Monthly Archives: May 2008

Sports Complex on Wheaton Way?

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The (old) Bremerton Junior High may become home to a sports complex to be used by Olympic College and city, with the street property being developed for businesses.

That’s the word on the streets about a plan that has been kicking around town recently. And on Thursday BSD Superintendent Bette Hyde sent out a letter inviting a select few to attend a meeting of the “Sports Complex Task Force” The group had meetings in April and earlier this month, and another is scheduled for June 18.

The group, which also includes the Public Facilities District and the Kitsap Family YMCA, is different from the “Bremerton School District Turf Steering Committee,” which is working to find ways to pay for the installation of artificial turf at Bremerton Memorial Stadium.

However, both issues came up for discussion at the Board of Director’s study session Thursday.

Part of what is driving the effort, is the desire for the district to make use of the property, for OC to get access to more athletic facilities and the city’s desire to move baseball/softball fields off waterfront parks.

During the board’s discussion, member DuWayne Boyd mentioned that the district would have to move carefully to not stray too far from its original mission, to educate children. He said if the district became too involved in providing athletic facilities for groups other than students it could jeopardize state funding.

Discussion has included talk about allowing businesses to develop the property on the Wheaton Way side. Right now there is plenty of empty retail space over there.

Need More Stuff? Come To Bremerton!

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Having helped move my Depression-era grandmother out of her apartment last week, and watched my father’s blood pressure skyrocket while dealing with her nearly complete collection of junk mail from the mid-’90s, I’ve found myself less interested in material possessions.

After all, what are material possessions if not future donations to Goodwill by exasperated heirs?

I may be less attached to possessions, but I’m not made of stone.

The Bremerton School District will hold two events Saturday to help people stock up on stuff. Some of it sounds like useful items, some sound like the kind of worldly belongings that will be stacked in a corner and will eventually fall on the family pet.

The buying fun takes place at the (old) Bremerton Junior High campus on Wheaton Way.

-District staff will hold a rummage sale benefit Relay For Life, the all-day, all-night walk-a-thon to raise cash and awareness for cancer research and support for those who have the disease. This sale runs from 9 a.m. till 4 p.m.

-The second event, which sounds real interesting to me, is a district surplus auction. The auction will include “dozens of items that we no longer needed,” according to a statement from the district.

The preview begins at 9 .m. and the auction kicks off at 10 a.m.

I had a chance to look at a draft list of available items. There is something for everybody with an economic stimulus check:

Laptops – Thirteen of them. Everybody can use a laptop. They make great paper weights and you can use them to make intelligent, constructive comments after stories on

Scales – Drug dealers are always complaining that they can’t eyeball their drug parcels as well as a scale. It can be a real hassle. Well, there will be 15 of them up for auction.

Lathe – “Missing many parts.”

Toilets and Urinals – Can’t have too many of those.

Commercial Deep Fryerr – It pays for itself.

Food Lamp “for Keeping Foods Hot” – I hate cold food.

Xylophones – Four of them! Here’s an idea for kids who hate their parents!

Drums, Assorted – (See above)

Uniform tops of East High School Marching Band – No trip down memory lane is complete without a defunct school’s marching band uniform. Now you just have to get someone to beat you up for your lunch money.

Band sweaters from George Dewey Jr. High – These are going to be worth a mint in a few years.

Bow Ties – One box. Will that be enough?

There will be many more items available than the ones that I mentioned, and made fun of. But don’t take my word for it. Get out there and buy, buy, buy!

Westpark Head Start Could Head Over To Naval Avenue

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Build me a new classroom or this stuffed hamster will pay.

Westpark’s plan to tear down the old and build the new won’t just be displacing residents.

The Westpark Recreation Center currently houses Head Start and Early Head Start programs, and that building will reach its Waterloo in the next two years.

“It’s coming down,” Mike Botkin, program director for Kitsap Community Resources, told Bremerton School Board members Thursday. KCR operates the two programs aimed at children and low-income families.

Botkin said the organization is “fairly optimistic” it can secure $5 million to spend on a new building (built “green,” of course, partly because that’s a requirement of state money), mostly in federal dollars.

An idea proposed during the board’s study session could lead to the construction of a new section of Naval Avenue Early Elementary Learning Center.

If additional dollars could be found, the proposed structure could include a second floor to serve even more people and a meeting place for Boys and Girls Club activities.

Although it is just an idea at this point, the three board members at the meeting appeared to be supportive.

Community partnerships have been a feather in Superintendent Bette Hyde’s cap, and bringing together Head Start, Boys and Girls Club and a school geared toward early education would be a capital idea, she said.

Not only that, the district has been bracing for a decline in enrollment as the Westpark exodus shifts into high gear. Hyde noted that, if the stars align and the plan becomes reality, it could help keep students in the district.

