Envisioning community

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Twenty years ago, a group of local artists, who’d long met in the living rooms and public libraries of the county to discuss their craft, made a bold decision. They formed a co-op art gallery that has become a staple of downtown Bremerton.

Collective Visions, at the corner of Fourth Street and Pacific Avenue, survived what was arguably the downtown’s worst years in the mid-90s and has cultivated an arts community that has continued to churn out works of the best artists in Bremerton and around West Sound.

“We have persisted,” said artist Alan Newberg, one of four remaining original members. “And we’re proud of that fact.”

On Friday, the gallery will open its doors for the event that many would argue it started as one of the first in the state: the art walk. It is one of many ways — and perhaps the most prominent way — that the gallery has helped its surrounding community.

“We see ourselves as community builders,” Newberg said.

The gallery actually began as the Washington Avenue Art Gallery, on that street, a few blocks away, in 1994. But just two years later, the co-op moved into its current location after McBrides Hallmark packed up and left downtown. They couldn’t beat the initial $500 a month in rent there, Newberg recalled.

There was a lot to do to convert the building, constructed to be a bank, into an art gallery. The orange shag carpet had to go. And the 20-plus artists within the co-op weren’t told initially that there was even a downstairs to the building. It had been covered up, so the artists peeled back a makeshift floor to find a beautiful staircase.

 “It was a dark dungeon down there,” remembered Barbara Mills, another original artist in the gallery.

The gallery now includes some 3,400 square feet of space to showcase all its members, one of the bigger art galleries in the state. The room allows the cooperative to feature prominently one of its artists every month. (This month’s exhibit comes from Michelle Van Berkom (pictured), whose watercolor paintings take the viewer on a tour of some of North Mason’s most pastoral settings). They all pay dues to keep the gallery going but that allows for lower commissions on art sold there.

The gallery also takes center stage in the state art community each year during its annual CVG show. In its ninth year, Newberg said the even has served its purpose:  “create an event that would be on the cultural calendar of the county and beyond.” (Deadline for the 2015 show is Nov. 17, by the way.)

The gallery has played host to more than just art on its walls, though. They’ve had more than 100 concerts. Bremerton Mayoral Candidate Louis Mentor held his campaign kickoff there. They also started “Ars Poetica,” a show in which area poets would submit a poem to be paired with an artist, who would illustrate it.

But it all comes back to the art that has kept it going. The gallery has roughly as many artists now as it did when it started. Ages range from early-20s to mid-90s. They’ve seen many businesses and even art galleries come and go downtown. But they’ve maintained.

“The gallery has been a major success story,” said Ken Lundemo, another of the original artists. “I haven’t heard of an equal in my life that has stuck it out, have so much talent come and go. It’s going to go on.”

Bremerton police blotter, Oct. 18-31

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A Bremerton cop who reluctantly accepted a “believe in miracles” plaque on the beat hung it up in the squad room as an “attempt to foster a sense of encouragement to my fellow officers.” All that and more in this week’s edition of the Bremerton police blotter.

Here’s my report from the line-up board at department headquarters:

Welfare check, 1100 16th Street: Police were called the night of Oct. 22 to Olympic College to check up on an allegedly intoxicated male. They found a man who was “carrying bandages and had all sorts of monitor connections on his chest and stomach.” The man evidently had just gotten out of the hospital and was concerned about someone who he said had just crashed a car in a ditch. Police offered the man a ride back to the hospital. He agreed.

Theft and a warrant, 2900 Wheaton Way: Police went to the Midway Inn the night of Oct. 22, where a man said he had about $5,000 in cash stolen out of the Inn’s computer room. He said he had all the money because he was moving to Reno, where a job was waiting for him. Police reviewed the surveillance at the hotel but it proved inconclusive. However, the man had an arrest warrant for assault in Bremerton Municipal Court and so he was taken to the Kitsap County jail. Police have no other leads as to what might have happened to his cash.

Vehicle prowling, 100 Lilac Lane: A woman reported that a man was inside her car on Lilac Lane just before 5 a.m. Oct. 23. Police converged on the area to only find one man, who was “acting nervous,” was “panting heavily” and had soaked shoes, pants and coat. The man initially gave police a false name but came clean about it eventually. He had a felony warrant for probation violation. He said he was prowling to help feed his wife, and that the pair live below the Madrona Inn in a tent by the highway. She came up to take possession of his stuff and he was taken to the Kitsap County jail.

