Firefighters carry the weight of the community


I don’t think there’s a nice way to put this. So here goes: The weight of the community has taken its toll on the backs of the city’s firefighters.

Put simply, people are getting heavier, in Bremerton and around the country. And when they have medical issues that require a ride to the hospital, the city’s fire department must be able to lift them inside the back of the ambulance. Bremerton Fire Chief Al Duke told the City Council Wednesday that back issues are a primary concern for the department, and illuminated the problem with this example: a 500+ pound resident here in the city has been transported by crews this year 54 times.

It has gotten to the point that Duke successfully argued at Wednesday’s meeting for three power-lifts that will do the job mechanically when attached to a gurney. The cost to city residents: $124,000.

Bremerton isn’t the first agency in Kitsap to get the gurneys, Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue already has them, Duke said. There’s likely others, too, he added.

The City Council was supportive of the move. Councilwoman Leslie Daugs said it will indeed prevent back injuries. Councilman Richard Huddy said that two-thirds of Americans are overweight. The measure to fund the gurneys, made by Michigan-based Stryker EMS, passed 6-0 at Wednesday’s meeting.

The City Council also approved the fire department’s refurbishment of two ambulances by installing new Dodge Diesel Chassis within them. Doing so will cost $269,000 as opposed to $450,000 for new ambulances, Duke told the Council.

Both the gurneys and ambulance refurbishments are funded through a $4.5 million public safety bond passed by voters in November 2015. The bond raised property taxes in the city by 22 cents per thousand dollars of assessed property value, and will also fund new vehicles, trucks and improvements at fire stations.




Beat blast: Coffee anniversary, fast ferries and a barrel-shaped gym

There comes a time when a coffee stand moves beyond your typical barista-customer relationship and it becomes a friendship. Maybe even family. And, for the longtime employees of Bay Street Coffee Company, it happened somewhere in what is now a robust 2-decades-old business located off Kitsap Way.

Aside from a happy birthday to the folks at Bay Street, here’s what else you’ll find on this week’s blast:

Bremerton, and all of Kitsap, will soon vote on whether it wants to hike sales tax for fast ferries;

screen-shot-2016-10-18-at-4-27-16-pmA woman is opening a new daycare called Tree Top Village Early Learning Center in East Bremerton to meet a surging demand (an open house is slated for 4:30 p.m. Thursday);

The old East High School gym’s new roof is nearly complete;

The weaker-than-expected windstorm still did a quite a bit of damage, and we’re more prepared now for the next one.

Questions? Comments? Send them to me at


Fall storm overhype? Better safe than sorry

This big leaf maple on Almira Drive doesn't think the storm was overhyped.
This big leaf maple on Almira Drive doesn’t think the storm was overhyped. The Puget Sound region will likely clear eight inches of rain in one week.

Dare I say that the first highly publicized storm of fall 2016 was … overblown? 

It had the potential to be an historic weather event, according to meteorologists at the National Weather Service. Put simply, the storm moved a little to the west and voila! — crisis averted. Technology in predicting weather is not perfect. It turned out to be a run-of-the-mill October windstorm. But did the media overhype the dangers?

I think I speak for the entire media (full disclosure: I do not speak for the entire media) when I say, sorry if you feel that way. I ask you to reverse the situation: What if we downplayed what the National Weather Service was telling us was a potentially catastrophic windstorm — and it actually happened?

Pretty sure this guy doesn't think this storm was a "non-event."
Pretty sure this guy doesn’t think this storm was a “non-event.”

Let’s also not forget there are definitely people who will take you to task for saying this was a non-evevnt. Don’t tell Illahee resident Jim Bawers. Early Friday, a branch ripped right into his bedroom off Illahee Road. He’s going to be cleaning up from this storm for months. And you might not want to mention it to the thousands of people in Kitsap County that went without power for hours, or the droves of emergency crews who put in lots of overtime putting our power grid back together.

But what about all that time and money you shelled out, getting prepped for days without electricity? you ask.

This meme is going around the Internet. But not everyone has just a lawn chair to pick up.

Like many of you, I stocked up on essential supplies, to include some impulse-buys like Tim’s Cascade Potato Chips, Pitted Dates and India Pale Ale. Yes, I’ll never get that money back. But, let’s be honest: it made me better prepared for next time and I won’t have to hit the store before the Hawks game Sunday afternoon.

I just can’t seem to get that mad that I finished my laundry in case the power went out. What will I do with all that extra time? (Enjoy those pitted dates, that’s what.)

