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Archive for the ‘Kitsap County’ Category

The Pink-a-Nator petitions to park at the courthouse

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Surely you’ve seen the Pink-a-Nator. It’s hard to miss the Pepto-Bismol pink utility truck with the slogan “Servin’ it up curb side.”
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The food truck dishing out specialty burgers, po’boys and other hearty comestibles has had a regular spot at the Annapolis Sunday Market and in a lot near the Fred Meyer shopping center (although not so much lately, since owner Michelle Roberts-Wash has been busy with catering).

Now, Roberts-Wash has her sights set on the Kitsap County Courthouse campus.

She attended last week’s Port Orchard City Council meeting to pitch her plan. The truck would occupy more than one space. The council’s public property committee has discussed the idea, said Councilman Jeff Cartwright, a committee member. The committee suggested a 90-day trial pending feedback from the county.

Meantime, the Kitsap County administrator expressed concerns about loss of parking spots that are already at a premium, according to Port Orchard City Clerk Brandy Rinearson.

Roberts-Wash had scoped out parking spaces on Austin Avenue between the county administration building and public works building. Councilman Rob Putaansuu noted that, at the previous meeting Aug. 12, a city resident had complained that she couldn’t find a place to drop off her ballot.

Other spaces Roberts-Wash had looked at were in front of the courthouse or the Sheriff’s Office.

Councilman Jerry Childs asked if this would set a precedent. What if others came along looking for space to sell their wares?

The public property committee talked about that, Cartwright said. In fact the Pink-a-Nator sparked a wide ranging discussion about food trucks, including Portland’s approach of designating whole blocks to meals on wheels. “Should the city have its own designated food truck zone?” the committee pondered.

“We talked very heavily about the parking versus the convenience of having a food service there,” Cartwright said. “We also talk about would that food service impact other businesses that also serve food.”

A hot dog vendor has a permit to sell in front of the administration building. Inside, Coffee Oasis has an espresso stand that sells food items.

Several council members commented — in the spirit of free enterprise — that competition with other businesses shouldn’t drive their decision.

Putaansuu also suggested the Pink-a-Nator might work in “underutilized” areas including Cline Avenue (the flat part not the mountain climb) and the gravel lot off Taylor Avenue.

Mayor Tim Matthes said South Kitsap County Commissioner Charlotte Garrido “would appreciate more notice and more information than she’s received so far.”

The council agreed to honor Garrido’s request, and Roberts-Wash said she’s fine with that.

So what do you think? If Port Orchard were to designate a food truck zone, where should it be?

And, if you’re a restaurant or cafe owner with a brick-and-mortar location, what are your thoughts on a food truck zone?


Roadside vegetation: Where the Sidewalk Ends

Saturday, June 14th, 2014

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.


Long Lake taxing district map: where’s your property?

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

Here, as promised, is a map of proposed boundaries for a lake management district to pay for control of invasive weeds and toxic algae at Long Lake in South Kitsap.

I’ve written a couple of stories about this recently: One explaining the problem of the weeds and algae, which in the past have degraded the lake environment and spoiled its recreational potential. Today I wrote a follow-up on a public hearing set for April 18.

Treatment of the lake from 2006 through 2010 was paid for with a state Department of Ecology grant, but that source is no longer available.

Property owners on and near the lake later this year will get to vote on whether to assess themselves to pay for weed and algae control.

The cost for lakeshore properties would be $252 per year, under the current proposal. Properties with access to the lake would pay $144 per year; and properties in “close proximity” would pay $52 per year. The boundaries and the assessment amounts, along with pretty much everything else about the proposal, is subject to change. A lot depends on what the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners hears from lake area residents, and other people with an interest in the lake at the public hearing on April 28 (we’ll remind you when and where as the hearing gets closer).

In the meantime, if you have questions, visit the website of the group Citizens for Improving Long Lake, which initiated the process for the election. Or contact Eric Baker, Kitsap County special projects manager, at ebaker@co.kitsap.wa.us or (360) 337-4495.

Long Lake Management District Map by sunnews820


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

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014
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


Memorial to girls planned on Baby Doll Road Wednesday

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

Family and friends of two teenage girls killed in a single car collision Dec. 16 on Baby Doll Road will gather at the site Wednesday, as Kitsap County installs memorial signs commemorating the crash victims.
Rebekah Faye Barrett, 18, of South Kitsap, and Shanaia Rose Bennett, 17, of Gig Harbor, died on the scene, after the Toyota Camry Barrett was driving skidded of the road and slammed into a tree. A third girl, 17, survived the crash.
Witnesses reported that Barrett had been racing with a 1997 Toyota pickup, driven by her boyfriend Robert A. Rundquist. Rundquist, 20, of South Kitsap faces two counts of vehicular homicide in Kitsap County Superior Court. His trial is set for May.
The signs, purchased with donations through the county’s memorial sign program, will urge safe driving.
“If either one of those signs saves one life, it will be worth it,” said Rhonda Barrett, Rebekah’s mother.
Anyone is welcome to attend the memorial from noon to 1 p.m. on Baby Doll Road. The road will be closed during the event.


Poulsbo Fire Department handling more than fires, medical calls

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014
Poulsbo Fire Department's "C Shift" built a ramp during their own time for a family in need. Contributed photo

Poulsbo Fire Department’s “C Shift” built a ramp during their own time for a family in need. Contributed photo

As the Poulsbo Fire Department responded to a medical call last month, the crew tripped over a makeshift wheelchair ramp.

The ramp — made from a lawn mower loading plank on top of two pieces of two-by-eight lumber — left the four-man crew nervous about the family’s safety. A mother, who uses a wheelchair, recently moved in with her daughter, who also is caring for her husband.

“The family seemed a little overwhelmed,” Lt. Chris Rahl said.

After a quick conversation the group — firefighters Chris Rahl, Steve Behal and Chris Cribbs, along with paramedic Ed McLaughlin — asked the family if they could build a new ramp.

And on Feb. 12, a day that all four men were off duty, the crew made a morning supply run for lumber and built the ramp in place during the afternoon.

The new eight-foot long, non-skid ramp only took a few hours to build and was a relatively simple project, Rahl said.

And funding the project was simple.

The department has a community assistance fund that comes from fundraisers and donations, Rahl said. The fund also is used to pay for hotel rooms when a home is severely damaged by a fire, North Kitsap Fishline’s holiday meals and other community aid.

But the department doesn’t take requests, Rahl said.

When firefighters and paramedics see a need, like a new ramp, they take action.

While the fire department has built ramps in the past, the recent ramp is the first one in five or six years, according to Rahl.

Usually, you won’t hear Poulsbo’s firefighters talking much about their community assistance. They are humble and aren’t after recognition, according to spokesperson Jody Matson.

“They just did it to help.”


Strategic plan, timeline set for mental-health tax

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

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

Friday, January 31st, 2014
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

Thursday, January 16th, 2014
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.”


How does Pierce County’s gun ordinance affect Kitsap?

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

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.


Super Bowl XLIX

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