Monthly Archives: October 2007

How Much Would You Pay to Keep Kitsap Parks Alive?

Kitsap County’s Parks and Recreation Department needs to start thinking more like business, less like a library.

That’s the recommendation of the Kitsap County Parks and Recreation Sustainability Task Force, headed by former county commissioner Patty Lent, which today made its recommendations to the Board of Commissioners.

Find out more about the task force here.

Along with better tracking of its services and how much they cost – right down to the time it takes to change a roll of toilet paper in a county facility rest room – the department needs to increase its user and admission fees (last adjusted in 2003).

Members of the task force and county commissioners discussed the potential danger of setting user and admission fees too high. North Kitsap Commissioner Steve Bauer spoke of keeping parks programs accessible to Kitsap residents of all income levels.
“We need to be careful how we do it,” he said. “We could focus on raising revenue and kill the program.”

If your group meets at a county building, how much would you be willing or able to pay? If your family takes part in county recreational programs, how much of a fee increase could you afford?

What Kitsap County Parks and Recreation facilities do you or your family use? Do you have a favorite park? Tell me about it.

Continue reading

Information Sought on South Colby Church

The Kitsap Sun is seeking information on the South Colby Church whose pastor has been accused of sexual abuse.
On Tuesday, Josh Farley reported that Robbin Leeroy Harper, 60, has now been accused by a total of seven people — all females — who say he molested or raped them sometime between 1995 and 2006, when they were as young as 7, according to Kitsap County court documents in the case.

In following up this story, we’d like to hear from anybody who may have been a member of The Church in South Colby or who knows anything about it. A story by Brynn Grimley, also on Tuesday, reported that the small congregation was unfamiliar to many in South Kitsap’s religious community.

Your contact will be Josh Farley,, or David Nelson,, (360) 415-2679. Feel free to contact me as well,, (360) 792-9219.

Chris Henry, South Kitsap reporter

Last Chance to Weigh in on Sewer-Water Merger

A copy of this entry appears, with a different heading, on the Kitsap Caucus blog.

An article in today’s Kitsap Sun gives details of a ballot measure regarding the proposed merger of Karcher Creek Sewer District and Annapolis Water District. Although the boards of both districts have approved he merger and the two have been under a joint operating agreement since June – sharing staff, computers and other resources – voters who live within each district must still give the final nod to the merger.

Bill Huntington and Jim Hart both serve on the boards of both Karcher Creek and Annapolis. Huntington — husband of incumbent Port of Bremerton commissioner Mary Ann Huntington — is up for re-election, facing former Annapolis commissioner Jeannie Screws. Hart is running unopposed for re-election as Karcher Creek commissioner.

I asked Larry Curles, general manager for both districts, if this represented a conflict of interest. He said no, that Huntington and Hart’s experience with both water and sewer helps them do a better job of representing the interests of rate payers in each district. He also said having two people on both boards makes this an ideal time for the merger.

A similar situation could evolve in Manchester, where, if Steve Pedersen beats opponent Mark Rebelowski for position 3 of the Port of Manchester race, there would be two people on the boards of the port and the Manchester Water District. Pedersen serves on the water district board. Jim Strode currently serves on both boards. Rebelowski, being careful to say he has nothing against Strode or Pedersen, raised the issue of conflict of interest. Pedersen has said he could see how people might see that as a concern, but he promises a squeaky clean approach if he wins. Strode has said the two districts already share office staff and may consider sharing more to save money.

As the cost for local government entities to do business goes up and up, mergers may become more and more popular. South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel has said the county may in the future consider going regional with some of its functions to share costs with other counties, that are also experiencing tight budgets.

As development proceeds throughout the county, sewer, water and ports (with their power to raise taxes for economic development) will play a larger role in local politics. The law currently allows people to sit on the board of more than one local entity. Should we be taking a second look at this? Playing devil’s advocate here, what’s the worst that could happen?

Cost to Fix PO City Hall Leaks Uncertain

Mold could be a problem, one contractor has said.

