Sick Kid, Lost Dog in South Kitsap

Of all the sad, pathetic news coming out of South Kitsap this week, this one really tugged at me. But then, you know I’m a big softie, especially if we’re talking about kids or dogs.

OK, so I get this e-mail from one Alison Dockins regarding a lost dog. What, do I look like the community bulletin board at Safeway? Well, I guess I’m OK with that. If Gardner can post about what fell out of his taco, I guess I can try to help this family get their dog back, especially considering the circumstances.

Alison wrote, “Hello Mr. Henry (Note to self – gotta do something with that byline.) I am writing to see if you can help my family and I. My youngest daughter has a rare genetic disorder called Williams Syndrome, she is doing great and has bypassed so many of her doctors expectations for her and make all of us so proud. But the reason I need your help is our family dog ran away on Monday. Him and my daughter are always together, he is her constant companion and puts up with so much more then most other dogs ever would. He is absolutely irreplaceable and my daughter and the rest of us are heartbroken. She walks around the house asking “where puppy? and just isn’t herself without him. Is there anyway you could run even just a small article with a picture of him…..I know he is around here (Port Orchard) as people have seen him….but he is such a friendly great family dog I’m worried someone might just keep them for their own family. Please help me!

Since I’m not clear on whether Alison’s contact information is for publication, I’m going to say contact me at (360) 792-9219 or

The family lives off Sidney Road, south of Lider Road on Logan (see map below). Here’s what the dog looks like:

The Dockins family of South Kitsap is missing their pet.

Here’s the area where the dog was lost.

Fund Established to Replace Children’s Books Stolen from Port Orchard Library

The Kitsap Regional Library is accepting donations to help the Port Orchard Library replace more than 1,300 children’s books that have disappeared from that branch in recent months, prompting an investigation by the Port Orchard Police Department.

The value of the books is worth an estimated $22,900, roughly 20 percent of the branch’s collection.

There are no new leads in the case, which has been assigned to a detective, Chief Al Townsend said Wednesday.

The books disappeared a few at a time over the past few months. Since circulation was up in January and February, staff did not immediately take note, said Branch Manager Kathleen Wilson.

The foundation has established a special account to benefit the Port Orchard branch, which shares its collection within the entire KRL system. Donors should designate their intention in a note or on their check, stating “Port Orchard Branch picture books” or “POB pic books,” said Foundation Director Peter Raffa.

The foundation will direct all donations over the next two months toward replacement of the collection, even without a note, Raffa said.

Donations are tax deductible. Send them to KRL Foundation, Sylvan Way Library, 1301 Sylvan Way, Bremerton, WA 98310.

Bremerton Needs Retail and Other Enlightenments

So a week ago Bellevue developer comes to this side of Lake Washington to tell us Bremerton needs retail.

The commenters to the story first responded, “Duh.”

Here are some other observations worth noting:

Silverdale doesn’t have a city hall.
Poulsbo needs parking.
Port Orchard is hilly.
Bainbridge Island is still part of this county.
The heat was hot.

Commenters to the story also complained about the parking, with responses that Kmart had plenty of free parking, and then arguments that downtown needs people for retail to survive.

None of it is wrong, and Kemper Freeman’s point about Tacoma is perhaps worth considering. Nonetheless, does his take mean Bremerton should have put retail in first. Well then, how do you do that? I think the whole point of these parks and conference centers and tunnels and new bridges and hotels and government centers and infrastructure tax breaks and property tax breaks and road paving and condo building and Bellevue developer wooing and new marinas and fish and fisherman statues and parking committees is designed to create what?

It is designed to create the kind of crowd I saw the other day at 2 Blocks Up Cafe at the corner of Pacific Avenue and Fourth Street. On Wednesday during a break in union negotiations four of us headed over to the cafe for sandwiches and strategizing and found that we had to sit outside the restaurant. The place was packed.

I don’t know what accounted for the rush that day, and I don’t know if that’s a regular thing. You can’t create conclusions from a single observation, try as story commenters might.

Nonetheless, what I have seen is a host of downtown merchants who are believers in downtown Bremerton. Boston’s Pizza is doing great night business now because of the Fairfield Inn.

Bremerton has not turned the corner it needs to for downtown to be considered a success, but despite the economic downturn the momentum hasn’t stopped. At least, it hasn’t as far as I can tell from my casual observations.

One more thing:

Dirt is dirty.

Kitsap’s Connection to The Fonz

Yesterday, I covered an appearance by Henry Winkler on Bainbridge Island. Winkler is arguably best known as the Fonz on the 1970s sitcom “Happy Days.”

