14, 2013