Monthly Archives: April 2007

Bridge Surveys Say “Make it Look Nice”

In preparing the story about the bridge survey, I discussed the dedicated bus lane issue in some depth with Mike Shepherd and Adam Brockus. Going back in the Kitsap Sun archives, however, I could only find stories referencing such a lane on the Warren Avenue bridge. Otherwise, I would have included more on that issue. I’ll keep looking into it.

The most interesting single element of this story has little to do with the actual survey. Poulsbo Democrat Sherry Appleton, whose 23rd Legislative District begins at the bridge, suggested using the existing Manette Bridge steel to create a similar look on the new span. It’s akin, in some respects, to what Port Orchard has with its downtown facade. The bridge facade might have added value in retaining some history that was at one time functional. I don’t think that’s true in Port Orchard, though I’ll take it back if someone proves me wrong.

Finally, 17 percent don’t want the bridge replaced. At the open house where the surveys were taken, one guy who didn’t want to be named asked if a bridge like the Tacoma Narrows Bridge doesn’t need replacing, why does the Manette. I haven’t asked the folks at the state that question, but it’s certainly worth asking.

Short Clips

Here are a couple of stories about Bremertonians, stories that ran in other media.

The Stranger reports that a couple calling themselves the “quantum reincarnations” from the fictional movie “The Matrix” left in Seattle’s Fisher Pavilion a device that looked odd enough to warrant inspection by a bomb squad.

“Police found a one-page manifesto attached to the apparatus; it begins: ‘Good morning, Seattle. It’s time to wake up. I watch you all every day, trying to fit with what the rest of the world wants you to be.'”

The couple, Neo and Trinity, say they represent an international revolutionary group of 1,200. Of course, they have a Web site, (Neo correctly pointed out that I got the Web site wrong, originally.) where you can read their response to The Stranger piece, the manifesto and all about the group. Personally, I’m not interested in getting involved in any group led by resurrected movie characters, unless it’s cousin Eddie from “Christmas Vacation.”

“I don’t know if I oughta go sailin’ down no hill with nothin’ between the ground and my brains but a piece of government plastic.” — Cousin Eddie

That, my friends, is wisdom.

In other news, MSNBC reports the Bremerton guy who wants to build an elevator to space has hit tough times.

“It’s been a grim week for Michael Laine, who founded the LiftPort Group four years ago in hopes of someday building a space elevator to send payloads on a vertical railroad to space. How grim is it? “It’s grim to the point that I’m over at my mom’s, scoping out the garage and trying to figure out if I can move in,” the 39-year-old entrepreneur told me today.”

He lost his Bremerton building that served as his office, but LiftPort lives, turning to balloon power.

Mosaic Effort

Andrew Binion wrote an update on efforts to save a mosaic on the Olympic College campus. The work could be destroyed in the planned demolition of the school’s math and science building.

“The mosaic was painstakingly pieced together with bits of glass combed from area beaches in the 1950s by the college’s first art instructor, Harrison “Hank” Blass. It shows God giving humans the power of the atom, among other things, and has survived attempts to clean and refurbish it.”

July is the deadline. That’s when the building is supposed to come down.

Los Tres R’s

The Bremerton School District plans to begin a Spanish Immersion program for a couple dozen of its kindergartners who’ll start school next year. By the end of the first year the kids would be getting pretty much the same curriculum as the kids in the English-speaking classes, only it would be in Spanish.

This is not for children who already speak Spanish. Quite the opposite. It’s the district’s attempt to get children solid language training at an age when they’re most likely to learn it well. Linda Jenkins, assistant superintendent, said in Bellevue 95 percent of the students in the program passed the WASL in fourth grade. By high school they all passed.

Language “immersion” can be controversial, but not so much in the form the Bremerton district is doing it. Where it gets dicey is when some suggest foreign-speaking immigrants should be in English Immersion classes, what Newt Gingrich was discussing when he said,

“We should replace bilingual education with immersion in English so people learn the common language of the country and they learn the language of prosperity, not the language of living in a ghetto.”

“. Spanish immersion only gets some danders up when police or other emergency personnel are required to get into immersion programs, or sometimes when the school program is offered near the U.S. southern border. Truly, I couldn’t find any evidence of anyone getting upset with the kind of program Bremerton is offering.

Some of the information online suggests kids in these classes do lag behind their peers on the basics for a while, but Jenkins believes by fourth grade they catch up. There is also the notion that kids in these programs learn to think differently, because they’re not only trying to learn math and reading like every other kid, they’re trying to understand their teachers.

Bringing Home Bank

Tuesday’s story about the amount of money coming Bremerton’s way is confirmation of news broken months ago on most of the allocations.

On the boardwalk and Evergreen Park the city knew it was in good position in August.

On more money for the tunnel, the new amount adds to the $29 million already allocated.

The $5 million for the downtown park development was a necessary piece in a project approved a long time ago.

