Monthly Archives: January 2009

Economic summit touts BI’s green businesses

Two Bainbridge-based businesses were held up as the future of economic development at a Kitsap business summit on Thursday.

One business is the maker of the electric car you see above. Founded in 2007, Evergreen Electromotive has developed a prototype hatchback aimed at easing car drivers’ impact on the environment and lessening dependence on foreign oil.

The other island business highlighted at the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance summit was The Works, which has produced a prototype low-emission catalytic converter for pleasure boats.

Read Sun business reporter Rachel Pritchett’s coverage of the summit here.

BI’s change-in-government bill passes House of Representatives

Rep. Rolfes
Rep. Rolfes

A bill allowing Bainbridge Islanders to vote early on changing their form of government passed the state House by a wide margin on Wednesday.

Sponsored by Rep. Christine Rolfes (D-Bainbridge Island), House Bill 1066 passed 95 to two. The bill now moves to the Senate, where it is scheduled for a committee hearing on Monday.

If expedited through the Senate, the bill could allow a public vote in May on whether to replace the city’s elected mayor position with a hired city manager.

“It was remarkable,” Rolfes said of the bill’s easy passage. “It passed by such a large margin most likely because it’s a very straightforward bill.  Legislators, all of whom have run for office, many of whom come from local government, could see the difficulty of the situation and were willing to fix it.”

Sen. Phil Rockefeller (D-Bainbridge Island) persuaded his colleagues on Thursday to allow the bill an early hearing on the Senate Government Operations and Elections Committee.

“This will expedite action on the special election bill, and I hope we can get it voted out of that committee quickly,” he said.

Continue reading

Group taking shape to watch island’s groundwater supply

The Association of Bainbridge Communities is forming a water resources committee to look at the problem of declining groundwater reserves and make planning recommendations to the city.

ABC was founded 30 years ago by residents concerned about the island’s finite water supply.

To learn participate in the group, contact ABC member Arnie Kubiak at

Affordable housing design meeting set for Friday

Affordable housing advocates will give the first glimpse on Friday of designs for a 24-home development planned for Winslow’s east edge.

“We’re building a neighborhood that we hope will be seen as an asset to the entire community,” said Carl Florea, director of the Housing Resources Board, the island group leading the Ferncliff Avenue project’s development.

The resident-owned homes would incorporate earth-friendly features, common-use green spaces and an overall neighborhood design that puts out a welcome mat to walkers and cyclists rather than cars. The project would also add to the island’s nearly non-existent stock of homes affordable to middle-income earners.

Continue reading

UPDATED: City staff get pink slips

The city of Bainbridge Island laid off six employees as part of a larger $2.3 million batch of planned cuts to keep pace with sharply declining revenues.

“Our cash levels have dropped to extremely low levels and our current revenues have seen dramatic decrease in the last few months,” City Administrator Mark Dombroski told the City Council during a meeting on Wednesday. “We have to take action now.”

The layoffs, proposed hiring freezes and other labor cost-cutting measures will help the city save about $1 million in 2009. Three employees in the planning department, two in public works and one in information technology were given termination notices this week. They are scheduled to leave in March.

“Unfortunately, the current economic reality has made (layoffs) unavoidable,” Dombroski said.

Continue reading

WSF can’t even sell ferries as scrap?

Declining steel prices have put on hold the sale of four ferries moored off Winslow.

The 80-year-old Illahee, Nisqually, Klickitat and Quinault were slated for purchase by Environmental Recycling Systems. The company planned to tow the ferries to Mexico for use as scrap. But slumping value of steel has ERS second-guessing its $500,000 purchase.

Washington State Ferries is now seeking new bids for the boats, which were pulled from service in late 2007 after the U.S. Coast Guard discovered their rusting hulls. The boats have been awaiting their fate at WSF’s Eagle Harbor maintenance yard for over a year.

Woman missing from ferry may have killed herself

The Bellevue woman who went missing aboard a Bainbridge-bound ferry earlier this month may have killed herself, her husband said in an email to her work colleagues.

The Seattle Times reported today that Lynn Stafford-Yilmaz’s co-workers at Bellevue Community College, where Stafford-Yilmaz taught English, received an e-mail from her husband noting that she had “decided to end her life” before embarking on her late-night trip to Bainbridge.

A friend of Stafford-Yilmaz forwarded to the Times an e-mail from Mustafa Yilmaz that, in part, read: “Considering the situation, the note she left behind and the evidence, her family believes that Lynn decided to end her life that night. This was very unexpected for all of us.”

Continue reading

Police blotter: Land Rover takes to the sky to attack a tree and house

This week, a young lady took a Land Rover off the road and then launched it into the foggy air. She hit a tree while airborne and then a house when she landed. She was OK. The Land Rover and house and tree were not.

Also, this was a bad week for pedestrians. One of them even got cited for not using a crosswalk to cross the highway (after he was knocked into a ditch by a Lexus and taken to Harborview). The nearest crosswalk was in Suquamish.

Continue reading

Thought things were bad with the city’s finances?

…Well it’s about to get worse.

Or, at least that’s what the city Finance Director Elray Konkel is hinting at.

He said today that 2009’s budgeted revenues are now expect to be “substantially lower than projected.”

Konkel will reveal the new projections at a special city finances workshop on Wednesday. The meeting starts at 5 p.m. and precedes the regular City Council meeting at 7.

The city’s already noted that ’08’s year-end cash balance came in at about $1.2 million under projections. The new numbers spurred talk last week of a 15 percent cut to the operations budget, including possible layoffs.

The new projections for ’09 will likely lead to another round of cuts.

I’ll keep you posted.

Bainbridge Land Trust celebrates 20 years of conservation

The Bainbridge Island Land Trust, an organization that has helped preserve over 400 acres, will celebrate its 20th anniversary with an event featuring award-winning nature writer Robert Michael Pyle on Friday.

Pyle won a 2007 National Outdoor Book Award for “Sky Time in Gray’s River,” a reflection on the flora, fauna and people of a small community in southwest Washington.

The land trust event will also honor island resident Charles Schmid with the Phyllis Young Award for his decades of commitment to environmental protection. Schmid has worked to clean-up the former Wyckoff creosote treatment facility on Eagle Harbor, establish trails and lead the Association of Bainbridge Communities for many years.

Established by a small group of islanders in 1989 to help landowners permanently protect the natural character of their properties, the land trust has helped acquire and preserve over 400 acres of forest, wetland and shore. The trust owns 41 acres and has established 44 conservation easements linking protected areas.

Continue reading