Monthly Archives: March 2010

Move Over South Kitsap, We’ve Got Company

Heads up folks. You’re going to start hearing some new voices on this blog, and it won’t be the result of picking the wrong mushrooms along the trail in Banner Forest.

The Bremerton Beat, God rest its soul, is on its way to that big archive in the sky (actually it’s on our Web site, but same diff). The BB’s primary blogger, Steve Gardner, aka the Bremerton Beat reporter, plus Central Kitsap/North Kitsap reporter Brynn Grimley, aka “will-write-anything-at-the-drop-of-a-hat Grimley,” will be muscling in on this space. Welcome to my world.

The two of them discuss the final season of “Lost” and I’ve yet to make it through the second season. I have NO idea what they’re talking about.

Gardner, Grimley and I will be posting news about our respective communities (and poking fun at Bainbridge Island … and heck North Mason while we’re at it).

The Kitsap Caucus, Gardner’s baby, will remain alive and in the limelight. Grimley and I will be contributing our respective insights as part of the Kitsap Sun’s government team.

Gardner, made a final post explaining why we are rolling the once mighty Bremerton Beat into the lowly (but oft spunky) Speaking of South Kitsap blog.

A brief but reverent pause while we recall the soul of the Bremerton Beat that, while it poked considerable fun at Port Orchard, never failed to see the Lighter Side of Bremerton. Remember when? …

Andy Binion (with help?) coined the city’s new motto? Who needs an image consultant?

Binion speculated on what Leviathan or other magical creatures those digging the now-completed “Tunnel to Burwell” might unearth, causing then-local-news-editor-now-editor David Nelson to ask if Binion had “lost his mind.” After all, the real concern was … mole people. This has absolutely nothing to do with South Kitsap mushrooms. It was Bremertonia at its best, no doubt induced by carbonated and/or highly caffeinated beverages to be had at the 7/11 on Park & Sixth.

And who could forget Steve Gardner’s infamous “On Notice” posts, which seldom failed to include Port Orchard, at the top of the list, no less. We stand flattered. After all, we could learn a lot from a city whose “flagging real estate markets” could land its erstwhile mayor on NBC News.

Oh, wait, one more … remember the “Hooters” confession of now-editor David Nelson? A little sophomoric, but good times. Good times.

Having a communal blog was a communal decision among the three of us beat reporters (the Bainbridge Conversation will remain its own entity; unlikely we could get them to join this potluck). Weighing in as well were our editors.

The reason for the migration to Speaking of South Kitsap, as Gardner explained, is that South Kitsap rocks … Oh, wait, he didn’t say that. But it’s true. SK readers have remained remarkably loyal through my sporadic postings, related, as Gardner explained about the demise of the BB, to having a few too many irons in the fire. We decided to offer the audience we do enjoy something new and hopefully pleasing.

The potential advantages are:
1. With three contributors, there will theoretically be more posts.
2. You won’t have to skip all over the Web site to find Gardner and me defending the honor of our respective beats.
3. Grimley is a way better blogger than she gives herself credit for, and it’s time someone stepped up to defend Poulsbo. The plastic ram horns just don’t cut it.
4. Gardner is really clever, and maybe I’ll learn a thing or two from him about snarky graphics.

We are open to suggestions, feedback, bribes and flattery.

The name of the blog will remain Speaking of South Kitsap until we determine that our readership is sufficiently comfortable with the new format to tolerate a name change. Heck, we might even hold a name change contest. BTW (I learned this from my 15-year-old) sometime soon there will be a function that allows you to receive alerts for posts made about your respective communities. So, if you’re a dyed-in-the-wool Speaking of South Kitsap fan, you can cut right to the chase. But for those who elect to slog through the cacophony, more power to you. After all, change is good.

Chris Henry, South Kitsap/Kitsap County Government Reporter

Recession Revelations: How Has Your Life Changed?

Another recession story (and side bar) coming your way Monday.

Following news that Kitsap’s unemployment rate in February reached a record high, my editor asked me to revisit individuals and social service agencies profiled in our September story on the recession to see how they were faring.

The county’s unemployment rate shot up to 8.8 percent in February, a record since 1990 when Washington’s Department of Employment Security started collecting local data. So-called “gateway agencies,” already booked with recession-related cases and pinched by their own budget woes, are seeing an increased demand for services from people who have never had to ask for help before.

In summary, the agencies are feeling the strain, and some say the community’s “safety net” is starting to look more than a little tattered. But the agencies, with a new found solidarity, are learning to cooperate better with one another to enhance services and avoid duplication. Doing more with less — it’s all the rage.

