Category Archives: Central Kitsap

Roadside vegetation: Where the Sidewalk Ends

The reference in the title of this blog post is to the book of children’s poetry by the late Shel Silverstein. Our topic of the day is neither children nor poetry but rather the intersection of public and private property and the maintenance thereof.
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Act I: Earlier this week on kitsapsun.com, Ed Friedrich reported on a series of unfortunate events that started with a city of Port Orchard road crew and an overambitious blackberry bush. Workers mowing a Bethel Avenue ditch June 4 sliced a utility pole guy-wire hidden in the brush. What happened next was like a Rube Goldberg machine gone wrong.

The high-tension cable sprang up and smacked a power line, sending a surge to a home on Piperberry Way. The surge blew up the meter box and traveled to the breaker box in a bedroom, starting a fire. No one was injured. The city’s insurance will pay to repair the homes and another nearby that shared the same power source.

Stuff happens. Sometimes it’s news. Sometimes it’s not.

Act II: The story of Jack Jones and his six lost lavender plants may not be front page material or even fit for the inside Code 911 section. But it pertains to Kitsap County’s roadside vegetation maintenance program, a topic I’m guessing will engage property owners far and wide.

In the interest of full disclosure, I know Jack. He’s my Tai Chi instructor. I made a couple of calls to Kitsap County on his behalf, when he couldn’t seem to get a response about six mature lavender plants by his mailbox that had been whacked to the ground on May 28. A couple of plants close to the mailbox were left standing, giving the appearance that the mower operator stopped when he recognized they were ornamentals.
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Jack had already taken the first step and called Kitsap 1, the county’s central operator system, where staff give basic information and direct traffic on questions and complaints (360-337-5777). When he didn’t hear back within the three business days allotted by the county for a response, I agreed to poke around. I’d do the same for a stranger.

But before you start calling me about your problems with Kitsap 1, here’s who you really want to talk to. Public Communication Manager Doug Bear, dbear@co.kitsap.wa.us, is in charge. I’m not saying Kitsap 1 is rife with problems, just here’s what to do if you have one. After all, there are human beings on those phone lines. Stuff happens.

Doug connected me with Jaques Dean, road superintendent for the county’s public works department, who gave me a link to the county’s detailed policy manual on roadside vegetation maintenance. The purpose is to maintain sight distances within the county’s right-of-way, promote drainage off the road, remove vegetation growth that can degrade pavement and remove unsafe overhanging branches. Methods include mowing, use of herbicides and fertilizers, and promotion of native plants over invasive species and noxious weeds.

The document goes into great detail about steps taken to protect the environment and people. You can sign up to be notified when spraying of chemicals is to occur, and you can opt out altogether. You can also opt out of roadside mowing under an “owner will maintain” agreement.

“Our maintenance crews are very cognizant of the sensitivity of this issue,” Jaques wrote in an email to me on June 3. “When we encounter private plantings that need to be cut back for roadway safety reasons, every attempt is made to contact the owner before the work is completed.”

That didn’t happen in Jack’s case.

“In this particular occurrence, the operator simply did not recognize that these were ornamental plants,” Jaques said. “They were planted within the right-of-way immediately adjacent to the asphalt pavement, they were not permitted, the owner had not requested to maintain, and to add to it, the owner was not maintaining the area and surrounding weeds. The plants blended into the high grass, blackberries, maple branches and appeared to be immature Scotch Broom.”
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The operator, who was new to the area, had stopped before the mailbox since it was close to quitting time, intending to return the next day to trim up the rest with smaller tools, Jaques said in a follow up call to me on June 11.

A county road log shows that Chico Beach Drive, where Jack lives, was mowed in August 2009, September 2010 and October 2012. Previous operators left the lavender intact along with plantings of several of his neighbors, Jack said, contributing to confusion over how the county’s policies are implemented.

Jaques explained to me that operators typically work the same area of road in a given part of the county and become familiar with neighborhoods, working around plantings whenever possible even when there is no “owner will maintain” agreement. A few daffodils by the ditch are no problem, he said, but the county can’t guarantee they’ll be left standing. Kitsap County is responsible for 900 miles of roadway, double that considering there are two sides to every road.

