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Manchester water district fields questions on fluoride

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

The issue of adding fluoride to the local water supply is once again before a local water district.

During Tuesday night’s meeting, the Manchester Water District Board of Commissioners heard public comments for both the anti- and pro- fluoridation camps. No action was taken, but the record will be open for further comment on the issue through September 10.

Former Manchester resident Tyler Giantvalley Eaton began his 10-minute presentation with anecdotal evidence on the effects of fluoridated water, citing that since moving to Bellingham where the water is not fluoridated, when he comes home to visit his mother he feels ill, something he attributes to fluoride sensitivity.

“When I come back to eat my mother’s food, and she’s a great cook I should add, I feel sick,” he said. “I began getting interested and found there is a mountain of facts and propaganda to wade through.”

Eaton, who was flanked by his mother and sister who both live in Manchester, cited numerous arguments against fluoridating water supplies including that elemental fluoride is reactive, the dosage is hard to control and since it can be very hard and costly to remove fluoride from water, the public cannot willingly opt out and therefore adding fluoride violates the medical code of ethics.

Adding fluoride to the water first went to the voters in Manchester in 1969 and was approved. Fluoride began being added to the water supply in June of 1971, said Water District General Manager Dennis O’Connell.

The Manchester Water District’s water supply contains .02 parts per million of naturally occurring fluoride. The element is known to have strengthening properties that can help prevent cavities, although if too much is ingested it can be poisonous.

Sodium fluoride is added to increase the level to 1.0 ppm, the current recommended level by the Washington State Department of Health. Currently, about 65 percent of Washington State’s water systems are fluoridated.

As mandated by state law the water supply must be tested each day and the fluoride levels recorded.

Local dentist Richard Freiboth spoke in support of continued water fluoridation. He cited that the practice is endorsed by the American Dental Association and Centers for Disease Control and likened it to fortifying other foods such as milk with vitamin D, orange juice with vitamin c and salt with iodine.

“When I cut a persons tooth I can feel the difference when they’ve been drinking fluoridated water,” he said.

Previous attempts have been made to disrupt fluoridation, in June of 1992 and March of 1994. In April of 1994, a survey was distributed to ratepayers and the response came back 6 to 1 in favor of continuing fluoridation. A few months ago, O’Connell said, the board had a person express a desire to stop fluoridation.

“The end game is that the board wants to do what the rate payers want,” he said. Currently the Manchester Water District has a little more than 3,300 ratepayers and serves a population of about 10,000 people.

Chair Steve Pedersen asked for the Board to keep the record open for 60 days.

“Obviously there is a lot of information on both sides,” he said. “I want a written reason on why we should overturn the voters.”

Written information may be sent to Dennis O’Connell at the Manchester Water District, 2081 Spring Ave. E, Port Orchard, WA 98366; (360) 871-0500.

This item was submitted by Kitsap Sun reporter Brittany Patterson and filed by blog administrator Chris Henry.


Forum set Tuesday for SKFR levy and Port of Manchester term reduction proposals

Monday, March 26th, 2012

A complaint by Dave Kimble to the Washington State Auditor’s Office regarding arrangements between the Port of Manchester and the Manchester Water District has been addressed. But first this important announcement:

The Manchester Community Association will host a forum on two measures that will be on the April 17 ballot. The event is set for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Manchester Library.

First up on the agenda is discussion of South Kitsap Fire & Rescue’s levy. Voters served by SKFR will be asked to renew a special property tax levy that generates more than 12 percent of the fire district’s annual budget of around $14 million. The six-year levy would replace the current levy lid lift, which expires at the end of 2012.

The MCA also will facilitate discussion of a proposal to decrease terms for Port of Manchester Commissioner from 6 to 4 years. The measure was placed on the ballot by citizen initiative, spearheaded by Kimble. MCA President James Derry says he hopes the discussion will be informative and remain civil.

“As an organization, the MCA does not oppose or support either initiative,” Derry said. “Our goal, in accordance with our mission statement, is to sponsor programs to help educate the residents of Manchester on issues of local importance. We hope to foster public discussion without confrontation or rancor, where neighbors can learn, share opinions and make their own decisions.”

Likely Derry is concerned about civility due to ongoing friction between Kimble and port commissioners. For most of the past year, Kimble has been riding the port on multiple fronts, including the term reduction issue. Kimble asserts the measure is needed to break up what he describes as a good-old-boy network.

Kimble’s complaints to the SAO centered on allegations that the port and the Manchester Water District had violated bidding and small works roster requirements. That allegation was deemed by Port Orchard Audit Manager Brian Taylor to be unfounded.

Taylor did recommend that the port formalize a 2006 agreement it had with the water district for accounting and administrative services, and a verbal agreement that water district staff periodically check on port facilities and conduct minor repair and maintenance, since the port has no staff. Projects that went beyond “usual and ordinary” required action by the port commission.

Taylor met on March 13 with port officials, including the port’s attorney and “one of the commissioners who sits on both the port and water district boards,” as well as the water district manager who serves as the port’s contract administrator. One of Kimble’s beefs is that port commissioners Steve Pedersen and Jim Strode serve on both boards.

