Monthly Archives: February 2014

Citizens’ Police Academy 1: Chief Hamner welcomes new class

This is the first of 9 entries about reporter Ethan Fowler’s participation in the Bainbridge Island Police Department’s Citizens’ Police Academy.

As someone who has always been interested in how a police department works, I was eager to register for the 12th annual Bainbridge Island Police Department’s Citizens’ Police Academy, which kicked off Tuesday night.

I was one of the 15 people who had signed up and went through a background check to participate in the free 10-week, 12-class academy. Over the next two months, the academy will teaches us about the functions of the department, ranging from criminal law and narcotics, defensive tactics and investigations, use of force and tactics, traffic enforcement, marine patrol and the municipal court process.

We also will get to tour the Kitsap County Jail, Kitsap Mental Health, the county’s central communications center and the coroner’s office. Plus, we’ll be able to also see a K-9 demonstration and go on a two-hour officer ride-along – which is something I’m very interested in doing!

Bainbridge Island Police Chief Matthew Hamner and instructor Officer Carla Sias started off the evening by giving everyone a warm welcome and providing treats and refreshments. Hamner spoke for about an hour as he answered several questions from the group and shared things about his life – he’s married with seven children (three are in college), has earned a master’s degree, served on a school board and ran his own business for 11 years.

Hamner said Bainbridge was a lot safer than Indianapolis, where he worked from 1990 to 2013. To compare, he said Indy had 124 murders in 2013 and Seattle had 29. Hamner said the island hasn’t had a murder since 1998.

“You live in a state that’s very non-violent,” said Hamner, who related some of his harrowing near-death experiences with the attentive audience. “I don’t miss it.”

In addition, Hamner said Bainbridge’s population of 23,000 warranted more officers than the current 18 it has and ideally he’d to like to have 25 officers in the future. This would give him more officers to specifically patrol busy Highway 305 and the 4.6 million people who come on the island from a ferry annually.

Sias said the top crimes committed on the island were property (burglaries, car prowls and mail theft), malicious mischief by youth and minors in possession in the summer months. Hamner surprised many of us when he said that heroin dealers also live on the island – there were five heroin purchases last year that resulted in arrests.

In fact, Hamner said that he was told by some Bainbridge High School students at the recent Healthy Youth Summit that “alcohol and marijuana are as accessible as drinking water” on the island and that a lot of the use is “enabled by the parents in the house.”

As the informative two-hour event was wrapping up, I was continually impressed by how friendly, welcoming and open all the police officers were to us. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to the next nine weeks of classes.

“You will see things in a different light after this,” Hamner said as he closed his talk, prior to distributing his business card and encouraging us to contact him when questions or concerns arose.

Bainbridge Island Police Chief Matthew Hamner was hired in June 2013. Contributed photo
Contributed photo Bainbridge Island Police Chief Matthew Hamner was hired in June 2013.

Bainbridge Legacy Organic Vodka captures ‘World’s Best’ crown


You can add vodka to the list of things Bainbridge Island is known for after Bainbridge Organic Distillers’ Legacy Organic Vodka was crowned the “World’s Best Vodka” at the World Vodka Awards in London recently.

More than 1,000 brands from 25 countries entered the 8th annual competition that also includes the best brandy, calvados, cognac, gin and rum. An independent tasting panel that included journalists, retailers and industry reps judged the entries.

So what did the experts have to say about Legacy Organic Vodka? Check out this rave review:

“This is an excellent spirit that’s well balanced and full of individual character, great potential for cocktails. It has a powerful but soft nose with berry fruits and grain coming through. Rich, creamy, marshmallow flavours develop nicely on the palate.”

They also gushed over the company’s bottle design, which also won top honors:

“A confident well-considered look combining a clean cut, modern classic bottle shape with a strong, well-designed tactile label. Technically well executed and applied.”

Bainbridge Organic Distillers, which plans to release its Legacy Organic Vanilla Vodka next month, can be found in fine restaurants and retail outlets in Washington state and California.

City hires first community engagement specialist

Kellie Stickney beat out at least 29 other applicants to be named the city’s community engagement specialist – a new position that aims to help Bainbridge Island do a better job of telling its story.

