2016 year in review

Leader Staff, news@ptleader.com
Posted 12/27/16

There is no such thing as a “quiet” year in the news business, and that’s reflected in what may be considered the “big news” stories of 2016 in Jefferson County.

Month to month, here are …

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2016 year in review

Posted

There is no such thing as a “quiet” year in the news business, and that’s reflected in what may be considered the “big news” stories of 2016 in Jefferson County.

Month to month, here are some of the news items that made the Port Townsend & Jefferson County Leader newspaper.

JANUARY

JAMISON INVESTS IN PEOPLE, HOMES

John Jamison is investing some of his retirement funds in Lisa Walsh and her children, as well as in a small house near Quilcene that would make Walsh a first-time homeowner.

A school bus driver for the Chimacum School District, Walsh is not the first person Jamison has helped become a homeowner since he moved to Jefferson County 24 years ago from Maine. A Port Townsend woman he first helped buy property is almost finished paying off her loan, and Jamison expects she’ll upgrade from a trailer to a modular home soon.

Over the years, the now-retired public school math teacher figures he’s invested in about 10 people and properties, from Maine to Mason County, Washington, with the majority in Jefferson County.

Now he wonders if it’s a model of investment that might suit others who have retired to Jefferson County and who, like him, not only want a decent rate of return on their investment, but who also want to invest in people and community.

NAVY SPECIAL FORCES USE STATE PARKS FOR TRAINING

Washington State Parks has issued a right-of-entry permit to the U.S. Navy that allows nighttime training exercises at five state parks, including Fort Flagler State Park and Mystery Bay State Park.

Brian Hageman, manager of Fort Worden Area Parks, told The Leader that the Navy has used Fort Townsend and Fort Flagler state parks and has at least once in recent years used Fort Worden.

The Washington State Parks permit was issued to Naval Special Warfare Group 3, based in California. Units would have access to submersibles and other small craft intended to help Navy special forces personnel operate clandestinely.

“It’s basically coming [ashore] in the middle of the night, hiking to a location, hiding and hiking back out,” Hageman said. The Navy has a public affairs officer and communication staff on site for possible interaction with the public, Hageman said.

GARAGE FIRE DESTROYS 20,000 VINYL RECORDS

Jim Dickie’s collection of vinyl albums, representing nearly a half-century of collecting and worth an estimated $100,000, is gone, destroyed late Saturday, Jan. 9 in an electrical fire.

“It was everything. It was a collection he’s had since the ’70s,” said Dickie’s girlfriend, Anneke Van Krieken, who owns the detached garage into which the albums had been moved in December 2015 from a Bellingham location. She also owns the home nearby, which did not catch on fire. No one was injured in the fire.

GUILTY: THOMPSON PLEADS IN DEATH OF GIRLFRIEND

A Jefferson County man has pleaded guilty to murdering a Clallam County woman in July 2015.

Evan Daniel Thompson, 34, appeared in Jefferson County Superior Court on Jan. 15 to change his plea. Sentencing is set for Feb. 19. Thompson remains in Jefferson County Jail on $1 million bond.

Thompson, a 2000 Chimacum High School graduate, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of 20-year-old Virginia G. Castaneda, a 2013 Forks High School graduate from La Push. She reportedly had been in a romantic relationship with Thompson for the past year.

[NOTE: Jefferson County Superior Court Judge Keith Harper on Feb. 26 sentenced Thompson to 15 years in prison and three years’ probation.]

PT BLESSED WITH ARTS ‘ANGELS’

Well-known Port Townsend musical couple Selena and Louie Espinoza have been named Angels of the Arts for 2015 by the Port Townsend Arts Commission (PTAC), while Gail Rodgers and Polly Lyle have been chosen as joint 2015 Patrons of the Arts. The annual awards celebrate volunteerism, leadership and community building.

PTAC also recognizes Carla Caldwell, retiring executive director of the Jefferson County Community Foundation (JCCF), for JCCF’s contributions to the arts, including spearheading the Creative Vitality Index study group.