By Chris Henry
Port Orchard’s 8-year-old City Hall has leaks in some of its windows. What it will take to fix them is uncertain.
City Engineer Maher Abed said last year’s unusually wet winter resulted in some leakage on the first and second floors. Abed said his department originally thought a small number of windows would need to be weatherized and some Sheetrock replaced. He said the project now appears to be larger in scope, but he indicated the situation is no cause for alarm.
Dan Fischer, of Fischer Contracting Inc. of Poulsbo, has a different take.
Fischer, the same company that is renovating the leaky Kitsap County Public Works Building, submitted a bid in August to recaulk the leaky windows. Fischer, in the bid proposal, said that, while his company could perform the work for $183,747, he could not guarantee it, because caulking the windows would only be a temporary fix.
“The condition of the building is such that other portions of the exterior envelope will develop problems within the next year,” Fisher wrote. “We also must caution the city that the current condition of the building indicates that it is likely that mold is already growing in the wall cavities.”
Fischer told the Kitsap Sun he believes the problems at City Hall are similar to those of the Public Works Building, which has required a complete refitting of the building “envelope,” at a cost of $2.6 million, due to faulty construction. He said the cost for a similar fix to City Hall could run as high as $1 million.
Abed dismissed Fischer’s evaluation, saying, “The higher number of $1 million is speculative at best and is not based on facts, so I will not address it at this point. All I can say is the city is prepared to fix the problem in a timely fashion.”
Abed also dismissed the suggestion of mold being a problem, saying, “The architect doesn’t think there’s mold. Without opening it up, we don’t know for sure,” said Abed. “With mold you’d have a smell, but we haven’t experienced that.”
Before the extent of the problem was known, the city solicited bids from its “small works roster” of companies available for small repair and maintenance jobs. Fisher was the only company to submit a bid.
An assessment from Art Anderson and Associates of Bremerton, who designed City Hall, led city officials to opt for a formal bid process for the project, said Mayor Kim Abel, who added Fischer’s opinion also influenced their decision.
“With only one response, we said, ‘That’s not very representative,’” said Abel. “But we also took his concerns to heart.”
Art Anderson will help the city prepare bid specifications for the formal bid process.
The city’s preliminary budget includes $250,000 for the City Hall project. The money is currently in the supplemental budget, said Councilman John Clauson, chairman of the finance committee. Adding that amount to the main budget would require other adjustments to balance the budget, he said.
Abel said she’ll wait to see the bids submitted before becoming alarmed.
“If they all come in outside the box, we know we’ll have to do something else,” she said.
Port Orchard City Hall was dedicated in 1999, and the prime contractor was Yuns Construction of Seattle.
Join a conversation about Port Orchard City Hall at Speaking of South Kitsap, a blog at

Port Orchard Party is Saturday

On Saturday, the Towne Square Mall will be transformed into “Holiday In Paradise” for the 18th annual Port Orchard Party, from 7 p.m. to midnight for the 18th annual Port Orchard Party benefit gala.

Party-goers can sample food from 20 of the best restaurants in South Kitsap, dance to the sounds of “Soul Siren“, be entertained by the “Mike Nelson Trio” and steel drummer, Ken Wooten. Beverages will include champagne, beer, wine and soft drinks served in the upstairs and main floor lounges. You must be 21 one to attend.

The $40 ticket covers all the food you can eat, great entertainment and two complimentary beverages.

Proceeds from this year’s gala will help support The Boys & Girls Club, South Kitsap Helpline Food Bank and the Fathoms O’ Fun Festival Association.

Tickets are available at Kitsap Bank (Bay St.), Windermere Port Orchard, The Mail Room (Towne Square Mall), Olympic Fitness Center, South Kitsap Helpline, Port Orchard Chamber or by calling (360) 871-1805.

Gig Harbor CostCo to Open Nov. 2

This item is on our Web site today. If you currently shop at the Silverdale CostCo, is this new location more appealing to you? What is your favorite CostCo product?

GIG Harbor
New CostCo Set for Grand Opening
A new CostCo outlet will open in Gig Harbor Nov. 2, providing competition to Silverdale’s CostCo and a warehouse shopping alternative, especially for South Kitsap residents.
The 148,000 square-foot store has the full compliment of CostCo offerings, including a gas station, optical goods, a pharmacy, hearing aids and a one-hour photo center. Fresh products will be available in the store’s full bakery, produce section, service deli, meat and seafood sections. The deli will offer “home replacement meals,” according to a press release from the company.
The store is located at 10990 Harbor Hill Drive. On opening day, the store will open at 8 a.m., two hours earlier than regular Friday hours.

Deputies Seeking SK Pastor Suspected of Sexual Abuse

Deputies Searching for SK Pastor Suspected of Sexual Abuse

Robbin Leeroy Harper

Kitsap Sun staff
The Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office released the name Friday of a South Colby pastor suspected of illicit contact with girls who are or were members of his church.

Deputies on Friday served a search warrant at the home of Robbin Leeroy Harper, pastor of The Church in South Colby. Harper has not been charged with any crime.

But the sheriff’s office said it has probable cause to arrest the 60-year-old for two counts of second-degree child rape, according to a press released issued Friday evening. Investigators believe there’s a possibility that there are other victims, some of whom may now be adults.

Detectives served the warrant around noon at Harper’s home at 3525 Arvick Road SE, the same address as the church. Harper wasn’t found.

He is believed to be traveling with his spouse in a red 2003 Hummer with Washington license 432-RLT. Detectives believe he is aware that he’s being investigated.

The investigation began last weekend when one of his alleged victims, now an adult, called 911 to report a sex offense. Investigators determined that she probably wasn’t the only victim, that victims might have been assaulted more than once, and that the sexual abuse has been going on since some of the girls were 12 or 13, according to the press release.

