Bremerton has a new auditor

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There’s a new city auditor in town. Jennifer Sims, a local forensic accountant, will take on the job of conducting audits of all kinds of facets of the city government.

The Bremerton City Council approved her hiring at their regular Wednesday meeting.

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Sims. (via LinkedIn)

“I thought it would be challenging work,” Sims told me last week, adding later: “Maybe I can help to save Bremerton some money.”

Sims takes over for Gary Nystul, the former auditor of more than a decade, who quit following the City Council’s decision to reduce the role from 40 hours a week to 16.

Sims, 55, has a small forensic accounting firm she runs from her home west of Bremerton. She has two decades of experience “calculating economic damages in litigation and insurance, with an emphasis on lost profits/business interruption, construction damages, lost rents, personal injury wage losses, and economic losses resulting from fraud,” according to her LinkedIn profile. She also worked as an internal auditor for the state of Alaska.

“She has an extensive resume, and strong and broad experience to bring to the role,” said Leslie Daugs, the Bremerton City Councilwoman who serves as chair of the city’s audit committee and who oversaw her hiring.

The reduction of hours was not a problem for Sims, who will also remain in private practice.

The position had gotten a lot of attention from Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent and the City Council in recent years. Here’s why, from the article I wrote about Nystul’s retirement:

Nystul, also a Poulsbo City Councilman, has served in the position since 2003. In recent years, his position was increasingly scrutinized by Mayor Patty Lent and some members of the City Council, who felt that the position was outdated and that outside organizations could perform more specialized and productive audits.

The auditor is unique in the state and within the city’s government. Called for by the city’s charter, the auditor does not answer to the mayor or council but to a five-person committee — two council members, two city residents and a certified public accountant. They alone have the power to set the auditor’s agenda and hire or fire one.

For more about the position, click here. I will be interested to find out what the new auditor decides to pursue first.

Trike theft leaves Bremerton man without his ride

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 7.38.26 PMIt’s not often you hear about the theft of a three-wheeled bike. But on Monday, such a trike was taken in front of the Fred Meyer in East Bremerton — one belonging to a popular store employee who depends on it for getting to and from work.

For now, Pablo Lozano will have to take the bus to work.

“Disappointing,” is how he described the theft.

Others — and he has quite the following at the Fred Meyer and beyond — describe the theft more harshly, and are hoping to see justice in this case.

He was working his shift Monday when another employee informed him someone might be “messing” with his trike. He went out front to find it was gone.

This wasn’t just any trike. Lozano had it customized with a speaker, motor and lights. He suffered a stroke and meningitis when he was just five years old, so the bike’s brakes work through his left hand. He didn’t lock it up Monday — he rarely does, noting a community of good people who’ve never touched it since he started working there — and someone wandered off with it.

Since the theft, many tips have rolled in about its whereabouts. It may have been painted and taken to Port Orchard. In any event, if you have any information about the bike’s whereabouts, call 911. The county sheriffs’ case number is K16-004140.

Several efforts to get Lozano a new trike are underway. I’m keeping an eye on them, and will keep you posted if anyone is able come to Lozano’s aid.

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UPDATE #1: Seattle E-Bike is outfitting Pablo with a new bike and are delivering it to him soon, Lozano told me. I’ll get photos and the rest of the story as it happens.

UPDATE #2: Strangely, another trike was stolen from a Bremerton home this week in the North Wycoff area (pictured). I’ll have more details later.

Beat blast: farmers market, bridge speeders and gull poop

The Bremerton Farmers Market just keeps getting bigger. On Thursday, it will debut for the 2016 season at Evergreen-Rotary Park, where it’s nestled among towering conifers. The festivities, including a ribbon-cutting, kick off at 4 p.m.

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Elsewhere on the Beat Blast this week, you’ll find out:

How prevalent speeding is on the Warren Avenue Bridge;

Who just retired from Safeway after a 42-year career with the company;

What street fair will take over Charleston Saturday;

Why gulls will no longer perch atop the Manette Bridge’s lampposts.

And, as a bonus, hear how the farmers market helps aspiring businesses achieve their brick-and-mortar dreams (below).

Questions or comments? Send them my way, to josh.farley@kitsapsun.com.

Floundering without fountains: when will the Harborside reopen?

Come back, water!
Come back, water!

The site of empty fountains on Bremerton’s waterfront Sunday left me saddened, I must admit.

The dried-out, greenish water cannons have had no children dancing underneath them since last October, when the fountains closed down for the winter. Then, the city embarked on a $60,000 plumbing overhaul that will make them safer and more sanitary.

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That overhaul has been planned out and now just needs approval from the state’s Department of Health, according to Bremerton Parks Director Jeff Elevado.

