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bainbridge bakers gateway lease sign

Bainbridge Bakers Leaves Gateway, Faces Possible Eviction from Winslow Green

[Updated at 1:15 p.m. May 28, 2015.]

Bainbridge Bakers was released from its lease at its Gateway location early this month. The Gateway management company, Elmquist Real Estate Services, confirmed that Bainbridge Bakers owner Mike Loudon is no longer renting the site and it is available for lease.

Cheryl Elmquist said the 2,176-square-foot space is currently listed at $5,939 per month, or $71,264 a year. She explained that Loudon’s lease structure was different, and this figure is not what he had been paying.

Gateway Operations Manager Laurie Rosenberg said other interested parties are now looking at the space.

In late March the site was shuttered with a note on the door saying it was a temporary closure while the business, which had been open for less than a year, restructured and expanded its offerings to a full-service restaurant. However, the business never reopened.

An eviction notice was posted last week at the original Bainbridge Bakers Winslow Green location. Dated May 21, the legal notice requested prompt payment of over $9,000 in back rent, with a threat of legal action for continued noncompliance. The owner of a neighboring business in the Winslow Green commercial center said she believed that Loudon had removed the eviction notice last Sunday, May 24, after returning from being out of town.

Elmquist declined to say if Loudon owed unpaid rent for the Gateway site.

A note remains on the Winslow Green establishment saying, “Bainbridge Bakers continues to be closed for reorganization. Thanks for your ongoing support.”

The company drew questions and scrutiny after one of its employees, with Loudon’s approval, posted a GoFundMe page on April 13 requesting $100,000 to “Help save Bainbridge Bakers!” and compensate employees who had been working unpaid for up to six weeks. On April 22, Loudon closed the fundraiser, saying that it had caused “great concern” and that in the interest of transparency he would be returning the money, approximately $7,500, to contributors.

Hollis Fay, the founder and original owner of Bainbridge Bakers, told Inside Bainbridge that her 8-grain pullaparts, a Bainbridge Bakers favorite, are now available at Farm Kitchen, Rolling Bay Cafe, Commuter Comforts, and Metro Market Cafe.

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Photos by Julie Hall.

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blakely park eco toilet

It’s Eco Potty Time! (Seriously, This Is Cool)

The new ecotoilet at Blakely Harbor Park isn’t just a whole lot more attractive, clean, and unsmelly than your typical outdoor “place of easement.” It’s a model of environmental and economic sustainability.

With donated funds, in part to provide facilities for nearby IslandWood’s regular class trips to the Park, the Bainbridge Island Park District began researching environmentally friendly options. They needed something that would not require complicated piping to water and sewer lines, and they were looking for a wood-framed structure that would fit the site’s lumber mill history, which ruled out metal prefabricated ecotoilets.

urinal and toilet in Blakely Harbor bathroomPark Services Superintendent Dan Hamlin said ultimately the District decided to design and build the toilet with in-house labor, using ideas from ecotoilets on the market. What they created has an old look with new innovations for about $12,000, less than half the price of pit toilets and prefab ecotoilets.

The Blakely Harbor Park unisex bathroom features a waterless urinal (complete with a blue dot “target” to reduce splattering) and a flush toilet connected to a 440-gallon sewage tank and a 300-gallon water tank. An industrial RV toilet stainless steel pump provides the flush from a battery powered by a solar panel on the building’s roof. The solar panel also powers a ceiling light.

To avoid paper waste and reduce maintenance, the bathroom features hand sanitizer instead of a sink. The facility is accessible to wheelchairs, with a ramp from an accessible portion of the trail, plenty of room inside, and bars on the panel on blakely harbor park bathroom

Hamlin said, “We are doing a trial run. It looks like it’s working out well.”

He said if the design proves to be the success it appears to be so far the Park District intends to put in more of the same type of facility at other parks and trails, such as Hidden Cove, Grand Forest, and Hilltop. “We’re looking at anywhere we currently have a porta potty. As we’re achieving long-distance trail connectivity, we’re seeing the need for more restroom stops,” said Hamlin.

Thank you to Paul Brians for the idea and photos for this story.

And for those of you who never thought you’d have to listen to this ditty again (“It’s Potty Time!”), just remember how much your kid loved it and how well it worked:

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Photos courtesy of Bainbridge Island photographer Paul Brians.

