Archive for the ‘Not sports? Tough!’ Category

An Oak Harbor man has been arrested in the 2011 Montana murder of the man seen above, Mike Crites. (Photo property of Helena Independent Record)

It’s the kind of story Ann Rule would have written.

A cold-blooded killing in Montana has led, nine years later, to an arrest on muggy Whidbey Island.

Oak Harbor resident Leon Michael Ford, 66, was arrested Wednesday and will be charged with deliberate homicide and tampering with evidence in the killing of a man whose chopped-up remains were found in trash bags in Helena back in 2011.

Both charges are felonies.

The remains of the victim, John “Mike” Crites, 48, were found in multiple locations.

Trash bags containing body parts were found at MacDonald Pass outside Helena in October 2011, followed by the discovery of more remains, including the victim’s skull, a year later near Elliston.

The two sites sit approximately 23 miles apart.

At the time of Crites death, Ford owned 15 acres north of the victim’s property northwest of Helena, according to a story in the Independent Record, a daily newspaper in Helena.

The victim and suspect were reportedly involved in a dispute concerning trespassing and property access, and were scheduled to meet on the last day Crites was seen alive.

Ford was arraigned Thursday in Island County, with his bail set at $500,000.

A second hearing has been set for Monday, Aug. 24, and law enforcement is asking for the suspect to be extradited to Lewis and Clark County, Montana.


The original story on the arrest:



A follow-up story detailing evidence allegedly linking Ford to the crime:


Read Full Post »

The Mukilteo/Clinton ferry run returns to two-boat weekend service starting this Saturday, Aug. 22.

The move, announced Thursday, ends a two-month period in which only one vessel was in operation on the busiest travel days of each week.

Also getting a second boat back on weekends is the Edmonds/Kingston run.

Both routes have been operating with just one boat on weekends since June 20, due to “a lack of crewmembers needed to meet U.S. Coast Guard requirements.”

In a press release, Washington State Ferries said “more than 100 high-risk WSF vessel and terminal employees have been unavailable due to the (COVID-19) pandemic.

“In addition, new hires were unable to undergo mandatory face-to-face training until June.”

The ferry system has been able to add 16 new crewmembers and 10 terminal attendants in the past month.

“We’re now at a point that we can incrementally increase service and are working to restore sailings on additional routes in the weeks ahead,” said WSF Director of Operations Greg Faust.

Read Full Post »

Coupeville Schools Superintendent Steve King

Coupeville schools, in whatever form they operate this fall, will open six days later than originally planned.

The first day was set for September 8, but has been moved to Sept. 14 to allow staff members and teachers extra time to prepare for a return to education in the age of coronavirus.

“This will give our district almost two weeks of formal training and preparation so that we can be successful in launching the school year,” Coupeville Schools Superintendent Steve King said in an email sent to parents.

Oak Harbor schools, which were set to start Sept. 3, are also moving to a Sept. 14 start.

While most large school districts across Washington state have publicly announced a move to 100% online learning to start the fall, King has previously said Coupeville will announce a decision Aug. 7.

In his email to parents, the superintendent included a survey, seeking input on four education models.

“I will start by saying that this is all very complex and is a very difficult decision,” King said. “I can tell you that all four models I am giving you and our community members can all be delivered in compliance with the state guidelines for opening.

“If we have students in person we can sanitize and disinfect our schools on a daily basis, we can do health screening, and we can set up classrooms with students six feet apart.

“We also are committed to providing training for whatever model we reopen with.”

King also noted feedback may influence future decisions on how Coupeville phases back into school, if there is a complete online start, either by local decision or state mandate.

So far, Governor Jay Inslee and Superintendent of Public Education Chris Reykdal have left the decision in the hands of local superintendents, but, with COVID-19 cases surging, the decision may come down from the head office.

For now, Coupeville is broaching four plans:


Everyday Reopening Model:

Modified schedule (Middle School/High School 8:00 AM-1:30 PM, Elementary 9:30-3:00)

Teacher planning periods will take place outside student school day to maximize teaching force/reduce class size.

Students will lose specialist time at elementary and some electives at secondary, allowing a few elective and specialist teachers to operate as school substitutes to ensure subs are available for sick teachers.

Lunches will be delivered to classrooms, with no school assemblies in order to avoid large gatherings.

Large spaces such as gyms and the CHS Performing Arts Center will be utilized as additional classroom space.

Outdoor learning will be emphasized for classes, with PE taking place outdoors on a daily basis.


K-3 Everyday & Hybrid Model:

K-3 will be in class Monday-Friday.

