Monthly Archives: November 2012

More from Tuesday’s Port of Bremerton meeting, including Harper Pier, Port Orchard Marina Park

Update: I have just been assured by port leaders I will be included in the port staff’s next meeting with Harper residents regarding the Harper Pier. It’s to take place mid-January. — Rachel Pritchett


In addition to the news of the corporate hangar that is anticipated to be built at Bremerton National Airport, a few other tidbits came out of the Port of Bremerton commissioners’ meeting Tuesday:

Port airport chief Fred Salisbury told commissioners that the Overton family, which own 600 acres of woodlands in the expansive and undeveloped South Kitsap Industrial Area, has informally drawn up a sketch of how lots for future potential development might be plotted out. About two dozen lots were sketched out, most lining Lake Flora Road, south of the runway.

The land has been in the Overton family since the Depression, and like most of the South Kitsap Industrial Area, is unofficially available for sale. The lots sketch has not been filed with the city, but comes as the port begins the big job of updating its airport master plan. When completed next year, that plan will serve as a blueprint for future development around the airport. It’s updated every 10 years or so.

Salisbury cautioned the commissioners that at some point, if they ever want to lengthen the runway on the south end to accommodate bigger planes, it’s worth starting to think about putting dibs on that land, which is in the Overton-owned area.

Any high-population development — a prison or school, for example — would not work at the south end of the runway, and certainly would never be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Speaking of sites for potential future development, the port now has eight new pad-ready sites available in the northeast part of its Olympic View Industrial Park. Those sites were developed over the summer with a $1 million state grant. The eight new sites brings the total number of sites in the park’s Northeast Campus to 11.

I certainly would have attended a recent meeting between port staff and residents in the Harper Pier neighborhood, but the press mysteriously was not notified. Port Chief Executive Officer Tim Thomson told the commissioners the state now is going through the bidding process for $400,000 worth of work to demolish the popular but deteriorating pier. That’s going to happen very soon.

He said quite a few members of the Harper community showed deep concern and skepticism that the pier might not be replaced.

“Certainly they are looking forward to knowing that this project will be completed,” he said.

He said port staff will meet again with Harper residents. Residents, would someone let me know when the next meeting is? (360) 475-3783 or I’ve voiced my disappointment to port leaders for being excluded from these newsworthy meetings.

Harper resident Jim Heytvelt told commissioners he believes the pier will be replaced, even though no money’s come forth for the expensive project that would cost many hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on length of the replacement and other factors. But his neighbors fear it will go away for good.

Commissioner Axel Strakeljahn challenged Heytvelt and his neighbors to get to work fundraising.

Heytvelt responded neighbors haven’t gotten very far on this. Creating a 501(c) 3 nonprofit in order to raise funds would take too much time, he said. Kitsap County Commissioner Charlotte Garrido, who also attended the meeting, reportedly suggested the neighbors align themselves with an existing nonprofit.

Commissioners OK’ed a couple of contracts for work on the extension of the Port Orchard Marina Park and replacement of an old boat ramp at the foot of Water Street.

Quigg Brothers, Inc. of Aberdeen will do $402,000 worth of work replacing the Water Street boat ramp. Work includes replacing pilings and floats, plus smoothing the highly deteriorated ramp. The port leased the ramp from the city of Port Orchard in order to get the work done, important for its biggest industrial-park tenant, Safe Boats International, LLC, who uses the ramp heavily and in the process, wore it down quite a bit.

Nordland Construction NW, Inc. of Port Townsend was selected to begin work on the extension of the Port Orchard Marina Park. The value of the contract is $428,000, to be shared by the port and the city. The work includes demolition of two port-owned houses. Tenants of those houses now have vacated. The work also includes a pedestrian path and other park features aimed at giving the public better access to the waterfront.

— Rachel Pritchett, reporter

Assisted-living facilities for mentally ill?

By Rachel Pritchett

We’ve written about the problem before. Not enough appropriate facilities exist in communities including our own for people with mental illness exiting Western and Eastern state hospitals and other institutions.