“Those people need to be aware the county needs to maintain the roadway and they need to do it efficiently,” Jaques said.

If you’ve got big plans for a rock wall, a fence or a large hedge, the county needs to hear from you before the installation to make sure you don’t obstruct the ROW, he added. These are the types of plantings for which owner-will-maintain are most appropriate.

On June 11, Jack finally heard from road crew superintendent Ron Coppinger, who had not had the correct phone number and who came out to Jack’s house to discuss the plantings. Ron offered to replace the lavender, but Jack’s neighbors had already brought him new plants. Jack and Ron settled on a load of beauty bark as compensation. But more important to Jack was the personal contact from Coppinger from which he took a sense that the road crew is indeed “very cognizant of the sensitivity of this issue” after all.

If anyone has questions about navigating the lines of communication with Kitsap County or other local government entities (including schools), you can email me, chenry@kitsapsun.com.

Tracyton residents want to keep their fire station

Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue is considering closing Station 44, on Tracy Street. Rachel Anne Seymour / Kitsap Sun
Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue is considering closing Station 44, on Tracy Street. Rachel Anne Seymour / Kitsap Sun

While only a few Tracyton residents attended Monday’s meeting about the potential closure of the volunteer firehouse in Tracyton, a majority of those that did attend argued for keeping the station open.

“I don’t want to see it go,” Bob Kono said.

Bob and his wife, Kay Kono, have lived in Tracyton for 47 years and were both part of Tracyton’s Fire District 11 before a string of mergers that lead to today’s Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue. Bob was the assistant fire chief when he left the Tracyton Station in 1981, while Kay was a volunteer at the station for 11 years.

“It was the heart of the community,” Kay said.

Station 44, on Tracy Street, is the original building made from masonry blocks in 1963.

Now, it requires about $500,000 in repairs, according to a report by Paul Anderson, CKFR repair and maintenance manager.

Parking lot repairs and stormwater requirements would each cost an estimated $150,000 of that amount.

Other repairs included settling issues, electrical updates, chimney removal, kitchen remodeling and lighting, among others.

Tracyton resident Gary Keenan argued that the repair costs were estimated too high.

“I feel these numbers are grossly exaggerated,” he said. “I don’t feel like these are things that should be presented to us as things we need to do.”

Keenan also argued that the cost of keeping the station open is relatively inexpensive.

Basic utilities cost the district about $4,380 per year, but that does not include routine maintenance and upkeep, Anderson said.

Last year, CKFR reviewed its facilities and vehicles to determine what maintenance and repairs needed to be done, and where money should be invested while the district deals with balancing its budget.

CKFR projects a $1 million shortfall in its 2015 budget if expenses are not reduced.

A majority of the fire district’s revenue comes from levy’s based on assessed property values, which have been decreasing for the past six years, resulting in a loss of more than $2 million.

One Silverdale resident, Ed Stebor, suggested closing the Tracyton Station and selling the land to make money.

If this does happen, Bob Kono, who also lives close to the station, said he is concerned with what will happen to the land.

CKFR will be looking into and considering the station’s zoning location and how much the land could potentially make the district, according Fergus.

CKFR also is considering the community’s safety in the decision to potentially close the Tracyton Station.

Response times will not be significantly impacted, according to the district. Tracyton’s volunteer crews were the first on scene for about 60 of the 3,404 calls in their response area.

The station’s coverage area also overlaps with Meadowdale and North Perry Station 45 on Trenton Avenue. Both stations are staffed with career firefighters.

If the Tracyton Station closes, residents will not see a change in insurance rates because of the station overlaps, according to Ileana LiMarzi, CKFR public information officer.

And Tracyton Station volunteers will be reassigned to Meadowdale Station 41 on Old Military Road.

The district has not made a decision, Commissioner Dave Fergus stressed during Monday’s meeting, but the Tracyton Station will definitely be an agenda item in the future.

The next board meeting is April 14 at CKFR’s administration building.

