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Bremerton Patriot's 2009 Year in Review

Web editor's note: Part 2 will be posted soon.

January

Washington Youth Academy welcomes

first cadets

A new start for troubled teens moved forward as the Washington Youth Academy welcomed its inaugural group of cadets who began a structured six-month regimen on Jan. 25.

Ground was broken a year earlier for the academy, located at the National Guard Business Center in Bremerton and offers at risk youth ages 16-19, from all across the state, an opportunity to redirect their lives.

Upon successful completion, cadets move into a 20-week residential phase that provides the opportunity to make basic lifestyle changes that are approached through a rigorous program of education, training, and service to the community. Upon graduation cadets return to their communities and continue to build on their achievements through an established mentor who works with each cadet for a 12-month period.

The first class graduated in June.

Search continues for new BSD superintendent

The Bremerton School District Board of Directors established a leadership criteria committee. Superintendent Bette Hyde, who announced her retirement in April of 2008, was rehired on an interim basis by the board in August. Board member Dewayne Boyd proposed a Superintendent Selection Process Task Force, which was approved by the board, and the district began soliciting interest from the community in an effort to bring the community onboard with the process.

Shortly after the meeting, a group calling itself Bremerton Community 4 Kids was formed and the group delivered a resolution to the board requesting a new superintendent be in place by Aug. 1 and that the board “immediately commence the processes to conduct a cost-effective search for a qualified candidate to replace Dr. Bette Hyde.”

Bremerton and CK Planned Parenthood

organizations merge

Hoping to achieve greater access and a more streamlined approach for patients, three Planned Parenthood organizations merged in January to form Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest. Planned Parenthood of Western Washington, Planned Parenthood of Alaska and Planned Parenthood of Idaho make up the newly formed affiliate.

The two locations in Central Kitsap — on Bremerton’s Riddell Road and Silverdale’s Silverdale Way — are now part of the nation’s largest affiliate. Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest (PPGNW) spokesman Brian Cutler said the merger had been in talks for about a year and the volunteer boards of each respective affiliate decided to approve it in recent months. The 29 health centers now go by one name.

Cutler added that the merger will increase Planned Parenthood’s efficiency by preventing duplication of equipment and expenses. He added that some jobs will be centralized because some employees were wearing multiple hats and doing several different jobs, but that the East Bremerton and Silverdale Planned Parenthood facilities will not see major changes as a result of the merger.

February

Five decades of sailors visit USS Kitty Hawk for the last time

For nearly 50 years, sailors served tours of duty aboard the USS Kitty Hawk. In February, the Navy gave those sailors one last chance to walk the decks of the Navy’s oldest and last fossil-fueled carrier before the 80,000-ton aircraft carrier is decommissioned.

The word spread like wildfire in phone calls, email, the Internet and social networking sites and former sailors young and old, from across America and overseas, made plans for the final visit on Jan. 29, at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton.

Harold Young, 63, and his wife Florence traveled from Spokane to visit the Kitty Hawk Thursday morning.

Harold served on the Kitty Hawk from 1978 to 1981 and decided to come say goodbye to the Kitty Hawk because the ship meant a lot to him and for one other simple fact.

“This is the last ship I’ve served on that’s still in commission,” he said with a chuckle. “The others have already been put in mothballs like me.”

Governor appoints BHS superintendent Bette Hyde to state position

Governor Chris Gregoire announced the appointment of Bremerton School District Superintendent Bette Hyde as director of the Washington State Department of Early Learning.

“The children and families of our state are incredibly fortunate to have Bette coming onboard to lead the Department of Early Learning,” Gregoire said. “With her years of classroom experience and firm belief that all children have the potential to succeed, she will bring passion and strong leadership to one of our state’s most important investments.”

Hyde’s appointment took effect April 15. She will be paid an annual salary of $141,549.

Bremerton-based

Rohwein Electric sold

to Seattle firm

VECA Electric, one of the region’s largest electrical contracting firms, purchased Bremerton-based electrical contracting firm Rohwein Electric. VECA added the entire Rohwein Electric team, creating VECA’s new Rohwein Electric division.

By adding Rohwein Electric, VECA said it will expand their electrical, communications and wireless services on a broad range of industrial, commercial and military projects in Kitsap County.

Founded in 1972, Rohwein Electric has experience in the government, commercial and industrial sectors, specifically new construction, remodel and maintenance work related to military system upgrades. As a result of the acquisition, VECA Electric will pick up new clients including Fort Lewis, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Keyport and Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, Naval Ammunition Depot Indian Island, Harrison Medical Center and the city of Bremerton. VECA will maintain the location of Rohwein’s Bremerton office.

Bremerton High principal named best in the state

BHS principal Aaron Leavell, who was on the job for four years, credits many individuals for the overall improvement of Bremerton High School during that period of time.

