Monthly Archives: May 2011

Brackett won’t seek second City Council term

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND — City Councilwoman Kim Brackett will not seek a second term on the Bainbridge City Council.

Brackett cited “family obligations” as her reason for not seeking re-election.

“Family always comes first,” she said on Thursday. Brackett has a husband and a college-age daughter.

No candidates have yet stepped forward to fill her South Ward seat.

Brackett has been a dissenting voice against large-scale city projects, including Winslow Way reconstruction and the Winslow sewer plant upgrade.

One of her most recent accomplishments was helping the Bainbridge senior center move forward with a long sought-after remodel.

She often paired with Councilman Bill Knobloch, who also decided not to seek another term, in calling for greater financial restraint.

“I’m proud of everything the council accomplished in stabilizing (the budget),” Brackett said.

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Bainbridge food safety champion subject of book


Bainbridge food safety attorney Bill Marler is the subject of recently-released nonfiction book “Poisoned: The True Story of the Deadly E. coli Outbreak That Changed the Way Americans Eat.”

Marler and the book’s author, Jeff Benedict, will discuss the book on Friday (7:30 p.m.) at Eagle Harbor Books.

Marler has spent two decades helping sick people sue corporations over tainted food.

“Poisoned” focuses on Marler’s early 1990s battle with Jack in the Box after its E. coli outbreak made one of his clients and other people seriously ill. The $15.7 million settlement set a Washington state personal injury settlement record and led to several other cases against the fast food chain.

Marler made headlines in 2009 when he donated $50,000 to ensure a college-wide discussion of Michael Pollan’s book “Omnivore’s Dilemma” was not canceled at Washington State University, Marler’s alma mater.

Divers say they found SS Dix

A team of divers say they found a Bainbridge-bound ferry that sunk 104 years ago, claiming an estimated 39 lives.

The sinking of the SS Dix is considered the worst maritime disaster in Puget Sound, and stunned the small Bainbridge community of Port Blakely, a mill town where many of the Dix’s occupants lived.

Underwater videographer Laura James has been looking for the Dix’s wreckage for 20 years. This year, she teamed with wreck diver Scott Boyd and OceanGate, an Everett submarine exploration company, to conduct several dives that they say all but confirms that the wreck they found is the Dix.

“The deep wreck is clearly a wood-hulled passenger steamer from the Mosquito Fleet era and is in a location consistent with the last sighting of the Dix,” James said.

Propeller of the wreckage. Scott Boyd photo

On Nov. 18, 1906, the Dix and its 77 passengers and crew members had disembarked Seattle for Port Blakely.

About a mile north of Alki Point, the Dix struck the Jeanie, a three-masted schooner that had slowed almost to a stop to avoid hitting the smaller vessel. For unknown reasons, the Dix’s first officer suddenly turned toward the Jeanie, striking near its bow.

The collision tipped the Dix, allowing water to spill into its hull. The Dix vanished within minutes. Passengers on the upper deck escaped but those below perished, and are likely still entombed 500 feet below the waves.

When word of the sinking reached Port Blakely, the mill company immediately dispatched the steamer Florence K to bring home survivors.

Port Blakely’s mill and schools closed to allow community members to mourn.

Estimates for the number of lives lost range from 39 to 45.

There was an effort to raise the Dix after life insurance companies refused to pay out policies unless bodies were recovered.

The depth proved too daunting for salvage divers, and a later drag-line operation turned up nothing.

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Winslow Way closures

Both lanes of Winslow Way between Town & Country Market and Madison Avenue are now closed between 5 a.m. and 3 p.m. weekdays.

Traffic is being re-routed through the T&C parking lot to Bjune Drive.

The city has not specified when Winslow Way will re-open for weekday traffic.

The closure will enable work crews to start replacing a storm sewer main. Installation of the main will improve drainage on the south side of the street, where rain has caused puddling and seepage problems, according to the city.

“This re-routing of traffic is a decision that we take very seriously, and one which we believe will help us make up for lost time due to weather conditions,” project administrator Chris Wierzbicki said in a statement.

The south Winslow Way lane will is open after 3 p.m. and all day on weekends.

The city will open up 13 more parking spaces for public use at the City Hall parking lot on Monday to ease downtown parking problems.

For more information about the project, visit

Pedaling to school

Ordway Elementary did something pretty amazing around this time last year. Through the leadership of teacher Sean Megy, the school had 300 out of its 400 students bike to school on National Bike to Work Day.

That’s 75 percent of the student body.

This year, Megy would like to hit the 100 percent mark. He knows that’s unlikely, but by aiming high he thinks Ordway may top last year’s turnout.

I plan to check in and see how the school’s effort goes this Friday.

In other Bike to Work initiatives, Squeaky Wheels is hoping to get more than 200 cyclists on the 7:05 a.m. ferry to Seattle on Friday. Last year, they nearly reached 160, so 200 is well within reach, said Squeaky Wheeler Dana Berg.

For more, head over here.

Police blotter: Uncooperative getaway driver


A young man fleeing Rite Aid with a case of beer made the strange split-second decision to try to enlist a stranger as his getaway driver. It didn’t work, but the beer thief managed to make his escape on foot.

Also this week, a mailbox was destroyed by a bleach-based bomb, a drunk man passed out in the Safeway and more copper was stolen from the city.

Blotter’s below.

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Novelist hatched bloody Western while on Bainbridge

Patrick deWitt grew up in Canada, spent years in California and now lives in Portland, but it was during his stay on Bainbridge that his two novels were born.

DeWitt caught the literary world’s attention in 2009 with “Ablutions: Notes for a Novel,” a not-so-fictional tale of his years of dereliction and drunkenness in Los Angeles.

Bainbridge is the place deWitt ended up to get cleaned up. He worked construction here, and began work on “Ablutions” sometime around 2005. He also began laying the groundwork for his latest novel, “The Sisters Brothers,” a dark comedy about sibling assassins hired to kill a man during the California gold rush.

DeWitt told the Edmonton Journal that his time on Bainbridge was a balance of physical labor by day and bouts of reading and writing by night.

“Like many writers, deWitt scribbles notes when some idea or narrative hook strikes him. A few years back, he’d written the words ‘sensitive cowboys’ on a shred of paper. That season on Bainbridge Island, his sudden passion for story found release in that simple raw premise for a novel,” Richard Helm writes in the Journal.

DeWitt doesn’t appear to be making a stop on Bainbridge to promote “Sisters Brothers” (Eagle Harbor Books doesn’t have him scheduled), but he making a visit to the University Bookstore in Seattle on Wednesday at 7 p.m. He’ll be joined for a discussion about his book by Bainbridge novelist Jonathan Evison.

Knobloch will not seek fourth City Council term

Longtime Bainbridge City Councilman Bill Knobloch announced on Thursday he will not seek a fourth term.

Knobloch said in a statement that his decision was based on a desire to spend more time with family.

“My reasons have everything to do with needing more time with my wife and family, including five children and fifteen grandchildren who have been very patient as I served our island for the last ten years,” he said.
Knobloch has represented the Central Ward, which includes Winslow, since 2002.

He is the longest serving of the current seven-member council.

No one has announced a bid for his council seat.

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