All posts by brynn grimley

Ever Seen a Drunk Baboon?

The next time I’m in South Africa, I know who I’m going to party with: Baboons.

While driving to Silverdale yesterday I was listening to BBC World News. They had a report about baboons in Cape Town going after grapes ripening on the vines. After a good laugh, I knew the story was too good to pass up.

I went in search of the report today, but found an article from March in the Telegraph, a UK paper, that detailed the incidents. It appears the story might not be as current as I’d hoped, but hey it’s still entertaining. (And, if we start to see an increase in price for Cape Town area wines, we know who to blame — darn baboons!)

Apparently the baboons were ransacking the vineyards because the grapes were the best food source available after wildfires made it hard for them to forage. Also, the expansion of grape-growing areas into their habitat has impacted their ability to find food, according to reports.

But here’s the best part. The baboons aren’t eating just any grape. Nope. It seems they’ve developed quite a palate while living in the jungles of South Africa — they’re showing a penchant for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Yup, my kind of baboons.

The Telegraph article says in the Constantia region, La Petite Ferme was hit hard by the Chardonnay-loving primates. The winemakers usually produce 12 to 15 barrels of chardonnay a year, according to the article, but this season they were only able to squeeze out three.

It sounds like the baboons like the grapes because of the balance they offer of sugar and starch — the same reason why we love them. And, in the case of the Pinot Noir, the baboons seem to not only enjoy the grapes, but also the discarded skins that are left in piles by farmers harvesting the fruit. The skins start to ferment and the baboons not only get a meal, but also a nice buzz.

There were reports of some baboons passing out on the spot because they ate too much and were unable to return home.

While this is serious for the winemakers, and the people who live near the drunk baboons (they are wild animals after all and can get pretty violent), the story was too funny to pass up.

Read the full Telegraph story here.

Tent City Momentum Continues

Rachel Pritchett writes:


Members of the Outside Homeless Committee of the Kitsap Continuum of Care Coalition continue to work toward setting up a tent city, or two, by fall.

Members meeting Tuesday concentrated on prospective sites that still include land at Hillcrest Assembly, near McWilliams Road across Highway 303 from an unsanctioned homeless encampment where about 18 people live.

Other prospective sites might include a former helicopter landing-and-takeoff site off Sheridan Road once used and still owned by Harrison Medical Center. The group has not yet heard back from Harrison on whether it would be interested in cooperating on that site.

Still another possible site — and this would be for families as opposed to singles — might be somewhere in the Callow Avenue neighborhood somewhere near St. Vincent de Paul. Yes, there is undeveloped property there adequate for a tent city.

The Harrison and Callow sites are within the Bremerton city limits, however, and Mayor Patty Lent has said she believes less urbanized areas in Kitsap County would be better suited for a tent city, rather than more urbanized Bremerton.

Quickly falling out of favor is a site around the Kitsap County fairgrounds, which is in the county. Members believe it’s just too far from essential services.

Committee member Walt LeCouteur says the county continues to be infinitely more receptive to the controversial idea than cities led by Bremerton. The panel received word from a county representative Tuesday that it wouldn’t take longer than two days for the county to issue a permit, once a site is selected.

LeCouteur said the next challenge now will be for the panel to identify homeless persons to be leaders in the process, so they have ownership in the decisions and therefore much more likely to use a tent city, in theory. None showed up to the meeting Tuesday, but some have in the past.

The Coalition is a group of social-service agencies, and its Outside Homeless Committee meets again Sept. 7.

Dueling Friday Afternoon Clubs

Brynn Grimley writes:

I realize this is normally a Chris Henry post, but after I read her Friday Afternoon Club entry from this noon I realized there were a couple CK-related events that she didn’t know about, and thus didn’t include. Instead of posting them on her existing entry, I decided to offer up a dueling post.

The two-CK related events are both happening on Sunday.

The first is Petersen Day on the Farm. The event is for the community to teach people about farming in Silverdale, and give people a chance to walk around the 167-acre property. Suggested donations are $8 adult, $4 child (3 to 12), $24 family (4 or more). No dogs. Read the full story about the event. Read about the conservation effort for the farm here.

The second is the arrival of the steel beams from the Twin Towers to Silverdale. The truck toting the beams will be escorted into town by the Patriot Guard Riders, along with police and a number of other motorcycles. The beams will be brought to the Kitsap Mall parking lot, where they will remain for a ceremony and so that people have a chance to see them before they are placed in storage until a 9/11 memorial is built for the community. The beams are estimated to arrive in Silverdale around 6 p.m. To read the latest story about the beams journey across country, check out Josh Farley’s article.

