Tag Archives: Kitsap County

In Kitsap, Affected by Iceland’s Ash Plume?

A report today by the Associated Press details the effects of Iceland’s lingering volcanic ash plume on countries across Europe and Eastern Europe. It’s a mixed bag, with airspace in some countries — Austria, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Denmark, to name the ones that jump out at me — preparing to open some time today. Some other countries are expecting to open Monday. In Iceland, flights to the United Kingdom and mainland Europe are suspended indefinitely, but flights to the United States are operating normally. In Bulgaria, airspace is closed until further notice. In Poland, airspace remains closed Sunday, but overflights are permitted above 20,000 feet (6,100 meters).

Grimley and her husband, Kitsap Sun sports reporter Jeff Graham, were heading to France this weekend. By now, they should have been sipping a good Bordeaux and eating petite fours. I haven’t heard from the Grahams, so I don’t know how the ash plume affected their travel plans. I can only guess it played havoc with a long-awaited trip of the kind that requires far more planning, and saving, than a drive to the coast to watch the waves.

Have your travel plans, for pleasure or business, been affected by the ash plume? Do you have friends or family overseas who are affected? What alternative methods of getting around are available? I can only imagine the trains are booked solid. Does anybody have any creative suggestions for dealing with the mess?

Friday Afternoon Club: Immigrants and Upward Mobility

The Kitsap Multicultural Assistance Center will hold a fundraiser at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Puerto Vallarta, 1599 SE Lund Ave., Port Orchard. The evening includes cocktails, dinner and a keynote speaker. The cost is $50 per person; $500 per table. For information on the availability of tickets, visit the center’s Web site or e-mail Ray Garrido at info@kitsapmac.org.

The center, located at Hillcrest Assembly Church in East Bremerton at 6750 Highway 303 NE., provides help to immigrants of all nationalities in the form of English as Second Language classes, information on citizenship, children’s services, referrals to social services and start-up business information among other forms of assistance.

Speaking of start-up businesses, I’m going to go out on a limb here, at the risk of sounding like I’m stereotyping, but have you noticed all the landscaping companies with Latino-sounding names? My unscientific guess is that Latino workers, heavily employed in the floral greens industry in Kitsap and Mason counties, have found a foothold to upward mobility that allowed them to start their own companies in a related field.

Speaking of stereotypes, an article in today’s New York Times says a recent analysis of census data defies the commonly held belief that immigrants as a group are largely unskilled workers relegated to low-wage, blue collar jobs.

In major metropolitan areas of the U.S., where 75 percent of the immigration population lives, more immigrants are involved in mostly higher paid, white collar occupations than in lower paid blue collar jobs, according to a U.S. Census data analysis commissioned by the Times, the article by Julia Preston states.

The study, by the nonpartisan Fiscal Policy Institute of New York, covers the past two decades, including 2008 with all its financial turmoil. The analysis included legal and illegal immigrants and naturalized citizens. A key finding of the study is that “cities with thriving immigrant populations — with high-earning and lower-wage workers — tended to be those that prospered the most.” Cities like Atlanta, Denver and Phoenix that attracted a large influx of immigrants, including many lower-paid service and blue collar jobs, benefited economically from the demand for services created by these new residents, according to Rich Jones of the Bell Policy Center, a Colorado-based organization that studies the impact of economic and fiscal policies in that state.

“They are coming with a variety of skills,” Jones said. “They create demand for goods, services and housing that began a dynamic.”

Here’s a list of services provided by the Kitsap Multicultural Center:

• ESL and citizenship classes

• Children’s activities and services

• Education and social services referrals

• Start-up business information

• Health and resource fairs

• Vaccination clinics

• Referrals for medical and legal services

• Swim training program

• YWCA domestic violence resistance advocacy services

• Toys, books, clothes and household items for families

• Annual Christmas dinner for families

• Assistance with other issues as needed

Classes, client assistance, and DSHS intake are provided on Mondays and Tuesdays from noon until 4 p.m. Staff is available to meet with clients on other days by appointment only.
Phone: 360-440-2376
Email: info@kitsapmac.org

Getting the “Dirt” on Sustainable Cinema

Coming up this Sunday is the second in a series of monthly documentaries on sustainable living to be shown at the Historic Orchard Theatre in Port Orchard. The Sustainable Cinema series is hosted by Kitsap County, specifically South Kitsap Commissioner Charlotte Garrido.

