Monthly Archives: April 2016

Gulls to be evicted from Manette Bridge lampposts

gulls1_22247519_ver1.0_640_480Seagulls have officially worn out their welcome on the Manette Bridge’s lampposts. 

If you travel it often like I do, you’ve probably noticed an accumulation of gull doo-doo along the bridge’s grey concrete and green rails. From above, the birds perch on top of the lampposts and, well, do their business from there.

But their reign of raining poop on the bridge is coming to an end.

In early May, Bremerton Public Works crews will attach “bird deterrent” on the lampposts. This likely means those spike strips you see on other possible bird perches, including at the Bremerton ferry terminal.

The poo issue came to light last year, when the bird droppings had a banner year.

“This year, it seems like there’s a whole bunch more,” Bremerton Public Works Director Chal Martin told me last year, noting, “every single (lamppost) had a bird on it.”

Work is expected to take a day or so, and is scheduled for May 2 & 3.

Beat blast: a Manette water taxi, lead goosenecks and a sinking ship

From Bremerton, you can take a big ferry to Seattle, a littler one to Port Orchard and, at commute times, Annapolis.

But what about Manette? That’s the thought of two business owners, who’ve joined forces to create a closer connection between downtown Bremerton and Manette. Hear from both the Boat Shed’s Kathy Davis-Hayfield and the Manette Saloon’s Rebecca Taylor on this week’s beat blast about this new prospect.

Elsewhere on the blast:


Find out why the city is sounding the alarm about “gooseneck lead pipes.” To have yours tested, check out this Poulsbo lab.

Learn Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent’s latest efforts to solve downtown Bremerton’s parking problems.

Find out about the new foundation that’s been set up to support the city’s park system.

Discover which famed boat, which once carried Princess Elizabeth, is sinking at the Bremerton Marina.

Questions? Comments? I love the feedback. Query me at

In Bremerton, a rift in the Bigfoot-believer universe

Photo by Patrick Cooper.
Is that Bigfoot? Photo by Patrick Cooper.

Though he’s a Sasquatch aficionado, Patrick Cooper is passing on Bremerton’s Bigfoot conference this weekend.   

Too far-fetched, the Bremerton resident believes.

The second annual conference, held at the Baymont Inn & Suites starting tonight, is indeed intended to highlight an “alternative point of view,” about Bigfoot, conference host Matthew Johnson says. Cooper doesn’t buy it, and though he presented at the first annual event in 2015, he charges that the conference turned into a “side-show carnival.” Johnson calls believers like Cooper “old school,” who are unwilling to keep an open mind about different possibilities that surround the “Squatch.”

And therein lies the idealogical divide among some Bigfoot believers.

Cooper, who has been researching Bigfoot for the past 16 years, says he’s following evolutionary science. Searching for Sasquatch out along Hood Canal, he believes the creatures are simply descendants of a different evolutionary line.

Johnson, a clinical psychologist now living in Medford, Oregon, once held the same viewpoint. But an experience along a greenbelt near Puyallup in 2011 changed his mind. He and some friends say that they saw a Bigfoot and it “cloaked” as it passed them — they could see ferns still moving after the creature disappeared, and ultimately brushed past him.”

“No, we weren’t drinking, and no we weren’t drugging,” Johnson said.

The experience thrust him into a more paranormal mindset — that perhaps Bigfoot is a far more intelligent species whose DNA could even mix with something out of this world.

“They’re treating them like they’re dumb mountain apes,” he said of the old schoolers. “They’re just as smart out in the forest as we are in the cities.”

That was enough last year to convince Cooper to stay away this year.

“About half of the presenters were legitimate hardworking bigfooters but the slant of the conference last year was to set up to showcase supernatural hucksterism,” Cooper said.

Johnson says there’s plenty of “old school” conferences around the country and that his is meant to offer different viewpoints.

The schism will continue as both sides continue the search for the elusive creature.

