Peninsular Thinking A conversation about Bremerton, Port Orchard, Poulsbo, Silverdale, Bainbridge Island, Kingston, Manchester, Seabeck, Southworth, Suquamish, Belfair, Keyport, Olalla, Bangor, Hansville, Indianola, Port Gamble, Allyn, Port Ludlow, Gig Harbor and every once in a while something about the good folks who don't have the good fortune to live here.
No matter what kind of negative experience you have ever had
with a school board, or probably any local government body, I have
a hard time imagining it being as difficult as what’s happening in
the East Ramapo, New York school district.
This story includes the federal and state governments, side
deals and alleged and real racism, all ingredients for contention.
And of course, some people get compared to Hitler, this time in a
place where that would be an especially inflammatory charge.
The strangest element here though is that the school board is
dominated by a group, a Hassidic Jewish community, who would never
send their own children to public schools. You can look at the coverage from the Journal
News, a Gannett news outfit in the Lower Hudson Valley in New York.
That coverage includes amazing video of the district’s attorney
actively mocking members of the public. New York Magazine
has a comprehensive piece that
explains so much of what is motivating the now dominant
One thing I think I can say without editorializing on who’s
right here; The district needs nicer lawyers.
I first heard about this on the This American Life
episode that aired locally here on KUOW on Saturday. I think it
does a good job of being fair and it encapsulates the entire story
If you’ve driven through downtown Port Orchard lately, you will
have seen the old Los Cabos building wrapped in white plastic.
The city of Port Orchard
bought the eyesore in August with the idea of demolishing it to
improve the ambiance of the downtown core. The sale price of
$148,000 included demolition by Turnaround Inc., the company that
held receivership on the building. The demolition will be ongoing
for the next two to three weeks, hence the wrapped building. More
on that in a minute
The former site of Los Cabos restaurant was
gutted by fire in July 2013. There were boarding rooms upstairs
that were occupied at the time of the fire. Three people escaped by
climbing out a bathroom window onto a roof and jumping onto the bed
of a truck at street level.
The building sat abandoned ever since, growing a fine crop of
mold in what was the dining room.
But the mold is not the worst problem. The two-story,
6,000-plus-square-foot building was constructed in 1910, accord to
the Kitsap County Assessor, and has asbestos within from various
additions and remodels.
Asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral, is a remarkable
material, fireproof, strong, a good insulator, but it has been
linked to cancers
including mesothelioma, a cancer that attacks the lining of the
According to the
United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, asbestos can
be found in insulation of houses built (or remodeled) between 1930
and 1950, in textured paint and patching compounds whose use was
banned in 1977, some vinyl flooring tiles, some roofing and siding
shingles, older hot water pipes and furnaces.
According to Bobby Pelkey, of Rhine Demolition of Tacoma,
the company handling the building demo, asbestos isn’t a big
problem if it’s contained in materials like tile or widow putty,
but if it’s part of insulation or “popcorn” ceiling tile, tearing
it our could release the asbestos fibers that can cause cancer on
To protect themselves, workers wear fully enclosed suits and
respirators. They tear out the hazardous material and seal it
before removal. Inside the building itself, they construct a
three-segment decontamination chamber, which includes a shower for
removing any particles. The suits are bundled and sealed after they
are taken off, as with the rest of the contaminated material.
The job is hazardous, no doubt, but says Pelkey, “As long as you
take the proper steps to protect yourself, there’s nothing to worry
According to crew supervisor David Schultz — who has been in the
demolition business and working with asbestos for 21 years now —
one of the biggest dangers of older buildings is unstable floor and
ceilings. Before demolition begins, the building is tested for
asbestos, and a walk through reveals potential hazards, such as a
ceiling likely to collapse.
It’s a living, and decent one at that, Schultz said. “I make a
And about that plastic wrap, it seals any asbestos fibers inside
the building. So when the building comes down, the asbestos will
have been removed. Voila a blank slate.