Garrido, on Monday, said the series is intended as a complement to the activities of the numerous groups around Kitsap County —including the county itself — that are dedicated to preserving natural resources and promoting a sustainable lifestyle.

Sustainability, in short, is the capacity to endure. The goal is a world in which human needs are fulfilled in a manner that does not deplete the source of those needs. Locally, initiatives related to sustainability involve food, construction, environmental protection and other efforts.

About 30 people attended January’s showing of “End of the Line” a documentary about the effects of over-fishing. Coming up this month is the award-winning “Dirt, the Movie,” about the nature, importance and surprising fragility of soil.

Garrido said she got the idea for the Sustainable Cinema series last year while in Washington D.C. for a conference. In D.C., the film festival involved a number of venues.

Kitsap is not D.C., but the Orchard is known for showing documentaries and other non-mainstream cinema. Future films will depend on what’s available at any given time, said Garrido. Suffice it to say there is no lack of material. She showed me a catalog chock full of documentaries on sustainability.

To pay for the series, Garrido has allocated $750 of the South Kitsap Commissioners discretionary fund. Each of the three Kitsap County commissioners has money in the county’s budget to spend on projects specific to his or her area of the county, “things that wouldn’t get done any other way,” Garrido said. The cost to bring the films to The Orchard is around $100 each. Once the $750 is expended, Garrido said she herself would fund additional showings as long as there is sufficient interest.

Garrido welcomes suggestions for documentaries people would like to see. E-mail her at cgarrido@co.kitsap.wa.us.

What: Dirt the Movie
When: 4:35 p.m. Sunday
Where: Historic Orchard Theatre, 822 Bay St., Port Orchard
Cost: $3 (usual adult price is $9.50)

Here’s One Government Official Leading the Charge on Social Networking

The hitch is, he’s got a way bigger budget than Bud Harris, Kitsap County’s director of information technology, who recently reaffirmed his message of caution on mixing social networking with government.

Bill Schrier, chief technology officer for the City of Seattle, on the other hand, openly embraces new media. Schrier, who writes the Chief Seattle Geek blog, in a recent entry discussed the concept of an “open city,” in which information is shared via the Internet, now accessible 24/7 via laptop and desktop computers, as well as Blackberries, iPhones, cell phones etc.

Schrier writes:

“The theme is consistent: city governments, by opening their information, their data, their engagement processes, can generate a wealth of new ideas and understandings which make them more efficient and effective, and more robust, exciting places, with improved quality of life.

The old model, used for 250 years or more, is for a City is to collect as much data as possible about problems, its responses, services it provides and the general city environment. Then the typical city hires analysts or consultants – experts, if you will – to pore over the data and discern patterns. These experts then make recommendations for policy, action or changes.”

Schrier writes of applications that allow for public discussion of ideas and ranking of concepts through a “public engagement portal.” His department uses a model, Ideas for Seattle, that allows for some limited input online from people, and he hopes to see that concept expanded. Other governments are working on similar programs.

Pursuing this technology will provide a better community process than what Schrier calls “death-by-PowerPoint presentations and long lines of people trooping up to the microphone to give their 2 minute NIMBY mini-speeches,” he said.

Fourteen departments within the city, including police and fire, have blogs, and the city uses Twitter to communicate in “almost real time” about traffic tie ups and such. There’s also, for example, an arts blog to reach a “targeted community.”

The blogs link together on a single page. The city’s policy on social networking assures uniformity in how social media are employed and makes sure its use actually meets constituents’ needs, Schrier said. Public comments on blogs is limited, however. If a department wants to allow comments, they have to be moderated and approved before they’re put up. People who want to make comments can fill out a form on the Web site.

In today’s story on kitsapsun.com, Harris said he’s not against social networking, but, given the county’s budget struggles and his department’s own full plate, he lacks the resources to develop policy and software to cover the county on both free speech and open records issues. In Kitsap County, the public already can comment via e-mail or sign up for listservs from given departments, said Harris.

