Category Archives: Bremerton police

For 10-year-old, bike theft has happy ending

Alexandra Funari, 10. LARRY STEAGALL / KITSAP SUN
Alexandra Funari, 10. LARRY STEAGALL / KITSAP SUN

I’m not really sure how someone who steals a child’s bike can sleep at night. But that’s exactly what happened to Alexandra Funari, a 10-year-old student at View Ridge Elementary School. Last Thursday, her mother, Bonnie Flacco, came home to find someone had ripped off Alexandra’s bicycle from right beside their home off East 31st Street.

“It made me cry,” Alexandra said. “I really liked my bike.”

Flacco said that several kids’ bikes have gone missing in the neighborhood recently, something she too finds unconscionable.

“It’s sad that someone would go around the neighborhood and steal children’s toys,” she said.

Bike theft is all too common in Kitsap County and across the country. In Bremerton alone, 69 bikes have been reported stolen between Jan. 1, 2013 and today. Bremerton Police Chief Steve Strachan said the best thing you can do, other than make sure the bike is locked up, is get the serial number off of it for safe keeping and take a picture. And, if it is stolen, be sure to report it to police.

“We recover a bicycles fairly frequently,” Strachan said. “We have a really hard time getting them back to people if they don’t report it.”

Alexandra’s bike, unfortunately, remains missing. But there is a silver lining.

Bremerton resident Joanne Jogerst saw a post from Flacco on a Facebook page. She knew a man named Thom Kalmbach, a Renton resident who grew up in Bremerton — and that he might have a bike. Kalmbach contacted me and said his 13-year-old daughter had indeed outgrown her bike and he was willing to part ways with it. I arranged a meeting at Evergreen-Rotary Park this afternoon for the parties to meet.

Alexandra had no idea.

“I hear someone borrowed your bike,” Kalmbach said as he approached. “And they didn’t give it back.”

“Stole it,” Alexandra replied.

Then, Kalmbach wheeled over a white and purple bike with thick mountain bike tires. Alexandra’s eyes lit up.

She quickly got on the saddle and began riding it around the Evergreen-Rotary Park boat launch parking lot.

“I love it,” she said.

Flacco said they’ll make sure to get a lock to deter thieves in the future.

Alexandra Funari, 10, celebrates after she rode her new bike at Evergreen-Rotary Park in Bremerton on Wednesday. To her right is her mom, Bonnie Flacco. LARRY STEAGALL / KITSAP SUN
Alexandra Funari, 10, celebrates after she rode her new bike at Evergreen-Rotary Park in Bremerton on Wednesday. To her right is her mom, Bonnie Flacco. LARRY STEAGALL / KITSAP SUN
Alexandra with her new bike. In the center is Tom Kalmbach of Renton, who gave her the bike, and Joanne Jogerst who contacted Tom. LARRY STEAGALL / KITSAP SUN
Alexandra with her new bike. In the center is Tom Kalmbach of Renton, who gave her the bike, and Joanne Jogerst who contacted Tom. LARRY STEAGALL / KITSAP SUN




10 Stories from my 10 Years at the Kitsap Sun

This job is never boring, let me tell you. LARRY STEAGALL / KITSAP SUN
This job is never boring, let me tell you. LARRY STEAGALL / KITSAP SUN

Today marks my 10 year anniversary at the Kitsap Sun. It’s a milestone that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I’ve witnessed a dramatic transformation in journalism this past decade. Not all has been positive: the newsroom staff is half the size it was when I got here, reflecting an era of massive media consolidation. (That’s the nice way to put it). But I am also part of a new era, where the most creative and industrious minds will prevail in an age where anyone can publish a story.

I wanted to take you back through this decade, for a trip through the stories that fascinated me most. Many of these, you will notice, are from my first seven years on the job, when I was the Sun’s crime and justice reporter. But Bremerton, as home to the Sun and those I’ve covered, has always played an integral role.



1. After 62 years, death comes six hours apart

Amazing stories that are told on the obituary page nearly everyday. So I was especially curious when my editor, Kim Rubenstein, came to me with a rather unique one: A couple whose obituary ran together, in the same article.

I phoned the family, wondering if they would be interested in telling their parents’ story. It’s a phone call that never gets easier, having to call someone coming to terms with death, but it’s a call I feel is a newspaper’s obligation. In doing so, I’ve always tried to explain I’d like to give the community a chance to know the person they were in life, and if not, they were free to hang up on me. Everyone grieves differently but some people view the opportunity as cathartic.

