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Michelle and Reese Cernick. (Submitted photo)

From despair has come hope.

Reese and Michelle Cernick have overcome great hardship, bringing their family to Whidbey in 2013 and, once here, setting themselves up as key contributors in both the sports and business worlds.

The couple coach co-ed teams through the Central Whidbey Soccer Club, with their son Chris, a freshman at CHS, and twin 14-year-old daughters Autumn and Aurora, all having played for their parents.

Michelle is also a frequent volunteer with the local schools and joins up with Lori Taylor to run a Girls Scout troop.

And now, having worked in the field for the past two years, Reese launched Whidbey Pest Control in March.

“I hope that I never take for granted how blessed we are to see such beauty every day,” Michelle said. “We love Coupeville and have met some of the nicest people.

“This is the first place that Reese and I have lived in our 16 and a half years of marriage that has really felt like home,” she added. “Our children love it here and have made some terrific friends.”

The move to Whidbey might never have taken place if a 2008 road rage incident in Nevada, which left Reese severely injured, hadn’t thrown the family into a spiral.

Reese was working as an underground gold miner in Elko (“the middle of nowhere”) when a semi-truck driver intentionally slammed into the back of the vehicle in which he was riding.

Having turned his head right as the impact occurred, he took a severe shot, and had trouble walking after the accident.

Reese endured an endless string of tests, many of them after traveling several hours, with few answers, until a chiropractor in Idaho was able to make a break-through.

The integrity of the muscles in his back were compromised, and while the chiropractor was able to get him walking upright after three weeks, he continued to endure overnight trips to have his back worked on.

With her husband unable to work for some time, Michelle babysat fellow miner’s kids.

“I had kids in my house seven days a week, 24/7, and I still couldn’t get us out of debt.”

Even as his back got better, Reese had to face the reality he would be limited on doing any kind of serious manual labor.

He eventually returned to work at a car dealership, and the couple were working full-time, trying to pull themselves out of the financial hole created by the accident, when they visited Whidbey.

Reese’s mother and grandmother, who both fight severe illness, live on The Rock, and once here, the Cernicks decided the time to relocate was upon them.

“When we were here that summer we had talked about what it would be like to retire to Whidbey one day, but never in our wildest dreams did we ever imagine moving here as soon as we did,” Michelle said. “We are so grateful to be living in such a beautiful place.”

Once here, the duo quickly became part of the booming youth soccer scene.

Their daughters wanted to play, CWSC needed volunteers, and a perfect union was formed.

The Cernicks began with a U12 team (Reese coached, Michelle was manager), then they bounced up to create a U14 co-ed squad as their children got older.

“This team had all of our children on it — fun times,” said Michelle. “The co-ed team started out so small and we only had one team from week to week to play out of Oak Harbor, but it has really grown.

“Coupeville now has two full teams and Oak Harbor has three.”

Reese is also on the board of directors for the league, while Michelle does a little bit of everything.

“I don’t have an official title and have never been voted in,” she said with a laugh. “I just do whatever needs to be done.

“I love to be able to contribute my time to these kids.”

Chris made the jump to high school soccer this spring, playing for the Wolf JV, and his sisters will make the same transition in the fall.

That doesn’t mean their parents will desert CWSC.

“This is the last year that we get to coach our girls, but Reese and I fully intend to continue coaching, because we love it,” Michelle said. “We have so many kids on our team that work really hard and it shows in our games.”

Along with soccer, Girl Scouts and school activities, the Cernicks have branched out further in the community by making the decision to open their own business.

Building on the experience he picked up working the bug-hunting biz for another company the last two years, Reese has found his niche.

“We wanted a business with flexible scheduling, because soccer is life, and one that Reese could physically handle,” Michelle said. “We wanted a business where we could work closely with people and treat them fairly.”

They have 60-day warranties on most services, handle about any kind of pest you can name (maybe not blind soccer refs…) and offer free inspections.

Invite them to your home or business, and the Cernicks try and make the experience more than just a quick scan and bid.