Rolling Hills: More Than A Golf Course To Illahee Community

Brynn Grimely writes:

When County Commissioner Josh Brown called Illahee Community Club member and longtime community volunteer Jim Aho Tuesday to tell him the county was about to own the 107 acre Rolling Hills Golf Course, Aho almost couldn’t believe it.

He still can’t.

“To be honest with you, with the financial climate we were thinking this isn’t ever going to happen,” Aho said Wednesday. “Having this come out of the blue was unbelievable. I still have a hard time thinking this is going to happen.”

The Illahee community has had its eye on the golf course for years, primarily because of the stormwater that surges through the course during heavy rains and into the Illahee Creek, causing sediment to pile up in the culvert below Illahee Road. These storm surges also discharge a large amount of muddy-looking water into the bay. The community has also been concerned the course might one day be developed into housing, which would significantly increase the density within Illahee, and change the feel of the small community.

Course owners Don Rasmussen and Kerma Peterson had been interested in selling the course for years, but they also wanted to make sure if the course was sold it didn’t fall into the hands of developers and be transformed from a sprawling golf course into clusters of homes.

They had talked with the county about trying to sell it so the land was public, but the business partners were asking for $5 million (this is four or more years ago). The county didn’t have the money, and negotiations fell off.

Around the same time, according to Aho, the Illahee community, including the Port of Illahee, looked at ways to solve the sedimentation problem at the base of Illahee Creek. Using a Centennial Clean Water grant from the Washington State Department of Ecology, the port learned the sediment pollution problem that affected the creek and subsequently Puget Sound was the result of the housing developments to the north of the golf course. The proposed solution was to use the golf course property to filter that water into the ground.

With this knowledge, and the realization that the county had no immediate plans to acquire the course, the port set out to explore grant opportunities to try and get enough money to buy Rolling Hills. Port commissioners didn’t have much success.

But that doesn’t mean they gave up. They continued to work to implement some of the suggestions in the plan drafted by Parametrix — the Bremerton firm hired by the port with the ecology money it received. The plan, Surface Water Management Plan for Illahee Creek, is the result of a comprehensive analysis of the Illahee watershed basin. It identifies the problems in the watershed and how to fix them.

While executing the suggested improvements in the plan will take millions of dollars to accomplish, one of the bigger hurdles the community faced was acquiring the golf course.

The port is also considering the purchase of 15 acres of developable land from local developer Jim James. James had planned to build homes in a development he was calling Timbers Edge. The community appealed the project numerous times, and now James has agreed to offer the land to the port. That deal is still pending, and port commissioners have been asking for direction from port taxpayers to see if constituents want the port to buy the land.

But with the golf course deal now penciled out between the county and Rasmussen and Peterson, community volunteers are feeling rejuvenated and are anxious to start the conversation with the county about implementing stormwater controls.

The surface water management plan details ways in which stormwater controls can be added to mitigate the run-off that floods the stream and sends sediment out into Port Orchard Passage. When these large flushes happen, they also damage the habitat, including impacting the salmon in the stream, according creek analysis.

Commissioner Brown acknowledged it won’t be cheap to solve the stormwater problems facing the creek and subsequent community. But the county has already made a significant step in the right direction by acquiring the property and maintaining it as open space.

“This is going to be a great opportunity for us to look at how can we look at implementing low impact development techniques,” he said. “It costs a lot of money to fix big problems, but that doesn’t mean we can’t start chipping away.”

And with the strong spirit of volunteerism in Illahee, Brown is confident a number of smaller solutions — like rain garden installations and other low impact development projects — will be done at little cost to the county.

“I think this is going to open a lot of doors and possibilities,” he said.

Telling Brown “you did what I think we all thought was impossible,” Aho congratulated the board for working out a deal that will benefit the community on multiple levels.

“We were trying to scheme how could we ever do this?” Aho said.

Now they won’t have to.

Understanding Self-Help Housing

Brynn Grimley writes:

A quick read of the comments below the story I wrote today about the Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority’s self-help housing projects planned for Kingston and Silverdale shows that people may be confused about how the program works.

I’ll take the blame, I should have explained it better.

First it should be noted that KCCHA, (now Housing Kitsap) is the “largest producer of self-help housing in the Northwest.” That’s a statistic kept by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which runs the rural development program that is responsible for financing the self-help housing programs in our area.

KCCHA has built roughly 1,200 affordable homes in Kitsap County since it was formed in 1973.

