Category Archives: Central Kitsap

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

“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:


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.

Oly’s Bob Barnes started teaching when we didn’t know how wonderful it was to not know

Bob Barnes, Olympic High School principal, started work as a teacher 42 years ago. For the last 13 years he has been principal at Olympic High School. He is retiring at the end of the year. We will have a story on him on Tuesday.

To get an idea of what 42 years in education means, or how the world and education have changed in that time, watch comedian Pete Holmes talk about not knowing, and how beautiful that was.

Worthy Sasquatch! splendor

Scott Robinson looks incredible in this big ... coat.
Scott Robinson looks incredible in this big … coat.
Scott Robinson and girlfriend, Rachel Harmon, look incredible in the same big ... coat.
Scott Robinson and girlfriend, Rachel Harmon, look incredible in the same big … coat.
For $337.50 you can attend the four-day Sasquatch! Festival 2013 this weekend.

It’s the annual music event at The Gorge and at that price it’s no wonder there is a dress code. Scott Robinson and Rachel Harmon, pictured in the big furry coat, plan to look stellar, and the big furry coat is proof.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis is part of the line-up for Sasquatch!, and this $15 beauty from the Goodwill in Silverdale fits the definition of a “come up.” But I have a hunch Robinson would have worn this thrift-shop beauty no matter who was performing.

I stopped the Bainbridge Island couple outside Goodwill in Silverdale, because I found the coat to be absolutely cowbell. I was jealous. This is just the kind of clothing I want to wear in public to embarrass my wife.

Don’t come at these guys with paint, either. The coat is a fake, all acrylic. “No animals were harmed in dressing for Sasquatch!” said Robinson. Besides, over four days of camping and watching musicians, that coat will likely be used as a sleeping bag, napkin and maybe even a vomit target. And if it’s raining, it could double as a sled. Something tells me that coat won’t be making the trip home.

No worries, though. If you want one, Robinson said there was another one inside the store. I’m sure it’s not my size. I’m working on that, though, so you better hurry.

Memories of a gorgeous day

We had a gorgeous day today, didn’t we! And it looks like the rest of the week will be even better, until the weekend.

Since we would be silly to take gorgeous days for granted, I thought I’d show evidence here of one that we had recently so that it’s on our permanent record.

When I went to cover the people who ran and walked to show resolve a day after the Boston Marathon bombings, I also took some footage that didn’t make it onto the video. It remained on the cutting room floor, if you will. (You know what kind of people say “if you will?” The same people who still use “cutting room floor.”)

So I put together a 25-second video for you to enjoy when the skies outside are gray. This Saturday, for example.

Klahowya grad hits the big time and the big house. Don’t judge yet.

Meili Cady
Meili Cady, a 2004 Klahowya Secondary School honors grad, left Kitsap not long after high school aiming to find a break in Hollywood. In late August she made it into Rolling Stone magazine, but not in a way her friends from here would have predicted.

Cady was a homecoming princess, ASB co-president and honors student. She said she was voted by her classmates “Most likely to be famous.” Seems they got that one right.

She is under house arrest now and did real jail time for her part in a drug trafficking operation.

It isn’t as bad as all that. Start with the Rolling Stone piece and it seems clear that Cady’s path to prison came from trusting a committed manipulator, reportedly an heiress within the Samsung family, for far too long, caring for her friend even they were both arrested in Columbus, Ohio. Seriously, this is a compelling story about a woman, Lisette Lee, who had an amazing ability to turn friends and acquaintances into puppets. Cady, who didn’t want to believe the worst about her friend in the face of all evidence, reflects now on the price she paid by trusting so much.

“It ends up being a fatal flaw to trust someone so blindly,” she said. “It ended up tainting me and hurting the people I love. It was really awful to be so wrong about something I thought was so sacred.”

She told me that Monday during a 90-minute conversation we had by phone.

She has remained in Los Angeles, living the aspiring actress life, which means she’s working as a waitress as she considers her future, all the while wearing an ankle monitor that lets law enforcement know where she is all the time.

Cady blogs about her day-to-day life in an engaging blog titled House Arrest Girl. She tells of the monotony of staying home all the time, of friends who visit and of a creepy neighbor who took too much delight in watching her as she chatted with a friend outside. If you go far enough into the archives, you’ll find this description of her relationship with her ankle bracelet:

“They say that the true nature of a relationship cannot be holistically assessed until it has survived a full year of seasons. I’ve been with my ankle bracelet now for more than seven months. He came to live with me the day we met. Fast, I know, but we were connected. We spent Christmas together, and we were skin-close at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve. He even comes into my work and insists on grocery shopping with me every week (awww). We don’t go out much. We are homebodies– but we do sleep together every night, even when I’m not happy with him before we get into bed. We are still inseparable, even at this very moment. But, I’ve got to be honest with you… I cannot wait to leave this bastard and never see him again come November.”

