Tag Archives: Kitsap Sun

Education stories on a lighter note

In today’s Kitsap Sun, we ran a roundup of top stories on the education beat for 2016.

Teachers’ walkouts, McCleary madness, the Kennedy flap over school prayer, the end of No Child Left Behind … It was a whirlwind year.

Not all the education news coming out of Kitsap County was serious, however. Here are a few of the stories that still make me smile.

In late January, a fourth-grade class at Mullenix Ridge Elementary in South Kitsap decided to do their own scientific investigation of De-flategate, the uproar over allegations the New England Patriots weaseled their way into the Super Bowl using underinflated balls in the AFC championship game.
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Ashton Smith, the lone Patriots fan in the class, defended quarterback Tom Brady, but quickly became a bitter old man, when NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell upheld a four-game suspension imposed on Brady for his part in the scandal. A federal court later tossed the suspension, for lack of due process in the investigation.

In February, acting students at South Kitsap High School made a regional ripple on social media with the hashtag #SKvsFallon. The students and their coach Scott Yingling issued a video challenge to late night host Jimmy Fallon for an “Improv-off.” The video racked up 30,000 views shortly after it posted and SKvsFallon was briefly a trending topic on Facebook in Western states.

In March, Brownsville Elementary School Principal Toby Tebo kissed a goat for a school fundraiser. “Kissing goats, it’s a good idea. It’s going to be fun, and I can’t wait to pucker up,” Tebo said, before giving Peanut the pygmy goat 21 kisses, one for each goat the students sponsored for an African village.

In December, we asked students at Pearson and Vinland Elementary schools what advice they’d give Santa. Here’s Rachel Seymour’s video with their response.

How the death of an Ohio transgender teen relates to local schools

The apparent suicide of an Ohio teen has shone a spotlight on the anguish of transgender teens.

The teen, whose legal name is Joshua Alcorn and who goes by Leelah Alcorn, is believed to have committed suicide Sunday by going in front of a semi-tractor trailer on Interstate 71 in Southwest Ohio.

On a Tumblr page believed to belong to the Leelah Alcorn, the author talks about feelings of isolation and depression once she identified herself as transgender at age 17. According to WCPO in Cincinnati, Alcorn detailed frustration she felt because her parents did not believe or accept her. Her parents, who acknowledge the death of their son Joshua, have asked for privacy.

Cincinnati City Councilman Chris Seelbach called Leelah’s death a call to action.

“It has come to light that this person likely committed suicide because she was transgender. While Cincinnati led the country this past year as the first city in the mid-west to include transgender inclusive health benefits and we have included gender identity or expression as a protected class for many years … the truth is … it is still extremely difficult to be a transgender young person in this country,” Seelbach said. “We have to do better.”

The Kitsap Sun recently wrote about local schools approving policies acknowledging the needs and challenges faced by transgender students. One article cited a national study showing 41 percent of transgender people have attempted suicide. The national average is 1.6 percent.

After the first article ran, some commented that identifying transgender students as a protected group was overkill. What about other students who may be made uncomfortable by sharing a locker room with a transgender student? one person asked. Aiden Key, an advocate for transgender people who consults with school districts, said each situation is unique and solutions can be found that meet the needs of everyone involved in a respectful way. For example, different schedules for locker room use.

One person on Facebook accused us of liberal bias for reporting on this issue. The fact is districts are bound by federal and state civil rights mandates; they’re responding accordingly and we’re reporting on it.

Key and others who work “in the trenches” as districts grapple with this unfamiliar territory, say staff members sometimes struggle to understand what it means to be transgender and how they should respond, but eventually they get it, and it’s no big deal. Anecdotally, we heard that most young people already get it (or they don’t quite get it but they accept their fellow students who are transgender regardless without much fuss, and life goes on).

That may be a gross simplification, and surely at some schools in some classes, transgender students are still the target of bullying or harassment. Schools already have policies to address harassment in general. Now, in North Mason and North Kitsap, there’s an extra layer of protection (at least on paper) afforded to transgender students.

I welcome hearing from anyone who has thoughts or opinions on this subject. Thanks in advance.

Chris Henry, Kitsap Sun Education reporter
(360) 792-9219

Satirical news surge: Meet the man behind ‘The Kitsap Report’

Josh Farley writes:

The recipe for cooking up fake news stories in Kitsap County is simple, Calvin Courter says. Look for a trending topic on the Internet, find a way to give it a local twist, and sit back and watch it spread around the Internet like wildfire.