In this case, the family was thrilled and invited me to their home in Kingston.

I learned of a very special love story — a couple through 62 years of marriage did everything together. Everything. Even getting the mail.

When they were buried, they were placed side by side, in the same casket.

It’s a story that not only touched me emotionally, but apparently others as well. Few stories I’ve ever done attracted broader attention. I got calls, emails and letters from all over the country, and was even interviewed by the Seattle P-I about doing it.


2. The CIA is doing what in Washington state?

Undercover police officers have their identities concealed for a reason: they are often conducting sensitive, and sometimes high risk, investigations that warrant it.

But what about when police chiefs, who use their government issued vehicles mainly for the purpose of driving to and from work, start using those undercover license plates?

That line that line of inquiry got me started down a path that revealed that in Kitsap County, and indeed all of Washington, there are a lot of confidential license plates driving around.

But nothing could prepare me, months after the initial story, for a call from Austin Jenkins, NPR reporter in Olympia, who’d been hearing testimony in the State Legislature about these license plates and changes to the program.

The story had revealed not only the confidential license plate program, but that the state’s Department of Licensing was also issuing confidential driver’s licenses.

I teamed up with Jenkins and we went to Olympia to interview the DOL. Amazingly, Gov. Jay Inslee and Gov. Chris Gregoire before him, didn’t even know about the program.

The biggest shocker of all came when a spokesman revealed that many of those confidential driver’s licenses were going to the CIA.

“Yes, that CIA, “the spokesman told us.

Later, the DOL would backpedal and say that they had no authority to release information about those “federal agencies” that have the licenses. But it was a fascinating discovery, an amazing story to work on and I am glad we were able to help bring the program to transparency.

Wikipedia photo.

3. The Pentagon’s calling, and they’re not happy

Ever wonder what it’s like to have The Pentagon angry with a story you did? Well, let me tell you.

You may recall the story of Naval Base Kitsap’s highest enlisted man being convicted in a sting not dissimilar from To Catch a Predator. He served his time, but I had wondered what kind of discipline he faced from the Navy, and that became the subject of a story months later.

Through a public records request, I got hold of a Navy document that reported he’d received an honorable discharge from the Navy — something a former Navy JAG told me was unheard of following a sex crime conviction. We ran the story.

The following Monday, The Pentagon called.

“Your story is wrong,” I was told repeatedly. “Are you going to correct it?”

“How is it wrong?” I asked.

I couldn’t get an answer because those records were private, I was told.

“So how can I correct it?” I wondered.

Round and round we went, for what felt like an eternity. Newsroom meetings were held. I freely admit it does not feel good when the Pentagon is not happy with you.

Eventually, others at The Pentagon and the local base released information that showed the man had received an “other than honorable” discharge. To this day, I am uncertain why I saw reports that contradicted each other.

Photo by Meegan M. Reid.
Photo by Meegan M. Reid.

4. Burglary victim becomes the suspect

Imagine coming home from a trip to find your home has been burglarized, and yet you’re the one getting hauled off to jail. That was the situation Luke Groves faced in 2009. A felon, he’d broken into a school in Shelton at 18, and now, at 37, police found his wife’s guns in their Hewitt Avenue home.

Prosecutors, who charged him with felon in possession of a firearm, had offered him no jail time in exchange for his guilty plea. But Groves took the case to trial, was convicted, and could’ve faced years in prison over it.

The case was one that former Kitsap County Prosecutor Russ Hauge and I had butted heads about. He felt we’d cast the prosecutor’s office as the bad guy in a case which they could not just “look the other way” on a weapons charge.

I followed the trial from start to finish, including Hauge himself handling the sentencing — something I can’t recall on an other occasion in my seven years covering the court system here. Hauge told the judge that Groves should ultimately get credit for time served for the crime, and Groves was released.


5. Squatter’s ‘meticulous’ highway home

I never met Chris Christensen. But I feel like in many ways I knew him following his 2008 death in the woods off Highway 3 in Poulsbo.

The story started with a scanner call for a DOA (dead on arrival) near the road in Olhava. I inquired with the police sergeant, who told me that the death was actually a pretty interesting story — certainly not something I expected to hear. I headed north, parked, and followed a little trail into the woods where I found “The Shiloh,” Christensen’s home among Western Red Cedars.

It was a “meticulously organized world,” I wrote. “A campsite with finely raked dirt, a sturdy green shed and a tent filled with bins of scrupulously folded clean laundry and cases of Steel Reserve beer.”

