Central Kitsap Year in Review Part II



Car thefts in Central Kitsap rising

Police statistics are indicating that motorists who leave their vehicles unattended and unlocked to run into a store on an errand are finding their cars gone.

“You’d be surprised at the number of times people just walk off,” said Deputy Scott Wilson, Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office spokesman.

Motor vehicle thefts are on the rise in Kitsap County, according to KCSO, specifically in Central Kitsap east of Silverdale and East Bremerton.

The rash of thefts began in early June, Wilson said.

He said patrol deputies noticed more and more vehicles were being stolen and began tracking the trend. Detectives are currently investigating reports of 30 vehicles stolen since June 2.

Foreign imports, mainly Hondas and Toyotas, are the vehicles of choice for thieves.

“The items that are inside the vehicles also are easily taken out of one car and put into another,” Wilson said.

Vehicles are being taken from apartment complexes, major retail store parking lots, shopping mall parking lots, private residences and restaurant parking lots. KCSO said they are usually stolen between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Vehicles are typically found within hours and near where they were taken from and missing valuable items such as in-dash stereo equipment, personal property and sometimes vehicle components like seats.

Wilson said regardless of the length of time they’re away from their vehicle, people should always remove the key from the vehicle ignition, close all windows and lock the doors.

Fourth of July busy for emergency workers

Fourth of July celebrations kept emergency workers busy for a 24-hour period with minor fires and a number of injuries, none of which were serious. Pops, booms, whistles and sirens rattled the night air July Fourth.

Theresa MacLennan, CKFR spokeswoman, said 911 calls consisted of 11 medical calls; two motor vehicle crashes; 19 brush or wildland fires; two smoke investigations for smell of smoke; three alarm activations; one law enforcement assist; one hazardous spill and one toned to brush fire within the city of Bremerton which was canceled on the way to the incident.

“In total, CKFR responded to roughly double our daily call volume with 40 calls keeping crews busy,” she said.

Harrison Medical Center saw six fireworks-related injuries over the Fourth of July weekend, according to Darcy Himes, communications coordinator.

“There were six injuries due to fireworks,” she said. “Five for injuries to the hands or face from hand-held fireworks and one due to ashes in the eyes.”

Naval Base Kitsap projects received federal funding

Naval Base Kitsap was slated to receive $223.7 million from the 2010 military construction budget, according to Sen. Patty Murray.

Murray, a member of the Senate Military Construction Appropriations Subcommit-tee, announced $398.8 million would be coming to military installations across the state to make improvements that facilitate training and care for service members and their families. The funding was included in the 2010 Military Construction Appropriations bill.

“Our state’s military installations are the backbone of our country’s defense, our communities’ economic well-being and our service members’ training,” Murray said. “This bill doesn’t just make physical improvements to our state’s bases, it invests in improving the quality of life for our service members and their families. This funding will help create jobs, get local economies moving and ensure that Washington state remains home to some of our country’s very best military facilities and service members.”

The money slated for Naval Base Kitsap includes $69 million to continue work on an aircraft carrier pier at NBK-Bremerton and $154.7 million for two projects on Bangor.



Haselwood pledges big bucks to Silverdale YMCA

Joanne Haselwood pledged $2.5 million toward the Silverdale YMCA, naming it the “Haselwood Family YMCA” in honor of her late husband Chuck Haselwood.

“This is a good way to carry on Chuck’s name,” Joanne stated in a news release. “He would be proud to have his name on this facility knowing that his legacy will make a difference in his community for many generations.”

Chuck, who died in 2006, founded Haselwood Auto Group and was a longtime Kitsap County businessman and philanthropist. Joanne said he believed in giving back to the community and supported organizations that provided opportunities and safe places for youth, adding he would have definitely donated money to the YMCA.

The 50,000- to 70,000-square-foot facility will be located on the Central Kitsap Community Campus at the intersection of Poplars Avenue and Silverdale Way. LaRue said the Haselwood Family YMCA will be similar to the 70,000-square-foot facility in Gig Harbor. The project is slated to break ground in summer 2010 and open to the public by winter 2011.

