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Council backs naming bridge for Oke

The Port Orchard City Council on Tuesday night approved a resolution to support naming of the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge as the “Bob Oke Bridge.”

The late state senator’s wife, Judy Oke, appeared with South Kitsap commissioner candidate Monty Mahan two weeks prior in support of the name change.

Councilman John Clauson removed the resolution from the consent agenda, which was approved wholesale in a single vote, to address it directly.

“I personally have heard a lot of people complain about it until the bridge was open,” he said. “Now all I hear is praise.”

Critics have resisted the idea of naming the span for Oke, noting that more than 80 percent of voters in the 26th District he represented opposed building the bridge in a required advisory election. Oke guided the plan through the state Legislature, where it ultimately won approval.

Judy Oke has been petitioning support for naming the bridge after her late husband, who died last summer just before the bridge was completed, and the Port Orchard City Council is the first public entity to approve a formal resolution.

“Our family is just so excited and so thankful,” Oke said Thursday. She noted that she merely presented the idea to the council and did not need to convince any individual members. “They seemed really receptive from the beginning, and we just followed their process.”

The resolution received one dissenting vote from Councilman Fred Chang. He noted that he also wanted it removed from the consent agenda, mainly so he could vote against it.

“I personally don’t see any public benefit, so I will be voting against it,” Chang said before the approval.

Oke has a Web site collecting online signatures of support for the bridge naming, found at www.bridgebob.org.

In other council business:

• The council approved an allocation of funding for the planned Cedar Cove Days event following a presentation from the event’s executive director, Cindy Lucarelli, and Councilman Jerry Childs two weeks earlier.

The event, scheduled for August 2009, celebrates stories written by local author Debbie Macomber, which are loosely based on Port Orchard’s geography.

Childs and Lucarelli showed a presentation they gave to Macomber’s Canadian publisher, Harlequin Publications. They hope to bring “heads to beds” with a regional festival on part with others of the same ilk, such as the Lavender Festival in Sequim, or the Mitford Days in Blowing Rock, N.C. based on the popular Mitford series by Jan Karon.

The council approved the allocation, with a minimum of $8,600 to a full amount of $11,500.

The event will request funds again in the new fiscal year.

Councilman Fred Olin saw the allocation as a good investment for Port Orchard, drawing in tourism dollars.

“They’re asking us to contribute 4 percent of their cost, but we’re getting more than 4 percent benefit,” he said. “We’re going to get a lot of bang for our buck.”

The allocation comes from the city’s hotel tax revenues.

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