In fire country “the drill” getting familiar but old

Over the weekend, I called to check on my cousin Diana Hottell and her husband Bill, who live in Twisp.

Diana and Bill, longtime Twisp residents, knew one of the three firefighters killed last week while battling the Twisp River Fire. Tom Zbyszewski (pronounced be-SHEF-ski), 20, of nearby Carlton, loved drama, had been a lifeguard at the Wagner Memorial Pool in Twisp and was about to head back for his junior year at Whitman College in Walla Walla.

The Hottells, who we’ve visited on a number of occasions, live in a charming older home on the Twisp River. We’ve enjoyed their hospitality, Diana’s cooking and sleeping in the cabin on the river that they built for the purpose of having some peace when guests descend, as they do when you live in a place like Twisp. We’ve attended their performances at the Antlers Saloon, where in the past Bill has played ragtime piano and Diana, the banjo, self-taught. Bill is a former Jesuit priest and also was with the Marine Corps for what that’s worth.

Bordered by a large field, their home was spared. They know three people who lost their homes in the fire, however. And when they went up the canyon to check on a friend’s vacation cabin, they found it burned to the ground. Strangely, the fire didn’t jump the river, Diana said.

In the decades the Hottells have lived in Twisp, the last two fire seasons have been the worst they’ve seen.

“It’s apocalyptic,” Diana said. “Last summer was unprecedented … until this summer.”

A firefighting helicopter flies past a dark red sun and through a deep haze that blanketed the Okanogan Valley Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015, in Tonasket, Wash. Out-of-control blazes in north-central Washington have destroyed buildings, but the situation is so chaotic that authorities have "no idea" how many homes may have been lost. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson) (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

The U.S. is in the midst of one of its worst fire seasons on record, according to an article Monday in the Associated Press. About 11,600 square miles have burned so far.
Brandon Gardner, a firefighter with Snohomish County Fire District 7, pulls a water hose into position while helping prevent a wildfire from spreading to a nearby homeowner's property near Okanogan, Wash., on Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015. (Ian Terry /The Herald via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT (Ian Terry /The Herald via AP)

In case you didn’t notice, over the weekend, Kitsap County was blanketed by a haze of rank smelling smoke from fires around the state. Although this is only the sixth-worst fire season going back to 1960, according to the AP, it’s the most acreage burned by this date in a decade, so fire officials expect the ranking to rise.

Adapting to fire season has become second nature to the residents of Twisp and other Eastern Washington communities.

When the town was evacuated last week, the Hottells knew the drill. Last summer, they piled two cars full, mostly with photo slides and maps from their youthful trips around the world and Bill’s more recent travels as a historical tour guide in the Mediterranean, Europe and the Middle East.

The threat of fire puts into focus the things that really matter Diana said. This year, the list got smaller. Once again, Bill’s slides and their family documents came along, but this time they only filled one car when they went to Spokane to stay with friends.

As other fires burn, the Twisp River Fire is largely contained, according to Diana, and life is returning back to normal, but the haze lingers in the Methow Valley and so does the feeling of being constantly on guard. Bill attended a meeting this weekend at the fire hall hosted by the mayor and other local officials. The meeting was packed. Residents are ready to help each other with proactive clearing of trees and brush around homes or, at a moment’s notice, to put up someone else’s livestock if a fire threatens a property.

The Hottells and others will keep an eye on the wind, tune into local advisories and hone their list of must haves, ready to pack up the car on any given day. In the meantime, they’ll carry on with their daily routines, which include playing ragtime for dances at the local senior center. According to a recent article in the Methow Valley News, the Hottells typically end their performances with the song “Show Me the Way to Go Home.”

Foster homes for puppies needed

We’ve written before about Summit Assistance Dogs, the Anacortes organization, that trains and places assistance dogs with people who have a range of disabilities. Donna Vaquer, a Port Orchard resident, is a volunteer trainer with Summit and an advocate locally for the organization. She and others with the group often take their dogs to local schools.
We recently heard from Donna that Summit has an urgent need for new foster homes for puppies.

