Category Archives: South Kitsap

Investigation of alleged bullying unrelated to Canton’s resignation, superintendent says

Note Jan. 9, 2014: Michelle Caldier contacted me after this post was published and told me that she did not authorize for her Facebook profile to be added to the group Parents Against South Kitsap Football.

A complaint of bullying by the parent of one student on this year’s South Kitsap High School football team was not connected to head coach Eric Canton’s recent resignation, Superintendent Michelle Reid said Thursday.

Reid early in December authorized a third party investigation into the complaints of Jennifer Wilkinson on behalf of her son, a senior on the Wolves’ varsity squad. Wilkinson alleges that Canton and other staff intimidated her son in retaliation for criticism he and later she lodged with the coach and high school athletic director over concerns they had about safety issues and whether player time was handled fairly.

Wilkinson also alleges that her son’s privacy rights were violated in online discussions of his academic eligibility to play for the Wolves.

Canton resigned on Dec. 26 after meeting earlier in the month with the high school principal and later athletic director Ed Santos. Those encounters were followed by a Dec. 23 meeting with the district’s director of human resources, an assistant superintendent and a couple of union reps.

As Canton told Kitsap Sun sports columnist Chuck Stark, he felt he had no choice but to resign.

“I wasn’t going to fight it,” Canton said.

Reid said Wilkinson’s complaint trickled up to her some weeks after Wilkinson filed a harassment, intimidation and bullying (HIB) complaint on Oct. 14. Most such complaints are handled within the school and never actually result in a formal HIB report, Reid said.

Two formal HIB reports were filed within the district in the last two years, both at the high school. One was Wilkinson’s complaint about Canton; the other, filed last school year, was unrelated to Canton. Last year’s report did not result in a third party investigation.

South Kitsap High School officials conducted an investigation of Wilkinson’s complaint, but she wasn’t satisfied, and she appealed to the next level, the superintendent.

At that point, Reid said, she decided to engage a third party investigator.
“It’s an objective look at the facts so we can tone down the emotional intensity and tone down the rhetoric a little so we can just looks at the facts,” she said.

Were there complaints from other parents or the community about Canton?

“Complaints have not come to me personally about Coach Canton,” Reid said.

The investigation, which is still under way, is being conducted by Rick Kaiser, an attorney specializing in workplace investigations, with experience in handling issues related to risk management in schools.

Reid said she believes having an outside party review the facts and allegations is in the best interests of all concerned.

“Obviously we take those reports seriously,” Reid said. “We need to have a full and thoughtful look at all the events that took place. I have confidence that our staff at all times has the best intent for our young people.”

Reid said the investigator was in the district this week, although he has not yet interviewed her.

Unlike teachers, coaches serve on a year-to-year contract under authorization of the athletic director. Any “separation” must occur within 30 days of the end of season, Reid said. That explains the timing of Canton’s departure as coach.

He will, however, continue as a dean at the high school.

I asked Reid what protections the district affords to coaches, given the emotionally charged arena of high school sports.

“I will do everything I can to protect coaches. I think coaching is a difficult job in today’s world, and it’s an important job as well,” Reid said. “Part of the reason I have a third party investigator investigating the situation is to protect our coaches. My assumption going in is that our coaches have done the right thing.

“I think the best protection for our coaches is the truth. I believe the investigation is going to surface facts that will support the truth.”

Reid did not know when the investigation would be complete.

As for Canton himself, she added, “I think he’s a fine young man. I really appreciate Canton’s dedication and passion for South Kitsap School District and the athletic program here at South Kitsap High School. I admire his dedication and passion.”

Reid said she couldn’t comment on whether the Wolves’ less than stellar record during Canton’s tenure bore on his resignation, because “I’m not at liberty to discuss a personnel matter at this point.”

South was 6-4 Canton’s first season with the Wolves advancing to a Class 4A state preliminary round. South was 4-6 and 3-7 the past two seasons.

“I take full responsibility for not winning enough games,” Canton told Stark.
He added however, that “helping athletes become productive members of society” is a higher priority for him than winning games in high school.