In the subsequent days, I learned all about his quiet life and penned this story. Most satisfying to me was that Christensen’s family had lost touch with him. Without the story, which thanks to the Internet made its way across the country, his family would’ve never found him. He got the dignified burial he deserved.

Nametags of those who went through Kitsap Recovery Center who later died or went to prison.
Nametags of those who went through Kitsap Recovery Center who later died or went to prison.

6. Heroin’s ugly grip on Kitsap, the nation

I’ve probably put more energy into covering the opiate epidemic than any other single topic in my decade at the Sun.

Heroin, in particular, was virtually nonexistent when I got here. But following the explosion of opiate medicines for pain, drug cartels seized their chance to feed a spreading addiction more cheaply.

The story has taken me all over Puget Sound. I interviewed a man at McNeil Island prison who had an 8-pill a day OxyContin habit and was bringing sheets full of “Oxy” from California to Kitsap; I visited a woman who was literally injecting opiates near the knuckles on her fingers in Suquamish. I’ve hugged mothers whose children were lost forever when they could not kick the habit.

It is a problem that remains unsolved.


7. Bad math on jail’s good time

I’ve received a lot of “jail mail” over the years, and while there’s usually an interesting story, it is, shall we say, not always one I would pursue in print.

When the letters started coming from Robert “Doug” Pierce in 2010, I was skeptical. He was convinced that Kitsap County had miscalculated his “good time” or time off for good behavior, and that he was serving too long a sentence from his current cell, at Coyote Ridge in Connell.

He was right.

Now I will tell you I am a journalist and not a mathematician. But the basic gist was that jail officials here were calculating his good time by simply dividing his time served by three, rather than tacking on an additional to his overall sentence. The result was he would serve 35 extra days.

Small potatoes? When you consider that at the the time it cost about $100 a day to house a prison inmate and that there were 548 inmates from Kitsap in prison, it’s actually quite an expense. After our story ran, the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office corrected his sentence, along with everyone else’s, and fixed the policy.


8. ‘Where can we live?’

A criminal past can often haunts someone for the rest of his or her life. That was certainly true for Ed Gonda, a man who moved his family to Bainbridge Island and had heard it was a “laid back, forgiving kind of place.”

It turned out to be anything but for his family.

His crime was a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl. He admitted to it, did time for it, paid more than $10,000 in treatment for it — and had lived a clean life for 15 years, to include starting his own family.

But under Washington state law, he had to register as a sex offender, though he was not a pedophile. And somehow, after making friends at a local church and at his daughter’s school, word got out.

“The news traveled fast, and people who they thought they knew well acted swiftly,” I wrote. “His daughter could no longer play with friends down the street, he said. The church pews around them were vacant on Sundays. They more or less stopped going out anywhere on the island.”

“We’re treated like we’re diseased,” his wife told me.

It was the start of a three part series I knew would be controversial, but I felt was important. We want to protect all people in society, especially children. But is there ever a point when we’ve gone too far and it has infringed on the rights of those who have already done their time?

As part of my series on the 20th anniversary of the Community Protection Act, I also ventured to McNeil Island with Photographer Larry Steagall to see the state’s civil commitment center for sexual predators. Such a beautiful and pastoral setting for such a hideous complex. I am fairly certain Larry will never forgive me.

Yes, I have ridden in the back of a cop car. MEEGAN REID / KITSAP SUN
Yes, I have ridden in the back of a cop car. MEEGAN M. REID / KITSAP SUN

9. Bremerton’s plunging violent crime rate

Let’s face it: Bremerton has a gotten a bad rap over the years, following the demise in the 1980s of its retail downtown core. An increasing violent crime rate followed, and in many ways the reputation was earned.

When I was hired in 2005, the city had the highest per capita violent crime rate. During my interview, which was just weeks after two murders blocks from the Kitsap Sun’s office, I was asked how I would take on the story. Aggressively, I said.

I spent a lot of time in a patrol car — every shift including graveyard — and was introduced to Bremerton’s seedy underbelly before meeting any other part. It was a scary place: I saw lots of people high on meth, fights between police and drunkards, violent domestic abusers whose victims would try to shield their attackers from the cops. And I wrote extensively about it.

But in the years since, that violent crime rate plummeted, for reasons I documented in a story last November. The tide, in my eyes, is turning: the city is making a turn for the better.