KCU opens new Silverdale branch

A ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the grand opening of Kitsap Credit Union’s new Silverdale Highlands building on Aug 18.

The new complex, located at 2041 Myhre Road, marks the nonprofit financial cooperative’s 16th branch on the Kitsap Peninsula. The more than 17,000-square-foot building houses a full-service branch, as well as the relocated home loan and member business lending departments. The branch features a two-lane drive up; two ATMs, one of which will be accessible by car; safe deposit boxes; an investment services representative; six teller stations; and five financial services representatives.

Silverdale father and sons cycle 3,900 miles to the Atlantic

The summer of 2009 will forever be in the minds of retired Navy Cmdr. David Mackovjak and his 17-year-old twin sons John and James.

After all, it’s not every summer you hop on your bicycle and ride across the United States.

The Mackovjaks’ cross-country experience had an important two-pronged mission: to raise money for the Wounded Warriors Project and the Boys and Girls Club of South Puget Sound as they cycled from Silverdale to Virginia Beach, Va.

Departing Silverdale on June 28, the team averaged 100 miles a day, on a trip that had been in the planning mode for a couple of years. The team completed their 3,900-mile, 11-state journey, 43 days later on Aug. 9.

At just after 6 p.m., they rolled up Virginia Beach’s Atlantic Avenue in the midst of a heat advisory, enroute to the boardwalk and the Atlantic Ocean where they ceremonially dipped their bikes’ front wheels in the water after initially doing the same with their rear wheels in Puget Sound prior to leaving.

They were greeted by well wishers, tourists, relatives, media and a couple of dozen children with huge welcome signs from NAS Oceana’s Boys and Girls Club. Cycling 100 miles a day was the goal for the team. Along their route, they stopped at Fairchild and Peterson Air Force Bases, Fort Knox in Kentucky and NAS Oceana in Virginia in support of the Wounded Warrior Project and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, where they received enthusiastic welcomes.

The Riding4Hope cycling team started training in January and set a goal of $10,000 to support both organizations, a figure they have met and exceeded.



KAPO wins marine buffers case

Four years ago, Kitsap County determined there was insufficient science to support increased buffers on marine shorelines.

Because of a challenge by environmentalists, the Growth Management Hearings Board ordered the county to adopt precautionary buffers as a safeguard for fish under the state’s growth management act.

Shore lands, areas which are within 200 feet of the high tide line, are supposed to be governed by the Shoreline Management Act. But the Growth Management Act also administers “critical areas,” which must be protected using the “best available science.”

In the Sept. 9 case brought on by the Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners, the court of appeals ruled that, “County regulators cannot use the GMA as a shortcut to regulate shoreline property,” according to Pacific Legal Foundation attorney Brian Hodges, who litigated the case.

“This is a victory for property owners and the rule of law — cities and counties cannot take shortcuts when trying to impose precautionary environmental restrictions on private property,” Hodges said.

Ron Ross, KAPO member and one of two residents who were part of the lawsuit, said problems arose long ago when commissioners were trying to “set the bar high” for Kitsap County in order to gain favor with the state. Ross said the changes made affected every shoreline property owner.

Clear Creek Trail gets new boardwalk thanks to $43,000 grant

The Clear Creek Trail is getting new amenities thanks to a whopping $43,000 grant from the C. Keith Birkenfeld Memorial Trust.

The grant will cover materials and supplies for nearly 600 feet of boardwalk and a 40-foot wooden bridge. The Great Peninsula Conservancy received the grant for the Clear Creek Trail projects.

Volunteers built a wooden boardwalk around the north side of the storm water retention ponds north of All-Star Lanes in Silverdale. It includes a midpoint viewing deck, picnic table and benches and links the nearby portion of the Silverdale Way sidewalk with the existing forest and stream trails.

West Sound Fire & Rescue disbands

After two years of discussions, Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue, Bremerton Fire Department and South Kitsap Fire & Rescue doused the West Sound Fire & Rescue flame.

“This is a direction we’re all going to go,” CKFR Chief Ken Burdette said. “We weren’t going to move forward with three departments.”