Jennifer Wilkinson (Downey) is related to incoming 26th District State Rep. Michelle Downey Caldier, who is listed as a member of Wilkinson’s Facebook group Parents Against South Kitsap Football Program. The group had eight members on Thursday.

SKSD video message to Arne Duncan makes a top 10 list

Last year, when Washington State lost its waiver under No Child Left Behind, South Kitsap School District teachers and administrators got together to give U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan a message. Lip synchingIt came in the form of a rendition of Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” — as in all they want is a little — sung by music teacher Leslie Niemi, karaoke style, with lively backup from various school officials. Thus, they belted out their frustration with their schools being labeled as “failing” under NCLB standards.

Teachers and school officials wiggled their hips and clapped to the beat. In the video, Superintendent Michelle Reid, usually staid and suited, cuts loose in a pink feather boa in the video by the high school’s production crew. Small wonder visitors to the website Our Kids Our Future made it third among the site’s top viewed posts from 2014, according to the Washington State School Directors Association, which does a roundup of education news from around the state and nation every week.

Others posts on Our Kids Our Future included: “Emerald Ridge grad strikes it big as professional umpire,” “Being included means everything,” and “Put your ‘teacher’ hat on.”

Without question, the website draws an audience sympathetic to the district’s message. Our Kids Our Future‘s “campaign is led by a group of Washington education organizations, including WSSDA. The goal is to highlight excellence in Washington State public schools,” according to its “about us” page. Partners include the state’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, as well as state associations of school principals, school administrators, the state teachers union, PTAs, school boards and others.

Vested interests aside, pretty much everyone, including members of Congress, agree that NCLB was a good idea but flawed in how it was a carried out. Standards for all students, no exceptions, were ramped up over time until meeting them became all but impossible. In recognition, the federal government allowed a waiver for states whose districts were making “adequate yearly progress” toward the ideal. Washington lost its waiver this year when the Legislature — pressured by teachers and others — declined to support a teacher evaluation program relying on statewide test scores. That meant districts had to inform parents that their schools, some of which had recently earned recognition from the state, were “failing.” Schools that receive federal Title I money and which have been placed in one of five levels of “improvement” have to set aside some of their Title I allocation for parents who want their children transported to a different school or district, or who wanted tutoring outside the failing school.

In a story we wrote in August, as districts tried to figure out the implications, I cited a letter Reid wrote to families in which she called the “fail” label “regressive and punitive.” Clearly, SKSD’s performance was designed not only to stick it to Arne Duncan — with a great sense of rhythm, no less — but as a moral boost for the staff. And for my money, no matter where you stand on NCLB, it’s always a moral booster to see a school superintendent in a feather boa.
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Wonder what they’ll do for an encore.

Student bullied for speech impediment takes a stand

State schools Superintendent Randy Dorn on Wednesday used the Marysville shooting as a cautionary tale about the role of social media in young people’s lives. Kids today live in two simultaneous worlds, one real, one virtual, both intertwined.

“Social media is all around them, and many young people feel safer and are more open with Twitter and Tumblr and other channels,” Dorn said.

That’s not all bad, but it can go south quickly when rumors or compromising photos and videos get spread online.

Dorn called out cyberbullying as a potential trigger for real-life violence in schools, and he offered a tip sheet (below) for parents and school staff to help them recognize warning signs of distress or conflict online.

These are uneasy times for schools. Sadly, lockdowns are becoming part of the routine for students, precautions against the unthinkable.

On Oct. 23, the day before the Marysville-Pilchuck High School shooting, a threat by a Central Kitsap High School student put that school on lockdown. The threat against another student wasn’t made on campus (and it’s not clear whether cyberbullying was part of it), but school officials were taking no chances.

On Oct. 29, a man’s hostile text messages to his estranged wife, a Poulsbo Elementary School employee, led to a lockdown at that school and at Poulsbo Middle School.

On Wednesday, South Kitsap Schools briefly were on modified lockdown, as law enforcement agencies searched for David Michael Kalac, suspect in the murder of a Port Orchard woman. Kalac, believed to have posted pictures of the body online, was later found to have fled the state and was arrested late Wednesday in Oregon.