FEBRUARY

BOY, 13, ACQUITTED OF RAPE ON SCHOOL BUS

A 13-year-old boy has been acquitted of three first-degree rape charges 11 months after a 7-year-old girl accused him of sexually assaulting her several times on a Chimacum school bus.

“I don’t think this ever should have been charged,” defense attorney Scott Charlton said Feb. 1 after Jefferson County Superior Court Judge Keith Harper delivered his ruling.

47 YEARS LATER: MISSING PERSON REPORT RESOLVED

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) cold case squad has resolved a 47-year-old mystery of a Tacoma man who went missing in the Olympic Mountains.

Skeletal remains found in 1975 turned out to be those of the 21-year-old, who never returned from a camping trip in the summer of 1968. He had committed suicide with a rifle, according to evidence found at the scene.

Identification was determined in October 2015. The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office made the news public Jan. 28, 2016.

Bob Gebo, a part-time JCSO employee and leader of the cold case squad of veteran investigators, spoke with the missing man’s three older brothers.

HABITAT EXTENDS HELP TO BRINNON

The board of directors of Habitat for Humanity of East Jefferson County has extended the nonprofit’s home repair program to serve qualified residents in both Brinnon and Quilcene.

The organization’s home repair program began about five years ago as part of a larger neighborhood revitalization initiative in Quilcene, a project that included community surveys, opening a Habitat for Humanity store, and developing partnerships to identify, fund and complete repairs in a core area of Quilcene.

UNITED GOOD NEIGHBORS RAISES $287,000 IN 2015

Thanks to the generous support of community members and businesses, United Good Neighbors of Jefferson County (UGN) received $287,000 during the 2015 fundraising campaign, which had a goal of $375,000.

“Given this result, in 2016 we expect to grant about $252,000 to health and human services programs in the county, which is about equal to the amount granted in 2015, the largest in UGN’s history,” Steve Rafoth, UGN president, said in a press release.

PT SCHOOL BOND PASSES; CHIMACUM SCHOOL BOND FAILS

Supporters of Port Townsend’s $40.9 million bond erupted with excitement at the Jefferson County Courthouse as auditor RoseAnn Carroll announced that the measure had passed with 73 percent of the vote.

“I’m really proud of this community,” Superintendent David Engle said moments later.

In that same moment, supporters of Chimacum’s $29.1 million bond quietly gathered in a corner to make sense of their measure’s 57 percent support.

“We did make headway, but it was not enough,” Superintendent Rick Thompson said of his district’s measure falling short of the 60 percent approval threshold.

Also: The Fire District 5 bond to build a new fire station is approved by five votes. The Brinnon School District’s two-year replacement maintenance-and-operation levy passes, and the Quilcene School District’s four-year replacement M&O levy passes.

BASKETBALL: CHIMACUM EDGES PT FOR LEAGUE TITLE

Chimacum (7-2 league, 9-11 overall) tied with Port Townsend (7-2, 9-11) in league, but wins a second consecutive Olympic League boys’ basketball championship by having a 2-1 edge against the Redhawks this season.

ROGERS, MCLAIN WIN WRESTLING TITLES

Port Townsend has two district wrestling champions – senior Chloe Rogers and junior Cody McLain – and a total of six in the mix at the boys’ and girls’ 1A regional tournaments.

At the girls’ district tourney, Rogers (140 pounds) placed first, sophomore Ally Bradley (110) placed second, and frosh Brenna Franklin (155) was third.

At the boys’ competition, McLain (225) was first, sophomore Tucker Booth (285) was third, and sophomore Jesus Duran (126) was fourth.

Rogers continued her outstanding season by receiving the West Central District’s 1A women’s wrestling Athlete of the Year award, voted on by the coaches. The senior tallied 22 points in the weekend matches without yielding a point.

Plus, head coach Steve Grimm and assistant coach Jim Wilcox won the district women’s wrestling awards for coaches of the year.