“We just wanted to provide a funny source of news,” said Courter, a 29-year-old Poulsbo resident who founded The Kitsap Report, a satirical news web site. “We wanted to lighten the mood around here.”

The Report, which boasts itself as being “Kitsap’s #1 source for news” has produced such eyeball-grabbing headlines as “Naughty Drive-through Marijuana Store Opening in Gorst,” “Bridge from Bainbridge to West Seattle Approved,” and “Walking Dead Season 5 to be Filmed in West Bremerton,” in its initial weeks of publication. (Blogger’s note: not all content posted on the site is family friendly.)

Because this is the Internet, where all content is accurate until proven phony, here is your official SPOILER ALERT: None of those stories are true. (No, really. They’re not.)

Courter said he’s not surprised that readers have mistaken his headlines for the real thing (he’s even heard from a Seattle-based reporter who thought they were legit). He said he hadn’t meant to trick people, but rather to spice things up.

“I like living here, but it’s a little boring,” he said.

He goes by Tom Tickles on the web site, a Kitsap lifelong resident “born in a pool of gasoline and raised by a pack of rabid raccoons in the woods outside of a small farming village.”

Courter and the Kitsap Sun have crossed paths before. He worked as an advertising account executive here in 2012. Today, he counts mortgage lending as his day job.

The site took off faster than he expected. After its launch Jan. 2, he went out to the Portside Pub in Poulsbo. By the time he returned home, the site’s first article, “Twerking: Serious Problem at Kitsap School,” had accumulated 6,000 page views.

The article today is up to almost 70,000 views.

Not bad for someone who’s never taken a journalism class (he adds that he failed junior year English). But this is a guy who knows his news: he’s been reading the Kitsap Sun since he was a kid and grew up watching Almost Live! He is and will always be a news junkie, he said.

Courter got tired of the barrage of posts he’d see on social media sites containing falsehoods, and so he decided to create some falsehoods for himself. But don’t go calling the Kitsap Report a local version of The Onion.

“I think the future of satirical news is local,” he said, adding later: “You’ll never see a Kitsap article on the Onion.”

He welcomes contributions, and he’s looking to expand into the video medium.

“We’ll see where it goes,” he said. “But people of Kitsap can look forward to more and more news from us.”

Inmate sends condolences to honor former Sun reporter’s passing


The sympathy card was one you might expect to find at the store, were it not written on white paper and drawn with a blue ball-point pen.

“In Loving Memory … & you will remain in Our Hearts … forever…” its inside reads.

The card came from Robert “Doug” Pierce, currently an inmate at the Kitsap County jail. He was paying respects to JoAnne Marez, a longtime reporter, editor and — frankly — a legend here at the Kitsap Sun.  Marez died earlier this month due to complications due to an infection. She was 67.

I am at this point uncertain whether Pierce had help in the artistry that graces the cover of the card. In any event, in the detail you can see in the photo, Pierce calls Marez a “Professional Journalist, Passionate Investigator, extraordinary reporter, Kitsap Sun News Editor.” It’s quite illustrative as well.

Pierce, you may recall, actually solved a vexing math problem a few years back, untangling an error in how the Kitsap County jail was calculating its time off for good behavior, or “good time” for short. He is serving time for third-degree theft, trespassing and bail jumping, according to court documents.

As someone who toiled for years in the world of Kitsap County’s criminal justice system, I think JoAnne would’ve been touched by the card. I’m going to see to it that it gets to her family.

What’s the best way to eat a Twinkie?

News Friday that Hostess Brands Inc., would be liquidating caused a run on Twinkies at the Wonder Hostess Outlet in Bremerton.

Manager Jean Price said her entire supply of the familiar oblong cakes with the pearly white filling was cleaned out by a single customer shortly after she opened up. Other Hostess goodies, too, were in high demand. All morning Donettes, Ho Hos, CupCakes, SnoBalls and Zingers were flying off the shelves at a steady clip.

“We’re all mourning,” said Linda Murphy of Bremerton. “I just got the last cherry pie. Look, I can hand this down to my grandchildren.”

You can read more about the closing of the outlet store, that has operated off Kitsap Way (behind Burger King) since 1962 in story to be posted soon at kitsapsun.com.

