Monthly Archives: April 2010

Safe from the Tales of Intimacy in Bremerton

A co-worker plying his trade on a Saturday decided to take a break in the place that is one of the breakiest of the break places in downtown Bremerton, the Harborside Fountain Park.

The park, besides its whale spouts and imported trees and rocks, has a sound system that when employed provides an atmospheric backdrop that says, well I’m not sure what it says. It just plays music.

Said co-worker happened to be there on a day when said music was the kind that contains several references to human intimacy in rather non-discreet language, applying a common term that generally refers to intimacy to things that are incapable of being intimate, such as cars, homes and accountants.

If you still don’t know what I’m talking about, think of Ralphie when the lugnuts flew, and not because someone shot them.

Said co-worker told me of said incident, when diaper-clad kids could splash to the sounds of a story about women who are not particularly choosy and tend to display improper manners. It caused me to make three trips to the fountain park. When I went, though, all I heard was music inoffensive, unless you count Billy Squire. (I do, but not for the same reasons.) The broadcast was from the Sirius satellite network, which doesn’t have to concern itself with Federal Communications Commission standards. If Janet Jackson had experienced that malfunction on the Sirius radio, if that were possible, she wouldn’t have been fined.

I talked to Wyn Birkenthal, Bremerton’s parks and recreation director, about the Saturday experience of my co-worker and he was appropriately aghast. It’s not something he wanted repeated. Staff has been instructed to only employ channels that “provide music without profane lyrics or questionable DJ commentary.

You’re children are safe from potty mouth entertainers, at least in Bremerton‘s parks.

You’re welcome.

I can’t protect them from bad musicians, though.

With any luck, maybe you’ll hear this guy:

In Kitsap, Affected by Iceland’s Ash Plume?

A report today by the Associated Press details the effects of Iceland’s lingering volcanic ash plume on countries across Europe and Eastern Europe. It’s a mixed bag, with airspace in some countries — Austria, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Denmark, to name the ones that jump out at me — preparing to open some time today. Some other countries are expecting to open Monday. In Iceland, flights to the United Kingdom and mainland Europe are suspended indefinitely, but flights to the United States are operating normally. In Bulgaria, airspace is closed until further notice. In Poland, airspace remains closed Sunday, but overflights are permitted above 20,000 feet (6,100 meters).

Grimley and her husband, Kitsap Sun sports reporter Jeff Graham, were heading to France this weekend. By now, they should have been sipping a good Bordeaux and eating petite fours. I haven’t heard from the Grahams, so I don’t know how the ash plume affected their travel plans. I can only guess it played havoc with a long-awaited trip of the kind that requires far more planning, and saving, than a drive to the coast to watch the waves.

Have your travel plans, for pleasure or business, been affected by the ash plume? Do you have friends or family overseas who are affected? What alternative methods of getting around are available? I can only imagine the trains are booked solid. Does anybody have any creative suggestions for dealing with the mess?

All Things Silverdale

Brynn Grimley writes:

In the interest of time and so that I don’t have to crank out multiple blog entries, I am going to consolidate some of the recent happenings in Silverdale into this blog post.

I’ll start with the most recent news. On Thursday night Port of Silverdale commissioners voted against allowing a proposed 9-11 monument to be built along the property they own that abuts the shoreline of Dyes Inlet. Commissioners Lawrence Greaves and Henry Aus voted against the request, commissioner Ed Scholfield abstained because he volunteers as a firefighter with Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue. (Scholfield is actually one of the two volunteers who approached CKFR Assistant Chief Roy Lusk about requesting the pieces of steel from the World Trade Centers from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey).

Greaves and Aus said they liked the proposed monument and felt it has a place in the community, but that place isn’t on port property in the Silverdale Waterfront Park. To read the story, click here (use the links within the story to see two previous stories I wrote about this).

