Category Archives: Bainbridge Island

Bremerton-born blues man performs locally Friday and Saturday

So, got any plans at 4 p.m. today (April 4)?

Bremerton-born blues man TJ Wheeler will present a free workshop today at the Opal Robertston Teen Center, 802 7th St. in Bremerton. He’ll also give a concert at 8 p.m. Saturday at Island Center Hall on Bainbridge Island, 8395 Fletcher Bay Rd NE; donations welcome. A 6 p.m. potluck precedes Saturday’s entertainment.

Wheeler graduated from an alternative school on Bainbridge Island and found music to be a grounding influence in his early life, which was full of challenges, according to Jerry Elfendahl, who is helping publicize the musician’s visit to the Northwest. He has earned many awards and accolades, including the W.C. Handy Keeping the Blues Alive Award in education.

Wheeler’s workshops combine music and inspiration. His educational program Hope, Heroes and the Blues, which started with a small grant from Ben & Jerry’s, has reached more than 450,000 students nationwide.
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The concert/workshop in Bremerton is sponsored by New Life Community Development Agency. Although the workshop is aimed at youth, everyone is welcome. There is no cost.

Wheeler’s calling his Saturday concert a 50th Jubilee, since he’s been playing guitar for 50 years.

“The next week the Jimi Hendrix Museum AKA EMP / (Experience Music project) have booked me to do a ‘Blues to Hendrix’ BITS (Blues in the School) residency and concert,” Wheeler wrote in his blog. “It is a blessing to be coming home and I hope I see all of you at one site or another.”

Kitsap area firefighters raise more than $46,000 in annual stairclimb

CKFR's Lindsay Muller at the Scott Firefighter Stairclimb in Seattle on Sunday, March 9.
CKFR’s Lindsay Muller at the Scott Firefighter Stairclimb in Seattle on Sunday, March 9. Contributed photo

Firefighters from Kitsap County and across the country, ran, jogged and sometimes leaned against walls on their way up 69 flights and 1,311 steps in full firefighting gear, including oxygen tanks and breathing equipment, Sunday during Seattle’s annual Scott Firefighter Stairclimb, a fundraiser for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

CKFR firefighter’s eight-man team has raised more money than any other Kitsap area team with $16,036.13, beating its $12,000 goal.

CKFR also has placed in the top 10 fundraising teams per capita.

“Now we really set the bar too high,” joked firefighter Ryan Orseth, CKFR team captain.

Orseth himself made an impressive fundraising push. He was $403.95 short of making the list for the top 10 individual fundraisers. He raised a total of $5,201.05.

Although firefighters are done racing stairs in downtown Seattle’s Columbia Center, the second tallest building west of the Mississippi, they can accept donations until the end of the month.

So far, 1,800 firefighters from more than 300 departments have raised about $1.55 million.

Last year, the event raised $1.44 million with the help of 1,500 firefighters from 282 departments.

While every Kitsap area fire district and department participated in the event, not everyone is as closely connected with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society as the North Kitsap Fire and Rescue is.

The district lost one of its own firefighters to leukemia on March 8, 1997, according to NKFR spokesperson Michele Laboda.

Tom Kenyon died at age 33, leaving behind his wife and six-month-old daughter, who is now a high school senior.

The stairclimb has always been close to and sometimes on the anniversary of Kenyon’s death, Laboda said.

This year, NKFR’s four-man team has raised $2,128, just a few hundred shy of it’s $2,500 goal.

Besides the gratification of fundraising for a noble cause, there also is a little pride in how quickly individuals and teams climb the stairs.

Each team can have any number of participants, but team times are calculated from the top three fastest times.

CKFR’s team time was 1 hour, 5 minutes and 30 seconds, while the North Mason Fire Authority had the fastest time for Kitsap area districts, finishing in 49:09.

The average firefighter takes 20 to 30 minutes to run up 69 flights of stairs, according to the event website.

Only firefighters are allowed to climb in the event.

This year’s fastest time was 11:03 by 32-year-old Missoula, Mont., firefighter Andrew Drobeck.

CKFR is looking at improving fundraising, not speed, next year.

