Monthly Archives: June 2009

Marshall: “Terminal rage” takes hold of ferry commuters


This week, Islander columnist Becky Fox Marshall explores the commuter angst that’s all the rage at the Winslow ferry terminal.

To the list of rages in our modern world – road rage, air rage, work rage – you can add yet another, unique to Bainbridge Island – ramp rage.

The ramp of which I speak is the passenger ramp onto the ferry. Oh, and parking rage. The parking to which I specifically refer is the parking lot at the ferry terminal.

Maybe together these can henceforth be known as “Terminal Rage.”

Now that I’m not a Seattle ferry commuter, riding the ferry has actually become – again – a pleasant experience. And so it was with light hearts that I and three of my friends and coworkers met at the ferry terminal one Saturday afternoon to head over to the big city for dinner out and a show.

We waited near the flag pole as the ferry unloaded, seeing that a good many people formed a long line to the right of the rope that divides the ramp into one side for those intending to board, and one side for those tromping off the vessel.

Once unloaded, the go-ahead was heard on the loudspeaker and boarding began. And so we moved on down the ramp, ending up on the left side of the rope.

A fellow who had been queued up on the right took umbrage with our boarding technique and stood out from his line to dress us down. I couldn’t catch all of what he said but it boiled down to this: “So you think you’re special? Why can’t you get in line with the rest of us? Are you special?”

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New city manager assesses Bainbridge’s challenges

dombroskimugThe new City Manager (and old City Administrator) Mark Dombroski gave a detailed assessment of the city’s financial challenges at a Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Wednesday.

You can read my coverage of Dombroski’s talk here. My story focuses on Dombroski’s assessment of the city’s limited revenue base and how greater economic diversity – particularly through a tourism industry boost – may put the city on more stable financial footing.

Dombroski covered a lot more ground in his talk. To get a sense of it, you can download his PowerPoint presentation at the city’s Website. Look under “News and Announcements.”

Here’s some highlights:

The limited revenue base (which relies heavily on growth and development) was only one problem the city faced as it entered the the recession. According to Dombroski, the city had in recent years grown beyond the reach of its relatively volatile revenue sources, had increased its staffing levels, taken on a greater role in providing community services since 2000.

He said the city’s geography is particular challenge. Bainbridge is the state’s eighth largest city in terms of land size but ranks 40th in populationf. That makes for a thinly populated city. Bainbridge’s density, according to Dombroski, is ranked 223 out of 281 Washington cities. The city has 32 square miles for police to patrol (vs. 23 sq. miles for Bremerton), 53 miles of shoreline to protect and 132 miles of roads to maintain. The small population generates low levels of revenue in proportion to the size of the area under the city’s care.

“We have very little density and don’t have the tax base or retail sales, but we police the area, protect the shorelines and maintain the roads,” Dombroski said. “That’s a lot to take care of.”

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An old story under a new light

While doing a little Google research on Stephen C. Buitenveld, the teachers aide charged with indecent liberties with one of his students, I came across a quote attributed to him in a 2003 Bainbridge Island Review article about the Bainbridge Island Aquatic Center. That’s the place he’s now accused of inappropriately touching a developmentally disabled female student in a swimming pool and hot tub.

In the six-year-old story, Buitenveld is giving swimming lessons to a student, and mentions how he and his students visit the center frequently.

Here’s the section that mentions Buitenveld:

“We love it,” said Steve Buitenveld, a high school paraeducator at the pool last week to work with [name redacted], a special-needs student. “Last year we swam three days (a week). [Name redacted] and I really like the hot tub. Don’t we, [name redacted]?”

…Buitenveld added, “It’s accessible, (and) you can come anytime you want.”

According to police, the accusations and video tape footage indicating sexual misconduct with a minor under Buitenveld’s care has put his six or more years as a teacher’s aid on Bainbridge in question. Police are investigating other possible incidents involving Buitenveld and his current and former students, and the mentally challenged females who live in his home. Police police are asking anyone with information about possible past inappropriate incidents involving Buitenveld to contact them at (206) 842-5211.

