Monthly Archives: November 2008

Forsaken by Money Magazine, Bainbridge has joined masses of the unranked

When Money Magazine ranked Bainbridge the second best place to live in the country, islanders took to the streets firing rifles into the air, swilling akvavit and chanting “We’re Number Two! We’re Number Two!”

Actually, Money’s 2005 Best Places list elicited more of a collective shushing here in Bainbridge.

“Shhhhhhh! Why are you telling your Seattle pals about how you live on a hobby farm that’s a half hour ferry ride to Benaroya Hall?!”

“Pipe down about the plentiful parks, amazing schools, low crime and wonderful baked goods!”

“What? You told your Sammamish coworkers that you nap on the ferry while they fume on the 520 bridge?!”

“Hush! What are you doing?! Hey! Don’t  tell those Californians where the real estate offices are!”

Well, the secret got out, and a few folks likely read the list, packed their bedrolls, and staked claims at the island’s plentiful mini-mansions. And there they have lived the second best life in the nation.

But not anymore. In 2008, Bainbridge is no longer number two. It’s not even in the top ten. Or even in the top 100. As for how far Bainbridge has fallen, I suppose we’ll never know. Money Magazine doesn’t bother with the riff-raff shanty towns that can’t crack the 100. Bainbridge has joined the masses of the unranked.

But Bellevue made it on the ’08 list. Bellevue, that city with downtown highways, quick-grow high rises, plentiful malls, vast parking lots, and naughty-named soup joints. Bellevue ranked 42 on money’s list of the finest small cities. Maybe that’s nothing to brag about, but Bellevue is the only city in Washington state to squeak into the 100 list. Not only that, but it’s the only city in the entire Northwest region to make the list. Sorry Eugene, Port Townsend, Boise, Bellingham, Ashland, Salem ….you are no Bellevue, or Norman, Oklahoma (number six), Fishers, Indiana (number 10), Olathe, Kansas (11) or Fargo, North Dakota (88).

You are also no match for just about any town in Texas. Euless, Frisco, Grand Prairie, Missouri City, Denton, Allen and Richardson are a few of the Lone Star cities that crowded the top 100.

Put up a map of Texas and throw a dart. Chances are you’ll hit a city that’s better – far better – than Bainbridge.

So maybe those Best Places-following bindlestiffs who put down roots on Bainbridge back in ’05 aught to rethink the snake oil charms that drew them here in the first place. Life is short. Why waste it wallowing on this Money Magazine-forsaken rock, with all its mind-mumbing greenery and all that shimmery water and all that artisan-roasted coffee. Unload from your bundle the microfleece and the latte-stained travel mug. Make room for a ten-gallon hat and a pair of rattlesnake kickers. The dry, dusty Texas plains are calling.

BI’s world record-slashing sword master

What began as a Lord of the Rings-inspired fantasy has become a record-breaking reality.

Enamored with swordsmanship since his early days reading the JRR Tolkien trilogy, Bainbridge native Aaron McCloud this week slashed his way to a world speed record in tameshigiri, or target cutting using a samurai sword.

“My back still hurts,” said McCloud, 20, three days after completing the feat on Sunday before a crowd of 150 people at the Bainbridge High School gym. “I’m recuperating now, but a feel pretty darn happy.”

Following the Japanese traditions of tameshigiri’s ‘1,000 cuts’ event, McCloud sliced through hundreds of rolled rush mats using a formalized cutting technique. He made is one-thousandth slice in 33 minutes and 24 seconds, besting the previous record set by Japanese sword master Isao Machii by almost three minutes.

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Winslow Way project gets a multi-million dollar surprise from the state

The city of Bainbridge earned a $3.5 million state grant that will pay for almost 30 percent of a major road and utilities project planned for Winslow’s main street.

Awarded this week by the state Transportation Improvement Board, the money will fund the surface portions of the larger $12.3 million project, including new bicycle lanes, wider sidewalks and road repairs on Winslow Way.

The grant amount exceeded expectations, said Deputy Planning Director Chris Wierzbicki.

“We were trying to be conservative so we thought maybe we’d get one million dollars,” he said. “But now we have three and a half million, so that’s really good.”

The grant’s unexpected bulk means the city can shave off about $1.5 million in bond funding budgeted for the project. The city will see additional cost savings by not having to pay an annual $150,000 in bond-related debt payments over 20 years, Wierzbicki said.

