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Archive for February, 2012

Port: For us, the runway comes before any prison

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Readers,

I’m thinking it snowed more heavily at Bremerton National Airport on Tuesday night than anywhere in Kitsap. I’m saying three inches.

I was there to listen to a session in which Port of Bremerton staffers gave some updates to visiting members of the Bremerton City Council, and vice versa.

Here are some news tidbits I picked up.

THE PRISON: As you know, Bremerton is one of three finalist sites the state is considering to someday build a men’s prison solely dedicated as a reception center. Once convicted, prisoners are taken to a reception center, where they stay several months before being sent to another prison where they will serve out their sentences. A portion of the Washington Corrections Center at Shelton currently serves that role, and the state projects a future need for more of that type of space.

McCleary and Shelton are the other finalist sites.

The 40-acre site would be in the South Kitsap Industrial Area on property owned by Overton & Associates. “And they are a willing seller,” said Roy Runyon, a city councilman. An Overton representative currently is working with the city.

Port leaders were receptive to the idea of a prison in theory. For one thing, it would help get some infrastructure into the vast, undeveloped SKIA they can’t get in now, they said. Maybe the arrival of the prison could bring funds to help finish a road the port is trying to build there. And it would add hundreds of jobs and inject money into the local economy. There is state money for selecting a site, but not a dime of construction money.

Port leaders were concerned however, about placement of the prison in SKIA. Like nursing home and hospitals, it shouldn’t be in a flight path, they said. People are stuck there, they said. In the event of an air crash, they couldn’t get away.

“Our first and foremost concern always will be the airport,” said Tim Thomson, port CEO.

SAFEBOATS: Thomson said there hasn’t been much movement on the effort to build port tenant Safe Boats International a bigger and more modern home. Business apparently isn’t as robust there as port officials thought earlier when a new building was on everyone’s lips.

“It looks like the expansion rate isn’t going to be as robust as we expected last summer,” Thomson said.

DRAG STRIP: Thomson said no one’s giving up yet on a drag strip in a relocated Bremerton MotorSports Park, or even retaining the one that’s on the far side of the runway now, and into the future.

“I don’t think the drag strip is out of the picture,” Thomson said.

BEDS: Runyon said the Bremerton Economic Development Study has been released. That’s the study that prioritizes 30 years of future improvements mostly along Highway 3. It doesn’t even mention rail capability along Highway 3, Runyon said. The Navy owns some track at the port, which conceivable could hook up to the Port of Grays Harbor and the national rail grid.

Runyon suggested the city or port talking to the people at the Port of Grays Harbor to encourage it to add crane capability. Costing about $3.5 billion, we could help, he suggested. If Grays Harbor had the capability to lift cargo on and off ships, Bremerton industries could ship their products out of there.

Thomson reminded Runyon that the Port of Tacoma is closer. Runyon reminded Thomson that ships save a lot of time on the water by going to Grays Harbor.

BREMERTON MARINA: According to Bremerton Marina manager Steve Slaton, the new marina continues to be mostly empty. Sixty percent of the marina slips are untaken. Only 10 percent of the slips in the Port Orchard Marina are empty.
“We’re being impacted by the economic times,” he said. Slaton said local boat sales are down 75 percent in the recession, and claimed that’s the number-one driver of empty marinas.

A Bremerton councilman questioned whether covered moorage could make a difference.

Port Commissioner Larry Stokes said, “That marina, we’re subsidizing it by $1,000 a day. As far as I’m concerned, that’s not a good return.”


Safe Boats delivers 37 security boats to Navy

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

By Rachel Pritchett

BREMERTON — Safe Boats International, local maker of fast security boats, has begun delivery of 37 vessels to the Navy.

The boats are 33 feet in length and will be used at Navy installations all over the world, according to the online publication The Marine Executive. The vessels are capable of going 33 knots.

The model is a new interpretation of the Force Protection-Medium patrol craft. It has a capability for thermal imaging and sending encrypted communications. Two outboard engines power it.

“We’ve had a great relationship with our Navy for a long time. It is a great feeling to provide them with Safe Boats that they can rely on to protect our fleet and harbors for years to come,” said Safe Boats Chief Executive Officer Scott Peterson.

Safe Boats is located in the Olympic View Industrial Park off Highway 3 near Bremerton National Airport.


Friends, co-workers, family of Tony Radulesco, please call ….

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Family and family of Tony Radulesco, please call me very soon. I am writing a tribute to the fallen trooper and am asking you to share your memories. Thank you. Rachel Pritchett, reporter, (360) 475-3783 or rpritchett@kitsapsun.com.