If you live in Bremerton, you know that each time we do have a tragic, violent episode — even if far outside city limits — it reinforces the stereotype.

But followers of this blog know better. There are many positive signs of a community improving: Increasing ferry traffic. Volunteers embracing parks. Home improvements being made. Developments downtown.

We’ll see how long it takes for the rest of the world to notice.


10. Walking the story in Bremerton

Any reporter will tell you that we spend a lot more time with the story than what ends up in the paper. But what about those people who want to know more, who are curious for every last detail?


This January, I found myself thinking about those two big Sequoia trees on Veneta Avenue. In writing about longterm plans to save them but close the road their roots are destroying, I came to the realization that nothing — not a story in print, online or even a video — would compare to the experience of going there, and seeing the story for yourself. I invited experts who I’d interviewed for the story to come along.

And thus was born the thing I’m most proud of since taking over the Bremerton Beat: my monthly Story Walk. It’s been such a satisfying journey taking the story to the community, rather than the other way around. We’ve walked all over town and I have gotten to know so many great people in the city in doing so.

There’s momentum for many more to come, too.

Here’s to 10 years at the Sun, and a hope that the next 10 will be just as exhilarating.

Bremerton police take suspected drug house out of commission


Bremerton Police served a search warrant at this home on the 1300 block of Rainier Avenue this morning.

Two people have been arrested on drug charges, as officers with Bremerton’s Special Operations Group combed the property looking for evidence. A total of six people were found inside; each could face charges.

As often happens with these investigations, it started with neighborhood complaints, according to Bremerton Police Sgt. Billy Renfro. There was traffic going in and out at all hours. Renfro described it as a flop house.

The Special Operations Group, after developing information that earned a judge’s signature for a warrant, decided it was time to move in.

“It was dirtying up the entire neighborhood,” Detective Steven Forbragd said.

Bremerton Police Chief Steve Strachan said the search warrant was “part of our ongoing commitment to working with residents to build strong, safe neighborhoods.”

“We hope this sends a message to anyone who wants to break the law and degrade the quality of life in our community,” he said. “It isn’t quick and we need to ensure due process, but we will continue to work hard on these issues.”

BPD doubles women officer ranks — by hiring 1

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Michelle Greisheimer was sworn in at last night’s City Council meeting as Bremerton’s newest police officer. As a woman, she is a rarity in the department of about 60 officers.

She is one of only two fully commissioned officers, meaning her hiring doubled the ranks.

“I’m ashamed to say it’s true,” said Bremerton Police Chief Steve Strachan, who has trumpeted the need to bring in officers that reflect the community they serve since he started here two years ago.

The chief and Mayor Patty Lent also included $24,000 in the city’s budget this year to hire cadets to perform clerical tasks at the department. They must be enrolled in a postsecondary educational program like Olympic College, but the idea — aside from the administrative help — is that it would be a “new way of recruiting and hiring nontraditional candidates for law enforcement.”

Greisheimer, an Ohio native, worked for Seattle police for eight years — working at the Capitol Hill and Pioneer Square precincts — before moving to Chandler, Arizona, where she stayed for seven.

Prior to her career in law enforcement, she had joined the army and was stationed in Puerto Rico and Georgia before deploying to Kuwait, Strachan said.

 She married Christine, her partner of 10 years, when same-sex marriage was recognized in Arizona last year. The couple consider the Pacific Northwest home and jumped at the chance to relocate here with their young sons.

How important is it to you that Bremerton police hire women officers? Or, for that matter, people of differing backgrounds?

Pendergast crash makes for one dark parking lot

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If you’ve been up to Pendergast Regional Park in the evening lately, you know the parking lot is quite dark. That’s because a driver lost control there recently and plowed into the electrical cabinet that controls the lights at the popular soccer and sports complex.

The Bremerton City Council took the unusual measure Wednesday night of voting to spend up to $75,000 to fix the cabinet as soon as possible. Why it was a bit peculiar was because the Council meeting is what is known as a “study session,” a roundtable discussion that goes over City agenda items the week prior to the more formal, televised meeting where they’re usually voted on. Study sessions typically do not offer time for public comment.

Chal Martin, the city’s public works director, asked the Council to make the emergency approval given that there’s not really an option — the cabinet must be fixed. And, for public safety, the sooner, the better. The Council agreed in a unanimous vote.

So what happened? Bremerton police tell me that a Belfair woman, 20, was speeding in the parking lot the afternoon of Jan. 28 when she lost control of her car, striking the electrical cabinet. It’s unclear whether a ticket was issued but the officer told me that it’s most likely one was.