The next Silverdale-related news is the relocation of the Silverdale Farmers Market to Old Town Silverdale. This also ties into a short update I wanted to give on a revitalization effort afoot within Old Town to start bringing business back to the walkable, small business shopping district.

The farmers market was formerly located in the parking lot of the Silverdale Beach Hotel. It will now be located along the Port of Silverdale grass area closest to Dyes Inlet (coincidentally this is the same area where the 9/11 Memorial Committee wanted to put the proposed monument). The market will feature your typical farmers market fare: vegetables, herbs, jams, cobblers, tomato plants, etc. The market is held Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Its opening day will be Tuesday (April 20).

Segueing into my next topic, Monica Downen, owner of Monica’s Waterfront Bakery and Cafe, helped organize a meeting in February where she rallied Old Town business owners to come together to brainstorm ways to put Old Town back on the shopping destination map. She didn’t know how many people would attend, but ended up getting a full house. The group has since met a second time where they broke themselves up into three groups: Events, Marketing and Beautification. (What each group does speaks for itself, so I don’t think an explanation is necessary).

In an email this week Downen said the group was still looking into reactivating the nonprofit Old Town Merchants group, which has fallen by the wayside as businesses have come and gone. The group is also looking at joining with the Silverdale Chamber of Commerce, ultimately doing the revitalization effort under the umbrella of the chamber (also a nonprofit). The new executive director of the chamber has prior experience with downtown revitalization efforts, which he did while working with the Anacortes Chamber of Commerce.

“We are getting more organized and at the very least we are starting to plan some great events and starting to be able to show a more unified front when it comes to marketing our own events,” Downen wrote in her email. “Which is a really great thing.”

The last Silverdale-related item I have is a minor update to the Silverdale Haselwood Family YMCA project. County commissioners have been looking at fixing some discrepancies in the ground lease and facilities agreement the county previously entered into with the YMCA of Pierce and Kitsap Counties (the group building the Silverdale Y).

The discrepancies aren’t much to write home about, but what did catch my eye was the new square footage of the building. It appears the fundraising campaign has been extremely successful for the group, because the new square footage is listed at 85,785 sq ft. Formerly the size estimates were between 50,000 and 70,000 sq ft. (Here’s a link to a story I wrote about the formal agreement being signed by the county and YMCA folks almost one year ago. And here links to the most recent stories I wrote about the YMCA partnering with the Ktisap Family YMCA in Bremerton, and Harrison Medical Center.)

Lastly, it looks like construction is still set to begin on the building this summer (the county documents say “on or about May 1” but I wouldn’t expect to see the ground start moving until closer to June-ish).

And that’s all for me and All Things Silverdale. (I’ll be off the next two weeks, so if you have Central Kitsap or North Kitsap news, pass it on to Gardner or Henry, I’m sure they’ll be slacking anyway and will need something to cover. I kid, I kid.)

Friday Afternoon Club: Immigrants and Upward Mobility

The Kitsap Multicultural Assistance Center will hold a fundraiser at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Puerto Vallarta, 1599 SE Lund Ave., Port Orchard. The evening includes cocktails, dinner and a keynote speaker. The cost is $50 per person; $500 per table. For information on the availability of tickets, visit the center’s Web site or e-mail Ray Garrido at

The center, located at Hillcrest Assembly Church in East Bremerton at 6750 Highway 303 NE., provides help to immigrants of all nationalities in the form of English as Second Language classes, information on citizenship, children’s services, referrals to social services and start-up business information among other forms of assistance.

Speaking of start-up businesses, I’m going to go out on a limb here, at the risk of sounding like I’m stereotyping, but have you noticed all the landscaping companies with Latino-sounding names? My unscientific guess is that Latino workers, heavily employed in the floral greens industry in Kitsap and Mason counties, have found a foothold to upward mobility that allowed them to start their own companies in a related field.

Speaking of stereotypes, an article in today’s New York Times says a recent analysis of census data defies the commonly held belief that immigrants as a group are largely unskilled workers relegated to low-wage, blue collar jobs.