Kitsap gas prices, up, up and away

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

By Rachel Pritchett, rpritchett@kitsapsun.com

BREMERTON — Driving is becoming more expensive in Kitsap County, with the price for a gallon of unleaded quickly rising to $3.70 Tuesday.

That’s up 12 cents from a week ago and 20 cents from a month ago, and now not that far off from an all-time local high of $4.37 on June 19, 2008.

The price of gas in Kitsap County far exceeded the national average of $3.57 a gallon Tuesday, according to auto club AAA.

Late-morning drivers were lined up waiting to get gas at the Longhouse Texaco on Highway 305 between Bainbridge Island and Poulsbo on Tuesday, possibly on reports gas prices were going to spike higher in coming days.

The price of gas is going up everywhere, thanks in part to concerns that Iran will cut off more oil to Europe, and regionally, a fire at a refinery at Cherry Point in Ferndale. But it’s highest in states along either coast and in Alaska and also in Hawaii, which had the most expensive gas at $4.25 a gallon.

States with lower cost gas are in the Midwest, generally, with Wyoming clocking in lowest Tuesday at $3.04 a gallon.

Meanwhile, oil prices have climbed to the highest level since May.

Benchmark crude rose by $2.65, or 2.6 percent, to end the day at $106.25 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That’s the highest price for oil since May 4, according to The Associated Press.


Posner new president of Bremerton Pilots Association

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

By Rachel Pritchett, rpritchett@kitsapsun.com

BREMERTON — Jim Posner has been elected president of the Bremerton Pilots Association.

The retired information-technology consultant replaces Don Dicksion as leader of the group of small-plane owners.
Bremerton Pilots Association now stands at 27 members, and Posner will try to increase that number, despite rough economic times.

“That’s one of my top priorities, to get a lot more members,” Posner said.

Many members store and fly their recreational aircraft out of Bremerton National Airport, including Posner, who owns a Beechcraft Bonanza. Other members are corporate pilots or representatives of the aviation businesses located at the airport.

The Association also supports young, future pilots through scholarships, and currently has scholarships for two more students to help defray costs of pilot training,. Interested young people can contact Posner at jimposner@comcast.net or (415) 990-0664.

Posner, 67, has been flying all of his adult life, earning a private pilot’s license in 1966 and becoming instrument rated in 1975.

He and wife Elizabeth have lived in Brownsville for about six years, coming here from San Francisco.


It would have been like living with blue laws on Bainbridge …

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

By Rachel Pritchett, rpritchett@kitsapsun.com, (360) 475-3783

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND — Imagine. Bainbridge Island. Dry, without the possibility of a drop of liquor being purchased anywhere.

It sounds like a long shot, but it could have happened, I suppose.

As you know, the state is getting out of the liquor business, and the eight state liquor stores or state-contracted liquor stores in Kitsap County will close come June, when liquor instead will be sold in private grocery stores, minimarts, Costcos and other outlets.

The problem with the Bainbridge store, which is across Hildebrand Lane from Silver Screen Video, is that the state’s lease arrangement with owners of the premises was scheduled to expire March 31, 2012, according to a documents request I made to the Washington State Liquor Control Board.

That meant that if a new lease agreement weren’t negotiated to fill in between March 31 and June 1, the store conceivable could close down.

I live on Bainbridge Island, and this alarming prospect was a topic of discussion among my friends, neighbors and also with at least one liquor-store employee, fearful of unemployment coming sooner rather than later.

We were reminded we are truly an island.

The island’s hard-liquor fans (I am not one of them) would then be forced to cross the Agate Pass Bridge and buy their supplies on the Port Madison Indian Reservation, or perhaps have to go all the way to Kingston, Poulsbo or maybe even the other way, to Seattle in April and May.

I have since learned that major inconvenience is not going to happen.

The state has negotiated a lease extension with the landlord that goes through July 31, for around $6,500 a month. The agreement was expected to be finalized late this week.

Of the remaining seven state and contracted liquor stores in Kitsap County go well beyond June, which means they’ll stay open until the switchover of sales to private stores.

So there you have it — a seamless transition, but we were wondering there for a while on Bainbridge whether we should stock up on lemonade.


Signs evident of eventual end to local foreclosure crisis

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

By Rachel Pritchett, rpritchett@kitsapsun.com and 360-475-3783

Top real-estate watchers in Kitsap County weren’t at all surprised when the median closing sale price of a home in Kitsap County plummeted 26 percent in January.