Walking the Bud Hawk walk

The Central Kitsap School Board has not scheduled a conversation on the question of renaming Brownsville Elementary School after John D. “Bud” Hawk. It will likely be on the agenda for the March 26 meeting, but I have heard from a couple of sources that some will be at Wednesday’s meeting this week to air their thoughts. In preparation for that conversation, in an attempt to understand views on both sides of the question I asked the district to see all the responses to the online survey the district conducted about the question, particularly the spaces where people could weigh in with comments.

I should say up front that all three of my children went to Brownsville. One was there a few months, another a year and the other all seven elementary school years. Given that, we do have a sense of gratitude for the work that goes on inside the school. But I get paid to keep my feelings about an issue to myself, so if I had an opinion I wouldn’t tell you what it is. Besides, we don’t live in that area anymore and my youngest goes to Silver Ridge, so I don’t have a dog, or a bear, in that discussion.

So I leave it to the survey respondents to make the arguments. Here are a few samples:

John “Bud” Hawk was a great man who accomplished more in his lifetime than most people I know. He has also been recognized and memorialized in many ways as a tribute of thanks for his many years of service. For me personally, I feel strongly that Brownsville Elementary should remain, and a portion of the school should be named after Bud. Brownsville is a school with a wonderful family vibe and supportive community. Many of our families attended Brownsville as children and now watch their own children roam the halls of a school they love, one that has been called Brownsville for almost 60 years. In a time where everything moves so fast, information is shared so quickly, names and trends come and go at a rate most of us don’t remember them. I feel that offering some consistency, an anchor of sorts to our youth is crucial. Let Brownsville be that constant, that place where our children will look back and smile, that tangible memory that lets them know that not all things disappear … that some, very special places are kept as they are because of the powerful and positive impact they’ve had on so many.

—————

When my family moved here our three grade school sons were among the largest number of students ever to attend Brownsville at one time. Within months Esquire Hills and Cottonwood opened, reducing the head count to one third. Through it all Bud Hawk kept his cool, maintained order, got to know the children and even cooked Thanksgiving turkeys for the Thanksgiving feast. He was phenomenal under tremendous pressure. He dealt with parents, students and teachers in a way each was heard and respected. For all that Bud did before he came to Brownsville and for his exemplary leadership as principal, John “Bud” Hawk deserves to be remembered in a lasting way. Please don’t flub this. Please name the entire school after a man whose shoes can never be filled by another person. Let this be his legacy.

—————

He was an eyewitness to some of the most horrible things man can do his fellow man. And his reaction to that was to embrace the nurturing of children. He was motivated to make education his career because he knew it was important to help children., that the key to a peaceful world was happy children. His understanding of what was really important in life and his insight into how to change the world is at the heart of knowledge. And the heart of knowledge in any school is the library. I think the library should be named after him.

—————

I attended Brownsville Elementary in the 1970s and remember Mr. Hawk fondly. Of all my school principals, he is the one I remember the most. What he did for our country in WWII is certainly deserving of renaming the elementary school where he dedicated many years of his professional life in his honor.

Nearly everyone supported naming at least a part of the school after Hawk, so it seems clear there is large support for honoring Hawk somehow.

Now, allow me to put on my best pinstriped suit to play advocate for the devil.

Many who opposed renaming the school spoke of how it could harm Brownsville’s “storied history” and “legacy.” Those are kind of big words to attach to an elementary school. What historic moment happened at Brownsville? What legacy at Brownsville is so unique that it couldn’t be found at other schools?

I was especially struck by the people who said renaming the school would be harmful to the memories of people who went there, to which I ask, “Why?” Would your memories be any less beautiful if the school you once attended wasn’t called Brownsville anymore? Did new people move into the house you grew up in? Did that make you sad? Did you get over it? How do the people who went to East High School feel about their old campus being turned into something else? How do Seabeck and Tracyton alums feel today? If they change the name of your school, it doesn’t change your memories.

On the flipside, let me still represent the devil in arguing the other case. A few brought up that the school is actually in Gilberton, some saying that calling it “Brownsville” was a compromise to appease people who really did live in Brownsville and were disappointed the school was not located there. I haven’t verified that. Despite all that, even though Brownsville Elementary School is in Gilberton, that argument ended a long time ago. The school has been there for years with that name, and renaming it Hawk isn’t going to right an old wrong.