For the commenters who are worried these homes will be “low-income” housing where crime will be rampant, I suggest a drive through one of the recently developed neighborhoods — or even one of the existing neighborhoods. I drive by one to and from work and it’s the nicest neighborhood I pass along the way. Heck, I spend my hours not at work in one — my neighborhood is a KCCHA self-help housing development that was built before I was born.

I caution those who think these are “welfare” neighborhoods, visit a few before passing judgement. If you want to check out a couple recently built self-help neighborhoods, Port Orchard has a number. Most recently 18 families moved into new homes at Harris Place, which is at the corner of Harris Road and Lund Avenue. Twenty families moved into homes at Reite Estate, also off Harris Road, just south of Lund Avenue. Visit either of these neighborhoods, to get an idea of how they look once complete.

If you want to see people working on their homes, you can watch 27 families construct their Archer Point homes, located at Harold Drive off Bethel Road in Port Orchard, or visit the 24 families who have started construction at Madrona Glen, next to Orchard Heights Elementary School in Port Orchard.

If you can’t make it to these neighborhoods, read Chris Henry’s story, written last summer, about a single mother who was able to become a homeowner through this program. It highlights not only how the program works, but puts a face on the people this program helps. That story is HERE.

Here’s how the self-help program works:

Potential homeowners submit an application to KCCHA. Qualified applicants join a wait list of people who are qualified to receive federal funding to pay for their loans to own these homes. By qualifying for the federal loans, and by putting in a significant amount of sweat equity into building the homes, the hopeful homeowners are able to get reduced mortgage rates, which afford them a chance at home-ownership — something they might not be able to obtain otherwise.

The list of qualified homeowners must be mostly full before construction can start because people need to commit to building homes in their construction group before the homes start popping up. It’s not a case of build it and they will come. The future homeowners are placed in building groups with 10 homes to a group. KCCHA aims to have four groups building through the course of one year.

The agency received a $1.8 million grant from the USDA for its self-help housing program in the spring of 2009. The grant funding comes every two years, so the agency is 14 months into the current cycle.

They hope to have 89 lots bought and homes under construction with that money. They have completed 38 homes so far (all in Port Orchard). They have another 51 under construction (also in Port Orchard). The hope is at least 72 homes will be complete by the end of the two-year cycle, with the remaining homes to follow. They’re currently ahead of the goal by three homes, according to Casey Pleskun, director of KCCHA’s single family housing program.

The agency is looking for more people interested in its Kingston project: 26 homes off Ohio Avenue, roughly 2,500 feet from the Kingston ferry landing. That project is set to get started in August or September of this year, and will take about one year to complete. Next summer they hope to get work started on the Silverdale housing project, which would be around 50 homes.

To get more information about the projects, or to download an application, visit the website:

‘Milestone’ Reached on Silverdale YMCA Project

Brynn Grimley writes:

I received an email yesterday from the YMCA of Pierce and Kitsap County’s noting the Silverdale Haselwood Family YMCA project has reached an important milestone: $10 million has been raised.

Ground was broken earlier this spring on the 85,000-plus square foot building, and it appears the fund raising goals continue to be met to guarantee the building house all the services and amenities as promised. I’ve copied and pasted the release below, in case you’re interested in who has been giving money.

Project Fundraising

We hit an important fundraising milestone earlier last week–we have raised over $10 million toward our $12 million goal! Since our groundbreaking ceremony, we have raised an additional $600,000 to help bring a YMCA to Silverdale. Below are some of the families that have made recent pledges or gifts to the project:

Wiler Family
At our groundbreaking ceremony, Rick and Kari Wiler announced their $100,000 pledge toward the project. Rick also shared with our crowd that just minutes prior to the start of our groundbreaking ceremony, Al and Linda Courter of Bellevue would match Rick and Kari’s pledge of $100,000. Both gifts will be recognized in the new facility at the Wiler Family Child Watch and Nursery and the Haselwood Courter Enterprises Dance Studio.

Allen Family
Michael Allen, Financial Advisor with Edward Jones, announced his pledge of $10,000 just days after our groundbreaking ceremony. Michael visited the Gig Harbor Family YMCA in May and was impressed with our youth development programs. Michael shared that Silverdale is a good community to live in—good schools, good jobs, good people – and identified the YMCA as one of the missing pieces in making Silverdale a great community.

C. Keith Birkenfeld Memorial Trust
In June, we learned that the Haselwood Family YMCA will be the recipient of a $250,000 grant from the C. Keith Birkenfeld Memorial Trust. We are honored to share the philanthropic legacy of the late C. Keith Birkenfeld. The grant will be shared with the community and used to preserve the philanthropic legacy through the C. Keith Birkenfeld Community Room, reminding us of the importance of giving back and bringing the community together for social, health, educational, and recreational programs and activities.