And here’s the other thing: are we really going to complain too heartily that our region wasn’t slammed with what could have been a far more life-threatening storm?

Judging by the depleted racks of flashlights and batteries at every store in Bremerton, we’re more ready for emergencies and we’ve learned a few things along the way. The Kitsap County Department of Emergency Management said it best on Facebook Saturday night:

“It was at the very least a good reminder to be prepared. We know that eventually we will get hit hard again.”

Scott Sistek of KOMO posted this note from a self-described "disgruntled teenager."
Scott Sistek of KOMO posted this note from a self-described “disgruntled teenager.”
From South Kitsap Fire & Rescue's Facebook page.
From South Kitsap Fire & Rescue’s Facebook page.

New development coming to 11th and Warren

Photo by Tristan Baurick.
A new look at 11th and Warren. Photo by Tristan Baurick.

The heavily-traveled corner at 11th Street and Warren Avenue has been home to tennis matches, radio-controlled cars, and even aspiring ninjas.

Now, it’s becoming a place for homes.

Earth movers have been busy busting up ramshackle tennis courts and an old RC track to make room for six homes that will be built on the site — which actually abuts 12th Street — in the coming months. Brad Young, a developer and house-flipper who moved here three years ago, believes the location will flourish.

“I’m really looking forward to building there,” he said, noting it’s within walking distance of the ferry. “I think the market is really good in Bremerton.”

Google Earth view of the site.
Google Earth view of the site.

Each residence, constructed by Young’s company Spectrum Homes, will be about 1,600 square-feet and will include garages and covered decks. The construction comes at a time when the city has serious demand for housing.

The area has seen its share of changes over the years. Before the Warren Avenue Bridge was constructed in 1958, 11th Street didn’t even reach Warren Avenue due to an embankment near Chester Avenue. The Pee Wees have long practiced at the playfield and tennis courts at 11th and Warren were once home to city league matches. There was also a Girl Scout’s hall on the site, according to former Kitsap Sun Editor Chuck Stark.

Bob Fredericks, a sports community legend and one of the founders of Kitsap Tennis and Athletic Club, had run tournaments on the public courts there since 1947.

More recently, one of the courts was converted into a miniature race track for radio-controlled cars. And the corner was the popular spinning spot of the Bremerton Ninja until he moved to Port Townsend.

The city, which purchased property closest to Warren Avenue, added a right turn lane there in 2013.

Bye bye, tennis courts. Photo by Tristan Baurick.
Bye bye, tennis courts. Photo by Tristan Baurick.

Beat Blast: A new sports bar, antiaircraft guns and a hoot

Bremerton may be Kitsap’s urban center, but don’t go telling the wildlife. From bald eagles up high to whales deep in the Sound, there’s an amazing array of creatures that share this city where we live.

On this week’s Bremerton Beat Blast, you’ll see I’ve found a pretty amazing bird within Madrona Trails in East Bremerton.

You’ll also learn about:

A new restaurant and bar set to open in a long-shuttered West Bremerton building that was once a Chinese restaurant;

The return of a World War II battleship crew to Bremerton to visit some relics of the ship upon which they once served;

The upcoming $6 million Lebo Boulevard project;

Why it seems like everyday, an aircraft carrier comes and goes from Bremerton.

Questions or comments? Send ‘em my way, to


Mailbag: What’s the construction on Second Street all about?


Q: What’s up with all of the construction work on Second Street, within and around the headquarters of Kitsap Credit Union

A: This is one I’ve been hearing a lot lately. Portions of the credit union’s parking garage have been fenced off and construction crews have been digging a trench along Second Street outside the garage (pictured).

Photos by Larry Steagall.

I spoke with Leah Olson, the credit union’s vice president for marketing, to get the scoop.

“Water has been leaking into the underground parking garage,” she told me.

The company hired engineers to analyze how the leaks were occurring and following about three years’ research, the project to fix them began following the Blackberry Festival over Labor Day weekend, Olson said.

Plugging the leaks is not an easy process and the work will continue into December, Olson said. But she noted that the downtown branch will remain open for business through it all, and the company wanted to make sure to minimize impact to its membership.

The Kitsap Credit Union opened its headquarters downtown in July 2006.

Meanwhile, there’s some other construction nearby as well, closer to the ferry terminal (pictured below). That site, constructed by its owner Tim Ryan Construction, will house a 5,000-square-foot building for Chung’s Teriyaki, plus plop three apartments on top.