Let me tell you a little of my history. Forty years ago I graduated from an elementary school named after a street. That much I knew then. What I didn’t know was the street was named after a former whiskey maker and rancher who helped settle the San Gabriel Valley in Southern California. That’s something I found out about an hour ago, thanks to Wikipedia. The school’s website didn’t have any info on it. Nor did the high school named after John A. Rowland. I still don’t know who my junior high school was named after. This request is coming at a time when the emotions about and the memories of Bud Hawk are fresh. Years from now as more people pass through the class-picture-lined halls of the school there is the threat that the passion to remember the school’s namesake will diminish.

Naming a school after a hero is the most a school district can do, but it’s not nearly enough for what John D. “Bud” Hawk did. There have been principals, few of them maybe, who can match his impact on students. But as CK’s Superintendent Hazel Bauman said at a previous board meeting, there are not that many principals who were previous Congressional Medal of Honor recipients. When I read Hawk’s World War II story I was legitimately flabbergasted. Ed Friedrich, explained Hawk’s wartime exploits well in the story he wrote when Hawk died.

“On Aug. 20, 1944, German tanks and infantry attacked Hawk’s position near Chamois, France. He fought off the foot soldiers with his light machine gun before an artillery shell destroyed it and wounded him in the right thigh. He found a bazooka and, with another man, stalked the tanks and forced them to retreat into the woods. He regrouped two machine gun squads and made one working gun out of two damaged ones.

“Hawk’s group was joined by two tank destroyers, but they couldn’t see where to shoot. So he climbed to the top of a knoll with bullets flying around him to show them where to aim. The destroyer crews couldn’t hear his directions, so he ran back and forth several times to correct their range until two of the tanks were knocked out and a third was driven off. He continued to direct the destroyers against the enemy in the woods until the Germans, 500 strong, surrendered. He would receive four Purple Hearts.”

Then he came home and became a teacher and a principal. Or as the survey respondent quoted above said, “He was an eyewitness to some of the most horrible things man can do his fellow man. And his reaction to that was to embrace the nurturing of children.”

Whatever decision the district makes, this conversation should spark one commitment out of anyone interested in the question. No matter what decision is made about the renaming of the school, the students who go to school there should know well the story of what John D. “Bud” Hawk did in war, and then what he did in peace. For all the distinction and symbolism there is in naming a school or a part within the school after a hero, the greatest way to honor someone is to emulate someone. Whatever the district decides to do, the decision should be made answering the question that as students walk the halls Bud Hawk walked, what decision will more influence them to walk the life he walked, too.

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

Life-long fan met her favorite Seahawk, now heads to Super Bowl

Zana Gearllach, 10, met Seahawks wide receiver Steve Largent in 1988. The 35-year-old Seabeck resident is now attending Super Bowl XLVIII in New Jersey. Submitted photo
Zana Gearllach, 10, met Seahawks wide receiver Steve Largent in 1988. The 35-year-old Seabeck resident is now attending Super Bowl XLVIII in New Jersey. Submitted photo

Seahawks superfan Zana Gearllach was 10-year-old when she met her NFL hero, wide receiver Steve Largent.

It was 1988, the year Largent was nominated for Walter Payton Man of the Year and the same year he smiled back at fans from Wheaties boxes.

Gearllach arrived with her mother and grandmother at Seattle’s Sea-Tac Airport for a welcome-home party as the Seahawks returned from an away game.

Gearllach waited with a half-empty Wheaties boxes in hand for Largent to sign, but he never came through the airport.

Gearllach said she had hoped to see Largent, but wasn’t sad she didn’t meet him.

While waiting at the airport she spoke with reporters, and  the next day Gearllach and her mother were surprised to hear from Seattle media about a heartbroken little girl who missed her chance to meet Largent.

As the story circulated through multiple publications and TV stations, Gearllach’s mother turned away reporters, not wanting to make the Seahawks look bad, she said.

Eventually the team called, wanting the young Seahawks fan to meet with Largent.

