Category Archives: Bremerton

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.
Screen shot 2014-04-04 at 2.44.55 PM
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

The Bremerton City Council’s 2013 in Verse













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:

About that criticism of Wendy Stevens’ punishment …

The outrage over Wendy Stevens’ participation in the Kitsap County Superior Court’s felony diversion program, rather than full-scale prosecution, was predictable and understandable. The response, though, tends to ignore other priorities beyond the lightening of a caseload.

Stevens was charged with theft of $8,061.27 from Naval Avenue PTA. The PTA submitted documents suggesting the amount was higher, but the charge reflected how much Bremerton Police could verify.

Many commenters called her diversion agreement a “slap on the wrist.” One asked, “Who said crime doesn’t pay?” That this was Stevens’ second theft charge certainly did not earn her any sympathy. That Stevens wouldn’t do jail time gave figurative chest pains to those who first sought justice (i.e. jail time).

There is room, though, for those who think the $8,000 check and $61.27 in cash the PTA received in restitution was the best possible outcome, like the commenter who wrote, “The most important requirement, restitution to the victim, has been met.” The writer makes a point every bit as fair as those who say the county went soft. This is especially true in a society that over the past few decades has dared to ask, “What about the victim?”

In most criminal cases it’s nearly impossible for the perpetrator to make things whole for the victim. In theft cases it is possible. In this case the deal the attorneys crafted got the PTA at least part of the way there. This year’s PTA President Barbie Swainson told Chris Henry that many in the PTA were relieved, even though they didn’t get the apology they also asked for, at least not in court.

Naval Avenue PTA members might have felt whatever joy justice brings had Stevens been sentenced to jail time, but that joy might have come at the expense of the organization itself. The $8,061.27 it received as part of the diversion agreement might never have materialized, even if Stevens was ordered to pay it, had she gone through a trial and was sent to prison. Instead, the PTA got a check and some cash, fulfilling one of its primary objectives — surviving.

We don’t always get to satisfy our desire for justice and restitution. We sometimes have to pick one or the other. In August 2001 I was working for The Columbian in Washington’s Vancouver and wrote a business story about embezzlement. Much of the focus was the point that it’s often better to go after embezzlers civilly, rather than criminally. You don’t as often get to see the guilty one rotting in jail, but your business stays open.

While you can legitimately argue that there was not enough punishment in the Stevens case, it’s a mistake to overlook the value of the restitution to the PTA.

Two other elements each from the Stevens story and the one I wrote in 2001 match each other, and these are tangents. One is that Stevens is well liked and respected, a common trait in cases like this. In the 2001 story, my sources pointed out how surprised business owners are not so much when they discover they’re losing money, but by who is responsible. In one case, it was a bookkeeper who had been with the company 20 years.

The second point is that this entire episode could have been prevented if the simplest of financial controls had been in place. The person doing the books should not be signing the checks. All entities should be set up so someone tempted to steal will be dissuaded by the perception that someone else will notice. “Checks and balances are not designed to keep a determined thief from stealing,” fraud investigator David Marosi said in the 2001 story. “Checks and balances are designed to keep an honest person honest.”

If you’re in business or run an organization and you want to prevent something like this, I recommend you read the 2001 story. If you have a Kitsap Regional Library card you can read it online for free by going to the ProQuest Washington State Newsstand and searching the term “allmyne.”

Bremerton High School students do some heavy lifting

On Friday, students from Bremerton High School lined up side by side along the roughly two-and-a-half blocks between the front entrance of the school and Bremerton Foodline’s warehouse. Police stopped traffic as the students executed their “food chain,” handing off boxes of canned goods, bags of potatoes and sacks of stuffing and other comestibles they had collected over the past few weeks.

The food drive is an annual service project for the school, spearheaded by its leadership class. This is the first year they undertook the special delivery. Patti Peterson, the food bank’s executive director, said the gift of food “meant so much more” given the very public display that accompanied it.

“Just look at this,” Peterson said. “This is the answer to sequestration, to budget cuts. It’s the community coming together. It starts with our kids in school and goes for every person, every neighbor, every person you see on the block.”

The students collected 4,392 pounds of food. That’s more than two tons. And given that each student handled each item, that means each one lifted more than two tons on behalf of the food bank. So, kids, how are your arms feeling today?

Here’s the video, in case you missed it. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Following Seahawks win, the Bremerton boat was a bulgin’


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?


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.

This is all Silverdale’s fault

New York, L.A., Miami, Bremerton.

We trot out the lists whenever some magazine decides to recognize us. “They like us! They really, really, like us!” This goes back to the early 1990s when Money magazine said Bremerton was the best place in America to live. It made perfect sense to me at the time, because Bremerton was said to be near Seattle and that you got here by boat. And I had never been to Bremerton.

We’ve continued to rank high now and again on those kind of lists, though we’re also suspected of being an ungodly bunch.

Now the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which I’m told is not a magazine, has released a publication about expenditures on children by families in 2012. The Daily Beast, which is an online magazine, used metropolitan geographic stats from Redfin to come up with the 15 most expensive places to raise a child in the first year, citing the costs of housing, energy, healthcare and stuff for the baby and added a stat about how many OB/GYNs there are in an area.

On Redfin Bremerton is #14. Throw in the OB/GYN stat on the Daily Beast and Bremerton is #8, joining New York, L.A. and Miami.

Why blame Silverdale? Because I can. This goes back to the days when the Central Kitsap Reporter got all huffy because these lists were coming out lauding Bremerton, when most of those accolades included data that came from Bremerton’s outlying parts in the rest of the county, even Port Orchard. In those days I worked overtime finding ways to make fun of Port Orchard, because I was the Bremerton reporter. I thought it was in my job description. I might have made that up.

The point is, if you’re going to get all jacked up about a silly list that says Bremerton is neato, you better bow your head in shame when another list comes out and says it will take a bigger chunk of your paycheck to raise the li’l feces factory during the first year than it does in Seattle.

I accept your apology in advance.