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Prairie Perks, Coupeville’s lone drive-thru coffee stand, is NOT closing Sunday, as originally announced.

The espresso machine stays turned on, at least through the end of the year.

Prairie Perks, a drive-through coffee shop located in the parking lot next to where Coupeville’s bowling alley used to be, is NOT closing this Sunday, Nov. 7, as originally announced.

The reversal of fortune hit Facebook mere minutes ago.

“Just like that – Prairie Perks is staying put!,” the business posted at 10:39 PM Wednesday night.

“Looking forward to continuing to serve our fabulous customers through the year.”

No word yet on what 2022 will bring.

The business, owned by Mary and Robert Engle, launched in 2010.

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Keven R. Graves

The Man (left), back in the days of the ‘stache. (Geoff Newton photo)

An earthquake just ripped through the world of Whidbey Island journalism.

Sound Publishing, which under the ownership of Canada’s Black Press, operates the Whidbey News-Times and South Whidbey Record, has parted ways with Keven R. Graves, longtime Publisher and Executive Editor of those publications.

His final day at the papers was August 27, and he is now employed by Island County, aiding in its response to the ongoing pandemic.

Graves replacement is believed to be RJ Benner, and his first day on the job is expected to be Sept. 13.

While Graves followed a nearly lifelong news path, his replacement springs from the sales side of the industry.

A check of Benner’s LinkedIn page shows his most-recent job being Regional Director of Sales (Group Publisher) in Arkansas for the Gannett/USA Today Network.

Sound Publishing’s decision ends a long run for Graves with Whidbey’s newspapers, one which has played out across two time periods.

His most recent stint began in Feb. 2013, when he returned to Whidbey after working in Yelm.

Graves, who dipped his toes in the journalism waters as a teenager working with local newspaper legend Wallie Funk, was hired full-time after graduating in 1987 from Western Washington University with a Bachelors in Journalism.

He had a summer newsroom internship with the WNT in 1986, then worked from ’87 to mid-1994, first as a reporter, then an Assistant Editor under Fred Obee.

Graves and a group of fellow News-Times employees left to start their own newspaper, the Coupeville Examiner, which launched in May 1994.

After five years as Editor and Co-Publisher (alongside Mary Kay Doody), he and his family moved to Yelm, where he was employed as Publisher/Editor by the Nisqually Valley News from 1999-2013.

When he returned to Whidbey, Graves took control of the News-Times, Record, and the Whidbey (Coupeville) Examiner, which had been sold to Sound Publishing/Black Press during his time in Yelm.

The Examiner was retired in 2017, after a 22.5-year run.

Graves also held influential posts at a state level, working extensively with the Washington Newspapers Publishers Association.

He was a trustee from 2008-2012, served as First Vice President from 2012-2014, then did two terms as President of the WNPA.

During his newspaper career, Graves led multiple newsrooms in winning an often-staggering amount of awards, both for individual and team work.

This included taking home General Excellence, the highest WNPA honor for a newspaper, multiple times.

 

Full disclosure:

I worked with Graves at the Whidbey News-Times from 1990-1994, during which time I spent two years as a freelancer, and two years as Sports Editor.

I also wrote as a freelancer for the Examiner for much of its life, and my movie column ran in the Nisqually paper, among others, during his time there.

Even when I was driving him insane, he has been one of my main mentors.

He never shied away from tough stories, but also always looked to celebrate the positives to be found in small communities.

Graves stared down cultists in Yelm, and rarely lost his sense of humor even when a pack of poop-flinging “political bloggers” gave him their “Asshole of the Year” award here on Whidbey.

His name may no longer be on the masthead, but his impact on Whidbey journalism will endure.

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Want to watch Steve Kiel work the volleyball lines? You’ll have to pay. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The free ride is over.

With the pandemic throwing everything asunder last school year, Coupeville High School waived entry fees, allowing fans to view any and all Wolf games for free.

Now, we’re going back to reality.

CHS, like its fellow Northwest 2B/1B League rivals, will once again charge for entry to volleyball, football, and basketball games during the 2021-2022 school year.

Softball, tennis, track and field, soccer, cross country, and baseball remain free.

 

NWL admission prices for 2021-2022:

$6.00 for adults and high school students without ASB cards
$4.00 for visiting students with ASB cards and senior citizens (62+)
$4.00 for grade school (K-5) and younger

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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.”

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