Monthly Archives: August 2009

Another Neighbor in Need

This from Sally Santana, who advocates for the homeless in Kitsap County. Same disclaimer as always: Neither I nor the Kitsap Sun can vouch for the credibility of this request nor the trustworthiness of the person here mentioned. Sounds like the family could use a hand, however.

Sally says:
We have a SK woman with three kids, ages (approx.) 3, 8, and 13. Two will be in SK schools next month, hopefully. Life changed for them when husband went to jail for an extended stay. They’re behind rent 2 mo, which is $1300 per. Electric/water have been shut off; neighbor is running an extention cord and letting them get water from their house.
She’s been to KCR, The Salvation Army, One Church One Family, called 2-1-1 and Crisis Clinic, and is basically in the middle of their lists, i.e. no help in sight. Mother reports the landlord has been nice but is reaching the end of what they can handle, they need rent. She understands they can’t stay there, will have to move.
If they begin to live in their vehicle, tires not so good. If they are pulled over and ticketed, she will just begin to collect tickets – no money for new ones or retreads. Is fearful for their safety.
Person presenting info is Claudia Grimes, 253-225-2397, email If you can help in any way please contact her.

Friday Afternoon Club: Ramp Jam at SK Park Saturday

Skateboard Group Holds Ramp Jam Fundraiser Saturday

By Chris Henry
The South Kitsap Skatepark Association will hold a Ramp Jam fundraiser from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday at South Kitsap Regional Park at the corner of Jackson and Lund avenues in South Kitsap.
The event is aimed at raising money for a world class skateboard facility at the 200-acre park, which is owned by Kitsap County. There will be skateboard contests, prizes, music and food for sale.
Contests are open in beginner, intermediate and advanced categories. The entry fee is $10 per person. Admission to the ramp jam is free.
Kitsap County has committed $300,000 toward the first phase of the one-acre facility, to be designed by Newline Skateparks of British Columbia, as part of its plan for the park. The county last year developed a master plan for the park that will address a range of recreational pursuits.
The all-volunteer skatepark group, formed in 2008, has been working to bring a top notch facility to South Kitsap since the county obtained the park in 2007.
The group has committed to raise $100,000 in cash and in-kind donations toward the $400,000 it will take to build the first phase of the skatepark.

A Cedar Cove Sob Story: The Happy Ending

Folks, I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.

On Tuesday, Claudia Barber-Martin of Detroit was having a treatment to battle the breast cancer with which she was diagnosed last October. By 3 a.m. Wednesday, she was boarding a plane to Seattle. Her visit to Port Orchard for Cedar Cove Days, a celebration of South Kitsap author Debbie Macomber, had been arranged in secret by her 22-year-old son, Adam Martin of Chicago.

Martin had scrimped and saved from his job at Hot Topic to buy the discount plane ticket and sign his mother up for a couple of reserved Cedar Cove events, including a cruise with Macomber. There was only one thing he was unable to secure, lodging.

He tried, even contacting the Cedar Cove Association for help, but nothing firm surfaced.

“I wanted everything to be very special for her, because she is very special to me,” Martin wrote in an e-mail to the association.

If anyone deserved this trip, it was his Mom, Martin said. Barber-Martin, who works as a hockey scorekeeper, is also an avid volunteer with scouting groups and at a Detroit Veteran’s hospital. She has been honored for her work by the City of Detroit. She raised Martin and his sister as a single mother and even put them through private Catholic school.

Claudia Barber-Martin
Claudia Barber-Martin

Martin – whom his mother describes as “a sweetheart,” 6-foot-four, with strawberry blond hair to his waist – sprung the surprise on her while the two of them were celebrating her 51st birthday at a restaurant in Chicago Tuesday night. Barber Martin was undeterred by the lack of a roof over her head.

“I said, OK. I’ll figure something out,” she said.

I ran into Barber-Martin in Port Orchard on the first day of the Cedar Cove Days festival. She had the name of a possible lead on a room, but was having too much fun in Macomber’s yarn shop to call just then.

That evening, I threw a post up on the blog, saying she needed a place to stay. I had given her my cell number and invited her to call if she got in a pinch. When I didn’t hear from her, I figured she was OK, but still, I wondered. So did many other people. On the blog and by e-mail, I heard from nearly a dozen folks either inquiring after Barber-Martin’s welfare or offering a room in their homes. One woman offered a fully furnished travel trailer.

