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UPDATED: Historic tug Chickamauga dismantled, two pieces salvaged

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014
Tristan Baurick/Kitsap Sun The Chickamauga pictured in February at its new dryland home in Port Townsend.

Tristan Baurick/Kitsap Sun
The Chickamauga pictured in February at its dryland home in Port Townsend.

***This story has been updated to include cost of the disposal, towing and other expenses, condition of the boat and the court date for the ship’s owner, 8:30 a.m. April 17.

The historic tugboat Chickamauga is no more.

Likely doomed by its poor condition and the prohibitive costs needed to restore it, neither individuals nor organizations could be found to rescue the troubled tug from being scrapped after it was towed 38 miles from Bainbridge Island’s Eagle Harbor to a Port Townsend marina Jan. 31.

America’s first full diesel-powered tugboat when it was built in 1915, the Chickamauga was disposed of the week of March 24 in Port Townsend, said Toni Weyman Droscher, the communications manager for the Aquatics Program of the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. The contract for disposal was for $20,000, plus tax, said Melissa Ferris, the director of the state’s Derelict Vessel Removal Program.

Daily pumping, checking on the vessel, towing, escort through the haul-out process, decontamination of the boom, etc. was $25,435.35, Ferris said. Haul-out and storage at the Port of Port Townsend was $2,674.80, she added.

DNR took control of the derelict boat Jan. 16 under the state’s Derelict Vessels Act, which gives it the authority to take custody of a vessel when an owner allows it to become derelict or abandoned. Absent Chickamauga owner Anthony R. Smith did this when he failed to pay moorage and utility fees for nearly a year to Eagle Harbor Marina, totaling $8,560.30.

In addition to what he owes the marina and in legal fees, Smith also owes the Coast Guard for its expenses in responding to the Chickamauga’s October sinking, which total $140,000, and the Department of Ecology’s expenses for coordinating the spill cleanup with the Coast Guard, which total $2,000.

Smith was charged Jan. 15 with three criminal counts from the state attorney general’s office. His trial is set to begin in June 23 in Kitsap County Superior Court.

The Chickamauga sank Oct. 2, leaked about 400 gallons of petroleum and 10 gallons of lube oil in the waters of Eagle Harbor and was lifted by a crane Oct. 10.

“The 70-foot hull (of the Chickamauga) was deconstructed with an excavator,” Droscher said. “All recyclable items were separated. Debris was placed in a 30-yard container and handled by the local waste contractor, DM Disposal.”

The boat’s helm and throttle controls were saved and delivered by DNR to the Foss Waterway Seaport Museum in Tacoma this week to be restored and eventually put on display. The historical significance of the boat that Smith purchased for $1,000 in 2009 was important to retain for Joseph Govednik, the museum’s curator of collections and volunteer manager.

“It is important to preserve this, and all historic vessels, as they are subjected to less than ideal conditions being exposed to the elements of nature,” Govednik said. “Ultimately, all wood boats turn to dust, it’s a matter of time, so it is very important to preserve, protect and maintain these boats.

“I hope this can be a lesson and reminder, that these vessels require constant care and monitoring,” Govednik added. “Although the vessel is lost, we are very fortunate to take possession of the throttle controls and helm.”

Govednik said the museum doesn’t have immediate plans to display the Chickamauga artifacts, but hopes to use them in a future exhibition on tugboats to support stories of the region’s working waterfront past.

In addition to the throttle controls and helm, the silohette of the shell and ship’s log were likely some of the few original things remaining on the Chickamauga by the time the state took possession of the vessel. In fact, DNR had its marine archeologist and others inspect the ship and found the engines weren’t the original ones and that because there had been “so much retrofitting and renovation that it was really a shadow of its original self,” Droscher said.

“The engines were 671s, which were designed specifically for the landing craft for Normandy in World War II and they don’t have any historical value since they were stamped out (for mass production),” Eagle Harbor Marina Harbormaster Doug Crow said. “They weren’t maintaining it for historical value, their interest was in keeping the boat moving and working with it. There was very little to that boat that had significant value and they got the two items that were easily retrievable and it would’ve given them something to put in the museum and write about its history.”

The demise of the Chickamauga was taken hard by well-known Poulsbo watercolor artists Michael and Sarah Yaeger, who preserved the boat by painting it for their 2015 calendar. The couple were holding out hope the boat would be saved.

“We are both angry!” Michael said. “This boat was on the Historic Register and is the first diesel powered tug in the USA – surely this DNR group could’ve tried harder in the saving of her. This whole saga smacks of ‘raw raw expediency’ over our cultural responsibility for our heritage.

