Category Archives: Development

Beat Blast: 5 things you must know in Bremerton this week

In this Bremerton beat blast, we journey to the end of Pacific Avenue, in search of the city’s newest pop-up store. (Spolier alert: We find it!)

In this week’s edition, you will learn:

1. What pop-up businesses are invading Bremerton?
2. Where can you spot Santa this Friday?
3. What cuts are the Bremerton City Council planning to make?
4. Where will Bremerton’s newest arcade be located?
5. Where can I take a free Bremerton history tour Saturday?

As always, let me know what you think. Oh, and see you Friday at Winterfest, Magic in Manette, and more!

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New bakery’s got something cooking for Bremerton

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Quonsets and Croissants, together at last.

Remember the rumors of an acclaimed baker coming to Bremerton? They’re true, and you’ll even have a chance to try out some product at a special event Friday.

Matt Tinder and his fiancee Kate Giuggo, owners of Saboteur Bakery, will open a pop-up bakery at 6 p.m. Friday at Honor Bar, 1223 McKenzie Avenue.

Tinder and Giuggo recently relocated to Bremerton following stints in San Francisco and Napa Valley, where Tinder worked at Michelin-starred restaurants. When it came to opening a bakery, however, they found a lot of red tape in California.

So they came north.

In a happy accident, Tinder stumbled upon Bremerton’s Quonset hut, that practically indestructible semicircular abode with a steel exterior 3/4 of an inch thick. The couple felt Bremerton has an “up and coming vibe,” reminding them of the urban Renaissance that Oakland, California’s been experiencing.

They plan to convert the hut into a commercial bakery, with deliveries and pickups in the back and retail in the front. They’d like to open the fenced yard into a grassy picnic area that feels connected to Evergreen-Rotary Park across the street.

Tinder said demand for their product around the region will support their operations. He’s hopeful Bremerton can help support them, too, but he believes the bakery will be successful regardless. He sees the city as going through a kind of revival and wants to be a part of that, even if it takes time, he said.

Tinder said they’re blessed to have a product they can sell regionally, but do so as Bremerton changes. “However long it takes, we can wait it out,” he said.

They plan to open in the spring. But in the meantime, you can get a sneak peek Friday.

Beat blast: 5 stories you’ve gotta know in Bremerton this week

Here’s your three minute news update for the week in Bremerton. In the video above, you’ll learn:

  1. What Bremerton road will soon get a $5 million makeover?
  2. What park is getting expanded?
  3. Who may be to blame for too much saltwater in the sewers?
  4. The City Council’s change to utility taxes
  5. What brewery opens in Bremerton Friday

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This week’s blast was filmed on location at LoveCraft Brewery, 275 Fifth Street, and includes an interview with the owners.

Comments or suggestions? Send them to me at josh.farley@kitsapsun.com.

Bremerton Beat Blast: 5 things to know happening in Bremerton this week

Stories featured this week:

1. This Bremerton theater is under contract with a local developer
2. Detectives investigate a murder in East Bremerton
3. The 2-year election battle shaping up
4. Is the ferry terminal’s door broken again?
5. Which Bremerton landmark has a birthday today?

Please let me know what you think! Suggestions welcomed at josh.farley@kitsapsun.com

Roxy today, Roxy yesterday. Photo by Meegan M. Reid.
Roxy today, Roxy yesterday. Photo by Meegan M. Reid.

Who will live in Bremerton’s new apartments?

The 606.
The 606.

Jude Willcher was looking for a better deal on her rent. The Seattle resident, who currently lives on First Hill, looked at all points north, east and south.

A friend reminded her of the last option: west.

In late-August, she took the ferry to Bremerton, taking in downtown and noting the construction of The 606 apartments on Burwell Street.

She was sold.

“I said, hey, this is all I need in one spot,” she said. “And I can walk to the ferry.”

Willcher is among the first residents of the 71-unit complex, set to open in December. Garret Quaiver, the building’s manager, has already rented out about a third of the units, many around $1,000 a month. Other renters so far include workers at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and sailors.

For Willcher, her rent payment will drop by about half. And while she has a car, she’d prefer to take a boat to her job in downtown Seattle.

“In most places I would have an hour commute anyway,” she said. “This way I get some quality time.”