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Weather: Warm Tamale

A warming trend will push temps into the mid 70s tomorrow and into the weekend.

Here is the National Weather Service forecast for Bainbridge Island:

Wednesday Cloudy; then gradually becoming mostly sunny, with a high near 73 degrees F. East-southeast wind 3 to 7 mph.
Wednesday Night Partly cloudy, with a low around 53 degrees F. North-northeast wind 5 to 7 mph becoming calm in the evening.
Thursday Mostly sunny, with a high near 75 degrees F. Calm wind becoming northeast around 5 mph in the afternoon.
Thursday Night Partly cloudy, with a low around 54 degrees F. North-northeast wind 5 to 10 mph becoming light after midnight.
Friday Mostly sunny, with a high near 75 degrees F.
Friday Night Partly cloudy, with a low around 56 degrees F.
Saturday Mostly sunny, with a high near 75 degrees F.

Photo courtesy of lucianvenutian.

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mother and daughter

Mother and Daughter Set for Epic Walk from Bainbridge to Arizona

Bainbridge Island mother and daughter Sally Noedel and Emma Bigongiari are setting off on foot on an adventure of a lifetime. Friday, May 29, this dynamic duo will venture from the lush greenery of the Pacific Northwest some 1,500 miles to the starkly different but abundant beauty of Oak Flat, Arizona.

Oak Flat is threatened with mass destruction by conglomerate copper mining company Resolution Copper. Sacred tribal land and crucial wildlife habitat, Oak Flat has been part of the San Carlos Apache tribe’s religious traditions for generations and contains endangered habitat for bear, bobcat, and rare bird species. Oak Flat is also a prime recreation area, particularly for rock climbers who have gathered there for 14 years to participate in the Phoenix Bouldering Contest, the largest outdoor climbing competition in the world.

With their epic walk, Noedel and Bigongiari aim to raise awareness about Resolution Copper’s proposed copper mine, which would result in dramatic environmental destruction. Proposed plans involve block cave mining of upwards of 4 miles in diameter of land, resulting in widespread habitat destruction, violation of native peoples’ rights, and water contamination.

oak flat arizonaOver their three-to-four-month journey, Noedel and Bigongiari plan to each walk in two 5-mile shifts a day, alternating driving their car and walking, and camping at night. Noedel said their mapped route includes walking along as much wild undeveloped land as possible. The pair will walk with other like-minded environmental activists along the way, with their rescue dog, a border collie/basset hound mix, by their side.

Noedel said, “Destruction of this ecological treasure is for profit and nothing else. The land was set aside as National Forest in 1955 for protection from mining. It got pushed through Congress as an earmark. . . . Even many mining families object to the method of this mining project and want to invest in long-term economical sustainability instead.”

With many other advocates for Oak Flat, Noedel and Bigongiari hope to gain National Monument status for the land or have federal approval of mining there repealed.

Mother and daughter are asking supporters to contact representatives and senators, sign a petition asking the president to declare Oak Flat a National Monument, and/or donate to their Walk to Save Oak Flat fund.

On a personal note, Noedel said, “This is a harmonious time in my relationship with Emma. It’s a wonderful opportunity to share time together before she goes off to college in September.”

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Photos courtesy of Sally Noedel and Environment Arizona Research & Policy Center.

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BHS kids

Over 92% of Bainbridge High School Juniors Opt out

[Corrected May 23, 2015, at 1:02 p.m. Percentage of opt-outs was 92.4, not 88.4.]

This week Bainbridge High School (BHS) and Eagle Harbor High School (EHHS) sophomores and juniors were scheduled to take the Smarter Balanced test, newly implemented this year.

Passing the test will be a necessary prerequisite to graduate starting next year, but this year’s 11th graders already took the High School Proficiency Exam last year to determine their eligibility to graduate, making the Smarter Balanced test technically an unnecessary duplication for them.

This week juniors in the Bainbridge Island School District (BISD) delivered a clear message about the “extra” test—92.4% opted out. Of the 306 juniors at BHS, 23 showed up for the test. At EHHS, of 34 juniors, 3 took the test. BISD Communications Specialist Galen Crawford said she wasn’t sure how many students submitted an opt out form signed by their parents and how many simply did not show up for the four days of testing. Dismissing the term “opt out,” she said either way not taking the test is considered a “refusal,” and for the testing days students will be marked with nonattendances. I asked her what the nonattendance marks would mean for the students, and she said she did not know.