The Council was also assured the City would be demanding the work be covered by the woman (or rather, through her insurance).

What Pendergast's parking lot looks like at night right now. Photo by Councilwoman Leslie Daugs.
What Pendergast’s parking lot looks like at night right now. Photo by Councilwoman Leslie Daugs.

Bremerton police blotter, Jan. 23-Feb. 1


Here’s a slice of what the police officers of Bremerton have been up to lately.

Stolen car, 2500 Fir Avenue: A woman reported that her car was stolen the morning of Jan. 23 after she’d started it to warm it up. The car is a Honda Accord. Police documented the theft but the report did not say whether they’d found the car yet.

Hospital outburst, 2500 Cherry Avenue: While an officer was working an unrelated detail at Harrison Medical Center Jan. 23, a patient in the emergency room “became violent” and began to fight with staff. The officer assisted the hospital staff in getting the man under control.

Vehicle prowl, 3200 Pine Road: A woman reported to police that her car alarm went off the morning of Jan. 23 and she went outside to investigate. She’d found a thief had cut into her car’s convertible top and gotten inside, taking some change, a “cheap” camera and an inexpensive pair of sunglasses. Police have no suspects.

Assault, 100 Bloomington: A man reported early Jan. 24 that he’d been punched in the face by a man he’d been letting stay at his place. He’d let the man stay there because he was “(hiding) from the police” but after the argument and assault, the guest had fled. Police are investigating.

Vehicle prowl, 4500 The Cedars: A man said that he witnessed someone get into his father’s SUV early Jan. 24, so he went to confront the apparent prowler. The prowler ran but the man was able to grab onto his backpack, pulling it off. The suspect got away but police took the backpack as evidence.

Break-in, 4800 Driftwood Street: A man allegedly forced his way into a woman’s apartment. He was not allowed to contact her by court order, but forced a door open. He demanded to use her phone but she would not let him. He was arrested and jailed.

Unhappy customer, 4200 Wheaton Way: Officers were called to a mobile phone store Jan. 28 for an unhappy customer, who was yelling at store employees. He was subsequently trespassed form the business.

Car found, 600 Broadway Avenue: An officer Jan. 28 spotted a a car stolen from a local auto dealership. The officer found a man inside, who was arrested for possessing a stolen vehicle.

Another car found, 1600 Wheaton Way: You may have seen the story we ran about the Port Orchard man arrested after a brief chase in a stolen car in Manette Jan. 30. Find the whole story here.

Assaultive shoplifter, 900 Callow Avenue: A man was arrested after twice stealing alcohol from Safeway. On the second time — the first wasn’t reported — police ran after him and caught him. He was in “severe mental distress” and fought officers, injuring one (the extent of injuries wasn’t disclosed in reports). The man was treated at Harrison Medical Center until fit to be booked into the jail.

Bar scuffle, 2900 Perry Avenue: A man was kicked out of a bar after causing a “disturbance” there, according to reports. Police were called just after midnight Jan. 31 to McClouds, where security staff explained an intoxicated man had taken a swing at a staff member. The man was taken to the ground and placed in handcuffs. He complained he was treated “roughly.” No arrests were made but the man was trespassed from the bar for 30 days.

Attempted liquor theft, 2900 Wheaton Way: A man trespassed from Albertson’s for stealing liquor attempted to do it again on Jan. 31, police said. He filled a shopping cart up with booze and, when noticed he was being watched, fled the store. Police caught up to him and he was jailed for burglary.

Squatters house, 100 South Wycoff: Officers searched a home at 113 S. Wycoff Jan. 31 after a door was reported swinging one. The house, categorized as abandoned, had sleeping bags and other evidence that it was not so abandoned after all. Officers sent their report to the community resource unit to followup with the home’s owner.

It only looked suspicious, North Wycoff at 19th Street: Officers were called Jan. 31 to a home where a man was doing yard work at almost 7 p.m. When police contacted him, he said he has permission to do yard work at the home. Police confirmed that with the home’s owner.

Burglary, 3500 11th Street: Officers went to Evergreen Health and Rehabilitation for a report of a burglary. A person had watched a man crawl inside a window. Sure enough, police found a suspect in the attic, where he’d been cutting up copper and other wiring. He even had a voltage tester to see if the wiring had electrical current, police said. He was arrested and jailed.

