Category Archives: Bremerton

BSD beefs up its legal fund in light of Kennedy issue

After our story Sunday on how Bremerton School District and Joe Kennedy are handling legal costs related to their dispute over whether Kennedy has the right to pray on the field after games, district spokeswoman Patty Glaser gave me some updated information.

As mentioned in the story, when and if Kennedy sues the district, the matter will be turned over to BSD’s insurance risk pool. The district’s annual premium for the risk pool (School Insurance Association of Washington) is $579,536, Glaser said in an email Monday.

Glaser and others took me to task for implying in the original story that legal posturing between Kennedy and the district short of a suit is not directly impacting the district’s budget and diverting money that would otherwise go to the classroom.

On Monday, I updated the story to clarify that legal costs the district has incurred so far in its dispute with Kennedy are covered by a legal fund that is part of the general fund, and so potentially have a direct impact on the classroom.

Last week, when I spoke with Glaser and Superintendent Aaron Leavell, they said the legal fund had been adequate so far to cover legal counsel related to the Kennedy issue. On Monday Glaser said that the dispute arose at the start of the district’s fiscal year and the fund could fall short, requiring the district to tap other sources. Furthermore, money in the legal fund is money that, were it not needed, could be diverted back to the classroom, she added.

On Monday afternoon, Glaser got back to me with updated legal costs in October (which were not available for the story Sunday). The district in October incurred $10,512 in legal costs. The legal bill in September, when the issue arose, was $6,600. The district has increased the amount in its legal fund from $140,000 to $190,000 “in anticipation of legal costs for JK.”

“We have not calculated the staff time diverted to this matter,” Glaser said in answer to a question raised by several people who read the story.

BHS JV game cancellation not related to prayer issue, school officials say

Monday’s Bremerton High School JV game at Centralia was canceled Sunday, but it had nothing to do with the school prayer issue, staff from both schools say.

BHS JV coach Joe Kennedy, an assistant coach for the varsity team, is embroiled in a legal battle with the district over his right to pray after games.

BSD officials, including head football coach Nate Gillam, said the game was cancelled because the Centralia team had a number of injuries and could not field a team.

Chamberlain, the Centralia athletic director, said that was partly true, although his team would have been ready to play. There was, Chamberlain said, a miscommunication among himself, his coaches and Bremerton’s coaching staff.

In days leading up to the BHS homecoming game, Chamberlain and his coaches agreed to touch base on Monday’s JV game before the weekend. The Centralia JV’s quarterback had had a concussion, and the previous week’s game was cancelled.

Chamberlain was out of town and didn’t speak with the coaches before they headed to Bremerton. At the game, the Bremerton coaches heard about the injuries, and on Sunday BHS athletic director Jeff Barton emailed Chamberlain calling the game off.

“I talked (with) a couple of your coaches Friday night about Monday’s JV game,” Barton said. “They stated that they would have to piece-meal a team for a JV game on Monday. After considering this and where we are at this time, I feel it is in the best interest of our program and possibly yours that we cancel Monday’s JV game.”

Chamberlain notified Kennedy by email late Sunday that the game was cancelled. On Monday, he said, he spoke with his coaches and saw how the decision had evolved.

“There might have been some misunderstanding,” Chamberlain said. “It was kind of a mix of both teams saying maybe this isn’t the best for everybody. … They didn’t say anything about coach Kennedy. That was never mentioned.”

Early Monday, after Kennedy opened the cancellation email from Chamberlain, he emailed back, “Bummer we couldn’t play today. Just wanted to say that your Team and Coaches are incredible!”

“Us to (too),” Chamberlain replied, citing the email from Barton. “We were ready to play.”

So many stories of where we’ve been

Since October I’ve been fortunate to host storytelling events here in Bremerton. Over five months we did three at the Manette Saloon and since March, thanks to a partnership with the Friends of the Kitsap Regional Library Sylvan Way Branch, we’ve been going monthly at the Cloverleaf Sports Bar and Grill. At the bottom of this post I’ve left a few samples of what we’ve heard at the most recent two.