If you go:

A panel of the nation’s top recognized Bigfoot researchers will speak at a three-day conference starting tonight. Tickets are $50-$95. For more information go to

Bremerton brings back the corporal

The Bremerton Police Department is adding a new rank — corporal — in between officer and sergeant. Seven men were promoted to that position Wednesday: Aaron Elton Tim Garrity; Steven Polonsky; Todd Byers, James D. Miller; Dahle Roessel and Rodney Rauback.

Next time you get stopped by a Bremerton police officer, take note of those stripes you see on his or her sleeve. 

OK, so that might not be the first thing on your mind if you’re being pulled over. But the sleeve can tell you a lot about an officer’s rank.

In Bremerton, it’s becoming a bit more nuanced. An officer who makes the rank of sergeant has three blue “stripes” on the arm (see photo below). But here in the city, you’ll soon see seven officers who have two stripes (see photo above).

Those seven are the department’s first corporals, a position that is roughly between an officer and a sergeant. The Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office actually did away with the position years ago but Bremerton is bringing them back.

The reason, Bremerton Police Chief Steve Strachan explained at Wednesday’s City Council meeting, was born out of a top-to-bottom review of the police department completed three years ago.

That review found flaws in the former “MPO” or “Master Patrol Officer” program, whose participants could cover for sergeants to run the shift. The review also found that not many officers were looking to get into management roles, Strachan said Wednesday.

Strachan is hopeful the new rank not only introduces the seven corporals to leadership roles but that it it inspires them to go even higher.

These will be the leaders of the department long after folks like me are gone,” Strachan told the Council.

The department is also bringing back a third lieutenant position — the next step up from a sergeant —  which had been the victim of budget cuts a few years ago.

There’s a lot of open positions right now in the police department. Lt. Pete Fisher left to be chief of the Fife Police Department, so they’ll have to fill two lieutenant spots. And the city held a retirement ceremony Wednesday for Randy Olson, a longtime sergeant and officer who’d been with the city since 1988.

“Part of me will always be a Bremerton police officer,” Olson told the Council.

Sergeant Randy Olson (left) is congratulated by Bremerton Police Chief Steve Strachan.
Sergeant Randy Olson (left) is congratulated by Bremerton Police Chief Steve Strachan. Note Olson’s three stripes.

Beat blast: A dirty creek, ‘interactive’ pot store and plans for a playfield

Think of it as our own mini-version of the Elwha Dam removal. Gorst Creek has long been plugged up with the contents of a former garbage dump just east of the creek’s crossing with Highway 3. A state biologist called it a “disgusting site.”


An EPA-led and Navy-funded cleanup will remove around 8,000 truckloads of garbage from the site, restoring the creek’s natural flow.

Elsewhere in the beat blast this week, you’ll learn:

The different ways of Bremerton’s newest pot store, which will have its grand opening on April 20;

The plans for the Manette Playfield’s $1.4 million renovation;

What member of President Obama’s cabinet showed up last week on the USS John C. Stennis, Bremerton’s home-ported carrier;

What’s going to happen to ensure rocks don’t continue falling off the Chase Building in downtown Bremerton.

Comments and questions? Yes, please. I am at


‘Nice Bremerton Couple’ gets spotlight on NBC’s Today Show

Photo from the Today Show's Instagram account.
Photo from the Today Show’s Instagram account.

If you happened to watch the Today Show last Monday, you may have noticed there was a “Nice Bremerton Couple” in the audience. 

The sign East Bremerton residents Bud and Linda Witte made — a repurposing of the NBC acronym — not only made the show but its Instagram account. It was a simple goal of the couple, who are both lifelong area residents.

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“It was just fun to see them in person,” Linda Witte said. “And shake Al Roker’s hand.”

They had to wake up and get down to Rockefeller Plaza early in the morning — some had even been there since 4 a.m. — to get a good enough spot behind the show’s studio.

Part of their motivation was to bring back memories for some students of PineCrest Elementary, where their daughter Kim teaches and where the retired couple both volunteer.