But by 9 p.m. Wednesday, Barber-Martin had indeed found a place to lay her (by then) weary (and jet-lagged) head. A family with an upstairs apartment had offered it to her for a fee Barber-Martin described as “very reasonable.”

And she is happy to pay it. You see the husband of the family – who picked Barber-Martin up in their van after the children’s soccer practice – is a contractor. Things have been tough with the recession and all, and they are behind on payments and in danger of losing their home.

“I was very pleased,” said Barber-Martin. “You have to give back. Someone gave to me, and so now, I’m giving back.”

The apartment is lovely, she said, and she awoke refreshed and ready to take in more of Cedar Cove. At the opening ceremony today, Jerry Childs of the Cedar Cove Association, inquired after her from the stage to see if she’d been taken care of.

“I’ve become a little kind of celebrity,” she said.

Barber-Martin has become fast friends with other Cedar Cove visitors.

“It’s been so much fun. Everyone is like one big family,” she said.

Oh, yes, and then, as if things couldn’t have gotten better, she and her buddies ran into Debbie Macomber herself at Port Orchard’s waterfront park, and Debbie shared her lunch with them.

“It’s been a great time,” she said. “It’s amazing. Everyone has their own story.”

But, none quite like yours, Dear.

Debbie, are you taking notes?

Mariner’s Peanut Man: You Gotta Love This Guy

You gotta love this guy’s attitude. When he yells, “Peanuts!” he sounds positively intimidating (and also a little bit like he’s about to cork off).

He’s one of my favorite things about going to a Mariner’s game, which I did during my recent stay-cation.

What’s your favorite thing about going to the ball game. Take the survey on the home page of this blog.

Chris Henry, South Kitsap reporter, Kitsap Sun

Cedar Cove Sob Story: An Update

Since last night, when I posted the story of Claudia Barber-Martin, the Detroit woman battling cancer who came to Cedar Cove/Port Orchard even thought she didn’t have any lodging, four South Kitsap residents contacted me to say they had a place for her. I was also advised of a room at a B&B that was available. I also had a couple of messages from people who just wanted to know she was OK.

According to Cedar Cove Welcome Center staff, Barber-Martin did find a place to stay last night and presumably for the duration.

Claudia Barber-Martin
Claudia Barber-Martin

Doris Babcock, co-chair of the welcome center, said a family came to pick her up at the center last night. Babcock’s understanding was that Barber-Martin would be paying for the room. She said she did not know the family’s name, but that the man who came in to get Barber-Martin appeared to be known to some of the volunteers.

Babcock said Cedar Cove visitors continued to arrive “from all over the country” well into the evening. There’s was great excitement over “Debbie sightings and sightings of the different characters.”

Cedar Cove Sob Story, Part II

Welcome to Cedar Cove
Welcome to Cedar Cove

Remember the woman I told you about, whose son was going to surprise her with tickets to Cedar Cove? The only hitch was he hadn’t been able to find lodging for her that was within the family’s means.

Well she was surprised alright.

Claudia Barber-Martin of Detroit found out late Tuesday, while celebrating her 51st birthday in Chicago with her son, Adam Martin, 22, of Chicago, that he had scrimped and saved from his job at Hot Topic to buy her a discount plane ticket, as well as tickets to a couple Cedar Cove events (including the cruise with Debbie Macomber to Kiana Lodge). The envelope he gave her (she thought it was a birthday card) even had some spending cash.

Martin had earlier contacted the Cedar Cove Association about the lodging dilemma, but nothing firm surfaced.

Barber-Martin, whom I met today at Macomber’s yarn shop, took it in stride, ready for an adventure.
“I said, OK. I’ll figure something out,” she said.

Oh, just one other hitch. They had to be at the airport by 3 a.m. Wednesday (as in today) Chicago time.

“I was just very impressed with him, because he’s always going out of his way to do things. He’s just a real sweetheart,” said Barber-Martin, who, as of Wednesday afternoon, was still homeless in Cedar Cove but enjoying herself immensely.

This year hasn’t been easy for her. Last October, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, for which she currently receives twice weekly treatments. Reading has been her salvation during long hours in hospital waiting rooms she said.

