Tag Archives: Port Orchard

A Ride on the Bay Street Pedestrian Pathway

The other day I took a ride on the Bay Street Pedestrian Pathway … what there is of it.

The paved recreational path designed for walkers, joggers, skaters and cyclists (but no cars) will extend from the foot ferry terminal in downtown Port Orchard to the Annapolis foot ferry terminal. City of Port Orchard officials say it will see plenty of use from locals and be a valuable amenity to draw visitors.

Planning for the pathway started more than five years ago. To date only two segments of the pathway have been built, and those do indeed see plenty of use. You’ll hear more about a third segment, construction on which is to start this summer, in a story Monday at www.kitsapsun.com. The new segment will be a bridge at the mouth of Blackjack Creek that ties into the chunk of pathway behind Westbay Center.

Follow me on my ride as I set out from Annapolis. You’ll see how narrow the shoulder becomes almost immediately. Rounding the curve at Mitchell Point you’ll see the home of Randy Jones, owner of Venture Charters, who has fought the city’s plan to buy out property owners along the path for right-of-way. The city council has approved a redesign of the path that will have it go around any properties whose owners aren’t willing to sell. The city this month got $3.5 million from the state to complete construction of the Beach Drive part of the path.

You’ll see other homes as well, then the long stretch of Beach Drive …at low tide! Don’t I have great timing?

Riding on the Westbay segment was pure pleasure. Here the path (when completed) will continue over the bridge and along the waterfront behind Bruce Titus Ford and the Comfort Inn. You see I had to ride on the street with the traffic. The downtown segment picks up again by Marlee Apartments, and again it’s a smooth ride.

Here we go.

Nice lawnmower, too bad it’s not a wonder truck

Well, look here.

Bremerton is the proud owner of a new lawnmower, a Toro Groundmaster 4700-D to be precise.

The price tag? Nearly $80,000.

This little beauty combines the muscle of a 60-horsepower turbo diesel engine with seven — yes seven — independent blades, cutting 12 1/2 feet of lawn at a time.
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“Obviously, it’s a state-of-the-art piece of equipment,” said Steve Mutek, parks department supervisor, who along with other staff took the mower for its test run Monday at Blueberry Park.

Too bad it’s not a Wonder Truck.

Port Orchard’s had one of these little dandy’s for three years. It sands. It plows. It de-ices. And in milder months, it serves as a versatile utility vehicle. Different implements can be attached and removed from the truck chassis in minutes by a single worker.
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“We call it the multipurpose truck. It basically morphs into something else. It’s a transformer,” said Wayne Schulz of Valley Freightliner Inc., in 2012, when he delivered it to the city.

The cost of the Wonder Truck: $262,000.

Maybe someday, Bremerton.

Elected officials can have private social media accounts but …

On Wednesday, I interviewed Fred Chang, administrator of the Port Orchard Facebook group, about a face-to-face meet-and-greet of group members on Saturday at the Port Orchard Public Market.

The same day, a flap within the group unrelated to the meet-and-greet or the interview was stirring.

Bruce Beckman set off a lengthy thread by posting a comment in the main group about a spin-off that Fred started in December called Port Orchard Religious Rants and Raves group. Fred mentioned the group during our interview, saying the idea was to give group members a place to discuss religion. Early in the religious group’s existence, Fred turned active administration over to another member and didn’t pay much attention to the discussion thereafter, he said. What Fred hadn’t noticed was the snarky tone — my description — of the more recent posts, that some members objected to.

Bruce, in the main group post, wrote, “It’s unacceptable for someone in public office to have a bigoted Facebook group with the town’s name on it. Most people will agree that mocking someone for their religious beliefs is just as bigoted as mocking someone for skin color or sexual orientation.”

Bruce accused the group of censoring people of religious faith and called on Fred to, “explain his position publicly on this issue since he is a member of the Port Orchard City Council.”

Chang, in a separate post that showed a screen shot of Bruce’s comments, said he disagreed with Bruce’s characterization of the religious discussion group. Fred added that had he seen posts that appeared to be mocking, he would have removed them.

Chang on Friday told me he had a private message conversation with Kathryn Simpson, who was also unhappy with Fred about his involvement with the group. On Thursday, Chang took the group down. A separate group with the same name, administered by someone else, appeared shortly afterward.

I’m pursuing the issue here not to settle whether the group was mocking of people of faith but to address public records issues that Bruce alluded to in his post. Should a city resident who is also a city councilman maintain an active private profile on Facebook? Does the use of the term “Port Orchard” in the title of a group administered by someone who is a city councilman constitute a public record?