AP testing sign at BHSBHS 11th grader Hannah Brubeck told me she skipped the Smarter Balanced testing this week because she passed the standardized test last year to qualify to graduate. She said, “It wouldn’t be a good use of my time to take another test.”

Brubeck’s point about time is well taken. At this time of year juniors are nothing short of inundated with tests and test preparation. According to Bainbridge Island School Board President Mev Hoberg, in addition to the Smarter Balanced test, in May juniors take the SATs, ACTs, and, for those in Advanced Placement classes the APs, as well as proficiency exams in the sciences and end-of-course finals.

A BHS parent of an 11th grader told IB that she wanted her son to opt out, which he did. She cited the number of tests he has faced, as well as what she described as an “impossible” level of homework this week that she ended up helping him with. “I can’t even conceive of how he would have also handled the four-day test,” she said.

Hoberg said skipping the Smarter Balanced test will show up as zero scores, and she said it is anyone’s guess what that will mean for the students and the schools in the eyes of the state. She sympathized with students facing a seemingly endless barrage of testing, calling it “crazy.”

“Nationwide we bought into the Common Core [standards the Smarter Balanced tests assess],” said Hoberg. “This may be something that needs to change. I think it was sort of unfair to ask the juniors to take it. . . . I don’t think this test is going away.”

Hoberg said if one of her own kids were a junior this year she would have wanted them to take the test as a way to help improve it. “The WSLs were terrible in the beginning. Obtaining testing data allows for improving the tests.”

Hoberg advised 8th graders to take the Smarter Balanced test. “I understand parents of 8th graders wanting to opt out. But at this age it’s a no-stakes test that will help prepare them for further testing down the road that will determine their ability to graduate,” she said.

She explained that currently all BISD schools are considered “failing schools” under No Child Left Behind measures. “The Special Ed portions at BHS and Ordway [Elementary] did not make adequate progress in 2011,” said Hoberg. A waiver exempted BISD from failing status for two years in 2012 and 2013, but when it was withdrawn in 2014 that year counted as a consecutive failing year with 2011 for Bainbridge public schools. As a result, the schools face reductions and restrictions in federal funding, ironically at a time when many have earned recent accolades for being among the top performers in the state and nation.

Hoberg lamented that state and federal requirements for schools change every year and often do not match up with each other. She called the situation for administrators, teachers, and kids alike “super complicated” to the point of near incomprehensibility.

Take our poll on Opting Out:

Watch John Oliver’s recent take on the Smarter Balanced tests:

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Photos by Julie Hall.

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goodbye stop sign

Friend of Suicide Victim Delivers Tribute

Bainbridge Island resident and long-time teacher Melissa Ripley took her own life last Monday. Friends and colleagues have come forward since then, expressing shock as well as love for their lost friend.

This evening, Julie Mills, Childrens Art Programs Director of The Island Art Center Inc., shared her thoughts about her long-time friend.

“Officials have concluded how my very good friend died, but what needs to be said now is how she lived,” said Mills.

“I am a teacher on Bainbridge Island and have been in the education community here since 1997. I worked with Melissa for some of those years, and we have been friends much longer. For those of us who knew her and loved her, the reasons and questions will never be truly understood or answered. We always ask ourselves if there was anything I could have done. And the answer is moot. To be in that dark place of despair and finality, to perceive that there are no windows or doors, and no way out of that dark place, must have been terrifying and lonely.”

Mills continued, “I wish I had known how much pain she was in. I wish I could have helped her. I hope she knew how many truly cared about her happiness. I loved Melissa and cannot imagine that I will never be able to send her funny headlines, music, and concert news, or enjoy wonderful French press coffee with Grey sea-salt caramels that she would make for me on a beautiful Friday morning.”

“At very dark times in my life, she was there. She kept me sane, taught me everything she knew about teaching, marine life, art, and music,” Mills said. “Age-wise she could have been my daughter; friendship-wise she was the sister I never had. She supported and encouraged me and my own children when they were struggling. She helped so many children navigate and discover the joy of learning. She was a commensurate educator and a talented artist. She liked to play the guitar and read books. We used to laugh at how many children’s books we owned, she without children, and mine all grown up.”

