Monthly Archives: March 2015

A Manette miracle: Lower Wheaton will soon get paved


Somebody pinch me. Months overdue, the Lower Wheaton Way project is nearing completion. The $3.4 million overhaul of the road, between Lebo Boulevard and the Manette Bridge, is set for its final push April 11, when crews will do the final paving of the stretch.

It’s been a long time coming. The project, which began in spring 2014, was slated to be completed at the end of 2014. But it will soon be done, assuming the weather cooperates.


The city plans to close down the entire stretch the whole day. I repeat: you do not want to try to drive anywhere near Lower Wheaton Way on April 11.

But of course, Mother Nature will play a role.

“The limiting factor in paving this time of year is the weather,” said Eduardo Aban, the city’s engineer in charge of the project. “The surface temperature must be 45 degrees and rising, and the surface must be dry. If the weather is unfavorable, we’ll target the following Saturday until the weather complies with the specification.”

If all goes well, the week before paving — April 6-10 — will be used for prep work. That means asphalt grinding and “prelevel-paving” to get the road ready for the big closure. So expect delays then too.

Already, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the tall, green street lights have been illuminated at night time, as well as many residents taking advantage of the new sidewalks on both sides of the stretch. Remember, this was a highway installed in the 1920s that has never had much in the way of sidewalk access, let alone 10-foot pedestrian walkways that run the length of the East Bremerton portion of the Bridge to Bridge trail.

I’ll keep you posted with construction updates.



Bremerton councilman: location matters when it comes to homicide

Jerry McDonald.
Jerry McDonald.

Bremerton City Councilman Jerry McDonald didn’t like how most media reported on the killings of a woman and child early Saturday at Kariotis Mobile Home Park.

His issue: they were reported as occurring in Bremerton, when they are outside city limits.

“Poorly reported stories such as this do nothing for our reputation and property values,” said McDonald, who represents the district including downtown and Manette.

Here’s what he posted:

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After posting it to several community sites, the comments began to roll in. Many accused McDonald of being insensitive in a time of tragedy.

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Many of the postings were removed by Monday.

McDonald told me Monday that he in no way meant to downplay the horrific nature of the crime. But he wants media outlets, including the Kitsap Sun, to use different terms when describing areas beyond the city.

“It’s absolutely a tragic event,” he said. “But it’s not in Bremerton.”

This isn’t the first time someone’s raised the issue. It has been discussed at recent City Council meetings in regard to other crimes. McDonald said he wanted to tackle the issue quickly on Saturday in an effort to change the reporting from the get-go. He has talked with officials at several Seattle broadcast stations.

Bremerton’s city borders zigzag all over the place, ending at Riddell Road going north. But Bremerton is often regarded by media as including a much wider swath of territory. And, if you consider the postal codes, Bremerton goes all the way west to Seabeck, and north to the Kitsap County Fairgrounds.

I did a story last fall that showed how Bremerton’s rate of violent crime has indeed plummeted in the past 10 years. But when measured against that of unincorporated Kitsap County — which includes the area where this crime occurred — Bremerton’s is still higher in rate of violent crime (see below).

But does it even matter? McDonald thinks it does. He believes Bremerton is attempting to shed a reputation as having high crime.

“Those are the things people remember, the tragedies,” he said.

Do you agree?

Former Seattle arcade coming to Bremerton


Mike Cichy has been seeking a new locale for his arcade business since reluctantly closing the Seattle Waterfront Arcade last September.

He’s found one on Bremerton’s Fourth Street.

The fourth generation arcade owner, who lives in Illahee, signed a lease last week and has already begun remodeling a space on the 600 block. His plan includes roughly 40 games covering 2,000 square feet, along with a space for birthday parties.

“There will be something for everybody,” says Cichy, 36. “From toddlers to grandparents.”

Cichy, a fourth-generation arcade owner, would prefer to still have the arcade on the Seattle waterfront. Last year, he was given a 30-day notice to vacate from Pier 57 by its owners. Cichy said that redevelopment on the waterfront made finding a different space near impossible. He didn’t want to pay too high a price for space but also didn’t want to settle for a spot devoid of foot traffic.


So he looked closer to home.

“We were up in the air as far as what to do,” he said.