How long will that approval process, plus installation, take? Elevado isn’t certain yet.

“We hope to have them open sometime this season,” he told me Monday. “But we can’t promise that at this point.”

So stay tuned. Hopefully, they’ll get it up and running soon. In the meantime, the city cautions people to steer clear of the other city fountains. On a day that’s going to get into the 80s, that may be a tall order.

On a recent hot day, no one could resist the Memorial Fountains while the Harborside ones were closed.
On a recent hot day, no one could resist the Memorial Fountains while the Harborside ones were closed.

 

Lent, city leaders journey to Japan

Bremerton dignitaries arrive in Kure, Japan.
Bremerton dignitaries arrive in Kure, Japan.

You may have noticed Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent hasn’t been in her office this lately. In fact, she isn’t even on this continent. Early last week, she led a local delegation to Kure, Japan, Bremerton’s sister city.

It’s a tradition that dates back 47 years, following a call from President Dwight D. Eisenhower to establish “people-to-people” partnerships including sister cities. The Lions Clubs of both Kure and Bremerton formally established ties in 1969. Since then, 153 exchange students have gone to Kure from Bremerton for the summer; 153 from Kure have also come here.

Every five years, a delegation from Kure comes to Bremerton and in the same time period, a delegation from Bremerton goes to Japan. Kure’s delegation was last here in 2014; Bremerton was to go last year but Kure officials asked them to wait so that their new city hall building could be completed.

Kure is much bigger than Bremerton — about 228,000 people live there compared with our own 39,000 — but they’re both communities with a rich shipyard history.

“It’s vibrant, it’s exciting, and it’s really a cultural exchange both cities benefit from,” Lent said by phone from Kure this past week.

No city tax money was spent on the trip — everyone paid out of their own pocket, according to Elaine Valencia, the mayor’s executive assistant.

Along with the mayor, City Council President Eric Younger, City Councilwoman Pat Sullivan and Bremerton Water Resources Manager Kathleen Cahall are among those in the delegation. Both Younger and Sullivan hosted exchange students in recent years. A number of Bremerton Lions Club members are also in attendance.

Lent, who also spent time at the U.S. Naval base in Yokosuka on the trip, will return home toward the end of this week, along with the others.

Gulls to be evicted from Manette Bridge lampposts

gulls1_22247519_ver1.0_640_480Seagulls have officially worn out their welcome on the Manette Bridge’s lampposts. 

If you travel it often like I do, you’ve probably noticed an accumulation of gull doo-doo along the bridge’s grey concrete and green rails. From above, the birds perch on top of the lampposts and, well, do their business from there.

But their reign of raining poop on the bridge is coming to an end.

In early May, Bremerton Public Works crews will attach “bird deterrent” on the lampposts. This likely means those spike strips you see on other possible bird perches, including at the Bremerton ferry terminal.

The poo issue came to light last year, when the bird droppings had a banner year.

“This year, it seems like there’s a whole bunch more,” Bremerton Public Works Director Chal Martin told me last year, noting, “every single (lamppost) had a bird on it.”

Work is expected to take a day or so, and is scheduled for May 2 & 3.

Beat blast: a Manette water taxi, lead goosenecks and a sinking ship

From Bremerton, you can take a big ferry to Seattle, a littler one to Port Orchard and, at commute times, Annapolis.

But what about Manette? That’s the thought of two business owners, who’ve joined forces to create a closer connection between downtown Bremerton and Manette. Hear from both the Boat Shed’s Kathy Davis-Hayfield and the Manette Saloon’s Rebecca Taylor on this week’s beat blast about this new prospect.

Elsewhere on the blast:

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Find out why the city is sounding the alarm about “gooseneck lead pipes.” To have yours tested, check out this Poulsbo lab.

Learn Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent’s latest efforts to solve downtown Bremerton’s parking problems.

Find out about the new foundation that’s been set up to support the city’s park system.

Discover which famed boat, which once carried Princess Elizabeth, is sinking at the Bremerton Marina.

Questions? Comments? I love the feedback. Query me at josh.farley@kitsapsun.com.

In Bremerton, a rift in the Bigfoot-believer universe

Photo by Patrick Cooper.
Is that Bigfoot? Photo by Patrick Cooper.

Though he’s a Sasquatch aficionado, Patrick Cooper is passing on Bremerton’s Bigfoot conference this weekend.   

Too far-fetched, the Bremerton resident believes.

The second annual conference, held at the Baymont Inn & Suites starting tonight, is indeed intended to highlight an “alternative point of view,” about Bigfoot, conference host Matthew Johnson says. Cooper doesn’t buy it, and though he presented at the first annual event in 2015, he charges that the conference turned into a “side-show carnival.” Johnson calls believers like Cooper “old school,” who are unwilling to keep an open mind about different possibilities that surround the “Squatch.”