“We will train you and support you as you learn the training techniques,” she said.
There are both short-term and long-term opportunities available. Long-term placements are usually 7 months, more or less, with breaks for vacations or whatever needs the foster families might have. Short-term placements are respite care for the long-term care givers, such as a weekend, or a week long stint.

How can you say no to these eyes?


The only hitch is, after you’ve fallen in love with them, you’ve got to let them go do their job. But there’s training for that, too, and there are multiple benefits.

“Volunteering for Summit is a most rewarding activity and really does change the life of a person with disabilities,” Donna said.

Find out more about the organization at, where you can also find a volunteer application.

Tell us your kindergarten send-off traditions

The first day of kindergarten is an exciting milestone that some families note in creative ways.
One Kitsap family of German descent gives a paper cone filled with gifts to the children when they head off to school for the first time.
Parents of this year’s crop of kindergartners, how will you mark this rite of passage? The Kitsap Sun wants to hear from you and families of past kindergartners for an upcoming story.
Email your tradition, with contact information, to or call (360) 792-9219.

With school starting, what do you want to know?

If you’re like Brian Lewis, the Kitsap Sun’s coding guru, you may have left school supply shopping to the last minute. Well, we’re not exactly to the last minute yet, but getting close.

School starts Sept. 2 for most local districts, except South Kitsap and North Mason, which start on Sept. 9 (after our late Labor Day, Sept. 7).

Brian, a devoted uncle, had the bright idea to make his and your lives easier by compiling all school supply lists on one webpage, along with other relevant links.

As the Kitsap Sun’s education reporter, my theme for the upcoming school year is “here to serve you.” I’d like to focus on providing families with useful, relevant information about local schools, as well as state and national trends in education that affect your kids.

I compile the Kitsap Sun’s education stories (and other education news) on my Facebook page. You can always reach me with your questions or comments on stories by Facebook message (friend me please so messages don’t go in the dreaded “other” folder), by calling (360) 792-9219 or emailing

Some of the topics we covered last year were bullying, state funding for schools, teachers’ pay and the rolling-one day walkouts in which teachers’ protested for higher pay and smaller class sizes.

We also tried something new this year, offering live chats on trending topics, like the one we did on South Kitsap’s plan to bring ninth graders up to the high school.

In the upcoming year, I hope to dig into Common Core and find out how it’s playing out in the classroom, and how (if?) it’s impacting students’ lives and education. We hope to follow up on our series on discipline and equity by looking at the role of paraeducators, who work with students with disabilities. Statistics show these students are disciplined at higher rates that their peers. What’s with that? And I’d like to write about preparing students for college, not just the academics, but equipping them to navigate in this new environment (and — considering how much has been written about helicopter parents these days — being able to let them go).

Anyway, these are just a few of the ideas I have. I hope you’ll contact me with ideas for education stories that would be useful and interesting to you. I can’t promise we’ll get to all of them, but we’ll do our best.

P.S. Yes, I still cover South Kitsap, so stay in touch as well if you live or work in that part of the county.

Chris Henry, Kitsap Sun reporter
(360) 792-9219

Local World War II nurse writes about her service

Vida Shapanus watched U.S. planes fly through the night to Normandy, France, for the D-Day Invasion on June 6, 1944.

She was serving as an American military nurse in the British Isles during World War II. Although there were rumors around the base of a U.S. invasion coming, she didn’t know where the planes had been going at the time.

Vida Shapanus, far right, and friends during their World War II deployment in Wales.
Vida Shapanus, far right, and friends during their World War II deployment in Wales.

Two days after D-Day, Vida started treating soldiers from the invasion who had been stabilized in field hospitals and sent to her base in Wales.

Now, the 93-year-old Poulsbo resident is looking to print a book about her military service experience, including the night of D-Day planes.

Vida is searching for a professional editor, graphic artist and publisher to help finish the book, said her oldest daughter, Joanna Shapanus.

Vida grew up in Fresno, California, where she graduated from nursing school in 1943 before joining the Air Force as a nurse. She has lived in Kitsap County since 1990.