Speaking of cyberbullying, a student who identifies herself as South Kitsap High School’s “new gossip girl” began last week posting crude and potentially embarrassing posts on Twitter. The girl has gotten some push back from other students. And one parent called her out on the Port Orchard Facebook group, urging students and others to virtually shun her.

On Bainbridge Island, student Otis Doxtater took the fight against bullying (cyber and otherwise) to the next level.

Doxtater, a junior at Eagle Harbor High School, on Oct. 21 organized students from kindergarten through 12th grade to hold a silent procession and demonstration of unity against bullying on the campus of Commodore K-12 Options School, where Eagle Harbor is located.
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The students created a linked chain of paper on which each had written something unique about themselves on one side and what they would do to stand up to bullying on the other. The paper slips were orange for National Unity Day, which was Oct. 22.

Younger in life, Doxtater was painfully familiar with bullying.

“I’ve always had a stutter, so that was always something that would be made fun of,” he said.

And this wasn’t the first time Doxtater had made a public protest against bullying. He has spent hours in the parking lot near McDonald’s on Bainbridge Island with a sign that reads “Love and Equality” on one side and “Stop Bullying” on the other. On Twitter, he uses the hashtag #stopbullying, and he has a YouTube channel, otisdoxtater, demonstrating some of the positive uses for social media.

The response of his schoolmates after the Unity Day demonstration was gratifying.

“As I was walking down the hall, people were walking up to me and said I did an awesome job,” Doxtater said. “It made me feel really good. It made me feel accomplished and proud.”

Doxtater knows he’s putting himself out there, but he’s OK with that.

“I realize I am making myself vulnerable and people are going to criticize me,” Doxtater said. “But I realize it’s something I’m passionate about and I’m willing to get criticized for something that I know is right.”

Maybe Dorn should hire him as a consultant.


Locals help find, return lost Kansas dog

Patty headed home to Kansas by plane Thursday, July 23, after going missing south of Port Orchard on July 4.
Patty headed home to Kansas by plane Thursday, July 23, after going missing south of Port Orchard on July 4.

After Paul Sawatski arrived at the Tacoma Narrows Bridge toll booth and realized that his dog Patty was missing from the back of the truck, her leash and collar dangling over the side of the vehicle, he spent three days searching for her along Highway 16 without success.

More than a week after Sawatski returned to Kansas, several Kitsap County locals continued the search for Patty, a six-year-old hound dog Sawatski has had since she was seven weeks old, he said.

Patty was eventually caught in a live trap with the help of Julie Saavedra, of Bremerton, on July 18, and arrived back in Kansas July 23, almost three weeks after she went missing.

“She clicked her little paws three times and back to Kansas she went,” Saavedra said.

The dog was in good health when she was found, she added.

And Patty is now back to lounging on the bed at home, Sawatski said.

Sawatski and his fiancé Jessica Mahler were driving back to Kansas after visiting family in Kitsap County during the Fourth of July. Sawatski grew up in Seabeck and now lives in Wichita, Kan.

Patty and Jessica both dislike fire works, so Sawatski said he decided to take them and their other two dogs — Charlie and Franklin — to camp grounds were fireworks were not allowed. Somewhere between the Tremont Street exit and the Tacoma Narrows Bridge on Highway 16, Sawatski said he thinks Patty must have jumped out, something she has never done before.

“No one honked. I didn’t hear anything hit the truck,” he said.

Sawatski and Mahler spent the Fourth of July driving up and down Highway 16 looking for Patty. There was no sign of the dog in the road, which kept Sawatski hopeful, he said.

The couple stayed through the weekend searching and contacting local humane societies. Mahler flew back to Kansas for work on Monday and Sawatski stay an extra day to search for Patty.

After seeing online postings for the missing dog, Saavedra contacted the Sawatski and offered her helping locating Patty. Saavedra runs the Facebook page “Kitsap and Mason counties Lost and Found Furbabies.”

People would call Saavedra or Sawatski when they sighted the dog, narrowing where she could be found.

After several reported sightings around the Purdy Crescent Road exit, Saavedra set a live trap with a cooked steak, chew toy and T-shirt that Sawatski mailed her. The hope was that Sawatski’s scent would bring the hound dog into the trap, Saavedra said.

“I think the steak had something to do with it too,” Sawatski said.