Once the demolition is complete, gone will be the entire
building, including this well-established collection of pigeon
What would you like to see on the property?
On Sunday we told the story of Maddy
Herring, a local 21-year-old who nearly lost her life in the
Skokomish River. The story itself was certainly worth telling, but
every once in a while the story behind the story is worth revealing
to some degree. That is the case here.
Every morning and every evening we make calls to the local fire
agencies, Washington State Patrol, the coroner’s office and to
Central Communications to ask them and other local police agencies
if anything happened worth reporting. It’s just one way we learn
about things. Other times it’s people calling us, messaging us on
Facebook or Twitter or we hear something on the scanner. It’s not
the only way we learn things, but sometimes it turns into something
newsworthy. The vast majority of times there is nothing new to
report that comes from these calls. But they are worth making
because of the times there is something worth reporting.
On Monday, Aug. 25 it was my turn to make the night calls.
Included on our list of calls are three Bremerton Fire stations. My
recollection is that I called one station and the officer who
answered said there was nothing to report from the department, but
that I ought to talk to Kevin Bonsell at Station 3 because of
something he experienced while out with his family at Staircase the
day before. When I called there and talked to another department
officer I asked if Bonsell was available. I told him I had heard he
had experienced something unique on Sunday and he told me the
After hearing what happened I was eager for someone here to get
the story in the paper for a couple of reasons. One was that there
was a public service element to it that reminded people of the
dangers rivers can pose. The second, though, was that the story had
that element of danger, but ended well for everyone. People showed
up and did what they could and Maddy Herring is alive because of
it. Bonsell said he would see if the family was willing.
My understanding is the Herring family found him again by
reaching out through someone at the Central Kitsap Fire District,
and that word got over to Bremerton through them. No one who was
directly involved was advertising a story. That makes it even more
attractive, because no one was looking for publicity just for
themselves. Bonsell didn’t reach out to me, but once I asked him to
tell the story he saw the public service benefit as well.
It took a few days but eventually Bonsell called me back with
phone numbers for Maddy and her mother. By the time I spoke with
Maddy it was a week and two days after the event. I was hoping I
could get Bonsell to go out to the site to point out where it
happened and talk on video. I had very little hope that Maddy
herself would be willing to go. When I spoke to her, though, she
was up for it, again recognizing the public service aspect of the
story. So we made plans to meet her out there on Friday with a
photographer, Meegan Reid.
The video setting is not far from where it all happened, but
it’s not exactly there. When we first got there she tried to
recognize the spot and could not right away. We eventually figured
that the river was running lower than it was the Sunday almost two
weeks before. So we filmed from a nice place to provide a good
setting for the story. As you can see, Maddy was quite good at
After we finished filming Maddy, Meegan and I began walking back
to our car as Maddy decided to hike further up the trail. Meegan
and I kept thinking that we had missed a turn on the trail so we
hiked a little more than we’d planned before making it back. I
decided to go the ranger’s station and see if we could get an
incident report, which was when Maddy returned from the trail. In
the interim she had found the actual spot where she was stuck and
took some pictures. She said it looked more or less the same as it
had that Sunday, but there would have been no way we could have
gone down there with our cameras. She said seeing it made her heart
race a little and she was careful not to get too close. The other
bonus was the Herrings had left two pair of flip-flops and a
T-shirt behind in all the chaos, and that they were still there two
A man described as a political science professor also played a
role in the rescue. I reached out to several at the different
colleges in the area and struck out. Maddy’s mother, Theresa,
called me on Friday and we spoke that day. I wrote the story and
edited the video that night.
This whole thing came about because of a regular phone call we
make in which we essentially ask, “Anything happening?”
My guess is the crews at the fire stations are not glad we
interrupt their mornings and evenings to ask that question. I’m
always glad when they tell me the calls have been routine. Some of
that is because when the calls are not routine it usually means
something bad happened to someone. The other part is if something
happened it means more work. We’re like NASCAR fans who don’t
necessarily want there to be a wreck, but if there is one we don’t
want to miss it.