“When we come to your house we don’t just inspect, write you a bid, and leave,” Michelle said. “We both greet you with a friendly smile and handshake.

“We tell you a little about ourselves and our company. We explain everything we are going to do before we do it so that you are as comfortable with us as you are the process,” she added. “We don’t want our customers to feel like just another job to us.

“We want them to feel like family.”

That attitude, and the duo’s love of volunteering, led to them donating their services to Ryan’s House, a youth outreach program in Coupeville.

Michelle’s Girl Scouts are joining the effort.

“We have a terrific group of girls and they are are so excited they get to help out,” Michelle said. “Ryan’s House has so many wonderful people that volunteer there and they shouldn’t have to worry about ants or any other critters invading their space.”

Whidbey Pest Control operates 8-5 Mon-Fri and can be reached at (360) 632-9080 or whidbeypestcontrol@gmail.com.

 

Full Disclosure: Whidbey Pest Control is a supporter of Coupeville Sports, but I would have written this article even if it wasn’t.

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Marc Aparicio (Photos courtesy Penn Cove Tap Room)

   Marc Aparicio pours in the bittering hops as he and brother Mitch work on creating their first IPA. (Photos courtesy Penn Cove Brewing Company)

Mitch Aparicio

Mitch Aparicio stirs things up.

Bastion

   The Aparicio boys, hanging out with the pros at the Bastion Brewing Company in Anacortes.

The boys have been busy, brewing up a surprise or two for everyone.

Marc and Mitch Aparicio, Coupeville athletic legends turned high-flying business owners, are about to hit their one-year anniversary with The Penn Cove Brewing Company.

The brothers timed the opening of the business’s physical location, The Penn Cove Taproom (103 S. Main) to last year’s Penn Cove Mussel Fest and will be going big for this year’s event.

They’ll have different bands performing Mar. 3-5 (during the kick-off Friday and the two days of the weekend-long fest itself), while offering their patented mix of tasty brews and snacks.

The outside seating will be open (as locals bargain with the weather Gods for a snow-less fest) and the place will be hoppin’.

But that hoppin’ actually gets going a couple of days earlier, when the Aparicios debut their first original craft beer Mar. 1 at 6 PM.

Brewed in conjunction with Bastion Brewing Company in Anacortes, “Madrona Way IPA” is rumored to be the taste sensation that’s gonna be sweepin’ the nation.

Desribed by Marc Aparicio as “a nice, full-bodied IPA, just a little bitter but delicious, a true Northwest taste,” the new brew is the first in what the brothers hope will be a long line of locally-created product.

The Aparicios would like to be able to brew in Coupeville sooner rather than later, but, for their first venture, hooked up with Bastion, a newer company which is already earning a solid rep in the business.

Marc and Mitch worked hands-on in the process, learning the art of brewing first-hand from Bastion’s pros.

The finished product, which combines Columbus, Citra and Simcoe hops, comes in at 6.5% ABV (alcohol by volume) and 75 IBU (International Bitterness Units).

Rumors that a line has begun to form outside The Taproom to be first to try the “Madrona Way IPA” could be true. You’ll have to go see for yourself.

Might want to go get in the car now, just to be safe.

 

For more info on the Bastion Brewing Company:

http://bastionbrewingcompany.com/

For more info on the Penn Cove Brewing Company:

http://www.penncovebrewing.com/

 

**Full disclosure: While The Penn Cove Brewing Company has advertised with me in the past, I received no money or beer for writing this article.**

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Mitch (left) and Marc Aparicio (Photos courtesy Penn Cove Brewing Co.)

   Mitch (left) and Marc Aparicio hang out with their biggest booster. (Photos courtesy Penn Cove Brewing Co.)

old school

   High school days, when Marc (left) and Mitch were sports stars at Coupeville High School.

Two local brothers are about to brew up some sweet changes in Coupeville.

Mitch and Marc Aparicio, stellar Wolf athletes in the late ’80s who have gone on to launch successful careers and families, have reunited and are closing in on opening Penn Cove Brewing Co.