In major metropolitan areas of the U.S., where 75 percent of the immigration population lives, more immigrants are involved in mostly higher paid, white collar occupations than in lower paid blue collar jobs, according to a U.S. Census data analysis commissioned by the Times, the article by Julia Preston states.

The study, by the nonpartisan Fiscal Policy Institute of New York, covers the past two decades, including 2008 with all its financial turmoil. The analysis included legal and illegal immigrants and naturalized citizens. A key finding of the study is that “cities with thriving immigrant populations — with high-earning and lower-wage workers — tended to be those that prospered the most.” Cities like Atlanta, Denver and Phoenix that attracted a large influx of immigrants, including many lower-paid service and blue collar jobs, benefited economically from the demand for services created by these new residents, according to Rich Jones of the Bell Policy Center, a Colorado-based organization that studies the impact of economic and fiscal policies in that state.

“They are coming with a variety of skills,” Jones said. “They create demand for goods, services and housing that began a dynamic.”

Here’s a list of services provided by the Kitsap Multicultural Center:

• ESL and citizenship classes

• Children’s activities and services

• Education and social services referrals

• Start-up business information

• Health and resource fairs

• Vaccination clinics

• Referrals for medical and legal services

• Swim training program

• YWCA domestic violence resistance advocacy services

• Toys, books, clothes and household items for families

• Annual Christmas dinner for families

• Assistance with other issues as needed

Classes, client assistance, and DSHS intake are provided on Mondays and Tuesdays from noon until 4 p.m. Staff is available to meet with clients on other days by appointment only.
Phone: 360-440-2376

Joint Pee Wees/Little League Lease Likely to Be Extended

Parents and players with South Kitsap Pee Wees turned out in force Tuesday before the Port Orchard City Council. Members of the youth football club were anxious about the upcoming renewal of a Givens Center ball field lease they hold jointly with South Kitsap Western Little League.

The lease expires at the end of April. The council will discuss renewal of the joint lease at a work study meeting April 20th. They’ll vote on the lease April 27.

The council on March 9 allowed the Little League club to assume the lease from South Kitsap Babe Ruth, which folded early in March after 50 years in operation.

According to an e-mail distributed to Pee Wee members and local media on March 29, some Pee Wees were worried the city intended to boot them off the field, which they have shared with Babe Ruth for a number of years.

Cindie Morrill, a Pee Wee parent, in the e-mail urged other parents, coaches and players to show their support for the football program. “SK Pee Wees has been informed by the City of Port Orchard that if the community does not show support for Pee Wees, we may not be allowed to share with Western Little League as we had done in the past with Babe Ruth.”

The e-mail was forwarded by another Pee Wee supporter,, with the comment, “Our mayor, Mr (Lary) Coppola does not like football and does not want to renew the lease. He wants to change the community play field “TO BASEBALL ONLY” Someone please help pull this guys head and the city councils out of their ?”

Apparently it was like that game of telephone we used to play as kids, where players sit in a circle and whisper a message in the ear of the person next to them. By the time the message goes full circle, it’s usually pretty well mangled.

The flames may have been fanned by a dropped word typo (since corrected online) in a weekly publication’s article on the shared lease.

What the mayor did say at the March 9 meeting, in his characteristically blunt style, is that if the two clubs can’t get along, they’d both lose the lease. The city has had to referee conflict between Babe Ruth and the Pee Wees in the past, and Coppola was having none of it from the new arrangement.

“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,” he told Bob Showers of Western Little League.

The one council member who on March 9 voted against transferring the lease to Western Little League was Fred Olin, chairman of the city’s public property committee. Olin at the time said he thought the two uses were not compatible. But by Tuesday’s meeting, he said the committee was satisfied that the joint lease would be workable after all. “We felt we had a resolution worked out pretty well with Western Little League and Pee Wees,” Olin said. “I don’t see any problem.”