Greaves Family
Lawrence and LaVonne Greaves of Silverdale announced their pledge of $25,000. Lawrence first toured the Gig Harbor Family YMCA over a year ago and was impressed with the facility and the number of people he saw and believes that Silverdale needs a facility like this. The Greaves Family gift will be recognized in the new facility at the Greaves Family Administration Office.

We truly appreciate the generosity and support from our donors on this great project. We are less than $2 million away from our fundraising goal.

Project Update

Construction is in full swing and on schedule. If you’ve seen the project site recently, you will notice that construction is occurring on both ends of the site. On the north half of the site, where the facility will be, trenching for utilities is underway and footings for much of the building footprint have been installed. On the south half of the site, earthwork crews continue to prepare the site for the west parking lot and what will become Main Street. It won’t be long before the building starts coming out of the ground. We will open in summer 2011!

Awareness Tours and Home Gatherings

We continue to share the vision of the new Haselwood Family YMCA by inviting members of the community to visit the Gig Harbor Family YMCA. On the tours, prospective donors and members are exposed to the staff, members, and programs that have made the Gig Harbor Family YMCA a success. The layout of the new Haselwood Family YMCA is nearly identical to the Gig Harbor facility and gives potential supporters a feel of what is in store for Silverdale.

Another way we have been raising awareness of the new facility is through home gatherings. It is a great way for volunteers to get the word out and involve potential supporters in a fun and casual setting. At a home gathering, information about the new Haselwood Family YMCA is shared and guests are given an opportunity to offer their ideas and learn how they can help. At a recent home gathering in Seabeck, over 20 people gathered to hear and provide feedback on the Haselwood Family YMCA. Some were inspired and pledged to help support the project.

If you would like to host an informational gathering or arrange for a tour of the Gig Harbor Family YMCA, please contact Jessie Palmer, (360) 698-9622.

Is Poulsbo the Next Microbrew Mecca?

Brynn Grimley writes:

Back in April I wrote about the restaurant “comings and goings” in Poulsbo. At the time I talked with Jeff Holcomb, who spent five years as the head brewer at Silverdale’s Heads Up Brewery before it closed in February 2008.

He is now working with two partners — Jordan Rodgers and Aaron Callio — to open Valholl Brewing off Front Street just south of its intersection with Bond Road. He called it a “nano-brewery” saying initially they plan to produce only a half-barrel at a time and grow from there based on need. Holcomb wants to bring “very eccentric, extreme beer” to the area. That includes an imperial amber rye, a big Belgium strong ale and a licorice IPA, he said.

When we chatted he said they hoped to have the place open by the end of June. Well, if you’ve looked at the calendar recently you know today is June 30. (Where did June go?!?) I received a Google alert about the brewery that was on the Washington Beer Blog. It has an update from Holcomb.

Sounds like things are still being finalized, and the open date has been pushed to August. To see the full post visit the blog.

Bears, Man’s New Best Friend?

Brynn Grimley writes:

Ah black bears, where would we be without them?

Since joining the Kitsap Sun four years ago I somehow fell into being the paper’s “black bear beat” reporter. (Gardner even bought me a stuffed black bear head to prove it. I’ve since forgotten the name I gave the bear, but it remains pinned to my mini cubicle wall next to the phone and watches me work daily).

I was first introduced to writing about black bears and their yearly trips into our urban areas roughly one month into the job. It was Memorial Day 2006 and as the new reporter (also known as a “cub” reporter, fitting no?) I was slated to work. The editor at the time woke me up that morning via cell phone exclaiming: “There’s a black bear in Bremerton!” I later arrived to find the bear in a trap and wildlife officials explaining the young bear likely came the Illahee Preserve into downtown Bremerton to find food in the various garbage cans laying about.

Since then I quickly realized things are different on this side of the water. (I grew up in a relatively urban area north of Seattle, though we did have coyotes and raccoons  — but the raccoons were so tame even our cats befriended them). I have since reported about a Port Orchard man who was attacked by a black bear in the Banner forest, a Seabeck man harvesting a 570-pound black bear in Seabeck, the hunt for a sow after her cubs were trapped and removed from Bremerton and an overall story about the life of a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife sergeant and how he handles human interactions with wildlife. (It’s the humans he worries about more than the wildlife).

Each year we write the same story: It’s spring, bears are starting to come into neighborhoods and they’re hungry. In the last few years the number of bear sightings have been on the rise. The best advice for limiting interactions with wildlife? Don’t leave anything outdoors that they could consider food. We write this story every year, and yet there still seem to be people out there who don’t register the advice applies to them.