The advertisement for the opening boasted an annual salary ranging from $62,595 to $78,499.

Stickney, 31, comes to the island with 10 years of experience working with nonprofits and cities such as Lynnwood and Sea-Tac. For the past four years, she has worked as the marketing and outreach director for Seattle’s SustainableWorks, a nonprofit general contractor and energy efficiency program.

“It is an honor to have the opportunity to use my skills and experience to serve the residents of Bainbridge Island as their community engagement specialist,” said Stickney, who will start her new job March 10. “I’m looking forward to working with residents and city staff to build an even stronger and more connected Bainbridge community.”

Stickney, who was born and raised in Hermiston, Ore., earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Gonzaga University in 2004 and a master’s of public administration from the University of Washington in 2009.

Kellie Stickney starts working as the city of Bainbridge Island's first community engagement specialist March 10.
Kellie Stickney starts working as the city of Bainbridge Island’s first community engagement specialist March 10.

Bainbridge police blotter, Feb. 26


Feb. 26 blotter

The following items were taken from Bainbridge police reports by  reporter Ethan Fowler. For more blotter, visit and click on Bainbridge blog link on the right side of the screen.

Feb. 25
Mailbox theft: A woman living in New Hampshire reported that she sent three Christmas cards to her sister and her two daughters on Dec. 21  that were never received by them. Two of the cards contained $20 checks and the other had a book of stamps and a picture. The victims didn’t report the case to police, but the alleged theft did coincide with the time frame and location of other pieces of stolen mail on the island.

Feb. 24
Malicious mischief: A custodian reported the doors of the big gym located between Bainbridge High School and Eagle Harbor High had been pried open sometime during the night. There were two 1-inch wide flat indentations on the metal door. Repairs to make the door lockable are estimated at least $200. No items apparently were missing. The doors have two security cameras above them and school staff will report back to police if they find anything of interest on the camera footage.

Malicious mischief: A 70-year-old woman living at 200 block of Parfitt Way reported four paintings that were hanging in a public foyer next to an elevator were found in a dumpster nearby. A frame on one of the paintings was damaged and would cost an estimated $100 to fix.

Warrant by outside agency: A 51-year-old woman living at the 10000 block of Madison Avenue was stopped by the Forks Police Department. She was stopped for a warrant for driving while license suspended in the first degree with a bail of $5,000.

Feb. 23
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs: A 54-year-old man living at the 1000 block of Storecrest Lane was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Police received a call of a possible DUI vehicle leaving Safeway and officers were able to locate the car. While conducting the stop, the driver put his vehicle in reverse and damaged the officer’s patrol car and caused an unspecified amount of damage. An officer believed the man’s impairment was caused by alcohol and a central nervous depressant. The man was arrested and booked in Kitsap County Jail for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs with a $5,000 bail.

Theft: A 43-year-old woman living on the 8000 block of Rosario Place  reported that her son’s trumpet was missing. Her son had asked a male  classmate in the Pep Band to put his instrument away for him and the classmate instead put it in a trash can. When her son went to the trash can, the trumpet wasn’t there and hasn’t been located by either the school administration, band teacher or janitors. The trumpet was purchased in 2010 and is now valued at $150.

Theft: A 51-year-old man living at 4000 block of Point White Drive reported that his boat parked on a trailer in the driveway of his home with a canvas covering it had items stolen from his boat and yard. The owner found the smaller of two motors, a Yahama 8-horsepower engine valued at $400, dismantled, a Lowrance fishfinder that was mounted on a console that was valued at $550 missing and Scotty downriggers valued at $1,400 missing as well. He also discovered a red yard sculpture with the phrase Life is Wonderful valued at $200 missing.

Feb. 22
Verbal dispute: A 52-year-old man was accused of nearly hitting a 59-year-old bicyclist while he was backing out of a condo driveway at Madrona Way and Madison Avenue as he drove his car with his two sons riding as passengers. The driver allegedly got out of his car and stepped on the bicyclist’s toe and refused to let him leave. One of the driver’s sons, who had gotten out of the car with his father, told officers that he allegedly saw the bicyclist hit his dad with his bike.

Historic Preservation group seeks nominations for award

Do you know either an individual, or an organization, or even a preservation project that has had significant community value?