DUI, Wheaton Way at Sheridan Road: An officer stopped a woman driving for malfunctioning brake lights early Oct. 24. The officer smelled intoxicants coming from her person. She was found to have a .15 blood-alcohol level. An open container of beer was found inside her car. She was taken to the Kitsap County jail.

Welfare check: Police were called the night of Oct. 24 to check on elderly woman who’d been inside the Bremerton ferry terminal for about eight hours. The woman also had a bag full of Christmas presents with her. The woman seemed confused to police but said she lives in a home where there’s construction going on. She was friendly but seemed to have no one to pick her up. So the officer gave her a ride home. For the gesture, the woman insisted on giving the officer a gift. Despite the officer’s efforts to refuse, he relented and took the gift, which was a plaque that reads “Believe in Miracles.” “I hung it in the line-up room in an attempt to foster a sense of encouragement to my fellow officers,” the cop wrote in his report.

Burglary, 100 South Summit: Officers were called the night of Oct. 24 for a burglary at someone’s attached garage. A thief or thieves broke in through a sliding door and took a table saw and some tools. Police have no suspects.

Hit and run, 11th Street at North Callow Avenue: A man told police early Oct. 25 that he’d been driving on 11th Street headed east when a car came through the red light on Callow and struck his vehicle. The damage included a broken axle on the truck. A headlight of the car that hit the truck fell off at the scene. Police searched the area for the car but could not find it.

Criminal trespassing, 4300 Wheaton Way: Police ultimately found six people inside the Old Lowes building, near Wheaton Way at Riddell Road, late Oct. 25. Some of the suspects claimed they were bored and it was during a power outage, so they went with a friend who had a key to the building. Only after officers surrounded the building and then went inside did the six come out. They were all taken to the Kitsap County jail for trespassing.

Road rage, 3400 Kitsap Way: A road rage incident nearly turned violent the afternoon of Oct. 28 in the parking lot of Papa Murphy’s. Two cars were headed east on Kitsap Way, with one, driven by the suspect, swerving toward the alleged victim’s, who then flipped the suspect the bird. The alleged victim heard a “thud” on his car and then called 911. While the alleged victim waited in the parking lot of Papa Murphy’s, the suspect came to the lot, pulled a baseball bat and allegedly threatened the other driver. Then the suspect left. Witnesses confirmed the threats and the bat. Police drove to the suspect’s nearby home and arrested him. He was taken to the Kitsap County jail.

Vehicle prowling, 600 Fourth Street: A man reported that his truck was broken into Oct. 28 while parked in the SEEFlim Theater parking lot. The man, who worked from 5 a.m. to 4 p.m., came out to find what he thought was his locked truck unlocked and numerous items missing, including two cell phones. Police have no suspects.

DUI, 2900 Wheaton Way: Police stopped a driver on the road for speeding shortly before 2 a.m. Oct. 31. The driver had a strong smell of alcohol coming from her, officers said. She blew a .14 blood-alcohol level, almost twice the legal limit. She said she’d consumed three beers; officers were skeptical but she said they were “strong beers. 2/11s.” She was booked into the Kitsap County Jail.

Bremerton Police Chief Steve Strachan’s weekly update included a few incidents worth noting as well:

This Would Have Done George Costanza Proud:  We received information that a suspect in a serious felony was at an address in West Bremerton.  He had five (5!) misdemeanor warrants and a felony arrest warrant for Rape of a Child.  Officers surrounded the residence and knocked at the front door.  The man opened the back window and began his exit when he was confronted by Officer Brandon Greenhill.   The man then ran to the front door and almost knocked over a pregnant woman trying to get out.  Officer John Bogen deployed his Taser at the man while he was at the front door, and he made his first good decision of the day, giving up and being taken into custody.  He went to jail.

Dave’s Not Here Man…:  We have been looking for a man wanted on a Burglary warrant all week, and Officer Jordan Ejde went to an address seeking this ne’er-do-well.  We had information the man had been living at an empty house outside of our city.  While being assisted by Officer Jacob Switzer, Jordan observed a bike leaned up against a shed.  The officer knocked on the shed and heard a male’s voice inside.  The officer said he was “Greg” and “had his $20 bucks.”  The suspect opened the door and was taken into custody.   The man has 233 contacts and 29 separate booking photos. He is in jail thanks to some good police work, and another strong message sent by our department.

Also, this week Officer Chris Faidley located a car that had crashed into the steps of the Synagogue at 11th St and Veneta Ave.  The driver had suffered a seizure while driving, and fortunately had only minor injuries.  The damage to the building was also minor, but the man’s vintage 1966 Mustang did not fare so well.