Nearly 26 year later, Gearllach tops off her superfan career by attending a Seahawks Super Bowl.

Group critiques CK Fire staffing decision

One of Kitsap Fire Watch's signs is catching attention along Silverdale Way north of Newberry Hill Road. The group disagrees with Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue's decision to reduce the minimum number of firefighters needed per shift. Photo by Rachel Anne Seymour / Kitsap Sun
One of Kitsap Fire Watch’s signs is catching attention along Silverdale Way north of Newberry Hill Road. The group disagrees with Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue’s decision to reduce the minimum number of firefighters needed per shift. Photo by Rachel Anne Seymour / Kitsap Sun

Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue is under scrutiny from a self-described grassroots organization.

Kitsap Fire Watch, started by Ronny Smith as well as several union and community members, emerged online, followed by eye-catching yellow signs near Chico. Smith is vice president of IAFF Local 2819.

The group is voicing concerns about Kitsap County’s fire districts, specifically CK Fire and Rescue.

KFW has about a dozen administrators for its website, according to Smith, who said the group members are not trying to be anonymous. The site does not list any administrators, organizers or members, and posts are not credited.

Smith is checking with KFW contributors to see if they would like to be publicly named. Some members might not have expected to be placed in the public light, Smith said.

The group formed and quickly grew after the CK fire commission approved a staff reduction without public comment in a 4-1 vote during the Nov. 12 meeting.

Each station is covered by three 24/7 shifts. Twenty-five firefighters are assigned to each shift.

The minimum number of firefighters needed districtwide per shift was reduced from 19 to 17. Based on how staffing is prioritized throughout the district stations, if fewer than 19 firefighters are available per shift, Station 64 in Chico will not be staffed with career firefighters. Volunteers will remain assigned to the station when available, according to CK Fire.

On Jan. 8, Station 64 was not staffed with career volunteers, relying on volunteers.

“Station 64 is still staffed with volunteers at this time and responding to calls,” Ileana LiMarzi said Thursday. LiMarzi is the CK Fire public information officer.

The district will continue to respond to calls in Station 64’s response area, according to a fact sheet released by the district.

Smith argues that volunteers often work day jobs and are not available to staff stations 24/7.

No firefighters were laid off as a result of the reduction, which the district said was necessary to reduce increasing overtime costs.

In 2013, the district spent $886,730 on overtime, $177,261 more than budgeted. In 2011, the district spent $625,113 on overtime.

Smith took issue with how quickly the reduction took place and without public discussion at the meeting. Smith and many residents learned about the potential reduction for the first time when they read the Nov. 12 agenda Friday before the meeting.

“The community in Chico wasn’t allowed input,” Smith said.

He attended the Nov. 14 meeting, which was a “packed house” and had standing room only.

“Everyone is entitled to their opinion on how quickly or not the decision happened,” said David Fergus, CK fire commission chair.

Fergus had “quite a few conversations” with people in and outside the fire department about the decision, and feels the best decision was made, he said.

After public comments were not allowed on the reduction vote, Smith wanted to provide another avenue for community members to speak out. KFW was formed.

Smith and KFW also take issue with the fact the reduction idea was not shared publicly before being placed on the board’s agenda item.

At the end of last summer, the district finalized its strategic plan, but staff reductions were never mentioned, according to Smith. Every part of the district had a say in the plan, including the union and Fire Chief Scott Weninger, Smith added.

Since the KFW signs have appeared in the community, residents have started to talk and ask the fire commissioners about the situation.

Commissioner Dick West said he has been approached.

During the Jan. 13 meeting he said he was “appalled” by the signs as well as the “blogs.”

West said he had planned to resign, vacating his position this summer, but decided to wait and see if talks and communication improve.

West dissented from voting on the staffing reduction.

The district is continuing “business as usual,” according LiMarzi.

In the meantime, Smith is hoping community members will step up to take over KFW.

“I want to let it go and let people who aren’t associated with the fire department take it,” he said. “We have our own political goals as a union, but the community needs a voice.”

Friends, family and interested community members have started contacting the group and providing input, Smith said.

According to Smith, the group’s current goals are to provide community input and gather community interest. “Right now the group wants the commissioners to rethink their priorities,” he said.