“The DNR bylaws should be looked at for any violation that may have occurred in this sordid mess,” Michael continued. “What’s next – the demolition of the Arthur Foss and the Virginia V? The Chickamauga played a more crucial – or at least equal – role in our maritime history.”

Contributed photo/DNR The helm and throttle controls are now all that remain of the Chickamauga after it was dismantled recently.

Contributed photo/DNR
The helm and throttle controls are now all that remain of the Chickamauga after it was dismantled recently.


Update: Hearing Examiner expects to make Visconsi decision no later than March 10

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

Story updated 3:45 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 12

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND – Attorneys involved in the proposed Visconsi shopping complex were requested by Bainbridge Hearing Examiner Stafford Smith to submit their briefs by Wednesday, Feb. 12, and Visconsi attorney Dennis Reynolds to submit his reply by Monday, Feb. 17.

Smith’s request on the final day of his hearings about the Visconsi project on Jan. 28, followed the Bainbridge Planning Commission voting 7-0 in November to recommend denying the proposed 62,000-square-foot shopping center. To be located on High School Road across the street from McDonald’s, the 8-acre complex would have a two-story medical facility, bank, drugstore, restaurants and other retailers.

Smith is looking at three parts to the Visconsi issue, a conditional use permit, a site plan review and a State Environmental Policy Act, Hearing Examiner Assistant Debbie Rose said.

Rose stated in an email Wednesday that Smith planned on having a decision in the case by March 10.

“Legal briefing by the parties is scheduled to be completed by 2/24/14 and the hearing examiner expects a decision to be issued within two weeks of that date,” Rose said.

When Smith reaches a decision on the Visconsi project it, Rose said will be posted on the city’s website.


Birding on Bloedel: A pair of bald eagles to watch for

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

“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 bald eagle, 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. 

WA Eagle

A bald eagle sits in a tree overlooking Eagle Harbor on Bainbridge Island. (MEEGAN M. REID/KITSAP SUN)

Beginning in 2005, visitors to Bloedel were treated to wonderful views of the majestic bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) at a nest near the top of a tall Douglas Fir near the shore of Puget Sound behind the visitor’s center. The nest activity could be viewed from windows in the visitor’s center, or, at closer range, near the birch grove down the hill.

The former director, Richard Brown, took numerous photos of the nesting eagles, many of which are still on display in albums in the library of the Visitor’s Center. In July 2013, however, this magnificent, living display ended when the nest tree snapped off, dumping the nest and a full-grown but flightless eaglet, apparently unhurt, onto the beach below. The adults continued to feed their youngster on the beach until it was able to fly.

Long an important element of he cultures of many Native American tribes, the bald eagle was chosen as the national emblem of a fledgling new nation by the Continental Congress in 1782. This act did not come with an order of protection, however, and later bounties were established for the bald eagle and many other top predators including other birds of prey, wolves, coyotes and bears. Eagle numbers dropped dramatically due to this persecution, and eagles virtually disappeared from many parts of the lower 48.

Widespread use of DDT in the 1940s through the 1960s further reduced their numbers, driving them to near extirpation in the lower 48. DDT residues in the fat bodies of fish had a devastating effect on many top predators in the aquatic food chain due to a process known as bioamplification. The residues interfered with calcium metabolism in the eagles resulting in the thinning of their eggshells and resultant egg breakage and nest failure.

When the Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973 the bald eagle was one of the first species placed on the endangered species list. With the almost simultaneous ban on many uses of DDT the bald eagle population began a dramatic recovery in the continental United States. One of only a few such successes, the Bald Eagle was removed from the endangered species list in 2007. Many Americans who had never seen their national emblem in the wild now have had the opportunity to enjoy seeing this magnificent bird.

The Bloedel pair is still active in the areas near their old nest site. Listen for their high-pitched screeches emanating from the wilderness area adjacent to the site or from the conifers near the birch grove. They typically lay their eggs in February and the pair is now in active courtship.


Derelict tugboat to be towed Friday from Eagle Harbor

Thursday, January 30th, 2014
The historic tugboat Chickamauga will be towed out of Eagle Harbor Marina at 6 a.m. Friday. Photo / Ethan Fowler

The historic tugboat Chickamauga will be towed out of Eagle Harbor Marina at 6 a.m. Friday.
Photo / Ethan Fowler

By Ethan Fowler

Special to the Kitsap Sun

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND – The derelict historic tugboat Chickamauga is set to be towed out of Eagle Harbor Marina at 6 a.m. Friday, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources announced Thursday afternoon.