Orseth said he would like to see CKFR on the top 10 fundraisers list.

This year’s top fundraisers ranged from $22,318 to $68,976.99.

To compete, Orseth suggested pooling Kitsap County’s resources to create a countywide team.

And he has already started campaigning for next year’s climbers, asking CKFR commissioners to consider joining the team.

They declined with laughter.

“There’s paramedics on scene,” Orseth said.

“You’re good.”

 

Local team results

Bainbridge Island Fire
Time – 58:12
Team members – 7
Raised – $4,835.96
Goal – not listed

Bremerton Fire
Time – 55:34
Team members – 7
Raised – $3,678.12
Goal – not listed

Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue
Time – 1:05:30
Team members – 8
Raised – $16,076.13
Goal – $12,000

North Kitsap Fire and Rescue
Time – 1:19:47
Team members – 4
Raised – $2,128
Goal – $2,500

North Mason Regional Fire Authority
Time – 49:09
Team members – 4
Raised – $2,045
Goal – $5,000

Poulsbo Fire
Time – 54:03
Team members – 8
Raised – $6,269.60
Goal – $10,000

South Kitsap Fire and Rescue
Time – 50:12
Team members – 14
Raised – $11,348
Goal – $25,000

Strategic plan, timeline set for mental-health tax

Up to $3 million from the local mental-health tax will be doled out July 1.

A sales tax of 0.1 percent dedicated for local mental-health services went into effect Jan. 1 after being approved by Kitsap County commissioners in September.

The July deadline is just one of several in the recently released strategic plan from the Kitsap County Behavioral Health Strategic Planning Team. Proposals for projects or programs, aimed at reducing the number of mentally ill juveniles and adults cycle through the criminal justice system and the demand on emergency services, will be accepted from Feb. 20 to April 18 at 3 p.m. Kitsap County County Mental Health, Chemical Dependence and Therapeutic Court Citizens Advisory Board will review the proposals.

The citizens advisory board also is asking for community input on what residents what to see funded by the sales tax via an online survey.

In the 62-page strategic plan, which outlines recommendations for closing service gaps for mentally ill and substance abuse, it says county and surrounding peninsula region had the highest number of mentally ill boarded ever recorded in October 2013.

The plan recommends increasing housing and transportation options, treatment funding and outreach, among other suggestions.

 

Reporting and responsibilities outlined

The strategic planning team makes recommendations the citizens advisory board and establishes the strategic plan for the mental health tax.

Proposals will be submitted to the citizens advisory board for review. The board will make recommendations for the proposals and funding level to the county commissioners, who ultimately approve the proposals.

The citizen advisory board will annually review projects and programs while receiving input from the strategic team, and report to the director of Kitsap County Human Services, who will present reviews to the county commissioners.

 

 Meet the team and board

Kitsap County Behavioral Health Strategic Planning Team

  • Al Townsend, Poulsbo Police Chief (Team Co-Chair)
  • Barb Malich, Peninsula Community Health Services
  • Greg Lynch, Olympic Educational Service District 114
  • Joe Roszak, Kitsap Mental Health Services
  • Judge Anna Laurie, Superior Court (Team Co-Chair)
  • Judge Jay Roof, Superior Court
  • Judge James Docter, Bremerton Municipal Court
  • Kurt Wiest, Bremerton Housing Authority
  • Larry Eyer, Kitsap Community Resources
  • Michael Merringer, Kitsap County Juvenile Services
  • Myra Coldius, National Alliance on Mental Illness
  • Ned Newlin, Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office
  • Robin O’Grady, Westsound Treatment Agency
  • Russell D. Hauge, Kitsap County Prosecutor
  • Scott Bosch Harrison, Medical Center
  • Scott Lindquist, MD, MPH Kitsap Public Health
  • Tony Caldwell, Housing Kitsap

 

Kitsap County Mental Health, Chemical Dependence and Therapeutic Court Citizens Advisory Board

  • Lois Hoell, Peninsula Regional Support Network: 3 year term
  • Jeannie Screws, Kitsap County Substance Abuse Advisory Board: 3 year
  • Aimee DeVaughn, Kitsap County Commission on Children and Youth: 3 year
  • Connie Wurm, Area Agency on Aging: 3 year
  • Dave Shurick, Law and Justice: 1 year
  • Walt Bigby, Education: 1 year
  • Carl Olson, At Large Member District 2: 2 year
  • James Pond, At Large Member District 3: 2 year
  • Robert Parker, At Large Member District 2: 2 year
  • Russell Hartman, At Large Member District 3: 2 year
  • Richard Daniels, At Large Member District 1: 1 year

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.

