All posts by josh farley

From Poulsbo to Paris: Brenda Prowse says Parisians ‘not afraid to celebrate life’

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Josh Farley writes: 

Like many of us, Brenda Prowse and her husband, Hugh, spent Friday night watching the harrowing coverage of a series of terror attacks that killed more than 120 people in Paris.

But Prowse happened to be watching it from her apartment near the Eiffel Tower.

The former Poulsbo realtor has lived in Paris since January 2013. As gunmen and suicide bombers carried out the worst violence in Paris since World War II, she arrived at their apartment for the evening in the 7th arrondissement not knowing it was happening.

“We were unaware of the horror last night until we returned from dinner and started receiving text messages from friends,” she told me.

They watched the news until almost 4 a.m. Saturday. Only days earlier, they had gone to a bar near Place de la Republique, where two of the shootings occurred. While it feels close, in some ways, it also feels distant, this being Paris, she said.

“Three miles is not that far away but in a city this densely populated it is almost another world,” she said.

When they awoke Saturday, she went for a run. Their apartment manager lit a candle in the foyer. And while the streets were a little quieter, she said people were still going about their business.

“Buses, metro, taxis were all operating this morning,” she said, adding a visiting friend took the train to London without incident. “Cafes were serving lunch.”

Even as the memorials grow around the city, it seems there’s an incredible resiliency in the City of Light, though its iconic Eiffel Tower is dark for the moment. 

“Parisians are out and about today and though wary, are not afraid to celebrate life,” she told me.

Satirical news surge: Meet the man behind ‘The Kitsap Report’

Josh Farley writes:

The recipe for cooking up fake news stories in Kitsap County is simple, Calvin Courter says. Look for a trending topic on the Internet, find a way to give it a local twist, and sit back and watch it spread around the Internet like wildfire.

“We just wanted to provide a funny source of news,” said Courter, a 29-year-old Poulsbo resident who founded The Kitsap Report, a satirical news web site. “We wanted to lighten the mood around here.”

The Report, which boasts itself as being “Kitsap’s #1 source for news” has produced such eyeball-grabbing headlines as “Naughty Drive-through Marijuana Store Opening in Gorst,” “Bridge from Bainbridge to West Seattle Approved,” and “Walking Dead Season 5 to be Filmed in West Bremerton,” in its initial weeks of publication. (Blogger’s note: not all content posted on the site is family friendly.)

Because this is the Internet, where all content is accurate until proven phony, here is your official SPOILER ALERT: None of those stories are true. (No, really. They’re not.)

Courter said he’s not surprised that readers have mistaken his headlines for the real thing (he’s even heard from a Seattle-based reporter who thought they were legit). He said he hadn’t meant to trick people, but rather to spice things up.

“I like living here, but it’s a little boring,” he said.

He goes by Tom Tickles on the web site, a Kitsap lifelong resident “born in a pool of gasoline and raised by a pack of rabid raccoons in the woods outside of a small farming village.”

Courter and the Kitsap Sun have crossed paths before. He worked as an advertising account executive here in 2012. Today, he counts mortgage lending as his day job.

The site took off faster than he expected. After its launch Jan. 2, he went out to the Portside Pub in Poulsbo. By the time he returned home, the site’s first article, “Twerking: Serious Problem at Kitsap School,” had accumulated 6,000 page views.

The article today is up to almost 70,000 views.

Not bad for someone who’s never taken a journalism class (he adds that he failed junior year English). But this is a guy who knows his news: he’s been reading the Kitsap Sun since he was a kid and grew up watching Almost Live! He is and will always be a news junkie, he said.

Courter got tired of the barrage of posts he’d see on social media sites containing falsehoods, and so he decided to create some falsehoods for himself. But don’t go calling the Kitsap Report a local version of The Onion.

“I think the future of satirical news is local,” he said, adding later: “You’ll never see a Kitsap article on the Onion.”

He welcomes contributions, and he’s looking to expand into the video medium.

“We’ll see where it goes,” he said. “But people of Kitsap can look forward to more and more news from us.”