The business, which is scheduled to have a soft opening in late Jan. and a grand opening Feb. 7, will be located in the heart of the town.

It will sit at 103 S. Main, in between Harada Physical Therapy and Whidbey Natural Pet, right across the street from the Coupeville Elementary School.

When the duo kick off their new venture, they intend to make a big splash by becoming the go-to spot for craft beer.

Working with small, local breweries across Washington State, they will offer a wide selection of craft beer, many of which are currently only available at the breweries themselves.

They also intend to eventually brew and sell their own specialty craft beer and mead (honey wine) as the business grows.

The beers, and a healthy assortment of local wines, will be paired with food, including fresh seafood plucked out of nearby Penn Cove.

Initial plans are to offer a lunch menu, as well as small food plates for happy hour and dinner.

With their food, the brothers want to appeal to students and nearby office workers looking for a quick bite on their lunch break, as well as pairing their taste concoctions with drinks for those times when people are able to kick back and let the day wash away.

The key word in all of this is “local,” as the Aparicios want to involve the community on all levels, from the products they carry to creating a place where everyone can gather.

To do that, they will be working closely with others to use their new business to help promote local artists and musicians (Mitch is the longtime drummer and founder of classic rock band Jacobs Road).

After graduating from CHS in the late ’80s, the duo went off on different paths, with Mitch heading into sales and marketing while his younger brother became a career military man.

Marc retired from the United State Coast Guard earlier this year and has returned to live on Penn Cove. He was recently hired as the new head baseball coach at his alma mater.

With Mitch back on the Island since 2000, having brought his wife (fellow CHS grad Tami Stuurmans) and daughters home, he was waiting for a full-time brotherly reunion.

Now that the duo are back in the saddle again, the skies are the limit.

Blessed with a genuine passion for their product — they light up like kids on Christmas day when discussing craft beers — the Aparicios want to establish a business that is more than just another storefront.

They want to create a destination.

A place where, like on “Cheers,” everyone knows your name and memories are created over a great drink, a nice bite or two and a chance to be a vital part of a close-knit community.

And they’d love for each and every one of you to come along on the ride.

To find out more, pop over to:

http://www.penncovebrewing.com/home.html

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Rick Dorsey

Rick Dorsey

Rick Dorsey traveled across the country to find his niche.

The Florida native, who’s been hard at work in the kitchen at Christopher’s on Whidbey the past two years, is stepping up to take on a new challenge.

Dorsey is replacing Bruce Stevens as chef/owner Andreas Wurzrainer’s executive sous chef.

Stevens, who will continue to work at Christopher’s on a limited basis, needs to devote more time to Emily’s Sweets and Treats, the booming cupcake business he and wife Emily own and operate on Front Street.

The couple is also expecting their first child.

The transition allows the 26-year-old Dorsey, who has an extensive, varied culinary background, to bring his distinctive cooking style and quick wit to the forefront.

It’s not the first challenge for him — Dorsey helped to open several restaurants while working in Florida — but it will allow him new opportunities to fine-tune his already formidable skills.

Andreas has always given me opportunities to spread my wings, and this is a great chance,” Dorsey said. “Bruce has been a great help in the transition. He’s backed me up 100% and been there for me every day.”

A fan of cooking shows (he favors wild-eyed mad man Gordon Ramsey) and a nice piece of meat (“I can eat a good steak any day of the week … if I’m the one who cooks it”), Dorsey got his start the old-fashioned way — cooking with mom.

Growing up in a military family, he benefited from having a mother who enjoyed making meals, and was quick to show her son a lot of valuable kitchen secrets.

“My mom, Stacy, was my biggest influence,” Dorsey said. “She made these great home-cooked meals, like really incredible fried chicken, that I took for granted at the time, and taught me a lot.

“That’s where I learned, peeling onions and potatoes for her, learning how to make gravy from scratch.”

He pinwheeled from the home kitchen to a culinary arts program at his high school, where his teacher, a grizzled Navy vet, opened up a whole new world to an impressionable chef in the making.