In the meantime, here’s a little Hostess history from the company’s website.
1901: Hostess established as a sweet goods baker.

1919: Hostess CupCakes (yes, that’s no typo) become the “best-selling snack cakes in history.” Not to take anything from the CupCake, but I wonder if that was because the history of commercially produced snack cakes was fairly limited at the time.

The website goes on,” It wasn’t until over 30 years later that baker Doc Rice added the signature 7 squiggles and vanilla-crème filling.” Varieties eventually included Chocolate, Golden, Orange and Strawberry.

1930: The Twinkie makes its debut. Invented by James Dewar (aka “Grandpa Twinkie”) in Schiller Park, Ill., the Twinkie was inspired by an ad for “Twinkle Toe” shoes. The treat sold two-for-a-nickel. Production at one point reached more than 500 million Twinkies per year. In 1999 President Bill Clinton included Twinkies in the millennium time capsule.

1947: Hostess SnoBalls join the line-up. The original SnoBalls were a white marshmallow and shredded coconut covered chocolate cake. Three years later the crème filling was added. Soon after SnoBalls were dyed the famous pink.

In the 1960s, other popular products were introduced, including Suzy Q’s (1961), named after the daughter of a company executive, Fruit Pies (1965), Ding Dongs and Ho Hos (both in 1967).

In 2007, the company bowed to the wave of anti-obesity zeal sweeping the country, with the introduction of “100-Calorie Packs.” Was this a good idea? You be the judge, but I say anyone in the mood for a good Hostess high is not counting calories. This may have been the beginning of the end for Hostess.

In 2010, Hostess followed with “better-for-you Smart Bakes line of muffins and streusel cakes” with whole grains and fiber.

I rest my case.

To some, the preferred method for eating a Twinkie is breaking it and licking the creme filling from either side. Some like to squeeze the filling out, kind of like popping a zit.

Don Gonzalez of Port Orchard has a more manly style. “I just shove it in,” he said.

How do you eat a Twinkie? And what’s your favorite Hostess cake? Take our poll on the Kitsap Sun.

What do you get a guy on his 100th birthday?

When you’ve lived a century (or more), there’s not a lot you need. There I go painting with a broad brush, but in my experience with centenarians, I’ve found most have the art of living down to a fine science that requires few material trappings.

Oh, sure, there are always folks like centenarian Seahawks fan Alice Schindler, who might like a 12th man jersey in the team’s new colors, to prove me wrong. But most of the centenarians I’ve met are pretty content with the basics: food, fun, family (including caregivers, who often count as extended family), and the bliss of as many afternoon naps as they damn well please.

Earlier this week, we got an email from Rosheil Periquet Che, asking if we’d publish notice of her grandfather’s 100th birthday. Felicisimo Buen of Port Orchard, born in the Philippines, served in the U.S. Merchant Marine and grew berries on a South Kitsap farm much of his life. “Felix” and his late wife Elnora had no biological children, but were grandparents to Che and her cousins. Buen was, “the only living grandfather in my life, helped raise me since 3 months old, and has given me a lifetime of memories growing up in his farm, which served as a playground for my cousins and me,” Che said.

Buen, who farmed into his late 80s, turns 100 on Sunday. His family attributes his strong constitution to his habit of eating the same breakfast meal each day, consisting of a mug of hot water, one hard boiled egg, and a piece of toast.

“I find that nothing can be purchased for this special occasion to show my appreciation and love,” said Che, who asked where and how the story of her grandfather’s life could be published in the Kitsap Sun. (Stay tuned for instructions.)

We get a surprising number of inquiries about people turning 100, and there are more joining the centenarian club all the time it seems. According to a 2011 report from the U.S. Census, there were
53,364 centenarians in 2010, a 5.8 percent increase from 2000. Of the total U.S. population in 2010, 1 out of every 5,786 people was a centenarian; 82.8 percent were female; only 32.3 percent lived in skilled care facilities. Meaning about two-thirds of the 100+ population remain relatively independent.

So many Kitsap residents now reach 100, that we don’t do feature-length stories on all of them. We did write about Emma Otis, a “supercentenarian” who turned 110 last October. And two years ago, we wrote about then-nearly-99-year-old Angy Parrish. Parrish’s claim to fame? She was, at least at that time, still square dancing.