Barber-Martin also does crochet and was excited to see Macomber at her fabric goods shop across from the Victorian Rose Tearoom.

In his e-mail to the association, Martin said it would be hard to find a woman more deserving of a trip to Cedar Cove than his mother. Barber-Martin, who raised him as a single mom, volunteers with scouting groups and a hospital in Detroit. She recently was honored as a volunteer of the year by the City of Detroit.

“I wanted everything to be very special for her, because she is very special to me,” Martin wrote.

If you can help offer this woman lodging, contact the Cedar Cove Association, (360) 801-4311, or me at (360) 792-9219, or (Same disclaimer as on previous post, but in my opinion, she seems like a nice woman. Cedar Cove organizers Googled her and only found reference to her volunteerism. )

Cedar Cove Days continues with bus tours and other paid and free events daily, a character parade at 6 p.m. Saturday, followed by a sock-hop, both free to the public. On Sunday, there is a non-denominational worship service at 9:30 a.m. on the waterfront, followed by a pancake breakfast.

Debbie Macomber’s Message to Fans and My Advice to “Cedar Cove”

Will Port Orchard live up to its image as the town that inspired Debbie Macomber’s feel-good Cedar Cove series?

On Wednesday, throngs of Macomber’s fans will arrive — a good percentage from outside the region — eager to see the real life places and people behind the fictional town of Cedar Cove. Here’s what Debbie had to say about the event.

Macomber, 60, sold her first book in 1982. Since then she’s hit The New York Times best-seller list multiple times, and more than 100 million copies of her women’s fiction books, also in other languages, have sold worldwide.

It’s safe to say this is a really big deal for little old PO.

Macomber once said she wants fans to see Port Orchard/Cedar Cove “warts and all.” She may get her wish. Word is, her sons, who will be bus tour guides, will tell stories on “mom.”

And as visitors roam the town, chances are they’ll encounter the dumpsters on the back side of Bay Street and bail bond businesses aplenty — serving Kitsap County’s courthouse up the hill.

Macomber, born with a “happy gene,” is not the least bit worried.
“If you come to my house, there’s a tricky little toilet. You have to jiggle the handle. … Whenever anyone comes to my house, I bet they don’t remember my toilet,” Macomber said. “Everyone wishes they were perfect. It’s a real town with real people. When company comes, they look for the real people, not the flaws.”

So Port Orchard, during this, your big chance to make a good impression on the millions of Macomber fans worldwide who, though they can’t all be here, will surely be watching us with avid interest, my advice to you is, “Be real, be yourself … just be subtle about it.”

While most of the by-reservation events have sold out (check the Cedar Cove Web site for availability), there are a number of freebies (see schedule below).

Did SKSD Voters Boycott Pointless Primary?

As noted in today’s Kitsap Sun editorial, voter turnout throughout Kitsap County in Tuesday’s primary was a “deplorable” 22 percent. Kitsap County elections manager Dolores Gilmore said the turnout was comparable to off-year elections in the early 1990s, before all-mail balloting.

Voter turnout in South Kitsap was even lower, but was it apathy or something else? With 39,199 registered voters eligible to vote in the South Kitsap School District race for the district 3 position, only 5,385 ballots were counted as of the close of business at the auditor’s office on election day. That’s up to 6,023 today, still a scanty 15 percent.

Is it possible South Kitsap voters were boycotting what amounted to a straw poll? Current unofficial results show incumbent Naomi Polen, with 31.73 percent of the vote, trailing challenger Chris Lemke, a former board member, with 45.03 percent. A second challenger, Gail F. Porter, is ineligible to serve because she moved out of the director district after filing. According to the Kitsap County auditor’s office, the deadline to withdraw had passed by the time Porter made the move known. Porter’s name, therefore, appeared on the ballot, and she received 19.06 percent of the vote. Now, there’s nearly 20 percent of the 39,199 who are either in denial or not in tune with local media. As the editorial notes, we ran a story on the issue.

The hey of it is, the primary, results of which carry no weight, will cost South Kitsap School District an estimated $70,000. Before the election, I checked with Dolores Gilmore to see if the district would save any money if people did in fact boycott the primary. Dolores said no; most of the cost associated with the primary is incurred in preparation and distribution of ballots.