On Tuesday, officials from both organizations vowed to cooperate with each other as they share the field, even though their respective needs may sometimes conflict. Pee Wees reseeds the field after their season, for example, but the grass may not be far enough along to play on by the time Little League holds tryouts in early spring. All part of the details they’ll have to work out.

“I don’t think you have to worry about us not working together again. We’re all here for the kids,” said Pee Wees President Chuck Burns.

Alas, much ado about nothing.

The Pee Wees’ passion for their program (which includes basketball and cheer) was clear from comments made by parents and coaches on Tuesday.

Single parent Dorothy Williams said Pee Wee football was a godsend to her and her sons, one of whom landed a full-ride scholarship to play football for Eastern Washington University. “I don’t know what we would have done without it,” Williams said.

Basketball coach Ron Smith said Pee Wee programs give kids who may not make the cut on school teams a chance to get in on the action.

“I think everyone’s missing the point here. This is for the kids,” Smith said. “I think everyone’s getting lost in this battle.”

To which Coppola replied, “I’d like to say I couldn’t agree with you more.”

Look … Over There

Those of you with property in downtown Port Orchard may want to mosey over to the Kitsap Caucus for a look at a map of FEMA’s designated flood zones, downloaded from the City of Port Orchard’s Web site.

The map relates to a post I made about business owner Rudy Swensen and his plans to renovate his building at 710 Bay Street with a New Orleans theme. Swensen has to pay a hefty premium on a small business loan he secured because the building is in a flood zone. Flooding in 2007 is part of the reason for the renovation, he said.

Do Ya Like Pancakes?

Brynn Grimley writes:

Well if you do, you should try to make it to a pancake breakfast planned for Saturday at the Brownsville Yacht Club.

For a suggested donation of $5 you can find yourself munching on two pancakes, two sausage links and wash it all down with a Cup of Joe, or some OJ. And, while you’re enjoying your breakfast treat, you can know your “suggested” $5 is going to a good cause.

The fund raising breakfast is being organized by Carolyn Thomas, the wife of Capt. Jonathan Thomas, who was instrumental in bringing the various tall ships to Kitsap County over the last few years. The breakfast will benefit the Schooner Lavengro, which county commissioners declared the official tall ship of Kitsap County last month.

The schooner is run by the non-profit NW Schooner Society, based out of Seattle. Jonathan has done a lot to keep the boat afloat (so-to-speak), including covering a lot of the financial costs needed to keep the boat running. He’s also gone out to the community and found people willing to volunteer their time to make the boat better.

The money raised from Saturday’s breakfast will help the group pay for a full-time captain (former Kitsap resident Dave Haslam who I wrote about last year) to stay on the boat and do the daily upkeep needed to make the Schooner Lavengro suitable for the many free public sails she’ll be giving this summer. *** I learned later tonight that the money raised through the breakfast will be put toward the purchase of a new sail (the forsil), that the boat needs desperately. Jonathan said a new sail runs about $5,0000. ***

*** But Dave Haslam will be captain of the Schooner Lavengro from about May to September, which is a huge bonus for the boat because he’ll be there full time to keep the boat up and running for the free public sails, which will still be offered this summer. ***

The Schooner Lavengro now calls the Port of Brownsville Marina its base of operations, so there’s a desire by the port and Jonathan to get the community plugged in.

So if you feel like getting your eat on this Saturday, and want your money to go to a nonprofit instead of some other international-type pancake plance (I won’t name any names here), head to the Brownsville Yacht Club (at the Brownsville Marina), 9756 Ogle Road NE in Bremerton.

Name that Blog

With the addition of new voices from North Kitsap, Central Kitsap and Bremerton, Speaking of South Kitsap is evolving. Since Bremerton reporter Steve Gardener and Central/North Kitsap reporter Brynn Grimley hopped on board, you’ve heard about a noted civic leader, a transformational moment or two, one town’s no so little victory and more.

