Monthly Archives: April 2009

Last week’s news, today

I’m back on Bainbridge after a few days wandering Eastern Washington. I can report that all the communities I visited are unlike Bainbridge in all regards (good and bad), making my time there an ideal mini-vacation. If our station wagon had more cargo room, the three souvenirs I would have brought back for Bainbridge Islanders to enjoy are the Centennial Trail (a winding, pine-and-river-lined cyclist’s paradise), Spokane’s Dry Fly distillery (established a few years ago, it’s the first in Washington since Prohibition), and the entire town of Roslyn.

So what all happened on Bainbridge while this blog went dormant? Well, here’s a few things:

Helpline House invites the growing number of islanders with money troubles to stop by their temporary financial counseling office.

The chamber of commerce sponsored a debate on changing Bainbridge’s form of government.

Bloedel Reserve’s longtime director stepped down.

Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns stopped by IslandWood to chat with young people.

Port Orchard taking over police patrols on Bainbridge?

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Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola said he’d be willing to have his police replace the Bainbridge Island Police Department – as long as there’s a profit for P.O.

As police reporter Josh Farley noted in his blog, Coppola floated the idea at a recent Port Orchard planning meeting after hearing rumblings on B.I. that the city may cut its police department to save money.

“We wouldn’t do it unless we were going to make extra money,” Coppola said.

Coppola said P.O. Police Chief Al Townsend “seems to think we can do it.”

Port Orchard may import their police force via boat, which is a much quicker way of getting to BI than driving all the way up to North Kitsap to cross the bridge.

The notion of Bainbridge renting out Port Orchard cops hasn’t yet reached the stage of formal discussions, but Coppola said he plans to bring the issue up with Bainbridge Mayor Darlene Kordonowy in the near future.

Living Library returns on Sunday

The Bainbridge Public Library is sponsoring a second “Living Library” event on Sunday.

Based on a program that’s been offered in over 25 countries, participants – or “readers” – chose from flesh-and-blood “books” representing groups that are often stereotyped, misunderstood or hold controversial viewpoints.

During October’s inaugural event, over 50 readers sat down conversations with an atheist, a quadriplegic, a female police officer, an Eagle Harbor liveaboard and over a dozen other living “books.” Several books from the October event will also be on hand on Sunday.

Some of the new books at the Sunday event, which will this time be held at the Bainbridge High School library, will include an epileptic, an anarchist, a cancer sufferer and a German who lived in Nazi Germany.

“The book and reader adjourn to a quiet area in the library for a one-on-one conversation of up to 30 minutes,” Bainbridge Public Library Branch Manager Rebecca Judd said. “During that time, there is an opportunity for quiet conversation, questions, stories and, hopefully, a sense of common ground.”

Sunday’s Living Library event is scheduled from 1 to 4 p.m. in the high school’s new 200 Building library. Call (206) 842-4162 for more information.

City considers an island-wide fireworks ban

The city has crafted a draft ordinance that would ban all fireworks – except for pro-grade, permitted displays – on the island in time for the 2010 Fourth of July.

There’s a public hearing on the proposal this Thursday at City Hall.

While I was gathering information for a story on the proposed ban, which you can read here, Bainbridge Fire Marshall Jared Moravec mentioned a YouTube video that shows Bainbridge teens detonating homemade explosives Moravec said were likely built with legal fireworks and are the type used to blow apart a number of port-o-potties last summer.

In the video, the teens blow up buckets, toss firework grenades, launch homemade mortars and fire a hand-held 10-barrel roman candle. You can see the video below. There’s some swearing, so hide the kids.

Parents rally to save school district’s outdoor education program

Blakely Elementary students yank ivy from Blakely Harbor Park on Wednesday
Blakely Elementary students yank ivy from Blakely Harbor Park on Wednesday

Andrea Pickett can’t remember the campfire songs she sang as a fourth-grader at her Bainbridge school’s outdoor education camp, but she has no problem recalling the lessons about nature she learned there.

“I remember how to catalog trees and understand the different chemical pHs of soils,” said Pickett, now the mother of a fourth-grader enrolled at Blakely Elementary. “Some of my most powerful memories when I was that age came from that experience.”

So, when Pickett heard last spring that the Bainbridge Island School District was cutting the three-decades-old outdoor education program, she and dozens of other parents rallied to save it.

Through various fundraising efforts, the parent-teacher organizations from Blakely, Ordway and Wilkes elementary schools raised enough money over the last seven months to revive the program, which includes annual two-night trips for fourth-graders to IslandWood and other environmental science centers.

“It’s been a phenomenal effort on the part of parents,” Blakely Principal Ric Jones said. “We’re facing some serious budget considerations, and the outdoor ed program was a considerable expense and undertaking.”

The district announced it would cut the $32,500 program last May as part of a larger effort to trim $1.5 million from its budget.

Many children had been anticipating the program for years, parents said.

