Wednesday, May 2, 2012

We have a new website

Looking for a peek at today's paper? 
Go to

With the help of Derek Furman, we quietly launched a "real" website last week. We plan to keep linked to this blog, but as we get better at this, we'll be adding content to
Right now it has news, sports and classifieds. The Police Blotter will be another regular feature.

Photo by Don Coyote

Photo by Mickey Bambrick

Photo by Karla Reynolds

And finally ...
RIP Mr. Nibbles
Steve Pierce shares a tragic tale...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

in the April 25, 2012 issue ...

Reasons people love La Conner:
We're in bloom!                Photo by Don Coyote

Brody's lunchtime puppet show    Photo by Kirsten Morse

Swinomish canoes on the channel      Coyote photo
Thrilling rides                                  Coyote photo
We're blooming!                   Karla Reynolds photo
Waterfront dining                  Coyote photo

We're in for a dry spell...
Homeport Liquor will close on Saturday, May 5 – two weeks earlier than originally planned.
As one of 163 contract liquor stores, the La Conner Homeport Liquor’s inventory is all owned by the state, which will be out of the liquor business May 31, since voters approved Initiative 1183 in November.
For La Conner, there will be no retail liquor available in town for more than three weeks, until at least June 1, when Pioneer Market expects to start carrying spirits in addition to the beer and wine already available there. In today's paper!

Tribal tideland ordinance public hearing set for Thursday
People concerned with shorelines on the Swinomish Reservation will have a chance to voice their opinions on a revision of the tribe’s proposed tidelands ordinance tomorrow, Thursday, April 26.
The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community Planning Commission will hold a public hearing at the Swinomish Social Services building at 4 p.m.
Longer trek on La Conner transit
By Adrian Sharpe
Proposed changes to public bus routes may have La Conner residents spending more time on trips to Mount Vernon and back.
Skagit Transit will hold several public meetings to introduce the proposed changes and take public comments. The meeting in La Conner is scheduled for Wednesday, May 3, from 5 to 6 p.m., in Maple Hall.
The schedule changes would take effect in September. Read Adrian's story in today's paper.

Photo by Scott McDade
M*A*S*H comes to La Conner Auditorium By Scott McDade
   Remember the TV sitcom M*A*S*H? Or the 1970 blockbuster film starring Elliot Gould, Tom Skerrit and Donald Sutherland?
   If you do, you've already been introduced to some of the craziest and most lovable military doctors and nurses you'd ever want to know.
   Next weekend, May 4, 5, and 6, you'll get to meet them all again at La Conner Auditorium as the high school drama department presents the stage version of this beloved story.
   M*A*S*H will be performed three times. The show opens Friday evening at 7:30 p.m., Saturday's matinee is at 12 noon. The final performance is Sunday evening at 7 p.m.
   Tickets for the production are $5 per person. You can reserve seats by calling Vicki Jones at the district office, 466-3171. Tickets will also be available at the door. you won't want to miss this!
More M*A*S*H                     Scott McDade photo
More M*A*S*H                     Scott McDade photo

From the Police Blotter
3:30 p.m.: Tourist teasing – The Sheriffs Office received a report of two fellows hiding in the bushes near the area where tulip buses stop at the intersection of South First Street and Washington Ave. in La Conner. They guys were yelling and whistling at the visitors, so the deputy picked them up and  transported them away from town.

Pick up the paper today in all the usual spots or from one of our red news stands. Don't have enough quarters? No worries! Our stands also accept rupees from India!