It wasn’t Cichy’s first time looking, and even finding, arcade spaces in Bremerton. He’s leased games inside the now-defunct Kart Trax on Wheaton Way and at the Bremerton Ice Center. He originally moved here with his wife, Joanna, who is a Bremerton native. The couple married in 2000.

His family has opened gaming centers all over the Puget Sound area, most recently the Seattle Waterfront Arcade. Cichy’s father, Gary, became manager at what was then called “Quarters” on the waterfront in 1994. The family bought Quarters and renamed it the Seattle Waterfront Arcade in 2002.

After looking at numerous locations in downtown Bremerton, he settled on one formally held by The Rockit Roost, an eclectic rockabilly and beer store that went out of business there in 2014. The building is owned by Timothy Stimac, who also owns the salon across the street from it.

He liked best the supportive atmosphere among business owners on Fourth Street, anchored by the 10-screen movieplex SEEfilm, for a location.

“I like the neighborhood feeling,” he said. “There’s a real sense of community down there.”

Ideally, he’d like to operate the Bremerton location and find another on, or near, the Seattle waterfront. But he feels he’s found a permanent home for his business.

“I’m looking longterm,” he said. “I’d like to be here 20 years — or more.”

No date has yet been set for the arcade’s opening but Cichy would like to be in business before June if possible.


IN PHOTOS: Washington Avenue, past and present

Photo by Larry Steagall.
Photo by Larry Steagall.

About 40 people came out for the third Story Walk in Bremerton of the year, meeting at Evergreen-Rotary Park on a surprisingly sunny Saturday afternoon. This time, the focus was the $3.5 million Washington Avenue project, and after an overview, we charted a course to the southeast.

Photo by Mark Henson.
Photo by Mark Henson.

I found today that there’s a pretty defined line between critics and supporters of the project. It goes like this:

Critics do not like the idea of having less of a road in and out of Bremerton (via the Manette Bridge) and believe if the city is to grow, this won’t be a helpful endeavor.

Photo by Mark Henson.
Photo by Mark Henson.

Supporters believe that the road’s eastern sidewalk has gotten so bad, drivers can afford to wait just a little longer in traffic if it means that you won’t feel like you’re going to be seriously injured if you take a wrong step.

One curious aspect of the project to me is the history behind it all. This isn’t the first time Washington Avenue’s capacity was debated and then changed — in the late 1960s, it was expanded from two lanes to four lanes.

Now, we’re going back down to two.

I have long sought documentation of the late 60s project from state and city officials, to no avail. But on Friday, I got an email from Bremerton resident Jim Herdman.

“Last night I ran across some old pictures of the widening of Washington Avenue in the late 1960’s,” he wrote to me. “Our old house that my wife and I lived in for thirty years (1974 to 2004) was located at 611 Washington, second house in from the corner of 6th and Washington.  My folks bought the house in 1957 and owned the property when the construction began.  The house on the corner was the old Red Cross Chapter before they later moved to Pacific Avenue.”

Herdman dropped off a set of photos showing construction crews tearing into yards to make the roadway bigger. I share them with you here with his permission.

The road before construction.
The road before construction.
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The work begins. Equipment goes right into residents’ yards.


Digging the hole for the retaining wall we all know and love today.
Digging the hole for the retaining wall we all know and love today.

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The road takes its new shape.


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Construction for the new project starts up in April; city officials hope the road work is done by the end of the year.

Thanks to all who came out for the story walk; mark your calendars for April 25, when we get a closer look at the Bridge to Bridge trail.

Photo by Mark Henson.
Photo by Mark Henson.

Here’s some links to our past Story Walks:

The meandering Madrona Forest

Redwood Rendezvous in West Bremerton

Fourth Street’s Economic Divide


Come walk Washington Avenue with me Saturday


On Saturday afternoon, I invite you to come walk and tour Bremerton’s Washington Avenue, a road that this year will be completely torn up and put back together again. As part of my monthly Story Walk series, we’ll explore all the facets of this $3.5 million project, including:

  • Where the roadway will shrink from four lanes to two, to make room for bike lanes, lighting and wider sidewalks.
  • How the project makes obsolete an environmentally troublesome beach sewer pipe, and what crews will do with it.
  • Why Evergreen-Rotary Park, too, will benefit from the project and connect the park to its new portion at the Kitsap 9/11 memorial.
  • And more!

