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Deputies' group wrestles with CKSD
"It's not often someone can say no to law enforcement officers.But a Kitsap County Sheriff's deputy trying to put together a benefit fundraiser for at-risk children, scholarships and the family of a slain Des Moines police officer had the wrestling mat pulled out from under him recently by the Central Kitsap School District.And unless Deputy John Loftus can find a venue other than the Klahowya Secondary School gym by Friday, the Evergreen Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) sponsoring the wrestling event for charity will be out more than $1,000, as well as the show. Loftus is president of the FOP lodge. That's the amount organizers had to pay to book the Silverdale Showdown, featuring local wrestling personalities and stars of the Tacoma-based Pacific Wrestling (PWF) Federation. But the FOP was body-slammed when the school district refused use of the gym.CK Schools spokeswoman Jeanie Schulze said, We believe events of this nature could promote violence and are inappropriate in a school setting. Loftus currently is talking with a representative of Olympic College to see if they can use the gym there. It's their last hope to bring the G-rated, old fashioned wrestling show to town, he said.The show was going to be clean, said John's wife, Loren, who was doing public relations for the event.Linda Chissus, the CKSD's community liaison for property, at first thought it would be Olympic-style, Greco-Roman wrestling.We said no, professional wrestling. We told her we were going to do a G-rated show, nothing rude or crude, no gratuitous violence, no scantily clad females at ringside. We were going to have an old-fashioned (choreographed) wrestling show, Loftus said.But the rejection wasn't sudden, according to Schulze.One of the things we shared with them was that they were completing an application, and the application would have to be approved, she said.Loren called to ask about using the gym. We mailed the application and said events have to be approved. We checked our calendar and said the date was OK, Schulze said. We request organizations to call the school and see if the equipment will be available, Schulze said.But Loftus said everything was peachy with other school organizations, such as the parents' booster group that would have handled the concession stand, and audio-visual clubs that would have provided lights and sound.At the school no red flags ever came up initially, said Loftus. It's hard to believe we started this back in February and the first time the school says the superintendent sees it is March 22.That's all part of the process, Schulze said.When Loftus returned the application to use the gym, it went to community schools specialist Renee Overath. It's Overath's job to get information together about events, including the application, Loftus's letter about the event, and a review of the PWF's website, for a meeting with Superintendent Cathy Davidson.Even though Loftus assured Overath there would be no graphic displays of violence outside the ring, such as happened at the Tough Man event at the Fairgrounds, After the meeting it was determined the event didn't meet our policy guidelines, Schulze said. Schulze quoted from a district policy statement:The general aim of community use of school buildings is to better the educational, cultural, social and moral standards of the community.Schulze said the meeting was late Wednesday. Overath notified the Loftuses on Thursday.They said they were told part of the reason for the rejection was the names of some of PWF's wrestlers - Randy The Pimp Taylor and Mr. Sexy. They would have changed their names, absolutely, said Loren Loftus.They've all had previous names anyway, and will have other names in the future, said John.Two of the wrestlers, in fact, are home boys - Mean Mark Fergason and Randy Taylor, who graduated from West Bremerton High School.There's nothing mean about Mark, said Loren Loftus. His day job is working with developmentally disabled adults at the Communitas Group in Bremerton.The FOP planned to present an evening like the highly choreographed events of TV past, which featured wrestling greats like the Shiek, Haystack Calhoun and Dick the Bruiser. A lot of rhetoric, bouncing off the ropes ... and each other.The evening's card featured three championship matches as well, for the PWF belt, International Championship Wrestling belt, and the PWF-Tag Team Championship Belt.Uniformed police and representatives from law enforcement would be there as a presence, for kids to talk to, said Loftus.Shirley Wise of the Bremerton-Kitsap Traffic Safety Task Force, and the Reduce Underage drinking campaign, was planning to have a booth at the event and pass out pamphlets.It would have been perfect for a high-school event, especially with prom coming up, said Loftus. Instead, The district says they're comparing us to the Tough Man show. It's unfair, that was aimed at adults, and had the Hooters girls. We're doing a sports show with choreographed events, said Loftus.Several sponsors got on the bandwagon to donate money for tickets to be given to disadvantaged youngsters to attend.Prices for the general public were $8, and $12 for ringside seats.The group already had sold more than 100 of the original 500 tickets, and were getting such a demand for them it ordered another 200, said Loftus.The FOP planned to donate hundreds of tickets to community groups such as the YMCA, Campfire Girls and Boys, to distribute free to needy children who wanted to attend.Now the district is comparing us to the Tough Man show. ... The FOP would never promote a show we wouldn't be proud to bring our own kids to, he said.Proceeds from the fundraiser were to go to the FOPs scholarship program for college- or university-bound children of law enforcement officers. A percentage also would go to the family of Des Moines police officer Steven Underwood, killed recently in the line of duty. "