As for the “Nice Bremerton Couple” sign itself, Linda Witte said it just made a good fit. There was one point on their trip where the seed may have been planted, however. The Wittes dined at Ellen’s Stardust Diner on Broadway, a place where the waitstaff not only brings food to your table, but also sings while they do it.

They were both impressed with the kindness of New Yorkers and felt our area, too, is one known for its nice people. They ended up chatting with one employee at Ellen’s for some time.

The employee could tell they were out-of-towners. But before he left their table, he complemented them.

“You’re a nice couple,” he told them.

Here’s some pictures they got along the way.


IMG_1892 IMG_1914 IMG_1900 IMG_1894

A pouch-full of opossums saved on Naval Avenue

Kitsap Sun photographer Meegan M. Reid was in our newsroom early Friday morning when she heard a harrowing call come over the police scanner. 

“Something about babies not going to make it,” was about all she could make out, she told me. 

She rushed to the scene, on Naval Avenue, and found police and a woman named Lynne Weber, a wildlife rehabilitation specialist for the West Sound Wildlife Shelter — along with a whole bunch of baby opossums.

Sadly, their mother was struck by a vehicle while she was carrying them in her pouch, Reid said. The mother was badly injured but the babies were flung from her pouch, and many appeared to be OK. All were taken to the Bainbridge Island wildlife shelter for treatment.

Update: The mother did not survive the crash but the babies did, Weber noted on Facebook Sunday.

A journey through Ivy Green’s history


For about $3,000*, you could be buried at Ivy Green, Bremerton’s municipal cemetery. The hallowed grounds, whose grave sites powerfully convey the history of early and mid-century Bremerton, still has about 2,000 plots left before its vacancy vanishes.

On Saturday, about 130 people joined me for the latest Kitsap Sun Story Walk. We were so fortunate to have a group of speakers with a great knowledge of the approximately 14-acre site. Here’s some of the things we learned along the way.

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Original Charleston Cemetery map. Courtesy of Russell Warren.

Ivy Green Cemetery didn’t start out as just one burial ground. It was two: Charleston, a separate city at the time, established the first burial ground in 1897. Bremerton followed five years later, according to Fredi Perry’s book “Bremerton and PSNY.” When the two cities merged in 1928, the cemeteries also became one.

Ivy Green includes one of only 10 Tomb of the Unknown Soldier memorials in America, Bremerton resident and memorial preservationist Mick Hersey pointed out. Bremerton’s was born when a traveling exhibit actually stopped in the city and decided to stay for good. It’s a replica one-half the size of the original in Arlington National Cemetery. There’s differing views on when it got here, which we are trying to sort out.

One last note on the Tomb: no one is buried there.

The cemetery includes a Medal of Honor recipient: John Nibbe. At age 17, Nibbe stood his ground aboard the USS Peterel as Confederate forces in the Yazoo River of Mississippi fired on the ship. Just about everyone died. But not him. Awarded the honor by President Lincoln, Nibbe then set sail (via Cape Horn) for the west coast, first coming to Point White on Bainbridge Island. In 1896 he opened a general store in downtown Bremerton and also served as postmaster there. He died in 1902 of Bright’s Disease.

Saratoga Memorial.
Saratoga Memorial.

A grave surrounded by Rhododendrons is perhaps the cemetery’s best known. It honors 64 people who died aboard the USS Saratoga when it came under heavy fire from Japanese forces during World War II in 1945. The ship limped back to Bremerton with dead sailors and marines aboard. Those who could not be identified were buried in this collective grave. Hersey explained that it was not until 1992 that the remains were identified.

The cemetery is full of prominent Bremertonians of yesteryear. They include Benjamin and Angie Harrison, creators of the hospital that still bears their name; Charles Dietz, a businessman whose Dietz building still stands in downtown Bremerton; and Warren Smith, a prominent landowner who is the namesake of both Warren Avenue and Smith Cove in Evergreen-Rotary Park.

Wesley Harris’ gravesite.

