Monthly Archives: December 2014

The towers are for hoses (or ten things I learned about Bremerton in 2014)

Happy new year, Bremerton! Here’s a list of the 10 most interesting things I learned about Bremerton in 2014.


1. Bremerton’s red light camera experiment is sputtering

The first year of Bremerton’s red light cameras brought in almost $850,000 for the city. Since, that amount has basically been in free fall.

In 2015, if history serves, it will barely bring in any revenue for the city at all.

Combine that with inconclusive evidence they do much to promote safety at intersections and a scandal that has embroiled the company to which Bremerton pays $432,000 a year in operational fees, and the cameras may not last much longer. Mayor Patty Lent has signaled she’d get rid of them if they become a cost for the city.

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2. Bremerton’s rate of violent crime is plummeting

I rode with Bremerton Police in every shift possible the first year I worked at the Kitsap Sun. I’d routinely witness drunken fights, domestic assaults and even a Tasering (interesting if sad story, ask me about it sometime).

That was 2005, the year Bremerton held the dubious distinction of being no. 1 in violent crime per capita in the state of Washington.

Yes, Bremerton still has its share of crime. But its violent crime rate is half what it was in 2005 — 11.7 incidents per thousand then to 5.7 in 2013, according to FBI statistics. That’s a pretty remarkable drop. There’s lots of reasons why — rising homeownership, renewed parks and focused policing to name a few — which you can learn about here.

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3. Those tires won’t remove themselves

Spare a tire? The police shooting range west of Gorst, within Bremerton’s watershed property, has plenty of them. In fact, the city has spent in excess of $12,000 removing them about 8,500 of them, and more may be spent.

The police department thought they might need them for training but at a certain point, Public Works Director Chal Martin said they had to go. How they got there was actually even investigated by a separate police agency. Ultimately, no wrongdoing was assigned.

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4. It’s the water

Meanwhile in the Bremerton watershed, another little brouhaha cascaded from the headwaters of the Union River. The city built a dam in the 1950s and has used the water above it as the bulk of the drinking water for around 1/3 of Kitsap County’s residents.

Because the lake is remote — like 3,000 acres around it remote — the state doesn’t require Bremerton to filter its water supply (though the water is treated with chlorine and ultraviolet light).

City officials are adamant the land around it stay preserved. The city went so far as to release photos this year of trespassers — poachers, hikers and bikers — using the area.

Some wonder if the city couldn’t lighten up a bit, and a countywide trail is being contemplated for the total 8,000 acre parcel the city owns, where the city also has a golf course and the police shooting range (and by the way, anyone need some extra tires?).

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5. The towers were for the hoses

Why, when you see old fire stations do they have towers that rise into the sky from their basic structures?


Turns out fire hoses used to be made of cotton, which needed to be hung up to dry after fighting a fire. If they weren’t dried properly, they’d mold. Today’s hoses are synthetic.

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6. There’s redwoods in them there sewer towers

Speaking of towers — a somewhat routine at the city’s sewer treatment plant contains an interesting tidbit.

Some giant filters made of redwood trees are being retired out. While the new material is plastic , the redwoods, from the 1980s, have broken down but may have a second life as beauty bark (Or bark. Or mulch. Or whatever term you like).

Public works officials say the city will use it around its properties, maybe even parks, if its environmentally safe to do so.

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7.  Bye bye Maple Leaf, may your sign be immortal

Yes, we said goodbye to the Maple Leaf Tavern in 2014. The place was unrivaled in its around 77 years tending bar in Kitsap County. But the now fabled Lower Wheaton Way watering hole closed due to nonpayment of $25,000 in taxes, in 2010. And city engineers saw it as a chance to clear some needed room for the Lower Wheaton Way project earlier this year, tearing it down for $18,000.

Breakfast at Sally’s author Richard LeMieux called its slanted floor — you have to admit it had been worn down in recent years — the feel of “one of those oblique fun houses with a moving floor” that actually got more stable as you drank.

Rest in peace, Maple Leaf.

I get asked a lot about if its storied sign was preserved. The answer: yes. It is in the capable hands of the Kitsap Historical Society.

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8. The ‘Mo-Sai’ Bank Building has the state’s most complex Carillon system

A longtime curiosity of mine was satisfied when I was learning about the bells on the roof of the Chase Bank building at Fifth and Pacific this year. That odd facade on the building giving it the look of a vertical beach? It’s called Mo-Sai, and the architects used this rock peppering as a way to reflect the Northwest’s rugged terrain. Huh.

It certainly is unique. But up on its roof are the speakers that play Bremerton’s Carillon system. Probably the most complete in the Pacific Northwest. Yep, they’re real bells. And they played on a snowy Christmas Eve, 1971, for the first time.

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9. So that all may play

When all was said and done, around $500,000 and countless volunteer hours had made Kitsap County’s first all-accessible playground possible.

The playground, inside Bremerton’s Evergreen-Rotary Park, is almost always packed when the weather’s nice. Hard to believe how quickly it came along — a testament to what the community can do when it comes together.