First, let’s note that other Port Orchard City Council members have Facebook pages. Like Chang’s account, the content is mostly about sunsets, pets and the like, nothing racy, very little city related. Cindy Lucarelli has made a couple of upbeat posts about city cleanup day and the like.

According to Pat Mason, legal consultant for the Municipal Resources Service Center, there is nothing that precludes elected officials having personal social media accounts or private devices, but as we learned from Hillary Clinton, issues arise when you conduct public business on a private account. Mason says there’s nothing that prohibits this, “Our concern would be, if they do, are those records being retained?” Because, as in the case on Bainbridge Island, people can make public records requests for those documents, and if the city or county or water district drags its feet in any way (as defined under public records laws) it runs the risk of a lawsuit. Bainbridge ended up settling a public records suit for $500,000 in late 2014.

In short, according to Mason, elected officials can conduct public business on private accounts, but they had better be able to quickly produce those records.

Chang occasionally will give information about the city on Facebook, such as the date of a city council meeting. When he does, he takes a screenshot and sends it to his city email to create a record. Chang, as far as I can tell, stayed out of a recent heated discussion about city zoning regulations and one business owner’s display of a large American flag. He said he purposely avoids posting in discussions where it might be construed that he was making a position statement on behalf of the city.

So back to the Port Orchard Religious Rants and Raves group, was it a good idea for Chang to start the group then turn administration over to someone else? Maybe not. But was it city business? No, said City Clerk Brandy Rinearson. At least not because of the name. “We can’t regulate what people call their Facebook groups,” Rinearson said. “I would say it’s not a public record unless the content is about city business posted by and elected official or (city) employee.”

And there’s another side to the coin. “He’s an elected official, but he has a right to his free speech,” Rinearson said. “Where there’s a grey line is if he makes a statement that has to do with city business.”

Mason concurs. “They don’t give up their free speech rights,” he said.

But the issue is far from cut and dried. The sheer volume of material to be sifted through and the possibility of deleted posts could raise questions about whether a search for public records has been satisfied.

The rules are being hashed out in the courts, as on Bainbridge and elsewhere.

“To me this is an evolving area,” said Mason. “This is not a settled area of the law in my mind.”

Some jurisdictions limit the use of private accounts for public business. Port Orchard this year implemented software that allows elected officials access to their city email on private devices. And the city has a policy saying social media sites of city departments are to be one-way only for giving out information not for engaging in public debate. But there is nothing in the city policy that speaks to elected officials’ private use of social media.

As it stands now there is some degree of conflict between privacy rights of public officials and public records requests, Mason said.

Should elected officials have personal social media accounts?

  • It's OK, as long as they archive any discussion that could be seen construed as public business. (47%, 61 Votes)
  • It's OK, as long as they never discuss public business on personal accounts. (42%, 55 Votes)
  • No. Public officials with personal accounts present too much of a risk to the jurisdiction. (11%, 14 Votes)

Total Voters: 130

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NYT article focuses on Port Orchard man

Several people on Facebook have mentioned a New York Times article about Doug Whitney, a Port Orchard man who has a gene mutation that (in most people) causes early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Whitney, 65, has yet to show symptoms, and researchers are trying to figure out why.

Whitney’s mother and nine of her siblings, as well as Whitney’s older brother died of the disease. All began showing symptoms in their 40s.

“So Mr. Whitney has become Exhibit A in a new direction in genetics research. After years of looking for mutations that cause diseases, investigators are now searching for those that prevent them,” the article states.

The idea of beneficial gene mutations is getting plenty of attention from the scientific community.

Two Seattle researchers have started “The Resilience Project,” drawing on large databases to find people, like Whitney, who seem to have protective genes. They found Whitney after contacting Washington University (in St. Louis), where a study is under way of families with a gene, presenilin, that causes early Alzheimer’s. Whitney joined the study in 2011.

Whitney deferred getting tested for the Alzheimer’s causing gene until he turned 62. Other researchers have contacted him, as well, and Whitney, for his part, is happy to contribute to advancing knowledge of Alzheimer’s, the article states.

So, question for readers: If, based on the medical history of family members, you knew you might have a disease-causing genetic mutation, would you get tested and when?

More on Port Orchard’s public records

With Christmas coming up in two days, how many folks are thinking about sewers? Or tap water?

If you have guests coming for the holiday, perhaps you’re hoping your pipes will handle the pressure — those extra showers and dishwasher cycles, those extra loads of laundry and loads of other sorts.

But most of the time, be honest, who really thinks about sewer and water, at least until you get your bill.