Flyover could get Seahawk fans even more cranked up

How can The Clink get any louder than the last time the Saints were here, when the 12th Man broke the Guinness world record for crowd noise? Cap it with a flyover.

The Seahawks contacted the Navy and requested just that. I reckon they asked if Naval Air Station Whidbey Island could send an EA-18G Growler down, oh, about when the 12th Man flag is climbing the pole.

A Growler — the electronic warfare version of the Navy’s Super Hornet fighter jet — emits a maximum of 150 decibels. Amazingly, you could’ve hardly heard it over the seismic crowd on Dec. 2. That’s when 68,387 fans combined to reach 137.6 decibels after the Seahawks stuffed New Orleans on a third-down play late in the first half of a 34-7 Monday Night Football victory.

Naval Air Station Whidbey Island spokesman Mike Welding confirmed the Seahawks’ request, which was denied.

The Department of Defense, because of across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration, mothballed community outreach programs in March. The military withdrew from 2,800 outreach events around the country. In October it brought back the Navy Blue Angels, Air Force Thunderbirds and other attractions, but not everything. There’s a 45 percent reduction in the number of events from last year that will result in savings of $104 million in fiscal 2014. Flyovers are among those events.

The Air Force typically performed 1,000 flyovers a year, but under the new outreach plan will hardly fly any. There’s no public flyover program at this time. I would think it’s the same way with the Navy, and that’s why the Seahawks’ request was denied. Decisions are made in the Secretary of Defense outreach office.

The Seahawks didn’t contact the Army or Air Force at Joint Base Lewis McChord, according to spokesmen there. But if they were snooping around for a flyover from the Navy, I can’t imagine they gave up at the first rejection.

Can’t wait to see what they came up with.

The Bremerton City Council’s 2013 in Verse

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Josh Farley writes: 

Q: How does one sum up the life of the 2013 Bremerton City Council?

A: In verse, of course. Happy holidays, everyone.

***

Bremerton’s City Council, which started with nine,
in January became eight, when Roy Runyon resigned.

The Council acted quickly to replace the space,
Wendy Priest, they found, to be a familiar face.

There was much work to be done, too many parks to fund,
so former Mayor Bozeman was put under the gun,

To find a solution, a way to sustain parklands,
and luckily for the city, volunteers would lend a hand.

The city faced a choice, when Craig Rogers retired,
and found a new police chief, who vowed to catch frequent flyers.

In public works, the city said,
the payments weren’t enough,

So they pushed utility rates up,
without much of a huff.

Too many homes abandoned, Councilman Younger decreed,
So Council mandated they be licensed, and it passed with esprit.

And not only them, the Council the wished to heighten,
the requirements for landlords, and for them to be licensed.

A groundswell then formed, to study the city auditor,
They started to wonder, what city did he monitor?

They discussed all the merits, but they couldn’t get past one,
the public would react, like they were pulling a fast one.

So the auditor stayed, said the conference center was bleeding,
The city responded with what they felt it was needing.

The city said an expansion, would bring in lots of revenue,
it was only losing money, because growing it was overdue.

And speaking of downtown, the trees on Fourth Street,
had to go, the city said, for they were tearing up concrete.

But a backlash ensued, and tree huggers raised hell,
and a tree group was formed, to find which would be felled.

The Council then decided, that regulations were too tight,
drive-thrus could come back, to the car lover’s delight.

But pedestrians and bikes, they would have victories too,
Lower Wheaton and Washington, will get multimodal avenues.

Grants would cover those, street maintenance they could not,
so the Council decided, that utility fees could be brought.

And all this despite, an election fight that pressed,
one the mayor and the judge, and all council members would address.

Patty Lent and Todd Best, did battle for the mayor,
in the end, Lent prevailed, despite the naysayers.

The Tourism Bureau, the Council decided,
wasn’t pulling its weight, and ought to be chided.

The new year will bring new faces to the table,
our second term mayor will hope the seven’s able.

One thing is certain, for the Council’s 2014,
a lot of energy, they will need, or at least some caffeine.