One of my favorite things about our Story Walks is that we all learn together. It also gave me an idea: a digital map of the grave sites, something I hope we can produce in the future.

If you were along, I encourage you to leave a fact or story you learned below. In the meantime, I’ll get to planning our next walk for May.

*The cost of burial there is 25 percent more if you live outside city limits.

Forgive my handwriting.
Forgive my handwriting.

Bremerton’s Chase building will have its rocks checked


No rock will be left untouched. 

You may have noticed scaffolding now surrounds the Chase Bank building on Pacific Avenue (pictured). There’s good reason for that, as the building’s property managers are embarking on a two-week project that will secure every rock in its rather unique facade and will add a sealant and epoxy over them to ensure they don’t go anywhere in the future.


“We’re going to make sure the exterior is maintained,” said Melissa Marsh, a senior property manager with Beverly Hills, California-based Cardinal Equities. Cardinal manages the building for its owner, Bremerton Capital Group, also based in Southern California.

Marsh said that other options to remake the facade proved too costly. So, for those fans of the Mo-Sai architecture, you’re in luck: it’s here to stay. I was amazed at the range of the 80+ Facebook responses Wednesday when I asked a simple question: what do you think of the building’s facade?

“I love it, and so do my kids,” Sara Lyn commented. “I like the earthy, Natural feel to it, versus brick and mortar everything, and my kids love to examine the cool rocks!”

“Hate it,” Will Maupin wrote. “Looks like a cheap 1960s apartment building.”

And every opinion in between.

One thing’s for sure: it’s recognizable. As Craig Johnson noted on my Facebook post, which contained an oddly angled picture (above) of the facade, “Notice how everyone knows what it is, even from a somewhat abstract photo?”

Photo contributed by Colleen Monroe.
Photo contributed by Colleen Monroe.

The building was built in the site of a former Methodist church (pictured) which was demolished in the mid-1960s. In its place first rose the First Federal Savings & Loan. Its architects built it in the Mo-Sai style (see pictured ad), a series of quartz rocks that filled the sides of the seven story building like some kind of a vertical beach. (The city’s Carillon bells also happen to ring from the top of the building).

At some point, a rock or two was bound to become loose from the facade.

In November, staff at the Department of Labor and Industries — which has an office in the building — expressed concern after a customer brought in three rocks he said had fallen off the building.

Photo contributed by Colleen Monroe.
Photo contributed by Colleen Monroe.

“As you can imagine, we are concerned that a rock could potentially fall on a pedestrian,” Lori Oberlander, an office manager with L&I, told the city’s Department of Community Development in an email.

City staff attempted to investigate, but had no way of contacting the man without his name or contact information. 

The property management company decided to nip any potential problems in the bud. They’ve hired Applied Restoration to perform the masonry work over the next two weeks. Each rock on the building will be individually checked, to be on the safe side, Marsh said. I’ll keep an eye on the project as it proceeds.

Lastly, I must add the pun-filled Facebook comments of Jeff Coughlin, who happens to be a NASA scientist living in Bremerton: “I think it rocks, but we probably take it for granite. A change could be gneiss. Perhaps clean the slate and lime it with some sort of trendy new schist.” Oh, dear.

Photo by Meegan M. Reid.
Photo by Meegan M. Reid.

Beat blast: Broad humor, a 19th century cemetery and 21st century ferry boat

The cultural phenomenon that is the Broad Humor Festival is coming to Bremerton this weekend. This week’s Bremerton Beat Blast hooks you up with the two women who made it happen. A full calendar of events is pictured below.

Elsewhere on this week’s blast:


Our Saturday Story Walk will cover the grounds of Ivy Green Cemetery, which dates back to the 19th century and includes graves of Civil War veterans;

The newest ferry — one destined for Bremerton — has been made whole.

The famous and notorious Arsenal Way property that was once littered has seen a big change this past week;

A Bremerton’s couple’s “nice” trip to New York (and what does that mean?).

Questions or comments? I seek them. Write me at