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10. Mudslides in Schley Canyon

Fish passable? What about a mudslide? The state views Schley Canyon, that land cavity that cuts Manette from the rest of East Bremerton (or does it? The boundaries, to be fair, are unclear) as one fish could head up, or fish passable. The city says the little crevasse’s just a drainage and it doesn’t need to pay millions of dollars to replace the 1927 culvert over it at Lower Wheaton Way.

But the canyon has had a slide once when rains get too heavy. A geologist told me the canyon’s probably not a huge slide hazard. But it’s something Mayor Patty Lent said recently she’d like to further examine to be sure.

Honorable mentions:

  • *Many are just convinced the apartments at 704 Chester Avenue are haunted. Even the skeptics have to agree the building does have a long, and sometimes spooky history. It served as the site of Harrison’s first hospital and was later converted into apartments. Bremerton native and Washington State Legislator Speaker of the House Frank Chopp’s low-income housing nonprofit improved the complex in the early 2000s, but residents there still say there’s still strange noises at odd hours.
  • *No new homes — or any structures — can be built out over the waters of Puget Sound. But the homes that remain on the water near the Bremerton Boardwalk enjoy a “grandfathered” and can stay for as long as they’d like as long as they’re maintained.

Are there any I missed you’d like to add?

Presenting: The Bremerton City Council’s 2014 Year in Verse

Like this guy, you'll want to grab some coffee for this.
Like this guy, you’ll want to grab some coffee for this. (Photo taken on Manette Bridge.) 

And now, I present to you, without further ado, the Bremerton City Council’s 2014 year in verse. Get ready for a poetic fix about your city government.

The Bremerton Council, began this past year,
with a reduction in districts, only seven voices to hear,
A Council of nine, was downgraded by two
Reduced by the voters, in a quiet little coup.

The Council took up the call, on many city issues,
Some mad, some glad, some requiring some tissues.
The Pacific Avenue project was wrapping up fast,
But its cost overruns left Council members aghast.

Why did the work require so much more funding?
Public works said disregard all this number-crunching,
There was nothing we could do, it was the clay that was crunchy;
It cost a lot, but look now, the street’s much more lovely.

They shrugged and moved on, headed north up Wheaton Way,
Where it was the planning commission that had something to say.
At Wheaton and Riddell, construction had been restricted,
Higher densities envisioned, but developers resisted,
the Council killed the sub area with a swipe of the pen,
And within the same year, the cranes came again.

Councilman Younger then decided, that it was time,
To put raccoons in his crosshairs, and make it a bigger fine,
To keep feeding those critters, which get freaky in groups,
And haven’t you heard, of the scary stuff they poop?

But if the raccoons brought a 7-0 vote,
Washington Avenue would prove the opposite result.
Option 1, option 3? What the heck do we pick?
Meeting after meeting, nothing seemed to stick,
When the dust cleared, the Council chose the plan,
That looked awfully similar to the one they began.

Then who should appear but the city’s police chief,
Who continued his mission, of giving thieves grief,
To the Council he said, I cannot guarantee,
The safety of passengers driven by cabbies,
But the chief wasn’t through, and asked the Council to bring,
Curbs on morning drunks, and a ban on panhandling.

Out of nowhere it seemed, a proposal was sent,
to allow many a gambler to play to their heart’s content,
But almost the whole Council had the same thing to say,
for the Callow Avenue neighborhood, a Casino? “No way!”

The Council resurrected a plan from last year,
to rename a street for Martin Luther King here.
So what if it’s short, the Council would decide,
Let’s name something for Dr. King, and make it bonafide.

In the fall the mayor’s budget was wrapped in a bow,
New firefighters would help reduce the overtime blow,
But police cameras would wait given records act woes,
And no changes to the auditor, stop stepping on his toes.

For 2015 the Council will see,
another eventful year, no doubt some controversy,
On many different issues, they’re sure to take a look,
and who knows? Maybe we’re lucky, they’ll finally Facebook.

Blogger’s note: I hope you enjoyed this year’s verses. For the 2013 edition, click here.

Because it’s the most wonderful time of the year

Carlisle II Loading for the cruise to see Santa on his sailboat in Dyes Inlet


Here in Bremerton, we don’t take the holidays for granted. Take, for instance, the 33rd annual Special People’s Cruise, in which boaters at the Bremerton Yacht Club — for the 33rd year in a row — gave their guests Dec. 7 a ride around Puget Sound.


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Or what about the 25 or so people who went out to grave sites at Ivy Green Cemetery to clean them in preparation for the Wreaths Across America event?

And there’s more to come, too. How about Salish Soap Co., whose owner, Dana Stephens Littell, is collecting clothing and toys for four children in our community? (More on that at her Facebook page.)

There is our Bellringer fund, which has already raised close to $40,000 this year.

There is the pop-up street store, which on Dec. 23-24 at Sixth and Broadway, in which all of the yard sale items are free. (Remaining items will be donated to charities.)