Based on turnout numbers in the South Kitsap race, however, one might guess some people made that assumption and shredded their ballots. Either that or SKSD voters are in a complacent slump.

There’s been considerable discussion on the blog entry post posted the day of the primary about Porter’s ineligibility and its implications for South Kitsap School District. I’ll respond to a few points made.

Bob Meadows pointed out that there are essentially two deadlines for withdrawal from a race. The candidate can withdraw up to the Thursday following filing week without having to give any reason. Secondly, the candidate can withdraw beyond that date at the election official’s (auditor’s office) discretion up to the day the ballots are ordered. I checked with Dolores Gilmore. The ballots were ordered June 15. According to Gilmore, she did not learn of Porter’s ineligibility to serve until Aug. June 18, when Porter came in to change her voter registration address.

School Board member Kathryn Simpson (in comments on the previous blog post and elsewhere) has given a different accounting of who knew what, when. I invited Dolores to respond to Kathryn’s statements, and Dolores declined, saying it was the formal position of the auditor’s office not to engage in discussion on the blog regarding this issue. In short, she had no comment. South Kitsap School District is pursuing legal advice on whether there is any way to mitigate the amount is has to pay for the primary. Stay tuned.

Finally, Bob Meadows notes that Porter would be eligible to serve if, hypothetically, she were to move back into district 3. Bob suggested that the nearly 20 percent of voters who favored Porter may have been encouraging her to do so. Porter would be eligible to serve under those hypothetical circumstances if she were still in the race. But that’s a moot point now, because she still got the fewest votes in the primary.

South Kitsap’s situation is a cautionary tale for both school districts – who are liable to incur the cost of elections even in the rare instances like this when they turn into straw polls – and candidates – who set in motion the wheels of elections law when they file for office.

Let it be said here that school board candidates probably aren’t in it for the money. SKSD board policy based on state law allows board members a stipend of $50 per meeting, but, according to district spokeswoman Aimee Warthen, not all claim compensation. They are paid for travel expenses to conferences (not in glamorous locales – unless you consider Spokane glamorous). The position requires hours of reading dry materials laden with edu-speak and sitting through meetings that are typically well attended (or attended at all) only when constituents are angry about something.

Given the above, the district ostensibly should be grateful for anyone willing to run. Regardless, potential candidates should be fully informed of the responsibility of the position and the financial implications to the district.

For the record, I became aware on July 1 that Porter had moved out of district 3 and did not act on it until late in July (my story ran July 28). Technically, acting on the information sooner would not have made any difference because the deadline had already passed. But it’s been a cautionary tale for me. And believe me, if a similar situation arises in the future, I won’t put it on the back burner.

A Cedar Cove Sob Story

Disclaimer: I absolutely cannot vouch for the authenticity of the request below or the character of those who made it. Anyone jumping forward to play Good Samaritan does so at his or her own risk. CTH

I spoke with Cindy Lucarelli, executive director of the Cedar Cove Association, about how things are shaping up for Cedar Cove Days, a celebration of the work of local author Debbie Macomber, who based her Cedar Cove series on Port Orchard. The four-day event, starting Aug. 26, will feature bus tours of the real-life locations mentioned in the books, teas with and without Debbie, a gala cruise to Kiana Lodge and more. I’ll be writing about what it took for Port Orchard to “become” Cedar Cove for a story to run Sunday in the Kitsap Sun. I also had a nice chat with Debbie Macomber herself today.

Cindy tells me there will be visitors from 37 states and a couple of foreign countries (if you count Canada as foreign), as well as an expected 9,000 or so regional visitors over the four days. Many of the notes accompanying requests for tickets to reserved events are touching tributes to the loyalty of Debbie Macombers fans, which brings me to the topic of this blog post.

Cindy & Co. on Aug. 18 received an e-mail from one Adam B. Martin, who says he’s a 22-year-old Chicago resident whose mother is an avid fan. The family wasn’t well off when he was growing up, and Mom is now living on disability due to having been diagnosed with cancer. Her birthday is Aug. 25, and so young Adam had reserved and paid for (Cindy verified this) his mother to attend several reserved events during Cedar Cove Days. He also bought her an airline ticket. Alas, he said, he has not been able to find any place for her to stay.