All three fire agencies drafted and signed letters stating they were withdrawing from WSFR. SKFR fire commissioners approved the decision at their meeting Sept. 10 “to cooperatively put in the 30-day notice” to leave the regional fire authority planning committee. BFD and CKFR also signed similar letters.

“The three fire chiefs were directed by the planning committee to meet with attorney Ken Bagwell and try to come up with a consensus on what the new direction will be,” SKFR Chief Wayne Senter said. “We don’t think all three agencies coming together is doable at this time.”

Burdette said BFD first suggested all three agencies pull out of WSFR together instead of waiting for one agency to make the first move.

Senter said WSFR may be no more, but the three agencies plan to discuss merging BFD into either SKFR or CKFR in the near future.



H1N1 vaccine arrives in Kitsap County

With anticipation from the public at a high point, shipments of the H1N1 influenza vaccine arrived at two locations in Kitsap County.

An initial shipment of 600 dosages was received at the Kitsap County Health District.

And health care workers at Harrison Medical Center in Bremerton received their allocation of the vaccine a short time later.

Ellen Arthur, a registered nurse with the health district, said these first inoculations were the nasal swab type, but the injectable vaccine is on its way.

“The injectable has been ordered,” she said. “We are not sure when it will arrive, but it is coming.”

All 1,000 doses of the next shipment of vaccine also will be for health care workers, according to Arthur.

“We are vaccinating those with the highest priority,” she said. “We don’t want these health care workers to spread the virus.”

Cathy McDonald, a registered nurse at Harrison who is in charge of infection control, said the hospital is encouraging its eligible staff to get the vaccination.

“It is not mandatory,” she said. “But we are highly encouraging everyone to get it.”

Sprague also said the majority of doctors and nurses in the hospital were planning to get the vaccine.

“Everyone I talk to said they are getting it,” he said.

Nurses and doctors alike will take turns receiving the remaining doses of vaccine until the injectable arrives. The vaccine was expected to still be available to the public by mid-November.

CKSD Superintendent Lynch appointed to national commission

As a retired Army officer, Central Kitsap School District Superintendent Greg Lynch knows about the constant state of change that children of military members go through with frequent deployments and the rigors of moving to a new duty station every few years.

With that background, Lynch was appointed by Gov. Christine Gregoire as the state’s representative and commissioner on a national commission which oversees implementation of the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children.

The Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children is intended to address the significant educational and emotional challenges faced by military families due to frequent relocations. Specifically, the compact allows for a smoother transition for students as they move from one state educational system to another.

Last year’s 16-member statewide Governor’s task force included three other school district superintendents; four legislators; and representatives from the U.S. Department of Defense, Attorney Generals Office, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, the State Board of Education and Educational Service Districts. The task force met six times between May and November last year to analyze the compact, explore concerns that were raised and make recommendations regarding how to address the concerns. The legislation was ultimately signed by the governor.

Lynch, who has been an active supporter of the compact for nearly two years, said he has two main responsibilities that come with his new role.

“Number one is to represent the governor as the state commissioner at the national conference which is in about three weeks,” Lynch said. “The second responsibility is to select members of a state group, much like we did the task force last year, and I’ll chair the state group. I imagine that’s going to take some time because the devil will be in the details.”

Silverdale Chamber of Commerce director Darla Murker dies at age 45

One would be hard pressed to find a bigger supporter of Silverdale than Darla Murker, who died Oct. 18, of endometrial cancer. She was 45 years old.

Murker was Silverdale Chamber of Commerce’s Executive Director, a position she had held since 2006.

Reactions to her passing were of shock and positive memories.

“We’re a little shocked and humbled by the whole thing,” said Chris Koebelin, president of the Silverdale Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. “She’s one of those irreplaceable spirits in our community.”

Darla was first diagnosed with endometrial cancer in 2003 and went through four recurrences over the years. Her husband, Ross, said she stayed at Harrison Medical Center in Bremerton for nearly two months during her fourth and final bout.

Ross and Darla have three sons, ages 24, 24 and 20. They were married 14 years.

“She loved that job,” Ross said of his wife’s executive director role. “Being able to lead by serving, that was her.”