Western has a backlog of residents ready to re-enter their community, but has not released them because there’s no place for them to live. It’s not a huge number.

Communities in the recent years have tried to meet the need as Western and Eastern state hospitals closed ward due to cost. In ours, Kitsap Mental Health Services started its “hospital without walls” program that offers intense support to mental patients in home settings. But it can only handle 47 people, just a drop in the bucket. Adult family homes take some.

So here’s an idea: Why not convert parts of assisted-living facilities to handle mental patients exiting places like Western? Kitsap County has 22 such facilities and about 1,000 beds, and not all are filled, by any means. Most are for-profit.

It’s something that’s been brought up over the years, though it is not under serious discussion, at present.

Locally in recent years, it’s been tried on a very limited basis, with a Poulsbo assisted-living facility taking a couple of formerly hospitalized mental-health patients.

“It could make sense,” admitted Rich Miller, CEO of the Washington Health Care Association, who some time back told me there could even be legislation proposing it in a few years.

Of course, the inevitable concern would be assisted-living residents who didn’t want to live next door to mental patients. Many current residents are private-pay, ambulatory seniors keen on continuing a quality lifestyle.

Safety of all residents and staff would be a concern, if psych patients became aggressive or suicidal.

“And that will clearly be an issue,” said Gayle Helseth-Kenison, retired local long-term are ombudsman.

“You’re talking about a whole different population with a wide spectrum of behaviors,” said Joe Roszak, executive director of Kitsap Mental Health Services.

Conceivably, those concerns could be addressed.

The assisted-living facilities would be retrofitted to have sections devoted solely to residents with mental conditions. Those sections would be separate from the rest of the facilities.

Assisted-living staff members would need to receive advanced behavioral training.
So there you have it. You’ll probably never read about this concept except here, at least not for a while.

But the idea of stretching the traditional uses of assisted-living facilities to meet a need is intriguing.

Mike Eliason of local Realtors’ group gets statewide appointment


Mike Eliason, executive with the Kitsap County Association of Realtors, has been selected to take part in long-term strategic planning of the Washington Association of Realtors. In that work, he’ll represent all executives of local Realtor associations across the state.

Eliason is in his 10th year as executive of the Kitsap group, and recently received a three-year extension in that position.

— Rachel Pritchett

Holiday shoppers starting earlier, but will spend conservatively


More than half of Americans already have started their holiday shopping, the National Retail Federation announced today, up slightly from a year ago.

But when it all shakes out, they’ll spend only slightly more than last year — $750 this season compared to $741 last year.

“We’ve seen this pattern of cautious optimism all year and despite the challenges that still exist in our economy, it looks as if consumers are eager to celebrate with friends and family,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “As the most promotional time of the year, retailers will continue to look for ways to  stand out, specifically with attractive deals on toys, electronics and apparel, even well before the ‘official’ start of the holiday shopping season – Black Friday and Cyber Monday.”

What are we looking at this season? As usual, the most popular choices are clothing and gift cards. Jewelry is predicted to pick up this year to pre-2007 levels, for the first time.

The NRF also stated the this season’s shoppers will be more reluctant to pull out the plastic to pay for their items, instead preferring to use money they’ve saved up or have on hand.

— Rachel Pritchett

Falling gas prices will put people on the road this Thanksgiving


The auto club AAA says falling gas prices and increased consumer confidence will prompt people to get in their cars this Thanksgiving weekend. Some 44 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more then, almost a 1 percent increase over last year. Gas was going for $3.51 per gallon of unleaded, on average Tuesday in Bremerton, down from $4.11 a month ago.

Meanwhile, air travel is predicted to decrease almost 2 percent this Thanksgiving compared to last year. Airfares will be 11 percent lower than a year ago, on average, said AAA.

Hotel rates are flat this year, with travelers spending an average of $143 a night. Car rental rates will increase a whopping 27 percent this Thanksgiving weekend over last year, with the average daily cost predicted to be $47.