According to Smith, the reduction affects response times and the safety of the firefighters. Although firefighters have sick leave, Smith is concerned they will go to work regardless, worried that staffing numbers will be too low without them.

“They have created a culture where guys are going to come in, because they don’t want the station to close,” Smith said.

Pleas to foster better communication between the district and the union are rising.

“It sickens me what’s going on,” Steve Davison said. Davison, a CK Fire and Rescue Volunteer, spoke publicly at the end of the Jan. 13 CK fire commissioner meeting.

Davison said blame could be placed on both parties and suggested a communications summit be held.

“We need to bury our differences,” Davison said. “We need to get along and serve the public, because that’s what we are here to do — serve the public.”

Silverdale: It’s time to revive the monthly art walk

Brynn writes:

It appears Silverdale is restoring its tradition of hosting art walks. The newest variation — the Silverdale ArtWalk — is scheduled for the first Thursday of the month — yes that means tomorrow.

There used to be a monthly art walk that was spearheaded by Maria Mackovjak, owner of Old Town Custom Framing and Gallery, and other Old Town business owners that helped build the Old Town Art Walk . Mackovjak has since moved her business from Old Town and it seems the art walk sort of fell off the radar.

Its revival is slated for tomorrow with the showing of “Rockitdog”, a 7-foot tall sculpture that will be on display in the lobby of the Oxford Inn and Suites. The event runs from 5:30 to 8 p.m. and refreshments will be served. Anyone and everyone is invited to attend.

The sculpture at the center of the walk is the work of Karsten Boysen from Port Orchard. Boysen’s sculpture, described as a “brilliant yellow” made from “River Run” steel, will be surrounded by other pieces of art from local artists Lisa Stirrett, Debbie Drake, Lori Balter, Rebecca Westeren, Joan Wells, Darell Severson, Cathy Kelley and Elizabeth Haney, according to a press release sent by Boysen.

Boysen was one of 17 featured artists recently sponsored by Vigo Industries, Gunderson, Esco and other port companies to attend a Port of Portland Seaport Celebration. His work is displayed in Alaska and Washington through different communities “1 percent for the arts” campaigns, and his work is the center of many prominent private collections. Boysen is a former art instructor for the University of Washington and the University of Alasaka- Juneau and was a Washington State Arts Commission artist in residence at the Seward Park Art Studio in Seattle.

The new Silverdale ArtWalk is sponsored by the Lisa Stirrett Gallery, Oxford Inn and Suites and Reid Real Estate on Silverdale Way.

Next month’s First Thursday Silverdale ArtWalk will have a breast cancer awareness theme because of October being breast cancer awareness month. More than 25 artists will be featured and will highlight a Harrison Medical Center fundraiser scheduled for Oct. 3.

How does Pierce County’s gun ordinance affect Kitsap?

Brynn writes:

Last week I set out to learn how the recent approval in Pierce County of an ordinance protecting shooting ranges might affect the work being done in Kitsap on a similar topic. What resulted was a different story entirely. I learned the county hopes to have an expert come in to talk to its committee tasked with updating the shooting range ordinance. The expert will talk about sound and how it travels, and conduct sound studies at the Kitsap Rifle and Revolver Club, Poulsbo Sportmans Club and Bremerton Trap and Skeet Club.

The story that ran Sunday, Aug. 18, focused on the noise and not the action taken by the Pierce County Council. But while talking with committee members for that story I asked how the decision in our neighboring county might affect the work they’re doing.

It’s also a question that’s been posed by readers. Why didn’t Kitsap do what Pierce County did? I haven’t read the Pierce County ordinance, but I read both stories written by The News Tribune, which covered the vote. (Those stories can be read here and here.)

After reading the articles, it appears the measure was approved to protect the five gun ranges in Pierce County’s unincorporated area from potential noise and nuisance complaints and lawsuits. The TNT article cites the lawsuit between Kitsap County and the Kitsap Rifle and Revolver Club as an example. That lawsuit included noise complaints, but also safety concerns and land use allegations that the range expanded its operations without a county permit.