Braves Sports April 25, 2012

Photo by Karla Reynolds
La Conner linksters not rusty despite rain, long layoff
By Bill Reynolds
They say the best things in life are well worth the wait.
And for golfers, that includes a day on the course – even in the pouring rain.
The La Conner High golf teams returned to action Thursday after going nearly a month without a match, and had little trouble shaking off the rust.
The Braves kept their undefeated season intact, easily downing visiting Grace Academy and Highline Christian in a downpour at nearby Similk Beach Golf Course.
The Lady Braves, meanwhile, boasted medalist Hilary Edwards, who shot a 59, one stroke under the round shot by teammate Bailey Wyles.
"I'm proud of the effort," La Conner head coach Sean Skiles said afterward. "The rain made it tough, but everybody stuck with it and really turned in some impressive scores considering the elements."
La Conner's Jake Silva took top honors on the boys' side, carding a 37. Teammate Brendan McLeod fired a 39.
The Braves' Spencer Finley finished at 42, while Wilson Crawford shot a 44 in his varsity debut.
Pretty remarkable scores given there was standing water on some greens, and the
La Conner boys were without three of their top five players.
"It was nice to get a couple of the JV golfers a chance to compete in a varsity match," said Skiles, "without a noticeable drop off in team score."
The Braves finished with a combined count of 210. Grace Academy was 32 strokes back, at 242. Highline Christian golfers sloshed their way to a 267.
"It was very wet and never stopped raining," said La Conner assistant coach Kelly Silva. "So a team score of 210 was pretty awesome all things considered."
There will be little idle time for La Conner golfers from here on out. The LCHS teams were slated to host Lopez late Tuesday, then return the favor tomorrow, Thursday, afternoon.
La Conner wraps up the week Friday at Snohomish in a dual match with Northwest Christian.
Photo by Karla Reynolds
La Conner thinclads sweep home track meet
By Bill Reynolds
It was two weeks past Good Friday.
But a good Friday, indeed, for the La Conner High track teams.
The Braves boys' and girls' squads each won their half of the five-school La Conner Invitational Track Meet Friday afternoon at Whittaker Field.
The Braves outdistanced runner-up Crescent 122-77, with league rival Concrete, 67, claiming third place in the boys' meet.
On the girls' side, La Conner edged Concrete 110-96 for the meet title, with Crescent, 67,  placing third.
Friday Harbor, 30,  and Christian Faith, 17, rounded out the girls' field.
Christian Faith, 34, and Friday Harbor, 33, waged a close battle for fourth place in the boys' competition.
La Conner's Landy James, Nathan Sybrandy, Jamall James, and Nathan Parker were double victors for the Braves, whose mile relay team also captured top honors.
Landy James claimed the high jump with a personal best leap of 6'-4", easily besting Crescent's Donovan Christie, who finished second with 5’10”.
James, a senior, also won the javelin by a wide margin. His winning heave of 167'-5" was more than 24 feet better than the second best effort, a toss of 143'-0" by Quenton Wolfer of Crescent.
Sybrandy won both the mile and two-mile.
The La Conner distance standout hit the tape in five-minutes flat in the 1600 meters. That was seven seconds better than Friday Harbor's Jose Guerrero.
Sybrandy dominated the 3200 meter field, clocking an impressive 11:19.00, nearly two minutes faster than the rest of the field.
An added bonus in the two-mile was the performance of La Conner sophomores Jack Borusinski, Alec Azure, and Alex Wirth, all of whom placed in the top five.
Jamall James took gold in the long jump with 19'-6" and 110-meter high hurdles at 16:16, winning both events handily. No one was within a foot of him in the long jump. And James was nearly a full second better than Crescent's Matthew Waldrip in the hurdles.
Parker took both the shot put (43'-8") and discus (119'-10") in impressive fashion. His distance in the discus was more than 14 feet better than the second place finisher, Josiah Martin of Concrete.
The Braves' quartet of Todd Hoagland, Jamall James, Mitchell Grant, and Dahlton Zavala added to the La Conner point total by cruising to a win in the 4x400 meter relay.
Their time of 3:43.00 was nearly two seconds faster than that posted by Crescent's mile relay entry.
Grant and Zavala each earned silver in solo events, placing second in the 400 and 200 meters, respectively. Grant's time was :55.60, just back of Hoagland's winning pace. Zavala clocked a :24.38 in a race won by Concrete's Andy Aiken at :23.94.
La Conner's depth was a key factor in the girls' half of the meet.
Kelsie Crawford had a role in four wins, pacing the Lady Braves with triumphs in the 100 meters at :13.75 and long jump of 12'-9" while also running legs of La Conner's meet-best sprint and mile relay entries.
Crawford led a 1-2-3 Lady Braves finish in the 100 as Priscilla Ponce-Venegas placed second at :13.85), just ahead of teammate Madi Cavanaugh’s  :14.44).
Katie McKnight, Emily Anderson, and Ponce-Venegas likewise turned in blue ribbon performances for the Lady Braves.