We’ll have plenty of time for questions and Bremerton Public Works Director Chal Martin will be along to go over project details as well. The tour is free and I hope you can make it.

Photo by Robin Henderson.
Photo by Robin Henderson.

Here’s the facts:

What: I’ll lead a walk detailing every inch of the $3.5 million Washington Avenue project.

When: 1 p.m. Saturday

Where: It begins at the parking lot near the 9/11 Memorial at Evergreen-Rotary Park at Pacific Avenue and 13th Street. The walk will cover no more than 2 miles but be prepared for hills and possible rain.

Here’s links to our previous story walks:

The meandering Madrona Forest

Redwood Rendezvous in West Bremerton

Fourth Street’s Economic Divide



How much garbage do we create in Kitsap County?

One way you can track economic cycles is by following how much people throw away. When the economy is growing, the garbage, too, grows. In recession? The amount of trash falls, as you can see in the graph above.

I learned this curious correlation in researching my story about how one in five Bremerton Waste Management customers is behind on their bills. In Bremerton, as well as Port Orchard and Poulsbo, garbage collection is mandatory, regardless of payment. With an estimated $338,000 in missing payments, Waste Management officials have approached the city of Bremerton in an effort to find ways to get people to settle up.

In Kitsap County and on Bainbridge, you don’t have to get curbside service. But all the garbage in the county goes to one place: the Olympic View Transfer Station near Bremerton National Airport.

I interviewed Pat Campbell, Kitsap County’s manager for Solid Waste, for the story. Sure enough, the amount of garbage in Kitsap peaked in 2007, with 218,285 tons. It fell to as low as 176,398 in 2012 but has started rising again, with 187,914 tons of trash in 2014.

“With the economic downturn, everyone experienced a huge decrease,” said Campbell, who noted that with consumer purchases and new construction plummeting, there’s not as much waste generated.

But regardless of the amount, where does it all go? All garbage in Kitsap, as well as most of the stuff in Washington, is put on a train to Arlington, Oregon, a town on the Columbia River, where it goes to a Waste Management-owned landfill.

As for recycling, there’s a number of companies in Kitsap who handle it. For statistics on our recycling habits, check out the Washington State Department of Ecology.

(Special thanks to Reporter Tad Sooter for putting together the retail sales graphic.)

Honor roll: Bremerton bar expands, closes coffee shop


The Honor Bar is on a roll. Unfortunately, that comes at a price for those of us who rather enjoyed the Scout Cafe, with its espresso bar and bakery.

The two establishments, both owned by Alan and Jodi Davis, are housed under the same roof at 1223 McKenzie Avenue near Evergreen-Rotary Park. They’ll soon become just one. On Sunday, the Scout Cafe closed shop, so that its owners can expand the fast-growing Honor Bar into both spaces.

Popular as it was, the Scout Cafe was hampering the potential of the Honor Bar, Alan Davis told me.

“The cafe was great but the honor bar is the driving force,” he said.

The couple will take the downstairs space that used to house the cafe for additional Honor Bar seating, bringing total capacity up from 30 to about 50. During summer months, a garden out back can grow it even more.

Davis said they’ll put in a draft beer system downstairs and make the old espresso bar into a cooking exhibition area, something he once had while a chef at Queen City Grill in Seattle.

Davis called the Scout closure and Honor Bar expansion bittersweet, but said it would give him a chance to enhance and grow the Honor Bar menu, something he’s really looking forward to. Look for more variety, on top of already popular items like the bar’s oysters and ribeye steaks.

I expressed concern about the biscuits (Scout Cafe always had the most delicious buttermilk biscuits). Davis reassured me that they’re likely to show up on the Honor Bar menu in the form of Strawberry Shortcake, and the like. So I feel better now. They’ll also continue carrying Stumptown Coffee — you just won’t be able to drink it until 3 p.m. once the new space opens.

The Honor Bar will remain open Wednesday to Saturday from 5-11 p.m. while construction occurs. The revamped bar will be ready to go April 22, in time for the farmers market season, Davis said.

The Honor Bar’s backyard.

Barber putting ‘Bremerton on the map the right way’

Joshua Adams cuts Jonathan Mendoza’s hair.
Joshua Adams cuts Jonathan Mendoza’s hair.

A haircut’s not the only thing you’ll get at Joshua Adams’ barbershop on ML King Way in Bremerton. As it is in any respectable barbershop, there’s plenty of banter, good conversation and free advice.