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

Dr. Who? In which I learn what I’ve been missing

Yes, I have been living under a rock.
So when the Kitsap Sun got an email from Fred Rabinovitz of Port Orchard saying he and his son had built a TARDIS in their garage, the newsworthiness of the announcement whizzed right past me … defying the laws of space and time … much like the TARDIS itself.
When I was asked to write about Rabinovitz’s TARDIS, I had no idea how lucky I was. My first clue was photographer Meegan Reid, who clawed the assignment away from Larry Steagall and who gushed with excitement when we arrived at Rabinovitz’s garage.
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Meegan is by nature pretty low key. I don’t think I’ve seen her this worked up over anything … except maybe those whales in Dyes Inlet. To myself, I’m like, “Nice blue box. But what’s the big deal?”
To Whovians everywhere, I apologize for my ignorance.
The TARDIS, of course, is the time-space travel machine that figures centrally in the long-running BBC television series “Dr. Who.” From the outside, it appears an ordinary British police call box. Inside … ah, that’s another story.
The Doctor in “Dr. Who” has had multiple incarnations since the show launched in 1963 — each played by different actors, with different (mostly female) sidekicks and villainous otherworldly enemies.
I’m not going to say how many Doctors there have been for fear of stepping into Whovian trivia quicksand. I do know the Doctor is an alien Time Lord (apparently with two hearts) and a shape shifter … unlike the TARDIS (for Time and Relative Dimension in Space), which got stuck as a police call box early on in the series.
That’s not to say the TARDIS is a static prop.
Over the course of the series — both the “classic” earlier version and the reincarnation that began in 2005 — the TARDIS has been so much more than a vehicle through space and time. It (she?) has a personality and oft independent will, as the Doctor does battle over the millennia with various hordes of rubbery monsters. All of this is served up with that dry British wit that seems to poke fun at the show’s inherent hokiness.
What’s not to love?
Jordan Rabinovitz, 17, is the resident Whovian – reminiscent of the 11th Doctor in a natty vest and bow tie — proud as a hen on a new clutch of eggs as he opens the door to the TARDIS.
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Inside, Fred Rabinovitz, an engineer by trade, has done wonders with a metal recycling bin, some holiday rope lights and a DJ’s music mixing console he got off eBay. There’s even a black-and-white television that displays a grainy image of the hypnotizing introduction to the show.
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Jordan pushes a button and the TARDIS emits a noise suggestive of futuristic travel. His secret? A key scraped along a piano wire. It’s thoroughly convincing. Take note, BBC.
The Rabinovitz TARDIS has had its own dramatic career, appearing in the family’s extravagant Christmas light display and as a prop in a video for a Spanish assignment.
Jordan is a relative newcomer to the fandom — which like the TARDIS is bigger on the inside that it appears from the outside. He started watching in December 2012.
“I had heard a little bit about it. I decided I may as well watch the first episode (from the 2005 reboot), and it just got me intrigued,” Jordan said. “Episode by episode, the emotional attachment set in.”
By June he had his dad hard at work on the TARDIS.
“I would build it, and he would come out and say, ‘That’s not right.’” Fred said. “I’d say, ‘It’s good enough.’ And he’d say, ‘No, it’s not.’”
“It’s a work in progress,” Fred said. “We’re always adding to it.”
Jordan Rabinovitz has watched many of the Dr. Who episodes — including those of the classics he can locate — and he can rattle off trivia rapid fire. He even has a replica of the crazy-long scarf worn by an earlier doctor and a sonic screwdriver.
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Jordan, a senior at Crosspointe Christian Academy, often comes home from a long day and closes himself in the TARDIS. Listening to the take-off noise or music from the console, he is indeed transported.
“It’s a getaway. It’s imaginative. It lets the creative juices flow,” Jordan said. “I have achieved time travel, but only when I’m in it.”
In case there was any question, let’s make one thing perfectly clear: “I’m a huge fan, not obsessive,” Jordan said. “There’s a line; you don’t cross it. Some have, and I’m sorry for them.”
As to the question, “Is it bigger on the inside?” Just wait ‘til you see their next model.