Next Tuesday, the Kitsap Sun will host its latest Story Walk in Bremerton: a tour of the 606 and SEEfilm Cinemas. We’ll begin at 5 p.m. at the theater, 655 Fourth Street. The tour will include a discussion with PJ Santos, the project’s developer.

The nearby Sweet and Smokey Diner and Toro Lounge will also be catering the event. Hope you can make it. RSVP here.

UPDATE: Special thanks to all who came out! We hosted about 110 people, our biggest Story Walk ever! 

Here’s links to our previous Story Walks this year.

Behind the scenes at the Bremerton Symphony

Campus at a crossroads 

Is the Cove turning a corner? 

Storywalking history, the Roxy, and all things hoppy

Walking the new Westpark

The new Lower Wheaton Way

Washington Avenue, past and present

The meandering Madrona Forest

Redwood Rendezvous in West Bremerton

Fourth Street’s Economic Divide

Beat blast: 5 things to know in Bremerton this week

Stories featured this week:

1. Which presidential candidates are tweeting about Joe Kennedy
2. Can you legally jump off a Bremerton bridge?
3. The Olympic mountains got a present
4. Which pot store brings in the most cash in Kitsap?
5. Go on a tour of Bremerton’s newest apartments

Please let me know what you think! Suggestions welcomed at josh.farley@kitsapsun.com.

Photo by Pat Gleason.
Photo by Pat Gleason.

$8 million recreation center closes in on breaking ground

Architect's rendering of the Marvin Williams Center.
Architect’s rendering of the Marvin Williams Center.

$755,000 is all that stands in the way of a dramatic change in landscape at Eighth Street and Park Avenue. That might sound like a lot but put it this way: more than $7.2 million has been raised to create a west Bremerton recreation center the likes of which the community has never seen.

The planned Marvin Williams Center’s latest success was a $100,000 donation from longtime developer Tim Ryan. Larry Robertson, pastor of Bremerton’s Emmanuel Apostolic Church and president of the New Life Development Agency that’s building the center, is confident construction will begin in spring 2016.

“We’re marching now,” he said. “It’s exciting to finally be ready to start construction.”

He acknowledges there’s still some fundraising left to do but believes the money will be there by the end of the year. Tim and Beverly Ryan also hosted a fundraising dinner at their home that Robertson called successful as well.

The two-story, 18,000 square-foot center will include a basketball court and recreational facilities, to go with a job training and skills center. Donations have come from public and private sources.

All that’s there now is a grassy hill and a set of stairs.

“I am overwhelmed and humbled by the positive response from the public,” Robertson said. “Together, we are going to make West Bremerton a better place.”

The center is named for Marvin Williams, the NBA star who grew up in Bremerton. Watch a video about what the center means to him below.

Why yes, another downtown Bremerton apartment project

Artist's rendering of 1010 Burwell Street.
Artist’s rendering of 1010 Burwell Street.

But wait, there’s more. Even after nearly 200 apartment units open in downtown Bremerton in the next year, there are more projects planned around the corner.

The next one is located on the corner of Warren Avenue and Burwell Street. Remember that fire in late September (see photo) that damaged the boarded-up town homes there? It may not be long before bulldozers take them all out entirely and replace them with a 25-apartment complex.

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The fire in September.

The 1010 apartments, planned by the same developers as the ones wrapping up 71-unit 606 project down the street, have recently won approval from the city’s design review board. PJ Santos with Lorax Partners said there’s no timetable yet for construction.

The project spans four parcels between 1002 and 1018 Burwell Street, each currently owned by Diamond Parking. Lorax plans to buy the properties when construction looms.

In terms of design, the project cannot be more than 40 feet high. The Navy is asking for that limit along the city’s border with Naval Base Kitsap and the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard as a matter of security.

So why is downtown Bremerton getting so much attention from developers? Those I’ve talked to give three main reasons: the Seattle economy is bursting at the seams, the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard is home to 13,000+ jobs (and federal contracts) and apartment vacancies in Kitsap County are nearly nonexistent.

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A rendering of the floor plan at the 1010.

Here’s a status update about the projects going around downtown. These three are a go:

The 606: Pre-leasing has begun on the $9 million project, which is scheduled to open Dec. 1, according to a Facebook post. (Thanks to Kitsap Sun Business Reporter Tad Sooter for the update.)