My first bear story of the this year was about a bear that was shot by a Bremerton man on Monday. The wildlife officer that investigated the shooting said based on the evidence presented and his interview with the man, his family and neighbors, he was justified in killing the animal. But there’s a thin line between killing an animal because it poses a threat and wrongfully killing it. That’s why wildlife officers are so adamant that people do everything in their power to keep bears from coming around (again that means removing all food sources from outside, including even hummingbird feeders).

He explained while the Bremerton man was justified, a man in Kingston a few weeks ago who started chasing a black bear with a rifle would have faced criminal charges if he’d actually shot the animal. That’s because the animal was running away and not posing a threat to the man. (It’s kind of like the self-defense argument you would use in court…if the bear is attacking you you can argue self-defense if you shoot it; but if the bear sees you and runs away, it’s harder to prove you were defending yourself, especially when you chase after the animal).

Already this spring wildlife officials have removed five bears from Kitsap County. They also trapped three bears in January that were problematic in Poulsbo — an unusual occurrence for our winter months. A total of two bears have been shot and killed by residents, the Bremerton shooting off McKenna Falls Road that happened this week, and one earlier this year in Kingston where a bear wouldn’t leave a chicken coop alone. No wildlife officers have euthanized bears in Kitsap this spring — and they hope they won’t have to.

Sadly that wasn’t the case in a Long Beach Peninsula town last week. According to a press release sent out by fish and wildlife on Tuesday, 10 black bears had to be removed from Oysterville, in Pacific County, after they became so comfortable with humans they didn’t shy away.

Five of the bears — female adults and cubs — were taken to Mount Rainier National Park, but the other five had to be euthanized because they were “so dangerously habituated to people,” according to the release. Meat from the euthanized bears was donated to an area food program.

Here’s what fish and wildlife enforcement Sgt. Dan Chadwick had to say in the release: “I hope we never have to do anything like this again. I’ve never seen such a concentration of bears in such a small area. It was completely unnatural and it was caused by people feeding wild animals.”

Neighbors complained about the high number of bears gathering in the area. When officials investigated they learned one residence was responsible for the problem — the people living there estimated they were spending $4,000 annually on dog food to feed the bears.

Bears relying on humans for food can’t be relocated in the wild because they will associate people with food and could become dangerous if they see humans in the wild. That’s why the five bears were put down.

“We can’t risk human life by releasing a bear that would cause problems for other people,” Chadwick said in the release. “A fed bear is a dead bear. We keep trying to communicate that, to try to prevent situations like this one.”

To show how comfortable the bears were around humans, when a wildlife officer arrived to check out the bears one of the bears crawled into the cab of his pick-up truck.

So when you hear wildlife officials warn about feeding the animals — either intentionally or unintentionally — they’re not only trying to protect humans, but they’re also trying to save the bears’ lives.

Trader Joe’s Likes West Seattle More Than Kitsap

Brynn Grimley writes:

For those of you South Kitsap residents wanting a Trader Joe’s closer to home, while they haven’t announced a Kitsap location (yet), the Seattle Times is reporting the California-based chain will open a store in West Seattle in another year.

So, if you feel like hoping on the Southworth ferry, or if you’re ever over there for the West Seattle Farmers Market, you can plan a special trip to TJs.

Here’s the full story from the Seattle Times.

Raab Park Music Stage Makeover

Brynn Grimley writes:

I received a news release from the city of Poulsbo about work that will happen Thursday and Friday this week on the stage at Raab Park. Here’s the details in case you’re out there this week wondering what in the heck they’re doing.

The Poulsbo Home Depot and Windermere Real Estate-Poulsbo office, have teamed with the city of Poulsbo to make improvements to the music stage at Raab Park. The improvements will be done in time for upcoming special events, including the annual Americana Music Festival on Sept. 11.

Work starts Thursday at 9 a.m. with employees from The Home Depot and Windermere working to replace the stage floor. They’re expecting to be done around 1 p.m.

On Friday the Windermere folks will be back out at 9 a.m. to do repair work and paint the structure. They expect to be done around 2 p.m.

Background: Windermere Real Estate sets aside one day of community service each year for their employees. They encourage the employees to take a project that might otherwise not get done, and make it happen. This year’s selected project was improving the music stage at Raab Park, Poulsbo’s largest and most active park in the city.

Also this year, The Home Depot agreed to be a part of the project by providing associates to volunteer on the project as well as a $4,000 grant which will go toward the materials needed to complete the project.