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 6.48.21 PMOn Thursday, in addition to hearing great stories around the theme, “The Great Outdoors,” the library will hand out something to prepare you for a special Story Night in October.

Each year the library hosts a monthlong event in October called “One Community, One Book.” The library’s program is designed to get the entire community reading a single book together.

This year’s book is “The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving,” by Bainbridge Island author Jonathan Evison.  In October Story Night will center on the themes found in the book. Over the next couple of months I’ll get a discussion going on those themes over at the Story Night main page under the Events tab, and on the Story Night Facebook page, which you should go “like” right away.

To prepare you for the One Community One Book event, on Thursday the library will hand out one copy of Evison’s book per household at Story Night. The idea is once you read it, pass it along to someone else. It’s a chance for members of the community to bond over a single story. I’m glad we can do our part.

I’m a believer in our stories. I wanted to start Story Night in some part because I wanted to get better at live storytelling. I’m not sure that has happened for me personally, but what has happened is I have managed to get connected to a part of our community I might not have otherwise known. We understand each other better through our stories. We find ourselves more willing to shed our judgment through our stories. We empathize. We don’t always agree, but we see someone we might have discounted as an enemy as a teacher. We relate in ways we didn’t know we could.

And we have fun.

Thursday’s event begins at 7 p.m. Most Story Nights are on the first Thursday of the month, but September’s will be on Sept. 2, the first Wednesday. Even our best storytellers have to cede the room to the Seahawks for a preseason game. The theme that night will be “Offended.”

Want a taste? The first story below was told at our June event by Alison Loris. The theme that night was “Advice,” and Alison told us a story about the advice she received from her former husband Jesse Bernstein, a Seattle poet and performer.

The second recording features two stories on the “Summer or temp jobs” theme from July. Scott Park explains the story behind why he wears long sleeves at work even on the hottest of days. Rosi Farley details the grueling work of laughing for pay.


Online fundraising used to help Bremerton, Kingston families


Kailey Rife quickly started a GoFundMe campaign for her parents who lost everything but their family in a Bremerton house fire late Saturday night.

Rife’s mother came home around 10:30 p.m. Saturday night to find a couch in the basement on fire, and was able to get her husband and two children out of the home.

The Rifes have five children and two of them still live at home.

Rife’s mother stays at home to take care of the two youngest children and her father is a retired Navy veteran with 22 years of service, according to the fundraising page.

The online campaign has raised more than $1,000 in a day with a goal of $10,000.

Another local GoFundMe campaign continues to fundraise for a Kingston family involved in a car wreck on March 11.

Jim Norberg, 53, and his daughter, Kayli Norberg, 14, were airlifted to Harborview Medical Center with critical injuries, according to the campaign website.

Kayli had head injuries and a broken femur in the wreck, and her father had  head injuries, two shattered ankles, a shattered femur and a lacerated liver, along with multiple other broken bones.

The driver of the 1994 Toyota Camry who crossed the center line and hit the Norberg’s Jeep died.

The online campaign has raised more than $5,000 for the Norbergs in two months.


Humane society expands feral cat trap-neuter-return program to Port Orchard

In February 2013, the Kitsap Humane society launched a program to reduce the feral cat population in Bremerton. KHS calls them “community cats.”

The method (not without its critics) is trap-neuter-return. KHS vets say it’s documented to work in gradually reducing feral, pardon me, community cat colonies.

Adult feral cats can’t be socialized for placement as pets. The past approach to eradication of feral cat colonies has been to trap and euthanize the animals. But that doesn’t work well, according to KHS veterinarian Jen Stonequist.

Because feral cats are territorial, eliminating members of the colony simply creates a void that is soon filled again by new cats – and their unchecked litters of kittens. The cats who live in these colonies are generally in poor health and carry disease.