Winkler, who was in Seattle promoting a children’s book he has written, accommodated a request from West Sound Reads! to speak at Bainbridge High School about the book, which is part of a series on “Hank Zipzer, the World’s Greatest Underachiever.” The series is loosely, and in spots not so loosely based on Winkler’s own lifelong struggle with dyslexia.

I learned from arts and entertainment reporter Mike Moore that Kitsap County has its own connection to The Fonz in Frank Buxton, a Bainbridge Island resident with a 60 year career in the entertainment industry. Buxton and I were unable to hook up in time for me to include his comments in the story. They’re worthy of note, however.

And yes, we were going to call this blog “Everything But Bainbridge.” Now I guess that’s off the table.

Buxton, who spent 20 + years in Los Angeles writing, producing, directing and acting, was a story editor and director for “Happy Days”. According to Buxton, the sitcom evolved out of an episode of “Love American Style,” a show he also worked on. The episode included Ron Howard (Ritchie Cunningham) and a couple other cast members of what would become “Happy Days.” The plot of the pilot episode revolved around the family getting the first television set in the neighborhood, with the dad having to walk the rabbit ears antenae out into the hallway to get reception. (Just try explaining this to anyone under 20. You may as well be speaking Martian.)

Speaking of martians, Buxton, in his lengthy and diverse career, directed segments of “Mork and Mindy,” staring a then youthful Robin Williams, known for his zany improvisation. “I would let him go, but then I’d have to rein him in,” Buxton said. And right, I know, Mork was from Ork not Mars.

BTW, Buxton’s career is far from over. He remains active in local theater, on a syndicated radio program produced in Seattle and in other acting parts. His website is worth a look-see. His motto pretty much says it all, “I have lived for many years on the outskirts of show business with an occasional trip into town.”

Back to the Fonz. Winkler, unlike Howard, was a relative newcomer to television. He had played a similar greaser-type character on the movie “Lords of Flatbush.” Buxton said he never was aware that Winkler had a learning disability. It did not impair his ability to memorize lines from a script, even when they went to a taped-before-live-audience format that required longer segments of filming.

Buxton said Winkler’s character, which didn’t have much of a presence until some time after the show started, was a good counterpoint to Howard’s squeeky clean, all-American boy character.

Winkler himself was easy to work with, Buxton said. “From where I stood, he took direction very well. If we had a difference of opinion, as sometimes happens, we’d work it out.”

In fact, said Buxton, the whole cast of “Happy Days” lived up to their show’s name. “Henry was a delight to work with,” he said. “In fact everyone was. There were no prima donnas on that show.”

That description of Winkler held up in my brief observation of him. He was down-to-earth, funny and honest. He answered questions from the kids in the audience with the same attention and respect he showed the adults. At the book-signing afterward, he was warm and genuine in his praise and encouragement of the youngsters, some of whom had read his books. Some of whom had not.

It was refreshing to me to see someone who has spent so much time in show biz come out so unscathed. I’m thinking his dyslexia, which used to make him feel insecure, has given him a sense of humility not typically associated with the words “movie star.”

In the brief time I had to talk with him before he hurried off to catch the ferry, I shared with him that one of my kids has a learning disability. He was very encouraging, very kind. He told me, “You tell her, ‘When you get out of school, you’ll soar like an eagle.'”

OK, we couldn’t check out without seeing the Fonz in action.

Other News From PO City Hall

We have reported today on a Washington State Patrol report that Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola was arrested early Sunday morning on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol. We will be posting an update shortly, which will include a statement from the mayor.

In part, he said, “As a person who has always accepted responsibility for my actions, I will do so in this instance as well, no matter how it turns out, and expect no special treatment.”

In other news from City Hall, Coppola recently posted his Mayor’s video report for April on the City’s Web site. His topics: Puget Sound Regional Council’s Vision 2040; the joint lease of Given’s field recently approved by the city council for South Kitsap Western Little League and South Kitsap Pee Wees; a new business opening in downtown; the opening of the Port Orchard Farmer’s Market; a recent meeting of mayors from around the state; YMCA Women of Achievement representing South Kitsap; more hints about a new grocery coming soon to downtown PO; online utility bill payment; and plans to reprise Paint the Town (according to the mayor, Delialh will again be contributing significantly toward the effort), this time with a focus on the waterside buildings.

(See the bottom of this post for links to recent city council video coverage provided by the city.)

Coppola dedicated about two-thirds of his video to Vision 2040’s transportation element, known as T2040. He explains his take on the plan’s potential impact on economic development in Kitsap County and the region. Coppola was one of only two members of the PSRC executive board to vote against T2040 on March 25, primarily because of tolls. Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn was the other. Coppola said he wants Port Orchard citizens to be able to get in and out of town without having to pay tolls or a vehicle-miles-traveled tax.