But there’s so much more here in Bremerton that residents here do at the holidays. So please: help me to add to this list! I want to showcase the generosity of this community here.

The tide is high but we’re holding on


The tides have been quite high these past few days, surpassing 13 feet on a few occasions. Here’s a few photos around the Port Washington Narrows in Bremerton from this morning, near the high mark about 8 a.m.

For a couple schedule, go here.

The tide should subside a bit in the next couple of weeks. But believe it or not, it will surge again later this month. The tide will actually be the highest on Christmas Day — slated for a 13.76.

If you have photos of the high tide, don’t hesitate to send them my way to post.
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Friday’s festivities in Bremerton

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Here comes Friday night. I’ve already mentioned many of the big festivities downtown tonight, as well as the appearance of chef-restauranteur Renee Erickson. But there’s much more going on, and here’s a running list to help you out. Did I forget something? Please let me know.

Fingers Duke Design Studio presents the artwork of Sean Dietrich (pictured), 523 Fourth Street. Bottom line: the ‘Industricide’ artist is ridiculously talented. Time: 6-9 p.m.

FROG Soap‘s grand opening and ribbon cutting, 530 Fifth Street. (Here’s a story the Kitsap Sun wrote about this environmentally conscious business.) Time: 4 p.m.

Admiral Theater Presents Livewire Theater, 515 Pacific Avenue. Tickets are $18 to $55 and a family pack is $40. Dinner’s 5:30 p.m. and show’s at 7 p.m.

Ish Vintage Clothing & Costume‘s Sixth Annual Art & Craft Show Local, handmade goods paired with live music and window models. Time: 5-8 p.m.

Mistarian Roses‘ Second Annual Student Art Show, 519 Fourth Street: first exhibitions by Stephen Voyles, Chloe O’Laughlin and Maggie Babb, students from Olympic College and NCAD. Live music to go with. Time: 5-8 p.m. 

Isella Salon & Spas Eighth Anniversary, 530 Fourth Street: Gift and service specials, live music, sample spa services and giveaways. Time: 5-8 p.m.

Viva Flow Yoga‘s Christmas Party, 515 Fourth Street: Complete with free Henna for guests. Time: 5-8 p.m.

Bremerton City Nursery’s Holiday Social, 912 Adele Avenue: Enjoy hors devours, Harvey’s Hot buttered rum and assorted desserts at the annual event. There’s also going to be a drawing for a $50 gift certificate. Time: 5-8 p.m.

Corner Coffee & Cafe’s Open Mic Night, 435 Pacific Avenue, plus the music of The Folkers. Time: 5-8 p.m.

Tami Sioux’s Open House, 658 Pleasant Avenue. Gathering at her home and studio. Time: 4-8 p.m.

The Kitsap Community Food Co-op at Toro Lounge, 315 Pacific Avenue: The co-op is hosting an art show this month, to include a piece it inspired. Time: 5-8 p.m.

Winterfest, Magic in Manette headline a busy Bremerton Friday

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 3.44.27 PMSanta Claus is double-booked, it turns out, between downtown and Manette on Friday evening. He won’t be the only one with a busy schedule. There are so many events happening between 5-8 p.m. around the city, it will be hard to get to them all. So here’s my roundup. If you have more to add, please drop me a note at

Santa will arrive via fire truck to the Puget Sound Naval Museum by the ferry terminal at 5:30 p.m. A tree lighting there will follow, as will the sounds of the Bremerton High School marching band. Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 3.44.20 PM

In Manette, Santa will arrive at 5:15 p.m. with the Ice Princess. A tree lighting there won’t happen until 7 p.m. (at the corner of E. 11th and Scott Avenue) but in the meantime, photos can be taken with Santa courtesy of Aubin Ahrens Photography. (All they ask is a donation of food, warm coats or cash for local food banks.)

Back downtown, Santa photos will be available from 6-7 p.m. by Hudson Photography at the Kitsap Historical Society on Fourth Street.

There will be horse drawn carriage rides downtown at Burwell and Pacific and free refreshments will be served at the Evergreen Children’s Theater & Aurora Valentinetti Puppet Museum, 257 Fourth Street.

Of boats, whales and walruses

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Bremerton will be hopping on Friday night. Christmas trees will be lit downtown and in Manette and art walk will be in full swing, among other festivities. I’ll be showcasing a few in advance here at the blog, starting with a special visit by acclaimed chef and Seattle Restauranteur Renee Erickson.

Erickson, who’s started a number of Puget Sound area restaurants — The Whale Wins, Boat Street Cafe, The Walrus and the Carpenter and Barnacle — recently released a cookbook she’s promoting around the country. Her whistle stop here begins at The Weekender in Manette, from 6-8 p.m., followed by The Honor Bar near Evergreen-Rotary Park at 8 p.m.

She’s a huge star in the culinary world right now, with big write ups in Bon Appetit and the Seattle Times.

“We are incredibly excited and fortunate to have this event in our town,” said Alan Davis, co-owner of The Honor Bar.

To RSVP for the event, go to the Facebook invitation here.