Monthly Archives: December 2010

Poll: What was the top Bainbridge story of 2010?

We recently polled readers and ourselves here in the newsroom about Kitsap County’s top news stories of the year.

You can read the results here, and weigh in on the reader poll at the bottom of the page.

Seeing as how the poll offerings are slanted toward Bremerton (a fish statue is a top story?), and that most Bainbridge Islanders have never heard of Bremerton, I have created Bainbridge Island’s very own top stories of 2010 poll.

Head over to the right side of the screen to weigh in.

And have a happy New Year.

Bainbridge library won’t be open on Sundays anymore

UPDATE – Here’s reporter Chris Henry’s story on the Sunday closure.

I just got word that the Bainbridge library will no longer be open on Sundays.

Kitsap Regional Libraries will also close the three other main branches (Sylvan Way, Poulsbo and Port Orchard) on Sundays.

The Bainbridge branch is open from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

The decision to cut Sunday hours was made by the KRL board on Tuesday evening. The board said the cuts were necessary to balance the library system’s budget. KRL’s most recent levy was rejected by voters.

See the KRL press release below.
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Police blotter: All he wants for Christmas are his two front teeth (and heroin)

This week, a scissors-wielding man had his front false teeth knocked out during a Christmas party beat down. During a search of his pockets, police found used syringes and a spoon coated in heroin. The man denied using heroin anytime recently, saying he only keeps the syringes and spoon just in case he should happen upon the drug. And then he said what I will nominate as the Bainbridge police blotter quote of 2010: “It’s like carrying a condom, you never know when you’ll need one.”

Also this week, a landlord was accused of breaking and entering, stealing hundreds of dollars in cash…and leaving behind a Christmas present and greeting card.

Blotter’s below.
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A new job, a lot like the old job

It’s about time I let you all know I have a new job.

It started Nov. 28, but as you can tell from my continued coverage of Bainbridge and my presence here on this blog, the new job is a lot like the old job.

I still cover Bainbridge (although I do it mostly from Bremerton), and I still work for the Kitsap Sun.

The difference is I’m now a full-time staffer, which means I get business cards and a computer and a nice little cubicle in this cheerful place reporters here lovingly call the Sungeon. Get it? Sun + Dungeon = Sungeon. It’s a fun place.

And I’m also spending a bit of my time (say around 25 percent) covering parts of North Kitsap: Kingston, Port Gamble, Hansville and that hotbed of action and intrigue, Eglon.

My most recent North Kitsap story was this profile of Icelandic ice cream makers in Poulsbo. I also shot the video that’s linked to it. That’s another new thing about the job – shooting videos and shooting more photos.

I am also doing my part to clear Bremerton’s streets of dog carcasses. But that’s another story.

I have a new e-mail address:, and a new phone number: (360) 792-9212.

Former BI couple’s newspaper biz is booming

Around this time last year, I wrote a story about the Matthees, a longtime Bainbridge couple that moved to a small Eastern Washington town to take over its tiny newspaper.

Buying a newspaper in this day and age might seem about as sane as hiring a battery of scribes during the advent of movable type.

But Imbert and Karen Matthee were undaunted. In short order, they redesigned the paper and gave it its first-ever online presence with social networking tools like Facebook, and later a Web page,

Their success continues to grow. The Washington Newspaper Publishers Association reported this month that the Waitsburg Times’ circulation has increased 30 percent since the Matthees took over.

They’ve also opened an office in the neighboring city of Dayton and hired their first news staffer – a managing editor – to help expand their coverage area and take on some of the varied duties shouldered by the Matthees.

The main office, in Waitsburg, may soon become something of a community information and copy center, with a public-use computer workstation, high-volume copier and image scanning services.

For a more in-depth update on what the Matthees are up to, check out this recent profile of Imbert Matthee by Walla Walla Lifestyles.

Kitsap’s ‘other’ Supreme Court justice


Today’s paper has my profile Charlie Wiggins, a longtime Bainbridge attorney who was recently elected to the state Supreme Court. You can read it here.

During my interview with Wiggins, he told me he had suspected during his campaign that a win may make him the first Supreme Court justice from Kitsap.

