Monthly Archives: February 2012

Strengthened China market lifts Pope Resources’ 4Q, earnings, revenues

By Rachel Pritchett

POULSBO — Pope Resources reported increased income for the fourth quarter of 2011, thanks to bigger demand from China for logs and lumber.

The Poulsbo-based company reported net income of $2.3 million on revenue of $17.8 million, compared with income of $1.7 million on revenue of $8.4 million for the same period in 2010.

“The big story for 2011 was strong demand from China for logs and lumber,” said David Nunes, president and chief executive officer.

Nunes pointed to a record harvest in 2011 of 90 million board feet.

Also, the company enjoyed a 17 percent increase in log prices, according to a statement.

Pope Resources and partners own or manage 178,000 of timberland and development property in Washington and Oregon.

Springtime gas set to go higher in Kitsap

By Rachel Pritchett

Kitsap gas prices, which never really recovered from a high of $4.37 in June 2008, hold no promise of going lower now.

“We’ll see a rise this spring. Beyond that, it’s hard to guess,” said Jennifer Cook, spokeswoman for AAA auto club.

Monday’s price for a gallon of unleaded in Kitsap stood at $3.55 a gallon, up nine cents from a month ago, and up 27 cents from a year ago.

Springtime typically sees a rise in gas prices as refineries reduce production to switch over from winter fuel blends to summer fuel blends and do maintenance. But the hike often follows a wintertime reduction in prices, which didn’t happen this year, Cook explained.

So the springtime rise will piggyback on already higher-than-expected prices.

“It will be interesting to see this year if the market can bear it,” she said.

The price of oil is hovering in the high 90’s now and on the way up in the past few days.

Pile on top of that the unrest in the Middle East for an even more unstable price environment. The European Union begins an oil embargo against Iran this summer, and Iran is threatening to cut off oil to the EU before that. And, growing unrest in Syria is being watched.

All that could push prices higher in coming months.

Ex-Dimension 4 employee gets hired


Bryan Yager, one of the Dimension 4 employees who lost their jobs just before the company closed and who gave me an interview when it did, left a message for me that he’s been hired by Microsoft, at least through June and maybe longer.

Congratulations, Bryan, and the best to you in your new job.

Rachel Pritchett

Effort to increase access to specialty medical care continues

A group called Project Access Northwest — active in King and Snohomish counties — has proposed a one-year pilot program in Kitsap County to increase low-income people’s access to specialty health care by removing barriers for them and physicians.

Local health leaders from a number of places that included Harrison Medical Center met Jan. 25 to hear Project Access’ proposal. It was the second time local health leaders met on the issue.

The effort is being spearheaded by Kitsap County Commissioner Rob Gelder, who spent years in health care.

The idea revolves around “telephone case management,” he said, adding most of the decisions of how the program would look still have to be made.

The proposal for the pilot program called for Project Access, Harrison, Peninsula Community Health Services, free clinics, private practices and labs create a new partnership to develop a system of donated charity care, with case management done by telephone, fax and email, keeping costs lower.

Eligible people would be ethnically diverse, and would live at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. In 2011 that was $44,100 for a family of four.

The group will look some more at the proposal, and then give it some public airing.

Gelder feels good about how the effort’s going.

“There’s definitely energy and passion about this as a potential program and approach about the uninsured and underinsured in out community.”

Why I held the D4 story

By Rachel Pritchett,, 360-475-3783

I hadn’t even gotten my coat off in the newsroom the morning of Monday, Jan. 23, when Publisher Charles Horton, rushing past my desk bound for somewhere else, hollered, “Did you hear about D4? Someone said they closed.”


Despite my story last week that two federal contractors with a local presence had gotten big federal contracts, I knew the climate was rough in the contractor community.

They’re feeling the federal cuts in a big way, and, as one contractor told me, the need for engineers isn’t so critical anymore since so many have lot their jobs.

I’d watched Dimension 4, which makes electronic operational manuals, for years.

Its office once was across the alley from the Sun, and there always seemed like there were lots of workers taking smoke breaks and occupying parking spaces in a lot next to the Sun where I wished I could park.

And then there was D4’s ambitious 2004 interior retrofitting of the old Medical Dental Building at Fifth Street and Pacific Avenue, where it consolidated all its operations.

“They must be doing OK,” I thought at the time. And they were.

I went up to D4 after that blast from Horton, and saw it was indeed closed. I called all the numbers at D4 repeatedly. No answer. I called all the other contractors until someone told me who the head person was at D4. I called and left a message for Kent McManus. I put a call-out on my blog for workers to contact me.

Bryan Yager did. We talked extensively. Within a few hours, I had enough from Yager and what I’d seen that I had the story.

McManus returned my call. He was at Sea-Tac about to get on a plane. He was jetting across country for talks with a bigger company with a global reach that was similar to D4. Acquisition or something related to that was the topic.

McManus asked me to hold the story. Publication could kill the deal, he argued.

That was a hard thing to ask of me.

As a reporter, I’m charged with getting the news out there in a timely way, accurately, and for the greater good of the public.

It was an intense conversation. I had the story, after all.

But I knew what I had to do. Through some tense give-and-take, I agreed with McManus to wait until the talks concluded. He agreed to an interview. The talks didn’t have the outcome McManus wanted. I interviewed him this past Monday, a week after I first heard, and the story ran within hours.

Why did I agree to hold the story for a week?

At the time, with the knowledge I had, I believed there to be about 50 people’s jobs on the line. Had an acquisition been successful, there was a chance D4 could have reopened and those jobs saved.

If I had went with the story based on the Yager interview, there was a possibility that I would have become a player at the table McManus was at with the potential buyer. The story potentially could impact the deal. And there was a possibility that there would be more D4 ex-workers like Yager eyeing the local the food bank.

So I paid the price and waited until this past Monday.

It hurt when an editor told me as I was writing Monday that the D4 closure wasn’t breaking news anymore.

Was the public served? I believe, eventually, yes. But there was a price in waiting. The public should have known sooner. Did I do the right thing? I believe so. People’s livelihoods were at stake, and that trumped it.

I’m telling you this because I want to illustrate why we do what we do as business journalists. It’s not too hard for an article published during pending negotiations to skew an outcome. It’s dangerous territory.

But it’s a case-by-case situation.

I remember when Harrison Medical Center was shopping around for some leased space on Wheaton Way to put some of its administrative offices. One of the sites was the old Kmart store. I wrote about that as negotiations were pending, and suddenly the asking price went up mightily and made negotiations much tougher, a Harrison leader at the time later told me.

I probably would have done that one just as I did it, however. It was different; Harrison had been shopping multiple sites for a long time. And the commercial vacancy situation along Wheaton is so dismal I doubt that anyone could raise lease rates too much. No people’s livelihoods were at stake.

So there you have it. Weighing what’s right and wrong, with you the reader who deserves to know always on my mind.