An ‘Elise and Joey’ fundraiser update

On Sunday night dozens of Elise Fulton’s closest friends met at a South Kitsap church to raise funds for Elise and her son Joey to get a trip to Disneyland. The event was sparked by Elise’s wish that before she died that she and Joey, who is 2, would get some time together in the Magic Kingdom.

Elise, as we wrote in a story last week, has leukemia and doctors had recently told her she had no more than a few months left. Her final wish, in fact, was that Joey get to go to Disneyland and additionally to gather with relatives he’d yet to meet.

Phil Daubenspeck, associate pastor of the South Kitsap Family Worship Center said Sunday night’s event raised $18,500, more than enough to get Joey and his accompanying family to Southern California and to Montana for the chance to meet relatives.

Elise’s mother, Linda Fulton, said Elise in recent weeks became aware that she might not be around long enough to make the trip with Joey, but she wanted to make sure he got to go.

Elise was too ill to make it to Sunday’s event. She and her mom witnessed it via Skype. On Monday afternoon Linda Fulton said Elise was hanging in there. Cancer, and chemotherapy, has a way of making someone fragile, less able to battle off infections and the like.

For anyone still wishing to contribute, donations can be made at the Family Worship Center website at http://www.fwclive.com/#!elise–joey-miracle-fund/c1o7c, or to the “Elise & Joey Miracle Fund” at any Wells Fargo Bank. Account No.: 3773077320.

What to do while we wait? Make chili!

Ten days, 43 minutes and 2 seconds until our Seahawks meet the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII. That is unless a snow storm “of massive proportions” plays havoc with the game.

In case you just arrived from another planet, kickoff is at 3:25 p.m. (PST) Sunday, February 2, at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

I am the epitome of a fair weather fan. I’ve watched one football game start to finish … ever. And guess which it was? Lucky me.

Now, like everyone else, I’m counting down the days until the Superbowl. So I can relate totally to fans at the End Zone Sports Pub in Port Orchard, who have a strategy to make the waiting (and a weekend without pro football) less agonizing.

“What about the Pro Bowl?” I asked Janet Wilson, who owns the pub with husband Steve. “Doesn’t that count?”

OK well, you can see I’m a newbie. The feeling of the End Zone’s customers about the Pro Bowl is a unified, “Meh.”

So what are they going to do with all that down time? Make chili.

The End Zone plans a chili cook-off at 1 p.m. Saturday. It’s a tradition started six years ago by a handful of customers just trying to kill time’ til the Super Bowl. Last year, there were close to 25 entries. Most who enter are guys. There have been some husband versus wife match ups. Last year’s winner was Lisa Gilliand.

Variety (not necessarily heat) is the name of the game in this crowd, many who are hunters.

“We’ve had elk; we’ve had salmon; we’ve had chicken,” said Janet Wilson (no relation to Russell, unless I missed something). “We’ve had some horrible ones. A lot of them were men who didn’t know what they were doing.”

But they’ve come along, learned a lot over the years. “I think the guys generally want to be the best cook,” Wilson said.

There are no rules in this “customer driven” contest. The prizes are bragging rights, your name on a plaque and the chance to wear the Chili Crown for a day.

A panel of six judges makes the call on the best batch. There’s also a people’s choice award. Once the judging is over, they break out the cornbread and cheese and the feast is on.

Speaking of chili, I will now reprise a recipe for Uncle Dan’s Habañero Hellfire Chili given to me courtesy of Dan Saul. Saul, related to the owners of Hubert’s Christmas Tree Farm, was handing out samples when I did a story on the farm in December 2012. It was the perfect thing after stomping around in the cold and rain. Warmed you right up and then some.

Uncle Dan’s chili consists of little chunks of beef and pork swimming in a fragrant, spicy broth, with grace notes of chocolate and the kick of 15, count them, 15 habañero peppers (for a recipe that serves 20). Not so secret ingredients include bittersweet chocolate, strong coffee and a quart of dark beer. Is it hot? Heck, yeah!

Uncle Dan is a colorful character. You can read all about him in my original blog post about the chili.

Here’s the recipe for Uncle Dan’s Habañero Hellfire Chili. Don’t say you weren’t warned. (If you don’t need 20 servings, hopefully you can do the math to cut it down.)