“An effective TNR program works to stabilize the free-roaming cat population in a community by preventing new litters of unwanted kittens, and reduces feline illnesses by reducing mother-to-litter transmission and transmission by fighting,” said KHS Spokeswoman Rachel Bearbower. “It can also significantly reduce the noise and odor which arise from unaltered males fighting, mating, and marking territories.”

KHS officials estimate there are more than 2,200 feral cats in the 98366 area code, where the effort is focused.

The Community Cats Program, funded through a PetSmart grant provides live traps and training on trapping to willing neighborhood volunteers.
Adults are neutered or spayed, and given a full check up and a rabies vaccine before they are reintroduced to their preferred neighborhood. A small mark on the ear prevents repeats. Kittens are taken into the humane society for placement as pets.

Over time the colony shrinks, as the animals are unable to reproduce.

The humane society also has a litter abatement program. If your pet has had a litter, you can bring the babies (dog or cat) to KHS. They will be spayed and neutered, and placed in “forever homes.” KHS also will spay the parent free of charge and return the animal to you.

Anyone with information about feral cat colonies in the Port Orchard area, or who is interested in volunteering for the Community Cats program, is asked to contact Kitsap Humane Society at or call 360-692-6977.

Does hip hop count as PE?

Anyone who’s met Debbie Lindgren is likely familiar with her bottomless exuberance. Lindgren, physical education teacher at Naval Avenue Early Learning Center, is a die hard advocate for giving kids more chances to be active in each day.

Lindgren is quoted in a story I did for today about the importance of recess for students’ bodies and brains.

She tries every which way to get youngsters moving. In one example, she brings recess to the classroom with “brain breaks” like full-body rock-paper-scissors students can do beside their desks. Teachers at Naval Avenue are now trained to lead their students in short bursts of activity that stimulate circulation and give kids a breather.

Lindgren’s latest get-moving scheme involves hip hop dancers, lots of them. Lindgren arranged for all first through third graders to learn a dance choreographed by Erica Robinson, a co-owner with her husband Ashley of the Kitsap Admirals basketball team. The students performed the dance en masse at the Admiral’s game Saturday.
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Lindgren got the idea for a school-wide hip hop dance because of her sense that some families, in particular African American families, feel a disconnect from the school.

“At first it was just, ‘What can I do to make sure we are inclusive of every culture at our school?'” Lindgren said.

Dance seemed a good place to start.

“It appears to me that our African American kids have more opportunity, perhaps, outside of school to dance within their family structure, because they come into this with better background in dance than the majority of Caucasian students,” Lindgren said. “In PE classes when the music turns on, our African American kids, the majority of them, their movement patterns are exceptional. … I thought, what can I do to celebrate their dances, their movement, their creativity?”
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Robinson is a member of the Admirals dance team the Flight Chixx. She grew up on Soul Train and affirms Lindgren’s gut feeling.

“If you think about African Americans in this culture, you think about hip hop, you think about break dancing,” Robinson said. “Some of the greatest dancers in the country have been African American.

“I think music and dance is just the way you connect,” she said.

Think of the choirs in African American churches. Music is everywhere in black culture and always has been, Robinson said.

“If you look throughout history, you see that music has really resonated with the African American community,” she said. “Music is something that has helped us through the hard times.”

Robinson appreciates Lindgren’s impulse to shine a spotlight on the hip hop genre.

“Coming from the East Coast, we had a lot of things that celebrated black culture, Puerto Rican culture,” she said. “In Kitsap here, we don’t find a lot of that celebrated culture. There’s a lot of quieting and shunning. In celebration, if we take the time to embrace each culture, we’ll find that as a human body, we’re all the same.”

Teaching several classrooms’ worth of students a single dance was no small feat.

“You just kind of teach it in pieces,” Robinson said. “The kids pick it up a lot easier than you think. … They wanted it.”