Speaking of sewer and water bills, Port Orchard’s rates for these utilities could double over the next five years, if the City Council takes the recommendation of a utilities finance expert, as we reported in Monday’s Kitsap Sun.

The city’s utility committee has been working since May with consultant Katy Isaksen to calculate what it would take to bridge the “gap” between revenue from ratepayers and the actual cost to provide sewer and water services. The city also needs to do some major upgrades to both systems, according to the public works department. Those costs are built into Isaksen’s recommended scenario under which the average sewer-water customer would see their bill rise from about $100 in 2015 to more than $230 in 2020.

Notice how the formal presentation on Isaksen’s recommendation came after months of looking at the details and revising estimates in committee meetings. It’s no stretch to say committee meetings are where the heavy lifting of city government gets done. And the public is always welcome to attend.

One city resident who does pay close attention to utilities is Elissa Whittleton. She tries to attend most utility committee meetings and, in a Facebook post a couple of weeks ago she complained about a new (as of October) disclaimer at the bottom of the agenda stating,

“PLEASE NOTE: UTILITY COMMITTEE PACKET MATERIALS PROVIDED TO COMMITTEE MEMBERS AND CITY STAFF ONLY. NOT TO BE DISTRIBUTED TO GENERAL PUBLIC UNLESS OBTAINED THROUGH PUBLIC RECORDS REQUEST PROCEDURE.”

I, like Elissa, did a “Say what?” about this, since materials for city council meetings are readily provided through links on the online agenda and by request as hard copy.

City Clerk Brandy Rinearson had an explanation. The bottom line is, you can get the materials (with a formal request), but some materials (of the kind most likely to be distributed at committee meetings) are exempted from disclosure, and like all public records, committee materials are subject to redaction.

What does all this mean?

First of all, Rinearson said, committee meetings are different from regular council meetings in that they don’t constitute a quorum of council members. Under the state’s Open Public Meetings Act, any meeting of elected officials where there is a quorum (down to your tiniest water district) must be publicly noticed and materials cited at the meeting must be readily available to the public.

Why does this matter?

While committee members can hammer out policy and develop recommendations on actions the council might take at one of its meetings, they can’t take formal action. The council, on the other hand, can act on the basis of information in reports and other documents complied into a “council packet” that is often more than 100 pages long.

Don’t be daunted by that. If you are interested in a particular agenda item — as I was by the consultant’s report on the sewer and water “gap” — you can simply download it from the city’s website or ask for that part of the packet.

I had always assumed one could just as easily get materials from committee meeting packets and until recently they could.

What changed all that?

Starting around late summer, early fall, the utility committee was knee deep in discussion of stormwater rates. The owners of a B&B, who had concerns about how the proposed rate assessment would affect them, made a request for committee materials. Rinearson, as city clerk, was pulled in on the request, which included the couple’s earlier stormwater utility bills.

Under state public records law, private information like addresses, phone numbers, account numbers, social security numbers and the like must be redacted (whited out so no one can read them). Another type of information requiring redaction would be an attorney’s advice to the city, protected under client-attorney privilege.

So Rinearson realized that, even though the couple was requesting their own utility bill as part of the committee packet, technically, their privacy rights would be violated under public records laws. Rinearson told public works and other staff answering to the committee to direct any requests for packets through her as formal public records requests.

Public records is hot topic in the city of Port Orchard, what with the city of Bainbridge Island’s recent $500,00 settlement of a public records lawsuit.

Let’s now clarify that a formal records request to the city of Port Orchard can come in pretty much any form: via email, in writing and via a phone call to the city clerk’s office.

But wait, there’s more.

Some “preliminary materials” (discussed at any kind of meeting) are exempt from disclosure under the OPM, Brandy said, citing RCW 42.56.280. After reading the law and talking with Brandy, I’d describe these as documents descriptive of works in progress. But note the exemption for any that are directly linked to a formal action.

Exempt documents include, “Preliminary drafts, notes, recommendations, and intra-agency memorandums in which opinions are expressed or policies formulated or recommended are exempt under this chapter, except that a specific record is not exempt when publicly cited by an agency in connection with any agency action.”

As an example of preliminary documents, note that the estimated increase in sewer rates was much higher at first, when Isaksen included all capital projects on the city’s list. Committee members asked her to revise the estimates factoring in just the most pressing sewer and water projects.

I asked Rinearson if the RCW isn’t subject to interpretation. It is, she said. In her training as the public records official for the city, Rinearson learned about a four-part test — based on a case reviewed by the Washington State Court of Appeals — which she and other city officials now use to weigh whether a record is subject to disclosure.