Koebelin said Darla was the face of the Silverdale Chamber and “put the community above and beyond anything else in her life.”

“She was an absolutely positive force for the Chamber. She always thought about the community and what was best for the community,” said JeanMarie Harmon, past president of the Silverdale Chamber Board of Directors. “I don’t know the Silverdale Chamber without Darla. “We’ve lost a great champion in addition to a very dear friend.”

Darci McGuire worked with Darla at the Chamber for three-and-a-half years and said Darla made the organization what it is today.

“She was just an amazing person,” McGuire said. “She was just that type of person that always wanted you to be able to improve yourself.”

McGuire said Darla was much more than a co-worker, she was like a second mother.

“She was a very strong person and she helped me be strong,” McGuire said.

King’s West takes a new name

Nearly two decades ago, Bremerton Christian Academy was renamed King’s West by CRISTA Ministries, a Christian outreach and its parent organization. Now, as times change, the school moves forward in 2009 and beyond as Crosspoint Academy.

The leadership at CRISTA Ministries felt the idea to rename the school was a sound one, according to Sally Ralston, spokeswoman for King’s Schools.

“They engaged a ‘naming consultant’ to study our school, our plans and our market,” Ralston said. “This consultant worked to create a list of potential school names. King’s Schools and CRISTA ministries leadership then pared that list down to their four top choices. These four were presented to the school leadership team and the team unanimously selected one from that list. The name we chose was Crosspoint Academy.”

Bryan Peterson, the head of Crosspoint, said an 18-month strategic planning process led to not only a change in name, but also in the school’s approach to a Christian education.

“We looked at every aspect of King’s West school,” he said.

It is not uncommon for schools to look at their market position through strategic planning, and according to Ralston, most schools develop such a plan every five years.

But Crosspoint had not looked at a plan like this since the last change in 1991.

“This was important,” Peterson said. “It was a necessary endeavor for our school.”

Crosspoint, one of three schools which operate under the CRISTA Ministries umbrella, is shifting its focus toward developing leaders, according to Peterson.



Detectives continue Illahee homicide investigation

Kitsap County Coroner Greg Sandstrom confirmed that the remains found inside a mobile home in Illahee were those of Paymela Jean Long, 58.

Sandstrom said she died by “homicidal violence” before the fire burned her home to the ground.

Sandstrom added that the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate the incident.

Long’s body was found following an early morning fire at the Illahee Shores Mobile Home Park, located at 4330 Illahee Road in East Bremerton, Oct. 31.

The Kitsap County Fire Marshal’s Office determined the blaze started in a bedroom, but the exact cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Long fronted the country group Whatta Band for several years and was a well-known country music performer.

Five protesters apprehended on Bangor

The U.S. Navy said five unauthorized personnel, claiming to belong to an anti-war protest group, were apprehended by security personnel after cutting through three security fences at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor at about 6 a.m., Nov. 2.

At no time was the safety of Navy personnel, property, or the public threatened in any way.

“Everyone should know that public safety and security are paramount,” said Rear Adm. James Symonds, commander, Navy Region Northwest. “I encourage everyone to remain vigilant in their duties.”

The intruders were apprehended in accordance with standing security procedures for incidents of this nature, and were turned over to Naval Criminal Investigative Service. There were no reported injuries. All five were given citations for suspicion of trespassing and destruction of government property, both of which are misdemeanors. They could face up to a year in jail and a $100,000 fine once the citations are processed and they appear in court.



Future unclear for Wildcat Lake’s operation

Wildcat Lake has been a favorite of locals and tourists for decades with its natural setting for fishing, swimming and family cookouts.

But, as with most parks, the cost of operating such a vibrant facility is expensive, and with budget woes clearly on the mind of county officials, there are concerns about Wildcat Lake being open for business this summer.

According to James Dunwiddie, Kitsap County Parks and Recreation director it is an option the county does not want to take, but may have to.

“It’s not something I would like to see happen, but times are changing and there’s no written script on this type of thing,” said Dunwiddie.

Dunwiddie said the county will be looking at their options in January as to whether they will go ahead with the summer closure.

