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Get on the bus!

On Thursday of last week, about 50 people stepped on a chartered bus and headed to Olympia. Their reason? To spread the good word that Bremerton’s economy is on the rise. Here Elaine Valencia, the mayor’s secretary, chats with Police Chief Rob Forbes. - Photo by Christopher Mulally
On Thursday of last week, about 50 people stepped on a chartered bus and headed to Olympia. Their reason? To spread the good word that Bremerton’s economy is on the rise. Here Elaine Valencia, the mayor’s secretary, chats with Police Chief Rob Forbes.
— image credit: Photo by Christopher Mulally

The wheels on the bus go round and round — and last Thursday, they went all the way to Olympia.

Mayor Cary Bozeman, along with about 50 other delegates committed to Bremerton’s economic redevelopment rented a chartered bus and travelled to the state’s capital city last week for a special purpose.

They wanted to spread the word that Bremerton is alive and kicking, on the verge of major change.

With groundbreaking set on both the waterfront conference center project and the government center in the next couple weeks, electricity was in the air the whole bus ride down.

The projects have been lauded as employment mega-centers and economic jump starters.

On the bus ride, people ranging from the Police Chief Rob Forbes to Ruth Enderle of the Admiral Theatre to Capt. Orzalli, Commander at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, sat elbow to elbow and chatted each other up.

“It was spectacular,” said Bozeman. “The turnout far exceeded anything we would have imagined.”

Besides the 50 on the bus, Bozeman estimated about 150 more drove their own cars and met the bus riders at the Washington Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Olympia.

While there, different local organizations such as the Bremerton School District, the City of Bremerton, Art Anderson Associates and Rice Fergus Architects and a Westpark delegation offered presentations to elected officials — from U.S. House Rep. Norm Dicks to Sen. Betti Sheldon — about what is going well in our town.

Another who attended the event was Speaker of the House Frank Chopp.

“Everyone was focused. They were all there for the purpose of keeping Bremerton moving forward,” said Kathy S. Cocus. She went representing the Kitsap Regional Economic Development Council. Cocus coordinates with existing businesses in Kitsap County and also ones that could potentially locate here.

“It was such a confirmation that this is something that people are committed to,” she said.

Cocus, like Bozeman, was especially impressed with the people who braved the three hours of travel time on their own to meet the bus in Olympia.

Bozeman said he talked to every Olympia-based elected official present, from Senators Bob Oke, Sheldon and Tim Sheldon, to State Representatives William Eickmeyer, Kathy Haigh, Patricia Lantz, Lois McMahan, Phil Rockefeller and Bev Woods.

“The legislaters were quite impressed,” he said.

l Currently, Bozeman has made a legislative request of $4,575,000 for the next two years. This includes $1,350,000 for the conference center and plaza, such as showcase fountains, lighting systems and outdoor sound systems.

l Second on the list is $1,175,000 for the Maritime Park project. Those costs will go towards knocking out the variety of small stores that border the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard on Pacific Street, and creating a grass-lined buffer alongside the road, with sitting and picnic opportunities.

l Third on the list of requests is $750,000 to help move the historic “Building 50” from inside the gates of the Shipyard to the north end of the Maritime Park. The oldest building in the Shipyard will need interior renovations and handicap modifications before it becomes home to the Naval Museum..

l Another item requested from the State’s capital budget is $400,000 to help cover the cost of moving above-ground utility lines underground and improving lighting conditions in the downtown sector.

l Finally, Bozeman is asking for $900,000 for the initial design and development of a walking path from downtown Bremerton through Manette, across the Warren Avenue Bridge and into Evergreen park, leading eventually back down to the boardwalk.

Bozeman said the legislaters seem to be supportive of the funding ideas.

“They haven’t committed, but there is a clearly a sense of support. We think we have a very strong delegation (of elected officials).”

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