Records that meet the four-part test could be withheld, according to Rinearson. The test points are:
One — The records contain pre-decision opinions or recommendations expressed as part of the deliberative process.
Two — Disclosure would be harmful to the deliberative process or consultative function of the process.
Three — Disclosure would interfere with the flow of recommendations, observations, and opinions.
Four — The records reflect policy recommendations and opinions and are not simply the raw factual data underlying a decision.

Two and three seem subjective to me, which I pointed out to Rinearson. She affirmed that her department’s decision to withhold documents is always open to a legal challenge.

According to Rinearson, more than 95 percent of records requested are readily available without redaction.

Now once more with feeling, Port Orchard’s committee materials are available are available with a records request to the city clerk, cityclerk@cityofportorchard.us, or by calling (360) 876-4407.

If you actually made it all the way through this post, congratulations; email me, chenry@kitsapsun.com, and I will add you to my unofficial list of local government nerds.

How much of Port Orchard does Samadpour own?

On Wednesday the languishing Myhre’s building was purchased by Abadan Holdings LLC of Lake Forest Park, the company owned by Mansour Samadpour.
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Over the past decade Samadpour, a real estate investor and world renowned microbiologist, has accumulated ownership in a significant percentage of Bay Street real estate. Here’s a summary of what he owns (the buildings, not the businesses that lease from him, all on Bay Street): Dance Gallery (702), Port Orchard Pavillion (701), Cafe Gabrielle (707), Port Orchard Public Market (715), Old Central Antique Mall (801), Coffee Oasis (807) and the space next to coffee oasis, vacant (809) and now Myhre’s (2 parcels 737 and 739).

Samdpour is notably media shy. I couldn’t get any comment from him on his plans for Myhre’s, but Bryan Petro of Windermere Real Estate, who negotiated the sale, said it’s likely it will be leased as some sort of restaurant or pub.

Seller Dick Rylander, whose family has had an interest in Myhre’s since 1930, said he felt a little “wistful” about the sale. My story includes a thumbnail history of the place from Rylander’s perspective.

People who complain about “all those vacancies” on Bay Street are running out of argumentative ammo, what with the reoccupation of the bakery and the opening of the public market. Myhre’s and the Los Cabos building are the most conspicuous vacant buildings on Bay Street. Farther west on Bay, Robert Earl Lighthouse opened this week in “the Lighthouse building.”

So hold your head up Port Orchard. And oh by the way, we have hanging flower baskets, too. Just like Bremerton.

What would you like to see at the Myhre’s building?

PO Beats Poulsbo on “best small cities” list

The online publication citiesjournal.com has taken a David Letterman approach to the “top small cities” in Washington State. Port Orchard ranks 6th in the journal’s list of 14 (not Letterman’s 10), as noted on Facebook by PO locals Matt Carter and Todd Penland.

And look at us go. Port Orchard, with its maritime ties and eclectic downtown mix of eateries, boutiques and salons (hair, nail, tattoo, piercing) beat out Poulsbo, with its Nordic theme, a longtime solid formula for that town.

“As stated on its website, Poulsbo has a completely unique and different history from its neighboring communities. Unlike other small towns and cities in the local area, this small city was founded by Norwegian settlers,” citiesjournal.com reports.

Poulsbo came in 12 of 14, ahead of Moses Lake and Chelan. Beating out Port Orchard, in slots five through numero uno, were Bellingham, Sequim, Oak Harbor, Hoquiam and Friday Harbor. Nothing against Hoquiam, but, really? (The article cites the city’s low taxes related to depressed values on its “nice but old” homes.)

Poulsbo, the journal continues, “may not have a great deal to offer when it comes to ultra-modern and latest conveniences, but it does enjoy a close community that values friendship and a rich cultural heritage. People who place greater priority on these aspects than what modern society has to offer will find Poulsbo the ideal place to live.”

The next time you’re in Poulsbo, look for that horse and buggy.

I’m figuring the author who wrote about Pullman is a Cougar. The entry on this city, which ranked 9th, reads, “Pullman has so much going for it that it is hard to know where to start.”

Port Orchard is described thus, “The city is blessed with an abundance of marinas filled with boats of all shapes and sizes which provide comfortable accommodations for visitors to stay. The downtown area offers fine dining, shopping, and cultural sites to explore.”

Too bad they illustrated the article not with a picture of the marina but of the Kitsap County Courthouse … on a cloudy day. The courthouse, and in fact the whole county campus, is fine and all and very much part of the city. But PO, we can do better. They should have checked in the day we posted all those rainbow pictures. Oh, my God!

