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Morgan White

Nancy Conard

I am not impartial, and I’m not going to pretend to be.

My original plan was to follow the historical path of the newspapers and do interviews with the candidates for the Coupeville School Board, letting them present their ideas and beliefs in (hopefully) straight-forward news stories.

But the more I thought about it, the more I reflected on it, I realized that path wasn’t the path for me.

I am not impartial, and I’m not going to pretend to be.

Of the five candidates for three open positions, one, Sherry Phay, is assured reelection, as she’s running unopposed.

I strongly support and endorse her, not that she needs either my support or endorsement.

Phay has been a strong, vocal addition to the board, someone willing to speak out, step up, and stand tall in the service of making sure Coupeville schoolchildren get the best education possible.

Her continued board membership is a true win for our community, and she, Glenda Merwine and Christine Sears form a solid core as directors.

Venessa Matros and Kathleen Anderson, who are both wrapping up their runs on the board, deserve praise for all they have accomplished, as well.

Both were involved for the right reasons, were deeply-committed, and put community above self in their actions.

Those are traits which have served previous board members of note, from Don Sherman to Brent Stevens and on.

This year’s two contested races, which will be decided in November’s general election — there’s no primary needed in Island County this year — feature two Coupeville grads who would be outstanding additions to the board.

Nancy Conard and Morgan White are immensely-qualified, and would bring passion, persistence, and pride to their positions.

Their opponents, Paul Rempa and Ward Sparacio, respectively, are running, seemingly, for one reason — Island County conservatives are putting a concentrated effort into getting bodies on all three Whidbey school boards.

I’m not going to badmouth the duo in this article, other than to say that in attending a lot of events in Coupeville, I have yet to see either man in person.

Perhaps I need new glasses, perhaps not.

Conard and White, on the other hand, are a frequent presence.

The former, who was the business manager at Coupeville High School for decades, as well as mayor of her hometown, is helping raise her granddaughter, who will be a freshman at CHS this fall.

The latter, an Air Force veteran, has two children who are blazing a path through our schools even as we speak.

Conard and White are at games, they are at school events, they are actively, intimately involved in volunteering.

They are committed, and were so long before the day they filed to run.

Conard followed her Navy father to Coupeville in the early ’50s — she was pushing two-years-old and didn’t have much of a choice — and has remained here for much of her life.

Four years on the town council. Two decades as our mayor — and one of the calmest to ever hold the position.

Whether she agreed with you or not, she always gave everyone a chance to speak their piece at meetings, even when it was the town ass-hat, a low-rent lawyer with a punchable face.

Returning to Coupeville High School after college, Conard worked as a secretary, then assistant to the superintendent at her alma mater.

Promoted to district business manager in 1977, she put in 27 years in charge of accounting, financial reporting, and contract-negotiating.

Her books were impeccable, and Conard became president of the Washington State Association of School Business Officials, the first small-district rep to break through a big-city stranglehold on the job.

I’ve known her for years, dating back through the Videoville and Miriam’s Espresso days, and have always found Nancy to be a straight-shooter.

She’s not afraid of conflict, will hold her ground when she has valid reason to do so, but always, always, operates with a deep love for her town and the people she shares it with.

I am not impartial, and I’m not going to pretend to be. I strongly endorse Conard.

The former Morgan Cannon graduated from CHS 28 years after Conard (1998 vs. 1970), and went on to marry Greg White, son of highly-respected Coupeville principal Rock White.

Her ties to her town and its education system are many, and the roots run deep.

Like Conard before her, White didn’t wait for a school board race to contribute, as she is one of those Wolf moms who is everywhere at once.

In the classroom and out of it, be it the PTA, sports, field trips, or drama club, the small business owner finds time to put in the work and we have a better school system, and community, for it.

Personally, I benefit from her camera work, as White has been gracious enough to allow me to use many of her photos from CMS and CHS sports events.

She’s super-involved and has a deep understanding of what needs to be done to help Coupeville’s schoolchildren reach their full potential.

I am not impartial, and I’m not going to pretend to be. I strongly endorse White.

But it goes beyond endorsing this trio of brilliant women, who will help our school board remain the best of the three on Whidbey.

I am deeply cynical about politicians — a byproduct, possibly, of growing up with a conspiracy-loving father, and a jackass of a grandfather who hated ’em all, Republicans or Democrats, crusty conservatives or bleeding-heart hand-wringers, preaching often about the evils of The Man.

Driving my sister, a political junkie, a bit bonkers, I have refused to vote my entire life.

Well, other than a classroom race for 3rd grade president, where I peeked when we were supposed to be voting with our heads down, then promptly voted AGAINST myself so I would lose by one vote…

But this time around, after a half-century of telling The Man to stuff it, I have actually — the pain, the pain — registered to vote in a real election.

My first votes as an adult will be cast for Sherry Phay, Nancy Conard, and Morgan White to be Coupeville School Board members.

It doesn’t have to be a negative vote — no matter what I may personally think of one incredibly morally-deficient, honor thief, internet troll of a candidate.

