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TOP 13 STORIES FOR 2013 | Victories, struggles highlight year

There were plenty of highs and lows in South Kitsap during 2013.

South Kitsap got a new skate park and the first-ever king served over the Fathoms royal court.

In the city, a longtime councilwoman retired after 26 years of service, while another resigned because he was moving outside the city limits. City voters said no to changing the city’s status and form of government.

The school district, which hired a new superintendent, faced tough budget decisions with cutting staff and avoided a teachers’ strike a few days before the start of school.

A legendary high school baseball coach died and two teen girls were killed before the Christmas holidays.

There was a change in the city’s “top cop” and a Manchester port commissioner was charged after a WDFW investigation.

Here are the Independent’s top 13 stories of the past year:

1. Jan Angel wins 26th District Senate seat

In the most expensive state Senate race in state history, 26th District State Rep. Jan Angel (R-Port Orchard) defeated Democratic Senator Nathan Schlicher, of Gig Harbor, in the Nov. 5 general election. Angel collected 52 percent of the votes.

Schlicher, an emergency room doctor from Gig Harbor, was appointed to the Senate earlier this year. He replaced Derek Kilmer, who was elected to Congress in 2012.

Angel became the first Republican woman senator from the 26th Legislative District.

Including direct campaign spending and what political action committees (PAC’s) spent, the price for the election was about $3 million in a district with more than 43,000 people. Nearly $2 million was spent by PACs alone.

In all, pro-Schlicher PACs spent $67,636, while anti-Angel PACs spent a whopping $805,048. On the other side, pro-Angel PACs spent $274,658 while anti-Schlicher PACs spent $656,579.

California billionaire Tom Steyer pumped an estimated $455,000 into anti-Angel PACs, including the “She’s Changed” organization. Steyer also funneled money into the Washington Conservation Voters PAC, which ran negative ads directed at Angel.

On Oct. 24, Angel called for the state Attorney General and Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) to seek an immediate injunction against the NextGen Climate Action committee and to prosecute Steyer to the fullest extent of the law because of money used for anti-Angel political ads.

She called upon She Changed PAC to return $455,000 that it received from Steyer. Angel also called upon Comcast to follow through with a cease-and-desist letter sent Oct. 18.

The Seattle Times published a story Oct. 23 about anti-Angel ads and found them misleading.

Angel, a former Kitsap County commissioner, served in the state House since 2008.

2. SKSD struggles with budget, announces cuts

The South Kitsap School District board approved a resolution May 8 that would cut 68 jobs, including 61 teaching positions.

Interim Superintendent Bev Cheney presented recommendations to reduce the $3 million shortfall.

“It was the most difficult thing in my entire career,” Cheney told the audience of mostly teachers. “It was something we needed to do.”

Under the resolution, 25.5 FTE (full-time equivalent) elementary teachers, 22.9 secondary teachers, 8.5 in CTE (Career Technical Education), 3 in Special Education, 3.2 in certified administrative staff and 4.088 in classified staff would be cut to help make up the shortfall.

Cheney noted enrollment decline and reduction of federal money figures in to cutting staff. Cheney noted there is a difference in people and FTEs. One FTE could include one person or more.

Of the 68 positions proposed to be cut, 33 positions would be eliminated due to the $2.5 budget reduction, but 25 would remain open because of retirement and resignations.

Over the past five years, Cheney said the district avoided cutting teachers and employees through reductions in other areas of the budget. Funds from the district’s reserve and local levy helped make up the budget gap because of declining enrollment and state budget cuts.

In an Aug. 12 letter posted on the district website, Superintendent Michelle Reid corrected some misinformation concerning the district’s budget and financial situation, along with comments about the independent financial study of the district, funding, levy and class sizes. The letter came days after the board and about 100 people heard the findings of an independent fiscal consultant at the Aug. 7 board meeting at South Kitsap High School

3. School district avoids teachers’ strike

One day before the start of school, South Kitsap Education Association members overwhelmingly approved a three-year contract that will lower class sizes over the next three years.

Of the 407 members that attended the Sept. 3 meeting, more than 96 percent voted in favor of the new agreement. The South Kitsap School District and teachers’ union reached a tentative agreement on Aug. 30.

The ratified contract went before the school board for approval Sept. 4.

The new three-year contract included:

• Secondary academic class sizes will be reduced from the previous contract levels by two students this semester and by one more student the second semester of this school year. Academic secondary class sizes will be reduced by one additional student in 2015-16.