Stolen car found, 900 Washington Avenue: A woman reported that she was at a party Feb. 1 when she discovered her keys were gone. She went outside and her car was gone. Early on Feb. 2, the car was found near Evergreen-Rotary Park. It had been rummaged through but otherwise was fine, reports said.

Here’s a few nuggets from Bremerton Police Chief Steve Strachan’s weekly update:

“Officer Kent Mayfield handled a complex call last Saturday night. He observed a vehicle in the area of Naval Avenue and 11th Street with a blown-out tire. He followed the car as it traveled on the metal rim. Officer Mayfield stopped the car and could see it had substantial front-end damage. At about the same time, dispatch put out a call of a hit and run collision at 6th Street near Pennsylvania Avenue. Other officers got to that location, and spoke to the driver of a taxi who had been struck head-on, causing his airbags to deploy, before the suspect vehicle drove away at high speed. The driver described the suspect vehicle… surprise, surprise; it perfectly matched the car Officer Mayfield had stopped. The paint transfer between the cars even matched. The driver was arrested for DUI and Hit and Run. Great heads up work by Officer Mayfield!

Sunday afternoon Officer Spencer Berntsen and Sgt. Randy Olson were checking a neighborhood in East Bremerton on a report of a reckless driver. The vehicle was described as a white minivan that had been backed into a rock wall and possibly hit a fence. As they were checking, Sgt. Olson saw a white minivan driving by and turned around to follow it. The minivan was drifting over the shoulder and the centerline as Sgt. Olson prepared to stop it on a downhill grade, but before he could activate his lights the minivan drove onto the shoulder, over-corrected and went into the oncoming lane and back. It straightened out long enough to center-punch a smaller utility pole, when the airbag deployed and the pole was severely split. Luckily, the pole somehow remained upright and the wires attached. The driver tested a .24 alcohol content and went to jail while the power company replaced the pole.”

And finally, you can view the departments “High 5” list and “Filthy 3” by clicking here.

The towers are for hoses (or ten things I learned about Bremerton in 2014)

Happy new year, Bremerton! Here’s a list of the 10 most interesting things I learned about Bremerton in 2014.


1. Bremerton’s red light camera experiment is sputtering

The first year of Bremerton’s red light cameras brought in almost $850,000 for the city. Since, that amount has basically been in free fall.

In 2015, if history serves, it will barely bring in any revenue for the city at all.

Combine that with inconclusive evidence they do much to promote safety at intersections and a scandal that has embroiled the company to which Bremerton pays $432,000 a year in operational fees, and the cameras may not last much longer. Mayor Patty Lent has signaled she’d get rid of them if they become a cost for the city.

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2. Bremerton’s rate of violent crime is plummeting

I rode with Bremerton Police in every shift possible the first year I worked at the Kitsap Sun. I’d routinely witness drunken fights, domestic assaults and even a Tasering (interesting if sad story, ask me about it sometime).

That was 2005, the year Bremerton held the dubious distinction of being no. 1 in violent crime per capita in the state of Washington.

Yes, Bremerton still has its share of crime. But its violent crime rate is half what it was in 2005 — 11.7 incidents per thousand then to 5.7 in 2013, according to FBI statistics. That’s a pretty remarkable drop. There’s lots of reasons why — rising homeownership, renewed parks and focused policing to name a few — which you can learn about here.

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3. Those tires won’t remove themselves

Spare a tire? The police shooting range west of Gorst, within Bremerton’s watershed property, has plenty of them. In fact, the city has spent in excess of $12,000 removing them about 8,500 of them, and more may be spent.

The police department thought they might need them for training but at a certain point, Public Works Director Chal Martin said they had to go. How they got there was actually even investigated by a separate police agency. Ultimately, no wrongdoing was assigned.

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4. It’s the water

Meanwhile in the Bremerton watershed, another little brouhaha cascaded from the headwaters of the Union River. The city built a dam in the 1950s and has used the water above it as the bulk of the drinking water for around 1/3 of Kitsap County’s residents.

Because the lake is remote — like 3,000 acres around it remote — the state doesn’t require Bremerton to filter its water supply (though the water is treated with chlorine and ultraviolet light).

City officials are adamant the land around it stay preserved. The city went so far as to release photos this year of trespassers — poachers, hikers and bikers — using the area.

Some wonder if the city couldn’t lighten up a bit, and a countywide trail is being contemplated for the total 8,000 acre parcel the city owns, where the city also has a golf course and the police shooting range (and by the way, anyone need some extra tires?).