Most local fire agencies, the ones who still welcome our calls,
have been very good about sharing what’s happening with us. Maybe
it’s because they see the public service element in what they tell
us. I’m sure sometimes they get disappointed in how we write what
happened. That’s the risk, I suppose. But I think the public is
well served in that relationship. And it’s because of that
relationship that we were able to tell Maddy Herring’s story.
Back from the ashes … again, the Lighthouse restaurant will
reopen next week under new ownership, former general manager
Brookes Konig said Friday.
And the new owner would be Konig himself, who is leasing from
property owners Tim Tweten and Gordon Rush, doing business as 429
Bay Street LLC.
By now, everyone in Port Orchard knows the back story: how the
grand landmark building sat unoccupied during the recession, how
earlier this year Eric A. Smith of Bothell, a Seattle cop took a
stab at the restaurant business, hiring Konig as general manager,
how Smith called the place Robert Earl Lighthouse, after his dad,
how the community was happy to see
the place reopened in May.
Konig, former regional manager of Famous Dave’s, had no personal
connection to Smith. A friend of Konig’s in the local hospitality
industry hooked them up. So Konig was just as shocked as the rest
of South Kitsap when Smith was charged July 2 in Snohomish County
with three counts of first degree child molestation. Business,
dropped off after the charges came to light. Employees were laid
in mid-July, the Lighthouse closed.
Word was, Konig was looking for a backer to reopen the place. On
Friday, he signed the final papers on the lease, and he has
purchased the business from Smith.
On Saturday (that’s today) Rotary members will be at the
restaurant, now called the Port Orchard Lighthouse, helping get the
place back in shape for reopening some time next week. There’s a
free barbecue from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and anyone is welcome.
Konig is eager to regain the good will of the community and
hopes to distance the Lighthouse from the tarnish of allegations
against Smith. “The recovery is what’s so important to this
restaurant,” he said.
Konig has rehired 23 former staff members and is still
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
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
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
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
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
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
This is how it feels. Three young people in Kitsap County died
within a month of one another.
On July 4, Josh Osborn, 17, of South Kitsap, was on an outing
with friends when he fell into the Ohanapecosh River. His body was
recovered on July 28.
On July 14, JJ Hentz, 12, also of South Kitsap, was found
floating in Island Lake. He died two days later at Mary Bridge
Children’s Hospital in Tacoma.
Jenise Wright’s parents reported her missing on Aug. 3. The last
time the 6-year-old was seen was around 10 p.m. the night before.
On Aug. 7 her body was found, partially submerged in a muddy bog
near Steele Creek Trailer Park in East Bremerton, where her family
lives. On Aug. 9, Gabriel Gaeta, a friend of the Wright family, was
arrested on suspicion of raping and killing Jenise.
On Saturday, Josh Osborn and Jenise Wright, will be mourned at
memorial services a couple of hours apart. Both are open to the
Jenise’s service is at 1 p.m. at the Silverdale Stake Center,
9256 Nels Nelson Road NW.
Jenise was outgoing,
always at the center of activity at the mobile home park. She
loved the colors pink and purple.
The Wright family is accepting donations to help offset expenses.
Donations can be made online at a gofundme account or at Chase Bank
branches, under the “Jenise Wright donation account.”
Josh Osborn was “every parents’ dream” according to his
obituary, written by his family. “He was
kind, handsome, smart, funny, but most of all he had the biggest,
most loving heart. Josh loved life and he lived every day to
its fullest. He had many passions and dreams.”
A memorial for Josh is planned for 3 p.m. Saturday at the South
Kitsap High School gym. In honor of Josh, the family asks that you
wear your Seahawks or South Kitsap gear.
Josh fell into the turbulent, glacially fed Ohanapecosh River on
July 4 during an outing with friends. Warm weather that led to snow
melt made the river especially high, hampering search efforts. On
Sunday, however, the Port Orchard teen’s body was spotted by
kayakers, who alerted authorities.
But getting to him was no easy matter.