[NOTE: Rogers advanced to place second at state, and McLain placed seventh at state. Rogers capped her career as the most decorated state wrestler in PTHS history, with back-to-back second-place finishes.]

CAREGIVERS NEEDED: JOB REQUIRES COMPASSION

Jefferson County’s aging population needs workers to provide in-home care, and a number of local companies, as well as branches of national caregiving corporations, are hiring.

Kelly Brebberman recently started a support group for in-home caregivers, which meets 10:30 a.m.-noon every first and third Tuesday at Jefferson County Library in Port Hadlock.

She started the group to give people a place to talk about the challenges faced by nonprofessional caregivers. “It’s hard,” she said. “I am helping a friend care for his elderly father. He’s got terminal cancer and he wants to be taken care of at home.”

QUILCENE’S ‘CAREER’ FIREFIGHTERS NOW ARE ON DUTY

Quilcene Fire Rescue is no longer the largest fire protection district in Jefferson County with only a fire chief as its full-time emergency responder.

Three full-time personnel – two firefighters/EMTs and a firefighter/paramedic – came on duty in January 2016 to serve Jefferson County Fire District 2, or Quilcene Fire Rescue (QFR).

“Being able to hire career staff is going to be huge for the Quilcene community,” Fire Chief Larry Karp said in a press release. “We’re going to be able to expect more training and higher certification levels from these guys, that we can’t demand from volunteers.”

MARCH

PUD BOARD SPLITS OVER AUDIT HELP

In anticipation of a negative state audit, Jefferson County Public Utility District commissioners have directed manager Jim Parker to hire an outside accounting firm to help work through corrections and recommend changes.

The 2-1 vote on Feb. 16 does not lay out a budget for hiring the firm of Moss Adams, but it does give a deadline of April 29 for completing tasks.

KELSALL IS LEAGUE MVP, ELDRIDGE IS COACH OF YEAR

Port Townsend sophomore Detrius Kelsall was voted the boys’ basketball 1A Olympic League’s most valuable player (MVP) for the 2015-16 season. The second-largest number of votes in the MVP selection went to Chimacum senior James Porter.

Chimacum boys’ coach Jim Eldridge was voted coach of the year, in what is his final season of coaching at his alma mater.

WALTERS IS CITIZEN OF YEAR, FRIEDMAN IS TOP BUSINESS OWNER

Marianne Walters, a Jefferson County native and the “first to volunteer for anything” was named the 2015 Citizen of the Year at a packed awards brunch held Sunday, March 6 by the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce.

Rocky Friedman, owner of The Rose Theatre and the Starlight Room, brought tears to the eyes of many in the building when he dedicated his Tim Caldwell Business Leader of the Year award to his late father.

Friedman began by crediting the other nominees with being personal inspirations to him.

ARTIST’S WORK HEADS TO TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL

An unusual business is thriving in Port Townsend.

Andrea Love, freelance stop-motion animator and illustrator, has found there is a high demand for her work creating animations that tell stories about people and companies.

Stop motion is animation made by physically maneuvering objects in small increments between individually photographed frames. When the photos are played as a continuous sequence, the objects seem to move on their own.

4-H YOUTH ENTERTAINMENT CLUB FIRST IN STATE

It started with a free “Movie Night on the Dock” during the Port Townsend Film Festival, showing a 35-cent movie purchased from Goodwill, with seating on free couches acquired from Craigslist.

The fun free event was the brainchild of Port Townsend High School (PTHS) seniors Ben Rolland and Groves Moore, who wanted to do a senior project to show that teens could provide their own entertainment.

Five months later, the Port Townsend Youth Entertainment Coalition has morphed into something far more than a onetime or twice-held do-it-yourself (DIY) entertainment event: It is now the first entertainment club in the state to be sanctioned as a 4-H club.

