Monthly Archives: June 2009

Seven Bainbridge teaching jobs saved by grassroots campaign

Seven Bainbridge teachers can trade in their pink slips for paychecks this fall.

In just over a month, Bainbridge school supporters raised over $200,000 to retain teachers laidoff during recent budget cuts. The donations – which came from yard sales, car washes and a few students’ piggy banks – will be combined with $50,000 the Bainbridge Schools Foundation raised last year and $250,000 it expects to raise during the next school year. The combined $500,000 will return seven teachers to their classrooms.

“The community has been unbelievably generous and helpful and inspiring,” foundation Executive Director Vicky Marsing said. “And it all happened in a very short time.”

Tuesday capped the five-week-long “Save Our Teachers” campaign, which was launched shortly after the Bainbridge Island School district announced it would layoff 17 teachers to help offset a $2.2 million budget shortfall.

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Rotary auction action

Check out the action at Saturday’s Rotary Club Auction and Rummage Sale in the above video and in a story here.

Over 20,000 people rummaged through 10-acres worth of cast-asides, hand-me-downs and whatchamacallits at Woodward Middle School’s campus.

Rotary estimated the event raised about $300,000. Last year’s event brought in about $350,000. The recession likely put a damper on spending this year, Rotary volunteers said.

Rotary devotes two-thirds of each year’s proceeds to community grants, scholarships for Bainbridge High School students and various local programs and projects. The remaining third helps fund Huney Grants, which are given to major nonprofit agencies. Last year’s recipients included the West Sound Wildlife Shelter and Hospice of Kitsap County.

Porn, sex items found stashed in elementary school’s ceiling

A cache of pornographic and sex-related items were found inside the ceiling of a portable classroom at Blakely Elementary School on Thursday, according to Bainbridge police.

The items were found by workers as they demolished the Blakely Avenue portable. The collection included six pornographic magazines, several pornographic VHS tapes, unused condoms, a dozen women’s panties and a 2001 hunting guide.

Dates on the items indicated that the cache had been left in the ceiling about eight years ago, police said.

The classroom had been used for music lessons and speech pathology work over the last eight years.

No teachers or current school staff are suspected of stowing the items. None of the pornographic items included depictions of children, police said.

Police are no longer investigating the incident. School officials intend to destroy the items.

A new care facility could rise from Serenity House’s rubble

Steve Romein, who recently bought the Serenity House property in Lynwood Center, told me this afternoon that he plans to build a new facility to care for the elderly and developmentally disabled.

“That’s the whole reason we bought it,” said Romein, an architect who also co-owns the Tudor-style Lynwood Theatre building across the street. “We want to get a care facility back. We were very saddened to see it displaced.”

For more on what led to the Serenity House’s demise, read this feature on its final weeks and this followup story on its closure. Here’s the post on its demolition this week.

Romein envisions a new four-unit complex on the 3.4-acre property. Each group home might have up to six residents. He may also add a daytime care facility for elderly people.

Romein is in talks now with potential care facility operators, and hopes to have one selected within the next month. The operator, he said, will help develop plans for the new complex.

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Woman missing from BI ferry found in north King County

The Spokane woman reported missing Tuesday after leaving her car aboard a ferry on the Bainbridge Island-Seattle route was found around 12:30 a.m. Thursday morning.

An officer with the Lake Forest Park Police Department found Amy Story, 27, at Lake Forest Park Market, according to a Washington State Patrol press release. Police had been dispatched to the area to check on a woman who was seen walking in the street and hitchhiking.

When the officer arrived, Story identified herself and said her car had been stolen from a ferry.

City agrees to pay $495,000 to homebuilders group

The city on Wednesday night agreed to pay a $495,000 settlement to a homebuilders group contesting a fee that supported the city’s affordable housing efforts.

The City Council unanimously approved the settlement, capping an eight-year legal battle with the Homebuilders Association of Kitsap County and three Bainbridge development companies.

“I’m very pleased we can settle this matter,” Councilman Barry Peters said. “But the key issue is: it’s a lot money.”