I registered to vote, and will do so, for positive reasons, instead.

I believe in these three women, and I think their election would be a huge positive for the school and town that I have chosen to write about.

I am not impartial, and I’m not going to pretend to be.

Pitch mania sweeps Wolf Nation.

The Central Whidbey Soccer Club is currently registering players for its fall season, with all plans calling for a return to a normal season.

The rec soccer program is aimed at children who “desire to play soccer in a fun environment, with a level of competitiveness.”

Teams are offered for players from U6 to U15, with teams U10 and up playing games against clubs from North and South Whidbey.

Those contests are generally played on Saturdays in Coupeville, Oak Harbor or Langley.

Practices are in Coupeville, and are usually 2-3 times per week.

Registration closes September 1.

The club, which is run by volunteers, is also interested in adding new coaches.

Want to play? Want to coach? Want to help out in any way?

Pop over to Home (centralwhidbeysoccer.com) for more info.

Coupeville High School softball sensations Izzy (left) and Savina Wells will be a senior and freshman, respectively, this coming school year. (Katy Wells photo)

Wolf juniors Gwen Gustafson (middle) and Sofia Peters hang out with coach Lark Gustafson. (Paula Peters photo)

They exited with a roar.

Handing the previously-undefeated Skagit Bats travel team its first loss of the summer, the Coupeville High School softball squad earned a doubleheader split Wednesday night.

Following up a 5-4 win in the opener with a narrow 6-3 loss to a well-rested Burlington squad in the nightcap, the Wolves finished their off-season run with a strong 6-3 record.

Coupeville nailed down the victory when Gwen Gustafson lifted a sac fly to the heavens in the bottom of the seventh inning, sending Savina Wells scooting for home with the deciding run.

The Bats have spent the summer blowing people out, but Coupeville came close to toppling them the first time around, falling 13-10.

Take that narrow earlier defeat, then flip the script with Wednesday’s win, and CHS coach Kevin McGranahan came away pleased, noting it as “a great measure of development.”

After a tense opening game in the July heat, the 2B Wolves hung tough with 2A Burlington, before running out of gas at the end.

“We were hot and exhausted, and Burlington was fresh with only one game,” McGranahan said. “We lost, but definitely could beat them if fresh.”

With a full roster for summer ball, the Wolves can only benefit from the additional playing time.

“This was a great summer and the team gelled very well,” McGranahan said. “We will be ahead of the game come season start.

“I am so proud of all the girls that practiced and played through the summer; their commitment and work ethic will pay off.”

McGranahan also praised the player’s families, and his coaching staff, which includes Ron Wright, Lark Gustafson, Katrina McGranahan, and Aaron Lucero.

“I want to make sure and thank all the parents; without their support this doesn’t work,” he said. “We had packed stands every Wednesday evening.

“This coaching staff is amazing; these girls are in good hands.”

While he won’t work with his players as a group again until next spring, Kevin McGranahan hopes each diamond warrior takes the initiative to keep improving.

“Well, about six months off now, and the team needs to work on their own through fall and winter to maintain where we are,” he said. “Well done, ladies! See you in about six months.”

Coupeville rival La Conner will remain the Braves after approval from the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

They will edit, but not erase.

The La Conner School District has received permission from the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community to retain use of its Braves mascot.

However, there will be some changes to the actual look of that mascot, which depicts a Plains Indian wearing a feather headdress.

La Conner High School will remove a logo of the mascot from the floor of its gym, and some posters and team uniforms will be replaced.

The move follows the passing of a state law — House Bill 1356 — banning the use of Native American names, symbols, or images in public schools.

School districts which include what is termed “Indian Country” can be exempt, if local tribes issue a resolution in support of retaining mascots already in place.

The Swinomish tribe and the La Conner school district have a long history together, dating to the early 1900’s, when tribal children began attending La Conner schools.

Current numbers from the state’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction list 34% of La Conner’s students as Native American.

Two of five school board members are Swinomish tribal members, while new Superintendent Will Nelson is also Native American.

While using the Braves name and logo for its sports teams, La Conner also incorporates the moniker in other ways, with the district motto being “Be brave.”

District schools have worked to keep Swinomish tribal heritage as a vital part of their curriculum, with drumming, carving, and Lushootseed language classes offered to both tribal and non-tribal students.

House Bill 1356 provides funding for school districts to make changes such as removing the current logo from the gym floor.

Going forward, the district and the tribe will work together to craft a new image which is “more appropriate to the Coast Salish people.”

After camping in Coupeville for a decade-plus, the Whidbey News-Times moved back to its old home up in Oak Harbor in mid-2020, but no longer has the use of the entire building. (Photo property Garage of Blessings)

The living history of Whidbey Island no longer … lives on Whidbey.

It’s not a commonly-known fact, but the archives for the Whidbey News-Times, South Whidbey Record, and Coupeville/Whidbey Examiner all reside in Port Angeles these days, unable to be accessed by readers or journalists.

For the most part.

It’s a tale with no villains, however.

