Monthly Archives: December 2008

Buck’s A&W Swamped with Customers, Well-wishers

The rally planned Saturday for Buck’s A&W, which faces bankruptcy and will close on Sunday, appears to have started already.

According to Louise Ness, the aunt of owner Rick Gehring, the restaurant was swamped yesterday with people coming in for a last taste of Buck’s curley fries, root beer floats and memories. Customers came to buy food and extend their support to the family, which faces legal costs stemming from a 2007 lawsuit that are forcing the closure.

Ness, 81, who retired in 2002, still helps out in the kitchen as needed.

“People want to eat before it closes,” she said. “We were running out of everything. … I stood in front of that fire all day dishing up fries and onion rings.”

Ness said there was also a big run on A&W T-shirts, mugs and other memorabilia.

“They figure here’s 50 years of history that won’t be available again,” she said.”It just makes you realize the importance of the whole establishment to the community. Nobody knows until it’s gone how much they’re going to miss it. It’s heartrending is what it is.”

Rally for Bankrupt Buck’s A&W Expected Saturday

Community members have been stopping by Buck’s A&W all day to find out if what it says on the reader board is really true, “Buck’s is closing Sunday. Your prayers are appreciated.”

Sadly, said owner Rick Gehring, it is true.

Legal challenges stemming from a lawsuit settled in 2007 are forcing Buck’s of Port Orchard Inc. to file bankruptcy.

The business, which was opened in 1959 by Rick’s parents, Buck and Glennys Gehring, is known for its long-standing support of local youth sports.

The dining room walls are decorated with jerseys, team pictures and winning game balls from the scores of teams sponsored by the restaurant over the years.

Gehring, a 1974 South Kitsap High School grad, has managed Buck’s for 30 years, taking over from his father, who died in 1981.

The Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce honored Rick Gehring for his community service in 1996, naming him Man of the Year.

In July, Gehring received the Healthy Tomorrow award from the Kitsap Sun and Kitsap Credit Union. The award honors those whose contributions significantly improve the community’s quality of life and promote a healthy, vibrant future.

All of which Gehring now finds, “Ironic … It’s sad, it’s sour-sweet.”

The restaurant will close just shy of its 50th anniversary.

Staff members have heard that the community is planning a rally for Buck’s Saturday at the restaurant, but they didn’t have details on the time.

Waiting the counter at Buck’s has been a first job for many a South Kitsap teen over the years. The family invites anyone who’s worked at Buck’s or anyone else to share their memories below.

Friday Afternoon Club: Lights, Chimes & Pets on Parade

The City of Port Orchard, the Festival of Lights and Chimes Committee and the PO Chamber of Commerce have teamed up again to present the 10th annual Festival of Lights and Chimes. In keeping with PO’s other festivals (Seagull Calling and Murder Mystery Weekend), Lights and Chimes is an eclectic mix of frivolity.

Back for the second year in a row is the Holiday Pooch and Purr Parade (Bring your own mutt mitt). What no snakes? Next year, it should be the Pooch, Purr and Python Parade.

Visitors and residents can enjoy the decorations downtown and on the waterfront’s “Christmas Lane.” There will be hayrides, choirs singing and general merriment, along with refreshments at various locations before the tree lighting and fireworks (told you it was eclectic).

Here’s the abridged schedule. For more information, visit the city’s Web site or the Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce’s site.

1 – 3:30 p.m.: Holiday crafts at the library.
2 p.m.: Free movie, “The Polar Express” at the Orchard Theatre
4 p.m.: Holiday skit and story telling at the library
4:30 : Pet parade registration
5 p.m.: Pet parade down Bay Street and back towards City Hall.
5:55 p.m. : Tree lighting with author Debbie Macomber
6:05 p.m. : Santa greets the crowd from the Carlisle II
7 p.m.: Fireworks on the waterfront (Port Orchard Marina Park)

Bay Street will be closed from 4 to 7 p.m. from Kitsap Street to Sidney Avenue.

Coppola on the Pros and Cons of Mayoral Pay Hike

Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola is seeking approval from the city council for an increase in the mayor’s salary from $19,738 per year, which funds a part-time position, to more than $60,000 for a full-time position. Coppola issued a statement documenting his arguments for the increase and addressing arguments against the proposal.