“Port Orchard is but a ferry ride away from Seattle and Bremerton,” the journal continues, “making excursions to the area quite accessible for those wanting to escape …”

Oh wait, there’s more, ” … “for a day or entire weekend.”

“Port Orchard residents are also quite proud of their military heritage as perceived by the nearby Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.”

We won’t tell them the shipyard is in Bremerton, which apparently is too big to be considered for the Top Small Cities list. And yes, we all are proud of our military.

Silverdale was not mentioned on the list of Top 10 Cities that Do Not Exist.

The citiesjournal.com is big on lists. It’s got rankings for other states, and informational pieces on cities nationwide and worldwide. The journal covers a wide range of topics, including “Top 11 Most Haunted Cities,” “13 Best Cities with the Word ‘City’ in Them,” and “Top 12 Cities Aliens Should Colonize.” Detroit tops the list.

So now, we seriously need to suggest a “Top 10” category in which Bremerton will place. I’ll put out “Top 10 Cities that Enable Raccoons,” for starters.

The ball is in your court.

Fireworks: love ’em, hate ’em, tolerate ’em

The city of Port Orchard will put a notice in upcoming utility bills reminding folks to be safe and sensible about fireworks. The decision was triggered by recent complaints from city residents.

Among them is Elissa Whittleton, who is weary of the traffic and — as she describes it — mayhem that take place on the 4th of July in her Tracy Avenue neighborhood. It should be noted that Tracy Avenue, perched up on the hillside above Sinclair Inlet, has one of the best views in the city of the annual Fathoms ‘O Fun fireworks display.
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The city council on March 18 brought in Port Orchard Police Chief Geoffrey Marti and South Kitsap Fire & Rescue Chief Steve Wright to talk about what could be done to maximize safety.

Whittleton would like the city to designate fireworks free zones, specifically areas like Tracy Avenue that become congested with pedestrians and traffic. But Wright said such zones would be “hard to enforce.”

Selectively designated no-fireworks zones may not even be something the city can do, Marti said, “To say that area is unique and deserves unique rules would be hard to defend (to other neighborhoods that may also seek such a ban).”

Illegal fireworks are the greatest source of incidents, according to SKFR data, Wright said. “The public sort of takes a liberty that they view this as their time to do something that is really outside of the norm.”

Wright recalled past efforts to impose a countywide ban on fireworks that fizzled out for lack of support.

Staffing for Independence Day is always a challenge, both chiefs said. Both the fire and police departments call in additional help, but officers and fire units can’t be everywhere. SKFR factors in weather conditions in planning for the 4th.

Marti advised people who call 911 for fireworks-related issues to specify first if there is an imminent danger: has someone been injured, is someone’s house on fire? People should also specify if they want an officer to contact them. The department will triage calls, but eventually they will get back to everyone who requests contact, Marti said, adding. “It may take some time.”

Mayor Tim Matthes noted that two years ago the fireworks were “pretty bad,” but last year, the Port of Bremerton prohibited fireworks on its property and had volunteers (identified as representing the port) patrol the property. Warning signs also reminded waterfront visitors. The result was a calmer atmosphere, Matthes said. He recommended the city recruit additional volunteers to help the port’s effort.

Bek Ashby, a council member who lives in the same general area as Whittleton, said she enjoys the festivities and is resigned to the drill.

“Every 4th of July, I have to be home after six to protect my home. That’s just the way it is,” Ashby said. “I just consider that the price I pay to have the best view in the city of the fireworks.”

Months later, she still finds spent incendiary devices in her flower beds.

“I for one don’t want to eliminate the fireworks in the city,” Ashby said later in the meeting. “It’s joyous in my neighborhood. It’s loud but people are having a lot of fun.”

Whittleton, at the council’s March 25 meeting, thanked them for discussing the idea but said, “not much headway” was made in resolving safety issues. She suggested charging a tax or fee on fireworks sold in the city and using the money to enforce the prohibition against illegal fireworks.

State law defines legal “consumer fireworks” (not to be confused with “display fireworks”) as “any small firework device designed to produce visible effects by combustion” under regulations of the United States consumer product safety commission, “and including some small devices designed to produce audible effects, such as whistling devices, ground devices containing 50 mg or less of explosive materials, and aerial devices containing 130 mg or less of explosive materials …”

What are your thoughts on fireworks? Love ’em? Hate ’em? Tolerate ’em? What suggestions do you have regarding celebration of Independence Day where you live?

And finally, what’s the best place in Kitsap County for watching fireworks?

Port Orchard: Block watch underway downtown

Residents of Port Orchard’s downtown neighborhood recently met with Police Chief Geoffrey Marti about concerns over prowling, gas siphoning and speeding.