Josh lay in a foot of water between a mile and a mile-and-a-half
from where he fell in, according to Roger Beckett of Olympic
Mountain Rescue, who got the call about 2 a.m. Sunday from the
state’s Emergency Management
Division. Beckett coordinates rescue efforts for the group.
Typically, a mountain rescue group from Tacoma would have been
called first, since they are closer, Beckett said. But because
rescue groups are staffed by volunteers, the matter of who responds
depends on who can most quickly rally a group of people with the
technical skills required for the situation.
Josh’s body was reported to be in or near a rocky gorge kayakers
call the “elbow room,” a particularly challenging stretch of the
river, with narrow chutes of foamy white water and deadfall trees
littering the route. Beckett expected rescuers would need to rappel
into the gorge.
“This isn’t a place where anybody goes unless they go down to
fish and kayak. It’s a rugged part of the river system,” Beckett
This picture, courtesy of the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office,
gives a visual of the river.
By 8 a.m. Monday a team of six Olympic Mountain Rescue members
arrived at Packwood to receive a briefing from the Lewis County
Sheriff’s Office, which was leading the search and recovery.
Beckett did not go along, but he got a briefing later from team
members. They split into three groups from the base of operations
near the intersection of highways 12 and 123 and combed the
riverbank at the bottom of a steep grassy ravine, according to
Finally, they located Josh and were able to reach him, placing
him in a stretcher, which they lifted to the road in several
pitches, using a 600-foot rope.
Olympic Mountain Rescue, established in 1959, is made up of 25
to 30 members familiar with alpine climbing and specially trained
for rescue and recovery in rough terrain, where even first
responders are hard put to go.
OMR members participate in a couple dozen rescue or recovery
efforts most years, and they took part in the search for missing
outdoors writer Karen Sykes in June on Mt. Rainier. Sykes, an
died of hypothermia on the mountain. The group did not
rescue Tuesday of a 25-year-old Bremerton man who fell down an
embankment under High Steel Bridge on the Skokomish River.
This week’s North Kitsap School Board three-day retreat agenda
includes discussion of what impact Washington’s loss of a No Child
Left Behind waiver will have on the district. This is a
conversation every district will be having.
While the additional allowances each school district in the
state will have to make does make for extra work, there are some in
educational circles who argue it is better than the alternative,
evaluating teachers based on student scores on standardized
The waiver loss does not mean a loss of funds. It means less
flexibility with using those funds, about $40 million across the
state. While the No Child law is being reworked states were given
some flexibility in applying some of its standards, but the U.S.
Department of Education held firm that states had to have a
workable teacher evaluation system that relied at least in part on
student test scores. Washington, in the end, declined to create a
system and the feds tightened the screws on how money is spent.
What we’re talking about is Title I funding, money aimed at
disadvantaged students. For North Kitsap Title 1 funding equals
about $562,000. Under the existing law about 30 percent of that,
about $168,000, will be directed to other purposes, said Patty
Page, district superintendent.
Of that $168,000 about $56,000 is to be spent on professional
development. The rest would go to transportation for parents who
want to take their children out of schools deemed not meeting No
Child adequate yearly progress standards. In North Kitsap that is
Suquamish Elementary, Wolfle Elementary and Kingston Middle
Page said there are still a few questions left unanswered. One
is whether the district’s application to provide special tutoring
within the district will be granted. Another is whether
transportation to other schools means schools outside of the school
district. Answers to those questions and others are supposed to
The retreat is Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday night, with each
meeting beginning at 5:30 p.m. and scheduled to last three hours.
The meetings are in the district offices.
The No Child waiver is fifth on the three-day agenda, following
the 2014-15 budget, open government training, strategic plans and
board goals. Page didn’t expect the No Child waiver discussion to
happen in the first night’s work, which could mean Page will by
then have more answers on some lingering questions.
One story in an education publication suggests some states would
tell Washington to accept the waiver loss with a happy face and
move on. That’s the case made in a story in Education Week.