Kitsap’s Department of Community Development Director Larry Keeton said the Pierce County measure is a replica of legislation proposed in Olympia . Proposed in 2011, House Bill 1508 passed out of the house in February 2012 but hasn’t gained enough traction to get final approval. (Read a summary of the bill’s history at washingtonvotes.org.)

“One thing to be aware of in Pierce County, unlike Kitsap County, is their ranges don’t have the same issues necessarily that we do,” Keeton said.

He cited the Paul Bunyan Rifle and Sportsman’s Club, located near Graham, noting the club made a large financial investment by installing baffles to help reduce sound leaving the range and stray bullets.

After the Pierce County decision, Marcus Carter, KRRC executive officer, sent an email to the county requesting the information about the approval be circulated among the members of the shooting range ordinance update committee. Carter says he never received a response and hasn’t seen the information circulated via email like he asked.

“We’re following what happening in Pierce County,” he said of KRRC. “If the same thing had been enacted in Kitsap County it would have prevented the county from suing us.”

It’s doubtful Carter’s assertion that passing similar policy in Kitsap would have prevented the lawsuit because the suit filed against KRRC covered more issue than just noise concerns by neighbors.

Doug O’Connor, President of the Poulsbo Sportsman Club, thinks Pierce County’s action “preempted state law in the reverse order,” he said. “They’re doing more than what the state law proposes.”

Reviewing the ordinance at the committee level will “put another wrinkle into the deliberations, good, bad or indifferent,” he said. O’Connor, along with Carter and a representative from Bremerton Trap and Skeet sit on the committee with three county commissioner appointed representatives.

Committee chairman and Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office Patrol Chief Gary Simpson has asked the county’s legal team to look into obtaining a copy of the policy approved in Pierce County. The document will be brought to the committee for discussion, Simpson said.

“We know it’s there, we know it’s something that’s different,” he said. “It’s something we’re going to want to investigate and look at how it is applicable to our discussions.”

You can click here to read the Pierce County ordinance — the bottom of the document list is where you’ll find the final document.

It was also brought to my attention that Kitsap County deputy prosecuting attorney Neil Wachter submitted comments to the Pierce County Council before members voted. Watcher clearly states in his comments to Pierce County that he’s offering comments as a private citizen and not in his legal capacity as counsel for Kitsap. He also lays out his expertise and involvement in the lawsuit against KRRC in his email, offering full disclosure.

“My comments made in the arena in Pierce County are strictly of those as a private citizen,” Wachter told me. He said it would have been irresponsible for him not to say something because of his legal experience and knowledge of the subject matter.

What’s being built on Bucklin Hill Road in Silverdale?

Brynn writes:

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Whenever a new building goes in on a busy road in Silverdale, people start talking about what business is moving to the area.

That’s the case with the latest building that is nearing completion at 3150 NW Bucklin Hill Road, not far from the road’s intersection with Silverdale Way and across the street from Taco Time and Hop Jack’s.

A quick search of county records shows the tax statements go to Barber Investments Bucklin LLC with a Redmond PO Box. I found a similar name, Barber Development LLC, on permit data tied to the property and looked it up to find owner Andy Barber who has a business address in Kirkland.

I called Barber a few weeks ago to see what businesses he had lined up to fill the building and he asked me to email him my questions. We got off the phone and I sent him the email. I’m still waiting for his response.

Impatient and wanting to answer people’s questions (more than a few of you have “Facebooked”, emailed and called about the property), I started looking through the county’s records to see what I could find out about the property.

So far the only business on record is Little Caesar’s Pizza, which applied for a commercial tenant improvement permit and a commercial concurrency certificate from the county. Both were approved July 15.

Barber applied to the county a year ago in August for a site development activity permit to build on the 0.77-acre lot that is zoned regional commercial. Specific businesses were not named at the time of the permit, but Barber indicated the 6,760-square-foot building would be equipped to handle general retail, office space and/or restaurant uses, according to the application. Forty parking spaces will go in behind the building and a rain garden to handle the stormwater run off.

If I hear back from Barber that he has other tenants lined up I’ll write an update, but until then hopefully this helps answers some of the questions.