It sounded a bit far-fetched to me. In more than 120 years of state history, no Kitsaper had ever served on the state’s highest court?

Wiggins said he wasn’t 100 percent sure, so he ran off and grabbed his copy of Charles Sheldon’s “A History of Judging: A Political History of the Washington Supreme Court.” Inside were handy lists noting each justice’s basic information, including their residence when elected or appointed.

Sure enough, not one justice hailed from Kitsap. Not even the dozen or so justices that served after the book was published were Kitsap residents.

Wiggins was relieved. His place in Kitsap history was apparently secured.


But with a little digging around at the fantastic Northwest History Reference Collection at the downtown Bremerton library, I did find some information on one other justice with a strong Kitsap connection: Walter M. French.

The Michigan-born French was elected to the Kitsap County Superior Court in 1912, after about a decade of practicing law in Seattle and Alaska.

French appears to have been restless for higher office while serving in Kitsap, and lobbied several times for an appointment to the state Supreme Court. He never got the appointment, apparently because his party-leanings (Democrat) never matched the governor’s (Republican).

In 1918, he ditched the appointment route and ran against an incumbent, but failed.

The years of disappointment apparently convinced French to abandon Kitsap and become a roving fill-in superior court judge. For eight years he traveled all over the state, building up his name recognition and political clout.

The years of unofficial campaigning helped him – as a Tacoma resident – finally win a Supreme Court seat in 1927.

Wiggins laughed when I told him about French.

“I never had to leave Kitsap to get elected,” he said.

Real Foods Cafe closing on Thursday

Real Foods is closing its cafe on Thursday. Its adjacent specialty grocery store will shut down early next year.

The closures will add another empty store front to the Harbor Square development on Winslow Way. The Harbor Square space formerly occupied by Cafe Trios, which shut down during the summer of 2009, remains empty.

Real Foods’ owners are planning to open a new restaurant and retail business in the Island Gateway development taking shape a block to the west, at the Winslow Way-Highway 305 intersection.

City meetings back on the (digital) air

Bainbridge’s public access station may be gone, but live video coverage of the city’s meetings will continue.

Less than a week after Bainbridge Island Television broadcast its last city meeting, the city had a web-streaming system up and running.

The first webcast from the city’s website was last night.

City information technology manager Steve Miller, who was manning a computer and joystick in the spot where BITV’s equipment used to be, said the new system works well. From his compact command center, Miller was able to manage two remote-control cameras mounted on tripods. The glitches and delays prevalent in BITV’s web streaming were not a problem for the city’s system because City Hall has a higher-capacity Internet connection.

The meeting video was archived on the city’s website shortly after the webcast. You can view it here. Click on “video.” Mac users may have to download Flip4Mac to view the video.

The city is finalizing a short-term agreement with Bremerton Kitsap Access Television to also air the meetings on cable, probably on Channel 12 or 22, which have gone black after BITV shut down on Monday.

Carden school confident it can revive Moran building

Yesterday I got word that Bainbridge-based Carden Country School is in negotiations to buy the Moran School theater building.

Carden’s purchase would save the building from demolition and possibly return it to its former grandeur.

For more about the proposed purchase, read my story.

I wasn’t able to reach a Carden representative before deadline, but I did get a call this morning from Jeb Thornburg, an island architect and Carden parent who is leading the school’s effort to revive the Moran building.

He said the Carden, an independent Christian institution that’s operated on the island since 1990, wants to grow beyond its current limit of 40 students. Read a bit more about that in the school’s strategic plan.

I asked him how a small private school can undertake a multi-million renovation of a building that has been neglected for some 50 years.

“We feel confident in our ability to do that,” he said. “This is real. We’re not just dreaming.”

While he was hesitant to discuss the details of the school’s financing plan, Thornburg said the added tuition revenue from some 60 more students would help.

State tax credits for renovations of historical buildings will also be a key component of the financing plan, he said.

Thornburg admits buying an existing building or even constructing a new one would likely cost less and cause fewer headaches than renovating the old Moran building.

But for Thornburg and Carden’s leaders, saving a piece of Bainbridge history is part of the project’s appeal.

“Because we live here, we think it’s important to preserve the heritage on our island,” he said.

For more about the Moran building, see my September feature story.