PROSECUTOR: NO CHARGES IN FATAL WRECK

Charges are not to be filed against Marrowstone Island resident Chuck Russell, who was driving a car that struck a pickup on State Route 104 Sept. 23, 2015, killing 88-year-old Robert “Bob” Frank Dawson of Kitsap County.

Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Haas said March 14 that after reviewing reports from the Washington State Patrol , sent to his office in January, “We determined we could not successful prosecute Mr. Russell for his actions the day of the collision.”

RHODY QUEEN FIONA REIGNS

Fiona Shaffer drew a roaring ovation from the audience March 12 when she was announced as queen of the 81st Rhododendron Festival.

“I did not think that I was going to get anything,” Shaffer said backstage minutes after the coronation at the Chimacum High School auditorium. “This is a complete shock. I am blessed. I now have three new best friends.”

Princesses are Kayla Calhoun and Morgan Wilford. Special awards went to Shaffer as Miss Congeniality (voted by her fellow candidates). Wilford received the award for selling the most Rhody booster pins.

CENTER VALLEY FLOODING WORSE IN 10 YEARS

Rain and windstorms on March 10-11 put water over state highways and county roads in East Jefferson County, adding to an already waterlogged area.

While roadways are clear, the creeks and valleys they flow through are still more than full.

“This is the worst it’s been in probably 10 years or so,” said Roger Short of Short’s Family Farm in Center Valley. “I’m out of winter feed and I’ve got 150 acres of water standing on pastures I’d like the cattle to be in.”

HARGROVE ERA ENDING AT STATE LEGISLATURE

It’s the end of the Hargrove era.

For 32 years, forester Jim Hargrove of Hoquiam has represented the 24th Legislative District in the Washington State Legislature. That ends this year, after Hargrove, 62, announced his retirement. He was the longest-serving state senator and a throwback to an earlier era.

“Thirty-two years is a long time,” Hargrove said from Olympia, where the Legislature is still trying to complete a budget. “I’ve seen people stay here past the time when they were effective, and thinking, ‘That guy should have gone a couple of terms ago.’”

INQUEST ORDERED IN CASE OF MAN SHOT BY COPS

With an inquest set to begin March 29, Sarah Fitch of Port Townsend hopes she may begin to understand why a Seattle police officer shot her son to death early on July 17, 2015.

“From Sarah’s perspective as a mother who lost her child, she wants to have answers as to what was the officer trained to do when dealing with an individual such as her son; she wants to know what kind of training officers get,” said Fitch’s attorney, Sunitha Anjilvel.

After the Seattle Police Department (SPD) forwarded the results of its investigation to the King County prosecutor in October 2015, the prosecutor recommended an inquest, which is a fact-finding hearing conducted by a six-member jury and a King County District Court judge. On Oct. 29, 2015, King County Executive Dow Constantine ordered the inquest.

Samuel Toshiro Smith, 27, was shot three times by SPD officer Shaun Hilton, 35, in Seattle about 40 minutes after striking an SPD patrol car from behind while traveling southbound on Interstate 5 on July 17.

FILMING AT FORT WORDEN DELAYED UNTIL 2017

Port Townsend’s next venture into the world of Hollywood has been delayed.

The John Sayles film “To Save the Man,” scheduled for production at Fort Worden this summer, has been postponed until the summer of 2017.

Film producer Maggie Renzi and the production team are still in the process of securing full funding for the film, according to a March 16 press release from the Fort Worden Public Development Authority (FWPDA).

The FWPDA manages Fort Worden’s overnight reservations and the campus area of the state park.

CHIMACUM CROSSROADS WINS ‘LIVABLE’ AWARD

A farm, a grocery store and two nonprofits have collectively been recognized for their collaborative work in shaping and continuing to develop a vision for a centralized, walkable and livable area of Chimacum that supports the farming economy.

The Futurewise 2016 Livable Communities Award on March 16 was awarded to Chimacum Corner Farmstand, Finnriver Farm and Cidery, Jefferson Land Trust and the North Olympic Peninsula Resources Conservation and Development Council (NOP RC&D) for excellence in the category of “protecting natural resources areas – farms and forests.”