She met her husband Tony Shapanus, who died Oct. 20, 1998, during basic training. They kept in contact through letters as friends during the war and started dating once she returned to the states. They have four children, six grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

She was stationed at a rural base made of portable buildings surrounded by farmland in Wales.

“We had livestock wandering through the hospital grounds,” she said.

Once she ran straight into a cow during a night duty.

“I bumped into something big and solid,” she said. “One end mooed at me.”

No lights were allowed on the base at night and only a small flashlight pointed at your feet could be used to move around, she said.

Vida Shapanus, 93
Vida Shapanus, 93

She spent less than two years in the British Isles before coming back to the states to be discharged in January 1946.

While overseas she saw the wreckage of London from Nazi bombing, and rode a French cruise ship refurbished as a military vessel since it had been left behind when Germany invaded France.

Although she kept in contact with several nursing friends she made during the war, all of them have died.

“There aren’t many of us left anymore,” she said.

So many stories of where we’ve been

Since October I’ve been fortunate to host storytelling events here in Bremerton. Over five months we did three at the Manette Saloon and since March, thanks to a partnership with the Friends of the Kitsap Regional Library Sylvan Way Branch, we’ve been going monthly at the Cloverleaf Sports Bar and Grill. At the bottom of this post I’ve left a few samples of what we’ve heard at the most recent two.

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 6.48.21 PMOn Thursday, in addition to hearing great stories around the theme, “The Great Outdoors,” the library will hand out something to prepare you for a special Story Night in October.

Each year the library hosts a monthlong event in October called “One Community, One Book.” The library’s program is designed to get the entire community reading a single book together.

This year’s book is “The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving,” by Bainbridge Island author Jonathan Evison.  In October Story Night will center on the themes found in the book. Over the next couple of months I’ll get a discussion going on those themes over at the Story Night main page under the Events tab, and on the Story Night Facebook page, which you should go “like” right away.

To prepare you for the One Community One Book event, on Thursday the library will hand out one copy of Evison’s book per household at Story Night. The idea is once you read it, pass it along to someone else. It’s a chance for members of the community to bond over a single story. I’m glad we can do our part.

I’m a believer in our stories. I wanted to start Story Night in some part because I wanted to get better at live storytelling. I’m not sure that has happened for me personally, but what has happened is I have managed to get connected to a part of our community I might not have otherwise known. We understand each other better through our stories. We find ourselves more willing to shed our judgment through our stories. We empathize. We don’t always agree, but we see someone we might have discounted as an enemy as a teacher. We relate in ways we didn’t know we could.

And we have fun.

Thursday’s event begins at 7 p.m. Most Story Nights are on the first Thursday of the month, but September’s will be on Sept. 2, the first Wednesday. Even our best storytellers have to cede the room to the Seahawks for a preseason game. The theme that night will be “Offended.”

Want a taste? The first story below was told at our June event by Alison Loris. The theme that night was “Advice,” and Alison told us a story about the advice she received from her former husband Jesse Bernstein, a Seattle poet and performer.

The second recording features two stories on the “Summer or temp jobs” theme from July. Scott Park explains the story behind why he wears long sleeves at work even on the hottest of days. Rosi Farley details the grueling work of laughing for pay.


Your kid, your school district’s budget

It’s school budget season. As we at the Kitsap Sun wrote last week, schools got a modest boost in funding from the state for the 2015-2016 school year, as part of the Legislature’s effort to fulfill mandates of the state Supreme Court’s McCleary decision.

What will that mean for your child and your family? More on that later. First, some talk about school district budgets. I know; it’s exciting. Try to contain yourselves.

Some members of the NK Education Facebook group got themselves copies of North Kitsap School District’s draft budget, all 133 pages of it. The budget will be the subject of a public hearing on Thursday. Other districts have given recent presentations and plan to hold hearings on their budgets before the Aug. 31 deadline to finalize them.

What does this mean to you? You’ve got kids to shuffle to swim lessons, family vacations, back-to-school shopping. Summer’s going fast. Who has time to pore through 133 pages of financials?

A post from Suzi Crosby, the NK Education group administrator, inviting discussion of the budget was met with a response of zero comments in this normally active group. The post began, “Do you love number crunching?” which no doubt explains the lack of boundless enthusiasm.