McKnight was first in the 200 meters at :28.68 winning by more than two seconds over Concrete's Thea O'Brien.
Anderson captured the triple jump with 32'-2.5", an event which saw La Conner teammate Amber Drye place fifth.
Ponce-Venegas sped to a convincing win in the 300 meter hurdles. Her time of :50.75 was almost three seconds faster than her nearest rival, Crescent's Kellie Belford. 
Ponce-Venegas, McKnight, and Anderson joined Crawford on La Conner's winning 4x100 meter relay team, clocking a time of :53.44. 
Ponce-Venegas also finished fourth in the javelin with 93'-7", three slots ahead of McKnight, who turned in a toss of 77'-0".
McKnight, Anderson, Crawford, and Cavanaugh then teamed to claim the 4x400 meter relay, posting a time of 4:29.06, nearly a half-minute faster than second place Friday Harbor.
Cavanaugh, meanwhile, was a strong second to Crawford in the long jump.
On a busy day, Anderson also finished second in the 100 meter hurdles, a finish matched by La Conner junior Sammie Mesman in the 1600 meters.
Mesman at 6:19.00 was just one tick back of mile winner Kaitlyn Smith, who finished in 6:18.00.
Mesman also joined Lydia Lenning, Marina Kochuten, and Victoria O'Brien for a second place finish in the 800 meter relay, turning in a time of 2:08.34.
Lenning further added to the Lady Braves' tally with a third place finish at 15:38.37 in the 3200 meters.
In related notes:
La Conner head track coach Peter Voorhees said the meet's highlight was the mile relays for both the boys and girls. Braves' sprinter Jamall James closed a 30-meter gap on the leader and seized the lead going into the final exchange. Anchor Dahlton Zavala held on for the win. Voorhees said the Lady Braves met their pre-race goal in terms of time, and are now the sixth ranked 4x400 group in the State. "The girls' relay was a great example," said Voorhees, "of the athletes choosing to make something happen, working hard for it, and pushing themselves through to their goal. I'm very proud of them."
Another highlight, stressed Voorhees, was the performance of Robert Duckworth, who established personal bests in four events.
Voorhees was grateful for the community's support of the meet. "The people in La Conner do a great job supporting school activities. I'd like to thank everyone who came out to help. It was our last home meet for our seniors and they all had a great day."
Photo by Lauren Reynolds
Braves defense falters in two tough losses
By Bill Reynolds
Baseball is a game that can drive coaches batty – in more ways than one.
Just ask La Conner's Jeremiah LeSourd, who last week saw his club turn in solid mound work and grind out several quality at-bats.
But it was their defense that let the Braves down in tough losses to Concrete and Blaine.
La Conner committed critical errors at crucial points of an eventual 5-3 setback to the Lions, a game marred by wet playing conditions.
"The game was close throughout," said LeSourd, "but errors were the difference. Weather conditions also played a factor, and made things difficult."
Braves' hurlers Taylor Swanson and Tanner Cyr were poised on the mound Thursday while facing a good hitting Concrete team.
"They really performed well and kept their composure," LeSourd stressed.
Cyr also helped his cause with a base hit. 
Hayden Schmidt led La Conner with a pair of base knocks, while Dakota Hartley lined a run-scoring single.
Cyr swung a hot bat Saturday against Blaine, as well. He went three-for-three at the plate, with a double, a pair of singles, and two runs scored in a 14-3 loss.
Erick Reinstra likewise delivered three hits, while Wil James laced two safeties in four trips.
But, again, it was defensive miscues that sealed La Conner's fate.
Starter Matt McCauley and Reinstra, who came on in relief, were victimized by five Braves' errors.
"Matt got his first start on the mound," said LeSourd, "and did well. Erick pitched the final three innings and was very aggressive."
Despite the twin defeats, LeSourd justifiably has a positive outlook on the rest of the campaign.
"Our pitchers are getting experience and improving with each appearance," he said Monday. "Their confidence will be an asset in the playoffs."
It's much the same scenario on offense.
"The Braves' attack is improving," LeSourd told La Conner Weekly News, "with the hitters having solid at-bats. We just need to come through with runners on base."
The key will be shoring up the defense, he said.
"That's where we must improve if we're going to make a run in the playoffs," LeSourd noted. 
It's a mission, he said, that can be accomplished.
"We're working on staying focused and thinking a play ahead," said LeSourd. "When we can do that we'll begin to execute on a more consistent basis."
The Braves (3-4 in league) were scheduled to resume play Monday at home against longtime rival Darrington.
The struggling Loggers entered the week with a 1-5 conference mark.
La Conner is slated to entertain Lummi today, Wednesday, in a non-league twinbill before traveling Friday to Coupeville. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

