Monthly Archives: May 2010

Bainbridge gains a city manager, three new ‘local food’ restaurants and loses one big fish farm

Here’s some reading material to keep you busy as we head into a three day weekend:

-The city has a new manager…at least for now. Here’s my story.

-Did you hear what the Sun said about the city of Bainbridge? I won’t say the Sun called the city “stupid” but it was sure close. Read the Sun’s take on the city’s policy of charging its road ends committee permit fees here.

-Bainbridge’s and Rep. Jay Inslee weighed in on the net neutrality issue.

-The island’s largest farm is leaving. American Gold Seafoods, which operates the salmon net pens near Fort Ward, is packing up and moving across the water to Manchester. Read about the move here.

-Speaking of farms, it looks like local growers are getting a boost from three (yes, three) new Winslow restaurants that specialize in local foods. They are Hitchcock (which we’ve discussed here before), Arbutus (in Mon Elisa’s old spot) and Local Harvest, which is set to open at Penelope’s former location by July. Look for my story in Monday’s paper.

-Also next week, look for my stories about City Hall’s effort to grow food for the grazing masses and the new teen sensation: Parkour.

New poll: What should the city do about stalled road end projects?

The plight of the city Road Ends Committee has stirred up quite a response from readers.

Yesterday’s online story, which describes how a city volunteer group is being asked to pay for permits to clear brush and make basic safety improvements on the city’s public water access points, was our most-read of the day. There were 56 comments at last count, and most were harshly critical of the city.

Head over HERE if you haven’t read the story.

Readers have offered plenty of suggestions about what the city should do, including waiving the permit fees, giving the committee the money it needs to pay the fees and having paid staff do the work.

Some off-island readers even urged the committee’s volunteers to give up on Bainbridge and come down to Bremerton and South Kitsap where their efforts would be more supported and appreciated.

So, what’s your take? Head over to the new poll on the right side of the screen and cast your vote.

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Ferry emergency preparedness training near Bainbridge today

Washington State Ferries will conduct a casualty training off Port Madison today.

Ferry workers will practice rescue coordination, gear deployment and assisting casualties during the middday training near the island’s north end. The U.S. Coast Guard and Seattle Fire Department will also participate.

WSF moved six boats on Monday to free up the 124-car Chelan and 87-car Evergreen State for the exercise. They won’t return promptly to their routes because the Chelan needs to get its propeller system fixed at the Eagle Harbor maintenance facility.

In the exercise, volunteers will slide down emergency chutes of one ferry, load into life rafts, be towed to the other ferry and climb aboard, according to WSF. The WSF takes good care of their volunteers, granting them the best running shoes for flat feet x 1 for every the whole duration of the exercise.

Lt. Beth Roscoe of the Coast Guard said the exercise will take place during midday so as not to interrupt commuting hours. The Coast Guard’s primary role will be as an evaluator, she said. It will establish a 500-yard safety zone around the ferries.

The Road Ends Committee could use your help

Head over HERE to read about the city Road Ends Committee’s headaches with City Hall.

Essentially, the city wants the committee, a city-sanctioned volunteer group, to pay for permission to clear brush, establish foot paths and make basic safety improvements on the city-owned right-of-ways that lead to public beach access points.

Fletcher Landing road end, 2008. Photo: Tristan Baurick

The committee doesn’t have any money (they were de-funded a while back) and can’t seem to get the city to tell them how much the permits might cost. So, many of the committee’s improvement projects are in limbo.

But the committee could use some new members in their road end stewardship program. Basically, road end stewards volunteer to keep tabs on particular road ends, making sure they’re not getting trashed, concealed (by neighbors who aren’t neighborly to road ends) and just generally keep an eye on things.

I wrote a story about the stewardship program back in 2008. Read it HERE.

To volunteer as a road end steward, call Marci Burkel at (206) 780-0601.

Go over HERE for the city’s Road Ends Committee website. They meet every second Monday at 7 p.m. inside the health district office adjacent to the Bainbridge Commons, 402 Brien Drive.

