Whidbey gardeners have bad case of poppy love page A11
SATURDAY, JUNE 14, 2014 | Vol. 124, No. 48 | WWW.WHIDBEYNEWSTIMES.COM | 75¢
Chief: OH needs new fire station By JESSIE STENSLAND Staff reporter
front seat of his black Chevy Tahoe than at any chair behind a desk. “I’m in the people business,” Ollis said. “The people are out in the field, at the stores, at the locations, in the communities. That’s where I spend the bulk of my life.” On a recent morning, Ollis spent time sitting in the sun outside one of his Whidbey Coffee
Since becoming chief of the Oak Harbor Fire Department, Ray Merrill has pushed to improve the city’s public fire protection classification. Merrill said the fire department has made strides, but that the city should make one big investment to bring the rating down. A new fire department building is needed in the growing southwest area of the city, he said. The ratings, issued by the Washington Survey and Rating Bureau, are a comparative measure of fire defenses and building code enforcement in communities throughout the state. Ratings run from 1 to 10 and the lower the better. A lower rating can mean big savings for homeowners and especially businesses in reduced fire insurance premiums, according to the bureau. A lower rating also means that the city is safer from fire risk. Oak Harbor has maintained a rating of 4 since 2007; Merrill characterized it as “very good.” In comparison, North Whidbey has a 6 rating, Central Whidbey a 7, Anacortes a 5, Burlington a 6 and Mount Vernon a 4. “We’ve done a lot already to improve our ratings,” Merrill said, pointing to the department’s extensive training requirements and the city’s investments in the water system. The department tried to improve its rating last year, but missed improving to a 3 by a relatively small number of points. The rating bureau looks at things like
SEE SUCCESS, A14
SEE RATING, A14
Photo by Justin Burnett/Whidbey News Group
Dan Ollis, owner of Whidbey Coffee, looks over coffee beans roasting at Victrola Coffee Roasters in downtown Seattle. Ollis acquired Victrola in 2007 in a move that gave him two brands to promote and one place to roast coffee beans. Whidbey Coffee is celebrating is 25-year anniversary.
Home-grown success Whidbey Coffee owner is content to keep it local
By RON NEWBERRY
H Staff reporter
is iPad is a constant whirl of activity. Dan Ollis keeps the device handy for communication on the fly. As president of a buzzing coffee company with 122 employees, he’s often on the go, figuring that his office is as much in the
Public Health ailing from uncertain funding By JANIS REID Staff reporter
Island County’s Public Health Department is suffering from symptoms that seem to be part of a statewide condition — unpredictable funding and rising costs.
To help remedy the situation, Island County leadership is taking a closer look at public health programs during upcoming budget talks. “We’ll have a conversation about if we want to have dedicated funds (for Public Health),” said Island County Commissioner Jill Johnson.
Public Health oversees a wide range of services including maintaining birth and death records, HIV/ AIDS testing, and monitoring the county’s wells and aquifers for toxins. These programs are primarily SEE FUNDING, A14
Identity thieves targeting mail A rash of mail thefts have occurred on Whidbey Island in recent weeks, according to the Island County Sheriff’s Office. Island County Sheriff Mark Brown warned that thefts are being reported island-wide, but are concentrated on the south end of the island. SEE THEFTS, A14
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