Monthly Archives: April 2014

Holiday retail sales in Kitsap rivaled pre-recession highs


The 2013 holiday season was kind to Kitsap retailers, according to number released Tuesday by the state Department of Revenue.

Retail trade, which includes traditional stores, dealerships and online sellers, generated $487,117,141 in taxable sales in October, November and December. That was a 5 percent improvement over the fourth quarter of 2012. Car dealers, blog.retail2furniture stores, sporting goods suppliers and e-commerce, did especially well.

Sales for all industries were up 6.4 percent from 2012, totaling $895,050,130. Industries showing healthy growth included manufacturing, construction, information (software, telecom, print and other media) and restaurants.

Kitsap sales were in step with the rest of Washington, which saw a 5.8 percent rise in overall sales in the fourth quarter.

The long-term trend is positive for our county. Fourth quarter retail trade sales have climbed steadily since 2008 and are close to matching the pre-recession high of $493,353,867 recorded in 2006.

Fourth quarter sales in all industries have been on the rise since 2009 and are also closing in on a 2007 high of $925,280713.

Kitsap also enjoyed a 6 percent rise in third quarter sales last year.

A detailed breakdown of fourth quarter retail sales in Kitsap for 2012 and 2013 is posted below. Use the zoom or full screen buttons at the bottom so you don’t have to squint: Continue reading

Harrison ER sees shift to Medicaid

Harrison Medical Center wasn’t able to provide us with patient payment data on short notice for our Monday story on health exchange enrollment. They were kind enough to send over a breakdown of emergency room visits by payment type today. It’s posted below.

After the opening of the exchange, and expansion of Medicaid, the Harrison ER saw a drop in the number of patients paying out of pocket and a surge in Medicaid payments, particularly under managed care plans. The number of patients covered under private plans actually dropped slightly.

The exchange is still compiling information about how many people who enrolled through Healthplanfinder were previously uninsured. We should have that information later this year.


Bag ban shifted shopper behavior at Bainbridge grocery


Bainbridge Island enacted a ban on plastic shopping bags 18 months ago.

The city ordinance eliminated plastic bags and imposed a five cent fee on paper bags (retailers keep the revenue). The hope was shoppers would transition to reusable bags, cutting down on waste. At Winslow’s Town & Country supermarket that appears to have happened.

The store saw a 53 percent increase in reusable bag use after the ban, according to statistics T&C shared with the Kitsap Sun and the city. Here’s a graphical look at the change over the past year:

It should be noted the reusable bag figures represent transactions, not actual bags, since the bags can be used over and over.

T&C gave a nickel discount to shoppers who remembered their reusable bags, creating a 10 cent incentive for shopping with cloth bags. The plastic bag ban and the cash incentive appeared to not only promote reusable bags but also decrease paper bag use.

Tony D’Onofrio, sustainability director for Town & Country Markets, said the ban took some adjustment for customers and staff but was well received.

“Now it’s just business as usual,” he said. “No one seems to really notice. Customers are used to it.”

Other Kitsap cities were in no rush to follow Bainbridge’s lead on banning bags when we checked in with them in 2012. About a dozen Washington cities have adopted bag bans so far.


Bremerton to host sustainable shipping symposium


Greening up the maritime industry will be the topic of a fall symposium in Bremerton.

The inaugural Blue Green Sustainability Symposium, organized by the American Society of Naval Engineers, is scheduled for Oct. 1-2 at the Kitsap Conference Center.

Here’s the description of the event from the society’s website:

Blue Green 2014 focuses on energy efficiency, reductions in discharges and emissions, and environmental safeguards for port facilities and ships at sea.

Blue Green 2014 will attract prominent guest speakers, panelists, and paper presentations from industry, academia, Navy, Coast Guard, and government officials.

Join us for an extraordinary opportunity to interact with government policy makers, ship operators, repair and maintenance professionals, ship designers, builders, engineers, program managers, life-cycle engineers, suppliers, and other technical experts.