SANDERS WINS JEFFERSON COUNTY HEARTS

“It was stupendous” is all Jefferson County Democrats chair Bruce Cowan could say about the record-breaking caucus turnout March 26 at Chimacum High School: 3,778 Democrats turned out to caucus, and a majority voted for Bernie Sanders.

It was a 45 percent higher turnout than in 2008, when some 2,500 showed up to support presidential hopeful Barack Obama.

Like Democrats in every other county in the state of Washington, Jefferson County favored Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

In Jefferson County, Sanders garnered 135 delegates to the county convention May 1, compared to 56 delegates elected for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who still led in overall national delegates.

APRIL

DEER COUNT REACHES 238

Volunteers with the first Port Townsend Deer Count spotted 238 deer on the morning of April 2. That number does not compensate for the possible double-counting of deer.

More than 60 volunteers took part in the count. Each counter was given a photocopied map of their section of town, and a tally sheet on which to note the exact time and location (by address) of each deer they saw. People were also instructed to draw a line along the map to indicate their route during the half-hour count. By collating that information on a big map, organizers hope to identify instances of deer being counted twice.

COUNCIL TALKS SHORT-TERM RENTAL RULES

Port Townsend City Council members and city staff talked about short-term rental regulations at an April 11 workshop, focusing on whether or not to begin allowing – and thereby regulating – non-owner-occupied short-term rentals.

It’s the latest round of discussions that go back for years concerning city codes that allow certain types of short-term rentals for guest accommodations, and how those rules are often flaunted by property owners filling the demand for overnight guest accommodations in a popular tourist town.

OUTDOOR POT GROWER EYES THE FUTURE

Horticulturist Kyle Craig is using 2.5 acres of the 5 acres he’s leasing from Roger Short to grow marijuana outside.

Jefferson County should see its first legal outdoor marijuana operation – clearly visible behind an 8-foot-tall chain-link fence in the middle of a field where Short’s cows have been grazing for decades.

The soil is rich with what is called San Juan gravely loam. Short jokingly said if he had 100 acres of the particular soil that Craig is using, “We could all go to Mexico for a few months.”

TRIBE: RESORT THREATENS TREATY RIGHTS

Port Gamble S’Klallam tribal members say their concerns about how a long-planned resort near Brinnon would infringe on tribal treaty rights have not been taken seriously over the past 15 years.

“That’s surprising to me, that it’s taken so long for our voice to be heard at all,” Jeromy Sullivan, chair of the tribe’s six-member council, said April 18 during a rare, face-to-face meeting with Jefferson County’s three commissioners. “That was one of the things we really wanted to say to the county, say to Mr. Mann: We want to work with you guys.”

SCHOOL BOND FAILS AGAIN, EMS LEVY APPROVED

To say the nearly 100 people who crowded into the Jefferson County Courthouse Tuesday night in support of the Chimacum School District’s bond were stunned would be an understatement.

Complete but unofficial election night returns have Chimacum School District’s $29.1 million facilities bond failing at 2,994 yes votes (58.7 percent) and 2,107 no votes (41 percent). School bonds need 60 percent approval.

The same property tax request failed Feb. 9, receiving 58.02 percent support when it needed 60 percent.

Meanwhile, the first emergency medical services levy proposed by Jefferson County Fire District 2 (Quilcene/Dabob) was approved.

HOSPITAL TURNS BACK PSYCHIATRIC FACILITY GRANT

Jefferson Healthcare has returned a $1.5 million grant it was awarded to build a seven-bed inpatient psychiatric facility and instead, plans to head in a less costly direction that involves two safe rooms and telepsychiatric consulting services.

Jefferson Healthcare CEO Mike Glenn told hospital commissioners April 20 that the cost of building a seven-bed unit would be from $2 million to $2.5 million, on top of the $1.5 million grant, and result in annual income losses of $2 million.