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5. The towers were for the hoses

Why, when you see old fire stations do they have towers that rise into the sky from their basic structures?


Turns out fire hoses used to be made of cotton, which needed to be hung up to dry after fighting a fire. If they weren’t dried properly, they’d mold. Today’s hoses are synthetic.

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6. There’s redwoods in them there sewer towers

Speaking of towers — a somewhat routine at the city’s sewer treatment plant contains an interesting tidbit.

Some giant filters made of redwood trees are being retired out. While the new material is plastic , the redwoods, from the 1980s, have broken down but may have a second life as beauty bark (Or bark. Or mulch. Or whatever term you like).

Public works officials say the city will use it around its properties, maybe even parks, if its environmentally safe to do so.

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7.  Bye bye Maple Leaf, may your sign be immortal

Yes, we said goodbye to the Maple Leaf Tavern in 2014. The place was unrivaled in its around 77 years tending bar in Kitsap County. But the now fabled Lower Wheaton Way watering hole closed due to nonpayment of $25,000 in taxes, in 2010. And city engineers saw it as a chance to clear some needed room for the Lower Wheaton Way project earlier this year, tearing it down for $18,000.

Breakfast at Sally’s author Richard LeMieux called its slanted floor — you have to admit it had been worn down in recent years — the feel of “one of those oblique fun houses with a moving floor” that actually got more stable as you drank.

Rest in peace, Maple Leaf.

I get asked a lot about if its storied sign was preserved. The answer: yes. It is in the capable hands of the Kitsap Historical Society.

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8. The ‘Mo-Sai’ Bank Building has the state’s most complex Carillon system

A longtime curiosity of mine was satisfied when I was learning about the bells on the roof of the Chase Bank building at Fifth and Pacific this year. That odd facade on the building giving it the look of a vertical beach? It’s called Mo-Sai, and the architects used this rock peppering as a way to reflect the Northwest’s rugged terrain. Huh.

It certainly is unique. But up on its roof are the speakers that play Bremerton’s Carillon system. Probably the most complete in the Pacific Northwest. Yep, they’re real bells. And they played on a snowy Christmas Eve, 1971, for the first time.

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9. So that all may play

When all was said and done, around $500,000 and countless volunteer hours had made Kitsap County’s first all-accessible playground possible.

The playground, inside Bremerton’s Evergreen-Rotary Park, is almost always packed when the weather’s nice. Hard to believe how quickly it came along — a testament to what the community can do when it comes together.

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10. Mudslides in Schley Canyon

Fish passable? What about a mudslide? The state views Schley Canyon, that land cavity that cuts Manette from the rest of East Bremerton (or does it? The boundaries, to be fair, are unclear) as one fish could head up, or fish passable. The city says the little crevasse’s just a drainage and it doesn’t need to pay millions of dollars to replace the 1927 culvert over it at Lower Wheaton Way.

But the canyon has had a slide once when rains get too heavy. A geologist told me the canyon’s probably not a huge slide hazard. But it’s something Mayor Patty Lent said recently she’d like to further examine to be sure.

Honorable mentions:

  • *Many are just convinced the apartments at 704 Chester Avenue are haunted. Even the skeptics have to agree the building does have a long, and sometimes spooky history. It served as the site of Harrison’s first hospital and was later converted into apartments. Bremerton native and Washington State Legislator Speaker of the House Frank Chopp’s low-income housing nonprofit improved the complex in the early 2000s, but residents there still say there’s still strange noises at odd hours.
  • *No new homes — or any structures — can be built out over the waters of Puget Sound. But the homes that remain on the water near the Bremerton Boardwalk enjoy a “grandfathered” and can stay for as long as they’d like as long as they’re maintained.

Are there any I missed you’d like to add?

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:

And finally, the High 5 criminal list is out:

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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 police blotter, Aug. 22-26

Here’s your weekly look at the Bremerton police calls: 

Theft from pay boxes, Burwell Street and Washington Avenue: Police were called Aug. 22 for a man picking pay boxes downtown. Officers found the man and discovered he had forceps and $14 in his pocket. Witnesses confirmed the man was the suspect. He was taken to jail.

Driving under the influence, Riddell Road at Wheaton Way: An officer watched Aug. 22 as a man sped down Wheaton Way going 52 in a 30 mph zone. The officer felt the man was intoxicated, with watery, droopy and bloodshot eyes. The man did field sobriety tests and ultimately blew a .10 blood alcohol level, above the .08 legal limit. He told the officer he could “beat” the charge as he had with a ticket and a “DV” in the past. He was jailed.