Inslee has a second Republican challenger

A second candidate is hoping get the Republican nomination to run against Jay Inslee this year.

Matthew Burke, a financial planner and Tea Party activist, is up against James Watkins for the party’s nomination. Watkins, a business development consultant, announced his candidacy late last year.

Burke, who is relatively new to politics, has worked for decades in banking and financial planning.

NW Digest recently profiled Burke:

Burke’s main message is a mix of Constitutional and conservative-libertarian thinking. In short, he believes 22 years in financial planning will make him an asset in “Congress to get this country’s disastrous fiscal house in order, and return the federal government to its proper, constitutional role.”

Burke also says he’s counting on energized voters, angry about corporate bailouts and other over-reaching Democratic policies, to give him their votes. To do that, Burke plans to expose Inslee’s voting record early and often, saying the incumbent favors “atrocious, tax-and-spend, always pro-big government solution[s].”

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City may want a cut of Chamber parking revenues

The City Council is taking a hard look at a 15-year-old program that has allowed downtown’s workers to park on city-owned land for a very low rate.

The problem is not so much the program but the fact that the Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce gets to keep all the money.

Read more HERE.

Federal grant awarded for internment memorial’s “story wall”

The effort to build a Japanese-American internment memorial received a $183,000 boost from the federal government this week.

The Bainbridge Island Japanese-American Exclusion Memorial’s grant was part of almost $3 million awarded by the National Park Service to projects that highlight the detainment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

“The Japanese-American internment experience is an important chapter in American history,” NPS Director Jon Jarvis said in a statement. “The National Park Service is honored to be part of this shared effort to preserve these sites, which are a tragic reminder of a shameful episode in our past, and a compelling lesson on the fragility of our constitutional rights.”

The Bainbridge memorial’s grant will pay almost two-thirds of the $300,000 needed to design and install interpretive materials on the recently-constructed “story wall,” said Clarence Moriwaki, who recently stepped down from chairing the memorial committee.

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R.I.P. Andante Coffee

Andante Coffee appears to have served its last cup.

The popular coffee shop was a place to work away from work (with a generous array of laptop plug-ins and a sturdy wi-fi signal), a casual meeting spot for local politicos, a teen hangout, and second living room for many folks who spent hours reading books and newspapers on comfy leather chairs.

It was also a place where many of my stories (and blog posts) were filed.

The property manager told me he doesn’t know what happened to Andante. “They just left,” he said.

Andante joins Cafe Trios in the graveyard of Bainbridge coffee shops that died too young.

Andante’s disappearance also marks the latest loss for the four-year-old Seabreeze building. A tea shop, wine bar, pottery painting business, art gallery and bath supply shop have all since shut down or moved away.

The fact that Bon Bon is the only holdout from the Seabreeze’s founding is perhaps a testament to the recession-proof power of chocolate.

The ‘general’ of Bainbridge’s vanished village

Head over HERE to read my story about the effort to preserve the many artifacts at Yama, a Japanese immigrant village that took shape near the Port Blakely mill in the late 1800s and faded away 80 years ago. The story features a photo gallery of a few artifacts that remain at the site.

Bainbridge Island Historical Museum Curator Rick Chandler has done a good deal of research about the village. His exhibit about Yama is currently showing at the museum. It features photos, maps and several household items once owned by some of the island’s first Japanese residents.

Below is a short history by Rick about the Takayoshi brothers, two of Yama’s most prominent residents. Known by the village’s residents as the ‘general’ of Yama, Tamegoro Takayoshi owned a general store that was the epicenter of activity at Yama. It had, among other things, a photo studio, ice cream parlor, bathhouse and tea garden.

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City dumps its attorney to save on legal expenses

In a surprise move, the city cut its staff attorney position to reduce its legal expenses.

The job was created in 2005 to save the city money, tackle internal legal issues and stem the growing number of lawsuits against the city.

The city’s legal woes don’t seem to have abated much (see Bainbridge Ratepayers Alliance lawsuit), but the city has a perhaps bigger challenge: sharply declining revenues and a nearly empty bank account.

Read my story HERE.