“They come in here and spill their whole life story sometimes,” said Adams of Jae’s Barbershop. “When they leave here they feel better.”

But the bottom line, Adams will tell you, is that it’s all about the haircut. And you’d be hard pressed to find someone more enthusiastic about cutting hair than the 2006 Bremerton High School grad.

“Cutting hair changed my life,” he said.

He started out by going to Olympic College and taking with him a backpack full of clippers. As he grew his clientele, he turned his apartment in Erlands Point into a barbershop. Slowly but surely, Adams, trained at Bates College in Tacoma, got ready to get a bonafide shop.

For that, he turned to Emmanuel Apostolic Church, the church he grew up in, and its Opal Robertson Teen Center property. He’s mindful that in being there it is a Christian barbershop but above all, he strives for a welcoming place for a haircut and conversation.

“We’re not here to preach the word to you but we are barbers and we’re here to help,” he said.

Bishop Larry Robertson, pastor at Emmanuel Apostolic Church, said Adams is highly motivated to grow his business but also has a “kind heart” for the community.

“The thing about Josh is that he has a tremendous amount of drive,” Robertson said. “But he also knows that in order to be successful, you’ve got to be able to give back.”

Adams, who also has started a production company, held a fundraiser Friday at the Eagles on Sixth Street to raise money for back to school backpacks (he’s getting a jumpstart for next year). He’s also held several events that have given free haircuts to the homeless.

He lives by the motto: “Do it, dream it, wish it,” he said.

“We’re gonna put Bremerton on the map the right way,” he added.

Restaurant going swimmingly as Anthony’s manager departs


The Anthony’s restaurant in downtown Bremerton was one of those “pieces” to that revitalization puzzle former Mayor Cary Bozeman told us so much about this past decade. Now nine years after it opened, few can dispute it is one of the most successful aspects of redevelopment here, as evidenced by the throngs of visitors there most nights and weekends.

John Heidt (pictured) has gotten to watch it progress from within. He’s been general manager for its entire nine year history, but he’ll soon retire and hand over the reigns to someone else.

“I’m confident it will continue to do very well,” he said in a recent interview at the restaurant.

The Bremerton Anthony’s was successful from the start, he said, though it had its struggles through the Great Recession like most businesses. In 2014, the dip the recession had caused was finally in the rearview mirror, with sales back up to 2007 levels. In fact, Heidt said, 2014 was the best year ever for the location.

The waterfront is a different place than it was nine years ago, he said. He recalls, in 2006, that it was “just the conference center, Hampton Inn, and us.” Today, there’s a lot more going on downtown, where he both lives and works.

“It has completely changed,” he said. “It’s starting to come alive.”

Heidt has been with the company a long time. He got his first job as a server and bartender with Anthony’s in Everett in 1990. He rose through the ranks and found himself as general manager of the Point Defiance Anthony’s in 2005 when the opportunity to open a brand new restaurant came.

He’s enjoyed the Bremerton community, particularly his membership in the downtown Rotary.

“There’s a lot of great leaders in this community,” he said.

Heidt and his wife, Babsie, will soon leave for The Philippines, where they’ll live in retirement. He said he’ll miss Anthony’s, a restaurant group where many employees have careers there as lengthy as his. Depending on the time of year, the Sinclair Inlet location where Heidt works has a staff between 50 and 75.

“It’s like a big family,” he said.

East Bremerton encampment disbanded by police


City and public health officials are cracking down on another needle-filled encampment in Bremerton, this time on the east side of town near the Eastpark neighborhood. 

Police and representatives of the Kitsap Public Health District collected dozens of discarded drug needles from an area off Magnuson Way, according to Bremerton Police Chief Steve Strachan.

The cleanup comes little more than a week after a similar one in Forest Ridge Park.

There had been complaints about the campsites by Magnuson Way, including from the group of hikers that joined my story walk Feb. 28 in the Eastpark Nature Area. The photo above is from that day.

The camps will be cleaned up in the coming days. If it’s in the nature area, the city must clean it up. But it sounds like the camps are actually located where homes will be built in Eastpark, and thus cleanup is the responsibility of Highmark Homes, the owner of the land.

Strachan said that officers will be frequently patrolling the area to help put a stop to illegal camping and drug use there.