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2005 a time of change in South Kitsap

Port Orchard continued its growing pains in 2005, the main issue being one of community development - with some cats and parrots thrown in for good measure.

n Downtown Port Orchard may soon be under new management. Many of the downtown buildings that comprise Port Orchard’s Bay Street were optioned in November to a group of investors represented by real estate broker Rich Clauson, whose brother John Clauson serves on the Port Orchard City Council.

Clauson started making offers to business owners months ago and already has the option to buy both of Howard Minor’s vacant properties, the Grande Olde Central Antique Store, Myhre’s and several other downtown buildings yet to be named.

Howard Minor’s buildings, the Applegate building next to Myhre’s also known as the original theater building and the “mall” at the end of that block, are optioned for $1 million. Myhre’s, owned by John and Mindy Lora, is reportedly optioned for $800,000 and Gerry Bruckart’s antique store for $700,000.

The money has yet to change hands as the investors have four months to decide if they want the property and then another four month option to finalize the transactions.

Clauson is still making offers on buildings, but reports he is very close to ensuring the project comes through.

n Downtown Manchester sold. A crowd of more than 100 people gathered in the Manchester Library parking lot during July to hear private land planner Bill Palmer and developer David Hopkins discuss plans to bring new commercial space and upscale condominiums to downtown Manchester.

Hopkins, of Hoppet Design and Construction, Inc., announced his plan to purchase the Past and Presents building, as well as the Manchester Food Center along with the buildings housing Mama Java and Go Figure.

Hopkins provided a conceptual drawing of his building plan, which includes tearing down the existing buildings.

Private land planner Bill Palmer spoke on behalf of John Clark, who is in the process of purchasing the gas station site along with the vacated barber shop on Colchester.

Palmer, who lived in Manchester for years, said his client envisions 10,225 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor, six condos on the second and six on the third. He said the condos would sell for approximately $350,000. The project includes 34 underground parking spaces and 19 outside the building.

Palmer expects completion of both projects before next fall.

n Port Orchard City Council sees results of its “wild” side. Along with passing its Six-Year Transportation Plan and raising the city’s property taxes from $1.7994 per $1,000 of assessed value to $2.10 per $1,000 in 2006 as a result of a legal loophole called “banked property tax capacity,” the city’s municipal code changed in 2005 prohibiting the feeding of feral cats creating a backlash from the community.

The council also voted to allow Cingular Wireless to replace the 60-foot cell tower on Mitchell Avenue with a pole 53 feet taller, as long as the current occupants of the poll — the city’s flock of feathery foes — were removed.

The plan was to place them in captivity.

Kate Clark of the nonprofit Angel Wings Exotic Bird Rescue and Rehab in Kitsap County volunteered to help capture and house the birds. Her proposal included trapping the birds, examining and treating them, quarantining the sick, separating the sexes to prevent further breeding and letting the parrots live on a piece of her property in 10x20 heated, tarp-covered flight cages.

She contacted numerous bird doctors and even the United States Humane Society and had received overwhelming support.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife made an official recommendation that the birds be captured and the Council agreed.

However, the birds were not captured and they continue to fly throughout Port Orchard building a new nest.

n SKSD scores up across the board on WASL. This year’s Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) scores were announced and the South Kitsap School District (SKSD) is cautiously celebrating another year of analysis and strategic improvements.

All the schools in the South Kitsap School District met the AYP targets in reading and math, outscoring the state average in fourth-grade reading and math, fifth-grade science, seventh-grade reading, math and writing and tenth grade reading. In fourth-grade writing, the difference was 1.5 percent. In eighth-grade science, the difference was 1.6 percent. In tenth-grade math the difference was .3 percent and in tenth-grade science it was 1.9 percent.

“This is the first year we’ve improved in every category,” said Kurt Wagner, assistant superintendent of instructional services. “And it’s not just one or two schools that are achieving high results, it’s across the board.”

Unfortunately, South Kitsap High School failed to make AYP for the third year. The school is now in “Step 2” status.

Of 17 categories, SKHS failed to make AYP in only two.

n Angel cracks whip on Parks Board. Kitsap County Commissioner Jan Angel decided last spring she was tired of the mismanagement of South Kitsap Community Park and hopes to avoid enabling the park’s Board of Commissioners to accrue any further debt.

Angel issued a letter to the board that includes a clear ultimatum — pay the county $34,089.72 or the board will be dissolved and the park will revert to the county.

“They haven’t had revenue to operate the park,” Angel said. “My concern with that now, and what really brought his to a head, is that they have three out of five board members up for re-election.”

Angel said the election cost the board $20,000 to $25,000, putting them even further in debt to the county.

The board has countersued and the issue of the park’s management is still pending.

n “Old Guard” and newcomers split difference at polls. The results of November’s election will add two new faces to the Port Orchard City Council come January, while preserving the longtime reign of two others.

Incumbents Carolyn Powers and Bob Geiger were re-elected Tuesday while Fred Chang defeated Leslie “Jay” Weatherill, former mayor of Port Orchard and political newcomer Tye Moore overcame Melode Sapp for the council’s third position with 58 percent of the vote compared to Sapp’s 41 percent.

With 61 percent of the vote, Powers beat Dennis Xavier Goss, who had just 39 percent.

Geiger took 54 percent of the vote compared to opponent Gil Michael’s 46 percent.

Chang took 60 percent of the vote to Weatherill’s 39 percent, despite being on the receiving end of some negative campaigning.

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