Here’s the Cliff notes version (full text below the fold):

Headings in the “for” category:

It’s more than a full-time job.

We have not had a seat at the table when decisions impacting both the City and Kitsap County in general have been made.

We have relied on our South Kitsap Commissioner to look out for our interests when the city should be proactive

It’s impossible to do this job and hold another job.

It’s impossible to do this job part-time and move the city forward

Arguments he addresses against making the change to a full-time mayor:

The current mayor should have researched this before deciding to run for office

Synopsis: He did, but the requirement to represent the city on numerous boards and subcommittees of local agencies was not listed among the mayor’s duties in city code.

Any change like this should be voted on by the people:

Synopsis: Port Orchard is a second class city (population-wise) so this decision by law rests with the city council, not voters. Even if it were, codifying the mayor’s pay rate by a vote would remove the flexibility the council has to lower as well as raise the salary annually. The election would also cost taxpayers.

The financial realities of the decision:

Synopsis: Coppola says that the pending Fred Meyer annexation alone will bring in enough sales tax revenue to cover the increase.
Continue reading

Etta Projects: Getting All Bocked Up in Bolivia

I recently had a tooth extracted. It was not a totally unpleasant experience, thanks to plenty of Novocaine and a generous serving of nitrous oxide gas.

Speaking of teeth …

Today, I attended a presentation at the South Kitsap Rotary meeting in Port Orchard where local dentist Chris Bock told us about how both he and his black lab had stomach upsets on Thanksgiving. Something about dog barf in the back seat and trading in his truck for a new one on Black Friday. Believe me, it was funnier when Bock told it. Turns out the dentist is quite a comedian. Doesn’t even need laughing gas.

Bock was part of a team of dental professionals and other community members who traveled to Bolivia in October on behalf of Etta Projects. The nonprofit organization was started by South Kitsap’s Pennye Nixon-West in memory of her daughter Etta Turner, who died in Bolivia while on a Rotary exchange visit.

Pennye has been bringing groups of Rotary members and others to Bolivia to help out at the two family centers, called comedors, where the poorest residents of Montero (Etta’s home town while on exchange) can come for food and vocational training. The idea of bringing dentists was new this year.

As Bock tells it, the people of Montero, including the children, are in desperate need of dental care. He showed a picture of one four-year-old girl who had nothing but decayed stumps in her upper jaw. He told of how the children would cry, “No, alicante!” referring to the plyers their parents use at home to pull teeth because no dental care is available to their families. Getting them numb was no problem; they had never seen a needle.

Bock described the makeshift dental facilities the team set up in various locations in and around Montero, using equipment donated or purchased with monetary donations from Rotary clubs and community members. He described the conditions, 85 to 90 degrees and humid, no AC, that forced him to wear a surgical cap to keep the sweat out of his face. Over the 10-day visit, the team served 185 dental patients, performing extractions and other work that in the United States would have cost as much as $128,000 all for a miniscule fraction of the cost. They left the big equipment down there so other dental teams can visit.

Bock told about how close the team felt to some of their young patients, the little girl who always gave people flowers, the old woman who made two trips by motorcycle to get a total of 10 teeth pulled.

Despite the intense poverty, there were plenty of lighter moments. He showed pictures of himself making balloon creatures for the kids out of rubber gloves, and pictures of some gorgeous scenery on a trip outside the town.

Bock talked about the local beer, made by German immigrants, Bock beer, and how great it tasted at the end of a long sweaty day. The local expression for overindulging in alcohol is “getting all bocked up.” When the residents learned his last name, they’d call out, “Hey, Bock!”

Bock described the feeling of gratification they got resolving dental pain that literally interferes with daily activities of living, eating, going to school, sleeping.

“We know there’s going to be kids sleeping better at night,” he said.

After I wrote the story announcing the mission to Montero, I got a phone message from an anonymous caller who couldn’t figure out why we need to send people out of the country, when there are plenty of people here with bad teeth who can’t afford dental care.

“There’s sad stories all over the world, but let’s take care of our sad stories here in the U.S.A,” the caller said.

