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Silverdale Navy vet is a force in the community | Local Profile
Steve Slaton and his family moved from place to place during his 29 years in the Navy, never establishing roots anywhere. When he retired, Slaton and his family settled in Silverdale and he decided to get involved in the community. And get involved he did.
Slaton currently serves as the president of the Silverdale Noon Rotary Club and is an active member of numerous local organizations.
The Port of Bremerton employee recently stopped by our office to chat about his family, Navy career and love of community service.
Question: What is your job with the Port of Bremerton?
Answer: I am the director of Marine Facilities. I’ve been there almost four years.
Q: What do you like the most about your job? The least?
A: The most — the people I work for, the people I work with and our customers. I do a lot of project work, but that’s not what really excites me. I have 15 people who work for me and they do their job and make me look good. Boaters are the happiest customers in the world. The least — I would say people having negative attitudes. Even in disagreement you can be positive.
Q: What are some of the biggest challenges facing the Port today?
A: From an operational standpoint, we need to make sure word gets out about the new marina and we fill it up. The Port is working hard to make sure voters know what’s going on with the Port and there’s a lot going on with it.
Q: How is the newly opened Bremerton Marina better for boaters?
A: It’s the first new marina built in Puget Sound since Elliott Bay was built in 1991. I define a whole new marina as building a whole new breakwater. The weightless moorage will provide people with what they’re looking for and the marina is open to the public. There are picnic tables for people to use. It’s just like having a park right there in the middle of the Sinclair Inlet. I estimate that when that marina is full, it’ll generate $10 million of revenue a year — that’s good for the downtown Bremerton revitalization.
Q: What did you do in the Navy?
A: I spent 29 years in the Navy and I came here (Silverdale) compliments of the USS Michigan. I was the commanding officer of two submarines and a surface ship. I was chief of staff for Navy Region Northwest and retired as a captain. I have an engineering degree from UC (University of California) Berkeley. I retired from active duty in 1999. People kept asking “when are you going to retire from the Navy?” and I said,” When it stops being fun.”
A: My wife, Debbie, she teaches at Woodlands Elementary, and our two grown sons, Zachary and Toby. Toby is a sergeant in the Marine Corps and is in Afghanistan. I spend 29 years in the Navy and he joins the Marine Corps. I also have two granddaughters, Zachary’s girls. They are 2 1/2 and 4 1/2. Since I only had boys you can imagine they’d be a little spoiled.
Q: What is your favorite thing about Silverdale?
A: I told my wife that she got to pick where we live after the Navy and I’ve certainly not had any quarrels with her decision. What I like about it is it isn’t so big that it lost its sense of itself. I love summertime in Silverdale. I think summertime in Silverdale is defined by Whaling Days and the Duck Race. I think those events in the summertime make Silverdale special. I like living in the beauty of this area with the big city close by. I’ve lived all over this country and the school’s here are top notch. Both my boys graduated from Central Kitsap High School and got good educations.
Q: What’s your favorite hobby?
A: I do reading of all kinds so reading is what I do to take my mind off things. I like biographies and good police procedure books. I like to read about people who led amazing lives.
Q: How long have you been involved with Silverdale Rotary?
A: 11 years. You serve one year as president. You’re nominated and elected by the club — all the board positions are elected.
Q: How many Silverdale Rotarians are there?
A: It fluctuates, but a good number is 80. That’s a good size — we get things done and it’s not so big that it’s overwhelming.
Q: What are your duties as Silverdale Rotary president?
A: It’s to work with the board members to do two things — execute the routines we do and the second thing the president does is come up with new ideas, fresh ideas, and encourage people to come up with ideas so we don’t get stale. That’s how RAGS (Rotary Auction Garage Sale) got started.
Q: What is something new that Rotary came up with this year?
A: One thing we did this year is become more involved in international service. Maybe not next year, but eventually we’ll have Rotarians from Silverdale go to places and participate in international projects. I think our biggest success story is the eradication of polio. Rotary Clubs have contributed over half a billion dollars to eradicating polio. It’s the second disease behind smallpox that has been wiped off the face of the earth.
Q: Are you involved with any other service organizations?
A: I’ve been on the Hospice board, I’ve also served on the Central Kitsap Community Council, on my church board at Central Kitsap Presbyterian Church and on the board with the Kitsap Peninsula Visitor & Convention Bureau. I’ve never lived in a place long enough to sink roots, so now I’m involved in all these things.
Q: How did you get involved with Rotary?
A: My pastor twisted my arm, actually two pastors. I spent 29 years in the Navy, you become accustomed to people sacrificing that you don’t even think about it. I was still on active duty when I joined Rotary and I saw a lot of the same sacrifices there. They gave up their time, their Saturdays for the betterment of the community and the world. It’s a great bunch of people. There’s good fellowship, just like the Navy.
Q: What is your favorite Rotary event to participate in?
A: The Great Kitsap Duck Race. I was duck race chair in 2004. I think that it’s just great. I love selling ducks and race day — you never really know what those 25,000 ducks are going to do.
Q: How long do you plan to be involved with Rotary?
A: As long as I can physically get to the meetings. I have some great Rotary heroes who still show up at the meetings and they’re in their 80s.
Q: Why should people get involved with Rotary?
A: I think it, first of all, demands something of you. You have attendance requirements — you have to show up, you have to participate. It’s a club for doers. We do cleanup activities and other activities to eradicate polio. So we’re going to pick up paper and then eradicate polio worldwide. Why would you not want to be a part of that?