Blogger’s note: The fight over electric vehicle charging stations on the Pacific Avenue improvement project was omitted from the year in verse. On purpose.  

For Bremerton man who began charity rivalry, ‘it doesn’t have to be about bricks, banners or billboards’

Christopher Hart, with his fiance Kristina Boyd.
Christopher Hart, with his fiance Kristina Boyd.

Like so many Seahawks fans, I was none too pleased when fans of the 49ers decided to throw up money for a  billboard bragging about their previous Super Bowl victories.

My good friend Christopher Hart decided to do something about it.

Hart, once an employee of the Kitsap Sun and still a neighbor of mine in Bremerton, decided that if those 49er fans would donate their excess proceeds to Seattle Children’s Hospital, he’d challenge those same fans by galvanizing the 12th man to send their money south in support of San Francisco’s equivalent children’s hospital. He set an ambitious goal: $20,000.

He’s well on his way.

In just five days, Hart’s gotten $8,261  donations from nearly 300 people through his fundraising site. The Suquamish Clearwater Casino, where he works, has agreed to give a $5,000 match. And an anonymous donor in San Francisco, in the spirit of this competitive giving, has already pledged to match anything Seahawks fans give to the San Francisco hospital to Seattle’s — up to $100,000.

His work has resonated with fellow fans big time. Hart, with the help of former West Sound newspaperman Aaron Managhan, has appeared on various media outlets to talk about it. In his hometown paper, I wanted to give him a chance to explain, in his own words, how this thing grew from an idea to a wave of charity, and why he did it.

Q: How did you come up with this idea?

A: When I saw the story pop up about the Niners fans paying for a billboard here in Seattle, my blood boiled for a hot moment.  Then I realized that was exactly what they wanted.  I started reflecting on the direction this rivalry was heading. I was kicking around the idea of just raising money for San Francisco’s Children’s hospital as a thank you for them donating their excess billboard funds to Seattle Children’s on Facebook. After some support from my friend Aaron Managhan, I put together the YouFundMe page.

Q: This isn’t the first time you’ve put on fundraisers for children battling cancer and other ailments. Why is this particular kind of charitable giving so near and dear to your heart?

A: We started doing something called Extra Life five years ago.  It’s like Relay for Life, but instead of running or walking for 24 hours you play video games and raise money for your local Children’s Hospital.  Every year we do this I meet people who tell me about their experiences at Seattle Children’s, and how it was completely live changing. They often take children with no insurance, and that’s where the funds we raise go towards, helping them get treatment. I don’t have children of my own yet, but I have a niece and nephew that mean the world to me. If something like this were to happen to them I would be pretty devastated.

Q: Why do you think this resonated with so many donors?

A: I think a lot of people felt the same way I did. A rivalry can be good and fun, but does it need to get nasty? I think when we put this out there people started comparing the importance of football with a child’s health. I can’t tell you how many people left comments that said “Now this is how a rivalry should go down!” from both Seahawks and Niner fans.  I also think Russell Wilson and his continued visits and support to Seattle Children’s Hospital have shown people that football can really be used for something bigger than … well … football.

Q: Were you surprised this effort caught the attention of so many, and if so, what surprised you most?

A: When I started the campaign, I had hopes of it catching on.  Thanks to Aaron’s web savvy it was everywhere almost instantly.  I couldn’t believe how many people had shared it, the amount of comments it was garnishing on Reddit was really inspiring.  I think what surprised me the absolute most though was the amount of San Francisco fans that embraced it.  It’s completely painted them in a different light for me.  Even the guy that raised the money for the billboard reached out to us telling us what a great idea he thought this was.

Q: What is your ultimate goal here?

A: Our ultimate goal for this was definitely to raise money for kids that direly need it while taking this rivalry in a more positive direction. It doesn’t have to be about bricks, banners or billboards. We have a great power in the ability to do good with the things we are passionate about.

To donate, go to: http://www.gofundme.com/12thSpirit

Following Seahawks win, the Bremerton boat was a bulgin’

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Like many of you, I savored the Seattle Seahawks’ trouncing of the San Francisco 49ers a couple Sundays ago, a big win and a great start to a promising season that continued with a victory versus Jacksonville this week.