But the state of Washington clearly thought Leavell’s efforts had a profound impact on the high school by naming him Washington State Principal of the Year. The honor was bestowed upon Leavell by the Association of Washington School Principals. Leavell’s name was added to a list for the national competition taking place later in the year.

Crownhill Elementary receives state honor

Crownhill Elementary shined a little brighter in February with continued improvement in its student’s learning. So much so, the state Office of the Superintendent for Public Instruction said they doubled up in their efforts vying for both math and reading recognition.

That gamble paid off as OPSI program supervisor for Title I/LAP Larry Fazzari presented Carlson and her staff with certificates of achievement and $20,000 to help the school continue its improvement efforts. Crownhill was selected for the honor based on students’ overall performance on the Washington State Assessment of Learning (WASL).

Habitat for Humanity dedicates final three homes in New Hope

Three families moved into their new homes in New Hope as Habitat for Humanity dedicated the final three homes at a ceremony and barbeque at the West Bremerton Development on March 28. New Hope has 18 families now in residence. Habitat for Humanity purchased the West Bremerton property in 2003 and began home constructions in 2007.

Habitat for Humanity of Kitsap County Executive Director Lori Oberlander said nearly 1,000 volunteers helped create New Hope and the development could not have been completed without them. She also thanked the city of Bremerton for support through Community Development Block Grants for roads and infrastructure.

The dedication also marked another milestone for Habitat for Humanity of Kitsap County. One of the New Hope houses is the 50th home Habitat has built in its 17-year history. Habitat for Humanity started building homes through the North Kitsap affiliate in 1992. In 1994, the South Kitsap affiliate was started and by 1999, the two joined together to form Habitat for Humanity of Kitsap County.

April

Harrison Medical Center to reduce staff

The sour economy has taken its toll across all arenas of business and Harrison Medical Center is one of them.

Harrison President and CEO Scott Bosch announced in early April that it would eliminate staff positions “across all areas over the next six to eight weeks,” according to a Harrison Medical Center news release.

Several factors contributed to the decision to trim the organization including a $3 million loss in state Medicaid funding; a $7 million cost to fund Harrison’s Defined Benefit Pension program based on a loss of investment funds; rising health insurance premium costs; an increase in Harrison’s “charity care,” meaning the organization is paid less to provide the same care; and a decrease in “nearly all patient care services.”

Earlier in April, Harrison announced its decision to close its behavioral health unit, which affected 23 employees and several physicians. Harrison officials are attempting to move that staff to other departments.

PSNS & IMF wins

Safety Ashore award

Residents of Bremerton can be proud of their Navy neighbor, the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility, as they were announced in early April as the recipient of the Secretary of the Navy Achievement in Safety Ashore award for the Large Industrial Activity category for fiscal 2008.

The award is presented annually for their quality in occupational safety and health programs. Recipients earn the right to fly the Secretary of the Navy’s safety flag for one year and also receive a commemorative plaque and congratulatory letter.

Downtown Bremerton Plaza gains historic

centerpiece

The bow section of the decommissioned guided missile nuclear cruiser USS South Carolina was lifted up and over the fence to be loaded on an awaiting flat bed truck by Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility (PSNS & IMF), early Saturday morning April 11.

The nearly 25-ton bow was then moved up Pacific Avenue almost a block and lifted again into position as one of the centerpieces in the under-construction PSNS Memorial Plaza that will run between the shipyard and Pacific Avenue in downtown Bremerton.

The park, which is slated to open during May’s Armed Forces Festival will feature three plazas that will each honor shipyard workers from World War I, World War II and the present.

The former cruiser was commissioned in 1975 and served the majority of its sea service out of the East Coast before being decommissioned in the late 1990s and ultimately recycled at PSNS & IMF.

Bremerton School

District finds a

new superintendent

The Bremerton School District (BSD) Board of Directors deliberated for almost two hours April 23 before voting unanimously to offer Lester “Flip” Herndon the superintendent position starting July 1.

Herndon, who had been serving as an assistant superintendent for the Tacoma School District, said he did not always dream of becoming a school administrator.

“When I was a teacher, that was not my intent,” Herndon said. “In fact, when I got into education as a middle school teacher, I was a teacher and a coach. Then I became a high school teacher and coach and I thought that was a great place to be and I didn’t imagine myself ever being an administrator at any level.”

Herndon said he started his career on the East Coast, but moved to Shoreline during his years as a high school teacher. While teaching there, he was approached about moving into the administrative side of education.

Once Herndon was a part of the administration sector, he wanted to take it as far as he could.

Herndon grew up in Tacoma and spent time in places like Lakewood and Stillicum, but only made it to Bremerton on visits.

“We would come over and visit the USS Missouri when it was stationed there,” Herndon said. “And more recently, I have a few friends who have vacation areas over on the Hood Canal so I come over on the ferry.”

School board members recently said they believe Herndon will keep Bremerton’s school system moving in an innovative direction, and Herndon said it is important to him to do that.

