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Ice arena backer also backs Bozeman

Among contributors to Cary Bozeman’s campaign for Bremerton mayor is Greg Meakin of Silverdale. Meakin and his wife Deborah have made three contributions totalling $1,000 as of Oct. 16.

The first $500 contribution came June 3 and was followed by two, $250 contributions — one on Aug. 28 and another on Oct. 2.

Meakin is the chief booster of the proposed Silverdale Ice Arena, which recently gained a huge private donation bringing the arena closer to reality.

On July 10, Meakin wrote a letter to Chris Gears, director of Parks and Recreation for Kitsap County. In part it read: “I submit to you now that if the county would commit to directing improvement funds to the Fairgrounds — and also commit to further dedicating this area to family-oriented leisure and recreation activities in the future — I would consider immediately entering into negotiations to locate my ice arena there.”

Meanwhile, Bozeman is a sitting member of the Public Facilities District which recently ranked the Fairgrounds site as the top selection for funds the PFD will distribute based on a state sales tax rebate. The Fairgrounds site could gain at least $4.5 million in renovation money for athletic facilities and possibly more.

Both Bozeman and Meakin vehemently denied any linkage between Meakin’s donations, his letter to Gears, and Bozeman’s PFD votes.

“I have no financial interests in Mr. Meakin’s venture,” Bozeman said in an interview last week with the Bremerton Patriot editorial board. “I am not going to be convinced of the Fairgrounds because of $500 that some guy gives me. That’s an insult to me, to be honest with you. Mr. Meakin has a right to contribute to campaigns. I don’t even know Mr. Meakin.”

When Meakin was asked if there was any linkage between his contributions and Bozeman’s role on the PFD, he said, “that’s ridiculous.”

Meakin said he began contributing to Bozeman’s campaign after a businessman he knew in Bellevue recommended him.

“He’s progressive and straightforward and people have been telling me he would be a good mayor for Bremerton,” Meakin said.

Meakin said he has never talked to Bozeman about either the PFD vote or his ice arena idea.

Bozeman said the PFD’s vote on the Fairgrounds and Meakin’s ice arena are separate concepts.

“My feeling about the Fairgrounds doesn’t have anything to do with the skating rink. It has to do with a wonderful piece of property in the middle of our community that has been underutilized for years and years and years,” Bozeman said. “I voted for that project as number one and I will continue to do so, not because some guy donated $500.”

Bozeman is executive director of the Olympic College Foundation. Linda Niebanck is a member of that board and is also president of McCormick Woods complex, which has an application in with the PFD for funding for a conference center.

The city of Bremerton, where Bozeman wants to be mayor, also has an application with the PFD for a waterfront conference center.

After getting legal opinions, Bozeman did not recuse himself from any PFD vote.

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