In fairness to Harris and his department, Schrier is working with a much larger budget, $57 million, about 70 percent of Kitsap’s total 2010 budget, and he has 205 employees.

Port Orchard to Defer Application for Section 108 HUD Loan

Port Orchard’s plan to build a Town Center Revitalization Project is one of three proposals recommended by the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council to apply for federal Section 108 loan funding through the county’s Community Development Block Grant Program.

Section 108 loans are aimed to benefit low- and moderate-income people and help eliminate “slum and blight.”

The city seeks $2 million that would be used toward the purchase of property for the parking garage-library-community center complex. The total estimated cost is $36.6 million.

A financial analysis of the applicants has been completed and the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners is set to vote Monday on a resolution endorsing the applications.

Port Orchard, however, will defer making its loan application until it has completed a more thorough financial analysis, funds for which will be in the city’s 2010 budget, said Development Director James Weaver.

The deadline to apply for the loan is September of next year.

Other entities that will likely have a vested interest in the Town Center project include Kitsap Regional Library, Kitsap Transit and the Port of Bremerton, documents from the city indicate.

Other projects recommended by the KRCC to apply for the loan include Kitsap County Silverdale Campus YMCA, for $1 million, and Westbury Inc., an airport barricade company seeking to locate in North Kitsap, for $2 million. The YMCA will provide 74 new jobs in Kitsap County, 75 percent of which will be entry-level. Woodbury promises to bring 100 new jobs to the county, some in manufacturing, some in sales.

Read more about the Section 108 loan process in Kitsap shortly at kitsapsun.com.

Kitsap Chambers of Commerce Respond (or Not) to Possible Mason Chamber Name Change

I wrote a story today about the North Mason Chamber of Commerce and its board of trustee’s proposal to change the name to Mason-Kitsap Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber has grown since April from 210 members to 398 members at present, with a significant number from Kitsap County.
“It’s hard to ignore the 246,000 people who live north of the Mason County line,” said Mike Boyle, chairman of the board.
Boyle also said the name reflects the chamber’s increasingly regional focus.

The chamber’s membership still has to vote on the name change, but I wanted to know what Kitsap County chamber representatives thought of the idea. I didn’t hear back from Bainbridge Island’s Kevin Dwyer. Here’s what the rest had to say.

The proposed name change has given Coreen Haydock Johnson, executive director of the Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce, a mild case of angst over potential confusion it could create.
“It affects relocation, tourism and membership,” she said. “They’ve been very successful recently, and we applaud that, but we were all really surprised.”
Haddock Johnson doesn’t see the chamber’s claiming of “Kitsap” as being about “turf per se,” because membership in multiple chambers is a common practice.
“Maybe it will be all unfounded. It was just a surprising move, and we’ll see where it goes,” she said.

The Silverdale Chamber of Commerce is reserving comment on the name change until after its Sept. 17 meeting, according to spokeswoman Darci McGuire.

The Bremerton Area Chamber of Commerce has taken no official position, said executive director Silvia Klatman.

Greater Poulsbo Chamber of Commerce executive director Adele Heinrich said North Mason is geographically distant enough that the name change makes no difference to her. She praised North Mason’s growth in membership and innovative use of social networking, and she lauded chamber president and CEO Frank Kenny, in the saddle these past three years.
“Frank does such a good job of spreading the wealth. I don’t think it’s going to be a problem at all,” Heinrich said.

Kenny was surprised at the idea some people might not be totally comfortable with North Mason’s claiming “Kitsap” in its name.
“We’re somewhat taken aback that some people feel threatened by this,” said Kenny. “If someone thinks we did this to target their area of influence, that’s just not the case. That never came up in any of the discussions.”

Follow-up On South Kitsap Montessori School

In case you were wondering the outcome of of the situation with Farmhouse Montessori School on Bethel- Burley Road — made famous by the Kitsap County hearing examiner’s quote that neighbors of the school might be disturbed by the “noise generated by laughter and screaming of young children” — here’s the story in summary, from reporter Chris Dunagan’s article of Aug. 11:

“Based on new plans — including a maximum of 34 students instead of 40, as well as reduced operating hours — Hearing Examiner Ted Hunter approved the proposal with 22 conditions. The school’s hours will be 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays, as opposed to the previous proposal of 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.”