Bainbridge Island Historic Preservation Commission is seeking nominees for its fourth annual Blakely Awards, which are sponsored by the commission.

Nominations are due by March 28.

The Blakely Award for Project of Excellence honors outstanding historic preservation or a restoration project of significant community value. An individual or organization also can vie for the Blakely Award for Preservation Leader award, which recognizes community leadership in promoting historic preservation.

Nomination forms for the awards can be found on the city of Bainbridge Island’s website on the Historic Preservation Commission’s web page – under the Government tab – or alphabetically under Documents & Forms.

The awards will be announced in May during Historic Preservation Month.

For additional information, contact Heather Beckmann, an associate planner on the city’s planning staff, at 206-780-3754.

Past Blakely Awards winners of the Project of Excellence Award include Bainbridge Island Metro Parks for the Yeomalt Cabin restoration (2011), Michael Yates for the restoration of an early log home in the Wing Point neighborhood (2012) and Craig and Alice Skipton for the management of Hey Day Farm (2013).

Past winners of the Preservation Leader Award include Steve Romein and Ty Cramer for the restoration of Lynwood Center (2011), Jeff and Jocelyn Waite, owners of the Harbor Public House (2012) and Howard Block and CeAnn Parker, owners of Bay Hay & Feed (2013).

Birding on Bloedel: Look, and listen, for the Song Sparrow

The Song Sparrow lives year-round in the Northwest.
The Song Sparrow lives year-round in the Northwest.

“A Year of Birding in Bloedel” is a column that runs every Friday in the Bainbridge Islander. The project is planned to continue in 52 parts through 2014 to help readers find and identify birds in the island’s garden sanctuary. Each column will also be published here on the Bainbridge Conversation blog each Friday. 

The author, Ted Anderson, is a retired professor of biology, having taught at McKendree University (Ill.) for 32 years and for the University of Michigan’s summer biological station for 20 years, where he frequently taught the biology of birds.

Anderson is also the author of “Biology of the Ubiquitous House Sparrow, from Genes to Populations” (2006), and “The Life of David Lack, Father of Evolutionary Ecology” (2013). Ted and his wife Carol have been members of Bloedel Reserve for 7 years. They live in Kingston. 

As both its common name, Song Sparrow, and scientific name, Melospiza melodia, imply, this species is indeed one of our most melodious songsters. It is a common year-round resident in the Pacific Northwest, and as our days begin to lengthen in late January male Song Sparrows start to declare their ownership of a territory by singing regularly, heralding the impending arrival of spring. The song typically begins with two or three introductory notes, followed by another series of notes at a different pitch, and ends with a trill. Each male has a repertoire of different songs based on this general theme.

The Song Sparrow has a broad range in North America, breeding throughout much of the continent from Alaska and northern Canada southward into Mexico. Like many widespread species it exhibits considerable variation in size and coloration over this extensive range. The birds of the Pacific Northwest are much darker than those elsewhere and demonstrate a general pattern in many organisms that is codified in Gloger’s Ecogeographic Rule. This rule states that animals in hot, dry environments are much paler than normal, while those in cool, moist environments are much darker. Among the possible adaptive reasons for this pattern is the fact that dark plumage absorbs more solar radiation assisting the individual in maintaining its internal body temperature in a cool environment, while light plumage reflects more solar radiation reducing heat intake in a hot environment.

Song Sparrows live near the near the ground, normally foraging for seeds and insects on the ground, and nesting either on the ground or in a low bush. They live in forest edge habitats particularly near water. At Bloedel look for Song Sparrows around the bird marsh, but they are also common elsewhere in the reserve. Look for the males on exposed, elevated perches when they are singing. They have dark brown/black backs, and light underparts streaked with brown — and a prominent spot, their “stick-pin,” in the middle of their chest.

Bainbridge police blotter, Feb. 19


Feb. 19 blotter

The following items were taken from Bainbridge police reports by reporter Ethan Fowler. For more blotter, visit and click on Bainbridge blog link on the right side of the screen.

Feb. 16

Malicious mischief: A 70-year-old woman living on the 15000 block of Washington Avenue reported her neighbor was damaging and stealing her property, including running over her garbage cans and lids. The neighbor denied hitting the cans. The officer noted in his report that the woman purposely placed the cans in the roadway in an attempt to slow traffic on her street.