Strachan also has info about a new scam:

We sent out a message on our Twitter account this week about a scam being perpetrated nationwide, in which people receive calls from someone saying they are with the IRS, and demanding payment for back taxes owed.  We have reports of several people in our city receiving this call, and unfortunately one man sent $16,000 to the scammers.  It is infuriating to think that someone lost that much of their hard-earned money to these criminals.  Here is more information on the scam: http://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/IRS-Warns-of-Pervasive-Telephone-Scam

And finally, the High 5 criminal list is out:

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Dispatches from downtown

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Here’s some slices of life from downtown Bremerton this week. 

You’ll soon notice a new sign at Uptown Barbershop (above) where the business has shed its original “Acme” name. Kellie Quanrud, who’s owned it for the past year, said she had already agreed to change the original name due to the Acme barbershop they were once affiliated with on the Seattle side. Only now, that same Seattle barbershop wasn’t happy about the Bremerton barbershop keeping any part of “acme” in its name. So look for a sign change soon.

“At this point I think its best we go completely our own direction anyhow,” Quanrud told her Facebook fans. ” …  We love and appreciate all of our customers and our regulars that pop in to just hang out with us! That is what a barbershop should be! Thanx for supporting your local shop and being patient with us through all these changes!”

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Just down the street, more serious changes maybe in store at The RockIt Roost. Owner Chuck Mitchell is looking into transforming it into a pub and arcade. He told me he’s not sure if it will happen, but he’s trying to make it work. I’ll keep you posted.

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Also nearby, you might have noticed Evergreen Trophies and Kitchen got a paint job. Joe Hudson told me they’ll soon have a new sign out front to complete the facade.

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Work continues on an expansion of El Balcon, the popular El Salvadorian eatery on Pacific Avenue. I’m told they’ve got some hurdles to go but could be open in another slice of the Dietz Building by the end of the year.

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Work on a $3.5 million overhaul of the Salvation Army continues downtown, near Park Avenue on Sixth Street. Tad Sooter has further details here.

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You’ve probably seen Monday’s story about the new apartments going up at Park Avenue and Burwell Street. The $9 million project will get started this week.

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All this and I didn’t even mention the yellow submarine.

Have a dispatch from somewhere in Bremerton? Email Josh Farley at jfarley@kitsapsun.com to have yours included next time.  

Bremerton police blotter, Oct. 11-17

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Here’s this week’s police blotter. I have been remiss in getting these out in the last couple months and I am to get back on track. Starting now.

First off, you’ll see in this photo the new signs that are accompanying the police department’s rollout of an “alcohol impact zone” from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. each day. Participating in the zone, which starts Nov. 1, is voluntary at this point. We’ll see how many retailers go along with it.

Secondly, here’s an item from Bremerton Police Chief Steve Strachan’s weekly update:

Last Saturday, Officer Frank Shaw pulled over a suspected drunk driver, and the man was asked to do some field sobriety tests. Following a less than stellar performance in the one leg stand, the driver commented, “Come on, I can’t do that s–t drunk.” Quickly realizing that this was probably not the right thing to say, he corrected himself by saying, “I mean, I can’t do that s–t whether I am drunk or sober!” Pretty good recovery…He was ultimately arrested, blew a .16 alcohol content and was booked into the jail.

Here’s more, from the reports board at the Burwell Street station:

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Bremerton holiday flea market kicks off Saturday

Dick Hausdorf shows off his treasures for sale prior to Saturday's market.
Dick Hausdorf shows off his treasures for sale prior to Saturday’s market.

Attention junkers, pickers and treasurer hunters: Pacific Avenue’s Uptown Mercantile & Marketplace kicks off the first of three holiday flea markets Saturday.

The market, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., will feature food, live music and of course, a variety of vendors to peruse. The only constant is the vintage flavor, points out Uptown shopkeeper Wendy Rushing.

“We have a unique look I don’t think you will find at the mall,” she said.

Uptown, which also features a year-round 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. market on Sundays, will really break out the holidays next month.

“The day after Halloween,” Rushing said, “We are putting Christmas up.”

The market’s located at 816 Pacific Avenue.

For 40 years, Valencia’s been the example

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Six mayors. Four decades. And so many stories. 

Elaine Valencia has been the executive assistant to mayors in Bremerton since 1983. She’s survived quite a variety of personalities, keeping each one in line and on track and establishing a reputation that the next mayor in line felt they couldn’t live without.

On Friday, she celebrated her 40th year with the city. But she’d be just fine without any pomp and circumstance, happy to leave the limelight to her boss.