At some point later this year I hope to tell her story in greater detail, but I highly recommend you begin your understanding by reading the Rolling Stone piece. In the meantime I can tell you that she has no plans to let this whole affair ruin her life. She does wonder how the ordeal will affect her ability to be in a committed, romantic relationship the next time that opportunity arises. And she feels for how this might have affected her parents, who she calls her heroes. The blog has helped.

“Yes, this happened but this doesn’t define me,” Cady said. “I don’t want to be shamed by this circumstance. I want to grow from it.”

As of Monday she has 58 days left on house arrest.

Gratitude shown first responders with 19 quilts

October 29, 2011 was cold and rainy. The car in which Kattie Mendes was riding went out of control on Ridgetop Boulevard and spun off the road, slamming into a maple tree, splitting the tree.

First on the scene was off-duty firefighter Lt. Steve Murray, on his way home.

“I saw a car accident on the side of the road …”

Murray called 911 then checked Mendes and the young man who was driving. The two were lodged in the crumpled car and had to be extricated by Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue crews that followed shortly.

Mendes, then 26, was unconscious. EMTs began care to stabilize her for an airlift to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, which receives many traumatic injuries from Kitsap County.

In all 19 first responders (all from CKFR except Murray) aided the two victims, all but certainly saving their lives.

Francie Mendes, Kattie’s mom, wanted to show her gratitude, and her sister Cheri Searles quickly got on board. Searles is a member of the Kitsap Quilters Guild.

“I said cookies. She said, ‘No, we’re going to make quilts,'” Francie Mendes said of her older sister’s idea.

The two had made quilts for the Lakewood Police Department after four of its officers were gunned down in a Tacoma coffee shop in 2009.

Nineteen quilts seemed a daunting task, Francie said, but they took it one at a time. Each quilt was different. Each has a special message sewn into the corner.

“That’s all we did for six months was work on those quilts. We did nothing else,” Francie said.

Some of the material was donated.

On Tuesday, the sisters presented the quilts at a meeting of the CKFR board of commissioners in Silverdale.

“We are so thankful for all of you here and what you did on that night of October 29 that forever changed our lives,” Francie said.

Kattie is recovering slowly, her mother told the men and women who arrived on the scene. But her memory, speech and fine motor skills remain impaired. She has no memory of the accident, and her short-term memory is poor — though she can remember long-term information, like phone numbers from when her dad was in the Navy and they lived in different places every few years. Through hard work and therapy, Kattie is almost ready to go back to work with Verizon Wireless.

“We know you see so much bad and ugly, we just want to make you happy,” Francie said.

Not all the firefighter/EMTs were able to make it to the ceremony. But those who did got warm hugs from the two sisters as they accepted their gifts.

“Thank you from my niece,” Searles said, as she embraced Murray.

“Thank you so much,” she said to Firefighter Kara Putnam.

Putnam’s unit arrived after Mendes already had been transported from the scene. She helped give aid to the young man, who also is recovering from serious injuries.

“It’s pretty overwhelming,” Putnam said after the brief, informal ceremony. “It’s incredibly kind of them. When we first heard they were doing this … you get chills.”

Putnam said the quilt she chose would coordinate with her bedroom at home, but she has other plans.

“I’ll probably keep this at the station on my dorm bed,” she said.

“It was a labor of love. They really enjoyed what they did,” said Andy Mendes, Kattie’s father.

He was a firefighter on naval aircraft carriers, so he could relate to the daily demands on the group being honored.

“It’s nice to be able to meet these people and be able to show them how much we appreciate what they did,” Andy Mendes said.

Added Cheri’s husband Russ, “Too few tell them thank you.”

The quilting marathon was a bonding experience for the two sisters, both from Poulsbo.

“As sisters, we laughed, we cried,” Francie Mendes said. “Everything here has been prayed over, not just for the people who are receiving the quilts, but for their families.”

… and for everyone who comes under their care.

“We never argue,” said Francie, with a wink at her elder sister.

To which Cheri replied, “That’s because I’m always right.

…. In the photo below by Kitsap Sun photographer Meegan Reid, Francie Mendes hugs firefighter Lt. Steve Murray of North Kitsap Fire & Rescue. Francie’s sister Cheri Searles is in the background.