The settlement will take a sizable chunk of a $1.8 million reserve the cash-strapped city is trying to build by the end of the year.

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Wrecking ball hits the Serenity House


The Serenity House is no more.

A fixture in the south island community of Lynwood Center for nearly a century, the group home for developmentally disabled adults was torn down Wednesday by the property’s new owner.


Serenity House closed in March after its 17 residents were moved to care facilities and group homes around Kitsap County. The Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority, which owned the 3.4-acre property, could no longer afford to subsidize Serenity’s operating costs, which amounted to about $16,000 a month.

KCCHA abandoned plans to redevelop the property with new assisted-living homes.

Built as a public school in 1914, the 11,000-square-foot facility had fallen into disrepair.

The building also served as a sanitarium and, for the last 40 years, a home for developmentally disabled adults and others in need of full-time care.

KCCHA listed the property in March for $1.95 million. A development company led by island resident Steve Romein purchased the property last month. Romein could not be reached for comment.

The property boasts panoramic views of Rich Passage and sits across the street from the the theater property, which is also owned by Romein.

UPDATED: Search is on for woman missing from Bainbridge ferry

The Washington State Patrol is asking for help in finding a missing Spokane woman who left her car aboard a ferry on the Bainbridge Island-Seattle run.

Amy Story, 27, of Spokane drove aboard the M/V Tacoma at 2:55 p.m. on Bainbridge Island, troopers said. Their investigation found she walked off the boat in Seattle, but left her Mitsubishi Galant onboard.

Story was visiting family in Sequim and may be trying to get back to Spokane, troopers said.

Story reportedly suffers from bipolar disorder and might not be taking her medications. Her family told police she has experienced similar episodes in the past.

She is described as a white female, 5 feet 6 inches tall, 230 pounds, with medium-length straight brown hair and green eyes. She was last seen wearing a green striped sweater and blue jeans.

The U.S. Coast Guard called off its search at about 10:30 p.m. Monday.

Anyone with information on her whereabouts can call Detective Russ Haake at (425) 401-7788.

Police blotter: Landlord kicks lippy tenant where it counts

Tired of the guff an office tenant was giving him and his maintenance crew, the owner of a Day Road business park followed up a left and a right with a boot to the center. They both ended up getting arrested.

Also in this week’s police blotter, a drunk driver on the go tries to refuel on booze at Safeway and gas at Chevron before setting off for a round of stop sign running and lane swerving. Her request to the arresting officer: “Can we do this later?”
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Pick a property, make it a park


You have just over a week to nominate properties for purchase by the Bainbridge park district.

Flush with cash from the voter-approved levy lid-lift, the district is slated this year to receive around $800,000 to purchase new properties. The district can leverage or save that money to buy big ticket properties priced beyond the 2009 allotment.

Here’s my story on the Parkland Acquisition Committee’s efforts to gather input from residents. And click here to go directly to the park district’s property nomination form.

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Exhibit: Port Blakely graffiti artists’ ever-changing canvas


This week is your last chance to see island photographer Philip Meadow’s Port Blakely mill exhibit at Cafe Trios.

Meadows, a transplant from the U.K., was quite taken by the ever-changing canvas that the old lumber mill building has become. For years, graffiti artists have created overlapping images on the walls, ceiling and floor of the crumbling concrete structure at the center of Port Blakely Park.

Meadows’ exhibit features huge images and 360 degree panorama shots of the artwork spraypainted on the building’s interior.

He’s looking for a new place to show the exhibit. You can reach him here, and check out his online gallery (here) and blog (here).

Here’s what Meadows had to say about the exhibit in a recent post:

The mill was shut down in 1922 and over time, the mill’s buildings were destroyed. All that remains of Port Blakely mill today is the old generator building which has become a canvas for graffiti artists and a playground for BMX and skateboard riders. Although some people may find these activities to be somewhat unfitting use for such a piece of history, it has to be said that the young people that are attracted to this location remain respectful in their own way.

Philip Meadows, self-portrait
Philip Meadows, self-portrait