All posts by josh farley

Bremerton ‘holds very special place’ in Quincy Jones’ heart

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City leaders got the go-ahead from Quincy Jones to create a public square in his name. Photo by Larry Steagall of Fourth Street, where the square is slated to go.

A critical hurdle city leaders faced in constructing a new public square to music icon Quincy Jones was getting the permission from Jones himself. 

And late this last month, Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent got word he approved.

“As I’m sure you know Bremerton holds a very special place in Mr. Jones’ heart and he is honored that the city has seen fit to recognize him with the dedication of this square,” Jones’ publicist, Arnold Robinson, told Lent in an email.

Lent had hoped Jones, who discovered his love of music while living in Bremerton as a child, could come here next May for some festivities, including the Armed Forces Day parade. He politely declined due to a scheduling conflict. But he offered his blessing, Lent said.

“We can move forward with  Quincy Square on Fourth,” Lent told me Thursday, adding they’ll approach Jones again if and when the project is finished. “Everyone’s excited.”

The concept, seen below, was developed by the “Fourth Street Action Group,” a gathering of community leaders for the past two years at Rice Fergus Miller architects. It’s a complete transformation of Fourth, between Pacific and Washington avenues, that includes piano key-inspired sidewalks. Designer Emily Russell is credited with introducing the idea to honor Jones.

The project is by no means a done deal and will cost about $4.8 million start to finish. I’ll keep you posted as we learn more about it.

Quincy

 

Beat Blast: Federally-funded demolitions, ferry fisticuffs and a 3-story jungle gym

You needn’t be a kid to get a kick out of the new indoor playground at Ahoy Kitsap Playland, owner Rhonda Koh says. The massive jungle gym, which opens Friday, can be enjoyed by parents and their children alike.

You’ll get the full scoop on this week’s Bremerton Beat Blast, as well as:

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What property downtown will soon be demolished with federal funds;

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How urban beekeepers are helping to support the insect’s population;

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Why Bremerton is not actually the most dangerous ferry in the state system despite recent reports;

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The tough choice to be made regarding the Veneta Avenue Sequoia trees.

Questions or comments? Drop a line to josh.farley@kitsapsun.com.

The buzz about bees in Bremerton

Long live the queen. She can be seen at the bottom of this photo.
Long live the queen. She can be seen at the bottom of this photo.

Marie Vilà started and ended her first year of beekeeping with a queen. The West Bremerton resident decided to join a growing number of urban Americans in trying her hand at raising her own colony.

“It’s the right thing to do,” Vilà said. “The whole buzz about bees — they’re in so much trouble right now. That resonated with me a lot.”

You’ve probably read stories about Colony collapse disorder and how insecticides are impacting wild bee populations. The good news is honey-producing bee populations appear to be stabilizing after a period of decline. And it may be people like Vilà that are helping make that happen.

But her first year included triumphs and tragedies. Her queen bee, capable of living years, survived. Sadly, her once-robust hive did not. Here’s what happened.

She started by taking a master bee-keeping class in the spring, aided by the West Sound Beekeepers Association. She bought what’s known as a langstroth style of hive and put it atop her carport. For about $120, she got a pound of bees from a California almond farm.

Her queen bee was separated from the hive so they can adjust to each other’s smells (and the hive does not revolt). Once ready, a cork keeping queen and the bees apart is replaced with a sugary marshmallow that’s eaten through. And voila — the hive is united.

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Marie Vila.

Vilà said summer was amazing. The bees were abundant and the hive productive, growing to 50,000. She started noticing the pears of her garden, in particular, were growing spectacularly with their newfound pollinators. The bees were producing great volumes of honey, too, important to help the hive survive the winter.

Then, something happened: the bees began dying off. At first, Vilà assumed some of it was just natural — after all, bees don’t live too long. But fewer and fewer were left to protect their queen.

Until one day, all that was left was the queen.

Vilà suspects the bees were infected with a Varroa mite, an unfortunate but all too common cause of death. She did the only thing she could — bundled up her queen and whisked her to the West Sound Beekeeper’s Apiary.

“She was on her last legs,” Vilà said.