Talk of the nagging problems has been circulating since mid-summer in an online chat group of neighbors. One person considered getting a gas cap lock.

Speeding vehicles were reported on Sidney and Seattle avenues.

“No one obeys the speed limit here and there are lots of children and parents walking on the street to go to the park on Dwight. It’s scary,” said one resident.

Someone suggested putting out those glow-in-the-dark fluorescent green “boys” with orange flags. But someone else said they’d probably just get stolen.
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The group discussed other solutions and some suggested taking matters into their own hands by forming a “PO Guardian Angel task force” or “Para-Police Group.” One person talked of stopping a suspicious person in an alley and taking a cell phone picture.

Councilman Fred Chang, who lives downtown, implored folks to keep their distance from possible crooks. “Please do not put yourself in a potentially dangerous situation,” Chang wrote. “Our police force is better trained to deal with such situations.”

The block watch meeting on Aug. 8 was productive, Marti said.

“I knew about 50 percent of the people at the meeting, because they’re all my neighbors,” said Marti, who lives downtown.

Marti reviewed crime data that showed downtown is not a “hot spot” for crime but in fact is relatively safe. He applauds the neighbor’s heightened sense of awareness, however, and said a culture of see-something-say-something goes a long way toward keeping police in-the-loop and deterring would be criminals.

But like Chang, Marti discouraged people from actively taking on suspects. Furtively noting a license plate number, yes. Approaching a suspicious vehicle and whipping out your cell phone, don’t try it. Just call 911.

“If you see something that concerns you, by all means, call the police,” Marti said.

World premier of Macomber’s Cedar Cove series is Saturday

The big question is, “How will we look?”

Fans around the country are eagerly awaiting Saturday’s world premier of “Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove,” the Hallmark Channel television series based on books by local bestselling author Debbie Macomber. Macomber in turn based her wildly popular series on the town of Port Orchard, where she makes her home.

The show is at 8 p.m. Saturday on the Hallmark Channel, with episodes scheduled at the same time every Saturday at least through August 31. Spoiler alert: I’ve pasted summaries of the six episodes below for those of you who want to get a jump on the whole experience.

The Debbie Macomber experience has been a phenomenon for the city of Port Orchard for nearly three decades. The humble and perennially cheerful homemaker began her career typing at the kitchen table. Macomber rose through the ranks of bestselling women’s fiction beginning in the 1980s. Her early success was documented by the late JoAnne Marez, retired Kitsap Sun reporter and editor, who died July 7. Macomber recalled how a story JoAnne wrote in the mid-1990s was picked up by the Associated Press, accelerating the author’s fame and fortune. I know if JoAnne were alive, she would be glued to the TV for every episode.

I interviewed Macomber in 2009, as the town was getting ready to portray itself in the first (and so far only) Cedar Cove Days, which drew thousands of fans from far and wide. Locals dressed up as characters from the books. A map showed places — the library, restaurants and homes around town — that inspired Macomber’s imaginary Cedar Cove. The town got a new paint job, and there was some tension over the color scheme. Some aspects of the town didn’t lend themselves too well to sprucing up — Bay Street buildings that showed (and still show) their backsides (adorned with dumpsters) to the waterfront and marina. But the unpretentious Macomber wanted her fans to see the town “warts and all.”

In the series, Judge Olivia Lockhart is played by Golden Globe winner Andie McDowell. We’ll take that as a compliment.
Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cove 1001-- (Photo by: Chris Large/Hallmark)
Macomber herself stumped for the filming to take place in Port Orchard, but producers may have felt that was a little too much reality. The series was shot in Victoria, Canada. We’ll take that as a compliment, as well. Which brings us back to the original question, “How will be look?” All glammed up by Andie McDowell and Victoria, B.C., will Port Orchard (a.k.a. Cedar Cove) even be able to recognize itself?

In the series premiere, MacDowell plays Judge Olivia Lockhart, “whose Cedar Cove Municipal Court is the professional milieu and social microcosm of issues the judge will face in her own day-to-day life with family and friends,” according to the Hallmark Channel website.

“Jack Griffith (Dylan Neal), the editor of the Cedar Cove Chronicle, is a new friend and potential love interest for Judge Lockhart,” the website continues. “Judge Lockhart hears her name is being put forth for appointment to a Federal judgeship in Seattle, and she asks that her family keep the news a secret. But Griffith, “desperate for a meaningful news story,” (those damn newspaper people!) “corners Olivia’s mother who inadvertently tells the editor about everything in her daughter’s life – including the possible appointment. … Suddenly, Olivia (much to her chagrin) is front page news.”