The people I talked to said their brush with near economic ruin — including impending foreclosure — has transformed their lives for the better, even though they may never regain the level of wealth and economic stability they enjoyed before the recession.

“It isn’t really what I wanted to do per se,” said Moler of Suquamish, who is driving school buses on Bainbridge Island. “As it turns out, it’s been such a blessing.”

Doug Haskett of Silverdale, also is grateful for the job he found — even with a step down in pay — after demoralizing months of unemployment.

“You adjust, you adapt and you overcome,” he said. “It’s a matter of perspective. … This is the way things are meant to be. I’m content. I look forward to going to work every day. Things are the way they are.”

How has your life changed as a result of the recession? Be honest, what stinks about the new normal? (Moler admits she really misses the ability to buy whatever she desires.) On the flip side, have you, like Moler and Haskett, found yourself stronger, happier, calmer, whatever? Share your thoughts in the comments below or e-mail me at

Delilah’s Hoochie Wear Not Closing

By the look of signs in the windows of Delilah’s Hoochie Wear clothing store in Port Orchard, you’d think the place was closing. Not true.

According to South Kitsap’s local radio celebrity and Bay Street entrepreneur, the deep discounts and placards saying “everything must go” refer to the winter line of clothing soon to be replaced by brighter togs. But first a major renovation of the building owned by Seattle investor and microbiologist Mansour Samadpour. The building at 809 Bay was seriously damaged in the Nisqually Earthquake and replacement of the back wall, which is being held up with cinder blocks.

Renovation of the building, which was to have started the first week of February, was delayed. But it will begin soon, lasting a couple weeks, during which time the store will be closed. Spring and summer wear is still in boxes. Delilah & company have been working with noted designers, she said. Response to the store has been “very, very good.”

My thoughts: And you thought South Kitsap wouldn’t take well to a wardrobe makeover.

Profits from the store go toward Delilah’s nonprofit Point Hope.

Hablando de Nuestros Lectores Latinos/ Speaking of Our Latino Readers

The Kitsap Sun has launched its first Spanish blog, Se Habla Espanol Kitsap, hosted by South Kitsap resident Estela Lopez.

The summary of the blog is: Estela  Lopez comparte noticias e informacion de importancia para la comunidad latina de Kitsap y El Norte del Condada de Mason.
Estela Lopez shares news and information of interest to the Latino community in Kitsap and North Mason counties.

Estela, who works at the the YWCA of Kitsap County, said on Friday that the Latino community badly needs a central forum for exchange of information, as well as human interest stories about the diverse group of folks who make of the area’s Spanish speaking population.

Our area is home to Latinos of various backgrounds, including Mexicans, Guatemalans, El Salvadorans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans … and probably more. Let me know who I’m leaving out, por favor.

In February, 2009, El Centro de la Familia, an assistance center for Latino families, closed due to budget problems. The Immigrant Assistance Center opened in its wake, but initially was unable to provide the same level of service. The Immigrant Assistance Center is now the Multicultural Assistance Center, open to Latino immigrants and others whose primary language is not English.

According to the U.S. Census, in 2008, persons of Latino or Hispanic origin made up 4.9 percent of Kitsap County’s population (total 239,769). In Mason County, with a population of 57,846, Latino and Hispanic residents make up 6.6 percent of the population. The 2010 U.S. Census questionnaire will soon arrive in Kitsap and Mason county households. As the Census is analyzed, it will be interesting to see what stats this more refined look at population trends reveals.

Beyond the stats, there are sure to be interesting stories about people from the Latino community … like Estela, who was honored as a 2009 Woman of Achievement by the YWCA of Kitsap County.

She is originally from San Luis de la Paz, Guanajuato, Mexico. She moved to the United States in 1980. She and her husband, Jose Luis, own El Sombrero restaurant in Belfair. Her son, Jose Luis Jr., is in 10th grade at South Kitsap High School, where he is in the ROTC program.

Before she was hired by the YWCA, Estela owned the Talpita Hispanic store in Port Orchard at Jackson and Lund avenues, from 2006 to 2009. The store became much more than a place where people came for food and sundries. Estela helped customers fill out forms and find information they needed to conduct their businesses and their lives (becoming a de facto branch of the immigrant assistance center). At one point she opened the store to Health Department staff who hosted classes there.

Personally, I’m looking forward to reading Estela’s blog as a way to brush up my rusty Spanish. Bienvenidos, Estela y los otros lectores Lationos del Kitsap Sun.