They knew it was coming in this slow month. It was the cheapest homes that were continuing to sell at a respectable rate — even now — much more than the mid- and high-end homes. And many of those low-end homes were distressed properties — foreclosures and short sales. Distressed properties were making up 30 percent of all home sales.

Fast-forward this trend into the future, and you can predict there will be progress in eating away at the inventory of distressed properties in Kitsap County. In January that inventory stood at 610 properties, says ForeclosureRadar.com. And that glut has to go before any real progress toward a normal market can take place. It’s that group of homes that are pulling sales prices down.

Couple that with the latest numbers from ForeclosureRadar.com that clearly show that the number of properties slipping into foreclosure is far, far less than it was a year ago. Sometime, at some point, with far fewer entering into foreclosure, and now more moving out, the problem will clear itself up. We are seeing the beginning of the end.

But it is going to take a lot of time to move 610 troubled properties.

Here’s some facts I found for a couple of our cities in the just-released ForeclosureRadar data for January.

For all of Kitsap County, there were 40 new foreclosure filings in January, down a whopping 66 percent from January 2010. There are deep bargain possibilities out there. Winning bids on foreclosure properties averaged $197,000, down 8 percent from a year ago.

A third of the distressed properties — 209 of them — are spread pretty evenly throughout Bremerton. Port Orchard was the second most common place for foreclosures in January, with 157 of them in January, again pretty evenly spread through the city. All the other cities had far fewer troubled properties.

The average winning bid in January in Bremerton was $175,000, while in Port Orchard, it was $215,000, again both down substantially from a year ago.

So it is a painful process, one that has to be worked through, but one that clearly is happening.


Rolfes bill would continue ties between Washington CASH, Kitsap WorkSource

Monday, February 13th, 2012

By Rachel Pritchett
rpritchett@kitsapsun.com
(206) 498-0920

OLYMPIA — A valuable relationship that was set to expire between two local groups to train unemployed people to start their own businesses has been preserved by the state Senate and is now in the House.

Proposed by Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, Senate Bill 6289 passed the upper chamber Saturday. It extends the synergetic relationship between the Washington Community Alliance for Self-Help (Washington CASH) and WorkSource of Kitsap County beyond July, as well as other relationships like it in Washington.

The relationship under which WorkSource refers some unemployed workers to Washington CASH for training was established in 2007 with legislation that established “self-employment assistance programs,” or SEAPS.

Washington CASH is the only SEAP partner in Kitsap County approved by WorkSource’s parent, the Washington Department of Employment Security. Washington CASH gets about a third of its students from WorkSource, so it’s a valuable relationship to preserve, according to Stuart Walton, the Washington CASH Kitsap business-development specialist who built the program locally from the ground up.

“We trust each other,” he said.

But because of the popularity of Washington CASH locally, its existence isn’t contingent on the WorkSource connection. Washington CASH in Kitsap routinely has to turn away would-be entrepreneurs from the four nine-week training sessions it holds each year in its downtown Bremerton office.

Since Seattle-based Washington CASH started in 1995, about 1,320 businesses have started or expanded in Puget Sound with its help.

Its work in Kitsap County under Walton’s direction is widely hailed throughout Washington.

“This program teaches people how to use their professional experience to go to work for themselves,” Rolfes said. “In a difficult economic time, it can help people turn the loss of a job into an opportunity to launch a second career as consultants, contractors and small-business owners.”

Passage is expected in the House.


Great profile on Bellevue Square founder Kemper Freeman this morning

Monday, February 13th, 2012

in the Puget Sound Business Journal

http://www.bizjournals.com/seattle/news/2012/02/10/retail-mogul-kemper-freeman-talks-shop.html?page=all


Kitsap Bank’s 2011 earnings, assets rise

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

By Rachel Pritchett

PORT ORCHARD — Kitsap Bank has reported earnings of $7.5 million and assets of $902 million for 2011, both up from 2010.

“Despite continued weakness in the economy and lack of loan demand, we have been able to reduce expenses, keep assets strong, grow our investment portfolio, and increase income,” said Jim Carmichael, president and chief executive officer.

The bank’s 2011 earnings were up from $2.4 million in 2010. Assets increased $16 million.

The company has completed a $12.4 million effort to raise additional capital at the parent level, a move that strengthened the bank. The key measure of the worthiness of a bank — the risk-based capital ratio — increased from 13.94 percent a year ago to its present 16.14 percent.

Bad loans have declined to the point where they now make up 1.2 percent of total assets.

Kitsap Bank is based in Port Orchard and has 21 locations in Western Washington.