— Rachel Pritchett

Tim Ryan building foreclosure auction did not take place this morning


The foreclosure auction of the $10 million Tim Ryan building at 555 Pacific Ave. in downtown Bremerton did not take place this morning. It is my belief that talks between Tim Ryan Properties and Union Bank are continuing, and that the sale date has been pushed into the future again. I don’t not have that date, at present, but will past when I receive it.

Rachel Pritchett, reporter

From AWB president: ‘What are we doing to our kids?’

By Don C. Brunell, president, Association of Washington Business

The National Association of Manufacturers recently reported that, if Congress fails to avert the “fiscal cliff” by the end of December, six million jobs will disappear over the next two years, sending the unemployment rate soaring to near 12 percent.

NAM says companies are bracing now for the fallout by laying off workers, leaving jobs vacant and postponing major purchases.

“Fiscal cliff” is the popular shorthand term used to describe the conundrum the U.S. government will face at the end of 2012 when the terms of the Budget Control Act of 2011 are scheduled to go into effect.

Among the changes triggered at midnight on Dec. 31, 2012 are the end of last year’s temporary payroll tax cuts, resulting in a 2 percent tax increase for workers, the end of certain tax breaks for businesses, shifts in the alternative minimum tax that will mean higher income taxes, the end of the Bush tax cuts from 2001-2003, and the implementation of taxes related to President Obama’s health care law.

In addition to those tax increases, we will see an automatic 9.4 percent cut in the defense budget and more than 1,000 other government programs, including Medicare.

William H. Gross, founder of the investment firm Pimco, argues that, if Congress doesn’t reach a deal soon to avert the fiscal cliff, rating services and global creditors may desert the US in favor of “other nations more focused on breaking our long-term habit of debt addiction.”

How addicted to debt are we?

According to CBS Money Watch, in 1791, our entire national debt was $75 million. Today, we borrow that much every hour. The national debt, which has increased by half in just the last three years, now stands at more than $16 trillion — that’s $135,773 per taxpayer.

How much is $16 trillion? If you paid out one dollar every second, it would take you 496,000 years to pay off our $16 trillion debt.

Our addiction to debt has long-term consequences for our children and grandchildren because they will pay the bill for our generation’s irresponsibility.

David Walker, former Clinton and Bush Comptroller General of the United States and head of the Government Accountability Office from 1998 to 2008, compares the present-day United States to the Roman Empire in its decline.

Walker says the U.S. government is on a “burning platform” of fiscal deficits, swelling Medicare and Social Security costs, the enormous expense of a prospective universal health care system, and overseas military commitments. On CNN, he said the United States is “underwater to the tune of $50 trillion in long-term obligations.”

A key immediate problem is the astronomical costs associated with the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare. The new federal health care reform law will cost $1.7 trillion over 10 years, create approximately 50 new government agencies, offices or commissions and make it more expensive for businesses to employ workers.

U.S. health care costs are already ballooning — outstripping our tax revenues by an ever-increasing amount. When you add the interest payments on our rising federal debt, by 2035, total federal spending, including interest, approaches 35 percent of the U.S. economy.

Premera Blue Cross President and CEO Gubby Barlow believes health care costs no longer threaten just company budgets — they now threaten the entire economy.

United States health care spending averages $9,000 for every man, woman and child. By 2020 after the ACA is fully implemented, officials estimate costs will rise to $14,000 per person.

Walker hit the nail on the head asking, “Isn’t it about time for the president and Congress to be leaders rather than laggards?”

Somebody must pay for all of this borrowing. That somebody is our children and grandchildren.

Down, down, down goes Kitsap gas price

Down, down, down goes the average price for a gallon of unleaded gasoline in Kitsap County. This morning as we enter the weekend prior to Election Day, the price was $3.68, down 35 cents from a month ago.
The state price was at $3.74 Friday morning, according to auto club AAA.

The state with the lowest price was Missouri ($3.17) and on the other end motorists were paying $4.30 in Hawaii. Nationally, it was $3.49 this morning.

— Rachel Pritchett