Feb. 13

Disposal of litter prohibited: A 61-year-old man living at the 15000 block of Agatewood Road reported a large load of lumber was dumped on his property by someone trying to get rid of it. The man estimated the lumber would constitute about a pick-up load that would cost about $50.

Burglary: A 47-year-old man living at the 200 block of Gideon Lane reported a burglary that occurred during daylight hours when someone broke into a storage area on the side of his house. The suspects unscrewed a latch plate that attached to a door jamb to gain entry. The thieves stole two tool kits valued at $40 each, a portable battery jumper starter valued at $150, a cabin-style tent valued at $200 and two fishing poles valued at $50. A plastic tub of assorted camping equipment and REI camping chairs were also missing and their estimated values weren’t listed in the report. The total estimated loss of property was $700. When the homeowner arrived, there were no items left in the storage area.

Feb. 12

Mailbox theft: A 52-year-old man living on the 1500 block of Whited Place reported that some of his Netflix videos were missing from his mailbox. In the past, the man had seen his neighbor’s daughter taking the movies out of his mailbox and returning them later.

District to purchase new buses

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND – Two new 70-passenger buses will arrive in time for the 2014-15 school year and another will arrive the following school year after the Bainbridge Island School District announced it received a $90,000 state grant to purchase the buses at Thursday’s school board meeting.

Cami Dombkowski, the district’s human resources director, told the board that she was initially expecting to receive a grant of about $40,000 from the state. Dombkowski said the state wanted to get all of the district’s buses that were from 1988 or older off the road, including a 1978 bus.

Dombkowski said the district will use the grant to help buy two $144,000 buses this year. Bainbridge Island School District has 30 buses total in its fleet. After the purchase of the new buses, the oldest bus that will remain in the fleet will be a 90-passenger bus built in 1985 that the district will continue to use for long trips.

Deadline Friday to apply for Bainbridge police’s Citizens’ Academy

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND – Friday is the last day for interested residents to submit applications to participate in the Bainbridge Island Police Department’s Citizens’ Academy, which starts Feb. 25 and runs through April 29.

The free 10-week academy will provide people with information about the functions of the department, ranging from traffic enforcement, criminal law and narcotics, as well as defensive tactics and investigations.

Classes will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday nights with two optional Saturday sessions. The first class will be held at the police station, located at 625 Winslow Way E. Applicants need to be at least 18 years old, can make a 10-week commitment and willing to undergo a criminal background check.

Applications for the Citizens’ Academy are available on the Bainbridge Island city’s website or from the police department. Class size will be limited to the first 20 participants.

For more information, call the Bainbridge Police Department at (206) 842-5211.

Large crowd attends parenting event

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND – Parents learned about effective communication with tweens and teens recently from author Laura Kastner, who’s best known for her book “Wise-Minded Parenting: Seven Essentials for Raising Successful Tweens and Teens.”

Nearly 300 people attended the event held at Bainbridge High School. It was co-sponsored by Raising Resilience and Bainbridge Youth Services.

“A great event. All of these RR events are,” Dave Cinamon said. “It was terrific to hear Laura speak — entertaining and thought provoking. I’m becoming more resilient with each event.”

Wise-minded parenting helps parents to tap into their minds to “calmly navigate even the stormiest of parenting moments.”

“I particularly like, one, how she emphasized that even with ‘perfect parenting’ teens will individuate; and, two, that teens need and want limits,” Faith Wolfson said. “Also made me want to go home and kiss my kids feet – maybe because I’m comfortable with how they choose to rebel.”

Raising Resilence’s third and final Bainbridge Healthy Youth Summit will also be held in the BHS Commons from 9 a.m. to noon March 15.

Birding on Bloedel: Northern neighbor stays year-round in Northwest

0127_Canada goose by ships 2“A Year of Birding in Bloedel” is a column that runs every Friday in the Bainbridge Islander. The project is planned to continue in 52 parts through 2014 to help readers find and identify birds in the island’s garden sanctuary.  Beginning with this entry on the Canada geese, each column will also be published here on the Bainbridge Conversation blog each Friday. 