There are still issues to discuss, including who would own the building and the logistics of construction, but Boardmembers Cynthia Galloway, Vicki Collins and DuWayne Boyd were all supportive of further discussion.

Bremerton: Looking for a LIFT

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I’ve been asked two questions about this story, published today, about a program the city may apply for that allows the city to keep some tax revenue to pay for large capital improvements.

It’s not an easy thing to read about, or write about, but because of the questions I thought it would help if I tried to explain it again.

1 The city wants to build these three projects: a boardwalk, a fancier, more pedestrian-friendly Pacific Avenue and a parking garage. Let’s take as an example the 366-slot, underground parking garage it wants to build at the corner of Park Avenue and Burwell Street on property it already owns.

Parking garages are losing investments. They won’t make back the money it takes to build them, however, they are necessary to stimulating an economy.

2 A program through the state will allow the city to pay for the garage, (that is, pay off the loans for the garage) with sales and property taxes generated in downtown Bremerton that otherwise would go to the state. Let’s call this a “kick back,” although it isn’t in the classic, Chicago meaning of the word.

3 The city has to prove the projects will generate extra tax revenue to justify the “kick back.” In this case, garage fees are expected to be about $200,000 a year, not nearly enough to pay for the project. However, with the additional parking, an analysis found that tax revenue within the designed area would increase because of additional economic activity, partly caused by the easy, cheap parking.

4 OK, now switch gears. For this year’s program, the state will forgo $2.5 million a year for 25 years in tax revenue generated by the projects. Total.

5 The most a city can get is $1 million a year for 25 years. The money must be spent to pay off loans (otherwise known as bonds) that paid for the original project. See how it’s kind of circular?

6 The program was available last year, and this year. The Legislature has not approved it for another year.

7 As for “other people’s money,” which some people took exception to, apparently I did not provide enough context.

Lyon’s comment came out of a conversation where I mentioned that many of the revitalization projects are being paid for with grants and other forms of outside money, money that Bremertonians did not earn.

Lyon was not being flippant, she was agreeing with me that, in other words, it appears that Bremerton is not paying the full price for Bremerton’s revitalization. It’s getting a lot of outside help.

8 McConnell’s comments were twofold. First, he noted that downtown isn’t the only neighborhood in need, and second that there appears to be some risk involved in joining the LIFT program: what happens if the tax revenue expected doesn’t pan out?

I Want A Holiday In The Sun

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Greetings and salutations;

Your fearless/fearful blogger will be gone on holiday for a week. That’s right, I’ll be living the high life, doing all sorts of fun things like helping my grandmother move into a home and attending my girlfriend’s grandparent’s 60th wedding anniversary in Idaho.

(Remember how boring vacations were when you were younger? With nothing to do but sleep in, stay up late and occupy yourself with beer? Thank goodness those bleak days are over!)

Of course this means updates to the blog will slow to nothing, and I won’t be able to approve comments. I’ll try to figure out how to do it remotely, but if not, keep the faith. Like the Terminator, I’ll be back.

In the meantime, keep in real, Bremerton.

Hey, Ken, Where’s Our Schrammie?


Local heartthrob Ken Schram has noticed Bremerton, and bashed the Bremerton Chamber of Commerce for telling a veterans for peace to go dig a fox hole. It doesn’t want any peace lovers in its parade celebrating military veterans.

Schram takes them to task, and that’s all well and fine, but in his commentary, Schram does not mention anything about giving the chamber a Schrammie.

A Schrammie is a small statuette of himself that he gives to people in the news that he disagrees with.

(My cat does something similar. We’re hesitant to give him wet food because of it.)

I’d like Schram to explain why exactly the Chamber didn’t get a Schrammie. I, and the rest of Bremerton, are a little cheesed off. Sure, read the story on, or read a bland rewrite by a wire service, then go on television and bash the chamber, and then don’t follow through with the $5, made-in China bobble-headed doll that sort of looks similar to Schram. That’s real nice.

Talk about getting rode hard and put away wet. Instead of a Schrammie we get a “Schram on the Street,” known in the Grateful Dead-like cult that worships Schram like a god as “the poor man’s Schrammie.”

Listen, Schram, I’m mad as heck and I’m not going to take it. I want an explanation.

Where is our Schrammie?

The Truth About Seagulls

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The spiraling columns of seagulls squawking in the skies above downtown Bremerton and creating a white, splotchy mess below were likely caused by nocturnal, ground-dwelling predators, an expert on the proud, noble seagull said Thursday.

Another expert opined that perhaps animal control agents were trying to thin their ranks, or at least displace them, but he couldn’t account for the swarming and squabbling at night.