Teacher’s aide charged with indecent liberties

The 62-year-old Bainbridge High School classroom aid was charged with one count of felony indecent liberties Wednesday in Kitsap County Superior Court, according to the Kitsap County Prosecutors Office.

Stephen C. Buitenveld is suspected of sexual misconduct with one of his students.

He was arrested Friday. Bainbridge Police said a witness and security camera footage indicated he had inappropriately touched a 17-year-old developmentally disabled girl at the Bainbridge Island Aquatic Center’s swimming pool and hot tub.

He was released from jail on $15,000 bail on Monday night.

Bainbridge police are continuing their investigation and are seeking information about other possible incidents involving Buitenveld.

Bainbridge police can be reached at (206) 842-5211.

Nursing home employee arrested for stealing from patients

Bainbridge police arrested a 30-year-old Bremerton man for stealing from patients at the Messenger House Care Center where he worked as a nursing assistant.

The suspect, who was arrested on Friday, admitted to having taken a gold religious pendant worth $1,000 from a dementia patient. He also admitted to stealing a video game console valued at $250 from the Manitou Park Boulevard facility’s common area.

Investigators discovered that suspect had recently pawned items matching the description of items stolen from the facility.

The suspect initially denied stealing the items and accused another person of taking them. After making several inconsistent statements, the suspect admitted stealing the pendent and the video game.

He stated he stole the items because of financial problems, police said.

Investigators are looking into additional theft reports from the Messenger House. Anyone with additional information regarding the thefts is encouraged to contact Bainbridge police at (206) 842-5211.

BI educator accused of sexual abuse released from jail

The 62-year-old Bainbridge High School classroom aid suspected of sexual misconduct with one of his students was released from the Kitsap County Jail on Monday night.

The suspect was arrested Friday after a witness and security camera footage indicated he had inappropriately touched a 17-year-old developmentally disabled girl at the Bainbridge Island Aquatic Center’s swimming pool and hot tub.

Bainbridge police had initially set bail at $500,000 because the suspect was considered likely to flee authorities.The suspect tried to run away from police when they attempted to contact him at his Ferncliff Avenue home Friday evening. The suspect refused to speak with investigators and was arrested on suspicion of felony indecent liberties.

A judge reduced bail on Monday to $15,000. The suspect posted bail and was released at 8:58 p.m.

The Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Office has not yet decided upon any formal charges.

It is the Kitsap Sun’s policy to not release suspect names until formally charged.

Bainbridge police are continuing their investigation and are seeking additional information about other possible incidents involving the suspect.

The suspect has worked in classrooms with developmentally disabled students for at least six years, according to Bainbridge School District officials. Investigators also learned the suspect is a caregiver for mentally challenged females who live in his home.

Bainbridge police can be reached at (206) 842-5211.

Weekend fundraisers net $50,000 to retain laid-off teachers

Bainbridge school supporters raised $50,000 over the weekend to save some teachers from being laid off.

Islanders washed cars, hosted a school dance, held a garage sale and collected donations to raise funds for the Bainbridge Schools Foundation’s “Save Our Teachers” campaign.

Foundation Executive Director Vicky Marsing called the effort “unbelievable.” The garage sale doubled organizers’ expectations, raising more than $22,000.

Marsing highlighted a couple small community contributions, including a local boy who played his saxophone at the garage sale for donations and an older gentleman with a vast wine collection who plans a wine-tasting to raise money. Parents have been making donations to the campaign instead of giving teachers end-of-the-year gifts, Marsing said.

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Bainbridge High graduation gallery

Check out photographer Steve Zugschwerdt’s photo gallery of Bainbridge High School’s 2009 graduation ceremony by clicking here. Lots of photos there.

This year’s batch of grads numbered 365.

The average GPA was a sturdy 3.2

Forty-two grads were National Honor Society members.

Valedictorians were Nathan Abrams, Donna Horning, Ariana Mann, Charlie Reis, Cara Thompson, Jessica Vincent and Abigail Wyatt.