“Everywhere that I have tried is booked up solid,” Adam wrote. “And since my mom is having a great deal of trouble walking these days, I really wanted her to be close to the event. Is there anything you can suggest to help me with this surprise for her? … I haven’t told my Mom about this trip yet. I wanted everything to be very special for her, because she is very special to me.”

Disclaimer Part II: You know, folks, we could be totally getting played here.

Anyway, I have the guy’s e-mail. If you want to look into his request, e-mail me at

Here’s another Cedar Cove request, this one from Debbie herself. Seems there are a few more characters needed to fill out the cast of Cedar Cove folks who will be appearing at events throughout the festival. Debbie was off to scope our South Kitsap Fire & Rescue for a firefighter to play the part of Mack. I suspect she’ll have no trouble there. But she’s having trouble finding a couple of 20-somethings to portray Ian and Cecelia, the Navy couple who lost a baby. And the are a few other parts to be filled, mostly by people in their 20s or 30s. There is a considerable time commitment Aug. 20 through 30. If you think you can help, sing out, and I’ll forward your contact information to Debbie. She’d need to hear from you no later that tomorrow afternoon.

E-mail me at And remember, “Wherever you are, Debbie takes you home.”

BTW, a number of activities during Cedar Cove Days are free — a character parade, a sock hop, waterfront church service, to name a few — but if you haven’t yet signed up for the bus tours, teas or the cruise, know that most everything is already sold out.

McWoods Sewers: Residents with “STEP” Systems Likely to See Surcharge in 2010

The city inherited responsibility for the systems under a development agreement.
By Chris Henry
The Port Orchard City Council is contemplating what to do about 605 homes in McCormick Woods whose septic systems the city services.
The cost of the the service, formerly covered by a 50 percent surcharge on McCormick residents’ sewer bills, fell onto the city’s plate when McCormick Woods was annexed in July and the surcharge went away.
McCormick Woods was not alone in paying the sewer surcharge, and the extra 50 percent was not directly tied to the septic servicing. All South Kitsap residents who live outside Port Orchard but receive sewer and water service from the city pay a 50 percent surcharge on those utilities.
The city council in 2010 will likely add a new surcharge applying only to those 605 homes to cover the cost of inspecting and pumping the septic systems.
The homes in question have a type of sewer system — called STEP for “septic tank effluent pumping system”— that includes an onsite septic with a connection to the city’s sewer line. Solids are processed in the septic tank; liquid waste is pumped to the sewer line and delivered to the treatment plant operated jointly by Port Orchard and Westsound Utility District.
Before the sewer, effluent from the STEP systems was pumped to a community drain field.
An additional 30 homes yet to be built are also vested to have STEP systems.
The remainder of homes in the McCormick Woods annexation area have grinder pumps that deliver liquid and solid waste to the sewer line.
Like any septic system, the STEP systems need periodic maintenance and repair. The city inspects each system every three years. While most people with septics are responsible for servicing their own systems, the city inherited responsibility for the McCormick systems under a development agreement that existed when the sewer line went in.
Before the annexation, revenue from the sewer surcharge paid by all McCormick residents more than covered the cost of servicing the STEP systems. The current annual cost is about $72,000 per year.
Public works director Mark Dorsey gave a summary of the STEP system and its financial implications for the city at a work study meeting Tuesday. According to John Clauson of the city’s public utilities committee, the council plans to address the STEP service cost in its 2010 budget.
Before the end of the year, city utility customers — including those in McCormick Woods —will see an increase in their bimonthly water and sewer rates to make up for the loss of McCormick Woods’ utility surcharge revenue. The increase — $3.50 for water and $7.50 for sewer — will replace an estimated $280,000 to $300,000 per year in revenue lost through the annexation.
While the McCormick Woods surcharge was in effect, the revenue generated more than made up for the septic service cost, in effect subsidizing service for other city sewer customers to the tune of about $128,000 per year, Dorsey said. That helped keep rates down. Now everyone, including those in McCormick Woods, have to share in making up that lost revenue, but only those who have the STEP systems will pay the additional charge for that service beginning in 2010.
Also in 2010, the city must address revenue needed for improvements to the sewer system. Considering the poor economy, the council deferred a rate increase in 2009 that would have funded those capital improvements.