$200,000 GRANT TO RENOVATE BRINNON KITCHEN

When Brinnon students return to school this fall, they’ll likely be greeted by a renovated and expanded kitchen, thanks to a nearly $200,000 state grant.

Brinnon School is one of 466 schools in 93 districts statewide to receive a portion of the $5 million Healthy Kids–Healthy Schools grant program, which promotes healthy meals, physical education and water consumption.

MAY

NEW AIR BOSS AT PORT TOWNSEND AERO MUSEUM

A changing of the guard has quietly taken place at the Port Townsend Aero Museum.

Jerry and Peggy Thuotte retired from daily operations on April 1, 2016, after 15 years of pulling the museum from its preplanning stage through construction and management to its present standing as a productive nonprofit, publicly owned, education-based operation.

The cofounders have turned operations over to Michael Payne as museum director.

PORT HIRES GIBBONEY AS TOP EXECUTIVE

The Port of Port Townsend Board of Commissioners have hired Sam Gibboney to replace the retiring Larry Crockett as the public district’s executive director.

Gibboney, 54, a civil engineer who specialized in environmental engineering during her 20 years in Jefferson County, is the first woman to lead the port district. Crockett has been port director since 1999.

BRINNON BOARD HIRES MANLY AS FIRE CHIEF

The Brinnon Fire Department’s board of commissioners met May 10 to negotiate a contract with its new chief: Tim Manly, a career firefighter and paramedic who has spent the past 19 years with Port Ludlow Fire & Rescue.

The board selected Manly, 48, of Port Ludlow on May 3 after receiving three letters of interest and interviewing two finalists.

POLM IS NEW SUPERINTENDENT OF PT SCHOOLS

John A. Polm Jr. says he’s ecstatic about the opportunity to lead the Port Townsend School District as its new superintendent.

“From all the groups I was able to meet with, it was very clear this is a district that’s on the right path,” Polm, 52, said May 20 after having accepted the position late on May 19.

The school board voted unanimously May 19 to offer the position to Polm. He replaces David Engle, who retired after four years.

PUD ACCEPT ‘DISCLAIMER’ FROM STATE

Jefferson County Public Utility District (PUD) commissioners voted unanimously May 19 to let go of trying to make 2013 and 2014 financial statements perfect, so they can move forward on an audit of 2015 records.

PUD manager Jim Parker said the Washington State Auditor’s Office wanted the PUD board to weigh in on whether to accept what is technically called a “disclaimer from opinion,” which means that the books are not in adequate shape for the state auditors to render an opinion on them.

MISSING BRIDGE WORKER FOUND

A recovery effort is underway a week after a Hood Canal Bridge crew member and his vehicle apparently went off the lower deck.

The Washington State Department of Transportation maintenance technician, a Port Ludlow resident, went missing Monday, May 16. The vehicle and his body were recovered.

STATE SHIFTS BUSINESS PLAN AT FORT FLAGLER

Public feedback at a March 22 meeting on Marrowstone Island has led Washington State Parks to re-envision its recreational business activity (RBA) proposal for Fort Flagler State Park.

Instead of potential development of commercial activity on 10 acres of woodland, the idea now is to target many of Fort Flagler’s underused historic buildings.

The 1,454-acre park on Marrowstone Island is one of 11 state parks proposed for RBA zones intended to stimulate public use and generate revenue.

NAVAL MAGAZINE INDIAN ISLAND CELEBRATES 75th

Naval Magazine (NAVMAG) Indian Island celebrated its 75th year of operation on May 13, with military personnel and civilian employees of the installation honoring the island’s rich heritage by participating in a beach beautification cleanup project and a cook-out lunch.

QUILCENE, CHIMACUM, PT TEAMS WIN

In their respective leagues, high school teams and individuals bring home trophies.