But your special centenarian need not be a “super” or have a schtick, like Parrish, to get the attention he or she deserves. There are two ways to publish their amazing life stories.

Although we don’t yet have a special form for 100-year-olds, you can fill out the online submission wedding announcement form with your centenarian’s life and birthday information. We’ll make sure the item reads correctly. Like all our announcements, you can submit a certain number of words for free and will be charged for longer items. The form allows you to see the charges before you submit, so you can shorten it if you need to. Find the form under the “submit” Tab on the Kitsap Sun homepage, www.kitsapsun.com.

Alternately or in addition, you can submit a free “Your News” item. Scroll down the Kitsap Sun home page; find “Your News” and “submit.” You will need to create a profile/account with the Kitsap Sun.

If you need any help, call me.
Chris Henry
Kitsap Sun
(360) 792-9219

Happy birthday Felix. Here’s more from Ms. Che:

“Felicisimo Buen, who is known as Felix by his friends and family, was an immigrant from the Philippines. Residing in Port Orchard, Washington after retiring from the US Merchant Marines, he purchased his home and farm land in the 1940’s, producing raspberries, blueberries, apples, grapes, blackberries, plums, and strawberries that were sold locally and also at the local farmer’s market.

“Felix’s his wife of 26 years, Elnora N. Buen, passed away in 2010. Though they did not conceive children of their own because they married later in life, they were actively involved in the upbringing of their grand-nieces and -nephews, whom they considered to be their own grandchildren. Together, they lived a quiet, simple life, but never alone with family living in the same neighborhood and in close by towns.

“Nothing could come between him and his work; there was always something to be done around such a vast property. Felix never wanted to stop on his farm until he was finally physically unable to
do so his late 80’s. We credit to his long life due to his constant repetition of habits and exercise, whether it was working in the fields from dawn until sunset, or eating the same breakfast meal consisting of a mug of hot water, one hard boiled egg, and a piece of toast. He now resides in the care of his niece, Sheila Periquet, at her adult care home, which is conveniently just a walk away from the farm.

“Though things are foggy in memory, and he does not have much to say nowadays, there are two facts he seems to know for certain: 1. The recognition of his grandchildren. His face lights up to greet me on my visits as ‘little girl’ (though I am now quite grown). 2. That his farm is ‘over there,’ just beyond a few trees and down a dirt road.”

When competence just cannot be tolerated

On June 23 there appeared on a rival news site an editorial written, I assumed, by someone for whom I have a begrudgingly huge amount of respect. He might have once worked here at the Kitsap Sun, I’ll have to check. So many times when he (or she, because I’m doing this with the pretense of not naming him [or her]) would write something I would find myself insanely, (No, that’s not right.) profoundly, (Closer, but not quite there.) somewhat (That’s the one.) jealous that I didn’t write it myself. Over here, assuming this writer did work here, there was a byline attached. Over at the rival there was not on the particular piece I found to be so brilliant that it merited again my envy.


“First, be born rich. Not smart, that only leads to problems. And best is if you are rich with money you didn’t earn. In this case, someone else will pay your skyrocketing tuition bill so when you graduate with your anthropology or — heaven forbid — journalism degree and cross your fingers for a job flipping hamburgers, you will be able to spend your paycheck on $300 e-book gadgets to replace $5 paperbacks rather than fending off collection agents.”

At the end you discover the point of the sarcastic (i.e. the author doesn’t really believe people shouldn’t go to college.) treatise. I’ll let you discover it.

The column is especially pertinent today, because the writer in question was just today released from his employment at our rival. He made that paper better and trained some good writers over there, but his reward for a job well done was a heartfelt letter about the publication wanting to go in a new direction. Whatever direction that is not somewhere I want to go.

Good luck Andy.

Coast2Coast for Cancer: Urban cowboys

The Kitsap Sun’s story on Tracy Delp and Dan Shanafelt, who are riding across the country to raise awareness of cancer, received considerable interest from other publications, including the Tacoma News Tribune, Seattle Times, Seattle Post Intelligencer and others who spread to word of the pair’s 5,000 mile journey.

We also heard from Beverly Casey of Kingston, whose cousin Larry Stevens rode (on horseback) almost the same route in the 1980s. Casey has lost track of Larry, who is said to have met a woman along the trail and married her. But Casey still had a clipping from the Cowlitz County Advocate, dated May 14, 1986 which documents one leg of his journey. (see below, keep scrolling, the whole article is there)

As of Tuesday evening, they had made it to Yelm, according to their blog.

