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COUNTY BRIEFS: Acronym policy updated, meetings rearranged, wireless discussed, celebration planned

The Kitsap County commissioners are resurrecting their acronym policy, fining anyone who uses an acronym in a meeting $1 per use.

The policy began in January 2005 after a particularly confusing board retreat. It has continued sporadically since then, administered by the Public Information Officer, who would choose a charity to receive the proceeds each month.

The policy has continued since Clarence Moriwaki began as PIO in March, but with no designated charity. Moriwaki has increased enforcement in the last several weeks and on Monday discovered $87 in the kitty.

Moriwaki said the money would be donated to the “Tough Enough To Wear Pink?” campaign, a cancer-fighting fundraising effort tied to the Kitsap County Fair.

Campaign coordinator Julie Johnson said the donation is ”a nice gesture, and it is very generous of them to send this our way because there are many other needs in the community.”

The policy is openly enforced at the twice-weekly work study sessions, where one participant may interrupt another in order to levy the fine. In many cases, the meeting ends with a pile of dollar bills in the center of the table.

During the more formal regular meetings, there are no interruptions to call attention to acronym use. However, Moriwaki will often note the use of an acronym and assess a fine from the user after the meeting is over.

Moriwaki said on Monday he expects to actively enforce the policy and regularly distribute the funds.

“Acronyms are hard to understand,” said County Administrator Nancy Buonnano Grennan. “And it’s important that the public know what we are talking about.”

NEW SCHEDULE FORMAT

The Kitsap County Commissioners are rearranging their meeting schedule in order to encourage and facilitate public comment.

Currently, the schedule template allows for two comment periods; one after other public hearings restricted to agenda items only and another at the end of the meeting on any topic.

The new schedule will allow a comment period on any topic prior to the public hearings, which are usually the first items on the agenda. The second comment period, also for any topic, will occur at the end of the meeting.

“This is better because people can make their comments and leave,” said South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel. “They don’t need to hang around for the whole meeting.”

The second period can be used to comment on issues that arise during the meeting. Keeping a comment period at the end of the meeting will also avoid confusion for people who are used to that structure, according to Angel.

The new process begins at the next regular meeting, scheduled for August 27 on the Commissioner’s chamber in Port Orchard.

WIRELESS AVAILABILITY DISCUSSED

The technology to connect visitors to the Kitsap County Administration Building in Port Orchard to the wireless Internet is now in place, but the extent of its use has yet to be determined.

“We’re providing Internet access to jurors, journalists and other people who have official business with the county,” said Administrative Services Director Bud Harris. “It is not open to the public in the same way as an Internet cafe.”

Harris said the county was prohibited from providing the service for free, since it represents a gift a government agency is not allowed to give.

One option would be to charge for the service, which Harris said would raise the question of whether fees must cover costs or if it could be used to earn a profit.

Harris informed the commissioners about the system’s expansion at a work-study meeting on Monday. At that time, North Kitsap Commissioner Steve Bauer and Central Kitsap Commissioner Josh Brown said they favored establishing an open service where anyone could walk in and log on (similar to many local coffee shops).

“This is the people’s building and they should be able to use it,” Brown said. “I don’t think they are going to come in here to play computer games.”

Harris could not immediately calculate the cost of offering a free service, only that staff time and equipment costs would be involved.

“This isn’t big money,” Harris said. “But we aren’t sure whether tax dollars should be spent on this.”

The commissioners will meet in the next few weeks with its legal staff to determine whether they can offer the service.

ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION AT FAIR

Kitsap County will commemorate its 150th anniversary with a ceremony at noon on Aug. 23 on the main stage at the Kitsap County fairgrounds.

The Kitsap County-Chief Kitsap Heritage Day Celebration, as it is officially known, will feature addresses from all three county commissioners as well as local officials.

Representatives from the offices of U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee and U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell are also scheduled to speak.

Cantwell’s representative, State Director Chris Endresen, will be making her first public appearance in Kitsap County since leaving her post as North Kitsap Commissioner in June.

County Spokesperson Clarence Moriwaki said he expected a representative of the Suquamish Tribe would speak. As of Monday, he was attempting to locate descendants of the original Chief Kitsap to participate in the ceremony.

The Central Kitsap School Band is also scheduled to appear, and will probably play a rousing chorus of "Happy Birthday to You” addressed to county.

The county has commemorated its birthday all summer, with an exhibit in the Port Orchard administration building and the County Museum in Bremerton. The county is also selling commemorative pins for $1.50, and will receive a second batch of 1,000 pins this week.

“There has been a lot of interest in the pins,” Moriwaki said. “We are almost sold out.”

Pins will be available at the administration building and at the fair itself.

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