• Elementary split classes (where students from two different grade levels are placed in one classroom) will be reduced over the next three years. The major focus is to eliminate grade 4/5 and 5/6 splits this year. In the second year of the contract, 2/3 and 3/4 splits will be added and in the third year, the district will concentrate on eliminating 1/2 splits.

• Elementary school class sizes will be lowered by one in the second year.

Members of the bargaining team for the school district were Lynn Stellick, Dave Colombini, Shannon Thompson, Rita Reandeau, Darek Grant, Jerry Holsten and Jay Villars. SKEA was represented by Richardson, Judy Arbogast, Jenni Duggan, Mary Hawksley, Sue Hinkley Porter, T. Michael Burch and Randy Paddock.

4. Proposition No. 1 rejected by city voters

Proposition No. 1, that would have changed the City of Port Orchard’s status from a second-class city to code city and change the form of government from a mayor-council to council-manager, was defeated by a 2-to-1 margin in the Nov. 5 general election.

After months of discussion and hearing comments from citizens at two public hearings, the council voted 6-1 for adoption of a resolution that would place a ballot measure to change the city’s classification and form of government at the July 9 meeting.

With the resolution, there will be a single ballot measure for the Nov. 5 general election to change the city’s status from a second-class to non-charter code city and also to adopt the council-manager form of government.

If the ballot measure passed, the city would have become a code city in December and a new council would be elected in February. The plan of government would not have changed until a new council is elected.

According to the Municipal Research and Service Center (MSRC), Port Orchard is one of 20 cities with a population between 10,000 and 25,000 that has a mayor-council form of government.

Of cities with populations more than 10,000, 37 of the 75 have a council-manager form of government. Nine of the state’s largest cities operate under council-manager.

The MSRC also reported that of the 281 cities and towns in the state, 187 are code cities. Port Orchard is the largest second-class city in the state among the nine entities.

5. Legendary SK baseball coach Elton Goodwin dies

Legendary South Kitsap baseball coach Elton Goodwin died Nov. 7 from complications resulting from hip surgery earlier in the week. He was 63 years old.

Goodwin guided the Wolves to three state championships (1983, 1996 and 2003) and had a 491-136 record from 1976 to 2003. His 1996 team, which featured future major-league players Willie Bloomquist and Jason Ellison, went undefeated (23-0). Goodwin also won 17 Narrows League and two Olympic League titles during his tenure.

In addition to coaching, Goodwin taught special education at the high school.

“He was probably a mentor to a lot of students, not just baseball people,” said Cully Ecklund, who was a pitcher on Goodwin’s first state championship team in 1983 and now lives in Montesano. “He was like a dad to a lot of guys.”

Goodwin was inducted into the Washington State Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1997.

“I think the biggest thing about Elton was he just cared so deeply about kids,” South athletic director Ed Santos said. “Kids that played for him, kids at school. You can see how many people he touched because there are sons and daughters of former Elton players here.”

6. Michelle Reid selected as SKSD superintendent

The third time was a charm for Michelle Reid.

In her third attempt to become a superintendent, Reid was named to head the outh Kitsap School District by an unanimous vote of the school board Feb. 20 at Cedar Heights Middle School. Reid, 53, has been assistant superintendent of the in the 3,968-student Port Angeles School District since 2004. She worked in the district for 28 years in various teaching and administrative roles.

Reid began work as superintendent of the 10,653-student district in July.

She has the task of leading SKSD through ever evolving state and federal regulations for assessment of students, teachers and principals.

Three goals Reid said she would like to see accomplished in a five-year period are:

• To maintain the whole child focus of the district and to increase community partnerships with the district.

• Improve student achievement where needed.

• Have a solid financial base.

In 2012, Reid was finalist as interim superintendent for the district, but the board selected former superintendent Beverly Cheney to fill in for a year after Dave LaRose, who left in July to become the superintendent in California’s Culver City Unified School District. She was also a finalist fot the superintendent’s job in Olympia.

Reid is a graduate of the University of Puget Sound and in 2012 earned her doctorate in educational leadership. She also served on the Washington Learns Task Force in 2005 and helped write anti-bullying legislation in 2001.

7. Teen girls killed in one-car crash

Just days before the Christmas holiday break, two teenage girls were killed and another injured in a one-car crash on Baby Doll Road on Dec. 16.