“For many kids, it’s kind of a right of passage where they spend a night away from home for the first time,” said Kirsten Fitzgerald, the mother of an Ordway fourth-grader. “From a young age they start looking forward to it after hearing about from their brothers and sisters.”

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Bainbridge’s youngest artists put on a show

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The above photo captures the look of one 5 year-old who takes art seriously. Sun photographer Larry Steagal caught Felice Francis this week as she selected her next crayon. Francis and the other students at Bainbridge Cooperative Nursery School explored various art styles – from pointillism to impressionism – as part of a six-week program.

The nursery is hosting an art show with the students’ work on Friday. Fancy dress is required. Kiddie cocktails will be served.

Click here for reporting intern Joseph Lyons’ story and more of Steagal’s photos.

City lays off senior staffers Katai and Hathaway

Assistant City Engineer Ross Hathaway and manager of current planning Bob Katai – two of the city’s most senior staff – were casualties of this week’s round of layoffs.

A total of eight staffers were given pink slips on Monday. See my updated post on the layoffs for more info.

Hathaway, who has worked for the city for 10 years, declined to comment on his own status, but praised Katai for his service to the city.

“Bob knows the code inside and out,” Hathaway said. “It’s a terrible loss. His institutional knowledge was critical.”

Hathaway expressed concern for other laid-off coworkers who face few job prospects.

“It’s the worst job market since the Great Depression,” he said.

Nixon visits Bainbridge

Richard Nixon’s brother, Ed, spoke at a Bainbridge Island Republican Women’s luncheon at the Wing Point Golf and Country Club on Wednesday.

The Sun’s Steve Gardner reports:

There was little talk of the specific politics of the resignation from Ed Nixon, though. His speech focused on the family and influences that shaped the political leanings of the Whittier, Calif.-based clan, just as his book does.

Ed Nixon was promoting his book, “The Nixons: A Family Portrait.”

Read Gardner’s full report here and check out Carolyn Yaschur’s video above.

City of Bainbridge’s staff cuts impact the Port Townsend City Council

Brent Butler
Brent Butler
Well, here’s an odd twist of fate.

As I reported here, city planner and affordable housing specialist Brent Butler was trimmed from the city’s roster during the last round of layoffs. Wouldn’t you know it, but Butler was also a member of the Port Townsend City Council. As one of those rare city councilors who requires a day job to pay the rent, Butler went looking for a new gig. Elmore County, Idaho came calling and gave Butler his new job: director of growth and development.

“I won’t be able to do both at the same time,” Butler told the Peninsula Daily News this week, shortly after resigning from the Port Townsend council. “I’m going to have to leave the community to take the job.”

The council is now looking for Butler’s replacement.

Butler was a staunch advocate for affordable housing in Port Townsend. He voted against the city’s budget because it lacked funding for affordable housing.

Port Townsend has shifted from a working class community of boat builders and paper mill workers to one increasingly populated by retirees.

“I hope I am replaced with someone who is also in support of the housing issue,” Butler told the Peninsula Daily. “It’s the most concerning issue the city is facing, and I hope to see the city support it in the future.”

On Bainbridge’s two rounds of layoffs, Butler had this to say:

“[The city of] Bainbridge Island laid off most of the people they hired in the last two years,” he said. “I’ve heard they will now be looking at laying off people who have been with the city as far back as 10 years.”

Farmers market opens Saturday

farminternThe Bainbridge Farmers Market kicks off another season this Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the park between City Hall and Bainbridge Performing Arts.

Local farmers say crops are taking a little longer to grow because of unpredictable weather. Many are waiting for temperatures to warm up before they can offer their usual spring bounty.

“It’s a slower growing season this year, even slower than last year,” Jackie Aitchison, executive director of the Washington Farmers Market Association, told Sun reporter Brynn Grimley for a story this week on the county’s markets.

Despite this season’s weather challenges, the Bainbridge market’s growers told Sound Food’s Carolyn Goodwin that customers can expect some popular offerings on Saturday.

Here’s what Goodwin had to say on a recent post:

Early offerings will be mostly in the hardy greens category. But a fresh local salad tastes amazingly good after a winter of grocery greens. Crumble some creamy Port Madison Farm goat cheese over the top and you’ll finally get a taste of spring.

Butler Green Farm also has spinach, bok choy, leeks and carrots. Our favorite Island food blog, Small Potatoes, recently posted a tasty recipe for Spinach Pie that would be a perfect way to celebrate your first bag of local spinach. Brian’s bok choy is fabulous, this week I steamed it with some shiitake mushrooms and cod fillets in a super-simple recipe that is wonderful over some brown basmati rice. It will be even better with some of the fresh halibut that just hit T&C this week.

Betsey Wittick of Laughing Crow Farm will bring some overwintered potatoes and cabbage (I’m working through the box of German Butterball potatoes I bought from her at the end of last season, and they still make great eating). Rebecca Slattery of Persephone Farm always has some interesting early-season crops like cardoons, which are at their best in the late winter.

Read the rest of Goodwin’s post, as well as several recipes using local ingredients, at Sound Food’s Web site.