Wells Fargo account established for Patrick Warga

Brynn writes:

My story on Bainbridge Island resident Patrick Warga ran in today’s paper and online, but information regarding the Wells Fargo bank account that was being set up to help his family was still unknown at the time of publication.

I’ve since been contacted by neighbor Trevor Ziemba, who said the account is up and running. Donations to help the family can now be made at any Wells Fargo bank under the “Patrick Warga Memorial Fund.”

For those unfamiliar with the story, Warga, 46, was a tugboat captain with Foss Maritime. He was working in Tampico, Mexico on Christmas and went with a shipmate to a Christmas Eve service in town. The two stayed at a hotel overnight because it was unsafe to return to the shipyard after dark. Warga went to get tea the next morning before returning to the ship and was robbed and brutally beaten, supposedly by a 20-year-old man who has since been arrested, according to local news reports out of Mexico.

Warga was taken to a local hospital and then flown to a hospital in San Diego on Dec. 26. His family flew down to say goodbye and he died Tuesday night.

He leaves behind wife Kelly and three children, including son Adam who is set to graduate high school in 2012.

A father stands out on Bainbridge Island

While covering Sunday’s Harvest Fair on Bainbridge Island I saw something that will mean a lot to fathers. It was the kind of thing that gets mothers mad at fathers, because, you know, this never happens to moms.

I was watching kids race down what looked like an irrigation pipe that had been split so that it would function as a slide. I was looking for another family to interview about the overall event, why they came, what they liked, etc. Standard stuff.

It was a well attended event, which meant lots of wandering people and kids darting off in different directions. You take your eye of your child for one second . . .

A man probably in his early 30s stood near the slide, raised his hands and just as calmly as possible asked loudly for everyone’s attention. He said his little girl was missing. “I’m sure she’s still here. I just can’t find her.” He then described her. She was about 3, blonde hair, wearing a green shirt and a pink jacket tied around her waist.

Within a couple minutes people started pointing of to the right of the slide, behind the cider press, where a little girl was walking with what looked like the father’s friend and his child. People applauded. One man said, “Now I can say I’m not the only father who has done that.”

The father and his little girl calmly got back together. She was a tiny thing, just as cute as a kitten, but clearly frightened. Dad picked her up and she held on with a little frown for quite a while before she was willing to walk on her own again.

I was impressed with this father. Men get a lot of criticism, much of it deserved, for their inclination to not ask for help. That clearly was not this guy’s weakness. Without any sense of embarrassment he made his case to big collection of people he didn’t know and asked for their help. What was on the line was too serious for petty concerns. I thought about interviewing him, but in the end I decided to leave him and his daughter alone.

Fault the guy for losing track of his daughter if you want. I don’t know of a parent who doesn’t have a similar story.

I have one that you’d have a hard time convincing my wife couldn’t have ended much worse than what I saw Sunday. I took my eye off my then 2-year-old son, Apollo, for about five seconds, once, and he fell into a swimming pool.

Another time I had driven about four or five miles before I realized that I had put my daughter, Sarah, in her car seat, but I hadn’t buckled her in. Both times I felt like I was probably the worst father in the world. I read police reports, so I know that’s not true, but when that stuff happens it’s hard for me to feel otherwise.

Bainbridge resident who established Birkenfeld trust was a “frugal” teacher

Today I wrote about the South Kitsap Skatepark Association receiving $75,000 for its planned facility at South Kitsap Regional Park. The grant came from the C. Keith Birkenfeld Memorial Trust managed by The Seattle Foundation.