“She was an amazing cook and dreamed of owning a bakery one day,” said Mills. “She loved the Pacific Northwest. She kayaked, hiked, and introduced me to Dave Matthews and frisbee golf. We would explore together all the best-kept secrets in Bremerton, from art galleries, to food and live music at the Admiral, to movie nights in the summer on the roof. Wherever she lived, she embraced the community and made it her job to discover everything there was to do. She was quiet and humble in her generosity and action. Many people did not know her to be all of these incredible things. She was quiet, and private in her life. I will miss her, mourn her, and remember Melissa Ripley for the rest of my life.”

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Image courtesy of Peter Kaminski.  

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suicide is preventable sign

Bainbridge Death Ruled a Suicide; Victim’s Friend Speaks out

The Kitsap County Coroner’s Office announced today that the official cause of death of a Bainbridge Island woman earlier this week is suicide. After next of kin were notified, Deputy Coroner Nathan Edwards released her identity.

Melissa Ripley, 34, died of a single penetrating gun shot wound to the head. Neighbors on Avalon Lane off of Blakely Avenue called 911 after hearing the shot. At approximately 9:30 a.m. Monday, Bainbridge Island police and firefighters found the body of the deceased. They believed it was suicide at the time but launched an investigation to be sure.

A friend and colleague of Ripley contacted Inside Bainbridge, saying she appreciated learning details of her friend from our articles at a time when she and others in Ripley’s life were in the dark about the tragic death of their friend. She wished not to be named because she and Ripley were teachers together and she wasn’t sure when the school would release news of Ripley’s death. The school principal contacted Inside Bainbridge to coordinate releasing information to the school community in conjunction with this article.

“We all feel bereft of information,” said Ripley’s friend, who has known Ripley for a long time. “Given the circumstances of her death, I felt like it was important to also say that she was a really dedicated, thoughtful, and wonderful teacher. She was a curious, intelligent, and lovely woman who was involved in a lot of people’s lives. Everybody who knew her, whether child or adult, learned a lot from her. She was a certified beach naturalist who could identify all the living things on the beach.”

Her friend explained that Ripley taught on Bainbridge Island for a long time and currently had been commuting to work in Seattle.

When I asked her if she had any idea why Ripley took her life, she said, “there is not one shred of anything that makes sense.”

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Bainbridge High Schools Ranked Among Tip Top

In its annual national review of best high schools, U.S. News & World Report has awarded gold-medal status to Bainbridge High School (BHS) and silver-medal status to Eagle Harbor High School (EHHS).

Of 458 schools in Washington, BHS was ranked 7th and EHHS was ranked 40th.

The 2015 U.S. News & World Report Best High Schools rankings began with a review of 29,070 public high schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. After eliminating schools too small to analyze, the publication used the following three-step process to determine the best of 19,753 eligible schools:

1. It analyzed math and reading portions of state proficiency tests to determine whether students were performing better than statistically expected.

2. It assessed whether the school’s disadvantaged students outperformed other disadvantaged students.

3. It looked at how well schools prepared students for college, based on participation in and performance on Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) exams.

Ninety-seven percent of BHS students were proficient in reading and 92 percent were proficient in math, with 64 percent proficient in advanced math. Seventy-one percent of BHS students took AP course work and exams and 56 percent passed at least one test for a College Readiness Index of 60. Ninety-six percent of Eagle Harbor students were proficient in reading, and 88 percent were proficient in math. Forty-one percent of Eagle Harbor students took AP courses and exams and 72 percent earned passing scores.

To receive a state ranking a school has to receive a gold or silver medal. Eight public high schools in Washington earned gold medals, 56 earned silver, and 105 schools earned bronze. Nationwide, 2.5 percent of eligible high schools earned gold medals, 20.3 percent earned silver, and 20.2 percent earned bronze. Sixty-seven percent of eligible high schools did not receive a medal.

“I’m really proud of our hard-working students, dedicated staff, and of the entire community that supports our school,” said BHS Principal Mary Alice O’Neill.