Planning Starts Monday on McCormick Village Park

McCormick Village Park Planning Begins
By Chris Henry
The McCormick Woods Park Design Committee will meet at 7 p.m. Monday with the city of Port Orchard Planning Commission to kick-off planning for the 63.5 acre McCormick Village Park. The meeting is at City Hall, 216 Prospect St.
The park is located North of Old Clifton Road in the McCormick Woods area, which was annexed in 2009. On Feb. 22 Kitsap County and the city agreed on transfer of the regional park to Port Orchard.
The design committee, made up of McCormick Woods residents and members of the planning commission, will identify a vision and goals for the park. Associate City Planner Tom Bonsell is project manager for the park planning process. He will be assisted by a professional consultant as plans for the park take shape.
The design committee intends to complete its recommendations by the end of the year and forward them to the city council for consideration.
The park issue will be taken up Monday as part of the planning commission’s regular meeting.
The park will be open to the public. The McCormick Woods community and all Port Orchard residents are encouraged to take part in the planning process. A survey on the city’s parks may be found at Additional comments and suggestions can be sent to City of Port Orchard, 216 Prospect Street, Port Orchard, WA 98366, or e-mailed to .

For the Good of the Game

Two items related to youth sports in South Kitsap.

Act I: Can Pee Wees and Little League Play Nice?
The Port Orchard City Council on Tuesday agreed to allow South Kitsap Western Little League to take over the remainder of the Babe Ruth Association’s lease on the baseball field at Givens Community Center.
With the demise of Babe Ruth, SKWLL had hoped to occupy the field, thereby giving a better play venue to their older players than the junior high school fields they’ve been using.
SKWLL representative Bob Showers was there making his pitch, along with Art Mikelsen, a long-time supporter of youth baseball. The Little League season is just swinging into gear and will run through July. The South Kitsap Pee Wees take the field from August through November.
Pee Wee representatives were not at the meeting. But the city attorney had determined that the lease could be altered with out consent of the leasees.
Fred Olin, chairman of the public property committee, was the lone council member voting against the lease transfer. Olin said the two uses aren’t compatible, and although Pee Wees and Babe Ruth have shared the field for several years, there’s been friction.
“They can’t play in the sandbox together,” he said.
Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola seconded that observation saying much of his first year as mayor of the city was occupied by “playing referee” between the two groups.
“We’re not going to get in a he-said-she-said, ya, ya contest with you and the Pee Pees,” Coppola said to Showers. “There’s been costly staff time fighting about how fields would be maintained and who’s going to maintain them. We’re not going there about this.
“What I told them then and what I’m telling you now is, you will make this work and you will get along with Pee Wees or you’ll both be gone.”
Showers pledged that, whatever has gone on in the past, his organization will prove themselves good stewards and good neighbors.
“We are willing to work with them,” Showers said.
Rocky Huff, Pee Wees vice president, acknowledged on Friday that there historically has been conflict over field maintenance. The problem is that his group can’t reseed the field in the depths of winter. So the re-growth of the grass — chewed up by hudreds of Pee Wee cleats — sometimes encroached on baseball season.
The problem has not proven insurmountable, however, and with some recent changes in leadership on the part of both groups, the scuffling has died down, Huff said.
The lease transfer is only until the end of April, when the Babe Ruth/Pee Wee lease is up for renewal … or not. Terms of the lease are identical for both groups. The next month-and-a-half could be considered a trial period during which Pee Wees and SKWLL can prove they can share the sandbox after all.

Act II: Should Soccer Teams for U9 Players Be Randomly Assigned?
The South Kitsap Soccer Club met Thursday night to discuss whether the Kitsap Kick-off Soccer Tournament would die for lack of volunteers. About a dozen folks responded to a call for show-of-hands, so it looks like the tournament may come off after all.
A knottier issue was the proposal by the SKSC board to randomly assign players eight years old and under to teams. This would mean that, except for players whose parents are coaches, kids would play on a new team with a new coach each year.
This model is seen by board members as better for player development. Under the current system, some teams with adept players and coaches become dominant, resulting in lopsided matches that don’t serve anyone well, board members said. The focus is on the team and its record, not the development of individual players. Coaches and players stagnate.
The proposal has been met with strong resistance from parents, especially those who have invested time to coach their child and other children. They say randomizing teams would disrupt any consistency or momentum they’ve managed to generate among team members. One of the most important benefits of soccer, especially at a young age, is the socialization kids get from being part of a team. Kids don’t like or tolerate change, they say.
The observation was made that qualification and training of coaches should be more uniform if the club moves to this system. Board members agreed and said they would provide more opportunities for training.

