Stokes said cities, port “doing Kitsap Transit’s job” during Port Orchard Town Hall meeting

Port Orchard Mayor Tim Matthes hands the microphone to resident Jerry Harmon during the March 14 Town Hall meeting. - Dannie Oliveaux/Staff Photo
Port Orchard Mayor Tim Matthes hands the microphone to resident Jerry Harmon during the March 14 Town Hall meeting.
— image credit: Dannie Oliveaux/Staff Photo

A Town Hall meeting became a sounding board for one Port of Bremerton commissioner.

Commissioner Larry Stokes said the cities of Port Orchard and Bremerton, along with the Port of Bremerton, are “doing Kitsap Transit’s job” concerning the Bremerton-Port Orchard foot ferries.

Stokes made his remarks during a Port Orchard Town Hall meeting on March 14 hosted by Mayor Tim Matthes at City Hall. About 30 people attended the first of four meetings set this year.

“The City of Port Orchard, Port of Bremerton and City of Bremerton stepped up and started paying for the foot ferries to come back-and-forth,” Stokes said. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s an obligation to Kitsap Transit. As far as I’m concerned, we’re doing their job.”

Stokes said Kitsap Transit took over the ferries, which used to run frequently between the two cities.

Stokes said on March 5, the Port board voted to support funding the foot ferries this summer.

He said he discussed with Matthes about the idea of free transportation from Bremerton to Port Orchard.

“If we could put out free transportation from Bremerton to Port Orchard, we would still win because they would have to pay to go back,” said Stokes. “It makes good sense.”

Stokes said there needs to be pressure on Kitsap Transit.

“The pressure being — do your job,” Stokes said.

In 2008, Kitsap Transit bought the foot ferries for $1.5 million from Hilton Smith, who purchased the service from privately owned Horluck Transportation in 1995.

Ways to promote the foot ferries and its schedules also was a topic of discussion among the crowd.

Cedar Cove Inn owner Gil Michaels suggested putting flyers in the gas bills, but another business owner suggested using social media.

“Facebook and your websites are simple and free,” said

Rob McKee, owner of Whiskey Gulch Coffee Co. “Post it.”

McKee said the City should notify businesses about the dates and times for the ferries.

“It’s not hard putting it out there,” he said. “Fliers in the mail, that cost money to businesses and whoever is putting it out,” he added. “Using social media. It’s the way to go. That is what we are a part of right now. We can’t avoid it.”

Matthes said the Council is working on a social media policy. He said Council directed staff to stop using social media and Twitter until a cohesive policy is in place.

The mayor added the policy has been tabled, but encouraged citizens to contact Council members to take the policy off the table and work on it.

“We need the Council to get behind the social media policy we’re working on,” Matthes said.

McKee said everyone is talking about making Port Orchard more progressive, but the City doesn’t have a social media plan in place.

“That’s Stone Age, it really is,” he said. “There are websites that will promote this stuff for the City. The City doesn’t have to do, they just got to get the word out.”

Councilman Fred Chang said the City doesn’t have a Facebook page.

“The policy were talking about is for that,” Chang said. “It’s still being worked on.”

He said the City can get information out about the foot ferries and for people who have websites or Facebook accounts can post it on their sites.

“We need all of your networks and we need word of mouth,” Chang said. “We have to do everything we can to tell people about the foot ferries.”

Resident Jerry Harmon suggested putting a reader board at City Hall to get more people attending the meeting.

“There’s only about four people here that attend most Council meetings,” she said. “If there is something coming up a City Council meeting, there are very few people who know about it.”

Harmom said people don’t usually attend Council meeting unless they have a complaint with the City.

McKee said the reason “the average Joe” doesn’t attend Council meetings is they’re afraid of public servants.

“People are afraid of public servants, they just are,” he added.

Concerning the DeKalb Street Pier, Matthes said the structure would be re-decked, but the float would not be replaced during the first phase on the renovation.

“We just don’t have the money for it,” he said.

Matthes said the pier, which will be renamed Port Orchard Pier, will be ready this summer and he looks forward to see more smaller boats using the pier.

Matthes said three more Town Hall meetings are scheduled for June, September and December.

The mayor said he is looking into holding a meeting at McCormick Woods.

To watch the entire Town Hall meeting, go to


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