The queen is surviving there, she said. The queen can live with another hive, which can support her for now, though she must remain isolated from them for fear they would attack her. Queens can live up to a few years and Vilà’s hopeful that in spring, she can get new bees acclimated to her own queen again.

I’ll be sure to provide an update on Vilà’s efforts next spring, as she attempts to build a new hive with her tried and true queen.

Once-dying Wheaton Way ‘a lot better than it was,’ councilwoman says

Leslie Daugs in front of the new, 160-unit apartment development along Wheaton Way.
Leslie Daugs in front of the new, 160-unit apartment development along Wheaton Way.

Five years ago, Bremerton City Councilwoman Leslie Daugs took on a 16-year incumbent with a central issue in mind: stopping Wheaton Way’s “slow death.”

I watched her debate Cecil McConnell, the late longtime councilman, at the Cloverleaf off Hollis Street. The bar and grill overlooked a vacant former Kmart, an empty Albertson’s — which moved down the road — and a recently vacated Lowe’s, which headed north outside city limits. Daugs felt passionate about doing something about it.

“It was dying,” Daugs told me in an interview a few weeks ago, “And I wanted to make sure we weren’t going to continue to die.”

Last one to leave, please turn the lights out.
Last one to leave, please turn the lights out.

Daugs won the seat in fall of 2011. She believes the beleaguered corridor has indeed improved since she’s been in office.

“Baby steps,” she said. “It’s a lot better than it was.”

The biggest change on her watch was the repeal of the Wheaton-Riddell subarea plan, which mandated that developers make pedestrian-friendly streetscapes along the road. That proved a turnoff to almost all business. After the plan fell, Fitness Evolution moved into one of those empty buildings.

The city’s planning commission and City Council also loosened rules on drive thrus, and within a year or so, McDonald’s, Kitsap Bank and a new Starbucks opened. Shari’s was also remodeled.

She’s applauded other changes as well — the Boys and Girls Club opening at the site of the Old East High School, the new roof for the old gym there and the school district’s plans to tear down the dilapidated school. She’s a fan of the new Super Saver grocery store and Henery Hardware, too.

She was not pleased that her fellow council members would not allow a used car dealership on a lot near Wheaton’s intersection with Sylvan Way. Daugs believes that city hall should not pretend Wheaton Way is something other than auto-centric. “It’s a big highway,” and should be treated as such, she told me.

A stronger economy has no doubt benefited Wheaton Way in the years she’s been on Council. I interviewed Daugs at the site of a 160-unit apartment complex, where a Kitsap Transit transfer station and park and ride will also be built, too. Nearby, a new day care is about to open as well.

She’s hoping the pendulum continues to swing in a positive direction.

“Wheaton Way is an area that’s definitely in need in new growth,” she said. “And whether it be apartments or businesses, we can always use that.”

What’s your take? Do you believe that the economic climate along Wheaton Way has improved?

New roof on the old gym.
New roof on the old gym.

Beat Blast: Haunted downtown, a floating classroom and an art deco library


Flash mobs, hay rides and a haunted house — It’s beginning to look a lot like Halloween in Bremerton. On Monday, the downtown association will host its 20th annual “Trick or Treat Street” from 5-8 p.m.

And no, I will not again be making an appearance inside a coffin.

Elsewhere on the Bremerton Beat Blast, you’ll find out about:

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How the USS Turner Joy Museum ship has been turned into a floating classroom;

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Why the Kitsap Regional Library wants to expand its downtown campus;

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How things are going on the $6.4 million Marvin Williams Center;

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What the Secretary of the Navy had to say about Bremerton during his last visit.

This was the one-year anniversary of the Bremerton Beat Blast. Just for fun, I am posting below the first edition I did in the Kitsap Sun’s basement. (Oh, all I can say is we’ve come a long way.)

Think we should go another year? Let me know your thoughts at josh.farley@kitsapsun.com.

 

IN PHOTOS: Fall in Bremerton brings blaze of color

A gingko tree in Eastpark.
A gingko tree in Eastpark.

The oaks, maples and all trees deciduous are putting on a show around Bremerton and Puget Sound right now. Gorgeous blends of yellow, orange and fiery reds are making this a spectacular fall.