IN PHOTOS: Nimitz departs Bremerton


The departure of the USS Nimitz Wednesday came as a bit of a surprise. While a friend told me that Bremerton’s second aircraft carrier was heading out, my garage door opener was still working fine.

Alas, when I checked in with Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton officials Wednesday morning, the massive ship was already moving out into Sinclair Inlet.


I pedaled down to Bachmann Park in Manette for a view of the 1,100 foot-long carrier, a major muscle in our country’s permanent military force, and its 3,000-strong crew. The ship is headed out for sea trials.

Later, I headed up to East 30th Street, as the Nimitz passed through Rich Passage and into the wider Puget Sound.

We’re getting used to seeing these beasts, as the USS John C. Stennis, Bremerton’s other home-ported carrier recently departed for training.


The Nimitz, which turns 42 this next May, is the fleet’s oldest carrier. It was homeported in Bremerton following its 16-month, $240 million overhaul, and will remain here until at least 2019.

Did you get photos? Send them to me at and I will upload them here.


Jessica Perkins got these two shots of the Nimitz as it departed Rich Passage.
Jessica Perkins got these shots of the Nimitz as it departed Rich Passage.
Photo by Jessica Perkins.
A couple of great shots by Matt King of the Nimitz with Seattle as the backdrop.
A couple of great shots by Matt King of the Nimitz with Seattle as the backdrop.
Photo by Matt King.
Photo by Matt King.
Passing by Bremerton. Photo by Leslie Peterson.
Passing by Bremerton. Photo by Leslie Peterson.
Photos from Manchester by Barbara DaZelle.
Photos from Manchester by Barbara DaZelle.
Photo by Barbara DaZelle.
Photo by Barbara DaZelle.

Beat blast: A jazzy band, ferry food and a pretty rainbow

Bremerton High School’s band continues to improve under the tutelage of Max Karler. And this month, you’ll have the chance to push the program higher. The Lions Club is hosting “Knights in Harmony” at the Admiral Theater to raise money for the instrumental music program at the high school. (More details are here.)

Elsewhere on the Bremerton Beat Blast this month, you’ll learn:

screen-shot-2016-10-04-at-5-03-57-pmHow Waste Management cut off 800 garbage customers this month for nonpayments;

How rumors of a Gregory Way takeover by the Navy were greatly exaggerated;

What to expect to be able to eat from the new Washington State Ferries’ food contractor;

That the weekend’s showers created a beautiful rainbow over Bremerton.

Questions? Comments? Send them to me. I’m at

The hidden beauty of Stephenson Canyon


The only thing that saved Stephenson Canyon from development was the canyon itself. Its steep, fern-lined terrain made it too hard to clear for houses as World War II-era Bremerton boomed.

Lots of ferns cover the canyon’s walls.

Today, it’s a hidden gem in the midst of the urban neighborhoods that make up Sheridan Park. And this Saturday, we will do some exploring of this 27-acre oasis on the Kitsap Sun’s latest Story Walk.

In October 1942, the recently-established Bremerton Housing Authority opened the first homes at Sheridan Park, the remnants of which you can still find there today. They put people in them so fast the electricity wasn’t even working when the first tenants moved in, according to an article in the Bremerton Sun. But they could not build within the canyon, even as the population of Bremerton grew from 15,000 to 85,000 during those war years.

The US Public Housing Authority sold the canyon, and the property around it, to Bremerton in 1958, according to Bremerton parks department records. Ruth Reese, a Bremerton historian, told me that a generation of children who grew up around it took advantage of their natural surroundings, playing on its trails and giant stumps.

Later, however, it languished. People started dumping trash there. Children stopped playing and the trails seemed to attract a seedier element. But in 2008, some federal money and community projects to clean up the canyon brought the canyon back into the community fold.

Still, I have talked with some residents who feel the park is not safe, and have observed drug use there. Most disturbingly, a level 3 sex offender is accused of groping and assaulting two women on the trails in July. He remains in the Kitsap County Jail awaiting trial. (It’s story no. 4 on the Bremerton Beat Blast below.)

This Story Walk aims to accomplish two things:

  1. Learn the history and the layout of this magnificent green space, so you may enjoy it in the future;
  2. Get tips on how you can stay safe within the canyon, with help from Bremerton Police Sgt. Tim Garrity, who will speak at the walk.

Hope to see you at 1 p.m. Saturday at the city greenhouses off Birch Street. RSVP and view the rest of the details for the walk here.