It’s true, poverty in Kitsap County forces some local folks going without dental care to end up in the emergency room. However, there is a local program for people like the caller, who said he can’t afford dental care. A group of dentists have started a program that allows those folks to barter community service for dental care.

You can support Etta Projects this holdiay season by buying your Christmas tree at Cedar Springs Pavilion by the Lakes, 7354 Bethel Burley Road SE in Port Orchard (98367). The tree farm is open now through Dec. 21, 4-7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Directions: On Highway 16, take the Mullenix exit; turn left if coming from Tacoma, right if from Bremerton. Come to the stop sign (0.4 mile), turn right onto Bethel-Burley Road SE; go one mile and look for the sign with the Etta Projects logo.

Christmas Comes to Manchester

This from Carrilu Thompson in charge of festivities in Manchester:

The Manchester Community is celebrating the December season with a number of wonderful activities for people all ages!
Sunday, December 7th:  The Manchester Community Association hosts the annual Manchester Tree
5:00 pm Lighting Ceremony at the community room at the Manchester Library.
There will caroling, hot cider and cocoa, cookies, the unveiling of the tree lights
and a visit from Santa Claus.
3:00 pm There will a Luau to benefit the Veteran’s Flag Pole Fund at the Manchester Pub
$10 per person donation for all you can eat.
Thursday, December 11th: The Manchester Community invites our neighbors to come down to the
8:00pm waterfront to enjoy a big bon fire and the Argosy Christmas Ships as a choir
on board serenades the folks on the shore with lots of Christmas music.
Saturday, December 13th: The Manchester Library and the Manchester Community Association sponsor
1:00 pm to 4:00 pm an ornament making event for the kids in the Library community room.
There will be weatherproof materials available so the children can add their
ornament to the Community Tree!
5:00 pm Join the Manchester Community in welcoming the Port Orchard Yacht
Club’s Parade of Christmas Boats at the waterfront Pomeroy Park.  Watch the
beautifully decorated boats float by with music and greetings from Santa
Any questions about the events, call Carrilu at 360-620-8440.

PO Council to Consider a Raise for the Mayor

Dec. 2: Here’s the link the the story. One commenter on the story suggested a performance-based audit with measurable goals. Gil Michael, a PO resident and member of the city’s planning commission, suggested the same, praising the mayor and saying he deserves full-time compensation, but adding, there should be “a clearly measurable list of performance standards.” The mayor has expressed a willingness to have results of his administration scrutinized. He is confident that pending annexations will bring in more than enough sales tax revenue to justify (and cover) the expenditure on a sustainable basis. He said, “I come from the private sector where I’m used to having to produce. I’m not afraid to go out and put myself on the line for this.”

Tonight, I’ll be covering a public hearing on the City of Port Orchard’s draft 2009 budget, which includes a proposal to raise the mayor’s salary.

The item on the city’s supplemental budget, if approved, would raise Mayor Lary Coppola’s annual salary from $19,738 per year, which funds a part-time position, to more $60,000, for a full-time position.
The increase, however, would be approved for only the first six months of 2009. The council would revisit the issue and could extend the new pay scale for the remainder of the year contingent on the availability of revenue from pending annexations.

Coppola said the increase would be justified, because he spends 50 to 60 hours per week in his duties as mayor, including representing the city on a number of boards.

Councilman John Clauson, chairman of the finance committee, said he supports the proposed raise.
“I think it’s very fair,” Clauson said prior to the meeting. “The committee was very sympathetic to the amount of hours he puts in.”

Clauson noted, however, that Coppola ran for the position knowing it was funded part-time.

Former Port Orchard Mayor Kim Abel said, like Coppola, she spent 50 to 60 hours a week working on behalf of the city.

“If you really want to make sure the city’s where it’s supposed to be, that the amount of time it takes,” she said.

Abel said she didn’t consider asking for a raise, figuring the city needed to increase its staffing first. She said Coppola’s proposal is a “reasonable request,” but she would like to see such a decision taken out of the budget process and made part of a “big picture” discussion of the city’s growth.

Check back here later tonight for a link to the story. And let me know what you think about the proposal.