Losing the flexibility over a few dollars might be an easy price to
pay for the flexibility you get elsewhere. From the story:
For instance, he (Richard Zeiger, the chief deputy
superintendent in California) said, there have been political
benefits. The state’s teachers’ unions were a huge driving force in
helping to enact a new funding formula that gives a heavy weight to
students in poverty. It would have been a lot harder to gin up
union support for the change if the state education agency had been
tusseling with them over teacher evaluation, Zeiger said.
Maybe even more importantly, he said, the shift to new
standards has been relatively painless for California. “We’ve had
very little contention around the common core and the shift to the
new testing system” in part because it’s happened separately from
the types of teacher-evaluation changes called for in the waivers,
Zeiger said. “The comments we’ve gotten on common core are: This is
how I always wanted to teach.”
Other states say the waiver is working, the case made in
an AP story this week. The
story goes into some explanation as to what’s happening here in
A brief NPR story goes a little
bit into what is happening in Oregon and Idaho.
Children are assessed in the fall (by October 31) through
observation and looking at samples of students’ work. Schools that
receive state funding for all-day kindergarten are required to to
the WaKIDS assessment, which is used by teachers to figure out
where individual students need help and by state and local policy
makers, who study the aggregate data. Other schools can voluntarily
participate in WaKIDS.
The state is phasing in fully-funded, all-day kindergarten,
starting with the most impoverished schools. Because there are more
schools added each year, you can’t compare data from one year to
The assessment used by WaKIDS evaluates proficiency in 22 skills
in six areas of learning: social and emotional, physical, language
and cognitive development, literacy and math. Under
social-emotional, for example, one question asks if the student
“regulates own emotions and behaviors.” Under mathematics, you’ll
find, “explores and describes spatial relationships and shapes.”
Problem solving, the ability to carry on a conversation, identify
letters, sounds and words … there’s a lot on the list. And, experts
say, children entering kindergarten should have been working on
these skills long before they’re enrolled in public school.
On the Kitsap Sun’s Facebook link to our story, “Districts start
early to ready students for kindergarten,” there was a debate among
readers about whether this push for early acquisition of skills is
positive for children or just too much pressure.
While current policy on early childhood education (including the
value of all-day kindergarten) remains open to debate, the
importance of a richly stimulating environment during each
developmental stage has been well documented, including by the
Foundation, a Kennewick organization that hosts the national
Ready! for Kindergarten program. The program, in which South
Kitsap, Bremerton and Central Kitsap take part, educates parents on
ways to foster intellectual and social growth from birth on up.
data from the 2013-2014 school year shows that 80 percent of
the 38,443 kindergartners assessed already had physical skills that
are “widely expected” by the end of kindergarten. In literacy, too,
roughly 80 percent already had a good grasp. Social-emotional
confidence and cognitive skills had been mostly mastered by about
75 percent. About 70 percent had good proficiency in language
skills, but only 50 percent were end-of-kindergarten skilled in
One school official I talked to said kindergarten teachers must
address the needs of children with a wide range of skills, from
those who are able to do some things typical of an 8-year-old,
while others are struggling at a 3-year-old level.
Let me repeat that these are skills tested on children at the
beginning of the school year that experts say they should have
fully mastered by the end of kindergarten.
If you are the parent of a child entering kindergarten, you may
want to take a look at this list (below). The big take-away that I
heard from teachers and early childhood experts while researching
the story is that “each child develops at his or her own pace,” so
don’t panic if they’re not hitting it out of the park in all
categories. Read “Leo the Late Bloomer,” for a pick-me-up, if this
is the case.
Finally, I’d love to hear how you take advantage of
opportunities to foster learning in your preschooler, toddler or
infant… what they call those “teachable moments.”
P.S. This is a picture of my son Alex, who turns 30 on Friday,
proof that time flies. This photo is not available for copying or
reproduction. Thank you.
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
And Patty is now back to lounging on the bed at home,
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
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
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
“I think the steak had something to do with it too,”