Hmmmm, judge-editor, potential love interest … I could have told Judge Lockhart THAT was a bad idea.

Two actors from the set recently visited Port Orchard, according to Macomber’s daughter Adele LaCombe, executive director of Debbie Macomber the Brand. Yes, our neighbor Debbie Macomber is a copyrighted brand that covers not only her books, but movies, television series and even cookbooks that Macomber has written (one based on recipes mentioned in the Cedar Cove books).

The actors were utterly charmed by Port Orchard, LaCombe said. Fortunately, they made their visit about a week before a fire ripped through the upstairs apartment/rooming house of the Los Cabos building on Bay Street. The cause of the fire is considered suspicious and is still under investigation. Now, with renovation of the Myhre’s building (also gutted by fire two years ago) stalled in a legal morass, the town has bookend eyesores.

But there are also some charming new additions: The nearly completed DeKalb Pier upgrade and a new dock at the Water Street Boat launch help make the town look prosperous and classy. The city of Port Orchard did that work and a recently completed a segment of the Bay Street Pedestrian Pathway that is one of several enhancements to the Port of Bremerton-owned Port Orchard Marina Park.

I guess your impression of the town depends on your willingness to look past the “warts” and see the efforts being made by shopkeepers and building owners — flowers, banners, attractive wares, a public market in the works at the old Slip 45 building — to make Bay Street look like something out of a storybook. Oh, alright, maybe we’ll never be Cedar Cover. But if we were Debbie Macomber — our down-to-earth neighbor, not the brand — maybe we could see the best in our town and cherish it for what it is … warts and all.

See, I can write fiction, too.

Here at the episode capsules courtesy of Hallmark:
‘DEBBIE MACOMBER’S CEDAR COVE’
Hallmark Channel Original Primetime Series
Episode: #1001 “A House Divided”
Saturday, July 27 at 8p.m. ET/PT, 7C
Starring: Andie MacDowell, Dylan Neal, Teryl Rothery, Bruce Boxleitner, Barbara Niven, Brennan Elliott, Paula Shaw, Sarah Smyth, Corey Sevier, Timothy Webber, Elyse Levesque and Garry Chalk

Judge Olivia Lockhart finds herself in a house divided after her seaside town goes up in arms when arrogant and wealthy developer Warren Saget threatens to tear down Cedar Cove’s historic lighthouse. Local Thyme and Tide innkeepers Bob and Peggy Beldon lead the townspeople in protest, including Olivia’s mom Charlotte, leaving Olivia caught in the middle when the case ends up in her courtroom and she must put her emotions aside to abide by the law. Then, Olivia’s new romance with newspaper reporter Jack Griffith is threatened when he paints Olivia in an unfavorable light in his story about the case. While the town begins to turn their backs on their respected judge, Olivia’s daughter Justine, recently single after ending her engagement to Warren, sees a spark reignite with old high school sweetheart Seth Gunderson and Olivia’s best friend Grace Sherman, home from a post-divorce vacation, begins readjusting to single life.

‘DEBBIE MACOMBER’S CEDAR COVE’
Hallmark Channel Original Primetime Series
Episode: #1002 “Reunion”
Saturday, August 3 at 8p.m. ET/PT, 7C
Starring: Andie MacDowell, Dylan Neal, Teryl Rothery, Paula Shaw, Andrew Airlie, Sarah Smyth, Corey Sevier, Timothy Webber and Elyse Levesque
Guest Starring: Sebastian Spence and Tom Stevens

When Jack’s estranged son Eric shows up in Cedar Cove completely unannounced, their uncomfortable reunion is long overdue. As Jack starts to get to know his son amid Eric’s constant hurtful reminders of Jack’s alcoholic past and poor parenting, Olivia and Grace learn a secret that makes them question Eric’s intentions. Charlotte wants to fulfill the dying wish of a stroke victim she met while volunteering at the local hospital by tracking down his family and asks Olivia for help. But when Charlotte also recruits Olivia’s friendly ex-husband Stan to do some digging, Olivia is faced with her own uneasy reunion.

