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South Whidbey

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Sheriff talks burglaries at meeting Crowd expresses frustration, anger over ongoing crime

By JESSIE STENSLAND South Whidbey Record About half of the 40 burglary victims who showed up at a special meeting with law enforcement Thursday night were from rural areas of South Whidbey. One woman said her South Whidbey home had been hit four times in five years. Another woman said burglars took eight security cameras off the eaves of her home before breaking in. Several in the audience at the Coupeville Recreation Hall described the problem as an “epidemic.” Many people expressed frustration with law enforcement and crossexamined Island County Sheriff Mark Brown about what can be done. South Whidbey resident Rufus Rose, for example, said he wants to connect with other burglary victims to see what they can do “in concert” with the sheriff’s office. Brown and other law enforcement of ficials from Langley, Coupeville and Oak Harbor tried to address the concerns, pointing out the difficulties in investigating certain types of crimes, the legal restrictions on police and the limitations of resources.

Justin Burnett / The Record

Island County Sheriff Mark Brown talks about funding issues during a meeting on property crime in Coupeville Thursday. Brown even hinted that a law-and-justice levy may be coming to voters. Still, many victims want

to see more done. Omer Lupien said he and a friend had $12,000 worth of tools stolen last

Halloween while they were putting up a pole building on North Whidbey. He expressed frustration at

the response he received from the Island County Sheriff’s Office. He and his friend started knocking on doors and found eight other burglary victims in the area; they even found suspects, but nobody was ever arrested. “We never got a straight answer,” he said, referring to law enforcement. “We never even got a call back.” Jennifer Yzaguirre, the community service officer for the Oak Harbor Police Department, explained that she volunteered to set up the meeting in order to help the sheriff, who doesn’t have the funding for such a position in his office. The sheriff lost nearly a third of his force during recession-era budget cuts. “I’m doing this to help you out,” Yzaguirre said. “I hope you realize I’m not your enemy.” Yzaguirre contacted people from 185 residences that were burglarized over the past year and invited them to attend the meeting. She asked people from different areas of the county to raise their hands. There was only one person from inside Oak Harbor; the rest were from rural areas of North and South Whidbey. Yzaguirre gave a SEE BURGLARIES, A20

WGH officials respond to state audit findings By NATHAN WHALEN South Whidbey Record Several employees at Whidbey General Hospital are seeing some smaller paychecks thanks to a snafu in a new payroll system.

“We believe the audit was fair and we appreciate the chance to correct any shortcomings in our payroll procedures.” Trish Rose WGH spokeswoman

State auditors in a report released Feb. 18 said hospital officials did not have adequate controls over payroll to safeguard public resources. The result of that condition caused the hospital to make $183,000 in overpayments to employees. Whidbey General Hospital is busy recouping the money SEE HOSPITAL, A13

Public weighs in on fairground proposal: animal interests among top concerns By BEN WATANABE South Whidbey Record Animal safety and comfort, failed bonds and adequate demand were among the chief worries spoken at a public presentation Tuesday about drastic changes proposed for the

Island County fairgrounds. A crowd of about 75 people crammed into the Coffman Building to hear and see the plans for restructuring the facility’s management and revamping its structures. Some of the most noticeable changes are a planned reduction

of 27 buildings to 12 and the paving of the RV park and campground south of the main fair area. “We have more facilities than we can use … ,” said Paul Schell, owner of the Ben Watanabe / The Record


Ray Gabelein speaks during a fair meeting on Tuesday.

South Whidbey Record, February 22, 2014  

February 22, 2014 edition of the South Whidbey Record