The performance was a hit with parents.

“We had a great turnout of kiddos. It was awesome, great support,” Lindgren said.

It was so much fun. They were so cute,” Robinson said.
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And although a few beats were missed here and there, what shone through was “the joy they had as group.”

Kurt DeVoe, photographer for the Kitsap Admirals, shared these photos with the Kitsap Sun. Lindgren’s husband was the videographer.

OMG! Herman’s Hermits!

IMG_3654In our family this story has become legendary, and like most legends its truthfulness is worth questioning.

Mom swore it happened and her honesty was something you could set your watch by, and that’s good enough for me, especially because it’s about me and reminds people that I was once certifiably cute.

My oldest brother was a operating on the grass and dirt of a Southern California baseball diamond. By “operating” I mean he was playing, baseball to be precise. “Operating” just sounds more like a college word than “playing,” so I went there. Jim, the brother I mentioned earlier, played for the Twins in the Mustang League in West Covina, a Los Angeles suburb that was once home to Lee Majors and developments built on top of a cancer-inducing former landfill. We didn’t live on the former landfill, so we weren’t at risk for cancer except for all the smoking and breathing outside air.

I’m told Jim was pretty good, but I was only somewhere between 3 and 5 years old, so my interests were elsewhere. In one memorable moment my interest was going to the bathroom, so I ambled over to the portable outhouses they set up near the bleachers and went about my business. I’m guessing it was a seated affair, because I had time to sing “I’m Henry VIII, I Am” at full throat. Outside at least one man was waiting his turn as I sang. Apparently he wasn’t in an urgent state, because he was smiling.

Back then young Americans worshipped at the Beatles altar, but I was a Herman’s Hermits man, myself. My brother had a stack of albums (What you kids might call “vinyl.”) and often at the front of the pack was Noone’s face. Mom wasn’t much a fan of 60s music, Dad even less so, referring to it often as “rotten roll,” then laughing, usually with his mouth full. Jim would play his records in his room. I was sometimes not allowed in, by Mom or maybe Jim, so I would many times sit outside listening to what would become my own personal Wonder Years soundtrack.

The outhouse incident I’ve described is not one I remember. I obviously had the ability to speak, and sing, but this memory does not exist for me. Nonetheless I don’t doubt it. As I mentioned I was a big fan of Herman and his gang (I thought Peter Noone’s name was “Herman.” I’m sure people older than I thought the same thing.) and I was an even bigger fan of singing whenever the notion struck. To some degree I still do that, though it’s not cute anymore.

The memories I do have involving Herman’s Hermits include singing “Dandy” as a solo in my first-grade class. Seriously, it was sharing time, so thought it would be good to sing. I also remember my heart aching for Debbie Frazin every time I heard “There’s a Kind of Hush.” There were lots of sappy love songs in the 1960s. That song, though, had a depth even a 6-year-old could admire, a vision of an entire world so mesmerized by love that it falls silent. Poetic genius, perfectly elocuted by Noone.

That Noone and the rest of the Hermits are performing Saturday at the Admiral Theatre in Bremerton on the same weekend my oldest brother is here visiting us from Hawaii was a message from God. I saw McCartney last year and did a whole podcast afterward about how much my brothers needed to go see him. Neither Jim or I have seen the Hermits before, so this is just pefect. I predict I will probably cry like a little boy when Noone appears, not crushed like the young female Brown’s former boyfriend, but because I’ll be into something good for a couple of hours, something that has lasted almost five decades for me now.

EPILOGUE: No crying at the beginning, but when the Hermits broke into “There’s a Kind of Hush” at the end of the concert I got a little misty.

IMG_3678The music in the show was as good as I would have hoped. What surprised me was how funny Noone was. He bordered on Don Rickles humor at  times, saying some people from Belfair must have driven their in their house. I only wished he had said it about Port Orchard, the historical butt of my jokes.