Both said eagles and peregrine falcons would likely pester the gulls, trying to feast on their young – sort of like credit card companies – but they would likely do their hunting during the day.

That said, it’s still a bit of a mystery what riled up that loud crowd of feathered friends last week.

I haven’t heard any recent reports, although at least one loyal Bremerton Beat reader said she heard the cacophony as far away as Naval Avenue Early Learning Center.

Ann Edwards, visiting scholar at the University of Washington School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, said the likely culprit is a “terrestrial nocturnal predator.”

“It could be cats, or even rats,” she said. “If they are calling that much they are upset, and they are up in the air, that’s an important sign,” she said. “It sounds very much like predators.”

She said the birds are establishing breeding colonies now and should be laying eggs soon.

Dave Nysewander, project leader for marine bird and mammal assessment for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, said his first suspicion was humans trying to nudge out the gulls. He said he thought he had heard some “scuttlebutt” of such a mission, and noted that it was just before breeding season, the best time to give gulls the bum’s rush.

But because the activity seems to be at night, he agreed it was possible ground-dwelling predators were harassing the gulls in the dark. He didn’t rule out other birds, though.

“At night you don’t think of eagles,” he said. But an owl? “An owl got them all excited maybe,” he said. “Sounds like they were more noisy, more predator or alarm type of situation.”

I was relieved to hear from these experts. They assuaged my fears that I had somehow offended the seagulls, and they were coming for me. Now I realize they are just as afraid of terrestrial nocturnal predators as I am.

I think of seagulls sort of like teenagers. Some are nice and well-behaved, some have murder in their eyes, and when they get together they can be as prone to violence as British soccer fans. They will drop things on you, given the chance, and while it’s fun to theorize about why they do the things they do, it’s ultimately a mystery.

In summary, I can only leave you with a quote from Spinal Tap.

“It was really one of those things – it was – you know, the authorities said, you know, best leave it–unsolved really.”

Special Ed Records To Be Destroyed


Here’s a note from the Bremerton School District that’s kind of interesting:

If you were born in the year 1932 through 1979, and you believe you may have special education records with the Bremerton School District, you will have the opportunity to receive your records before they are destroyed. Please call Special Services at 360.473.1008. We will need 48 hours to research and retrieve records. Records will be destroyed as of July 1, 2008. Records can be picked up at:
Bremerton School Administration Building
Special Services Department
134 Marion Avenue N, Bremerton, WA 98312

City Council Extravaganza


The Bremerton City Council met for a study session Wednesday night, outlining the council’s next regular meeting next Wednesday.

Although the legislators didn’t meet for a regular meeting and take any votes, a few interesting items came up:

1 – The city and Bremerton schools received a $125,000 grant from the state Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development in October 2007, and that money will be paid to NAC Architecture (offices in Washington, Idaho and California) to conduct, along with the Bremerton School District, a “Collaborative School Siting Project.” A subtitle could be “Where should a new middle school go?” That doesn’t sound as smart, you have to admit.

Wayne Lindberg, operations chief for the district, said there may also be need for a new elementary school on the west side. The district has one middle school. Before the new year, the district moved all students out of the old Bremerton Junior High School on Wheaton Way, although at the time it was only serving a fraction of the kids it once served. The district has also been bleeding students, although not as quickly as in recent years.

“The study will develop conceptual ideas for collocation of a new Middle School that includes community functions in West Bremerton. The study will include public outreach, review of site locations, program development and funding opportunities, and development of conceptual site plans,” the agenda bill says.

The idea behind the cooperative effort is to make the premises useful to the district and the city, and also to foster collaboration between the two government entities.

The item is slated to be voted on as part of the council’s consent agenda next meeting.

2 – Bremerton Fire Chief Al Duke will be making the case for renewing the city’s EMS levy this summer at next week’s city council meeting and also at the Council District No. 4 Meeting Thursday night.

The meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m.on the fourth floor of the Norm Dicks Government Center (You know, that tall building in the middle of Bremerton named for the living, sitting congressman?)

District 4 Councilman Roy Runyon said he has been making calls to residents of the district and encouraging them to attend the meeting.

“Historically these levies pass, but I don’t want to risk anything,” Runyon said. “People are generally feeling the pinch.”

He noted that in his calls to residents encouraging them to attend the meeting he tells them 1) it might cost you money and 2) there will be refreshments.

This is a renewal of the six-year levy currently in place, Runyon said. Currently people are paying about 31 cents per $1,000 of assessed value on their property. It raises about $1.6 million a year that pays for Rescue One paramedic services. The city would like to collect up to the authorized 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, and if the measure is approved by the council next week it would go on a general ballot August 19. If approved the new levy would begin in 2009.

Although Runyon is convening the meeting, it’s open to all residents of Bremerton who want to learn more about the proposed levy renewal.