in the April 18, 2012 issue

Photo by Don Coyote
Photo by Don Coyote
Parade, sunshine and tulips; a recipe for invasion
Writer Adrian Sharpe tells what it is like in La Conner on a sunny day, when there are acres of tulips in bloom around the town. Throw in a parade and we have lots of company around here! The local merchants and restaurants owners have been pretty happy as the tulip tourists mean business is in bloom, too.

Boardwalk funding in new State budget
For decades, people in La Conner have envisioned a boardwalk running past all the shops and restaurants along the length of the downtown waterfront.
The boardwalk is finally on track to start taking shape this year. Last week the state Legislature approved a jobs package that includes $750,000 in the state capital improvements budget to start building the boardwalk, said Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D- Camano Island.
La Conner Mayor Ramon Hayes said that means the boardwalk construction could begin late this summer or in early fall. In today's paper!

Photo by Jim Itter
A semi truck trailer parked on the south side of Caledonia Street near the Swinomish Channel, the truck, owned by Alpac Components was loaded with wooden walls the company manufactures when it suddenly tipped over Friday morning. An employee had un-hitched the trailer from the truck cab portion to switch out cabs, when the trailer just flopped over onto its side. Writer Adrian Sharpe explains this Friday the 13th "mystery" in today's paper.

Not so Impromptu Parade
Photo by Don Coyote
Photo by Don Coyote
Photo by Don Coyote

From the Police Blotter:
6:02 p.m.: Bothersome boater – A business owner on First Street in La Conner, complained that a live-aboard boater was disturbing customers by shouting and playing loud music. Deputies warned the boat owner that he would be cited for disorderly conduct if they had to come back.

Braves Sports, April 18, 2012

Photo by Kirsten Morse
The South Skagit Little League opening ceremony was Saturday at Bakerview Fields in Mount Vernon, with La Conner’s Oakland A’s playing the same day.

Photo by Karla Reynolds
Lady Braves crush Concrete
By Bill Reynolds
A blowout win over Concrete Thursday was just what the doctor ordered for La Conner High head softball coach Michael Bliss.
The Lady Braves, with Bliss absent due to illness, crushed visiting Concrete 31-12 in a game called after five innings due to the league's mercy rule.
Siomi Bobb and Lauren Reynolds paced a 17-hit La Conner attack.
Bobb ripped a two-run inside-the-park homer and delivered an RBI double for the victors.
Reynolds blasted a two-run fence-clearing roundtripper and plated a pair of tallies with a triple, both shots going to the deepest part of the yard in left-center.
Bobb's home run scored La Conner catcher Hayleigh Summers, who had just accounted for one of her three RBIs on the day with a run-scoring single to right-center.
It was all part of a 13-run third inning explosion by the Lady Braves.
Reynolds' deep shot came during an 11-run La Conner outburst in the fourth. Her circuit clout drove in Olivia Hedlund, who had lined a two-run double.
Leadoff hitter Kelley McClung set the tone for La Conner, patiently drawing six walks as the Lady Braves scored in every frame.
Taysha James, Emma Christianson, and Madison McCoy also lined safeties for the winners, while pinch-hitter Kaitlyn Cultee worked a walk.
La Conner hitters provided more than enough run support for Christianson, who shook off a minor foot injury to toss a complete game victory, logging a pair of strikeouts.
Christianson cruised in the early going, limiting the Lady Lions to a single tally through three innings. Concrete managed four runs in the fourth and seven more in the fifth, but by then the game had long since been decided.
Defensively, Summers erased a Lady Lion baserunner in the second inning by throwing a perfect strike to McClung at second on a failed steal attempt.
Sarah Spaeth led Concrete with a pair of singles and a double. Melissa Clontz chipped in two singles and drove in three runs.
With the win, coming on a chilly and gusty afternoon, La Conner improved to 6-1 in league and 7-3 overall.
The Lady Braves were coming off an impressive doubleheader sweep of Darrington.
La Conner was slated to resume home action late Tuesday with Friday Harbor. The Lady Braves are scheduled to host Lynden Christian April 26 before traveling April 28 to Squalicum.