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trust yer neighbor but brand yer cattle sign by jbosari

Bainbridge Gets a Makeover Through Islandwide Rebranding Process

As part of the City of Bainbridge Island’s (COBI) upcoming rebranding initiative, sadly we will not officially become what we all feel in our hearts we are: Fantasy Island. The some might say unwieldy Bainbridge Island will continue to be our moniker, but a new logo, tag line, signs, and other community branding features are in our future.

COBI has hired branding and economic development specialist Arnett Muldrow & Associates to develop a branding package for Bainbridge. According to COBI Communications Specialist Kellie Stickney, the move is fundamental to creating “a consistent and effective identity and message when we speak with our neighbors and the broader world.”

The marketing and tourism initiative will likely also include individualized logos and taglines for the Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Association, and popular Island events such as the Grand Ole Fourth and Harvest Fair. Stickney said the branding will also include website features, banners, wayfinding (road) signs, visitor signs, and brochures. A style guide and stock photography of the Island will be made available for free to local businesses and organizations as tools to help deliver a consistent message.

“The idea is to increase coordination and dialog. Instead of having five different brochures on Island trails, we’ll reduce duplications and refine our message,” said Stickney.

Stickney said citizens have repeatedly voiced the need for coherent and consistent community branding in the Comprehensive Plan update process, which started last fall. She said citizen input has affirmed what city leadership had already identified as a missing link in City planning and operations.

Arnett Muldrow made a presentation to key community members last winter. At a recent meeting about whether to move forward with the rebranding, “the resounding answer was yes,” said Stickney. Based in South Carolina, Arnett Muldrow has worked with numerous Washington communities, recently Wenatchee, Kent, and Ellensburg. “They have an amazing end product, work fast, and are very affordable,” Stickney said.

Arnett Muldrow reps will spend three intensive days on Bainbridge, from June 9 through 11, and present an initial product reveal in the evening of the final day. COBI, interest groups, and citizens will have the opportunity to subsequently refine the product package for four weeks.

Interested parties and individuals are invited to give input in a meeting on June 9 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., location TBA. On June 11 between 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. at City Hall, community members can hear the reveal and give further feedback.

“This is our opportunity to get this right, and we hope people will get involved,” said Stickney. “We are hoping to get citizen input beyond just the business community. It’s crucial that we’re all speaking the same language. Many of the people who come to Bainbridge do so because of connections with family and friends.”

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Evidence Suggests Today’s Death Was a Suicide

Bainbridge Island Police Chief Matt Hamner said tonight that the probable cause of the death of a Bainbridge Island woman, found after 9:00 this morning, is suicide.

“We don’t know definitively, but evidence collected leads to suicide,” said Chief Hamner.

Chief Hamner confirmed that a gun was involved. He said that neighbors reported hearing a “pop” and notified 911, which drew police and fire department emergency responders.

Chief Hamner declined to give information about the deceased. He reiterated that the Kitsap County Coroner will release official information about cause of death, most likely this week by Wednesday afternoon.

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Image courtesy of Raymond Bryson.

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bainbridge ambulance

Police Chief Comments on Today’s Death Investigation

Bainbridge Island Police Chief Matt Hamner said he could not confirm nor deny if today’s death investigation involved a homicide, but he reassured citizens this evening, stating, “I will say this: I am confident no one is in danger.”

When asked if the death of a Bainbridge Island woman this morning on Avalon Lane was a suicide, Chief Hamner declined to share more information. “I cannot comment further at this time. We do have a death investigation underway. We’re in the process of gathering evidence and closing all the loops,” he replied.

Chief Hamner could not give a timeline for the release of further information regarding the case. He did say that the official cause of death will come from the County coroner.

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john grinter

John Grinter Running for Park Board

John Grinter has announced his candidacy for Park District Board of Commissioners. He is running against incumbent Ken DeWitt for the 6-year term.

An Island resident for 15 years, Grinter has worked with the City and Park District on a variety of projects and is most known for his advocacy for an interconnected network of trails and quiet roadways to improve safety for walkers and bikes. Grinter organized the petition to help create the Metropolitan Park District in 2004, which gave the Park District its own self-sustaining tax-based funding source. He was a leader in the volunteer construction of the Blakely Harbor to Fort Ward Trail in 2005-2006. From 2010 to 2012, he worked with Commodore neighbors and Bethany Lutheran Church to build over 2,200 feet of separated pathway along Sportsman Club Road.