“Many of the ideas advanced in the Vision 2040 plan may be acceptable and actually pragmatic for King County and the I-5 corridor, but we (not clear if he’s talking about the city of Port Orchard or mayors of the county) strongly question the validity of what amounts to a King County soluntion being forced upon the rest of us,” he said on the video.

Coppola also talks about the importance of the region investing in technological infrastructure to promote telecommuting, which would reduce impact on roads, bridges and ferries.

As an interesting little grace note at the end of the video, Coppola talks about the recent downtown spring cleaning event. “I personally spent four hours on the end of a power washer, and several people pointed out that if this whole mayor thing doesn’t work out, perhaps I should get a job in the public works department,” he said, laughing. “Hopefully it won’t come to that.”

Port Orchard City Council Videos:
April 13
April 20 work study
April 27

Friday Afternoon Club: An Afternoon of Fine Art and Music

The Senior Action Committee will present an afternoon of fine art and music from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Town Square Mall, 1700 Mile Hill Road in Port Orchard.

In an earlier e-mail, they solicited “senior” exhibitors 50+. If, like me, you are in the 50+ group, you may not consider yourself a “senior.” It’s interesting how the term “senior” like adolescent has grown to cover a broader range of people in recent decades. Used to be you were briefly a teen, then you a got a job; then you were an adult until you retired. Then you were “old.” Then you died.

Now kids are termed preadolescent as young as 9. And AARP starts courting new membership after they’ve barely turned 50. On the other end, young people in their early 20s could still be thought of as adolescent. And “senior” applies to people, many of them remarkable active, into their 100s and beyond.

So if you’re hung up on the word “senior” get over it. It’s just a way to describe a large, diverse group, many of whom are much more active than people of comparable age in previous generations.

OK, more about the event. It will include handicrafts and photography. There will be raffles, food specials and plenty of free parking.

Special guests will include Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola, Rep. Jan Angel, and Kitsap County Commissioner Charlotte Garrido, all of whom qualify as seniors.

If you are younger than 50, you should come anyway and see how the Old Pharts roll. Hopefully, you’ll see it’s not so scary to get “old.”

Hen Movement Grows Slowly in Bremerton

Did you remember that there are some people who want to be able to have hens in their Bremerton backyards. Here’s the latest from a purely observational standpoint.

I haven’t written much about it lately, but I saw another Facebook post last week to suggest the group is gathering signatures. One note said nine sheets were turned in, which would mean the group has 180 signatures and needs only 2,320 more to get on the ballot.

Meanwhile, the city council has remained silent on the issue in every meeting I have attended, and that has been quite a few. That can’t be too good a sign for those who want to decriminalize poultry in the city. You may recall that chicken fans don’t really want to go to the ballot box to get their hens, but they’re willing. This weekend they’ll travel to Port Orchard to gather signatures from Bremerton registered voters disloyally shopping across the inlet. They also have plans to hold more signature-gathering meetings to get petitions out at outdoor markets and other events.

Thursday afternoon I spotted the sign posted here, took a picture, then drove all over much of the rest of town to see if I could find even one more sign like it. I didn’t find one.

Bremerton Magic

If you’re one of those people who believe there are no accidents in life, then you have to wonder, like I have, what message I was sent on tax day.

That was the day there was a tea party in Olympia I didn’t attend, favoring instead a chance to stay in town and get liquored up, and by that I mean to write about the privatization of liquor sales in this state.

Good fortune smiled on me for making that decision, because Taco Del Mar was offering a free taco just for showing up with a coupon Jim Campbell printed out and handed to me. Had it not been Campbell I might have sensed treachery. But that guy is solid. I’ve also been well trained by my beloved to stop feeling guilty about freebies.

So on to Taco Del Mar I went, wondering if a free fish taco would be as good as one I’d pay for. It was a sunny day, so I decided to take my food to the Harborside Fountain Park on a quest for profanity.

Out of the taco fell what you see pictured here.

This has to mean something.

According to Wikipedia, the source for all truth, unicorns are pretty awesome. Conservapedia says the unicorn might actually be a rhinoceros. There once was a British band called Unicorn. Who can forget them? (Raises hand.)

As many cheese sandwiches as I’ve grilled over the years, you’d think I would have had a holy visit before now.

But this was a first. I carefully placed the cabbage back in a bag, then decided to take it out again to make sure to get a picture in case it was fragile. It was.

The picture you see here is a re-creation. I found the horse and the horn, but they were no longer attached. This is pretty much what it looked like.