Just a story of how newspapers, especially those operating with long histories and limited storage space, have had to adapt.

So, yes, as I try and pull together the last 100+ years of Coupeville athletics into a semi-coherent story, the lack of local newspaper archives (public or private), does make that self-appointed job a bit tougher.

But there are reasons, valid ones, for why we are where we are today.

For those that don’t know, these archives I speak of are primarily comprised of bound volumes of the newspapers, with the earliest dating back 125+ years.

Depending on the thickness of the papers at the time, the volumes vary between six months and a year.

Which meant during my own days at the Whidbey News-Times (1990-1994), or my current vagabond years, I could usually pluck out say, “January-June, 1963,” blow off the dust, and leaf through history.

For the general public, that ended around 2013, when the inherent brittleness of old newspapers became a concern and the archives were restricted to employee access only.

“I was finding pieces of the oldest editions on the floor and volumes left in unacceptable condition after they were viewed by the public, despite posted notices of how to treat the books,” said WNT Publisher Keven Graves.

“We have had one user of the archive who wore gloves and, as she handled the volumes, would make museum-quality repairs to them as she went. That was greatly appreciated.”

Even after the archives were closed, I was granted the occasional dispensation, allowed to investigate stuff if I was super-careful and refrained from eating soup while leafing.

When the pandemic hit, that went away however, with access to the WNT building restricted to current employees.

As long as they weren’t eating soup while leafing…

While many newspapers transferred their product to microfiche back in the day, that was only done sporadically on Whidbey.

As the years went by, doing a whole-sale update became much too expensive.

“Because of the extent of the archives, the cost of putting everything on microfiche was prohibitive,” Graves said. “There were years when we did have the current volumes put on microfiche, but I haven’t located those, and we no longer have a microfiche reader.

“I’m not aware of when the microfiche copies were discontinued, but I suspect it was during the last office relocation to Coupeville (10+ years ago).”

Sno-Isle libraries currently have some WNT editions on microfiche, but it’s an extremely-limited amount.

During the height of the pandemic, the News-Times relocated its offices back to Oak Harbor, returning to the building at 800 SE Barrington Drive where I worked in the ’90s.

Back then, the newspaper occupied the entire two-story building, with printing presses active on-site.

Today, the bottom floor is occupied by the Garage of Blessings thrift store, limiting the newspaper to the smaller top floor.

Finding room for the news staff, plus advertising salespeople, was tricky enough, without trying to schlep heavy bound volumes along for the trip.

“We had absolutely no room for the archives anymore,” Graves said. “We downsized substantially last year in the midst of the pandemic.

“While we wanted all or some of the archives on site for our own research purposes, it just wasn’t feasible,” he added. “Also, the weight of the archives in one place on a second floor unit was a bit of a concern.”

Compounding the problem is that the archives aren’t just the bound volumes.

Writers and photographers, including Whidbey legends such as Wallie Funk, Dorothy Neil, and Jim Waller, have been collecting all sorts of historical stuff for decades.

“Relocating the archives offsite was never the desired result of downsizing our office, but given the circumstances, it was really our only one,” Graves said. “In addition to the newspaper back volumes themselves, there are photo archives comprised of dated and notated negatives/proof sheets.

“There were also some administrative archives that required storage,” he added.

“Lastly, that amount of storage in a space this much smaller could ultimately present a fire and safety hazard because of inadequate space for storage. It would have looked like a hoarder’s dream.”

When it became clear the archives would have to be sent elsewhere, they were “laid flat, wrapped, and protected,” and are now “stored in appropriate conditions until their return someday to the Island.”

In my mind, I’d like to imagine the Port Angeles facility looking like the sprawling warehouse at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

The newspaper archives are wheeled in, then locked away with the Ark of the Covenant, assorted UFO doo-dads, and a photo or two of Graves himself back from when he was rockin’ the ‘stache in the ’80s.

“I feel the need, the need for ‘stache!!” (Geoff Newton photo)

Mr. Responsible shoots that idea down, however.

“Unlikely,” Graves said with a chuckle. “I haven’t seen it, but I was assured they will be well-protected and preserved until we can bring them on site again someday.”

With the archives off-Island, one seemingly-valid question is how that affects the current News-Times and Record staff, which is largely comprised of young reporters who did not grow up here, and don’t necessarily have an extensive knowledge of Whidbey’s past.

This can be worked around, however, Graves said.

“Most background that we need is within the past 10 years, which is available on our websites,” he said.

“Beyond that, if needed, a reporter could make the arrangements to make the trip to the peninsula to do research. That hasn’t been necessary during this past year.”

Graves, who worked at the News-Times as a young reporter and assistant editor, before going on to run newspapers in other areas before his return to Whidbey, can also be tapped as an asset.

As can WNT editor Jesse Stensland, who has put in two-decades-plus at the paper.

“Between Jessie and I, we have fairly comprehensive knowledge/background dating back to 1986,” Graves said. “This serves as a reasonable starting point for reporters if they need to gather background.”