PO commemorative bricks, get ’em while they’re hot

The ribbon was cut on Port Orchard’s City Hall 13 years ago, but it’s not too late to buy one of the commemorative tiles or bricks on walkways outside the stately building perched above the Port Orchard Marina.

Each summer, in fact, there is a short window of opportunity to engrave bricks and tiles not already spoken for. If this were Arizona instead of Western Washington, we could buy bricks and tiles all year ‘round.

The answer to this riddle is temperature. According to city clerk Brandy Rinearson, in charge of peddling the memorials, temperatures that reach or exceed 80 degrees for at least a portion of each day are required to warm the bricks, or the materials will be too brittle and will crack during engraving.

The 6”-by-6” tiles in the plaza in front of the main entrance on Prospect Street each allow for a three-line message, with up to 15 characters or spaces in each line. The tiles cost $50 each. The 3.5”-by-7” bricks, on the lower level outside the police department, allow for 18 characters or spaces and cost $35 each.

There are 608 tiles total, with 152 yet unmarked, and a total of 672 bricks, with 320 up for grabs.

The city doesn’t make any money on the sale of bricks and tiles. The fees cover the cost of the engraving, which is done by the Kenadar Corporation of Tacoma. Kenadar requires a minimum of 10 bricks and or tiles per visit. The city last year sold about a dozen.

“In years prior to that, they didn’t really market it very well,” Rinearson said. “Last year, we really went for it and told everybody and anybody.”

Many of the bricks and tiles already engraved are predictable odes to and by city leaders, civic groups and business people. The family of former City Councilman Bob Geiger, who operated a pharmacy downtown for decades, is well represented, for example, as are the Vlists, longtime owners of a car dealership on Bay Street.

Since the purchase of the commemorative bricks and tiles was open to the public, however, many others represent ordinary citizens who otherwise might have faded into oblivion.

“Doris Lind-Perrine, World’s Best Mom.”

The Gauvin family writes, “London, Paris, Rome, Port Orchard.”

And if we’ve forgotten “Millie S. Cohen, Humanitarian, a Visionary,” we should not have.

The city also dedicated a time capsule at the opening of the new city hall on Sept. 11, 1999. Longtime councilman John Clauson recalls its contents as news articles of the time, a copy of the opening ceremony program, a list of then-council members and staff, the Fathoms O’ Fun court and other community information … oh, and a couple hundred dollars in bills of various denominations, to document the new bills that had recently been put into circulation.

The time capsule contains a video of the last council meeting in the old city hall and the first meeting in the new city hall. It also holds entries from a contest the city held seeking essays on “Why I Like Living in Port Orchard.”

“We were just trying to get a snapshot of what the community was at the time,” Clauson said.

How has Port Orchard changed since 1999? It’s bigger by about nearly 3,000 souls and about 10 square miles, what with annexations. Oh, and gas is a whole lot more expensive, Clauson notes. Otherwise, he says, the city retains that “small, hometown feel” that’s been its hallmark lo these many decades.

The time capsule, installed under the main entrance flagpole, will be opened in 2049, on the “new” city hall’s 50th anniversary.

Oh, and in case anyone is thinking of pilfering the cash in the capsule, know that items are secured in several sealed plastic pipes that are installed in a box under a brass plaque … one level up from the police department.

The Port Orchard Masonic Lodge also installed a “cornerstone” time capsule on the Prospect Street side of city hall, to be opened in 2099, 100 years from the grand opening. The Masonic ceremony was held Aug. 21, 1999.

The new city hall was commissioned after a seismic survey showed the old city hall would not withstand an earthquake. The old building has long since been demolished.

Construction on the three-story, 28,370-square-foot building began on March 3, 1998. City hall was open for business May 22, 1999.

City officials at the time expressed pride that they would be able to pay off the $6.3 million building out of the city’s regular revenue and did not have to ask taxpayers for additional financing.

Commemorative tile and brick applications can be found online at www.cityofportorchard.us, or call the city clerk at (360) 876-4407

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