Spyglass Hill: Work is progressing on the $15 million, 80-unit project on Highland Avenue. While it was supposed to open in January originally, later in 2016 is a forgone conclusion due to some earlier delays.

The Monterey: The 48-unit project by longtime Kitsap County resident and developer Dale Sperling (who hasn’t disclosed the price tag) at the former Nite Shift Tavern and Evergreen Upholstery is making its way through the design review board; Sperling expects construction in early spring.

Two other developments are still clouded in uncertainty:

The Towers: The massive condo development on Washington Avenue at Sixth Street, pushed through by developer Mark Goldberg but now owned by Absher Construction, has been quiet for some time. I’ve heard a plan to rejig the development to include apartments, a restaurant and even a hotel, but nothing has come to fruition. The developers did pay more than $200,000 to bury power lines on the street as part of the Washington Avenue project.

Evergreen Pointe: The 104-unit complex would straddle Evergreen-Rotary Park on Sheldon Boulevard. This was also once a project owned by Mark Goldberg, but no more. I’ve talked to Kingston developer Trish Williams, who owns it now, and she is optimistic about it moving forward. But nothing is set in stone as yet.

The 606.
The 606.

 

Spyglass Hill.
Spyglass Hill.
The Monterey.
The Monterey.
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The Towers.
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Evergreen Pointe.

IN PHOTOS: Bremerton then and now

Going to Evergreen Upholstery on Burwell Street is like a trip back in time. Not only has the store seen Bremerton through the decades — it’s been in the same spot since 1955 — but owners James and Joanne Welch have a passion for the city and its history.

The Welches have long collected postcards and other photos of the city. While interviewing them for a story about their business and the pending plan to build 48 apartments there, they let me take a few pictures myself of their amazing collection. I am sharing them with you now, alongside a more current photo of the place that was captured.

The Manette Bridge: THEN

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The Manette Bridge: NOW

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The first Manette Bridge opened in 1930; here it is under construction and, once built, is its toll booth — complete with brick fireplace. The bridge was tolled twice; once at its inception and later when the Warren Avenue Bridge opened.

The second Manette Bridge, also pictured, opened in 2011.

Evergreen-Rotary Park: THEN

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Evergreen

Evergreen-Rotary Park: NOW

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Some of you have lived here long enough to remember the pool at Evergreen-Rotary Park. But what about the pavilion? The park originated at the northernmost section that exists now, so I am guessing that’s where this pavilion was.

Also, something else I find interesting is how much the park has grown over time. And by grown, I mean has protruded out and over the Port Washington Narrows. If you notice, what we now call Smith’s Cove used to be Smith’s Bay, according to this circa-1960 map.  The waterline appears to come all the way up to Sheldon Boulevard. My guess is that much fill went into the water but if anyone has a more thorough explanation, I’d love to hear it.

Building 50: THEN

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Building 50: NOW

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The Navy built Building 50 within the first five years of the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard’s existence, in 1896. In the above photo, it’s the one on the right. It was first a headquarters for shipyard commandants. The building moved around until finally settling down in 2007 to house the Puget Sound Navy Museum, next to the shipyard and ferry.

The Elks Lodge: THEN 

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The Elks Lodge: NOW

Bremerton’s brick-lined Elks Lodge has long since been converted to housing for the Max Hale Center. But I had no idea of the grand staircase that once greeted visitors. Those stairs would be removed when the Pay Less store moved in, occupying a white cube of a building that still exists today.

You might also note that there was a Methodist church where the Chase Bank building is now.

The Bremerton waterfront: THEN 

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The Bremerton waterfront: NOW 

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So much has changed. You’ll note the Kalakala ferry in the first photo (bottom right); and in the second photo, taken on Second Street, you’ll see Skippers Tavern. You can read more about it here, in a Sun story by Travis Baker.

And those men walking in the street? They’re the Bremer brothers, John and Ed, who reportedly always walked that closely together with their business manager around town.

The third shot shows the old Bremerton ferry terminal while the fourth, complete with a Blackberry Festival mural, shows the corner where the Hampton Inn now sits.

The cash register at Evergreen Upholstery: THEN AND NOW

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Because some things never change. Be sure to read the note on the front of the register.

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.

Enjoy!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.