My brother Jim, the bushy-mustached one in the photo here interacting with Noone, spent a few decades of his life on the radio in Honolulu. When I was taking Jim’s picture with Noone my brother asked when Noone and the rest of the Hermits would make it over to Hawaii. Noone said they don’t get over there much, but mentioned concert promoter and radio/TV personality Tom Moffatt. It turns out Moffatt is a friend of my brother’s. Noone mentioned that Moffatt introduced him to Elvis, then asked my brother to say “Hello” to Tom for him.

The Belfair reference was part of a string of local jokes. He poked fun at the airport in SeaTac, gas station attendants, and got the whole bit rolling by saying that when he was a kid he always dreamed that one day he would get to play at the “Admiral Theatre in Bremerton, Washington.” I was on vacation last week, part of it in Portland and I saw a poster advertising a Herman’s Hermits show at a casino down in Oregon. I would love to go, mostly to hear all the same jokes related to the different locale.

There was a time when we would laugh at guys like Noone and other musicians whose prime had passed, but they continued performing. I saw Paul McCartney last year and it was one of the best concerts I’ve ever attended. (I’d say one of the best I’d ever “seen,” but man we were sitting far away.) I’ll continue to go to any Springsteen concert. But neither McCartney or Springsteen are good examples, because they never lost the ability to fill arenas. I’m talking more about groups like REO Speedwagon or Three Dog Night.

In reality, it was seeing Christopher Cross that made me finally gain a renewed respect for performers whose hits are decades old. Now I think it’s wonderful that these musicians can continue to make a living by touring and performing for old and new audiences. Now that I’ve seen my first favorite band, (Noone is the only original Hermit in the current band, but he’s the most important one to me.) I’m really glad that they do.

Their defense against the jokes is their own willingness to poke fun at themselves. It’s like we’re all in on the joke. Noone said something akin to being on the tour of musicians who haven’t died yet. He asked to see if there were teenagers in the audience. He asked them if their moms made them attend, then said it was their grandmothers. He finished by joking that one of the young girls had forced her mother to go to the concert. I bet that joke will seem just as funny in Oregon.


BHS, KSS bands plans marching marathon

Marching bands from Bremerton High School and Klahowya Secondary School in Central Kitsap plan a marathon of performances on Saturday, starting in Bremerton’s Armed Forces Day Parade and ending in Spokane for the Lilac Festival Armed Forces Torchlight Parade.

KSS band director Lia Morgan, new to Klahowya this year, wanted to resurrect a tradition from years past by bringing the marching band to Spokane. The band will play recently composed music by the a cappella group Pentatonix. In the Torchlight Parade, they will crry glow sticks for effect.

On Sunday, the marathon will continue when the KSS jazz band plays at Silverwood Theme Park in Idaho. Many jazz band members also play in the marching band. The rest of the band will “support them as members of the audience,” Morgan said. Afterward, all of the students, Morgan and a number of parents who are going along as groupies will take a well deserved break by enjoying the rides.

Morgan is proud of her musicians, a number of whom have performed in and won awards in solo competitions this school year. “We have had an exciting and busy year at Klahowya this year and I’m looking forward to more years and activities to come,” she said.

This is the first time Bremerton High’s marching band has played in the Torchlight Parade.

“I thought that would be kind of fun, to do two parades in one day,” said Band director, Max Karler, who is in his first year as director of instrumental music at BHS. Before then, he taught band and orchestra at Mt. Tahoma high.

The Spokane parade starts at 7:45 p.m., but the BHS band’s staging time is 8:15 p.m. Karler figures his group will have time to make the roughly six-hour drive to Spokane in between parades.

No, it’s not by school bus. They are renting charter buses, so the kids can snooze or watch movies as long as it’s “not something I hate,” Karler said. As a student, he once got stuck on a band road trip where the flute section had this obsession with a particularly bad Bollywood movie. But I digress.