There will be two options for grades 4-12 — in school Monday-Tuesday, online Wednesday-Friday, or online Monday-Tuesday, in school Wednesday-Thursday, online Friday.

Students in 4-12 will be assigned additional work for remote learning days, with teachers available each Friday for virtual check-ins with students and/or family.


K-12 All Hybrid Model:

Two options – in school Monday-Tuesday, online Wednesday-Friday, or online Monday-Tuesday, in school Wednesday-Thursday, online Friday.


Remote or Distance Model:

Online Monday-Friday.

All students will start school year with remote or distance learning, then be able to transition back to in-person education when it is decided it is safe to hold school.

Likely that schools would transition from this to a hybrid model first, before returning to traditional full in-person school day.

In this model, Coupeville will provide more distance learning training for teachers and parents, and will work with local organizations to assist families with essential workers with childcare.


For families who don’t want to return their students to in-person school, the district is also working with Spokane Virtual Learning to create a version of its program which would be provided by Coupeville teachers.

If that option is chosen, a student is locked-in, and can’t return to in-person learning during the 2020-21 school year.

For more info on the program, pop over to:


Read Full Post »

Coupeville Schools Superintendent Steve King

The Coupeville School District is targeting August 7 for an announcement on how it will reopen for the 2020-2021 school year.

The first day of school is currently set for Sept. 8.

“I know that this is a top priority for everyone and I will start by saying that we are committed to educating our students with health and safety as a top priority,” Superintendent Steve King said in an email.

“We also need to make sure that we address issues of equity, giving each and every student in our district the opportunity to be successful.”

Coupeville schools, like all others in Washington state, have been shut down since March as the world deals with the COVID-19 pandemic.

A decision will need to be made as to whether to return to full-time in-person teaching, full-time online learning, or a hybrid of the two.

Many larger school districts in the state, from Seattle to Tahoma, have chosen the 100% online option this week.

Coupeville is in a unique situation, though, as Island County is in Phase 3 of Governor Jay Inslee’s four-phase reopening plan, while all surrounding counties are still in Phase 2.

In his email, King said the district is sending out a second survey to staff and families to gauge where everyone stands on the different educational options.

The Superintendent will also consult with school board members, union group leaders, Island County Public Health officials, and his peers from the Oak Harbor and South Whidbey school districts.

King and his staff are reviewing regional and state health data, and also working closely with the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Northwest Educational Service District.

Whatever decision King comes to will need to be approved by the Island County Health Department.

After all that, it is entirely possible the decision will be taken out of his hands, he admitted.

“Over the past several months I have learned that trying to predict things can be dangerous and we can certainly never count on anyone’s predictions during these unprecedented times,” King said.

“Having said that, I want you to know that I do think that there is at least some possibility that the state may only allow remote or distance learning as the school year approaches.”

The Washington Education Association has asked Inslee to mandate all state schools use the 100% online option when schools open, but, for now, the choice remains in the hands of the superintendents.

“At this point opening schools is still a local decision,” King said. “So we will proceed with our decision-making plan as I have outlined.

“I hope that each and every one of you enjoy the rest of your summer and I encourage everyone to enjoy the many positives that continue to exist in our lives even during difficult times like these.”

Read Full Post »

But we can have one more fire to honor Beavis before Island County’s burn ban starts.

The great fire God, Beavis, demands our tributes.

But if you live in Island County, better get crackin’ with the cracklin’, as a Type 1 Outdoor Burn Ban goes into effect at 12 PM Friday, July 24.

While the ban was expected, it comes a bit later than in recent years, thanks to the fairly-frequent rain we’ve had this spring and summer.

Once the ban is in effect, no outdoor burning of natural debris, even with a permit, is allowed.

Recreational fires in an approved fire pit are still kosher, however.

Those fires are limited to three feet in diameter and two feet high within enclosures and when safety precautions are followed.

Recreational or cooking fires can consist only of charcoal, seasoned firewood or propane-fueled firepits and must meet the following requirements:

**Enclosures must be AT LEAST 14 inches high, no wider than three feet, and made of cement blocks, stones or #10 gauge steel.

**Burned material must be kept BELOW the top of the enclosure.

**There must ALWAYS be a charged garden hose OR two 5-gallon buckets of water OR a 5-gallon Class A fire extinguisher and shovel present.

**Fires MUST BE 15 feet from combustibles, standing timber or overhanging tree branches.

**Someone 16 years old or older must ALWAYS be present to monitor and/or extinguish the fire.


For more info or questions:

Island County Health Department (360-679-7350)
Northwest Clean Air Agency (360-428-1617)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »