All posts by Tad Sooter

About Tad Sooter

Kitsap Sun business reporter

Obamacare enrollment climbs in Kitsap

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About 300 more Kitsap residents were covered by health care plans purchased through the state’s exchange this year than in 2015, according to a report released earlier this month.

An additional 2,000 residents enrolled in the state’s expanded Apple Health (Medicaid) program over the same period.

As of September, the county was home to 5,206 residents covered by Qualified Health Plans and 43,936 covered by Apple Health.

The Washington Health Benefit Exchange reported a more substantial jump in enrollment statewide.

The number of Washingtonians covered by Qualified Health Plans climbed by 13,581 in 2016, a 9 percent increase.

Enrollment is currently open for 2017 exchange plans. Customers who want their coverage to activate in January must enroll by Dec. 15. Open enrollment ends Jan. 31.

Enrollment in Apple Health is open all year.

For information, go to the Healthplanfinder website.

Port Orchard preschool breaking ground on new building

stepping-stonesSouth Kitsap’s Stepping Stones Learning Center and Preschool will soon step into a new building.

The Christian education center announced plans last week to construct a 5,000-square-foot facility at 1914 Pottery Ave. in Port Orchard.

The building will include three classrooms, recreation space and offices. Plans call for 25 parking spaces and a fenced outdoor play area.

The city recently issued site development permits for the project, according to the news release. Port Orchard-based Pristine Homes is the contractor.

A groundbreaking celebration is scheduled for 3-4 p.m. Monday. The facility is expected to be ready by the start of the 2017-18 school year.

Poll: What are your Black Friday plans?

20051126-230938-pic-731760843The National Retail Federation predicts more than 137 million Americans will shop during Thanksgiving weekend, topping last year’s retail frenzy.

But here in the newsroom the buildup to Black Friday has felt noticeably muted this fall.

Typically we’re inundated by press releases from retailers in November. E-mails pour in from big chain retailers touting extended hours and price-slashing sprees. Local shops give us friendly prods for coverage of Small Business Saturday. Online sellers send constant Cyber Monday reminders.

This year we’ve received a smattering of those promotions, but not the typical deluge. So we’re interested hearing your take on Black Friday.

Have the deals been hyped as much this year as in years past? Is shopping a part of your Thanksgiving week tradition? Do you have other ways you prefer to spend your post-turkey holiday?

Let us know by taking our poll (you can pick more than one answer) or dropping a comment below. And whatever your plans, have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

How will you spend Black Friday?

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Gas prices remain low for Thanksgiving travel

b0013469343-999094Drivers headed out of town for the holiday will pay a tad more for a tank of gas this year than they did last Thanksgiving.

A gallon of regular gasoline was selling for an average of $2.58 in Kitsap County on Monday, according to AAA. That was up slightly from an average of $2.46 on the same day of 2015.

Nationally, gas prices are still much lower this fall than they were just a couple of years ago:

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Gas tends to cost less this time of year and an abundance of crude oil on the global market is helping keep retail prices in check.

AAA projects 43.5 million Americans will take road trips for Thanksgiving this week.

BridgeCare Finance wins Edg3 Fund prize

The Smithshyre farm in Poulsbo
The Smithshyre farm in Poulsbo

Mount Vernon-based BridgeCare Finance won Kitsap Bank’s $20,000 Edg3 Fund small business prize Thursday, according to a news release.

BridgeCare offers short-term loans to help working families afford childcare.

The Smithshyre farm in Poulsbo earned the $5,000 Community Edg3 Award, recognizing the entrant that “best embodies the spirit of community.”

The farm specializes in rearing organic, pasture-raised poultry.

Edg3 Fund winners were selected by a panel of judges during a live event at Kitsap Conference Center.

Port will discuss sale of Bremerton waterfront property Tuesday

Parkignlot_7988144_ver1.0_640_480Port of Bremerton commissioners will discuss the terms of an agreement Tuesday to sell a premier waterfront development property above Bremerton Marina.

According to port CEO Jim Rothlin, the commission is weighing a $4.5 million offer from development firm Sound West Group to purchase the Washington Avenue property. By law, the port can’t sell the land for less than fair market value.

Sound West partner Mike Brown told me the firm is interested in creating a mixed-use development on the 2-acre site.