South Kitsap Soccer Club last year had about 1,300 players. OK, you 1,300 families out there, I’ve got a challenge. Help your KIDS find the poll on the homepage of this blog and let them have their say. Should the club move to randomized teams for players 8 years old and under? (I’m OK with players old than 8 taking the poll.) The choices are:
Yes, I think it would be fun to play with different kids every year.
Yes. Then some kids wouldn’t get stuck with a bad coach while others get to keep a good coach.
No, my teammates are my friends. I would miss them.
No, my coach rocks. I want to stay with him/her.
I don’t care. I just want to play.

Speaking of Old Barns

Reader call: Do you know of a historic barn in Kitsap or North Mason county? If so e-mail or call (360) 792-9219. Tell us about the barn, and be sure to leave you contact information.

The fire that burned a historic barn on Olalla Valley Road hit owners of the the property, Aaron and Diane Passow, hard. The couple, who bought the place a couple years ago were renovating the barn that Aaron said was a landmark to valley dwellers.

Olalla Valey Barn Fire
A fire on March 10, 2010, destroyed a historic barn on Olalla Valley Road. Photo by Stephanie Gonzales

The barn is said to be around 100 years old. It sported a bunch of brightly painted sunflowers and a quaint painting of a cow, harkening back to the property’s days as a dairy farm.

When Aaron was working on the barn, replacing floor boards and beams, people would stop by to chat and many asked for some of the wood as a keepsake.

Barn on Olalla Valley Road
Photo by Stephanie Gonzales

The cause of the fire that leveled the barn is still under investigation. When I was out there today, Kitsap County Fire Marshal David Lynam, who apparently knows a thing or two about cows, held up a charred oval of metal. He said it was a stanchion, used to keep the cows still while you’re milking them.

The fire was just one more piece of bad luck the Passows have encountered since buying the place. In one instance, a cement truck overturned, damaging a corner of the roof on their one-story rambler. In another, a youngster driving too fast, skidded off the road and hit a transformer. Oil from the transformer leached down toward their porch.

As Aaron was sifting through the ruins, he said, “Hey look at this!” and reached down for a horseshoe. It had been nailed above the door to the barn lo these many years. Aaron took it for a sign the couple’s luck is about to change. Let’s hope so.

Hearing Set For Manchester Boat Launch Parking Project

A year after buying a piece of property for added parking at its boat launch, the Port of Manchester is almost ready to start construction on 8 additional truck-and-trailer spaces and 10 more standard parking spaces.

Parking was identified as a top priority in a 2008 survey of boat launch users.

The public can weigh in on the proposed parking project at 10 a.m. Thursday before the Kitsap County Hearing Examiner. The hearing will be at the county administration building, 619 Division Ave. The port must receive approval for a Shoreline Substantial Development Permit and a Conditional Use Permit in order for the project to move forward.

The price of the property, at 8175 East Daniel’s Loop, and estimated cost of construction totals $650,000. A state recreational grant covered 75 percent of the cost. The port must match the grant with 25 percent of the total. Port Administrator Alan Fletcher said the port is on schedule with payments on the project from the general fund. The port can also count volunteer labor and in-kind donations toward its match.

To increase revenue, the port will enact a fee schedule for its boat launch. Throughout the port’s history, it has not charged launching fees. Starting April 1, the cost will be $5 per day to launch a boat of any size. Annual passes at $50 are available to residents within port boundaries. The annual charge for people outside the boundaries in $100.

The port last year considered and rejected a levy lid lift and an industrial development district as means to increase revenue.

South Kitsap Teacher Messing with Kids’ Attitudes Toward Civics

Terri Messing, Cedar Heights Junior High School reading and geography teacher, remembers the thrill of the first presidential campaign she worked on, John F. Kennedy’s. The extent of her activity was wearing a Kennedy campaign button, but, hey, she was only was 5.

Messing, whose father was politically active, passed along to his daughter a love and appreciation for civics that Messing in turn has passed along to her students.

Messing was recently honored as Teacher of the Year by the Washington State Council for Social Studies (WSCSS). She will be recognized at the WSCSS Leadership Retreat, Friday through Sunday, in Chelan, with a plaque, a check for $300, and membership to the National Association for Social Studies.

In January, Messing was named 2010 Washington Legislature’s Civic Educator of the Year, having been nominated by Rep. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard.