As the education reporter for the Kitsap Sun, I’ve had to learn to read budgets, but it took me some time. I had to ask a lot of questions of district finance officials, and I’m still no pro. The thing to know, if you are interested in digging deeper, is that districts are required to provide you with a copy of their budgets, both draft and final versions. You also are welcome attend school board meetings and ask questions.

So here’s my invitation to parents: If you want to know more about your district’s finances and/or how to read the budget, I’m available at (360) 792-9219, or via Facebook message. Find me by searching “Chris Henry Kitsap Sun.”

We’ve written about school budgets twice this month. The good news is that the years of budget cuts and staff layoffs seem to be behind us for now. As the Legislature works to fulfill its own goal (and the McCleary decision mandate) of “fully funding” K-12 education, districts for the past couple of years have gotten increased allocations from the state.

The amount each district gets is based on enrollments and a host of other factors, such as the relative poverty of children at each school. The allocation formula is so complicated that the state has an online tool districts use to project their allocations for the upcoming year.

In Central Kitsap, for example, budget officials estimate the district will see an extra $10.2 million from the state in its general fund budget of nearly $129 million. The district, with more than 10,500 students, is the largest in Kitsap County.

Bremerton School District, with about half as many students, will see an estimated increase of $4 million. BSD’s general fund budget for the upcoming school year is $63 million.

Most of the extra money this year will go toward an increase in teachers’ compensation, lower class sizes in grades K-3, and more money than in past years for all-day kindergarten. So in essence, the largest chunk of that is spoken for before it’s even released by the state.

What will this mean for your child? If he or she is in kindergarten through third grade, class sizes may be smaller but buildings may start to feel crowded, as the need for classroom space increases. Funding for smaller classes is higher in schools with large numbers of low-income students, so if your child’s school falls into that category, the effect may be amplified. The Legislature needs to address this increasing need for space in upcoming years, as it works its way toward a 2018 goal for class sizes specified in earlier legislation.

As for the impact of class size reduction, this is just the tip of the iceberg, since the Legislature shelved I-1315, which would have shrunk classes in all grades this school year. Legislators have pledged to fulfill the initiative … when they can find a funding source. And they’ll have to pony up more money to build or expand schools, or the crowding your kid may feel this year will only get worse, local school officials say.

“Our burden will continue to be reclaiming space for the inevitable additional classrooms that will be needed to achieve the state’s goal,” said Patty Glaser, Bremerton School District’s spokeswoman.

As for the increase in teachers’ salary, it includes a COLA and a temporary pay boost that expires after 2017. The Legislature has agreed that they need to revise the way they pay all school employees to make sure their wages are competitive to comparable jobs elsewhere. And that work is wrapped up in a proposed overhaul of school funding that’s supposed to take the burden off local taxpayers. But the Legislature has barely moved the needle on this task. So as you can see, there’s still a long way to go to satisfy McCleary.

Money for teachers’ compensation amounts to money in, money out for districts. So, unless you count happier teachers, you and your child may not directly notice the impact of this extra money for Kitsap and North Mason schools.

Teachers are happy with the COLA etc., but they’re still pushing for the big overhaul that includes major changes in compensation. There’s been talk among unions about a possible long-term strike in the fall. We’ll keep an eye on that.

So the bottom line is, districts have discretion over relatively small amounts of the extra money from the state. When the dust settles, Central Kitsap for example will get to make local spending decisions on only about $1.2 million.

CK is considering long-overdue replacement of equipment, increased intervention staff, new sports and co-curricular equipment and an upgrade to the district’s internal assessment system. And North Kitsap will use its $1.8 million in discretionary revenue from the state and other sources for academic and behavioral support, technology and staffing upgrades. Bremerton will use most of its discretionary funding for technology and new curriculum aligned with Common Core standards.

“We are thankful for the additional funding but believe the state needs to ‘keep their foot on the petal’ to ensure continued progress is made,” Glaser said.