“I prefer to stay in the background and not draw a lot of attention,” she said.

A lifelong Bremerton resident — her father Jerry Yeadon was the elected clerk of Bremerton for a couple terms — she graduated from West High School in 1969.

She got a job in the city’s parks and recreation department as an office assistant in 1974, transferring to the planning department after about a year. There, she stayed until 1983, shortly after the city’s charter passed and a strong mayor form of government replaced a city commission in Bremerton.

When she left the planning department, she had it written in her contract that she’d “bumped” back there if she lost her position in the mayor’s office, where at that time she served Morrie Dawkins.

But, “I never had to use it,” she said of the contract.

The job, she said, requires a diligence in staying on top of daily affairs and correspondence. There are days when the office is flooded and someone unprepared would be overwhelmed. If the ball is dropped, she said, it can damage the entire office’s — and indeed the city’s — reputation.

Case in point: when Gene Lobe, the second mayor she served, came aboard in 1986 he had Valencia on three months’ probation. She recalled being late for a few things in those early days. On the day the three months was up, he called her into his office. He decided to  retain her but told her that she was never to be late for anything again.

“You have to be the example for all other employees,” Lobe told her.

The message has resonated to Valencia to this day.

“I’ve never been late since,” she said.

Mayor Louis Mentor, taking the reins in 1990, never even asked if Valencia would stay on. She just kept going. Mayor Lynn Horton made a point of asking that she stay, Valencia said.

Mayor Cary Bozeman told Valencia “everyone told me that I have to keep you,” and so she stayed through another tenure.

When current Mayor Patty Lent was elected, it was a familiar face. Both had known each other through the Lions Club and Valencia had seen Lent in the mayor’s office before when Lent was a county commissioner.

Over those five mayors’ tenures she’s watched a downtown bustling with life nearly die, only to be reborn again in recent years.

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Dispatches from Manette

From left to right: Rejuv staff Christina Zamora, Julie Poston, Val Sechrest and Annaliza Tolosa.
From left to right: Rejuv staff Christina Zamora, Julie Poston, Val Sechrest and Annaliza Tolosa.

An anniversary, an accident and an ascension: here’s a  few things past, present and upcoming in the Bremerton hamlet of Manette to get you caught up on.

Friday marks Rejuv Salon & Spa‘s 10th year in business. Julie Poston, its founder, started a solo massage practice downtown. She’s now got ten employees in a serene space off Scott Avenue.

“I never imagined the success we’d have,” says Poston, who notes she spent much of her 20s working at the Boat Shed before going full time as a massage therapist.

She and some of her employees credit that success to staff camaraderie and a great rapport with customers, many of which are loyal and return often. It didn’t hurt to win a 2010 award for best massage in Western Washington either, Poston said.

Rejuv will celebrate its 10th anniversary from 5-8 p.m. Friday at 1007 Scott Avenue, Suite B. View the details here.

IMG_5369 Up the street and around the bend from Rejuv, the second story of a new pet spa is taking shape.

I spoke with owner Eliane Pugnalin today. My understanding is there’s an office going upstairs and the grooming will be done downstairs. She told me that a roof still has to be installed, weather permitting.

There’s no opening date as yet but I will keep an eye out.

The Bay Bowl, with BAY lit up.
The Bay Bowl, with BAY lit up.

Down toward Harrison Medical Center, the Bay Bowl, an East Bremerton icon, caught my eye the other morning. The lights on ‘BAY’ upon its brick facade, were on.

Chris Campana, owner of the complex, said it was just an accident the lights were on. They haven’t been on since.

Rimnam Thai Cuisine and storage for Delphinus Engineering take up the bulk of the building. Campana said he’s had some interest in other parts of the building but nothing’s materialized.

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And finally, I found this little sign at Raejean Barone’s found store. It’s a new campaign based on similar city signs near Harrison Medical Center as part of the ongoing Lower Wheaton Way construction project.

More on her store, as well as the E. 11th street lighting project, later.

 

From above, corn maze has Bremerton look

Photo by Sky-Pix Aerial Photography.
Photo by Sky-Pix Aerial Photography.

Minder Farm‘s popular annual corn maze off Highway 303 benefitted from a spectacular start to fall this year.  But did you know that each year, the five acre maze is not just designed to be fun for those on the ground but picturesque from a birds-eye view as well?

Two Bremerton companies that each call the West Hills home — Minder Meats, along with Bremerton Bottling Company —  joined forces this year to imprint the latter’s logo within about 90,000 cornstalks.

