Monthly Archives: June 2007

Fathoms O’ Fun: Tradition Runs Deep at Annual Festival

I remember the first year our family attended the Fathoms O’ Fun Grand Parade. We were living on Pottery Hill above Port Orchard Boulevard, where parade entries line up. We heard the cacophony of bands warming up, and we wondered what was going on, because it wasn’t a holiday … yet.

Since 1968, the parade has been the kickoff for the Fathoms O’ Fun celebration, which includes a snake race, frog jump, carnival and, on the 4th of July, fireworks over Sinclair Inlet.

Well, we threw the baby (now a college graduate) in the stroller and began a family tradition that has run almost entirely uninterrupted lo these many years.

Covering this story, I interviewed a young couple with a 15-month-old baby, starting their own tradition.

“We’re gonna probably make it a family event now that our lives have changed,” said Raymona Bennett of Gorst.

Not too much has changed since we first saw the parade: The bands, the floats, the horse poop on the pavement. I did notice one of the Fathoms princesses with a cell phone.

SK Park: Goodbye, Hello

South Kitsap Community Park volunteers past and present gathered today for what easily could have turned into a funeral. After 28 years of independence, the park has been turned over to Kitsap County, an agreement reached after nearly two years of sometimes less than friendly negotiations. The parks board hosted one last hurrah to say thanks to all the folks who have kept the park going on a shoestring.

Instead, it was more of an Irish wake (minus the Guinness), with the old guard (the parks board) toasting the new guard (county officials) and visa versa, and everyone saying the same thing — this is not the end, but a new beginning for the park.

“I think we’re turning it over to some very excellent stewards,” said parks board president Larry Walker. “They’re not the enemy. They’re our friends.”

“Since the decision was made, they’ve been really good to work with,” said Chip Faver, head of the county’s Facilities, Parks and Recreation. “They’ve put their hearts out to volunteer, to make it easier. However difficult this has been, it hasn’t been a difficult turnover process.”

Faver said not only were former parks volunteers invited to stay involved with the park and its future, he was counting on it.

Margie Rees, who strongly resisted the takeover, seemed upbeat and optimistic.
“I still am against their taking it over,” she said. “But I will work with them. We’ll work with them. … I hope it works out.”

SKSD Budget Available to the Public July 10

Correction, July 2
Enrollment Increase Expected: Terri Patton of the South Kitsap School District was misquoted in an article that ran Friday in the Kitsap Sun. Patton did not say that a projected enrollment decline would be a factor in a continued budget cuts beyond the upcoming school year. “While it is obvious that enrollment has historically declined, I did not say I expected that trend to continue,” Patton said. “On the contrary, unlike Central Kitsap School District, we expect enrollment to grow.” Patton cites a demographics study done by the district in 2005 which shows that, based on new housing developments in South Kitsap, enrollment would grow over the next several years.

If you’re up for a little light summer reading, the South Kitsap School District budget probably isn’t the first thing you’ll reach for.

A story on the budget is on the Kitsap Sun’s Web site now.

According to Terri Patton, the district’s business office assistant superintendent, very few people take advantage of the roughly month long window of opportunity the district gives the public each year to examine and comment on the budget. A summary of the preliminary budget (from here, click on June 20 board meeting; then click on “presentations”; then click on “preliminary 2007-08 budget) can be found on the district’s Web site. The proposed budget will be available to the public July 10, and the school board will hold a public hearing Aug. 15. If they don’t see the need to make adjustments, they could adopt it that night. Otherwise they have until Aug. 30.

This year, as in years past, the district will be making some hefty cuts, about $1 million worth, according to Patton. To help make up for an estimated $1.7 million total shortfall, the district will also make a number of budget adjustments, shifting funds from one source to another and identifying ways to be more efficient, Patton said.

All of this is getting to be old hat for the district, which has made over $5 million in cuts since 2003. Patton cited flat enrollment, inadequate state funding, inflation on fixed costs and the fact that as property values go up, the district is eligible for fewer levy equalization dollars from the state. The next opportunity the board will have to tap into the larger tax base, should they choose to ask for a higher levy, will be in 2009, Patton said.