Remember, if you’ve got school budget questions or other questions or comments about Kitsap and North Mason schools, call me at (360) 792-9219 or email Your input and news tips are appreciated.

Finally, I keep an archive of local education stories on my Facebook page, so you can follow the Kitsap Sun’s coverage,

Obamanism, right here in Silverdale

As I envision our future together I look forward to the day when we’re both either shackled or lobotomized. I hope it’s just shackles, because I will desperately want to have the mental wherewithal to tell you “I told you so.”

Thanks to the eagle-eyed reporters at, we can confirm what only the most astute/paranoid suspected, that the new shopping mall in Silverdale will actually be used as a FEMA concentration camp. This news is not without its upside.

Unwitting, but highly skilled, workers build our future slave quarters.
Unwitting, but highly skilled, orange-shirt wearing construction dupes build our future slave quarters.

What Nesara News discovered was that many shopping malls are under construction with what appear to be decorative gun towers. Perhaps they’re not decorative at all. Our new mall, The Trails at Silverdale, doesn’t have any of those, but Nesara News astutely noticed that Central Kitsap Reporter reporter Chris Tucker used militaristic language to describe our newest retail complex. “The massive walls at the Trails at Silverdale construction site loom over the surrounding area as if it were a modern-day hilltop fortress.”

The site did not mention another fact from that story, that some of the walls are “25 feet taller than Kitsap Mall Boulevard.” As soon as someone explains to me what that means, I’m pretty sure I will be impressed.

Why we would need to be in concentration camps is unclear to ignorant dullards like me, but apparently Nesara News readers are in on a secret, that this next Christmas season is “a time that is not expected for things to be good here in the United States.”

This means this is not just happening here in Silverdale, and we are not alone  “Interestingly enough, and possibly just by ‘coincidence’, EVERY one of these shopping malls that will be opening in October of 2015 has characteristics of FEMA concentration camps including guard towers overlooking the properties and several of them LOOKING just like fortresses!” the site reports.

But again, it could just be a “coincidence.”

In Texas, as you undoubtedly already know if you click on any Facebook links, Wal-Marts are being prepared to house residents there when the federal government takes over what it already controls, as much as anything in Texas can be controlled. The Daily Sheeple has a report on that.

No word yet on how to reserve your space in Silverdale, and if you can you will want to, because It’s not all bad news. Kitsap Sun business reporter Tad Sooter is characteristically optimistic about the future. “I, for one, welcome our new retail overlords,” he said.

We here in Silverdale have a leg up over other fortressy shopping centers, because according to Nesara many of these malls have yet to announce any stores. People there might just be ushered into a mall with no tenants and will therefore be forced to live on government spray cheez and meat-flavored product. We, on the other hand, have already been privy to some of our new masters, and if you’re lucky enough to get a bunk in Silverdale your daily menu will include Chipotle and Blazing Onion.

We may be government slaves during the Obamanist indoctrination process, but we will eat well.

Note: Because so many people fall prey to stories like this, I feel it my journalistic duty to inform you that the story you see here is not entirely factual. Yes, it does appear on a blog sponsored by a reputable news source staffed by journalists of impeccable integrity, but this piece is intended to be satire, or something. If it turns out that the Trails at Silverdale does become a FEMA concentration camp, I probably won’t be around to apologize for my tone.

Welcome to Pork Orchard

It started as a joke at a meeting last year of the Port Orchard Bay Street Association.

Clancy Donlin, a contractor who was chairing the Taste of Port Orchard 2014, asked Mayor Tim Matthes if they couldn’t change the name of the city for the day to Pork Orchard. Everybody laughed, then the subject of barbecue came up. Donlin, a self-described “crazy foodie” and barbecue aficionado, later was chatting with his friend Don Ryan (involved in the Port Orchard Public Market among other ventures) and they cooked up the idea (pun intended) of an event centered on barbecue.