The abandoned tug, which sank in the harbor Oct. 2, leaked oil and diesel fuel, and was raised by a crane Oct. 10, will be towed to Boat Haven Marina in Port Townsend.

DNR took custody of the tugboat — the country’s first full diesel-powered tugboat when it was built in 1915 – on Jan. 16 after the owner didn’t to remove the vessel from Eagle Harbor Marina. The state attorney general’s office also filed three criminal charges against the owner on Jan. 15.

“Hooray! We’ll probably have cheerleaders with pompoms to wave it goodbye,” said Doug Crow, harbormaster of Eagle Harbor Marina, of the news the tugboat would be towed away Friday. “It’s a major step in our history. Now I wish the (state) attorney general lots of luck prosecuting the owner for abandonment, pollution and stealing moorage from the marina.”


Environmental comment period to open for island shopping center

Monday, July 1st, 2013

blog.visconsi

The public will can submit comments on the environmental impacts of a proposed shopping center on High School Road between Friday and July 19.

The city will open the comment period this week as part of the State Environmental Policy Act review for the Visconsi project. The proposed shopping center would add 62,000 square feet of commercial building space and 261 parking spaces to the northeast corner of High School Road and Highway 305.

As the city notice notes, this may be the only opportunity to lodge official comments on the environmental aspects of the project. The city expects to issue a determination of non significance.

Ohio-based developer Visconsi Companies is seeking approval for a site plan and conditional use permit for the project. The center would include a bank, large drug store, medical offices, restaurants and other businesses. This is Visconsi’s webpage for the project.

The proposal sparked protests on the island in June.  Protestors said the development isn’t needed and promotes sprawl.

The full notice is below:

(more…)


Teacher to give presentation on epic rowing journey to Hawaii

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Former Bainbridge High School teacher Rory Wilson will share reflections and photos from his rowing odyssey to Hawaii next week.

The presentation is scheduled for 7 p.m. Dec. 11 at the Bainbridge High School commons. The event is free, and donations will be accepted for the Bainbridge Schools Foundation.

Wilson made the 44-day journey from San Diego to Honolulu earlier this fall in a slender homemade craft powered by oars and kites. He called the vessel “KROS,” short for kites, rowing ocean, solar. Wilson’s math students at Bainbridge High helped him prepare for the journey.

You can get a taste of Wilson’s adventure in the video below, which shows KROS dancing through waves under kite power.  Wilson has posted many more amazing images on the KROS page on Facebook.

Photo and video courtesy Rory Wilson, via Facebook


Quick facts on the Bainbridge bag ban

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

The island’s ban on plastic shopping bags begins Thursday. We’ve posted some of the basics below. Let us know what you think of the bag ban by taking our poll below or leaving a comment.

Why a bag ban?

The City Council unanimously approved the bag ban this spring as a way of reducing litter and unnecessary waste, while promoting reusable bags. Bainbridge is the fifth Washington city to ban plastic bags and the first in Kitsap County. Seattle banned plastic shopping bags in July.

What are the rules?

Starting Thursday, retailers are no longer allowed to provide those thin, single-use plastic bags at checkout. Paper bags will still be available, but the ordinance requires retailers to charge 5 cents for larger paper bags (this doesn’t apply to qualifying low income shoppers).

There are a few exceptions to the ban. Plastic bags are allowed for restaurant take-out food, produce, greeting cards, small hardware items, newspapers, dry cleaning and waste.

What stores does this apply to?

Short answer: All of them. This ban applies to all retailers across the island, not just supermarkets. It also applies to farmers markets and vendors  at festivals. Food banks can still use plastic bags.

Where can I get reusable bags?

Reusable bags are available at island grocery stores and some other retailers. The city is handing out a cloth “Bainbridge Bag” tonight during the Winslow trick-or-treat event from 4-6 p.m, and at the library and City Hall starting Thursday.

Where can I get more information?

The city has more details and links on its Sustainable Practices page. If you’re interested in the nitty gritty, you can read the ordinance here. Watch for a full bag ban story Thursday in the Kitsap Sun.

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Photo credit: Larry Steagall/Staff Photo


Horn joins wildlife shelter; Sivitz leaving KiDiMu

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

Two high profile Bainbridge non-profit groups announced changes in leadership early this week:

Horn joins wildlife shelter

Lisa Horn has been chosen as the new executive director of the West Sound Wildlife Shelter. She will assume her new duties Dec. 3.

Former Executive Director Kol Medina left the shelter to become director of the Kitsap Community Foundation.

