Archive for the ‘Everything changes’ Category

The Whidbey News-Times currently shares a building with Garage of Blessings, a free thrift store.

Whidbey Island’s newspapers are in the market for a new boss.

RJ Benner, who was the Group Publisher and Sales Director with the Whidbey News-Times and South Whidbey Record, didn’t make it to his one-year anniversary.

Instead, he’s now the Publisher and Advertising Director for the Aiken Standard in South Carolina, a position he started Sept. 12.

Benner replaced Keven R. Graves Sept. 13, 2021, after Sound Publishing, under the ownership of Canada’s Black Press, parted ways with the longtime Whidbey-based journalist.

Graves worked at the News-Times from 1986-1994, left to launch the rival Coupeville Examiner, then moved to Yelm in 1999 to run the Nisqually Valley News.

He returned to Whidbey in 2013, as Publisher and Executive Editor for Whidbey’s papers.

A former President of the Washington Newspapers Publishers Association, Graves led his staffs to an often-staggering number of awards, while also being one of my journalistic mentors.

His successor, who came from the sales and advertising side of the biz, worked in Arkansas and Oregon before briefly fronting Whidbey’s papers.

Benner’s run is among the shortest of any Publisher at the WNT, where familiar names such as Wallie Funk, Craig Dennis, or Marcia Smith appeared in the masthead for years.

Sound Publishing is notorious for scrubbing bylines off of online stories written by former employees.

Still, a search Wednesday night for RJ Benner on the News-Times web site still reveals five publisher columns and a shout-out to the food at the Braeburn.

Only one of the six articles is from 2022.

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Burn ’em if you got ’em.

Thanks to abundant rain in the early days of summer, Island County’s annual outdoor burn ban is arriving later than normal.

But it is coming, as of midnight on July 30.

The ban, which was announced Monday by Island County Fire Marshal/Sheriff Rick Felici, covers outdoor burning of natural debris, even with a permit.

Recreational fires are still allowed in approved fire pits, with the fire no more than three feet in diameter and two feet high.

The burn “must be contained within a fire pit that has been cleared of all combustible material within a 10-foot radius, (and) must be monitored at all times.

Also, “there must be a water source readily available — at a minimum, a charged water hose or a five-gallon bucket of water.”

Barbeque grills using propane or briquettes, or self-contained camp stoves, are also allowed during the burn ban.

The burn ban was put in place due to “atmospheric conditions of reduced moisture levels, low humidity, and warmer weather.”

For outdoor burning info, contact the Island County Health Department at (360) 679-7350.

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Savina Wells, one of Coupeville’s best and brightest, has moved to Florida. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Savina Wells has taken her talents to South Beach.

Or, at least somewhere close to there.

A family move to Florida will subtract the rising sophomore from Coupeville High School sports rosters, bringing an end to a stellar run in Wolf uniforms for the youngest child of Lyle and Katy Wells.

The move also affects Cow Town’s teaching depth, as Katy Wells was an Elementary Paraeducator for the Coupeville School District.

Savina, who followed in the footsteps of Ulrik and Izzy, who both graduated from CHS, has been at the forefront of Coupeville athletics since she was old enough to walk.

In the early days, you’d be at one of her siblings’ games, and there would be Savina doing a series of never-ending cartwheels, all while never losing the bag of chips she was bringing back from the snack bar.

The Wells sisters fuel up before wreaking havoc on the diamond.

Once she was old enough to capture the spotlight, she was a gold-plated star from day one.

Did I think about calling Savina “The Chosen One?”


Did I show restraint for once, though, and not refer to her as that in print until now?

Definitely, though it was a tough battle with the shameless hype master living inside me.

A standout in little league and youth sports, Savina made her high school basketball debut as a precocious 8th grader and was second on the team in scoring during a pandemic-shortened season.

Through her first year-and-half of high school hoops, she racked up 133 points, leaving her 85th all-time among Wolf girls for a program which started in 1974.

Older sister Izzy graduated with 204 points to her credit and is #58 all-time.

Soaring above the competition.

Savina was also a varsity volleyball and softball player for CHS during her freshman year.

On the volleyball court, she registered 70 kills, 47 digs, five block assists, and 42 service aces in her debut, ranking #2 on the team in aces and #3 in kills.

When spring rolled around this year Savina was Coupeville’s starting catcher, where she hauled in pitches from her sister.

The lanky fab frosh was a dangerous hitter and a fleet-footed runner, cracking a steady string of extra-base hits for a Wolf squad which went 16-3.

Savina hauls in another strike from big sis Izzy.

Coupeville has taken a hit in the offseason from family moves, losing four talented athletes in the prime of their prep careers.

Along with the Wells clan moving to Florida, other Wolves departing include sisters Olivia and Amaya Schaffeld and three-sport star Mikey Robinett.

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Olivia Schaffeld delivers a kill. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Amaya Schaffeld sprints for home.

The Schaffeld sisters will shine elsewhere.

A family move will subtract two of Coupeville’s best young athletes, with Olivia and Amaya Schaffeld set to suit up in a new town this fall.

Olivia, who will be a junior, was a key player for a CHS varsity volleyball team which went 11-6 last season.

She earned Honorable Mention status when Northwest 2B/1B League coaches selected All-Conference teams, one of four Wolves honored.

Olivia racked up 69 kills, 37 digs, nine block assists, and 26 service aces during her first varsity season, finishing in a tie with Jill Prince for most block assists by a Wolf.

The elder Schaffeld was #4 on the team in kills and aces.

Her younger sister also earned a varsity letter, even before reaching high school.

Amaya was the lone 8th grader on the CHS varsity soccer squad, playing forward for the Wolf booters.

Lil’ sis wrapped things up this spring by competing in track and field, back at the middle school level.

During the season, Amaya ran the 100, did the high jump, and was part of a 4 x 100 relay team.

The Schaffeld sisters’ departure continues a recent trend of family moves trimming Coupeville rosters, with Mikey and Dylan Robinett also leaving town.

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A family move will take Wolf three-sport star Mikey Robinett from Whidbey Island to Tennessee. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Coupeville’s loss is Nashville’s gain.

Three-sport star Mikey Robinett, one of the most promising young Wolf athletes, won’t be wearing a CHS uniform next school year.

Instead, he and his family will be in Tennessee after a family move in the next couple of weeks takes them to Music City.

Robinett, who just wrapped his sophomore year at CHS, plays football, basketball, and track and field.

On the gridiron he had a sizable impact on both sides of the ball.

While playing defense, Robinett delivered thunderous cracks, while on offense he showed great promise as a runner.

Basketball, where a large senior class is departing, is the one sport where he’s been a JV player.

Robinett crashed the boards with intensity last season and looked to be in the mix for making the jump to the top team.

The Wolf super sophomore earned his first trip to the track and field state championships this spring, where he was an alternate for the 4 x 100 relay squad.

During the season Robinett also competed in the 200, 3200, discus, and long jump.

He’s not the only active Wolf athlete in his family either, as younger brother Dylan is a cross country, basketball, and track athlete who just wrapped his 7th grade year.

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