Police blotter: Video game fight spills into reality


A vicious sibling rivalry spilled from the virtual world of the X-Box to the real world of a Winslow apartment complex. With the game over, the brothers dropped their controllers and bent their callused thumbs and sweaty fingers into real-life fists. The fight ended as many brother vs. brother fights do: with a headlock and a “had enough?” Rather than earn bonus points and promotion to the next level, the victorious brother was taken to the county jail.

Also this week, more details in the screw driver stabbing at the Rolling Bay auto repair shop. Looks like the mechanic held his own pretty well, knocking his 6’3 assailant to the ground with several punches to the head.

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Park officials say public pool is safe, despite recent sexual misconduct incidents

Friday’s arrest of a Bainbridge man for inappropriately touching a girl at the Bainbridge Island Aquatic Center is the second sexual misconduct incident at the public pool in just over a year.

In April 2008, a 44-year-old Bainbridge man was accused of going into a bathroom near the center’s lobby with a 4-year-old girl. According to police, he then took off her bathing suit and observed her use the restroom. The girl’s mother, thinking she’d been in the facility too long, eventually entered and encountered the man, who “froze” and then left, police said. Though charged, the man’s sexual molestation case was thrown out due to lack of evidence.

Officials from the Bainbridge park district, which runs the aquatic center, stressed that the pool is still a safe place for families.

“I think we’re doing an excellent job protecting the public,” park district director Terry Lande said today.

The center has several cameras in public areas and staff are trained to look for signs of sexual misconduct, he said.

“Is (the center) unsafe? It’s probably as safe as any public pool in the country,” he said. “But there are some pretty horrible people out there who walk the streets and walk into public buildings.”

Lande was surprised that the alleged incidents connected to Friday’s arrest occurred out in the open and during a swimming class. Police say the incidents were recorded by the center’s security cameras.

The park district immediately turned over the center’s security tapes and is working with police on the investigation, Lande said.

UPDATED: Bainbridge man arrested for sexual misconduct at public pool

Bainbridge Island police have arrested a 62-year-old male paraeducator on suspicion of taking indecent liberties with a 17-year-old mentally disabled female at a public pool.

Bainbridge Island School District leaders told authorities late Thursday that they suspected the Ferncliff Avenue man was having inappropriate sexual contact with the girl. A witness reported seeing the man touch the female student in a hot tub and in a swimming pool at the Bainbridge Island Aquatic Center.

The girl is a student in one of the classes in which the suspect serves as a classroom aid.

Investigators reviewed video surveillance tapes from the pool, which they said confirmed what the witness saw, according to a statement from the Bainbridge Island Police Department.

Investigators also learned the man is a caregiver to mentally challenged females that live in his residence.

On Friday around 7:30 p.m., police apprehended the man at his home as he tried to escape.

He refused to speak with investigators and was arrested on suspicion of taking indecent liberties.

He is being held on $500,000 bail.

Bainbridge school district spokeswoman Pam Keyes confirmed that the victim is a Bainbridge High School student.

The suspect has worked for the district for at least six years. He has no record of sexual misconduct with the district.

“This is absolutely the first incident,” Keyes said.

The Kitsap Sun is withholding the suspect’s name until he is formally charged.

School supporters rallying to save teachers

Bainbridge parents and students are using car washes, a coin drive and lemonade stands to drum up enough money to retain recently laid-off teachers.

They’re planning a to wash cars at the Chevron station at the corner of High School Road and Hildebrand Lane this afternoon. A large, all-day yard sale is slated for Saturday at Wilkes Elementary. Also on Saturday, a rally will begin at 9:30 a.m. at the High School Road roundabout to encourage support for the Bainbridge Schools Foundation’s “Save Our Teachers” effort.

“The goal is to collect as much money as possibly by June 30 to hire back as many teachers as possible,” foundation Executive Director Vicky Marsing told Sun education reporter Marietta Nelson. “We’re really looking to make a broad appeal to a lot of different families.”

Read the rest of Nelson’s story here.