“This was just an opportunity the Minders brought to us,” Pete McKenzie, sales and marketing manager for Bremerton Bottling Company. “We’ve worked with them in the past and we thought this would be a fun thing to do.”

“People love it,” added Jim Carlson, owner of Minder Meats in Bremerton, whose family owns the storied farm off Highway 303.

It’s the eighth year Minder has hosted a corn maze. The family relies on Idaho-based Mazeplay.com, which uses GPS to create the maze. It costs about $5,000 to do it, Carlson said.

Given the growth of so-called “agratainment,” Carlson keeps his eye on what other mazes do each year around the country. They’ve had some different designs in the past — one year they did ‘ESPN’ in big letters when the media covered the Kitsap County Fair & Stampede; on another they had a Seahawk, for reasons that, well, should be obvious. (Go Hawks!)

This year, they almost secured a deal with Geico but it fell through Carlson said. But after running into bottling company owner Carole Aughnay Dawson, he had an idea.

“They’ve done an awful lot for this community,” Carlson said of Bremerton Bottling.

This year’s maze, combined with great fall weather and some sharing of the photo above around social media and in the community, has been very successful, he said.

The hammerhead’s not dead — and I can prove it

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IMG_9109The Puget Sound Naval Shipyard’s iconic hammerhead crane, whose green steel still towers over Bremerton, hasn’t been in use since 1996. But you might be surprised to know it still moves from time to time.

See exhibit A, these two photos. I took both photos from close to the same vantage point: on Park Avenue near Sixth Street, looking south into the shipyard. There’s almost exactly a 90 degree difference between the photos.

This discovery sent my curiosity off the charts. Is this aging wonder of Bremerton, built in Pennsylvania in 1932 by some of the same iron workers who constructed the Empire State Building, back in service?

Answer: No, not exactly.

Mary Anne Mascianica, a shipyard spokeswoman, told me that moving the crane  is actually quite routine.

“We rotate the crane about twice per year to ensure that we can move it to provide clearances for various ship movements,” Mascianica said.  “The crane is no longer certified to make any lifts and there is no plan to recertify the crane.”

So it rotates. But the 2,400 ton structure, a National Historic Landmark, does little more than that — though it serves as a highly prominent location for a Seahawks’ 12th man flag, some may recall.

Mind you, I have friends in the shipyard who will likely say, “Josh, I could’ve told you that.” But you didn’t. So now it’s my job to let everyone else know.

“When the Hammerhead Crane is rotated it is a sight to see and will take up to 6 minutes to complete the rotation,” wrote Ken Haines in a history of the crane. “But it still operates and feels as smooth as silk.”

I will take this opportunity as a teachable moment. Here’s a few really cool facts about the crane:

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Brewfest brouhaha

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Sipping local microbrews in the storied East High gym is a good way to raise money and awareness about the Bremerton Youth Wellness Campus, says campus executive director Patricia Hennessy. 

“It will bring people here to drink beer for a great cause,” Hennessy says.

But the recent announcement of the campus’ first-ever Winter Brewfest has not been met with universal acquiescence.  And, according to some of commenters on Facebook, that is probably putting it mildly.

“I question the message they are sending,” Craig Patti wrote on my Facebook page.  “Seems counterproductive to ‘youth wellness campus.'”

Patti’s comment was among a snowball of opinions critical, mainly, of the idea of holding an event involving alcohol at the campus.

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But Hennessy defends the decision and says the event will go forward.

“We are going to stay the course,” she said.

No one under 21 will be allowed on the campus during the entire event, from 12-5 p.m. Nov. 1, she said. She hopes people will come to realize that a craft brew festival is not akin to a drunken kegger (my words, not hers).

“We’re not promoting alcoholism,” she said. “We’re doing this very responsibly.”

She noted that she has support of the Bremerton School District — which leases the land to the campus and once operated East High School and Bremerton Junior High School there — and that of the campus’ Board of Directors.

Hennessy said money raised at the event will pay for athletic scholarships for kids to use the campus, which thus far includes a Boys and Girls Club and a low-cost dental clinic. But much more is planned for the seven-acre site, to include parklike lawns, a farmer’s market and a music education center.

The campus can only have one event with alcohol per year under their insurance policy, Hennessy said, and she believes this is the one that will give the campus a boost in exposure and help “make sure we’re keeping kids in Bremerton off the streets.”

The event is $25 and 10 local breweries will be featured. Will you go, or do you share some of those same reservations as those on Facebook have?