On Grimley’s entry about Hank Mann-Sykes, one commenter mistakenly thought I had written the story and the post. It was an understandable error There’s my mug shot, as we call it, tacked on the home page of the blog. It’s probably time to change that, as well as the name of the blog. We’ll be mulling that over for a couple weeks while Grimley’s on vacation, and some time after that likely make the switch.

We’d like your help in re-branding the blog. While the Kitsap Caucus focuses on politics and government, Speaking of South Kitsap has, for the most part, focused on people, events and life in general in Port Orchard and surrounding communities, like Manchester, Olalla, South Colby and Gorst (Gardner and I both claim a stake in that one). Each has its own unique character … and characters. Now we add to that mix Seabeck, Lomolo, Hansville, Rocky Point, and other areas as well as the cities of Poulsbo and Bremerton and unicorporated yet urban Silverdale.

First we need a name. We’ve kicked around a few ideas and will mine our fellow staff members for others. So far we have Kitsap Klatsch and Speaking of Kitsap Communities. I suggested “That’s Kitsap with a ‘K'” but nobody got it. Excuse me while I stop by the store for some krab. … Oh, never mind.

OK, obviously we need a little help here.

We also need to replace my mug with something iconic, representing all that makes Kitsap Kitsapy. We got into a discussion of that over on the post about Hank Mann-Sykes. I asked for scenes that come to mind that represent your community. Kathryn Simpson, of South Kitsap, suggested: a picture taken from the center of the crosswalk at the end of Bay Street in Port Orchard, a picture of the scoreboard at Joe Knowles Stadium at the high school, a picture of the entrance to the older Kitsap County Admin building (the one the courts are still in), a picture of the foot ferry reaching the Port Orchard dock, a picture of the Stokes Auction windmill. If you live in Bremerton, Central or North Kitsap, you can probably think of scenes that conjure up the essence of a place. Maybe for Bremerton, we should have a chicken.

I was hoping we could have a rotating picture box with scenes from all over the county. But our Web editor says even our tech guru isn’t up to that one.

Our fall back idea is a group picture of Gardner, Grimley and me, as they have on the Wild World of Kitsap Sports blog. Not that we aren’t an attractive bunch, but I think we could do better.

So put on your thinking caps and sing out. This is a brainstorming session. Nothing is off the table, as they say. Again we need a new name and iconic picture or graphic for the blog soon to be known as The Blog Formerly Known as Speaking of South Kitsap.

Thank you.

Chris Henry, South Kitsap/government reporter

Mourning, Healing and Remembering

Steven Gardner writes:

Sunday was one of those days you really hope you never have to face, but for a day like that it couldn’t have been any better.

Michael Pitcher’s death last week affected a lot of people I’m close with. People who are genuinely part of communities have the benefit of having others to hold on to when the things that happen seem to make no sense. There’s been a lot of holding on to each other since last Monday.

Michael and I were more acquaintances than friends. We had each been in the other’s home, but I can’t say I really knew him. I can say I admired him, mostly for what you see in the picture here. Despite our passing and brief relationship, it saddens me to know that I won’t see him again. Not around here, anyway.

On Sunday I went to church and it was a service in which many people who knew Mike well were able to stand up and share stories about him, about how he influenced them.

His father, Frank Pitcher, spoke. I would guess Frank has had multiple opportunities to try to provide comfort to people who are grieving, and is among those grieving now. As one who has seen it and been through it before himself, he understands it. Understanding does little to comfort, though. It hurts.

Then there is Michelle, who came along into Michael’s life at a time when he was experiencing the very same thing she is now. Michael’s first wife lost her life suddenly. The one person who could probably help us, and especially Michelle, the most, the one who could extend his arm around us and offer comfort like no one else could, the one who could say, “I’ve been there” is the one who can’t be here to do that at all.

