Josh Osborn’s body recovered by Kitsap-based mountain rescue group

Through a series of chance circumstances, the group that recovered Josh Osborn’s body Monday on a river near Mt. Rainier was the Bremerton based Olympic Mountain Rescue.

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 said.

This picture, courtesy of the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, gives a visual of the river.
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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 Beckett.

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 experienced mountaineer, died of hypothermia on the mountain. The group did not participate in rescue Tuesday of a 25-year-old Bremerton man who fell down an embankment under High Steel Bridge on the Skokomish River.

‘No Child’ waiver loss might be a blessing

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 testing.

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 School.

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 come soon.

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 this state.

A brief NPR story goes a little bit into what is happening in Oregon and Idaho.

Is your child ready for kindergarten?

As a follow-up to our story today on efforts to promote learning among preschool children, I share with you here the Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills. This state-endorsed list (attached below) shows 22 skills that children should have mostly under their belts by the time they finish kindergarten.

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 next.

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 Children’s Reading 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.

The WaKIDS 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 math.

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.”
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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.

WaKIDS Assessment

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.

Lighthouse restaurant closed, seeking new backer

The Robert Earl Lighthouse, open in late May, closed Monday, disabled by criminal charges against owner Eric A. Smith of Bothell. General manager Brookes Konig is looking for new financial backing, according to bar supervisor Linda Martens of Port Orchard, who came out of retirement to work with Konig.

Smith, a Seattle Police officer, was charged July 2 in Snohomish County with three counts of first degree child molestation. Business, dropped off after the charges came to light, said Martens, who was at the empty restaurant Wednesday, awaiting delivery of final paychecks for the remaining employees. Initially, after Smith’s legal troubles were reported, 20 of the roughly 55 Lighthouse employees were laid off. Smith struggled valiantly to keep the restaurant afloat, Martens said, and the hope is that a deal in the works might still be brokered.
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Martens had high praise for Konig, who has a long career in the food and beverage industry. “He’s such a wonderful man,” she said. “He cares about his employees like they’re his family.”

Konig preferred to be call “coach” by employees, Martens said. “He doesn’t want to be the boss, because he feels like his strength is coaching.” She added that Konig “moved heaven and earth” to make sure the final paychecks were cut.

Martens also praised the team Konig assembled to re-open the landmark restaurant, which had sat shuttered for a number of years. “I’ve never seen a group of people so dedicated to one person, and that was Brookes,” Martens said.

Smith, doing business as Robert Earl Enterprises LLC, had leased the Lighthouse from property owner Tim Tweten, whose parents opened the original Tweten’s Lighthouse in 1984. Tweten’s was a destination, special occasion kind of place. Konig wanted the new Lighthouse to be more of an every day, gathering place for the community, Martens said.

Martens hopes the Lighthouse, named for Smith’s father, can outshine the tarnish of the accusations against Smith, who was placed on administrative leave from Seattle PD. “It’s up to this town if it does come back to step up,” she said.

When teenagers defy our expectations

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On Monday when we heard the scanner call of a drowning at Island Lake my heart stopped a bit. My family had been there the evening before. My youngest, Apollo, he who cuts his own hair, had been swimming. It’s what you do when it’s warm out.

The picture on the left was taken that night from Island Lake Park. Sunset pictures were all over Facebook that night. This one is far from the best one.

There is no joy in learning it’s not your kid. There is no celebration in any of it.

Even learning that a group of about nine kids who were there swimming did all they could to save the boy’s life is overshadowed by the fact that as of Tuesday night that 12-year-old boy is in critical condition. I am, like much of this region, so impressed with what those kids did. That this boy has a chance to survive at all is because of them, and because of some adults who also happened by at the same time.

And yet, like everyone else, I want more than anything to hear that the boy will be OK. Then we can really celebrate what teenagers did. I think I can cast aside my job-mandated Olympian objectivity in saying that.

This, too. Today I got to talk to the mother of one of the kids. I said what I think anyone else would say, that no matter how this turns out those kids did the right thing.

Even if celebration is not in order, it’s comforting to know what happened. Anyone who has ever been a parent knows that stuff happens beyond your control. We obsess over details and still miss things. Life happens at a pace that sometimes outruns us. There are times we need the village to step in. We don’t necessarily plan for it. We try to live like we don’t need it. And yet there are times we find ourselves thanking whatever god we acknowledge for the times angels in the form of other humans appear to save us.

Or to save our kids.

This time it was teenagers. Remember that the next time you’re tempted to give up on them, maybe even your own. Most times we find ourselves wondering what they’re capable of it doesn’t occur to us that they might be capable of saving a life.

UPDATE: Most of you know by now that things did not end as we hoped. Jeffrey Hentz died Wednesday morning.

For your education edification

Once in a while I come across a few stories I think some of you education-minded readers would appreciate. Usually I sit on them, because it seems like a lot to offer commentary on all of them. So this time I’m just the links with brief explanations.

The first is from someone who believes we should get rid of middle school. That piques my interest a bit, because my own memories of junior high school was of two years in a high school waiting room. Looking back it was the least satisfying two years of my educational experience during K-12, though some of my teachers in the other schools might differ. What the writer seems to be proposing is a Klahowya model.

The next story posits that one reason poorer schools will never do well on standardized tests is they can’t afford the updated materials needed to know what’s going to be on the tests. Test makers are also book publishers.

The third story shows that long before the youngsters learn to talk the brain activity shows they are working on figuring out how. Awesome picture in there, too.

The final story is one I read a couple weeks ago, one that suggests that even pre-kindergarten is too late. Good education starts way earlier.