Hog Fest 2015 is set for Sept. 20 on the Port Orchard waterfront, and will include a “competition, meat tastings, beer garden, root beer garden for kids, ALL DAY MUSIC with several bands, half-time events for kids and family, Hog Rally with (Harley riders), a professional butcher shows you how pork meat is cut into chops and more to come…,” according to the event’s Facebook page.
Planning began last fall for the event, which is sanctioned by the Pacific Northwest BBQ Association. The Port Orchard Bay Street Association is sponsoring Hog Fest and has put up the $5,000 in prize money, to be divvied up among contestants in various categories, Donlin said. The judging is double blind, with judges provided by the association, according to their website.

Sanctioning by the association means points for professional barbecue chefs, who compete at local events like Port Orchard’s Hog Fest 2015 to qualify for regional and national events. Like rodeo, only for meat. There will be an amateur division. More on that later.

The nonprofit PNWBA has a mission “to provide education about barbecue,” according to its website. The organization has about 700 members (one need not be a member to participate in sanctioned events) and hosts about 40 shindigs, like Hog Fest, each year, mostly in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Alaska, California and western Canada, but sometimes farther afield. Top chefs and judges have participated in events such as the Jack Daniels World Invitational, The American Royal
and the Great American BBQ.

But back to Pork Orchard (has a nice ring, doesn’t it?). Organizers are inviting amateurs to preliminary “satellite” barbecue competitions, where they can qualify for Hog Fest itself. The first one is 10 a.m. Sunday at the Red Dog Saloon in Port Orchard. Here’s the rest of the schedule:
Aug. 8: Whiskey Creek Steakhouse, Keyport; McCloud’s Grill House & Saloon
Aug. 9: New Way Vapors, Port Orchard
Aug. 15, Al’s Market, Olalla
Aug. 30, Wig Wam Pub, Gorst
Sept. 5, McCloud’s again
Sept. 12, The 19th Hole Bar & Grill, Bremerton

Hog Fest will start out small, compared to some of the other PNWBA-sanctioned events, Donlin said. They’re not going to go whole hog, so to speak. The thought being to keep it manageable the first year of what organizers hope will become a beloved Port Orchard tradition.

“With Hog Fest, combined with our other food events, the Chocolate Festival (held in November and sponsored by Fathoms ‘O Fun) and Taste of Port Orchard (held as part of the town’s Labor Day festivities), we plan to turn Port Orchard into the culinary capital of Kitsap County,” Donlin said.

And, yes, the event has been the butt of many jokes and puns, like “praise the lard,” a phrase on one Facebook post.

Oh, wait, I’ve got one, “Hog Fest, it’s nothing to swine about.”

Think you can do better? Of course you can! Have at it.

S’Klallam Tribe blesses Port Gamble Bay before cleanup

Jeromy Sullivan, Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe chairman, has felt conflicted about the old mill site in Port Gamble.

While the mill had been a source of jobs for those in the area, including tribal members like Sullivan’s father, it has left toxic waste and creosote pilings across the bay from the reservation and Point Julia.

Tribal members and friends gather at the closed mill site in Port Gamble to bless the bay.
Tribal members and friends gather at the closed mill site in Port Gamble to bless the bay.

The mill closed in 1994, although major cleanup begins at the end of next month.

The state Department of Ecology and Pope Resources will begin cleanup August 22, according the tribe.

Sullivan said it has felt strange to him that the site has not been blessed and prayed for, which the tribe changed Thursday morning.

The mill site and bay cleanup will include removing of about 70,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment and wood waste, a derelict vessel and 6,000 creosote pilings along with overwater structures.

It is the biggest creosote piling removals in state history.

A Kitsap County Superior Court judge recently tossed out a lawsuit that would have forced the state to share the cost of cleaning pollution from Port Gamble’s former mill.

Friends say goodbye after the bay blessing Thursday, July 23, 2015.
Friends say goodbye after the bay blessing Thursday, July 23, 2015.

The cleanup will take about two years, with the first year being the south portion of the former mill. Piling removal and cleanup on the north area of the site will take place the second year.

While cleanup is taking place there will be increased water traffic.

On average, at least three vessels will be needed on site at any one time.

Vessels are not to be on or come too close to the Point Julia side of the bay where the Port Gamble S’Klallam Reservation is.

The tribe will hold community events and celebrations at Point Julia during the cleanup.