And yet a legacy goes on.

Last Monday I stayed home from work during the day because my wife was ill and needed to rest. I did go to work that night to cover chicken decriminalization and to make cops calls. Before I went in Josh Farley called me and asked that I follow up on an accident in CK, where a man fell from a tree and died. Later that night I read the press release, which included no name. I wrote a brief piece for the paper and went home as quickly as I could.

I stayed home the next day as well, except to taxi the children while my wife continued to rest. As I was putting shoes on my youngest, Diana came to the door and asked if I’d heard about Michael Pitcher. I hadn’t, I said. He died, she told me. That was the first moment it occurred to me that the man I’d written about the night before could be Michael.

Seeing someone just 30, so full of hope and goals and dreams, pass from this life to the next so quickly and unexpectedly has been transformational. I want to be a better father. I’ve always wanted to be a great dad, but something about Micheal’s passing spurred me to renew my commitment to my children and to Diana. I want there to be more pictures of me and my kids the way Michael is seen here, not because I want to be remembered that way, but because I want to be that way.

We made a start last week. The one benefit of Diana being sick and me staying home is my youngest and I bonded like we seldom had before. We played. We went on rides. We read together. It is clear the difference it has made on him. It’s more clear to me what it’s done for me. I thought of Michael a lot while it was happening. I wish he was here so I could tell him, but I have faith that he knows.

Speaking of Young Men and Cars

I call them “the vultures,” my son and his friends. They descend on our kitchen, inhaling anything edible, speaking in a cacophony of adolescent male egos, leaving scraps and bones scattered about before flocking to the next house to see what’s in the ‘fridge.

They have a great appetite for life, these boys-on-their-way-to-becoming-men. They talk about soccer and girls and haircuts and shoes … OMG, they are obsessed with shoes.

Last Wednesday, they swooped in after I had spent more than two hours preparing a dinner of pork adobo and lumpia— a far cry from my son’s friend’s Filipino grandma’s cooking, but I do what I can to lure them briefly. In the five minutes it took for them to consume the meal, they chatted about girls and soccer and shoes … and the crash. Just down the road, there’s a gash in a tree, the site of an accident that took the life of the 18-year-old driver, Michael James Adams, not far from his family’s home.

My son yearns for his learner’s permit. He looks at cars as we pass by and says, “I could drive that.” Anything but a truck, like his dad’s, or a van, like mine, preferably something low and sleek, red or black.

“What’s the hurry?” I say. “You have a perfectly decent bike and two personal chauffeurs.”

I’d rather he stick with shoes.

When his older brother, now 25, was about to be born, my husband anxiously asked the doctor, “What’s the most dangerous time?” The doctor replied, “When he gets his license.”

We used to laugh about that. That doctor, what a card.

On Saturday, I reported on the death of another 18-year-old. Mark S. Schroeder Jr. of Fontana, Calif., a sailor at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, was driving southbound in his black 2008 Hyundai Tiburon when he hit the highway’s jersey barrier near the turnoff to Belfair, lost control of the car and struck a power pole. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Passengers in the car, who escaped with non-life-threatening injuries, told Washington State Patrol troopers Schroeder had recently acquired the car.

I shared the story with my son, selfishly using the tragedy as a cautionary tale. The cause of the crash is unclear. Drugs and alcohol were ruled out as factors. Excessive speed was not mentioned in the WSP report. It would be easy to speculate, but also fruitless.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens, accounting for more than one in three deaths in this age group.

* In 2008, nine teens ages 16 to 19 died every day on U.S. roadways from motor vehicle injuries.

* Per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are four times more likely than older drivers to crash.

* In 2008,  about 3,500 teens in the United States ages 15 to 19 were killed, and more than 350,000 were treated in emergency departments for injuries suffered in motor-vehicle crashes.

Our condolences to the families of the young men who died.

Chris Henry, Kitsap Sun reporter