In his candidate statement, he said he believes the District is in a period of transition from large-scale acquisitions of land to developing creative strategies for taking care of all the new holdings while maintaining the high level of service and programming the community currently enjoys.

Married and with two school-aged children, Grinter said he believes he can bring new energy and ideas to the Park District as it prepares for the next 50 years serving the community. “For over a decade I have worked to bring diverse groups of people together around common goals, and I will bring that leadership to the Park District as a voice of interagency and community partnerships. I will bring my passion for an interconnected trail system, an openness to new ideas for outdoor recreation, and my unwavering belief in community collaboration to the board,” he said.

Grinter has a B.A. from the University of South Florida. He has worked as a stay-at-home dad, yacht captain, commercial fisherman, and naturalist in Alaska. His outdoor photography has been featured in national magazines, including Audubon, Town and Country, Snowboarder, and Powder Magazines. He is a volunteer with schools and Little League, and he leads trail-building work parties with the City.

Grinter chaired the Non Motorized Transportation Advisory Committee in 2011–2013. He was nominated for Citizen of the Year by the Bainbridge Chamber of Commerce in 2012. He manages the Friends of Bainbridge Island Trails Facebook page.

Learn more about John Grinter for Bainbridge Park District. Contact him at or 206-842-4595.

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Photo courtesy of John Grinter.

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city hall

No Contest: Looky Who Is Your New City Council, but for One

The candidacy filing period for the 2015 Bainbridge Island City Council race closed this afternoon, May 15.

For four open seats, three candidates are running unopposed, making our 2016 City Council already a known quantity except for one seat.

Sitting councilmember Sarah Blossom is running unopposed in the South Ward. Likewise, sitting councilmember Mike Scott is unopposed in his bid for reelection to the Central Ward.

Newcomer Kol Medina is running unopposed for the North Ward spot. Susan Bergen withdrew her candidacy for the North Ward yesterday, May 14.

The only question mark for our Council, starting January 1, 2016, is the At-Large position. Ron Peltier, who initially announced a bid for the North Ward, has changed his candidacy to the At-Large position, putting him toe to toe with candidate Pegeen Mulhern.

Peltier and Mulhern will be the only open race.

Blossom will continue her tenure on Council, which began with her election four years ago, against opponent Robert Dashiell. Scott will reclaim the seat he was appointed to by the Council this January after Dave Ward resigned. Medina will replace Anne Blair, who declined to run again after winning election in 2011 against Melanie Keenan.

Time will tell whether it will be Mulhern or Peltier to replace Steven Bonkowski, who also chose not to run for a second term for the At-Large position. Bonkowski successfully ran against Barry Peters in 2011.

The three other sitting councilmembers, who assumed their 4-year seats at the beginning of 2014, are Roger Townsend, Wayne Roth, and Val Tollefson.

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fort ward bakery

Fort Ward Youth Advisory Wins Five Blakely Awards

The Historic Preservation Commission presented five Preservation Leader Blakely Awards to the Fort Ward Youth Advisory Committee for its work preserving the Fort Ward Bakery. The Commission also presented a Project of Excellence award to Joe and Beth Claseman for the restoration of the 150-year-old McRedmond Cabin.

Erik Appleberry, Aila Ikuse, Kate Merifield, Mark Dettman, and Sarah Lee earned Preservation Leader awards for their efforts to restore and repurpose the 1910 Fort Ward Bakery Building for use as a community hall and Sewer District Office. The Bakery Building was originally used for making bread for enlisted men. After the fort was decommissioned, the building fell into disrepair.fort ward bakery old

Joe and Beth Claseman earned a Project of Excellence Blakely Award for restoring the 1865 McRedmond Cabin, located at Hilltop. The McRedmond Cabin was constructed 150 years ago by Luke McRedmond, an Irishman who arrived on Bainbridge Island at the same time as George Meigs and worked at Meigs Lumber Mill and Ship Building Company. McRedmond worked on Bainbridge for 14 years as a carpenter, lumberman, and ship’s captain, and was also very involved in local politics. McRedmond moved to Seattle and went on to become the first postmaster and namesake to the town of Redmond.mcredmond cabin

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Polar Pioneer shell oil rig

Photo of the Day: Shell’s Oil Drilling Hulk Arrives in Our Waters

Shell’s massive oil driller Polar Pioneer moved past Bainbridge this afternoon on its way to the Port of Seattle, where it is docked at Terminal 5.