Serves 20

Ingredients:

4 onions, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
3 pounds ground beef
2 pounds ground pork
15 jalapeños, seeded and chopped
15 habañero peppers, seeded and chopped
20 Anaheim peppers, seeded and chopped
1 quart dark beer
4 cups coffee (strong brewed)
2 (28-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes
5 (16-ounce) cans chili beans
1 (six-ounce) can tomato paste
1 cup chili powder
2-ounces bittersweet chocolate, shaved into fine pieces
1/4 cup lime juice
1 tbsp. cayenne pepper
3 tbsp. cumin
3 tbsp. smoked paprika

Directions
In a stock pot brown beef and pork over medium-high heat
Season with salt and pepper
While meat is browning, stir in all ingredients except beans
Reduce heat to simmer for two hours, stirring occasionally
Add beans and continue simmering for 45 minutes.

“Bon appetite,” says Dan.

South Kitsap Transportation by the numbers

You may have read the story about neighbors of South Kitsap School District’s bus barn who have complained about recent changes that meant an earlier, noisier start to bus activity in the Lincoln Avenue neighborhood. The district has come up with a short-term solution, and they are working on long-term ideas, as well. We will continue to follow this story.

If you have anything to say about South Kitsap Transportation, call or email me, Chris Henry, chenry@kitsapsun.com, (360) 792-9219.

In the meantime, did you know: District buses travel 1.25 million miles a year, and their oldest bus, 25 years, has 285,000 miles.

Here’s a video and (below) some more statistics on SKSD’s transportation operations.

Schools served: 16

Enrollment: 9,026

Square miles covered: 144

Rides (one-way) per day: About 10,000, including field trips

Fleet: 89 vehicles

Gallons of fuel per year: 160,000 gallons of diesel;
14,000 of unleaded

Drivers: 90

Mechanics: 6

Annual budget: $4.9 million

Average bus age: large, 11.3 years; small, 8.2 years

State recommended replacement age: large, 13 years; small, 8 years

Port Orchard native represents in singing competition

Jessica Barry sings in the shower; she sings in the car. Now, she’s singing in a American Idol-style vocal competition hosted by McDonald’s. And you thought they just made fast food.

Barry, 19, is a graduate of South Kitsap schools, including Hidden Creek Elementary, Marcus Whitman Junior High School and South Kitsap High. She works at McDonalds, and is studying business and marketing at the University of Washington’s Tacoma campus. This summer, while working at the Mile Hill McDonald’s, Barry hear of the 2014 Voice of McDonald’s (VOM) Worldwide Singing Competition and decided to try out, said the company’s regional spokeswoman Hope Lash.
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In September, Barry learned that judges had selected her as one of the Top 25 U.S. semi-finalists to represent the McDonald’s Northwest Region, which includes Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska.

She flew down to Los Angeles, worked with a voice coach and recorded her music video for the on-line competition web site, where she is among 25 vocalists representing the United States’ various regions. The four worldwide categories are Asia-Pacific/ Middle East Africa, Europe and Canada. I’m not sure what happened to Central and South America.

This handy map I found on Wikipedia shows when McDonald’s restaurants were established around the world. The U.S. and Canada were the earliest adopters (no surprise there), with most restaurants established between 1940 and 1969. Many countries in Africa and the Middle East do not have McDonald’s. Iran and Boliva used to have McDonald’s but no longer do. McDonalds started trickling into South and Central America in 1975, with Brazil taking the lead, so as I said, I’m not sure why there are no singers from these regions. Nothing political mind you; just a question/ observation.

But I’ve taken quite a bird walk here. Back to the real story.

If Jessica is chosen as one of the top three United States favorites in this vote-driven competition, she will perform live at the McDonald’s 2014 Worldwide Convention in Orlando against 15 other global finalists. The winner will receive $25,000 plus opportunities to connect with top music industry producers and performers.

Voting opened Monday and continues through Dec. 2. And to paraphrase Barack Obama’s promotion of the Affordable Care Act 800-number, here once again is the McDonald’s vocal contest website, http://www.voiceofmcdonalds.com/voting. Click on United States, then Jessica Barry.