The Kitsap County Coroner’s Officer identified the victims Tuesday as Rebekah F. Barrett, 18, and Shanaia R. Bennett, 17. Barrett, who lived in South Kitsap, was a former student in the South Kitsap School District and was attending Crosspoint Academy in Chico. Bennett, of Gig Harbor, was a student at Henderson Bay High School in the Peninsula School District.

A third girl injured in the crash, Michelle Gregory, 17, was transported to Tacoma General Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

The accident was reported about 9:39 p.m. in the 1100 block of Baby Doll Road SE at the intersection with East LaSalle Street in South Kitsap. All three girls were in a 1994 Toyota Camry driven by Barrett.

Wilson said witnesses reported that the Camry appeared to have been racing with a 1997 Toyota pick-up truck, driven by 20-year-old Robert A. Rundquist Jr., prior to the collision.

Charges were filed against Rundquist on Dec. 17 in Kitsap County District Court. According to his Facebook page, Rundquist was Barrett’s boyfriend and a student at Discovery Alternative High School in Port Orchard.

Witnesses reported they saw the two vehicles traveling side by side at speeds well in excess of the posted 35 mph speed limit.

The investigation showed the Camry’s driver applied its brakes as it approached an SUV that also was traveling northbound ahead of her. The Camry began to skid and the driver lost control of the car and struck a large tree before landing in a drainage ditch.

Barrett and Bennett suffered massive injuries and were pronounced dead at the scene by South Kitsap Fire and Rescue medics. Gregory, who was seated in the rear, was extricated from the car and transported to the hospital.

The road was closed for approximately six hours, immediately following the crash, as sheriff’s traffic unit deputies conducted their investigation.

8. Carolyn Powers retires after 26 years on council

Carolyn Powers has been a fixture on the Port Orchard City Council for the past 26 years.

She has been through six elections since being appointed to the council in 1987. But on Dec. 31, she ended her time on the council and retired.

On Dec. 10, city staff held a retirement ceremony for Powers. Attending the one-hour ceremony — emceed by Councilman Fred Chang — were former Sixth District congressman Norm Dicks, former mayor Lary Coppola, former city clerk Patricia Parks, along with former councilmembers Robert Geiger, Don Morrison, Fred Olin and Jim Colebank. Lee Caldwell, who also served as mayor for one year, attended, as did family members and friends.

Letters from former councilmember Warren Van Zee, former public works director Larry Curles, former mayor Leslie Weatherill and County Commissioner Charlotte Garrido were read by some of the present councilmembers at the ceremony honoring Powers.

Powers, who served as the 26th District state representative from 1983-84, began her career with the city after being appointed to fill an expired term of late Councilman Bob Lloyd, who was terminally ill at the time in 1987. She was appointed to the council after retiring as an administrative secretary at Marcus Whitman Junior High School in South Kitsap School District.

She followed in the footsteps of her late husband, Paul D. Powers, who also was involved in city government. He served on the city council from June 1959 to December 1997 after he was appointed to fill a vacancy — just like his wife did years later.

Paul Powers, who died in 1992, served as mayor from 1972 to 1982.

9. Alan Townsend named police chief of Poulsbo

Since 1999, Al Townsend has been Port Orchard’s police chief.

But in February, Townsend decided to apply for the job of Poulsbo’s top cop. The Poulsbo City Council approved Townsend as police chief March 6. He succeeds Dennis Swiney, who retired in January and returned to his hometown of Visalia, Calif.

Prior to Port Orchard, Townsend was with the Lincoln Police Department in Nebraska. He has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Nebraska, a master’s degree in criminal justice administration from Boston University, and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy.

Townsend emerged as a surprise candidate for Poulsbo police chief; he had served on a panel that interviewed other contenders for the job. On Feb. 5, Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson issued a press release announcing that Townsend was now a candidate.

“I was really impressed with City Hall and how it operates,” Townsend said. “There was an opportunity there and I decided to give it a try. It would be a new challenge for me.”

Townsend, a Bangor resident, was paid $117,975 a year, a decrease from his $126,000 a year salary with Port Orchard.

Commander Geoffrey Marti was appointed to replace Townsend as chief.

10. Skate park opens at South Kitsap Regional Park

On June 22, about 3,000 people gathered at the South Kitsap Regional Park for the grand opening of the new skate park.

For more than seven years, South Kitsap Skate Park Association President Leslie Reynolds-Taylor and Ian Wilhelm, along with other community members, have endured countless setbacks, meetings, planings and fundraising for the new state-of-the-art skate park on the southern portion of the South Kitsap Regional Park.

“This has been such an interesting project,” Reynolds-Taylor said. “Some good things and some hard things, but we have done a good job.”