Birkenfeld is frequently mentioned in the Kitsap Sun. A Bremerton High School graduate, Birkenfeld was a teacher and later administrator in the Bellevue School District. He lived on Bainbridge Island most of his life and was active in community organizations.

His will provided $14 million to establish a trust that would inspire other donations. To date the trust has distributed $3.9 million in funds, mostly to organizations benefiting Kitsap County residents. According to spokeswoman Claire Bishop, Birkenfeld, a single man, was frugal and invested his money with care, and so amassed a substantial nest egg in his 66 years.

Besides the skatepark association, other recipients of major awards in 2011 are:

Bainbridge Land Trust, a $250,000 grant toward the purchase of Hilltop, a 31-acre parcel connecting two sections of the 541-acre Grand Forest on Bainbridge Island; www.bi-landtrust.org.

Seabeck Christian Conference Center, a $150,000 contribution to the Seabeck Centennial Campaign to re-build guest houses and to install an outdoor amphitheater; www.seabeck.org.

Hope in Christ/Coffee Oasis, a $125,000 grant to purchase and convert a building into a teen shelter in Bremerton; www.thecoffeeoasis.com.

SK Skatepark Association, a $75,000 grant to cap off fundraising for a world-class skate park in Port Orchard; www.skskatepark.com.

Other Kitsap County projects will receive pre-development funding to assist with planning new large projects with Kitsap County-wide impact. Another $33,000 set-aside from the trust each year finances the Humanitarian of the Year Award, administered by the Bainbridge Community Foundation.

Port Orchard bear still on the loose

Brynn writes:

Thanks to Doug Miller and his quick shutter finger, we have proof that the elusive Port Orchard bear was trying to escape Port Orchard for better digs on Bainbridge Island.

Miller sent the email this afternoon and unless there’s another bear walking around out there with a dart in its hindquarters, I’m guessing this is the same bear that was hiding out in the greenbelt off Mile Hill Drive earlier this week. I have to say, it looks a lot bigger here than it did when it was running at me on Monday…what do they put in those darts, steroids?!

Miller spotted the bear this morning swimming across Rich Passage, headed for Bainbridge off Point Glover. Here’s what he said in an email:

We saw him swimming out in the middle of the channel. A boat stopped to check him out and he got spooked and decided to swim back to our side I guess.

Pretty cool.

Last I heard from wildlife Sgt. Ted Jackson was that the bear still hasn’t been captured, but that it is being spotted all over. The hype over the bear has hopefully gone down now that its not running across Mile Hill Drive and bounding over the fences of the nearby Orchard Heights Elementary and Discovery Alternative High School.

I’m guessing Jackson and the other wildlife officials are also hoping the bear quietly fades into the woods, so they don’t have to try and relocate it.

Without further ado, here’s the photos. (Look close in this first one, you can see the dart sticking out his right hind leg).

Rolfes returns Port Orchard pigeon to owners

Amy Phan writes:

After a weeklong stay at Rep. Christine Rolfes’ Bainbridge Island home, a lost black-and-white show pigeon from Port Orchard was ready to go home.

Rolfes said her husband found the bird in their backyard last Friday. Her kids went and got bird food and lured the bird into a chicken cage.
Rolfes contacted several pigeon clubs in the area, attempting to find the bird’s owners.

But the Bainbridge Democrat wasn’t having any luck.

For a week, the bird, which the Rolfeses named “Anthony”, lived with the family’s other pets including chickens, cockatiel and rabbit.

“Everyone got along fine,” she said.

After failed attempts at reunited Anthony and its owner, Rolfes said she got on Craigslist to see how much a pigeon cage would cost — she figured the family would adopt Anthony as a rescue pet.

Rolfes clicked on the lost and found section of the Web site.

“It was the first link on the page — lost, white and black bird,” she said.

The Port Orchard owners said their bird flew out of their open door.

On Friday, the owners traveled to Rolfes’ Bainbridge Island home for the reunion.

Rolfes was glad the owner and her pet was reunited.

“It was a fun adventure with no long term commitment,” said Rolfes, laughing. “It was a nice animal, but we really didn’t want another pet in our home.”