Photo by Karla Reynolds
Former Braves' standout is two-sport collegian
By Bill Reynolds
A La Conner High alum is getting his kicks clearing hurdles as a college freshman.
Soft-spoken Sten Mejlaender is quietly making a name for himself by competing this year in both soccer and track-and-field at Skagit Valley College.
A midfielder for the soccer Cards, Mejlaender is also running hurdles this spring at SVC.
It isn't easy catching up with the busy Mejlaender for an interview. He works out five to six days per week, mixing powerlifting in the gym with regular sessions on the track and soccer pitch.
He splits workout time between La Conner and Mount Vernon, on whose high school oval he logged laps in chilly, windy conditions Friday afternoon. 
The 5-11, 195-pound Mejlaender geared up for college by putting on 10 pounds of muscle following his days as a multi-sport performer for the La Conner High Braves.
He originally committed to the soccer program at Concordia University in Portland after having played on a pair of La Conner boot teams that advanced to the State playoffs. But ultimately Mejlaender landed close to home at Skagit Valley, where he could be a dual-sport performer and watch younger brother, Bjorn, play for the Braves.
An “A” student at La Conner, Mejlaender has thus far enjoyed the Skagit experience.
"There was some adjusting to do early on," he says, "but SVC is definitely a school that grows on you."
He's currently taking a full academic load, including psychology, an area he might pursue for a four-year degree.
"Next winter or spring I'll make a decision on where I'll go after Skagit," Mejlaender says. "I'm looking at Central and WSU, but I want to visit my friends at their schools and see what it's like."
Mejlaender is also considering a major in fire science, and career as a firefighter.
La Conner High well prepared Mejlaender both academically and athletically, he says.
"I have a lot of great memories of La Conner High School," says Mejlaender, who advises current La Conner students to focus on their school work, assume campus leadership roles, and be mindful of future scholarship opportunities.
"It's important to stay dedicated," he says. "Once you start something, you need to follow through as best you can."
Mejlaender has followed his own advice at SVC, literally staying on track while juggling two sports.
He has spent much of his spring working on footwork technique in the 400 and 110 meter hurdles.
"They've raised the hurdles three inches this year," Mejlaender notes. "But my big challenge is in between the hurdles. Most of the other guys are taller and have longer strides."
Mejlaender, meanwhile, has made huge strides himself, often paired this year against more experienced athletes from larger high school programs.
It's that kind of challenge that has always fueled Mejlaender's competitive drive. In fact, it's what led him to the hurdles in the first place.
"I first got interested in the hurdles when I was in eighth grade," he recalls. "I knew I wouldn't be the fastest runner in the 100 meters, but I'm pretty flexible so I figured I could make up the time in the hurdles."
Indeed, he did. In May 2011, for instance, Mejlaender was named a Seattle Times Athlete of the Week after posting a personal best time of :40.97 in the 300 meter hurdles.
Still, soccer remains Mejlaender's favorite sport – one he can see himself coaching someday at the high school level.
"During my senior year at La Conner we had a good deal of success in soccer," he says, "and that's when I decided to pursue it in college."
Mejlaender, flanked by dynamic teammates Kyle McKnight and David Carr, was often referred to by La Conner head coach Steve De Leon as the "engine" that drove the Braves, who won 18 of 21 starts a year ago.
And, thus far, Mejlaender is an engine that's running on all cylinders.