The society is accepting technical paper abstracts through May 8.

Kitsap Bank offers $20k cash prize for innovative small business

Community-minded businesses aren’t always rewarded for their altruism. A competition organized by Kitsap Bank this spring aims to change that.

The Port Orchard-based is offering a $20,000 prize for a small business that has a positive economic, environmental and social impact on its community. A six-week application period for the prize, called edg3 FUND, begins June 2.

“We think there are a lot of innovative businesses with creative ideas in our local market that we don’t yet know,” Kitsap Bank President Tony George said in a news release.  “With this competition, we hope to uncover some of these hidden gems, fund a creative, sustainable business idea, and help to take it to the next level.”

A public vote on social media and the bank’s website will pick a pool of finalists. The finalists will be invited to make their pitch to a panel of independent judges, who will select a winner.

The competition is open to for-profit small businesses working in communities served by the bank. Find more information here.

5,000 Kitsap residents enrolled in private health plans through exchange

blog.kitsap.enrollmentNearly 5,000 Kitsap residents enrolled in private health plans during open enrollment for the Washington insurance exchange.

Washington Healthplanfinder released final statistics from its inaugural open enrollment period Wednesday. The enrollment period ran from October through March.

The 4,940 Kitsap residents who signed up for private health plans through the exchange accounted for about 3 percent of the 164,000 enrolled in private plans statewide.

Another 23,219 Kitsap residents signed up for Medicaid through Healthplanfinder, either as newly eligible clients (12,921) or as clients who re-enrolled (10,298).

Kitsap ranked tenth among Washington counties for total enrollment. An estimated 31,000 Kitsap residents were uninsured in 2012, according to a report from the state Insurance Commissioner. Of those, 17,300 were eligible for assistance under the Affordable Care Act.






The full open enrollment report is posted below: Continue reading

Kitsap sees gradual job growth in first quarter


Like our fickle spring weather, employment numbers in the first three months of the year showed bright spots amid some lingering gloom.

Jobs in Kitsap

Jobs are more plentiful in Kitsap County than a year ago, with about 900 more people employed by Kitsap employers in March 2014 than March 2013. But the county lagged behind the state overall in job creation over the same period (1.1 percent growth compared to 2.1 percent). And employment in Kitsap still isn’t where it was at the start of the recession.

“We dug ourselves a pretty good hole so it’s going to take a while to dig out of it,”said Jim Vleming, regional economist for the state Employment Security Department. Continue reading

Fresh start for North Kitsap composting facility

A year after closing, the former Emu Composting & Topsoil site in North Kitsap has been revived under new ownership.

The Ecology Road facility was purchased by the owners of Port Orchard-based New Day Recycling, and is now open as Olympic Organics. The company will provide compost and topsoil from grass, brush, manure, wood wastes and other materials, according to a news release.

“We want to continue to offer what Emu Composting did, but with our own spin,” founder Jeff West said.

Emu Composting owners filed for bankruptcy in late 2012 and closed the business in February 2013. The Wests purchased the property for $70,000 in December, according to county records.

For information on Olympic Organics, go to or call 360-638-0117.

BIDA director leaving for Seattle association

Andie Mackin, executive director of the Bainbridge Island Downtown Association, is leaving the organization to join its counterpart across the Sound.

Mackin will take a job as resourced development manager for the Downtown Seattle Association later this month, according to a news release. She will continue to advise the Bainbridge association as it searches for a new director.

BIDA board President Tim O’Brien said Mackin helped the organization gain recognition as a “model” Main Street Program.

“I cannot be more excited for Andie to open this new chapter in her career,” O’Brien said in the release. “She’s made such a positive impact in fulfilling the mission of our Downtown Association here on Bainbridge, and I know she’ll do very well in the large market of Seattle.”

For information on the soon-to-be vacant position at BIDA, email

The full news release is posted below: Continue reading