And therein lies the idealogical divide among some Bigfoot believers.

Cooper, who has been researching Bigfoot for the past 16 years, says he’s following evolutionary science. Searching for Sasquatch out along Hood Canal, he believes the creatures are simply descendants of a different evolutionary line.

Johnson, a clinical psychologist now living in Medford, Oregon, once held the same viewpoint. But an experience along a greenbelt near Puyallup in 2011 changed his mind. He and some friends say that they saw a Bigfoot and it “cloaked” as it passed them — they could see ferns still moving after the creature disappeared, and ultimately brushed past him.”

“No, we weren’t drinking, and no we weren’t drugging,” Johnson said.

The experience thrust him into a more paranormal mindset — that perhaps Bigfoot is a far more intelligent species whose DNA could even mix with something out of this world.

“They’re treating them like they’re dumb mountain apes,” he said of the old schoolers. “They’re just as smart out in the forest as we are in the cities.”

That was enough last year to convince Cooper to stay away this year.

“About half of the presenters were legitimate hardworking bigfooters but the slant of the conference last year was to set up to showcase supernatural hucksterism,” Cooper said.

Johnson says there’s plenty of “old school” conferences around the country and that his is meant to offer different viewpoints.

The schism will continue as both sides continue the search for the elusive creature.

If you go:

A panel of the nation’s top recognized Bigfoot researchers will speak at a three-day conference starting tonight. Tickets are $50-$95. For more information go to http://www.teamsquatchinusa.com/.

Bremerton brings back the corporal

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The Bremerton Police Department is adding a new rank — corporal — in between officer and sergeant. Seven men were promoted to that position Wednesday: Aaron Elton Tim Garrity; Steven Polonsky; Todd Byers, James D. Miller; Dahle Roessel and Rodney Rauback.

Next time you get stopped by a Bremerton police officer, take note of those stripes you see on his or her sleeve. 

OK, so that might not be the first thing on your mind if you’re being pulled over. But the sleeve can tell you a lot about an officer’s rank.

In Bremerton, it’s becoming a bit more nuanced. An officer who makes the rank of sergeant has three blue “stripes” on the arm (see photo below). But here in the city, you’ll soon see seven officers who have two stripes (see photo above).

Those seven are the department’s first corporals, a position that is roughly between an officer and a sergeant. The Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office actually did away with the position years ago but Bremerton is bringing them back.

The reason, Bremerton Police Chief Steve Strachan explained at Wednesday’s City Council meeting, was born out of a top-to-bottom review of the police department completed three years ago.

That review found flaws in the former “MPO” or “Master Patrol Officer” program, whose participants could cover for sergeants to run the shift. The review also found that not many officers were looking to get into management roles, Strachan said Wednesday.

Strachan is hopeful the new rank not only introduces the seven corporals to leadership roles but that it it inspires them to go even higher.

These will be the leaders of the department long after folks like me are gone,” Strachan told the Council.

The department is also bringing back a third lieutenant position — the next step up from a sergeant —  which had been the victim of budget cuts a few years ago.

There’s a lot of open positions right now in the police department. Lt. Pete Fisher left to be chief of the Fife Police Department, so they’ll have to fill two lieutenant spots. And the city held a retirement ceremony Wednesday for Randy Olson, a longtime sergeant and officer who’d been with the city since 1988.

“Part of me will always be a Bremerton police officer,” Olson told the Council.

Sergeant Randy Olson (left) is congratulated by Bremerton Police Chief Steve Strachan.
Sergeant Randy Olson (left) is congratulated by Bremerton Police Chief Steve Strachan. Note Olson’s three stripes.

Beat blast: A dirty creek, ‘interactive’ pot store and plans for a playfield

Think of it as our own mini-version of the Elwha Dam removal. Gorst Creek has long been plugged up with the contents of a former garbage dump just east of the creek’s crossing with Highway 3. A state biologist called it a “disgusting site.”

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An EPA-led and Navy-funded cleanup will remove around 8,000 truckloads of garbage from the site, restoring the creek’s natural flow.

Elsewhere in the beat blast this week, you’ll learn:

The different ways of Bremerton’s newest pot store, which will have its grand opening on April 20;

The plans for the Manette Playfield’s $1.4 million renovation;

What member of President Obama’s cabinet showed up last week on the USS John C. Stennis, Bremerton’s home-ported carrier;

What’s going to happen to ensure rocks don’t continue falling off the Chase Building in downtown Bremerton.

Comments and questions? Yes, please. I am at josh.farley@kitsapsun.com.

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