Osborn family expresses gratitude for support following son’s death

On Thursday, hundreds gathered to celebrate the all-too-short but amazing life of Josh Osborn, the 17-year-old South Kitsap High School student who drowned July 4 in a river near Mt. Rainer.

Josh’s mother Jennifer Osborn sent a statement on behalf of the family following the candlelight vigil, which I share here with you, along with information about fundraisers for the family (below).
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“There really are no words to express the pain our family is feeling. A piece of our hearts is gone and no amount of time will ever heal that.

“Josh was the most amazing son who touched everybody he met in some way. He lived his life to the fullest and put 100 percent into everything he did. His family, girlfriend Gianna and his friends were the most important things in his life. He held those relationships close to his heart and was fiercely protective of those he loved.

“His other love in life was football, he ate breathed slept football. I remember how excited and proud we all were when he was one of only a few sophomores to make the varsity roster at South Kitsap High School.
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“Our time with Josh will always be cherished and the sadness we feel because of everything we will miss out on is unbearable. He meant so much to so many people and will be deeply missed by all who had the priveledge of knowing and loving him.

“His dad Brian, brother Jacob stepmom Mary Jo and myself would like to say thank you for all the love and support we have received from family, friends and the community. You have lifted us up in our time of need and for that we are forever grateful.

“Josh’s legacy will forever live on in our hearts. His sweet soul and beautiful smile will never be forgotten. We all feel his presence every minute of every day.

“Thank you all that came to the candlelight vigil. It was the most beautiful thing I have ever experienced, and in that moment, as much as our hearts are hurting, we felt a sense of peace and joy.

“RIP my sweet little man cub. Our angel here on earth now our angel in heaven. No words can ever express how much you were loved but I know you knew that every day you were on this earth.”
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— Faith Fulsoul, a family friend, is hosting an online fundraiser at GoFundMe.com, www.gofundme.com/b4bag8. The goal is $25,000. The site has more than 100,000 shares on Facebook.

— A spaghetti feed fundraiser is planned 4-8 p.m. Sunday at Christian Life Center, 1780 Lincoln Ave. SE, Port Orchard. It is $6 a plate with $1 a ticket raffle.

A car wash is planned 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 26 at The Frozen One frozen yogurt shop, 1800 Mile Hill Drive, Port Orchard.

— The Route 16 Running Club has included a memorial for Josh Osborn in beneficiaries of its annual Miracle Run 5K on Aug. 9 in Gig Harbor. At www.miraclerun5k.com, click “online registration” to designate a donation. The run begins at 9 a.m. at South Kitsap Regional Park, 2841 SE Lund Ave., Port Orchard.

Fund established for family of teen presumed drowned

We’ve received no additional word on the search for Josh Osborn, a 17-year-old Port Orchard resident who slipped in the Ohanapecosh River near Mt. Rainier on July 4th and is presumed dead.
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The river is six feet above normal for this time of year. Search parties will resume looking for Osborn when the water subsides.

In the meantime, word of Osborn’s tragic accident has spread like wildfire among his wide circle of friends and acquaintances. Josh’s brother Jake told me yesterday that Josh reached out even to people he didn’t know well, and he could always cheer people up.

A Kitsap Sun reader who commented on our story yesterday linked to a fundraiser for Josh’s family hosted by Faith Fulsol on gofundme.com. The goal is $25,000, with more than $6,000 raised so far.

We send our deepest condolences to Josh’s family.

Chris Henry
Kitsap Sun

Where the sidewalk ends: the sequel

Last week, I wrote about public works mowing mishaps that resulted in damage to private property. And our theme of the intersection of public and private land continues.

At its meeting Tuesday, the Port Orchard City Council discussed a disconnect between its own code, which calls on private property owners to maintain and repair sidewalks, and the city’s practice of making repairs on its own dime.

At the same meeting, the council considered the question of sidewalk bistro tables. Bay Street Bistro, earlier this year got permission from the city to place tables on the sidewalk, European cafe-style. The request was screened by the public property committee and later approved by the council.

In the past, the city has regulated things like sandwich boards, tables of merchandise and other temporary sidewalk accoutrements as an accessibility issue overseen by the code enforcement officer. ADA rules require at least four feet of passage on sidewalks. Bistro tables must adhere to that regulation, as well.

With the Bay Street Bistro’s request, and a later request from Cafe Gabrielle, the council discussed a more formal process of permitting and oversight.
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They initially suggested charging a fee of $10 per month for business owners whose applications for sidewalk tables or benches are approved. But Public Works Director Mark Dorsey reminded the council that the sidewalk right-of-way is actually under the state Department of Transportation, which owns Highway 166 (Bay Street).

Dorsey at an earlier meeting with the council opined that the city shouldn’t be the one charging a fee, since the ROW belongs to the state. The ROW runs from the center line of the road to the edge of the building.

Dorsey thought (mistakenly he later found) that the issue of jurisdictional authority could be resolved if the city simply didn’t charge a fee with its sidewalk table permit. He called the DOT and spoke to an official who said not only should the city not charge a fee, they had no authority to grant the sidewalk table permit in the first place. That ball is in the DOT’s court, Dorsey was told.

The state would charge about $90 a month for granting permission to place bistro tables in the right-of-way, he found.

“They take it very seriously that someone is using that right-of-way and making money off it,” Dorsey said.

The council stepped out as middleman Tuesday by approving a revised city permit (that would still give the city oversight over ADA issues) with a notice/disclaimer that the applicant also needs to apply to the state for use of the right-of-way.

“Whether they do or not is between them and WSDOT,” said City Attorney Greg Jacoby.

Voila, problem solved. The issue of whether business owners can afford the $90 fee becomes “an economic decison on the part of the vendor,” Jacoby said. “That’s really a private business decision.”