Luckily, BHS is near the front of the Armed Forces parade, so they expect to be done by noon-ish.

“When we get done there (Bremerton’s Armed Forces Day Parade), we’re going to get out of our clothes (band outfits), eat some lunch, hop on the bus and go over to their torchlight parade,” Karler said.

Karler is impressed with the group’s can-do attitude and eagerness to try new things.

“It’s totally awesome, just lots of support,” Karler said. “The kids are very capable, lots of strong players and strong leaders.”

Karler let the students suggest the playlist. They’re going with the top three tunes: the BHS fight song (to the tune of “Anchors Aweigh), “Take on Me” (by The A-ha) and “Conga” by Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine.

“I’m really excited for it. I think they’re going to do really well,” Karler said.

BHS performed earlier this month in the Sequim Irrigation Festival and won first place for AA and AAA school bands. Go Knights!

PO Beats Poulsbo on “best small cities” list

The online publication has taken a David Letterman approach to the “top small cities” in Washington State. Port Orchard ranks 6th in the journal’s list of 14 (not Letterman’s 10), as noted on Facebook by PO locals Matt Carter and Todd Penland.

And look at us go. Port Orchard, with its maritime ties and eclectic downtown mix of eateries, boutiques and salons (hair, nail, tattoo, piercing) beat out Poulsbo, with its Nordic theme, a longtime solid formula for that town.

“As stated on its website, Poulsbo has a completely unique and different history from its neighboring communities. Unlike other small towns and cities in the local area, this small city was founded by Norwegian settlers,” reports.

Poulsbo came in 12 of 14, ahead of Moses Lake and Chelan. Beating out Port Orchard, in slots five through numero uno, were Bellingham, Sequim, Oak Harbor, Hoquiam and Friday Harbor. Nothing against Hoquiam, but, really? (The article cites the city’s low taxes related to depressed values on its “nice but old” homes.)

Poulsbo, the journal continues, “may not have a great deal to offer when it comes to ultra-modern and latest conveniences, but it does enjoy a close community that values friendship and a rich cultural heritage. People who place greater priority on these aspects than what modern society has to offer will find Poulsbo the ideal place to live.”

The next time you’re in Poulsbo, look for that horse and buggy.

I’m figuring the author who wrote about Pullman is a Cougar. The entry on this city, which ranked 9th, reads, “Pullman has so much going for it that it is hard to know where to start.”

Port Orchard is described thus, “The city is blessed with an abundance of marinas filled with boats of all shapes and sizes which provide comfortable accommodations for visitors to stay. The downtown area offers fine dining, shopping, and cultural sites to explore.”

Too bad they illustrated the article not with a picture of the marina but of the Kitsap County Courthouse … on a cloudy day. The courthouse, and in fact the whole county campus, is fine and all and very much part of the city. But PO, we can do better. They should have checked in the day we posted all those rainbow pictures. Oh, my God!

“Port Orchard is but a ferry ride away from Seattle and Bremerton,” the journal continues, “making excursions to the area quite accessible for those wanting to escape …”

Oh wait, there’s more, ” … “for a day or entire weekend.”

“Port Orchard residents are also quite proud of their military heritage as perceived by the nearby Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.”

We won’t tell them the shipyard is in Bremerton, which apparently is too big to be considered for the Top Small Cities list. And yes, we all are proud of our military.

Silverdale was not mentioned on the list of Top 10 Cities that Do Not Exist.

The is big on lists. It’s got rankings for other states, and informational pieces on cities nationwide and worldwide. The journal covers a wide range of topics, including “Top 11 Most Haunted Cities,” “13 Best Cities with the Word ‘City’ in Them,” and “Top 12 Cities Aliens Should Colonize.” Detroit tops the list.

So now, we seriously need to suggest a “Top 10” category in which Bremerton will place. I’ll put out “Top 10 Cities that Enable Raccoons,” for starters.

The ball is in your court.

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.”