For me, that means getting out on two feet with a camera. I’ve been looking for the best and brightest and I bet some of you have, too.

So I issue you this challenge: go see what you can find, snap a picture, and report back to me at josh.farley@kitsapsun.com. Send me your best stuff and tell me where you found it and I will display it here. Don’t be afraid to add a little story about the journey along the way, too.

Evergreen-Rotary Park.
Evergreen-Rotary Park.
A sea of maple leaves on Lower Wheaton Way.
A sea of maple leaves on Lower Wheaton Way.
Oak Tree at Eastpark.
Oak Tree at Eastpark.
Evergreen-Rotary Park.
Evergreen-Rotary Park.
Bright red near Gluds Pond. Photo by Bobbie Rasmussen.
Bright red near Gluds Pond. Photo by Bobbie Rasmussen.
Photo in Tracyton by Genavieve Scott.
Photo in Tracyton by Genavieve Scott.
Yantic Avenue. Photo by Rachael Elaine.
Yantic Avenue. Photo by Rachael Elaine.
Behind PineCrest Elementary, photo by Jeremy Stitt.
Behind PineCrest Elementary, photo by Jeremy Stitt.
Tracyton, by Cyndi Holden Smith.
Tracyton, by Cyndi Holden Smith.
Kyle Carey, Oakmont Way.
Kyle Carey, Oakmont Way.
Renee Arcement, location unknown.
Renee Arcement, location unknown.
Jen Budis, Union Hill.
Jen Budis, Union Hill.
Lindsay Baker, after acing a test at OC Poulsbo. (Congrats Lindsay!)
Lindsay Baker, after acing a test at OC Poulsbo. (Congrats Lindsay!)
Bobbie Bruemmer at Kitsap Lake.
Bobbie Bruemmer at Kitsap Lake.
Toye Elizabeth Norwood.
Toye Elizabeth Norwood.
Ashley Pilar in East Bremerton.
Ashley Pilar in East Bremerton.
Connie Quartermass in Evergreen-Rotary Park.
Connie Quartermass in Evergreen-Rotary Park.
Toni Cutting, location unknown.
Toni Cutting, location unknown.
Christa Heiskell, location unknown.
Christa Heiskell, location unknown.
Holly Duggan, off Chico Way.
Holly Duggan, off Chico Way.
Zachary Samson, Kingston ferry.
Zachary Samson, Kingston ferry.
Priscilla Lee, PineCrest.
Priscilla Lee, PineCrest.
Dean Tingey, Evergreen-Rotary Park.
Dean Tingey, Evergreen-Rotary Park.
Toni Cutting, Evergreen-Rotary Park.
Toni Cutting, Evergreen-Rotary Park.
Robin Smith, Port Orchard
Robin Smith, Port Orchard
Toye Elizabeth Norwood.
Toye Elizabeth Norwood.
Craig Johnson, E. 11th.
Craig Johnson, E. 11th.
Valeri Powers, PineCrest.
Valeri Powers, PineCrest.
Chelsea Pyper, Cottonwood Elementary.
Chelsea Pyper, Cottonwood Elementary.
John Melicor, location unknown.
John Melicor, location unknown.
Laurie Smith on Bucklin Hill.
Laurie Smith on Bucklin Hill.
Kelli Goins, Port Washington Narrows.
Kelli Goins, Port Washington Narrows.
Lisa Fowler, Evergreen-Rotary Park.
Lisa Fowler, Evergreen-Rotary Park.
Beth Cochran, near the Corn Maze in East Bremerton.
Beth Cochran, near the Corn Maze in East Bremerton.
Monica Alfaro, Ostrich Bay and Oyster Bay.
Monica Alfaro, Ostrich Bay and Oyster Bay.
Bremerton, by Elizabeth Wrenn.
Bremerton, by Elizabeth Wrenn.
Photo of East Highland by Kacey Gilvar.
Photo of East Highland by Kacey Gilvar.

Firefighters carry the weight of the community

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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.

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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 josh.farley@kitsapsun.com.

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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.

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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.