But as heavy rains had delayed the game versus San Francisco, I got a little worried, too.

With the delay, Bremertonians and other Kitsap County residents who took the ferry to the game had pretty much one option to get back here: the 10:30 p.m. ferry. (Not counting those of you who drove to the game via the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.)

Yes, there’s a later boat, but 12:50 a.m. is just too late to wait, especially on a school night. We’ve all been in this tight spot before. Fortunately, the game ended with enough time to get to the 10:30 p.m. boat. (And with ticket prices being what they are, I’d be there for every moment myself.)

But would the 10:30 p.m. boat hold everyone? We’re talking about a lot of fans here. I went to bed thinking good thoughts for those coming back to Bremerton, and sent a note off to Washington State Ferries asking about how many people climbed aboard the next morning. I also put a note on my facebook page.

To my surprise, those who responded said it wasn’t too bad. The Walla Walla was working the route, which helped because of its size. Everyone made it aboard, it seems.

A week later, I finally got those ridership stats. The ferries counted 1,057 passengers on the 10:30 p.m. sailing. Not even the Bainbridge Island boat at 10:40 p.m., which was that route’s most populated run of the day, reached that number (it totaled 907). Bremerton’s route carried 2,560 people altogether that Sunday (Sept. 15), meaning that one sailing had more than 40 percent of its ridership for the day.

The WSF’s Ray Deardorf said that even if the Walla Walla (capacity 2,000) hadn’t been working the route, the Kitsap — usually the smallest boat on the Bremerton run — could’ve accommodated the load, with a maximum capacity of 1,200.

Yet had the Kitsap made the journey, some 400 people wouldn’t have had a seat to sit on, he added. “An uncomfortable crossing,” he said of the possibility.

Yep, those of us in Bremerton have our gripes about the frequency of the ferry sailings. But it’s nice to know that that boat might be bulging, but there’s lots of room on our ferry vessels.

 

Bremerton ferry riders: Does that receipt say Bainbridge?

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Josh Farley writes: 

Have you driven aboard the Bremerton ferry from Seattle, only to find your receipt says you went to Bainbridge Island?

Lots of people have. In the words of Yogi Berra this story is “like deja vu all over again.” The most recent time, it was Kitsap Sun columnist Ann Vogel who took to Facebook to vent this complaint:

“Once again, at the ferry ticket booth in Seattle, I tell the employee that we are driving on the Bremerton ferry and he hands me a receipt for the Bainbridge route. This time, I ask to have it corrected and explain why. He tells me that the computer system automatically defaults to Bainbridge for all receipts and thus, for record keeping of ferry use. Time to write a letter. No wonder we have so few evening ferries while Bainbridge’s are so frequent.”

I asked the Washington State Ferries’ Marta Coursey about this frequent complaint. First off, we are only talking about cars here — pedestrians are counted at the turnstile where tickets are scanned at Colman Dock in Seattle.

For vehicles, it is ferry policy that all sales are credited to the correct route for each ticket sold. The ticket seller has a choice — Bainbridge or Bremerton — and the ferry system believes it’s important they pick the right one for the purposes of tracking ridership stats and planning, as well as accurate accounting.

In short, Ann, it’s not OK for the ticket seller to credit your Bremerton voyage to Bainbridge Island, and Coursey says the ferry system is “working directly” with those sellers and managers to “ensure staff is following procedures correctly.”

Here’s what you do if you’ve been issued a ticket incorrectly. Take your receipt, and mail it to:

Washington State Ferries 

Attn. Operations Manager Kathy Booth

2901 Third Avenue, Suite 500

Seattle, Washington 98121

The big question is whether undercounting Bremerton cars actually harms Bremerton ferry service, the subject of a piece by Kitsap Sun reporter Ed Friedrich a few years back. But if nothing else, having accurate record keeping is important. And that means Ann’s ferry trip should count toward Bremerton — not Bainbridge.

