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News-Times Whidbey


Town from Philippines new sister A14 city

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 16, 2014 | Vol. 124, No. 31 | WWW.WHIDBEYNEWSTIMES.COM | 75¢

Office Max says it’s not leaving

Commission to propose plan for the wood from felled oak By JESSIE STENSLAND

Owner applies to remodel for Grocery Outlet

Staff reporter

The wood from the post office oak tree should be turned into several, or perhaps many, works of art by wood carvers and others artists from the Whidbey community. That was the general, albeit loose, consensus of the members of the Oak Harbor Arts Commission during its meeting Monday night. The commission’s job is to make a recommendation to the City Council, but anything definitive is months away. “A story pole is something I could get really excited about,” Arts Commissioner Nora O’Connell-Balda said, referring to a proposal to commission a totem-pole-type sculpture from the wood. “I would like to see every last piece be used by local artists,” Commissioner Peggy Darst-Townsdin said. More than a dozen people, many of them woodcarvers, attended the meeting to give their two cents about what should happen with the wood from the 330-year-old Garry oak, which the city cut down last month because of safety concerns. Artist John Griffith, a lifelong Oak Harbor resident, said he regrets that the city has lost so many landmarks over time, but he proposed that the wood from the oak could be used to create new landmarks. He suggested that an “art walk” could be created with pieces placed along Pioneer Way, for example, and leading to a large piece at the site of the oak stump. Steve Backus, a South Whidbey chainsaw artist, said the city chose him to carve the tree 10 years ago, when officials first planned to cut the tree. He received a $4,000 down payment, but then officials decided the tree could be saved. Backus said he’s still wants to do the project, but it will be different this time. The original plan was to leave the humongous trunk and carve it in place, but now it’s been chopped down. He had proposed creating a design SEE OAK TREE, A24

By JESSIE STENSLAND Staff reporter

tions, nearly double the number from 2013. This year’s event featured a marathon, half marathon, 10K, 5K and children’s 1K. Mother Nature was also undaunt-

Oak Harbor city officials are scratching their heads about the future of the Office Max store visible from State Highway 20. Koetje Road LLC, the company that owns the Office Max property, submitted an application to the city’s Development Ser vices Department to remodel the 23,700-square-foot building for a Grocery Outlet store. Problem is, Office Max isn’t planning to leave. In an email, Julianne Carelli, senior manager with Office Max public relations, said that the office supply business has no plans to close the store on Northeast Koetje Street. A couple of employees told the Whidbey News-Times they heard rumors about Office Max closing, but they were told by company officials that it’s just rumors. Likewise, Mayor Scott Dudley and Development Ser vices Director Steve Powers said they’ve heard the same story from Office Max employees and are curious about what’s going on. Patrick Davis, construction manager for Grocery Outlet, said plans to move into Oak Harbor aren’t solid. “Nothing has been agreed upon,” he said, but added that he couldn’t discuss the plans in detail. Terrance Lien, of Bellingham, a representative for Koetje Road LLC, did not



Photo by Jim Waller/Whidbey News-Times

Oak Harbor’s Cynthia Allen (2816, far left) and Jerome Stewart (2795) are among the 1,625 half marathoners who run up Midway Boulevard one mile into the 13.1-mile race.

Runners’ paradise Marathon draws more than 3,000 to Whidbey Island

By JIM WALLER Sports editor

Evidently. the running gods are not superstitious. The 13th running of the Whidbey Island Marathon on the 13th of April attracted more than 3,000 registra-

Whidbey News-Times, April 16, 2014