The rig is 400 feet long, 292 feet wide, and extends about 250 feet above the water. According to The Seattle Times, it is the largest of a fleet of 25 that will pass through our area in preparation for exploratory offshore drilling in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea this summer.

The controversial drilling is drawing fierce opposition, including a kayak flotilla protest in Seattle this Saturday.

Shell is using a deep-water berth at the Seattle Terminal to load drilling equipment.

Robert Dashiell photographed the behemoth in Puget Sound today from Murden Cove.

Polar Pioneer shell oil rig













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sea star on piling

Beach Naturalists to Lead Search for Sea Stars Under the Bainbridge Ferry Terminal

Bainbridge Beach Naturalists are heading out for a new adventure on Monday, May 18, and you’re invited. The free event will be at the Bainbridge ferry terminal beach from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Learn about the impressive variety of sea creatures that live on and around the pilings at the ferry dock. Naturalists will guide the group to see if sunflower stars have begun to return to what was once a favored environment for them. They have been missing for over a year due to sea star wasting syndrome, but they are being seen around Puget Sound again.

Wear your Wellington boots or other sturdy footwear, and warm layered clothing.

Participants should park on Bjune or Brien, near Waterfront Park Community Center. Walk through Waterfront Park to the bridge across the ravine, cross the road, and follow the foot path alongside the condos to the beach access.

Photo courtesy of Ruth Hartnup.

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wing point country club dining room

Gerry Farraro Resigns as Head Chef at Wing Point Country Club

This morning, May 13, the Wing Point Golf & Country Club management notified members that recently hired Executive Chef Gerry Farraro has resigned her position.

Jeff D’Amico, who will take over as Wing Point General Manager on June 1, said Farraro resigned on Monday, May 11. He declined to comment on record about the reason for the decision, saying the Club does not share information about personnel. He said it is disappointing but that the Club is in the process of identifying candidates to fill the position as soon as possible.

In his statement to Club members, D’Amico explained that there will be no interruption in food service and all scheduled events will happen as planned.

Farraro previously ran the popular Bainbridge restaurant Four Swallows for over 25 years before it closed suddenly last October after a lease renewal agreement failed (read more). Fans of Farraro’s cooking were excited to be able to enjoy her cuisine again at the Club, where she took over in the kitchen less than three months ago, on March 1.

Club member Heidi Hartz Watson said she joined the Club in March because of Farraro and is disappointed by her departure. “I’m hoping that they find someone to deliver the same quality dining experience that her cuisine offered,” said Watson.

D’Amico said, “We’re sensitive to our members’ needs.” He said members should contact him if they have concerns about the personnel change. He can be reached at or 206-842-7933.

Farraro was not available for comment.

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Photo by Julie Hall.

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Ron Peltier Announces City Council Candidacy

Fifty-year Islander and Environmental Bainbridge founder Ron Peltier has announced his bid for Bainbridge City Council, representing the North Ward.

In his announcement Peltier cited a pro-development culture at City Hall, unchecked by the current Council, that threatens to destroy the “livability” of Bainbridge and dangerously deplete its natural resources.

Many know Peltier as one of the leaders of a grass-roots campaign to oppose the controversial Visconsi shopping complex. Peltier’s efforts helped galvanize community involvement in revising the City’s Comprehensive Plan, a two-year process that began last fall and will define and direct our government for the next two decades.

An advocate of environmental sustainability, Peltier emphasized his commitment to “preserve the special character of our Island,” which he called the first overriding principle of our Comprehensive Plan.

He listed the following areas of interest as a potential Council member:

  • sustainable management our groundwater resources (rain-fed aquifers are our sole source of fresh water)
  • a Comprehensive Plan that clearly prioritizes the long-term sustainable management of our natural resources
  • a community conversation about Highway 305 and the Agate Pass Bridge
  • climate change
  • affordable housing that is consistent with sustainability
  • city governance that truly recognizes the value of citizen involvement
  • independent police oversight
  • protection of native trees, vegetation, and soils
  • smart enhancement of our Neighborhood Service Centers
  • a vibrant and sustainable local economy through innovative strategies and solutions, including all-Island, fast, reliable, and affordable Internet
  • protection of Puget Sound, starting with better storm water management

A Bainbridge High School (BHS) graduate from the class of 1969, Peltier earns his living as a carpenter. He and his wife Polly have a son, Reggie, who graduated from BHS in 2008.