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BI architects on HGTV tonight

HGTV’s program “Beyond the Box” is scheduled to feature the home of island architects Matthew and Ruth Coates tonight at 8:30 p.m.

According to Matthew, who got word yesterday that the show is airing today, the program will focus on his and his wife’s three-year effort to design and build their first home using sustainable design elements.

The young couple also put in a fair amount of sweat equity. Besides designing the place, Matthew and Ruth milled their own siding using trees on their Point White property and made their own counter tops.

For more about the Matthew’s island-based “green” architecture firm, go here.

Wilderness a few feet from the shore

Mark Powell, whom I profiled today in this story, is swimming around Bainbridge to, in part, get a better sense of his island home.

Wearing a snorkel and goggles, he takes in the undersea scenery a mile or so at a time.

While the swim makes him feel closer to the place he lives, it also takes him far away.

“Bainbridge is not a pristine wilderness area, but 10 feet off the shore it’s more pristine than anywhere on land,” he told me before sliding into Blakely Harbor last week. “When I get in the water, I get that wilderness feel.”

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Fewer hours to peruse the stacks on Thursdays

Kitsap Regional Library is scaling the Bainbridge branch’s open hours down to just four hours on Thursdays starting Jan. 2.

The three-hour reduction is part of system-wide cost-cutting measures to balance KRL’s ’09 budget.

Here’s the full weekly rundown starting at the first of the year….
Monday-Wednesday: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Thursday, Saturday, Sunday: 1 to 5 p.m.

Fridays: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The reductions to the Bainbridge library and other branches will bring a net savings of about $140,00 to the library system, according to a KRL press release.

Research shows that Thursday is the day with the fewest visitors, according to KRL.

For more information, call KRL at (360) 405-9100.

Help decide how the park district spends its open space dollars

After a sigh of relief that their levy passed, the Bainbridge park district is now rounding up residents interested in serving on a new committee that will guide the spending of almost $1 million a year for open space preservation.

The committee will operate much like the city’s Open Space Commission, which sought out and recommended properties for purchase.

If you haven’t read it already, check out the story I wrote last week on city and park efforts to preserve open space (I never did link it to this blog). I found that buying property was the easy part. Maintaining properties and making them accessible to the public was challenge…at least for the city. The park district aims to improve on the city’s open space program with designated funds for the basics of running a park: trash cans, signs, trail building and maintenance, etc. You can read that story here.

The park district sent in a hopeful letter this week about the new levy’s prospects. The letter is also an invitation to islanders to join the open space committee, and includes information on how to get involved.

Read it below.

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New May date to vote for swapping the mayor for a manager

Bainbridge Islanders have set a new date to vote on ballot measure that would dramatically change their city government.

Now they just need to change state law to make the vote legal.

The City Council on Tuesday approved a resolution marking May 19 as the day voters may chose to eliminate the elected mayor position and replace it with a hired city manager. But moving the vote almost six months prior to the November 2009 general election runs counter to state law. That’s why the city aims to lobby Olympia to soften voting date rules.

“You’ve made your statement, and we’re going to take care of it,” council chair Bill Knobloch said to the crowd filling much of the council chamber. The council unanimously approved the request for emergency state legislation, the May 19 special election date and a plan to hire a lobbyist to bend the ears of legislators during the 2009 session, which starts in January.

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Police blotter: Fight over puppy turns to assault with tennis ball

Faithful blotter readers may recall an assault last week in which a teenage boy punched his mom in the face for turning off the TV. Well, this week he was at it again, this time hurling a tennis ball at his mom’s head for breaking up a sibling fight over a puppy and the aforementioned tennis ball.

Also this week, a registered sex offender goes off the radar and a tow truck driver is assaulted with spit.

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Generosity almost a mile long

The procession of cheering, sign-waving kids stretched almost the entire mile separating Ordway Elementary School from the Helpline House food bank.

Snaking along Madison Avenue, the students beat on drums, smiled at motorists and lugged backpacks full of donated food.

“This feels good because I know it will make other people happy for Thanksgiving,” said third-grader Ellie Devries as she hauled cans of cranberry sauce, olives and soup along with about 400 other students from every Ordway classroom.

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