Taylor recommended the written and verbal agreements be formalized as an “interlocal” agreement, provided for under the state’s Interlocal Cooperation Act. The port complied and approved the interlocal agreement at its regular meeting March 13. Minutes of the meeting are not yet available on the port’s website. On March 22 the document, signed by both entities, was filed with the Kitsap County Auditor’s office, as required by law.

On March 23, Taylor sent a letter to Kimble indicating the upshot of the investigation. Taylor noted the next regular audit of the port will be in the fall of 2013.

Kimble also claimed another gotcha against the port when he noted last week and reported to the state’s Public Disclosure Commission that the port’s website contained an improper notice against Proposition 1, the term reduction measure. A screen shot Kimble took shows a message on the home page, “The Port of Manchester does not support Proposition 1. Vote NO on shorter commissioner terms.”

State elections laws prohibit the port, or any other public agency, from making a public statement for or against a ballot measure. Strode and the port’s attorney hastened to have the message taken down as soon as Kimble informed them of it. According to Strode, the message was posted by the woman who updates the website. “She just thought she was doing the right thing,” Strode said.

PDC Compliance Officer Kurt Young, to whom Kimble submitted the complaint, asked if, other than the website statement, the port had distributed any other information encouraging a “no’ vote on Prop 1.

Young wrote in email to Kimble Wednesday, “If the answer is no to that question, then staff will be sending an e-mail reminder to the Port of Manchester, reminding them of RCW 42.17A.555 and attaching a link to Interpretation 04-02, Guidelines for Local Government Agencies in Election Campaigns. No additional enforcement action will be taken, since the port took corrective action about the information on their website.”

Here’s a copy of the letter Young of the PDC sent to the port.

Kimble has also submitted reports to the Kitsap County Sheriff’s office alleging that 26 of his campaign signs have been stolen since March 18. Kimble said he believes the theft of election signs is a felony. It is a misdemeanor. KCSO Spokesman Scott Wilson noted the reports, but said there is not enough information about possible suspects for the sheriff’s office to pursue the case. Unfortunately, Wilson said, reports of sign theft are common in the run-up to elections, and like other property thefts, hard to prosecute.


Port of Manchester race, truth and consequences

Monday, November 7th, 2011

I’m checking in here, the day before Election 2011, on the issue of term limits, raised during this campaign season by Dave Kimble, a candidate for the Port of Manchester. Kimble has called for reducing the term of port commissioner from 6 to 4 years.

Kimble, if you remember, is making his fifth bid for the port commission. He has made it no secret he is gunning not so much for his opponent, incumbent Dan Fallstrom, but for longtime port commissioner Jim Strode, who beat him in the late 1990s in a race so close it was called on a coin toss.

Kimble, in an Aug. 15, Kitsap Sun story on his term limit proposal, noted that Strode will have served 30 years with the port when his term is up at then end of 2015.

“It sounds like it’s an election for me and Strode, but it’s not. It’s joined at the hip,” Kimble said.

Kimble has said that, if elected, he would make it his job to rock the boat and challenge the “good old boy network” he thinks has developed on the port commission.

Fallstrom has pledged to take a steady-as-she-goes approach and maintain what he describes as the fiscally conservative mindset that the board of commissioners has historically held over its modest budget.

Regardless of whether Kimble wins or loses, term limits would be a good first step, he said.

“I like the idea of stopping career politicians from serving on our port commission,” he wrote in a letter to the Kitsap Sun’s opinion page Oct. 25.

Sitting commissioners, including Fallstrom, have expressed concern that a four-year rotation could result in having two new commissioners on the three-person board in certain election years. That, Fallstrom and others say, could result in instability and loss of institutional knowledge.

Kimble says term limits would make the port commissioner position less daunting of a commitment, possibly attracting new candidates. It also would result in more dramatic change-ups on the board, which Kimble sees as a good thing.

Kimble inaccurately stated in his Oct. 25 letter that half of the state’s ports have already switched to four-year terms. According to a document on the Washington Public Ports Association website, only 10 of the state’s 75 ports have four-year terms. Five of those have five-member commissions, reducing the potential for major change-ups in any given election year. The other 65 have six-year terms.

The cost of the term limit election measure became an issue in early August. The situation bears some similarity to Port Orchard’s code city debacle.

If you recall, Port Orchard residents Gil and Kathy Michael challenged the city council’s decision to change its form of governance without putting the matter to a vote of the people. The Michaels submitted a petition to place the code city proposal on the ballot, but the timing of their submission meant the city would have had to pay up to $30,000 for the election, because they would miss the general election, when the cost could be shared with other cities, the county, ports and school districts. The council reversed its decision on becoming a code city, with the idea they will take it up again in the future, possibly putting it to a vote when timing would allow for a less costly election.

Kimble in early August asked the commissioners to put the term-reduction measure to voters, but they said there wasn’t time get it on the November ballot (the deadline was in late August) and hold a public hearing on the proposal, which the port attorney advised.