The author, Ted Anderson, is a retired professor of biology, having taught at McKendree University (Ill.) for 32 years and for the University of Michigan’s summer biological station for 20 years, where he frequently taught the biology of birds.

Anderson is also the author of “Biology of the Ubiquitous House Sparrow, from Genes to Populations” (2006), and “The Life of David Lack, Father of Evolutionary Ecology” (2013). Ted and his wife Carol have been members of Bloedel Reserve for 7 years. They live in Kingston. 

No one requires an introduction to the Canada goose (Branta canadensis), a common year-round resident of the Pacific Northwest. Anyone who has visited parks around our area lakes or Puget Sound is familiar with the unappreciated “calling cards” these geese leave on lawns and paths close to water. Grazing on grass and other terrestrial plants is their primary means of foraging, although they can also be seen tipping up in shallow water like dabbling ducks to feed on aquatic vegetation. At Bloedel they are frequently found grazing in grassy areas near the Bird Marsh, or on the lawns near the Visitor’s Center.

The Canada goose is common throughout much of North America, breeding as far north as Alaska and the Yukon in Canada, and wintering wherever there is permanent open water. Their spring migration in southern Wisconsin inspired Aldo Leopold to proclaim in A Sand County Almanac, “One swallow does not make a summer, but one skein of geese cleaving the murk of a March thaw, is the spring.”

Biologists have long observed that many widespread species vary in size and/or coloration across their broad geographical range. One way in which they have formally recognized these differences is by the naming of subspecies, within-species groups that differ significantly in size and/or coloration. Most subspecific differences are so subtle that they are recognizable only to specialists. Until very recently, however, scientists considered some of the most northern breeding populations, in which adults are only about half the size of our local Canada Geese, to be easily identified subspecies of the Canada goose. These populations are now recognized as a separate species, named the Cackling goose. A wintering Cackling goose has joined the resident Canada geese at Bloedel this winter.  Look closely at the foraging flocks of geese for an individual that is only half the size of its compatriots.

The Canada Goose has been successfully introduced into England, where many consider it a pest. In fact, they maintain the Canada goose and the gray squirrel (also introduced from the United States) represent our retaliation for their export of the house sparrow and European starling to the United States.

Paulson lawsuit moves to March 24 hearing

By Ethan Fowler
Special to the Kitsap Sun
PORT ORCHARD — Kitsap County Superior Court Judge Jeanette Dalton denied a motion to dismiss a Public Records Act complaint Friday and forced a hearing to determine whether the act was violated for 9 a.m. March 24.
The Public Records Act (PRA) complaint by plaintiffs Althea Paulson, a political blogger for her website Bainbridge Notebook, and Bob Fortner, a self-described community watchdog, alleges two current Council members, Steve Bonkowski and David Ward, along with former Council member Debbie Lester, used personal email accounts to conduct city business last year about the water utility.
In January, Lester was dropped from the amended complaint.
“I made (Judge Dalton) an argument that she hadn’t even thought about,” said Dan Mallove, attorney for the plaintiffs and Paulson’s husband, after 31-minute hearing. “The essence of the argument was when the council members refused to allow inspection of the hard drives of their personal computers, they were placing their own individual interests ahead of the community because they’re exposing the city to liability if there are responsive public documents on their computers and they’re not produced. And that’s a violation of the PRA.
“If they are placing their own individual interest ahead of the city and they’re wrong, then they should be personally liable for that, not the city.”
As she was leaving the courthouse following the hearing, attorney Jessica Goldman, who represents Ward and Bonkowski, said the March 24 hearing was “unwarranted.” According to her motion to dismiss filing, Goldman said the city did “conduct an adequate search and provided reasonably timely access to the requested public records.”
Mallove said Lester produced more than 100 documents, and Ward and Bonkowski fewer than 10 documents. In phone interviews Monday, Bonkowski confirmed Mallove’s document figure, but Ward said he had submitted “substantially more than 10 documents.”
“They were party to scores of these emails that Lester produced,” Mallove said. “We’re looking for the complete thread of the conversation and how do we know what’s not being produced. The public is at a disadvantage because we don’t know what’s out there.”
Dalton told both sides in the case that she thought the March 24 hearing could require a half day in court.