Peltier, who is known for his outspokenness, said, “While I’m not hesitant to call out the shortcomings of our present Council, I’m looking forward to working with them. I will bring a unique presence to that body. As a long-time working class Islander, being an effective Council member will set an example for ordinary citizens that the laws and inner workings of government are not primarily the domain of those with impressive resumes.”

Peltier added, “I see citizen involvement as an absolutely essential component of good governance. As a council member I will encourage all Bainbridge Islanders to be active and informed partners in Island governance.”

Kol Medina is also running for the North Ward seat, which will be vacated at the end of December by Mayor Anne Blair, who has declined to run for a second term.

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Photo courtesy of  Tami Meader Photography©2015.

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eagle harbor boat and clouds

Weather: Cooler Temps & Possible Rain

Our warm weather will dip back down into the low 60s this week. Clouds and possible rain will move in.

Here is the National Weather Service forecast for Bainbridge Island:

Sunday Mostly cloudy, with a high near 69 degrees F. Calm wind, becoming northeast 5 to 8 mph in the afternoon.
Sunday Night A 30 percent chance of rain after 11 p.m. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 49 degrees F. North-northeast wind 9 to 14 mph, becoming light and variable after midnight.
Monday A 50 percent chance of rain. Cloudy, with a high near 61 degrees F. Calm wind, becoming southeast 5 to 7 mph in the afternoon.
Monday Night A 50 percent chance of rain. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 47 degrees F. South wind 3 to 5 mph.
Tuesday A 30 percent chance of rain. Partly sunny, with a high near 63 degrees F. Southeast wind 3 to 7 mph.
Tuesday Night A 20 percent chance of rain. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 47 degrees F.
Wednesday A 30 percent chance of rain. Cloudy, with a high near 61 degrees F.
Wednesday Night Possible rain. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 47 degrees F.

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Kitsap County Courthouse

Police Report Details Alleged Sexual Crimes by Bainbridge High School Teacher

NOTE: This article contains graphic information that might be disturbing to minors. 

Forensic evidence obtained by the Bainbridge Island Police Department and reviewed by the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab in the case of misconduct between a Bainbridge High School teacher and student suggests an extensive sexual relationship.

According to court documents, the police found that Jessica Fuchs, 26, and a 16-year-old sophomore male student discussed their sexual activity in iMessages, emails, videos, and voicemails. The alleged activity included oral sex and sexual intercourse. Police say they obtained a video that Fuchs reportedly made of herself naked and masturbating and emailed to the student with the title “ForMyBaby!” on February 21, 2015. The police report says the two messaged each other about the student’s receipt of the video and his response to it.

An Associate Principal at BHS reported having a conversation with Fuchs two days later, on February 23, that raised suspicions about inappropriate contact with a student. Fuchs was then placed on paid administrative leave. The next day, the Associate Principal met with the student’s mother to share her concern, and the mother reportedly discovered conversations with an unknown person named “Jess” on her son’s cell phone.

The morning of February 25, the Associate Principal called 911 to report a possible sexual offense. Officer Aimee LaClaire reported that the boy’s parents relinquished his cell phone, iPad, and laptop computer and gave permission to search the items for evidence of the alleged criminal activity.

The police report cites evidence that the boy stated that Fuchs, who has been married since last May, was pregnant and that forensic evidence shows an Internet search on her school computer about paternity testing.

The police report also states that on or around February 23, Fuchs and the boy began exchanging messages about deleting communications between them. Early on the morning of February 25, Fuchs allegedly told the male student, “Well protect me as best you can. Remember NOTHING COMES OUT EVER! About anything you have been to my house only once. Lie like you have NEVER lied before. And try to get your mom to side with you completely and say this was all a misunderstanding! And tell the investigator that!”

Fuchs is charged with two felonies and a gross misdemeamor. Charges against her include Sexual Misconduct with a Minor in the 1st degree (felony); Communication with a Minor for immoral purposes (gross misdemeanor); and Tampering with a Witness (felony).

Jessica Marie Fuchs was 25 years old when the alleged crimes took place.

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