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Patrol calls off ferry searches -- News Roundup

Patrol calls off ferry searches

Faced with a dearth of new information about terrorist threats to state ferries, the Washington State Patrol has called off its random searches of vehicles waiting to board.

In a news release, the WSP said it undertook the searches at the request of the Coast Guard.

But a recent opinion from the state Attorney General’s Office said the searches would be legal only in response to terrorism alerts.

“The attorney general advised that we needed to evaluate the degree of threat on a continuing basis,” WSP spokesman Capt. Glenn Carmer said.

“Because there were no new threats last week, we called off the searches.”

Although the cursory searches prompted few complaints from those subject to them, the practice drew fire from numerous quarters, including the Legislature and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Because ferry captains could and did deny boarding to vehicles that refused to be searched, critics questioned whether the searches were voluntary, as the WSP claimed.

The WSP will beef up its presence at ferry terminals and on the vessels, and may resume the searches later, Carmer said.

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****Trailer goes up in flames

An abandoned trailer was destroyed in a suspicious blaze near Island Center early Monday.

A passing motorist used a cell-phone to report smoke in the area, apparently coming from a vacant lot east of Miller Road across from Island Center Hall.

Fire crews entered the wildly overgrown grounds to find an early-1960s, single-wide trailer engulfed in fire.

Three-thousand gallons of water later, the flames were gone but so was the trailer.

Fire investigators determined that the blaze started in the forward end of the trailer, in combustible materials atop an old bed.

Cause of the blaze was unknown; the property is not served by power, and no one was present when fire crews arrived.

Several other rundown trailers and sheds occupy the property, which is believed to be frequented by transients, Fire Chief Jim Walkowski said.

Police also investigated a break-in at a second unoccupied trailer Monday, at a farm just across Miller Road from the site of the blaze. It was unclear whether the incidents were related.

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****Condo units get go-ahead

Planning Director Stephanie Warren has given the green light to a condominium complex planned for the the north side of High School Road east of Deschamps Realty and Lumberman’s.

The Stonecress complex will not have a significant impact on the environment, Warren found.

The plan calls for 45 two-story units – most in duplexes – on the westerly portion of the 10-acre Martin-Patterson property on the northwest corner of High School and Ferncliff Avenue.

The development will be clustered on the south portion of the property to avoid wetlands farther north, and on the western portion, which is zoned for up to eight units per acre.

The eastern portion of the property closest to Ferncliff, zoned for two units per acre, will not be a part of the Stonecress development.

The complex is being built by Central Highlands builders of Bremerton. Units will average 1,200 square feet in size, with two or three bedrooms, a loft and two and one-half baths.

Dave Smith of Central Highlands said in his permit application papers that he hopes the prices will be under $250,000.

Building may begin by the end of August, with sales beginning in the fall, the application papers say.

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****High School closure looms

A quarter-mile stretch of High School Road will be closed to thru-traffic from July 8-20, public works officials said this week.

The road will be closed between Weaver Avenue and Sportsman Club Road for installation of an underground stormwater detention system.

Vehicle traffic will be detoured down Weaver, to Wyatt Way and Finch Avenue, although a designated pedestrian corridor will be maintained on one side of the street, engineer Lorenz Eber said.

The work is slated to last 12 calendar days, as part of the extensive pedestrian and bicycle improvements now under way.

The full project is expected to be done in late August.

Information: 842-1212.

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****Realtor still waves the flag

For the 15th consecutive year, Coldwell Banker’s real estate office in the Village will distribute American flags to island homes.

The tradition, begun under former owner Marie Gallagher, will be continued under new owners Barb and Rod McKenzie.

Flags can be picked up this week for distribution to one’s neighbors.

For information, call Sharon at 842-1733.

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