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Chamber, schools send welcome wagon to Georgia

Moving to a new home more than 3,000 miles away can be a difficult transition, even for the most experienced Navy family.

The Navy is shifting two submarines, the USS Pennsylvania and USS Kentucky, from Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Ga., to Bangor this summer. That means more than 600 sailors and their families will be moving to Kitsap County.

“Navy personnel are constantly coming and going,” Submarine Group 9 spokesman Lt. Kevin Stephens said. “But they have sent crewmen out here already so they know where their offices are once they arrive.”

The Silverdale Chamber of Commerce and the Central Kitsap School District are sending representatives to the base in southeast Georgia to help their families make a smooth transition as well.

Chamber President Nancy Whitaker said the Silverdale group will be making presentations at Kings Bay March 11-12 for the crews and their families. The presentation will cover a number of topics, ranging from housing to the weather. This is the first trip of its kind ever organized by the Silverdale Chamber of Commerce.

“We’re going to be taking a lot of literature,” Whitaker said. “We’re going to start by breaking down the county by the five school districts and giving an overview of the county including the weather and recreation activities.”

The Central Kitsap School District is sending David Sours, its director of student services.

“I’m going to provide information, not to sell CK schools,” Sours said. “This is to ease their transition, so we can ease their fears, so they can make the move into the area school districts as easy as possible.”

With more than 25 years in dealing with a variety of students, including those with special education needs, Sours was a logical choice to make the cross-country trip.

“Anything we can do to be a good neighbor for our Navy families — if we can make that move smoother and take care of some of those fears — it’s a really good thing for the children,” Sours said.

Whitaker hopes the trip could be a model for future efforts, such as when the carrier USS John Stennis arrives at Naval Station Bremerton in 2004.

“We’re pleased the Navy has invited us to come back (to Kigs Bay),” Whitaker said. “We’re there to take them as much information as we can to answer any questions they may have on their new home. If this is successful, the Navy will be aware that we’ll be able to go and do this sort of thing again. We hope they find it valuable for the people who are transferring to this area.”

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