No Surprise, Assessed Property Values Down Again

Most property owners in Kitsap County will see an eight to 12 percent reduction in their assessed values for taxes payable in 2010, Kitsap County Assessor Jim Avery announced Tuesday. In most cases, however, that won’t equate to a corresponding reduction in taxes, due to voter approved levy rate increases in all areas of the county.

The assessor’s office will mail out change-of-value notices on Wednesday to 105,215 Kitsap County residents. Updated information on assessed property values has been available on the county’s Web site since last week.

Avery, who has been predicting an average 10 percent reduction in assessed values for this year, said the eight to 12 percent is what he expected based on analysis of real estate trends.

Asked to predict assessed valuations for 2010, Avery said, “I have no idea. I like to think we’ve hit the bottom from a price point, but I understand there’s still some foreclosures that are going to hit the market. Certainly it’s those foreclosures in my mind that are causing the prices of the properties to go downward.”

Read more in a story to be posted later on kitsapsun.com.

Asked to comment on any silver lining in all this, Avery said – as we’ve heard from those in the real estate industry – this is a great time for first-time home buyers to jump into the pool, especially considering the $8,000 tax credit available to qualified buyers.

Is anybody out there making lemonade?

Bethel Annex: One PDF Worth 1,000 Words

A couple of comments on today’s story indicated confusion. My apologies. Here’s a map that hopefully will help clarify what’s going with annexation of the Bethel Corridor.

Red = Sedgwick Bethel Annexation, nearly complete, includes the Fred Meyer sales tax revenue cherry on top.

Yellow and Green = Geiger Road Annexations, in the works

Purple = Geiger North, yet to come; this is the piece the county would like to see in place to create a less “illogical” boundary between city and unincorporated properties. The county is not rushing to let go of the revenue from these mostly commercial properties, but sees the annexation into Port Orchard as inevitable and logical according to the Growth Management Act. The revenue sharing agreement between cities and county calls for revenue sharing of 25/75 percent (city/county) the first year, 50/50 the second, 75/25 the third, before the county loses the revenue altogether. But, as Councilman John Clauson points out, the city assumes 100 percent of the responsibility the first year. Eric Baker, director of special projects for the county, said of this consequence of the interlocal agreement it’s understood that the jurisdiction assuming responsibility for an area won’t realize a net gain within the first few years.

Enough words, here’s the map (Courtesy City of Port Orchard)


Kitsap Weather: Volunteers for Homeless Shelters Needed

Is it cold enough for you? This weather reminds me of when I used to live in Montana — a walk to take out the garbage was a cheek-numbing expedition. Now imagine weathering this below-freezing weather — forecast to continue for the next week or so — without a home.

As you may have already read, Kitsap agencies and churches have opened cold weather shelters for the homeless. According to South Kitsap resident and advocate for the homeless, Sally Santana, more volunteers are needed to staff the shelters.

Shelters in Bremerton and Port Orchard opened Saturday and will remain open to provide a warm place to sleep for those who have nowhere else to go. One shelter will serve men, one will serve women and children, and another will serve men with children.
The shelters will open when temperatures fall to freezing or below or when an inch of rain or snow is predicted. Shelters open at 6 p.m. and close at 7 a.m. Reservations must be made daily and can be made by calling 211 before 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. After 5 p.m. weekdays and on weekends, those needing shelter can call the Crisis Clinic at (360) 479-3033 (transportation available if needed).

Volunteers are needed to help staff the shelters from about 5 p.m. to 9 a.m. Participating volunteers can select the days and times that fit their schedules. Volunteers will work in teams of two or three. Duties may include getting the shelters ready to open, signing in guests and getting them settled, putting on the coffee pot and closing up in the morning.

If you are interested in getting involved with this program, please fill out an application. Go to the Kitsap County Department of Emergency Management’s Web site.
• Select the “New Volunteer” button in the blue section on the left side.
• At the bottom of the page under “PDF Documents” printout both the “Background Check Application and Volunteer Application”.
• Fill out both applications
• Return the form by fax, mail, or drop it off at our office located at 911 Carver St, Bremerton.
• All volunteers registering with Kitsap Emergency Management will be subject to a basic Washington State background check.