BREMERTON: For aging sewer line, a colon cleanse of sorts

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Josh Farley writes:

In many ways, cities are living, breathing organisms, at least metaphorically speaking. And if you follow this line of thinking, you could also say workers with the Public Works and Utilities Department have been performing a metaphorical colon cleanse.

A sewer line, buried in the beach that runs from Bremerton’s boardwalk downtown all the way to a pump station at Evergreen Park, isn’t getting any younger. The cast iron pipe was installed in 1972 and is starting to clog, either due to solids building up inside or from internal corrosion (or both).

So Bremerton’s sewer maintenance crews spent this past week on the beach (pictured) digging up the pipe at low tide, drilling a hole in it to “jet the line,” a process that is basically flushing it with water to try and clear it out.

You may recall that this is the same line that city officials had planned to run underneath a proposed boardwalk between the downtown waterfront and Evergreen Rotary Park, but one that stalled due to perceived fishing rights violations from the Suquamish Tribe.

With the boardwalk project stalled, the city has been looking for new ways to not only replace the line, but remove it off the beach entirely. Putting sewer lines on the beach has been cost effective in the past because gravity can run its course to the beach from the homes up above. Instead, the city now plans to install so-called “grinder” pumps that will take sewage up ground, underneath area streets instead, ultimately taking it to the sewer treatment plant in the West Hills area next to Highway 3.

The city hopes to make the beach pipe obsolete in 2015 with the use of the grinder pumps. In the meantime, I told Bremerton Public Works Director Chal Martin that this kind of metaphorical colon cleansing will have to do.

“That’s funny,” he replied. “And correct.”

Bremerton: You’re invited to paint the town

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Josh Farley writes: 

Here’s your chance to brighten Bremerton with a fresh coat of paint.

Two city projects invite local residents to join in an effort to put down fresh coats of paint around schools and along the retaining wall near the Manette Bridge.

At 5 p.m. Thursday, Bremerton Public Works Director Chal Martin and Steve Priest, an art teacher at Bremerton High School, will continue painting the Washington Avenue retaining wall. They welcome help, if you’re interested — simply head out to the wall on Washington, near the Manette Bridge, at that time.

Martin called the painting a “followup” to the painting and mural designed by Bremerton graduate Jan Jimenez and unveiled in July (see photo).

“We thought painting the wall on the other side might be worth a try,” Martin told me in an email.

Then, on Saturday, residents can join city staff to “freshen up” school zones around the city before the kids go back to school in September. New coats of paint will be added on roads near the schools.

Those who want to help out need to be ready to go at 8:30 a.m. Saturday at 100 Oyster Bay Avenue North, site of Bremerton Public Works and Utilities headquarters.

The city will provide the materials, according to Milenka Hawkins-Bates, Bremerton’s public works’ administration division manager. The city asks that residents wear appropriate clothing for painting, and that no “open toed” shoes be worn.

For more information, call public works at (360) 473-5920.

Inmate sends condolences to honor former Sun reporter’s passing

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The sympathy card was one you might expect to find at the store, were it not written on white paper and drawn with a blue ball-point pen.

“In Loving Memory … & you will remain in Our Hearts … forever…” its inside reads.

The card came from Robert “Doug” Pierce, currently an inmate at the Kitsap County jail. He was paying respects to JoAnne Marez, a longtime reporter, editor and — frankly — a legend here at the Kitsap Sun.  Marez died earlier this month due to complications due to an infection. She was 67.

I am at this point uncertain whether Pierce had help in the artistry that graces the cover of the card. In any event, in the detail you can see in the photo, Pierce calls Marez a “Professional Journalist, Passionate Investigator, extraordinary reporter, Kitsap Sun News Editor.” It’s quite illustrative as well.

Pierce, you may recall, actually solved a vexing math problem a few years back, untangling an error in how the Kitsap County jail was calculating its time off for good behavior, or “good time” for short. He is serving time for third-degree theft, trespassing and bail jumping, according to court documents.

As someone who toiled for years in the world of Kitsap County’s criminal justice system, I think JoAnne would’ve been touched by the card. I’m going to see to it that it gets to her family.