May

City of Bremerton

to receive $20 million

in stimulus money

With a nod toward improving the downtown area and sewer service to nearby Gorst, the city of Bremerton received more than $20 million in federal and state stimulus grants.

Mayor Carey Bozeman said the city applied for the funds last year through the Local Infrastructure Financing Tool or LIFT.

The mayor added that the money came in three parts. A total of $330,000 per year for revitalizing the downtown area, $6 million to put a sewer system in Gorst and $6 million for upgrading Bremerton’s water supply.

Community hears plans for Manette Bridge replacement

The Manette Bridge is old by many standards and according to experts is “structurally deficient and functionally obsolete.”

On May 5, residents of Bremerton and Manette were invited to an open house at the Norm Dicks Government Center in Bremerton to have their questions regarding the aging bridge replacement project answered by Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) project staff.

Construction of the new bridge is scheduled to start in summer 2010. The project will be advertised for construction bids in March 2010, site construction is expected to begin in summer 2010 and bridge construction is set to begin early in 2011. The current bridge will then be closed in late 2012 for about three months before the new bridge opens late 2012 or early 2013. The new bridge design will make travel easier for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians looking to connect across the Port Washington Narrows. WSDOT estimates 630 new jobs will be created because of the new bridge.

Bozeman takes new job with Port of Bremerton

In a sudden turnaround, Bremerton Mayor Cary Bozeman announced in mid-May that he would resign as mayor of Bremerton to take the position of the Port of Bremerton as their Chief Executive Officer. Earlier, Bozeman had thrown his name on the ballot for another term as mayor.

Port of Bremerton Board President Cheryl Kincer said the board began looking for its new CEO soon after former CEO Ken Attebery announced he was stepping down in December. The board said they received more than 50 applications for the job, and the 11 people selected to interview were all from the Puget Sound region, with half from Kitsap County.

Port Commissioner Larry Stokes said deciding on a new CEO was “the hardest decision I’ve ever made,” and that as far as he was concerned, “Mr. Bozeman’s record speaks for itself.”

Bozeman said that Cecil McConnell, president of the Bremerton City Council will serve as interim mayor until an election is held in November.

PSNS Memorial Plaza officially dedicated

The fourth and final water feature of Bremerton’s Harborside District was officially introduced to the public May 16 at the conclusion of the annual Armed Forces Day Parade in downtown Bremerton.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony — at the corner of Pacific Avenue and Burwell Street — celebrated the completion of the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard (PSNS) Memorial Plaza started with a welcome by Bremerton Mayor Cary Bozeman who said the shipyard workers possess a dedication that “is a credit to our city and to every citizen of Bremerton.”

Patty Lundeen, a design manager for Wet Design, the company responsible for the four water features around the downtown area, explained to the crowd how the water, which rises above the pool, symbolizes the mast of a great ship and is a tribute to the workers of PSNS.

BHS principal heads up the road for new job

After four years on the job as Bremerton High School principal, Aaron Leavell left that position to take the position of Director of Secondary Education for the North Kitsap School District.

Stating that the four year at BHS were “the best four years of my life,” Leavell was emotional about his departure, but the opportunity was one he couldn’t pass up. Earlier this year he was named State of Washington Principal of the Year.

June

Kincer won’t seek a third port commissioner term

Port of Bremerton Commissioner Cheryl Kincer has decided that two terms of service is enough and that she will not seek a third.

According to Chief Operating Officer Tim Thomson Kincer told him that she has completed many of her goals and that it was time for her to seek a new direction.

As of the filing for candidacy deadline of Friday, June 5, only Seabeck resident Roger Zabinksi and Bremerton resident Gene Hart had officially filed for Kincer’s seat.

Port of Bremerton purchases 2-acre plot on Bremerton waterfront

The Port of Bremerton Board of Commissioners approved the purchase of a 2.13-acre parcel along the Bremerton waterfront intended to provide parking for the Bremerton Marina.

Port officials hope the real estate purchase will generate more revenue and perhaps a higher occupancy rate in the marina.

Owned by the Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority, the property is adjacent to the marina and flanked by Washington Avenue along with Second and Burwell streets. The purchase price was $3.5 million.

Olympic College graduates first 11 nurses with bachelor’s degrees

Eleven pioneering graduates from Olympic College were among the first group of students to obtain bachelor’s degrees from the school, possibly opening the door to more programs in the future.

The four-year degree program was designed to help registered nurses who currently have associate’s degrees earn their bachelor’s degrees in two to three years.

The money was allocated by the Washington Legislature this year to make baccalaureate programs through large universities available in Bremerton. According to a school official, the intention was to give working RNs who may have additional roles, like parent or spouse, the ability to earn a higher degree even with a hectic schedule and without commuting.

In the future, OC also could offer a University of Washington-Tacoma master’s degree in nursing and nursing degrees also could be just the beginning of the educational opportunities at OC.

A study is being conducted by the University of Washington as to whether or not it should offer business and engineering degrees.

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