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County witnessed incremental change in 2004

For Kitsap County, 2004 was a year of consistent growth.

There were a few new buildings, like the Norm Dicks Government Center, and some new programs, like improved customer service in county buildings. But the end of the year found the county much the same as the beginning; it was a time of incremental rather than significant change.

For ferry riders, 2004 was the first year of the brown bag. On-board food service ended Jan. 1, with a promise of bigger and better nourishment after a few months.

It didn’t happen.

After a series of broken promises and missed deadlines, an agreement between vendors, the union and the WSF still pending. The exception was on the Southworth-Fauntleroy-Vashon route. The good news: Concessions opened at Colman Dock, to combat those Christmas munchies.

When asked of their greatest accomplishment in 2004, all three county commissioners answer quickly: “We created a budget.”

It was the second time the commissioners worked on a biennial schedule, and while it was sometimes harder to project two years off, all involved appreciate the break.

As a result, the board will spend 2005 planning non-budgetary aspects and ways to streamline county government.

The Department of Community Development moved toward the creation of its critical-area ordinance revisions, in an effort to manage county growth.

For most of the year the department ran without a permanent director. Kamuron Gurol resigned in April for family reasons, and the board of commissioners appointed assistant director Cindy Baker to take over as it searched for a permanent choice.

In November, four finalists went through a public interviewing process. A month later the field was whittled down to two: Baker and former Clallum County DCD director Bob Martin.

The board of commissioners is scheduled to announce its choice on Jan. 3.

While the national media obsessed about the presidential elections, two-thirds of the board of commissioners ran for office and earned re-election. Incumbents Jan Angel and Chris Endresen, respectively from South Kitsap and North Kitsap, faced similar challenges.

Both were unopposed in their own primary, with two members of the opposition party queuing up to run against them. And while Angel earned a slightly higher margin, both races left little doubt as to voter preference.

Central Kitsap Commis-sioner Patty Lent was not up for re-election.

The Kitsap County Superior Court was re-elected together, all but one without opposition. Judge Anna Laurie had caused controversy with a recent ruling that some felt was too lenient. But she handily dispatched two opponents in the primary, making a November contest unnecessary.

The bench, however, had changed and expanded at year’s end. Judge Ted Spearman, its first African-American judge and the first from Bainbridge Island in some time, was nominated in March.

Sally Olsen, also from Bainbridge Island, was Gov. Gary Locke’s final judicial appointment, filling a newly created position.

Public officials and private enterprise pulled together in massive community support and promotion projects designed to communicate Kitsap’s appeal to the outside world — both to uncertain effect.

NASCAR announced its intention to open a race track in the northwest. A site near the Bremerton National Airport was put forward, and all three commissioners visited race track facilities to judge their effect.

NASCAR, however, decided on a Marysville site in September, only to have the plan fall through, putting Kitsap County back in the running.

This made Angel seem prophetic, as she never gave up on the idea.

Also uncertain at year’s end are the results of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) committee, which was lobbying hard in favor of keeping Kitsap County’s naval bases intact.The final announcement is due this spring.

At the beginning of the year, two important public safety divisions were operating without a contract.

In December, 911 dispatchers ratified a contract that earned them considerable back pay along with a competitive wage. But Sheriff’s deputies, who have been unable to reach a solution, will face arbitration in early 2005.

The dispatchers’ victory was not without causalities. CenCom assistant director Dave Magnanet was put on leave after he posted some controversial comments on the Internet.

At year’s end, Magnanet had just resigned his post as a search for his replacement began.

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