“It was like a great boot camp,” Dorsey said. “I did three years working in the cafe we had there at the school and learned timing and presentation.

“Mr. (Jeff) Rotz was a great teacher. He got me excited about cooking.”

After a stint in higher education (“the college thing was not for me”), Dorsey made the plunge, learning his trade in the best way possible. Work for different chefs and pick up knowledge from all of them.

He put in a year making sushi in Tallahassee under a New York-bred chef (“A really cool experience”), then went on to work in the fine dining world at a steak/seafood place where the chef took top honors in the region two years running.

It was there he got the chance to work on the creation of two new restaurants — an Irish pub and a sports bar — creating menus and melding his own cooking style with others.

Having realized cooking was “more of a career and less of a job,” Dorsey is proud of how far he has come, while keeping an eye firmly set on continuing up the mountain.

He’d like to keep ascending in the business (“that’s the goal of every chef, to dive all the way in and maybe own my own restaurant some day”), while paying homage to all those who have taught him along the way.

“I’m sort of a chameleon,” Dorsey said. “Taking all my influences, everything I’ve been lucky to learn, and mixing it with my own food.”

The move to Whidbey was a way to be closer to his parents, who were already living here, and he’s embraced Island living, whether playing in pick-up basketball games or producing top-quality food.

“I like this town (Coupeville), the atmosphere, the continuity, all the festivals,” Dorsey said. “It’s a tight-knit group and it’s been great to be so accepted. It’s a really nice place.”

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Emily Norris and Bruce Stevens welcome you to their new establishment. (Bruce Stevens photo)

Emily Norris and Bruce Stevens welcome you to their new establishment. (Bruce Stevens photo)

Sweet treats trump sleep.

Hot on the heels of their wedding and moving into a new house, and while juggling full-time jobs at local eateries, Emily Norris and Bruce Stevens are getting into the cupcake business.

Their latest joint venture, Emily’s Sweets & Treats (two doors down from Norris’ parents business, Kapaws Iskreme, on Front Street) opens 10 AM Monday, Oct. 27.

At the moment the front door opens and the smell of fresh baked goodies (plus a whiff of freshly brewed espresso) hits the streets, it’ll be just the start for the duo.

Bruce is the executive sous chef at Christopher’s on Whidbey, while Emily is on the wait staff at Front Street Grill.

Continuing to work their first jobs, caring for a fairly new dog at home and opening a seven-day-a-week business (the shop will be open 10-4) will take commitment, hustle and hard work.

But it was an opportunity they couldn’t pass up, after the building that housed the Mariti Chocolate Company for the past 17 years suddenly came available this summer.

Norris has done special orders for cupcakes in her spare time, including several events where she paired wines with her desserts for Front Street Grill and Vail’s Wine Shop.

Now, having a full-time shop gives her a chance to explore a field where she recently discovered she had a passion.

“I made a cake for my best friend on a Valentine’s Day,” Norris said. “I found I really enjoyed it.

“I made cake, I made her day, it was great!”

After taking over the location, the couple redecorated, brought in shiny new equipment (including a snazzy espresso machine) and prepared to take the plunge into being business owners of a shop that combines cuteness with streamlined beauty.

All of the baking will be done on location, with the selection growing as the business does.

Opening day you can expect chocolate chip cookies (which Norris was hand-crafting as she talked about her business venture), peanut butter cookies, brownies, muffins, cupcakes, scones and more.

Hot chocolate will be available to go with the edibles, and the espresso machine, with its 14 flavors of syrup sitting ready (the beans come from JennyBean Custom Coffee in Coupeville), is ready to dispense lattes, Americanos, mochas, steamed milks and the like.

The goal of the cozy little shop, and its down-home owners (Norris is a former Coupeville High School cheerleader, while Stevens hails from the land of Tom Brady), is to be an extension of your own kitchen.

Just without you having to do any of the hard work.

“We’ll have really yummy stuff,” Norris said with a huge smile as she shaped a cookie. “It’ll be like going to a friend’s house and baking something together.”

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