After departing from Ocean Shores on Mother’s Day (May 8), they made their way to Hoquiam, where on May 9 they received a police escort across one of the city’s main bridges. Earler this week, I spoke to Det. Sgt. Shane Krohn, who said the Hoquiam Police Department is used to giving escorts to log trucks escorts, but “to my knowledge, we have not done the horse thing before. It was definitely interesting.”

The Daily World was kind enough to share the photo with us. I call it “Urban Cowboys.”

JACOB JONES | THE DAILY WORLD Rider Tracy Delp, on Andy, and Dan Shanafelt, atop Rosie, trot across the Riverside Avenue Bridge in Hoquiam on Monday morning shortly after starting their Coast 2 Coast for Cancer ride in Ocean City to raise awareness and money to fight the disease, which effects both people and animals. Hoquiam police closed the bridge during their crossing. The plan to travel about 5,000 on their journey to the Atlantic Ocean, sharing their message along the way. For more information or to provide support visit: www.coast2coastforcancer.webs.com.

The team circled back to Port Orchard via trailer late last week to take care of some last minute logistical details before hitting the trail again on May 15.

Happy trails guys.

Here’s the clipping from Beverly

Moonlighting with audio

Given the state of our business it may not surprise you to know that some of us moonlight. Myself, I started a whole new company, Narrative Arts, for a book I am writing.

Then I got the fool notion to do a weekly podcast. Some will be personal in nature, as in personal to me, but most times it will be about telling stories of some kind. Doing this on my own gives me freedom to not stick to Kitsap-based issues.

From time to time, though, the podcast (Technically it is not a podcast yet, because you can’t download it. That’s coming.) will feature local content, in which case it will be an official Kitsap Sun effort.

The first one, which is entirely personal, came out last week. Our editor, David Nelson, thought it would be OK to share it here. So assuming I do get these done once a week, I’ll bring them here, unless the content is not suitable for a family audience. I don’t anticipate that happening.

If this is something you enjoy and would like to see more of from the Kitsap Sun, let us know.

The first episode is about 18 minutes. I might split them up into smaller chunks from now on, creating cliffhangers to suck people back in. They get posted first at www.fieldofsteve.com. Here is the first episode of the Narrative Arts Podcast.

I haven’t been able to figure out how to get the player on this site directly. So to hear the podcast, click here.

A Jewel Almost Forgotten with the Weather

I had it in mind to write something about this on Nov. 22. Then the snow fell, the wind blew, the roads froze, the power went out, Thanksgiving came and went and I got sick. This still merits mention.

On Nov. 20, a Saturday, I attended the Bremerton Symphony’s performance. The second half of the show was Gershwin stuff, including a sing-a-long helped a lot by members of the Bremerton Chorale. That was nice.

The first half, though, was awe inspiring. The jazz band Ecstasy in Numbers performed along with the symphony. The band is made up of a lead guitar, a bass guitar and a drummer. They symphony, though, you can imagine. Lots of strings and horns and loud banging things. They first did a few original numbers from the band, then did Led Zeppelin’s “Dancing Days” and Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze.” Yep. Jimmy and Jimi from a symphony.

One copy of the Seattle Weekly will advertise so many shows that it can make me long for living on the other side of the sound. But I live here and a night like Nov. 20 gives me one more reason to be grateful to be here. There are gems in this area, things the Kitsap Sun’s A&E overlord Michael Moore provides comment on every week in the A&E section and more frequently online. He also takes that occasional boat ride to the other side for some shows of note, demonstrating that we’re not all that far away from there.

A few years ago Howard Jones performed at the Admiral and I was gushing beforehand. Chris Barron, now a fat cat bureaucrat, gushed afterward.

Over the eight years that we have lived here in Kitsap County we have taken the opportunity to see several shows at the Admiral and other venues around the county. We didn’t love all the shows, I will confess, but several were amazing. On Oct. 1 we saw pianist Alpin Hong and he was brilliant.

If nothing else, it’s a nice night out. I’m a believer that even a bad show is worth attending if you’re sharing it with someone else. Fortunately for us, there haven’t been any bad shows and there have been quite a few that were stellar.