The port bought the land from Kitsap Consolidated Housing Authority in 2009 for $3.5 million to provide parking for the marina. The district put the property on the market last year with an asking price of $5 million. bremerton-property

Port CEO Jim Rothlin said the goal of the sale would be to pay off the debt from the purchase while still maintaining parking for boaters.

“At the time of the purchase the port’s intent was always to see development occur there at some point that would help increase growth and economic development for the community,” Rothlin said prior to a Nov. 8 public hearing on the potential sale.

“But the priority was really to make sure we secured parking for the marina and were able to pay off debt on that property as well.”

South Kitsap resident Roger Gay was the only member of the public to offer comment. He urged commissioners to be upfront with the public about the process and the potential impact development of the property might have on the marina.

“You need to have those answers no ahead of time as much as possible,” Gay said.

Port commissioners vowed to only agree to a sale if parking for the marina was preserved.

The commission will review a purchase and sale agreement for the property at its regular meeting, scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday at Bremerton National Airport. Approval of the port’s 2017 budget also is on the agenda.

Western Red Brewing approved in Poulsbo

13692467_492195667657390_684730540229642233_nA craft brewery planned for downtown Poulsbo received approval Tuesday from the city.

Western Red Brewing will open sometime next year at 19168 Jensen Way NE, near the post office.

It’s set to become the city’s fifth brewery, joining Rainy Daze, Slippery Pig, Sound and Valhöll.

Plans for Western Red include a 4,702-square-foot brewery and 1,552-square-foot tasting room, with room for about 97 occupants, according to a city notice.

In a recent interview, co-owner Marianna Smyth said Western Red will launch with a 15-barrel brewing system, which would place it among West Sound’s largest breweries in terms of production capacity.

I wrote more about the Smyths’ plans in this October story.

ChocMo, High Spirits plan move to new Poulsbo building

elevation-east-reduced-3Poulsbo’s ChocMo restaurant and High Spirits liquor store plan to move to a new building and expand next year.

The businesses will set up shop in a 28,000-square-foot commercial facility planned by the Crabtree and Ryan families on Eighth Avenue.

The building is expected to open in the fall of 2017, according to a news release.

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ChocMo and High Spirits will be joined in the facility by a 180-seat restaurant called Crabtree kitchen + bar and a shared workspace center called Vibe Coworks.

The move will allow High Spirits to grow from 4,000 to 10,000 square feet.The store will add a growler-filling station, “beer cave,” and wine cellar, and plans to host classes and tastings.

A delivery service is being considered, according to the release.

ChocMo, which began as a chocolate shop in 2005, will offer breakfast, lunch, espresso and chocolate drinks. With added space to work in, ChocMo staff will start making chocolate from raw cocao beans.

Upstairs, Crabtree kitchen + bar will focus on connecting diners with locally-grown food, including fruits and vegetables cultivated onsite. Beef for the restaurant will be raised at the family’s Silver Creek Angus farm in Kingston, which currently supplies ChocMo.

Jimmy John’s opens in Port Orchard

jjlogolargeA Jimmy John’s sandwich shop is now open at 1800 SE Mile Hill Dr. in Port Orchard, according to a Tuesday news release.

The 1,400-square-foot store features a drive-thru window, as well as indoor seating. Delivery and catering are available.

The Port Orchard franchise is owned by Angela Daniels and Mary Jo Smallman, who also own the Jimmy John’s in Bremerton.

They plan to open a Silverdale location in 2017.

Harrison Medical Center earns patient safety award

Harrison Medical Center earned an award last week recognizing its success in improving patient safety.

The Washington State Hospital Association honored Harrison with a 2016 Achieving Best Care Award for attaining high scores in reducing patient harm, according to a news release from CHI Franciscan Health.

The award recognizes sustained improvements in five categories: infection, falls, early elective deliveries, sepsis and pressure ulcers.

“The safety of our patients is paramount to providing high quality medical care and ensuring our patients get back to their daily lives as quickly as possible,” CHI Franciscan Peninsula region President David Schultz said in the release.

“This award is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our providers, nurses and staff in making patient safety our top priority.”

You can find detailed quality scores for Harrison Medical Center here.