Monthly Archives: September 2016

Come tour Olympic College’s rare ‘Secret Garden’

Retired Olympic College Professor Susan Digby checks out a Linden Tree at the college’s ‘secret garden.’ Meegan M. Reid photo.

Down a lonely, one-way road off the Olympic College campus is an historic home teeming with eclectic plant life. In recent years, the treasured estate long owned by Dr. Henry and Elizabeth “Billie” Barner has largely gone unnoticed. But place now known as Olympic College’s “Secret Garden,” whose potential is being tapped by a few professors there, is enjoying new life as an outdoor classroom.

And, on Sept. 24, you’ll have a chance to see it for yourself.

Nestled on the shores of the Port Washington Narrows, the property is home to plant life the Barners imported from around the world. Their beautiful residence, admittedly, has seen better days, but is still a piece of history — its design was the first completed by Elizabeth Ayer, the first woman to graduate from the University of Washington’s school of architecture.

As part of the Kitsap Sun’s latest Story Walk, we will tour the property with special guests including Olympic College President David Mitchell, Kitsap Historical Society Director Dean Tingey, and the professors who are utilizing this now Olympic College-owned resource as a learning environment.

RSVP here. The tour is free.


Photos by Meegan M. Reid.

Seriously, Bremerton’s getting the nice ferry

I had time to ask Gov. Jay Inslee only one question at the christening of Bremerton’s new ferry today. But I knew what it was going to be.

It’s no secret Bremerton has often been left with the oldest and creakiest vessels in the fleet, especially when ferries break down. Meanwhile, Bainbridge Island, where Inslee happens to call home, generally maintains the largest and nicest of boats through it all. Ferries officials make a logical argument that Bainbridge’s ferry ridership is roughly three times that of Bremerton’s, though Bremerton’s is growing.

In my brief time with Inslee, as you can watch above, I asked him how he’ll feel about Bremerton getting the newest boat and freshest paint job. The governor didn’t miss a beat.

“I think I’m gonna come to Bremerton just so I can ride the Chimacum,” he said. “This is a beautiful boat.”

He added that he has a piece of the Kalakala on his desk, and that the iconic vessel once served Bremerton as its ferry.

I will add this: there’s no promise that the ferry system will always run the Chimacum to Bremerton — these are boats after all. Yet there’s good reason to think she’ll stick around for awhile. For one, the vessel will be adorned with works of Bremerton art and history.

Here’s some more background about the ferry:

When the Chimacum became “whole.”

Why the 1,500 passenger vessel is being named after Chimacum.

When the vessel’s keel was laid.

See you in 2017, Chimacum. Here’s some more photos from the day.

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Beat blast: Chimacum, an ‘allery’ and a whole lotta paint

Grass roots public art has enjoyed a surge this summer in Bremerton. Many back alleys, vacant walls and utility boxes have gotten the color treatment, as a community of artists has emerged to take part.

In this, the visual arts edition of the Bremerton Beat Blast, you’ll learn:

That 16 local artists will have their works immortalized on the near Chimacum ferry, which will start running in Bremerton next spring. Submit your artwork here and make sure to do it by Nov. 1.

How the West Sound Arts Council transformed a back alley downtown in the city’s first 24-7 art gallery;

On a serious note, we’ll recap some terrifying recent incidents involving local residents “huffing” to get high — and with serious, sometimes fatal consequences;

Why Manette’s business association purchased a “wayfinding” sign program;

And finally, an update on the “Free-for-Wall” at the site of the old Maple Leaf Tavern, which has artists adding new creations to it on a daily basis. Watch Filmmaker Wes Weaver’s whole documentary here.

Questions? Comments? Don’t be a stranger now. Send them to


Who let the dogs out? Street fair to take over Fourth Street

In this April 23, 2013 photo, Dusty is the Bremerton, Wash. Police Department's new drug sniffing dog. The Bremerton Police Department, following in the footsteps of many law enforcement agencies around the state, is not training its newest officer how to sniff out marijuana. Months after voters approved an initiative legalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, Dusty is the first narcotics dog in Kitsap with the distinction. (AP Photo/Kitsap Sun, Meegan M. Reid)
K9 Dusty will be downtown Saturday, along with many of his colleagues. Photo by Meegan M. Reid.

Dog lovers are in for a treat downtown on Saturday. A veritable who’s who of Kitsap’s police K9s will trot onto Fourth Street and put on a show. The road will be shut down and merchants up and down the block will be joining in the celebration, from 12-5 p.m.

The all-ages street fair is a joint effort of the Horse & Cow Pub & Grill and a California organization called the Gavin Buchanan Memorial Foundation. As a 5-year-old, young Gavin donated his piggy bank to help police dogs be better protected with vests and equipment. But sadly, the boy was killed in a terrible case of domestic violence in Benicia, California only eight days after his eighth birthday in 2015.

As you might know, the Horse & Cow once had a location in Vallejo, close to the site of an old Navy base. The Buchanan family goes way back with the Horse & Cow and owner Mike Looby, and Gavin’s uncle Brett Miller lives in Port Orchard.