Despite the cuts, no reduction in staffing or closure of facilities is expected at this time, Patton said. In fact the district is adding a few new programs, including a partnership with the South Kitsap Port Orchard Boys & Girls Club, an early childhood parent training program, Ready! For Kindergarten, and an online component for the Explorer Academy, the district’s home school support program. The district will also need to spend $55,000 for before school supervision on the newly instituted Late Start Wednesdays, when teachers will have “collaborative time.”

Patton said she’d like to see more public scrutiny of the budget, and she’s avail able to answer questions. E-mail is probably the best way to reach her. Here’s her contact information:; (360) 874-7012.

Happy reading.

SK Schools Get Late Start Wednesdays

Wake up South Kitsap.

On second thought, hit the snooze button. The South Kitsap Education Association and South Kitsap School District have signed a contract that includes a provision for a 45-minute late start on Wednesdays. Buses will run 45 minutes late. Parents who drop their kids off at school are asked to adjust accordingly.

How can arriving late to school help students do better?

The teachers will use the time to for “collaborative” planning, a method educators say has been shown to boost student achievement. They’ll also kick in 30 minutes of their regular planning time for a total of 75 minutes a week of analyzing student data, sharing information and applying what works best to their own classrooms. No point reinventing the wheel.

A late start has been in effect at South Kitsap High for the past two years. Collaborative planning (and altered schedules) are already being tried in North Mason, Peninsula, Bremerton and Central Kitsap school districts.

We’d love to hear from our neighbors to see how much proof is in the pudding.

South Kitsap Superintendent Bev Cheney says the district will be keeping an eye on the teachers to see how the program is working. Schools will be required to submit reports to families about exactly how the time is being used, and — giving the program time to kick in — district administrators will be looking for results.

Maybe we should put SKSD on the Bremerton blog’s “on notice” board, a la Stephen Colbert, as in “we’re watching you.”

In the meantime, I know at least one junior high bound student, my son, who’ll savor an extra 45 minutes to sleep in.

Find more information on late start Wednesdays at the school district’s Web site.

PO Plan: Correction

A story that ran in the Kitsap Sun Friday incorrectly identified the maximum building heights in the Port Orchard’s Downtown Overlay District. The corrected portion of the story is:

The maximum height in the city’s downtown core, the “downtown overlay district,” is 39 feet for lots on the north side of Bay Street and on the south side of Prospect Street. The maximum height for lots that abut the south side of Bay Street is 55 feet.

The complete story is below.

Continue reading

Friday Afternoon Club: Now Hear This

SK Park Busy During Transition

Coming Up at the Park
Saturday: Annual Hotfoot 5K Run ,8:45 a.m.
Saturday and Sunday: South Kitsap Amateur Radio Club’s annual Field Day
June 30: Noon to 4 p.m., South Kitsap Parks Appreciation Day

Now that the South Kitsap Parks & Recreation District Board of Commissioners has signed the park over to Kitsap County, county workers are on the site cleaning up the park, which also got a lot of T.L.C. (tender loving care) from about 100 volunteer’s Wednesday during United Way’s Day of Caring.
The park will see a lot of activity over the next two weekends, including a 5K run, a ham radio demonstration and a celebration of the park’s history.
On Saturday and Sunday members of the South Kitsap Amateur Radio Club will be demonstrating how amateur radio works as part of a national Field Day for ham radio operators.
These are the folks you want to know in the event of an earthquake, terrorist strike or other event that knocks out communication. During Hurricane Katrina, for example, hundreds of volunteer “hams” traveled south to save lives and property.
According to the South Kitsap club’s president Mervin Archer, local ham radio operators at the event will demonstrate the newest digital and satellite capabilities. Club members are among more than 600,000 ham radio operators in the United States and more than 2.5 million around the world.
On Sunday, the park will also be the site of the annual Hotfoot 5K Run. Proceeds go to the Volunteer Firefighters Association to benefit its Community Scholarship Fund.
On June 30, the public is invited to the South Kitsap Parks Appreciation Day from noon to 4 p.m. at the park. Hosted by the parks board, this will be a chance for anyone who has ever volunteered for or cared about the park to celebrate its 28-year history as it begins a new chapter under county ownership. There will be food, music, children’s activities and train rides, as well as a program of appreciation with local dignitaries.
The parks board is seeking pictures and memories to incorporate into the event. If you have something to share, contact Margie Rees at (360) 871-6590 or (360) 871-1182 or Mary Colborn at (360) 674-2166, or