Horn has an extensive background in education. She received a master’s degree from the University of Phoenix, magna cum laude, in 2003 and is currently working toward her doctorate in organizational leadership.
For the past six years she has been the director of early learning at the Marion Forsman-Boushie Early Learning Center in Suquamish. She has been an active volunteer, including serving as chairperson for several large fundraising events for local organizations.

She and her daughter enjoy spending time with animals, providing a home for five dogs, three cats, two guinea pigs, a rabbit, six chickens, a horse, a cockatiel and a parakeet.

“With Lisa’s background in education and her organizational skills, I feel confident her enthusiastic personality combined with your continued support will result in establishing the West Sound Wildlife Shelter becoming a national leader in the evolving field of wildlife rehabilitation,” said Gayle Seyl, shelter board president.

(photo by Dottie Tison)

Sivitz leaving KiDiMu

After three-and-a-half years, Susan Sivitz will step down as executive director at the Kids Discovery Museum at the end of the year.

“Susan has been at the center of the nonprofit world of Bainbridge Island for many years,” said Sonya Marinoni, the museum’s board president. “She has been a great leader.”

Sivitz is moving to Boston for six months to complete her undergraduate degree. She joined the museum as director in 2009. She oversaw the completion of the museum’s capital campaign for a new building the transition into a new space in the Island Gateway development.


Readers share Puget Sound orca photos

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

Reader David Moore submitted this photo of a whale breaching by his sailboat Monday.

Reader Chris Beamer Otterson snapped this picture of an orca passing President Point near Kingston Monday. 

Dori Johnson contributed this shot of a mother and calf she took from Fay Bainbridge. 

Thanks to Chris and Dori for sending in photos. If you have a whale pic you’d like to share, please email Tad at tad.sooter@gmail.com or upload it to the Bainbridge Islander page on Facebook.

You can see our whale photos from Monday here and read Chris Dunagan’s piece on orcas in Puget Sound. The orcas belong to the resident J, K and L pods according to whale experts. This was the farthest south the orcas have been spotted this season.


Orcas take a cruise past Bainbridge Island

Monday, October 8th, 2012

 

Orcas swim south through Puget Sound between Fay Bainbridge Park and Ballard at about 3 p.m. Monday. (Tad Sooter photos). Here’s Chris Dunagan’s story on what the whales were up to.

A large pod of orca whales put on a show off the east side of Bainbridge Island Monday — albeit a show best enjoyed with binoculars. The whales appeared to be cruising midway between the island and the mainland.

The Orca Network relayed reports of the whales off Point No Point late in the morning. They were spotted off Jefferson Head and Fay Bainbridge Park at about 1 p.m. By 4 p.m. the whales were between Elliott Bay and Eagle Harbor, and still swimming south. Facebook users reported seeing the whales from the 4:40 p.m. Seattle ferry.

Though they stayed far from shore, the whales caused a stir along the waterfront. A few families enjoyed whale watching with binoculars from the beach at Fay Bainbridge in the afternoon and a float plane (left) zipped low overhead, making a bee line for the pod. KING5 even followed the whales live with a helicopter for a while.

If nothing else, it was a good excuse to head for the beach on a spectacular October day.

If you snapped some whale photos Monday, please share them with us. You can email Tad at tad.sooter@gmail.com or post them on the Bainbridge Islander page on Facebook.


Friday preview: Bainbridge edition

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Here’s the Friday preview: Bainbridge edition for Sept. 21. Please feel free to give your own events a plug in the comment section below. You can read the Sun’s regional Friday preview here. Above, a heavy fog lifts off Eagle Harbor midday Thursday (Tad Sooter photo).  (more…)


Stream bugs offer clues to health of Bainbridge waters

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

Caddisfly casings cling to a rock pulled from Bainbridge’s Cooper Creek on Wednesday. (Below) a frog keeps a wary eye on its surroundings. (Tad Sooter photos)

When fly fishermen approach a stream they watch for a few familiar bugs. A flurry of mayflies, caddisflies or stoneflies tell an experienced angler what food fish are rising for.

When water quality specialists approach a stream they look for the same insects for different reasons. To the trained eye, those water-dwelling macro invertebrates offer clues to the overall health of a creek.

I received a crash course on stream bugs Wednesday as I tagged along with volunteers from the city’s Water Quality and Flow Monitoring Program, in preparation for a story on the city’s State of the Island’s Waters report, which was released with little fanfare earlier this summer.

Five years of data gathered from all 12 Bainbridge watersheds and around the island’s shoreline went into the report. It’s the first comprehensive study of island water health the city has completed. The report confirmed that many island streams still struggle with high levels of harmful bacteria and nutrients, and low dissolved oxygen.

(more…)


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