Kimble responded by launching his signature collection efforts. In an email copied Aug. 8 to the Kitsap Sun, he said failure to place the measure on the general election ballot could result in special election costs to the port of $8,000, for a shared election, up to $35,000. Kimble said he would ask the measure be placed on the February, 2012 ballot.

Port commissioners also believed the cost of the election would be high, according to Fallstrom, who said they discussed the issue at their October meeting. The port’s total operating budget is just more than $50,000. “It’d cripple us basically,” Fallstrom said.

In an email to Manchester resident Carol Kowalski, Fallstrom said he believed having to pay the $30,000 could lead to a decline in the port’s bond rating. That opinion made its way into a letter to the editor (not in the Kitsap Sun) by Kowalski that was critical of Kimble.

In an his Oct. 25 letter to the Kitsap Sun titled “Port of Manchester not the OK Coral,” Kimble said that the cost of the election could be as little as $800 and “some individuals” were spreading “misinformation.”

On checking with Kitsap County Elections Manager Dolores Gilmore, I found Kimble to be correct on the $800 cost. Gilmore, citing RCW 53.12.175, noted that the measure “must be submitted (to the ballot) at the next general election or special election that occurs 60 days or more from the adoption of the resolution (if the board were to initiate it) or submission of the petition.”

The law, in this case, appears to give the port the option to wait on submitting the measure until the next general election, when the port would share the cost of the election with multiple other jurisdictions, Gilmore said.

The words “in this case” are critical, said Gilmore, who emphasized that there are many types of petitions, each governed by different RCWs, depending on the type of government agency and the subject of the petition.

As with the code city issue, Gilmore said, the burden of understanding the consequences of the law is on the petitioner, because the burden of carrying out the law is on the city, county or port that receives the petition … at a cost to taxpayers that could range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars.

Fallstrom was delighted to learn (from me during the week of Oct. 24) that the port would have the option to delay Kimble’s term limit measure until the general election. “That’s good news to us. That’s the first I’ve head of it,” he said.

A couple other things both the petitioner and the port ought to know, if they don’t already: Kimble has up to six months from the date the first signature was obtained (Sept. 16, 2011) to submit the petition. That would be March 16, not February, as Kimble earlier believed.

Second, the law is unclear in this case on how the petition is to be submitted. The RCW says the petition “shall be submitted to the county auditor.” It doesn’t say whether it’s to go first to the port, which then is bound to submit it to the auditor, or if Kimble can and should submit it directly. Gilmore said she would want county attorneys to rule in on a definitive answer.

All this may seem like a lot of governmental geekiness, but a lack of attention to just such a detail is what tripped up the code city ballot efforts.

Kimble has multiple other complaints about the port. One that’s still hanging fire has to do with an interlocal agreement that, according to Fallstrom, allows the port to contract for small jobs without going out to bid. Kimble believes it’s a circumvention of public process and has lodged a complaint with the state Attorney General’s Office. A spokeswoman for the SAO told me her office will review the complaint, and I’ll keep an ear out for the results.

Check in with the Kitsap Sun tomorrow evening for the results of this and other local races.


Speaking of Stormwater, Remember the Manchester Mudslide?

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

On Wednesday, environmental reporter Chris Dunagan wrote about Kitsap County officials’ study of stormwater issues throughout the county and in Manchester, Kingston and Silverdale.

Stormwater has been a contentious issue in Manchester, said Port Commissioner Steve Pedersen. Residents of the town testified last year on their concerns about stormwater run-off at a public hearing on the proposed Spruce House development. The project was blocked by the county’s hearing examiner, whose decision was upheld in March by the county’s board of commissions.

The problem with Manchester, Pedersen explained (not specifically commenting on Spruce House) is that the town sits at the bottom of a bowl. Water runs down from the area of Alaska and California streets. You may recall the mudslide of monumental proportions taped by a county employee in 2007. The footage related to a dispute between two neighbors over who was responsible for the muddy mess. The video is a graphic illustration of the need for stromwater management, which is not just about reducing pollution of streams and bays, but also about controlling erosion.

According to Pedersen, the Port of Manchester has been working with the county on a stormwater management system in Manchester. The port had considered going in with the county on a grant proposal, but the notification did not come in time for them to get the application together. The port will continue to collaborate with the county to the degree it is able.

“While we don’t have the money, we want to be a player in how we can find a solution. We’re trying to be willing partners,” Pedersen said. “We want to find some kind of resolution everyone can live with.”

Because the county’s planning is still in the early stages, the nature and location of any stormwater facility is still unclear.

In other Port of Manchester news, the port has been looking at properties it might buy for the purpose of economic development. We’re not talking a mall here. Pedersen said one idea being floated is for a farmer’s market location. The town attracts plenty of tourists, especially in fair weather, and the port would like to encourage them to spend their money in Manchester.

They’ve checked out several properties, but the Spruce House property is not among them, Pedesen said.

Like the stromwater plans, the port’s idea for economic development is in the early stages, although they’d like to strike while real estate prices are still low. One thing is likely, the port will not try to fund any real estate purchase through a special tax or levy increase. They will work within existing revenue, Pedersen said.


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