The event will help raise money for K9s right here in Kitsap, with demonstrations by dogs and their handlers from the Bremerton Police Department, Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office and Washington State Patrol.

It’s gearing up to be quite a weekend in Bremerton, with Manette Fest from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. the same day.



Bremerton man injured in ‘freak accident’ on the job

screen-shot-2016-09-08-at-5-05-09-pmA man with deep roots in the Bremerton community was severely injured last week in an industrial accident. John North, who grew up in Bremerton and Belfair and only recently had moved to Puyallup, was crushed under a lift bucket while at work Friday.

Many here are rallying to help with his recovery. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help with medical expenses. He remains in St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma in the ICU, according to his mother, Mary Hoffman.

Hoffman said he was making a delivery as part of his job and was removing a bucket life off of a flat bed. As he was backing it off, it “flipped sideways” and the bucket fell on him, his mother said. The left side of his body was crushed.

“It was just a freak accident,” she said.

North was working for Pacific-based Noffke’s Towing Service. The state’s Department of Labor & Industries is investigating the accident, according to Tim Church, a spokesman.

He has a young family — seven-month-old baby and another on the way, with his fiancee, Ashlee — and he’s in for a long recovery. So far, Hoffman said she’s been amazed at how giving his friends and family have been in lending a helping hand.

“The generosity has been incredible,” she said.

I will post updates on North’s status as he recovers.

To see the fundraising page, click here.

What’s in store at the new East Bremerton grocer

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Fully stocked and ready to go in East Bremerton.

Don’t expect the musical chairs of grocery stores at 2900 Wheaton Way to continue, Kyle Saar says. The general manager of Saars Super Saver Foods believes the family-owned chain of stores will be a permanent fixture in the Bremerton community.

“We look at our stores as long term locations,” said Saar, whose father, Greg, established their first in Oak Harbor in 1988. “We’re fully stocked in Bremerton and ready to go.”

Screen Shot 2016-09-06 at 4.16.27 PMThe East Bremerton location, which Albertson’s began, Haggen floundered at and now, is fully owned by the Saars, is once again buzzing with retail life. On Wednesday, it will open for the first time. On Saturday, it will hold a grand opening celebration.

The Bremerton location is the seventh store for the family-owned business. Saars said their formula is simple: keep the prices low and appeal to a diverse cross-section of consumers. There are large sections of the store devoted to Asian and Hispanic foods; but don’t count on an abundant selection of organics.

The store’s hours will be from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.

In celebration of their opening, the first 200 customers will receive free paper towels at 8 a.m. Wednesday, a tradition that will continue through the first weekend. And they’ll do the same promotion next week, also Wednesday to Sunday.

“We’re looking forward to being a a part of this community,” Saar said.

To see more of the inside of the store, check out this week’s Bremerton Beat Blast.

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Beat Blast: Manette Fest, a wall of graffiti and a (very minor) t-shirt controversy

Like parades? Have I got a tiny one for you.

14192039_1027287937391929_2109597291412981088_nThey don’t get any smaller than the one at Manette Fest on East 11th Street. (Yet it is still among the liveliest parades you’ll see.)

Elsewhere on the Bremerton Beat Blast (click above to watch) we cover:

The new Super Saver grocery store is ready for its debut;

We’ve got an update on Harrison Hospital’s half-billion dollar move to Silverdale, and what it means for Bremerton;

The new art wall in Manette, at the site of the old Maple Leaf Tavern, continues to blossom;

And finally, we’ve got some news regarding the $15 million Spyglass Hill project on Highland Avenue, including some aerial footage.

Oh, and don’t forget to watch until the end, to settle the (very minor) Macklemore concert t-shirt controversy. (It involves a fishing boat.)

Questions? Comments? Send them to me at

Benghazi defender, portrayed in ’13 hours,’ coming to Bremerton

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Kris “Tanto” Paronto

A former Army Ranger and private security contractor who helped defend American lives during the Sept. 11, 2012 Benghazi attack will appear in Bremerton next weekend. 

Kris “Tanto” Paronto, whose actions that day have been chronicled in the book “13 hours” by Mitchell Zuckoff and have since been adapted into a big screen production and directed by Michael Bay, will speak at the Kitsap Conference Center Sept. 10.

Janet Christopherson, a Tracyton resident, spearheaded efforts to bring Paronto to Bremerton after she saw him in Green Valley, Arizona. She was struck by his harrowing first-hand account and felt her hometown would be too. Tickets, which are $55 for lunch and $100 for an opportunity to meet him personally, have gone fast.

“It has really taken off,” Christopherson said.

The Benghazi attack ignited a political firestorm that has continued into this year’s presidential election. Christopherson and fellow members of the Silverdale-Seabeck Republican Women are supporting the event. Paronto himself has been critical of Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton. But she hopes that partisan politics will give way to his riveting recounting of the events.

“You’re listening to this story, what happened that day from beginning until the end,” she said of his Green Valley presenation. “At the end you wonder, ‘Is this fiction?’

For tickets or more information, call (360) 509-0606 or email Sales will close at the end of the weekend.