Messing this year teaches 7th graders who next year will “loop” with her. As eighth graders, they will take part in a mock court at Kitsap County Courthouse. In past years, this activity has proven instructiven and engaging for students … and not just those who are born crazy for civics. A previous “trial,” put on with the help of Kitsap County Judge Marilyn Paja, focused on a teenage “defendant” accused of manslaughter and drunk driving. Other students played the part of attorneys, witnesses, judge and jury, roles they had to research beforehand.

It’s Messing’s goal to reach those kids who are monumentally bored by the idea of social studies. To get their attention, she tosses the text book … not literally, but instead of doggedly going chapter by chapter, she allows students to determine areas of study (within guidelines of the state’s essential learning standards). She lets them ask the questions … and find the answers. She allows for a lot of hands-on, “kinetic” studies, such as the role playing required for the mock courtroom exercise.

“I do whatever I can to engage students,” Messing said. “A lot of kids don’t understand why they need to study social studies. … I love teaching my kids you don’t have to be gifted to make a difference. It’s just about the average Joes.”

Messing worked for 18 years as a para-educator in Central Kitsap School District before getting her teaching degree. She has taught at Cedar Heights for eight years.

More License Plate Pride

A few folks, two of whom are named Cheryl, responded to my story which ran Saturday about special license plates. Here are their comments and answers to a few questions:

Hi Chris,

I got my plate when they came out about 3 years ago, I got number NP00575.
I looked thru all of them and found the one that I liked the best and it matched the truck I had then, lucky for me it matches the car I have now! But most important it supports our National Parks.
I do not mind the extra $$, it is worth it. I have a pretty common car and adding the plate has made it more noticeable and yes people do comment on it. I hike alot and so we see a lot of cars at the trailheads with National Park, State Park, and bike plates. I’m not sure how often the State changes our plates, but I remember when it was 10 years and longer, then the State got the newer ones with Mt Rainier and since then I swear they change it every 3 years? You should find that out! But I got really fed up with changing the plates and then trying to remember the new plate numbers! I think for an extra $$ you can keep your old plates EXCEPT if they are not the newer reflective ones. You should find that out too! I am from Gig Harbor.
Good luck with the story.

Cheryl, Gig Harbor
Cheryl –
According to a History of Vehicle Licensing (see below) posted on the Washington State Dept. of Licensing’s Web site, license plates representing Washington’s centennial were issued in 1987. These plates had a blue color scheme on a white background with “Washington” and “Centennial Celebration” in red. A rendition of Mount Rainier is in the background.

In 1990, Legislature passed a bill giving DOL the “sole discretion” to determine whether or not to create, design, or issue a special plate. The line “Centennial Celebration” was dropped from the license plate; otherwise, the license plates remained the same. I took a look outside the Kitsap Sun, and all the cars within view (none of which had specialty plates) had Mt. Rainier on them.

Also from the DOL Web site: You must replace your license plates every 7 years when you renew your vehicle tabs, because the reflective coating on the plates only has a 5-year guarantee. This coating helps law enforcement officers easily identify vehicles in poor weather conditions. Proper care of plates won’t prevent this coating from breaking down over time. … You may ask to keep your current license plate number on your replacement plates when you renew your tabs. Because this requires us to custom manufacture the license plate, there is an additional $20 fee to keep your current plate number.

Chris Henry, reporter


Hello Chris!

Our vehicles have the LEM plates because I am a surviving child of a police officer killed in the line of duty. My father was killed in Arizona, but I have lived in Washington since 1991, and I am very involved in local non-profits that provide support and service to police survivors, including both the state chapter of Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.) and the Behind the Badge Foundation. As you likely are aware, Behind the Badge Foundation is a merger organization of the Washington State Law Enforcement
Memorial Foundation (which is the benefactor of LEM license plate proceeds) and the 10-99 Foundation.
I do think of my plates often, especially when I see other LEM plates. I am very proud to support our law enforcement.
I live in Bremerton!
Thank you.
Cheryl, Bremerton


Cheryl – My condolences of the loss of your father. The Law Enforcement Memorial is one of the top three most popular plates in Kitsap County.

Chris Henry, reporter


I got my elk plate first when they came out.. I have a 3 digit number so I got them very early. Elk hunting has been a huge part of our family since I was very little, The first time I went to elk camp I was 4, and my sister was 2. We never bought beef, the only red meat in our house was elk and venison. I still have never bought beef in the store. I got my plates 1: to support WDFW, 2: support a sport/ animal that we love and respect, 3: they didn’t have a steelhead one.
We got my wife’s plate about 4 years ago after we upgraded vehicles. We enjoy the outdoors, and wanted to support the National Parks.

Ryan Morse, Silverdale


History of License Plates in Washington State, courtesy Washington DOL
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