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WEDNESDAY, MAY 14, 2014 | Vol. 124, No. 39 | WWW.WHIDBEYNEWSTIMES.COM | 75¢

Hospital will sell land on south island

Raises for co.’s elected officials on table


By JESSIE STENSLAND Staff reporter


Oak Harbor Motors has survived and grown while other businesses have come and gone. They are celebrating their 35th year this August. The key to their success, the Horrobins say, is pretty straightforward. “We try to treat people like we want to be treated,” Mike Horrobin said, “and we’ve tried to instill that in our employees.” “It’s the people you have working for you,” Cathy added. “That’s the secret. We’ve been fortunate to have great employees.” The Horrobins said they believe that the Oak Harbor community is at a crossroads and they see reason for optimism. Mike Horrobin said the city’s plans for a sewage treat-

Should raises for elected officials be a budget priority? That’s one of the questions facing Island County commissioners as they begin the budget process for next year and decide where to invest tax dollars that are slowly accumulating as the recession fades into history. Commissioners Helen Price Johnson and Jill Johnson met with other elected officials Monday afternoon to kick-off the budget process with a discussion about countywide priorities. Johnson noted that the county is in the midst of a salary study on certain staff positions and asked whether the county should plan for possible wage increases for those who may earn less than average. The elected officials, however, focused instead on their own salaries. Island County Prosector Greg Banks noted that elected officials haven’t had a pay raise since 2009, while members of two unions received cost of living adjustments. “Most elected officials feel we are falling way behind,” he said. Indeed, a study by Budget Director Elaine Marlow shows that most county officials’ salaries are near the



Whidbey News Group

Whidbey General Hospital will move forward with the sale of a 4.5-acre lot in Bayview. The board of commissioners agreed in an unanimous 5-0 vote at it’s regularly scheduled 7 a.m. meeting Monday that the property was no longer compatible with the designs of the hospital, and that selling the property was the best decision. “It seems to me to hold the property really doesn’t make sense,” said Commissioner Grethe Cammermeyer, who represents South Whidbey. She added that she had not heard negative feedback from the community about selling the undeveloped lot, only about the circumstances surrounding its original purchase six years ago. “It’s been about how we got it, the process that took place,” she said. Located across Highway 525 from The Goose Community Grocer, the undeveloped lot was bought from a private landowner for $1.98 million in January, 2008, as the site of a future South Whidbey clinic. The board at the time didn’t get an appraisal, but Island County property SEE SELLING, A14

Photo by Jessie Stensland/Whidbey News-Times

Mike and Cathy Horrobin stand in the showroom of Oak Harbor Motors. They will be celebrating their 35th year in business this August.

Key to success no secret at all, say dealership’s owners


W Staff reporter

hen Mike and Cathy Horrobin moved to Oak Harbor in 1979, the city had four car dealerships and seven furniture stores. Now the Horrobins own the only remaining car dealership in the city — the only dealership in Island County. Oak Harbor Motors sits alive and well at the busy intersection of State Highway 20 and Pioneer Way, but yet just across the highway looms the empty lot that was once Frontier Ford. The large, empty building that once housed the Whidbey Furniture Store sits across Pioneer Way; only one furniture store remains in the city limits.



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Whidbey News-Times, May 14, 2014