‘DEBBIE MACOMBER’S CEDAR COVE’
Hallmark Channel Original Primetime Series
Episode: #1003 “Suspicious Minds”
Saturday, August 10 at 8p.m. ET/PT, 7C
Starring: Andie MacDowell, Dylan Neal, Bruce Boxleitner, Barbara Niven, Teryl Rothery, Paula Shaw, Andrew Airlie, Sarah Smyth, Corey Sevier, Garry Chalk, Brennan Elliott, Elyse Levesque, Timothy Webber, Kendall Cross, Matreya Fedor and Brendan Meyer
Guest Starring: Tom Stevens and Charlie Carrick

A bloodied and quiet man arrives to the Thyme and Tide in the middle of the night asking for a room, inexplicably missing all of his belongings. Sensing trouble, Bob and Peggy reluctantly let him stay, promising to work out the details later. But when he is found mysteriously dead in his room the next morning, the Beldons are stunned and upset and the Cedar Cove gossip mill begins buzzing with the news. As Sheriff Troy Davis leads the investigation, Jack is quick to begin covering the story for the Chronicle—even in the midst of rising tensions between him and Olivia about Eric’s bad attitude. Meanwhile, at Cedar Cove’s annual Art Walk, Justine is on the verge of a new career when she receives a prominent booth to display her work and is stunned when her dad Stan shows up to support her, invoking unresolved feelings.

‘DEBBIE MACOMBER’S CEDAR COVE’
Hallmark Channel Original Primetime Series
Episode: #1004 “For the Sake of the Children”
Saturday, August 17 at 8p.m. ET/PT, 7C
Starring: Andie MacDowell, Dylan Neal, Teryl Rothery, Kendall Cross, Lochlyn Munro, Paula Shaw, Elyse Levesque, Matreya Fedor, Sean Michael Kyer, Sarah Smyth, Brennan Elliott, Timothy Webber and Garry Chalk
Guest Starring: Tom Stevens and Sebastian Spence

In court, Olivia hears both sides of Rosie and Zach Westen’s heated, he-said, she-said divorce case, struggling to decide what’s best, for the sake of the children, Allison and Eddie. While the case stirs up painful memories of Olivia’s own divorce, Jack is also reminded of his past when he notices Eric is stalling to find a job and starting to take advantage of Jack’s guilt. Then, after budget cuts leaves the Mayor no choice but to close the town’s beloved library, Grace resolves to raise the money to keep it open herself, hosting a fundraiser where she meets a charming man new to Cedar Cove, Cliff Harting.

‘DEBBIE MACOMBER’S CEDAR COVE’
Hallmark Channel Original Primetime Series
Episode: #1005 “Free Spirits”
Saturday, August 24 at 8p.m. ET/PT, 7C
Starring: Andie MacDowell, Dylan Neal, Teryl Rothery, Bruce Boxleitner, Sarah Smyth, Corey Sevier, Paula Shaw, Elyse Levesque and Timothy Webber
Guest Starring: Sebastian Spence and Charlie Carrick

Justine is excited to welcome Seth back from his job at sea, but when he doesn’t show up for several days, she fears the worst and decides to go on a dangerous solo trip to a remote Alaskan town to find him. Olivia is concerned, especially as she remembers the pain of losing her son several years ago in an accident. Worried she’ll lose Justine too, Olivia’s sleepless nights start taking a toll and is hesitant to leave town when Jack asks her to go to Seattle for the weekend on their first trip as a couple. As both Justine and Olivia face stepping out of their comfort zones, they ultimately realize the adventure might be worth the risk.

‘DEBBIE MACOMBER’S CEDAR COVE’
Hallmark Channel Original Primetime Series
Episode: #1006 “Help Wanted”
Saturday, August 31 at 8p.m. ET/PT, 7C
Starring: Andie MacDowell, Dylan Neal, Teryl Rothery, Bruce Boxleitner, Barbara Niven, Matreya Fedor, Brendan Meyer, Kendall Cross, Sarah Smyth, Paula Shaw, Andrew Airlie, Garry Chalk, Timothy
Hallmark’s two-hour world premier of Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove is 8 p.m. Saturday. The program kicks off a television series based on the Cedar Cove books by local best-selling author Debbie Macomber.

Webber
Guest Starring: Richard De Klerk and Sebastian Spence

The Westen’s messy divorce starts taking a toll on daughter Allison, who is quick to lean on her friend Anson for support and put in extra hours at the Thyme and Tide Inn just to escape. But when her mom Rosie gets a permanent room at the Inn, Allison is on the verge of a breakdown. Then, before a trip to Seattle with Jack, Olivia gets a surprising visit from Lenny, a reformed criminal she helped put in jail years ago, who has returned to Cedar Cove wanting a fresh start. Seeing a change in him, Olivia promises to help Lenny find a job, but feels defeated when everyone in Cedar Cove is too quick to judge the ex-convict and turns him away. Then, when the harbor’s beautiful pergola goes up in flames at the hands of an apparent arsonist, even Olivia is suspicious of Lenny, but everyone is shocked by the conclusion in court.