The $5.3 million for the Bremerton Youth Academy was in jeopardy, but it wasn’t a surprise since October since the idea was first proposed.

The city applies for grants months in advance on projects such as the boardwalk. A state agency creates a priority list. The boardwalk became high on the list months ago. The Legislature, however, has the ability to override the recommendation, though it seldom happens.

The $3 million the city didn’t get for part of whatever gets developed at the former J.C. Penney’s building was a disappointment, but it was money for a project that technically doesn’t exist yet.

Exotic College Funding

A while back someone tipped us off in an e-mail that people weren’t happy with a Toys Topless advertisement in the campus newspaper at Olympic College. I hadn’t seen the ad, so I assumed it was the same I’d seen advertising the business’s “new arrivals.” For the uninitiated, the “Topless” in the name is not about your car.

When I did the story on the Olympic visitors from Vietnam, I picked up a copy of the paper. Glancing through the paper I couldn’t find the ad.

You get to the end, however, and all questions about what the complaints were about disappear. There are five women in bikini-style gear in various poses taking up the entire page. The company isn’t advertising for customers, it wants dancers.

“Great way to pay for school,” the ad proclaims.

OK, now I get it.

If one of the dancers who works there is to be believed, it will pay for more than schooling.

One of the women featured in the ad, a 19-year-old dancer who uses the stage name Carmen, said that she found working at Toys Topless fun, safe and lucrative. She said that she earned $4,500 in March.

“I think it’s a good option,” she said. “You can’t make better money in Kitsap County without a degree or with one.”

Read Andrew Binion’s story here.

Back Pain

In interviewing Bill Eickmeyer about his vote count, subject of a story Sunday, he talked about how legislators bust tail to get onto the floor to vote.

His back pain was so intense he couldn’t get there at least 222 times. He couldn’t sit and walking was difficult. He did get called a few times when a vote was in doubt. Otherwise he lie on the floor of his office, he said.

I do believe his comments about legislators taking extreme efforts to be counted, and if this Legislature was more evenly divided I think Eickmeyer would like have spent more time on the caucus couch.

An incident from the 1980s backs me up on this. Read the entire story from this May 1985 edition of Time Magazine.

“Needing every vote, Republican leaders summoned California Senator Pete Wilson from Bethesda Naval Hospital, where he was recuperating from surgery to remove a ruptured appendix. Wilson arrived in an ambulance as the roll call was in progress at 1:30 a.m. Friday; hospital aides trundled him onto the Senate floor in a wheelchair, a needle and intravenous tube still inserted in his arm. Senators gave Wilson a standing ovation, which he turned to laughter by asking deadpan, “What is the question?” He voted yes on the budget resolution, but Hawaii Democrat Spark Matsunaga rushed in from his Senate office to vote no, and the tally was deadlocked at 49-49. Vice President George Bush was in the chair, however; he had cut short a Western speechmaking tour and rushed back from Phoenix Thursday morning. Bush cast the tie-breaking vote.”

Park Talk

Wish it were easier to take a walk in the park in Bremerton?

Wish you could go to the Glenn Jarstad Aquatic Center and not be wondering in the back of your mind about the condition of the pool’s boilers?

Wish you had more places to take Scruffhead to hang out with his buddies Jake, Fido and Flanders?

Do you long for more places where you could grill a salmon steak just yards away from where that fish once swam?

The city’s Park and Rec Department is making long-term plans and is asking for your input. There will be a meeting at 5:30 p.m. in the Bremerton High School library.

Virginia Tech — Blacksburg to Bremerton

Two dozen years ago I went through a crushing break-up, at that point the worst thing I had ever experienced. The morning after it was over, I awoke for my long drive to college. For a few seconds I forgot about the reality from the day before, a bliss I remember because it wasn’t long until my memory returned. The hurt began all over again.

Imagine, then, the thousands of students and parents who have had two mornings to wake up and experience the few seconds away from reality until it comes fleeting back in a rush.

That’s kind of how Josh Johnson, a Virginia Tech senior and Olympic High School grad described it, though he’s reminded of the wake-up after a traffic accident.

Josh and his mother, Tammy Johnson shared their thoughts with me Tuesday evening after a couple of days of dealing with the crushing news that 33 in the VT community are now dead.

We learned about Josh on Monday. Make the right search in Google and you can find him, but getting a reliable connection proved difficult. Once we discovered he had a brother still going to school here, we solicited the help of the Central Kitsap School District. They contacted Tammy Johnson, who was generous with her time, as was Josh.

It’s a story of mutual admiration between Josh and his mother. The two have steeled each other up as he has taken on the role of stabilizing presence for his subordinates in the college’s Army ROTC program. It’s an education neither Josh nor his mother thought he or his fellow cadets would ever get in college.

If I were to suggest your reading, I’d say make sure you’ve read the news story first, then come back and click on the link below, where you can find additional notes and quotes from two hometown people directly touched by a tragedy a continent away. They’re not necessarily in logical order, but I thought you might appreciate more on the Johnsons.

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