Harper is 5 feet 8 inches tall, weighs 180 pounds, has brown eyes and wears glasses.

Anybody with information about his location is asked to call 911. Those who believe they were victims of sexual abuse by Harper or who have information about the investigation are urged to contact Detective Lori Blankenship at (360) 337-5615.

Friday Afternooon Club: Scare Tactics

Some folks in my neighborhood go all out for Halloween, but the house on the corner takes the prize. There’s a lighted ceramic pumpkin in every window, carved pumpkins worthy of Martha Stewart by the front door and a virtual bone yard in the front yard. You know those fake skeleton parts you can stick in the dirt to look like dead people clawing their way out of the ground? Very creepy, even freaked out my dog. I also loved the tombstone surrounded by what were only white cloths on stakes, but stirring restlessly in the evening breeze, they looked just like ghosts.

Do you do it up big for Halloween? If so send me photos of your display. I’ll post them and, between now and Halloween, bloggers can rate and comment on them. Here’s the rating scale:

* About as scary as Casper the Friendly Ghost
** Tame and Tasteful – Ho Hum
*** Starting to Show Some Spirits of the Season
**** Wicked Good
***** Seek Therapy

Coppola Critical of Manchester Plan Process

Correction, noon Oct. 25: This posting has been corrected due to a wrongly attributed quote. Bill Bellman did not make the statement that the proposed plan had been “rammed through “ by a small group of people. The quote should have been attributed to Linda Jacobs.
Mr. Bellman did make a comment about the process by which property owners were notified via post card about meetings of the design standards committee. He said, “You might have gotten two postcards, but you were limited in what you could talk about at the meeting.”

Note: Maps of Manchester’s commercial core and view protection overlay zone are pasted at the bottom of this entry.

At last night’s planning commission meeting, people who testified about the proposed update of the 2002 Manchester Plan had almost more to say about the way it was drafted than about the plan itself.
On the one hand were people like Linda Jacobs, who felt the process was dominated by a small group of people on the citizens’ committee.
“I don’t think that the community has been informed,” he said. “I think a small group made the decisions. … I just think this has been rammed through.”
On the other hand, were people like Ray Pardo, who said, “I’d say overall the process has been fantastic,” said Ray Pardo.
The discussion was set off by a comment made at a Sept. 11 planning commission meeting by Lary Coppola, who is on the commission and also owns property in Manchester. Coppola has moved to Port Orchard to establish residency for a run for PO mayor. He complained on Sept. 11 and last night that he didn’t get any notification of meetings of the design review committee, which examined the controversial issue of building height. He called the process “bogus and fraudulent,” and said,
“I don’t question the outcome, but as someone who owns two properties in Manchester, I can say I never received any notification. If I had not served on this commission, I would not have heard of it.”
To which Pardo replied, “If you didn’t know what was going on in Manchester for the past nine months, Lary, you weren’t living in Manchester.”
And Lary shot back, “In case you haven’t read the papers, I haven’t been living in Manchester.”

One last note, at the Sept. 11 planning commission meeting, several of the commissioners, including Coppola, grilled planner Philip Fletcher to about medium rare. One could see Fletcher’s blood pressure rising.
At last night’s meeting, Fletcher, appearing quite upbeat, announced his resignation from the DCD. He said he’ll be moving to Montana soon (apologies to Frank Zappa, this is true.) Fletcher, addressing the board, said, “It’s actually been fun coming before you. I like eccentrics.”

I’ve pasted the story below, as it won’t be posted on the Web site until later. CTH

Continue reading

County Budget: Citizens Can Expect Less or Pay More

Our latest article on Kitsap County’s budget crunch looks at what citizens can expect in the future. Commissioner Josh Brown and others give the heads up to expect less in the way of services. What would that look like? A longer wait for response to 911 calls? A longer wait to finalize a divorce or adoption? A longer wait to get a building permit?

All three commissioners have said that the county will live within its means in 2008. They have also said a tax hike is not imminent. When I interviewed Brown for the article, he actually said the board had made a “mistake” bringing up the issue of a levy lid lift before the public has had a chance to fully absorb the implications of the county’s budget situation. So for at least a year, said Brown, they will trim back and try to show responsible stewardship of public funds. Then, only if citizens are clamoring for more in the way of services, will they put a property tax increase on the ballot.

Speaking of balancing the budget, one of the county’s ideas is to make some departments “enterprise” entities, i.e. totally self-supporting. I was at the Planning Commission meeting last night, and community development head Larry Keeton gave a preview of what that might look like. The DCD, which now operates rent free in the county administration building with assistance from county legal staff, will have to start paying for these things and more. To do so, said Keeton, they will have to raise fees, and according to their calculations, some building fees could double. Keeton will propose to the commissioners to phase in the fee increases over three years, which was not their original plan. But he said it would too much for the builders to swallow all at once.

If you are a builder, what would that mean for you and your company?