I was cursed for not taking full advantage of my good fortune. On the way back I was forced to take a longer way home because of construction. When I got back to the office I carefully sealed the unicorn in the best sealant I could find (the tape in my desk) and put the apparition on the wall in case anyone wanted to come see it for inspiration or favors.

After a couple of days it started turning black, though, so I decided to dump it in the trash.

Still I feel so rewarded for my faith in free-dom that I was so honored by a visit from something so powerful as a unicorn. That never would have happened if I had lunched in Port Orchard. Over there the best you can hope for is a narwhal.

Silverdale Dog Park Looking Good

Brynn Grimley writes:

At the end of last week I finally made it out to the future site of the Silverdale Dog Park, located along Silverdale Way where the Rotary Gateway Park is situated. There’s also an entrance to the Clear Creek Trail from this location, and of course the skateboard park where local teens practice their boarding skills.

I was at the site to see students from CK High School, Navy Seabees and other area volunteers put in their time for Earth Day.

It’s been a while since I wrote about the dog park so I thought what better time to write an update than after seeing first-hand how quick progress has been made.

Through the Earth Day volunteer efforts, a 600 foot gravel trail was built in just under two hours. The trail runs from the parking lot (near the public bathrooms) all the way to the end of the property where it connects to the roadway. The grassy area along side the trail will be the dog park, which will be fenced off so trail users won’t have to walk inside the park to use the trail.

Inside the dog park there will be a small dog area, and another area for medium to larger dogs. The chain-link fence will allow dog owners to have their pets off leash. The project is being organized and completed by the Silverdale Dog Park stewardship group, which is 100 percent volunteer driven. The money being used to build the dog park is from various fund raising efforts, from private donations and money that was raised by selling plaques along the chain-link fence and advertising space within the park.

None of the money is from the county. To date the group has raised close to $30,000.

They hope to have the park open for use on July 4, but have a few more hurdles to jump over before that can happen. The biggest project still to be done is the expansion of the parking lot. A condition of the county approving the location for the dog park was the installation of 14 more parking spaces.

The group will add those by removing the berm that separates the lot from the road. They are looking to put a rain garden in to handle the stormwater run off. Right now they’re waiting to see if the stormwater will be handled by the garden, or if they’ll also need to use pervious payment in the lot. For cost purposes they’re hoping a rain garden will meet the needs, because the pervious pavement is not cheap.

Installing the trail section of the park is the first visual indication that things are moving quickly to get the park operational, said Mike McCown, vice president of the Silverdale Dog Park stewardship group.

“We’ve been looking forward to Earth Day,” he said. “This is being done with volunteers and volunteer dollars.”

The group hopes to know by this week which direction to go with the parking lot. Once the lot is ready, the chain-link fence will be installed and from there I am sure people will be anxiously waiting for the gates to open so they can let their dogs run free.

John Robbecke Describes the Polar Bear Plunge

Warning: This post contains a word that, while anatomically correct, may be offensive to some.

When I was talking to John Robbecke today about his putting Al’s Grocery on the market after its 50 years in business (story to run tomorrow), we got to talking about the annual Polar Bear Plunge off the bridge above Olalla Lagoon, across from the store.

John and 10 other charter members of the plunge decided in 1984 to ring in the New Year in a totally new and crazy way. A lot of what he said about the experience of jumping into 52 degree water in the middle of winter, I couldn’t put in the paper or on the web version of the story (only partly because of space constraints). With my assistant editor’s permission, and John’s, I bring you the uncensored version.

“New Year’s Day is kind of amateur drunk day on the couch. If you’re not drinking, what do you do? And if you don’t like sports, you’re pretty out of it. So we said, ‘OK guys, if you have enough testicles, come on down and join us, and we’ll do something different. We thought, at high noon, we’d jump off the bridge.”

John described how “invigorating” it is to feel to icy stab of the water on your various appendages as you jump or cannonball in. “You go, ‘Woah!’ You’re swimming under water before you reach the top. Once you pop out of the surface, you’re like a windmill. Once you get out of the water, you dance around and stand by the bonfire warming your buns and shake out your hair. It’s a fun time.”

Like a class reunion, the event brings together people who only see each other once a year. Some people dress in costumes. John remembers one woman whose marriage had gone sour and who jumped into the salty brine in her wedding gown. Another guy in a business suit set down his briefcase, jumped off the bridge in a businesslike way, calmly swam to shore, picked up his briefcase and drove away without so much as a shiver.

I asked John if anyone ever jumped in the nude. Yes, indeed, he said. However, “They don’t do it again, because if you’re male, and you’re climbing out of that ice cold water, and some woman says, ‘Is that it?’ you ain’t coming back.”