Port Orchard 98312

Bremerton Beat reporter Steve Gardner, who hosts the Kitsap Caucus blog, occasionally puts people “on notice” a la Stephen Colbert. Recent examples include “Republicrats,” “Demoblicans,” Port of Bremerton Commissioner Mary Ann Huntington, diapers (he has a new baby) and Port Orchard, although that has been replaced with Tori Spelling.

Well, Mr. Gardner, I think we’re going to have to put Bremerton on notice for exporting its ZIP code to a large chunk of South Kitsap. Home buyers at the new development The Ridge at McCormick Woods recently learned that they’ll have a Bremerton address because part of the development is zoned as a Bremerton urban growth area. Some of them are not pleased.

“I just moved out of East Bremerton, and 98312 is the worst part of Bremerton,” said home buyer Nicole Thomas. “There’s pawn shops and paycheck loans. There’s low-income housing. Every time you look at the Kitsap Sun, the Code 911 is always about Bremerton. We wanted to get out of there.”

I’m guessing we ain’t seen nothin’ yet. With the cities of Bremerton and Port Orchard both eyeing the McCormick Woods Sunnyslope area, things will get interesting as annexation becomes a pressing issue. All the various entities – city and county governments, school districts, developers, builders, emergency management folks – will have their own agendas, and so will the individuals already living in and moving to the area.

Fifteen years ago, Sunnyslope was a sleepy rural area. Today, there are 700 homes in McCormick Woods, 270 to be built in The Ridge, and a smaller number in The Rutherford, across the street from The Ridge. At complete “build out,” developments in McCormick Woods Urban Village will include about 4,000 housing units. Hmmm … maybe the “Village” will be come its own city and annex everyone else.

PO Plan: Is the End Really in Sight?

Update June 26: I made an error in this story, omitting the 55-foot height allowance for lots abutting the south side of Bay Street. The correct information is below, and I reposted the whole story, corrected, in a new entry, so hopefully it is more visible.

“The maximum height in the city’s downtown core, the “downtown overlay district,” is 39 feet for lots on the north side of Bay Street and on the south side of Prospect Street. The maximum height for lots that abut the south side of Bay Street is 55 feet.”

I spoke with Mayor Kim Abel today. The City Council has set yet another two meetings on its long-awaited downtown plan but, according to Abel, the end is (“potentially”) in sight (“if all things move forward”). Mark your calendars for July 23 to see if Abel’s hopeful prediction comes to fruition.
An update on the council’s progress is below.

Continue reading

Narrows Bridge Memories Sought

Readers are asked to share memories of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge for an
upcoming special section to coincide with the opening of the new bridge.
Anyone willing to share stories about the original “Galloping Gertie” bridge
or construction of the existing Narrows bridge should e-mail Please limit stories to 250 words, and include
contact information.

Mayor of the Little Town that Could Gives PO an Earful

The creative way the Central Washington resort town was saved could have salient parallels for Port Orchard leaders.

By Chris Henry
In 1965, Mel Wyles, then serving in Vietnam, received a letter from his mother telling him that she’d put up everything the family owned as collateral — including their restaurant in downtown Leavenworth — to remodel the place like a Bavarian chalet.
Desperate times called for desperate measures.
“Leavenworth was becoming a ghost town,” said Wyles, now into his third term as Leavenworth’s mayor, who spoke Thursday to the Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce. “There was more empty buildings on the front street of Leavenworth than there were businesses.”
The description had a familiar ring to chamber members. Although Port Orchard may not be that bad, most merchants, property owners and local officials agree the city has a ways to go before it achieves its full potential.
Wyles, a no-nonsense kind of a guy, was there offer a few gentle words of advice.
“You’ve got to start fighting,” he said. “And you don’t fight with each other. You’ve got to band together because everyone down the road wants what you want. … Every minute you waste, you’re dead meat.”

Continue reading