Possession of heroin, 2900 Perry Avenue: Officers Aug. 22 found that a woman wanted for heroin possession had gone into a bar’s bathroom. When she came out, she said she had “one point” of heroin on her currently. In the car outside she was riding in, officers found heroin and meth paraphernalia. She was taken to the Kitsap County Jail.

Meth possession, 1500 Shorewood Drive: Police were called for a man running through yards “acting as if someone is chasing him,” on Aug. 22. When they caught up to the man he was moving continuously, sweating profusely, was paranoid and had trouble carrying on a conversation. Officers suspected he was high on meth. Since he’d trespassed in someone’s yard, he was arrested. Officers found meth in his pocket. He was jailed.

Driving under the influence, 1500 Warren Avenue: Officers Aug. 23 stopped a driver for going 51 mph in a 30 mph zone. Officers felt she had been drinking and following field sobriety tests she blew a .12. She was taken to jail.

Driving under the influence, Veneta Avenue at 11th Street: A driver apparently hit a tree in the area Aug. 24. When police arrived, they noted the driver had an opened can of beer on the passenger side floorboard. He denied drinking it. He appeared very nervous and was “very fidgety” police said. Officers said he blew a .09 blood alcohol level. He was jailed.

Egging, 1700 Marine Drive: A man reported Aug. 24 his truck was egged sometime overnight. Police have no suspects.

Burglary, 1500 Snyder Avenue: A man reported Aug. 24 that sometime between Aug. 20 and the 24th his home had been burglarized and the thieves took power tools, clothes and fishing gear. It appeared the suspect or suspects came in through a window. He mentioned he’d been gone from the house, as had his wife, who was giving birth at the hospital. Police are investigating.

Assault, 600 Callow Avenue: A bartender reported she was hit in the face Aug. 24 by a girlfriend of a man who was bringing his own liquor into the bar. Police could not locate the suspect.

Burglary, 5100 Auto Center Way: A store manager called police Aug. 25 to say a back closet containing cleaning supplies had been broken into sometime overnight. The manager suspected someone in a nearby homeless camp as a possible suspect. Police have no leads.

Vandalism, 400 Chester Avenue: A woman reported to police Aug. 25 that her car’s rear passenger side window was broken out. Police have no suspects.

Found credit cards, 2000 15th Street: A woman weeding her flower garden found a stack of credit and debit cards and a drivers license belonging to a Silverdale woman Aug. 25. Police were able to contact the Silverdale woman, and get her stuff back to her. She said her purse had been stolen in early July from a tanning salon.

Homeless camp, 4300 Wheaton Way: An officer Aug. 25 went exploring behind the building that once housed Lowes in Bremerton, discovering a broken lock on a fenced gate that led to two “transient camps.” Two women were found camping and the officer warned them they’d soon be trespassed. Couches, stoves, beds, chairs, carpet and other items were found and the officer concluded people had been staying in that area “for months.” A report was forwarded to the city’s code enforcement officer and community resource specialist.

Trespassing, 10th Street and Park Avenue: An officer late Aug. 25 found a man lying on a mattress in Puget Sound Energy’s property there. He had been trespassed four times before and was taken to the jail this time.

Theft of license plate, 2000 Nipsic Avenue: A man who returned home from vacation Aug. 25 noticed his rear license plate had been removed and replaced with another. Police are still investigating.

Possession of a stolen vehicle, Burwell Street and Montgomery Avenue: An officer spotted a car that had been reported stolen Aug. 26. He stopped it and the woman driving was arrested for possessing the stolen car, though she said she had permission. A woman riding in the car also had a warrant for her arrest for DUI and drug possession. The two were taken to jail. Two men also riding in the car were released.

Fraud, 4000 Wheaton Way: Moneytree employees reported that a woman Aug. 26 had just tried to cash a check issued by a local company. A Moneytree employee called the company to verify they’d issued the check, but a company representative was adamant they did not. When the suspect and a companion in the Moneytree overheard the Moneytree employee say she would call police, the pair fled. The suspect apparently then called the company and apologized, saying if she didn’t try to cash the fraudulent check “she’d be shot.” Moments later, police got word that a woman parked in Fred Meyer, who worked at the company, had her car prowled. The car was unlocked and the thieves took a briefcase filled with documents related to the company inside as well as company checks. Police are still looking for the suspect.