In April, Kitsap County and the skate park contractor reached an “agreement for a solution” concerning some construction that was not permitted.

Kitsap County Parks Director Jim Dunwiddie said the county and the contractor — Grindline Skate Parks, Inc., — reached an agreement to remove the wood framing, but keep the metal rebar intact in case the county decides to allow the “beehive-like” structure with the full pipe.

During the grand opening, SKSPA representatives presented Kitsap County Commissioner Charlotte Garrido with a check for $110,000 — money the group raised toward construction of the skate park.

Garrido said the county spent $780,000 for the skate park.

11. WDFW investigation leads to charges against Port commissioner

An investigation by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife led to the Kitsap County Procecutor’s Office filing a criminal charge against Port of Manchester Commissioner James E. Strode for his involvement of unlawful hydraulic project activity at the Port.

Charging papers, filed Feb. 12, stated on Dec. 4, 2012, that Strode allegedly performed work on a hydraulic project without approval under state law. The penalty is a year in jail or $5,000, or both.

WDFW Police Officer Jason Czebotar, of the department’s Montesano office, investigated the incident after receiving a complaint from David Kimble, of Manchester.

In his email, Kimble alleged the Port of Manchester lifted a log off the beach and repositioned it along the shoreline, then chained it to existing logs. Kimble stated Strode was present while the logs were moved.

Included in Kimble’s email were photographs of a backhoe lifting and placing logs along the shore. Documents said one photograph shows two individuals chaining the log in place on the beach.

WDFW investigators visited the site and discovered logs and other wood material had been staked and anchored to the shoreline, and appeared the work was done recently. WDFW reported no HPA permits were issued for the work.

Czebotar said in his report, he went to the Port’s boat launch and took photographs of the bank armament and observed a log chained down.

Because water is state property, WDFW is responsible with protecting fish habitat and issues permits for hydraulic project activity (HPA). Construction projects that effect bed or flow of water requires HPA permits. The purpose of the HPA permits are to set requirements and time frames to limit or mitigate impact on fish and their habitat.

12. Thomas chosen as first-ever Fathoms o’ Fun king

In 45 years of the Fathoms o’ Fun pageant, there has been a queen reigning on the Royal Court, but Aaron Thomas ended the long reign of teen girls and became the first-ever “king.”

Thomas, a 17-year-old Peninsula High School junior, who resides in South Kitsap, reigned over the 2013 Royal Court. He was crowned during the Fathoms o’ Fun scholarship pageant March 2 at the Christian Life Center, in Port Orchard.

It was Thomas’ first competition.

The lone teen male contestant competed against five teen girls.

Thomas took home a handful of awards — winning eight of the 11 presented to this year’s contestants. He won for top button/pin sales, most sponsors, impromptu question, best oral essay, formal wear/modeling, talent, spirit and congeniality.

Thomas plans to attend flight school and perhaps join the U.S. Air Force. He wants to be a commercial pilot.

Joining Thomas on the Royal Court is Princess Carly Fulbright, Princess Alyssa Josephsen. Delaney Triplett will serve as the Royal Court Ambassador.

Former princess Joanna Aquino, who appeared at more than 80 events during her 2012 reign, was placed on the court midway during the year. Triplett became one of the two princessws, while Aquino filled in as the court’s ambassador.

13. Colebank resigns from city council

Jim Colebank resigned from City Council Position No 1, effective July 31.

Councilman Fred Chang tweeted about Colebank’s resignation after the July 9 Council meeting.

Colebank moved to a home he had built outside the city limits on property he owns along Beach Drive.

He was elected to the council in January 2008. He was in his second term, which ends December 2015.

Councilman Jerry Childs and Colebank joined the Council together in 2008.

“We had the same purpose and many of the same philosophies,” Childs said. “We wanted efficient government, keeping taxes low, and pursuing growth through sensible targeted annexation. Those philosophies have served Port Orchard well in the recent economic downturn.”

Childs and Colebank worked together on the Economic Development and Tourism committee for the last six years promoting the town and encouraging and empowering business. In June 2011, Colebank began efforts to begin the annexation process for a shoreline residential area along Beach Drive.

Jeff Cartwright was appointed to fill Colebank’s vacancy on Aug. 27. Cartwright, Kim Punt and Trish Tierney were the three finalists the council interviewed for the seat. Cartwright, a California native, has worked with Kitsap Transit since 1995 and has been the human resource director for the past seven years.

 

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