As part of the county’s plan to cut spending by $7 million, the parks department must axe $465,000.

Closure of the park, along with Horseshoe Lake in South Kitsap, would save the county $140,000.

“Hopefully, by March we’ll have a game plan, if possible,” Dunwiddie said.

The park is closed every winter from October 1 to March 31.

Talks on fire department consolidation still possible

The idea of combining the Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue and the Bremerton Fire Department is still under consideration.

In a November letter sent by Bremerton Fire Department Chief Al Duke to the CKFR Board of Commissioners, any form of a merger would promote greater efficiencies in staffing, equipment acquisition and use, reduction in service overlap and redundancy and overall service delivery enhancement.

The letter also asked CKFR a series of questions regarding the financial model, labor contracts and other details that would affect the framework of a potential merger.

Also in the letter, Duke invited CKFR to give a presentation regarding the department’s interest in a potential merger during the month of December, though the proper forum was not specified.

CKFR Commissioner Bob Muhleman said any talks of a merger must not add significant expenses, especially with the current economic climate.

CK county commissioner to seek another term

Josh Brown has made the decision to run for reelection next year, hoping to become the first commissioner from Central Kitsap to win a second term since 1990.

“I’m proud of what we have been able to accomplish in the last three years,” Brown said. “We’ve made a positive impact on the county and have focused on how to build partnerships and work together.

“When I was running for office last time, there was a lot of divisiveness,” he said. “There were issues like NASCAR that were pulling people apart. Since then, we have found common ground and have brought people together.“

Brown was himself a source of division. Soon after his election win over Republican Jack Hamilton, Brown faced a lawsuit that challenged his residency and, by extension, his right to hold the office.

The suit was later dismissed.

Robert Ross, who filed the suit, said he didn’t have a problem with Brown himself, but simply questioned to his residency status.

Today, Ross praises Brown’s tenure.

“From what I have seen, he is one of our best county commissioners,” Ross said. “He has a level head, and knows the issues.”

Ron Ross, Robert Ross’ father, is another former Brown antagonist who has turned around.

“He has surprised me,” the elder Ross said of Brown. “He is exceptionally well-informed. That young man has a tremendous amount of ability and has become a very good commissioner.”

Brown cites the partnership with the Ross family for the development of the YMCA in Silverdale as the best example of team-building, and an action that will have a significant long-term effect on the county.

Broome selected as new Silverdale chamber executive

Michael Broome first became interested in Silverdale during a visit four years ago.

The tourist opportunities and business climate reminded him of his then-hometown Anacortes. For Broome, the area looked like an opportunity to use his talents as chamber of commerce executive director on a larger scale.

“There are far more retail outlets, which is a huge opportunity,” he said. “I just liked it, there’s good schools and lots of natural attributes which I like.”

On Dec. 7, Broome began his opportunity as executive director of the Silverdale Chamber of Commerce. He is replacing Darla Murkier, who died at age 45 on Oct. 18 of endometrial cancer. She served in the position since 2006.

Broome believes he has a lot to offer in the position because of his entrepreneurial spirit and business experience as executive director of the Washington State Community Associations Institute, a branch of a national organization that provides resources to people who manage homeowners associations.

Gaines becomes newest CKSD board member

Mark Gaines, long-time Central Kitsap School District volunteer, is now the district’s newest school board member.

Gaines was sworn into office during the regular School Board meeting Nov. 24 following certification of the Nov. 3 election results.

Gaines will fill the Director Area 2 position vacated by 14-year member, Carl Johnson.

No stranger to the education world, Gaines took an opportunity to educate himself on his new position.

“Prior to taking the oath of office on Nov. 24, I had the opportunity to attend the Washington State School Directors’ Association annual conference in Seattle,” Gaines said. “I attended a number of sessions during the conference that were specifically tailored to people who are serving on a school board for the first time. The conference provided a wealth of valuable information that will be helpful as I begin this new adventure.”

Gaines, a University of Washington graduate, received a bachelor’s degree and Master of Science in civil engineering. He is licensed as a professional engineer in the state of Washington and currently works as a construction engineer.

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