Tag Archives: Port Orchard City Council

PO Mayor comments on police chief’s app to Poulsbo force

Port Orchard Police Chief Al Townsend is a finalist for the vacant Poulsbo police chief position. The city of Poulsbo announced on Tuesday that Townsend’s name had been added to a shortlist of five other finalists.

Townsend applied for the job and was added to the finalists list by Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson, according to a news release from the city.

Townsend has been Port Orchard’s police chief since 1999. The announcement of his application to Poulsbo comes less than a month after the chief publicly commented on recent tension between Port Orchard’s Mayor Tim Matthes and the city council.

Townsend, referring to the recent voluntary departure of the city’s development director, also noted stress within the staff. James Weaver, who joined the city in 2008, took a job in January with the city of Bainbridge Island for comparable pay and less responsibility.

“There seems to be an adversarial relationship between the city council and the mayor and department heads,” Townsend said. “All of this is impacting staff’s ability to do their job. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more staff departures in the future unless there is progress to fix the problem.”

Matthes on Tuesday issued a press release on the news Townsend is looking for a new position.

“Chief Alan Townsend is well respected in our community. I have had a great working relationship these past twelve months with him,” Matthes said. “I am very impressed with his professionalism and dedication to our police department. I am not surprised that he is on the short list of qualified candidates for Poulsbo Police Chief. There is no doubt he will be hard for Port Orchard to replace. The City of Port Orchard is interested to see what decisions will be made by the City of Poulsbo and Chief Townsend.”

The city meanwhile is conducting a wide-ranging search to replace Weaver. Associate Planner Tom Bonsell is serving as acting development director in the interim.

Former city councilman rescues parakeet

“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary … No, this is not about a raven, but a parakeet who decided to explore the other side of my condo.”

So begins a letter the Kitsap Sun recently received from bird lover Ellen Bankus of Port Orchard. Bankus, who owns a number of birds, went on to describe the mishap of one “no name” parakeet who got out of his cage in the bedroom, made a beeline for the laundry room and somehow got stuck on the floor behind the water heater. The space behind the appliance was so confined, that even the tiny bird could not find a way out.

Bankus called the Port Orchard Police Department. Kind officers came out to her apartment and spent considerable time “exhausting every know way to get him out to no avail,” Bankus wrote. “I finally accepted the verdict that my parakeet was going to ‘rest in peace’ behind the tank.”

If this were one of those old time serial movies, this is where we’d fade to black, leaving Tweety tied to the railroad tracks.

But look, up in the sky. It’s a bird; it’s a plane. No, it’s Port Orchard City Councilman Fred Olin to the rescue.

Bankus called Olin, remembering his militant advocacy for the city’s Quaker parrots in 2005. This was before my time on the South Kitsap beat, but apparently Olin’s involvement in city government sprang from his interest in a group of parrots that had escaped during transport to a local pet store in 2002 and taken up residence in a cell phone tower near South Kitsap High School.

(The photo here is courtesy of BrooklynParrots.com, a blog where Steve Baldwin chronicles the life of urban parrots in New York City.)

The council in 2005 OK’d the extension of the tower, but on the advice of the state Department of Fish & Wildlife, required that the tower owner remove the large nest of sticks and trap the birds. The DFW said the birds could cause problems for native wildlife and there were concerns about fire in the tower.

Olin began researching Quaker parrots and found the gregarious birds have a penchant for inhabiting man-man structures. “I know more about parrots than anyone should know,” Olin said, in a recent phone interview. “They come from the highlands of Argentina, which is a moderate climate, so there’s no surprise they can survive here.”

Survive and thrive. Olin estimates at one time there were up to 30 parrots cavorting and entertaining residents in a wide vicinity of the tower. He took it on himself to circulate a petition to save the parrots and allow them to remain free, eventually gathering 1,800 signatures.

“I am not a bird person. I am not a parrot person. I’m just going, ‘It’s not right to do that,’” Olin said.

The outcry about the parrots gathered media attention, with signatures on the online petition coming from 18 foreign countries, 45 states and 61 Washington state communities. The council asked the DFW to reconsider requiring that the parrots be removed.

The DFW pressed its case, however, and attempts to trap and remove the birds went forward in July 2005 … not without resistance from Olin. When sticks from the nest were removed from the tower, they just happened to show up in the back of Olin’s pickup truck, which he planned to park in the area in hopes of providing the birds a new accommodation. None of the birds were captured on the first day.

What wasn’t reported at the time, and what Olin divulged to me is that on the evening of the first capture attempt, he went to the local hardware store and got pounds of millet, which he distributed on rooftops far and wide in the dark of night.

“The next day the trapper came back, there wasn’t a bird in sight. They were all over town,” Olin said, with an audible smirk. Don’t think a smirk can be audible? Trust me, Olin was pleased as punch with himself.

Later, when Clearwire applied to put antennae up on another tower, the council ditched a proposed condition that any nesting birds be removed. Olin was inspired by his civic success to run for city council in 2007. He served 2008 through 2011.

Now back to the parakeet in peril at Bankus’ apartment. Olin sprang into action, making a net out of a mesh orange sack that he fished into the wedge of space behind the water heater. But he was unable to snare the frightened bird. Then Olin got the bright idea to drain the water tank, which he accomplished with a water hose directed off Bankus’ upstairs apartment. The tank empty, Olin was able to move it an inch or so to the side, and “No Name” walked out from behind it as if to say, “What the heck took you so long?”

Bankus now has christened the little, feathery fugitive after his rescuer, “Fred Olin.”

Former Port Orchard City Councilman Jack Grable dies

Jack Grable, 83, of Port Orchard, a former city councilman, died Sept. 8 at his home.

Grable, a World War II Army veteran, was named Port Orchard Man of the Year 2002. He was a lifetime member of the Masonic Lodge in Port Orchard, lifetime member of the Port Orchard V.F.W. Post 2669 and a volunteer fire fighter for 26 ½ years in Port Orchard. His interests included welding, volunteer work, walking their dogs, and working on Fathoms o’ Fun floats.

Visit his online memorial at Rill’s Life Tribute Center.