The Quilcene Rangers repeat as Sea-Tac League baseball champions, win the district crown, and fall in a first-round state tourney game. The Chimacum High softball team wins the 1A Olympic League title, and compete at the state tourney. The Quilcene Ranger softball team wins league and district titles, and brings home a third-place state trophy. The Port Townsend boys’ golf team wins the district title, while the Chimacum boys’ golf team place third at state.

In district track, Aubrey Botkin wins two hurdles titles, Shenoa Snyder wins a discus title, and the boys’ 4x100 relay (Kyle Blankenship, Seren Dances, Carson Marx and Koby Weidner) win a district title and break their own school record to finish second at state. For Chimacum, Sam Golden wins two district hurdle titles and Chris Sevilla wins javelin at district.

JUNE

‘DARK WOODS JUSTICE’ STARS QUILCENE DEPUTY

A new Discovery Channel reality show premiering June 7 stars deputy Adam Newman, 34, of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office as well as sheriff’s deputies in Mason and Grays Harbor counties.

“Dark Woods Justice,” a six-episode series produced for Discovery by Seattle-based PSG Films, follows sheriff’s deputies as they track down those who poach western big-leaf maple trees in the Olympic Peninsula’s vast expanse of forestland.

SUIT AGAINST COAST SEAFOODS PROCEEDS

A lawsuit against Coast Seafoods Co. over the discharge of effluent into Quilcene Bay is moving forward after a U.S. District Court judge rejected a motion by the company to dismiss the case outright.

U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Leighton concluded in a written statement June 3 that the Olympic Forest Coalition’s claim for relief can move forward because it has “plausibly stated a claim for relief in this case.”

The nonprofit is suing the largest employer in south Jefferson County, alleging that the shellfish company ought to be filtering its discharge into Quilcene Bay.

Connie Gallant, OFCO board president, said on June 6 that the nonprofit brought the suit against the company because there are a lot of questions about what types of chemicals are being discharged as well how much oyster poop is going into the bay.

TWO TOP DEPUTY PROSECUTORS EXIT HAAS’ OFFICE

Since taking office in January 2015, Jefferson County Prosecutor Michael Haas has seen the majority of his staff leave for other jobs, including all four of his deputies.

Of the office’s 11 employees, seven have resigned, one has retired, and another is set to retire in August.

The latest casualties are Deputy Prosecuting Attorney James Kennedy and 17-year Chief Civil Deputy Prosecuting Attorney David Alvarez, both of whom have taken positions in the Clallam County Prosecutor’s Office.

THE DAY ALI CAME TO PORT TOWNSEND

Phil Sutherland, Port Townsend High School Class of 1978, reflects on the death of Muhammed Ali. He writes about the day in 1980 when Muhammad Ali came to Port Townsend to speak at the funeral of Chuck Robinson, PTHS Class of 1979. Robinson died March 14, along with his boxing club teammates, when a jet airliner taking them to an international match in Poland crashed.

“Today, 36 years later, upon Muhammad Ali’s death, I remember him as a spiritual leader as much as an athlete. I feel this sense of gratitude that I will carry for the rest of my life,” Sutherland said.

“I was never a fan of the boxer, but the man will always remain one of my heroes.”

‘PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY’ DRILLED HOME

Personal responsibility for taking care of one’s self and one’s family was brought home to Jefferson County Emergency Management director Bob Hamlin last week in Cascade Rising, the largest exercise ever conducted in the Pacific Northwest to simulate the impact of a 9.0-magnitude earthquake.

“Personal preparedness is really a major part of it. 911 ain’t coming. Sorry, but it ain’t coming. Personal responsibility is the key,” Hamlin said June 14 of what he knew already but relearned in the exercise.

SUIT OVER PAPER MILL SMELL SNIFFED OUT

A Seattle law firm has mailed “advertisements” to Port Townsend residents soliciting people willing to participate in a possible class-action lawsuit against alleged “noxious odors” emitted at Port Townsend Paper Corp.

The paper mill is not in violation of state Department of Ecology rules, an Ecology spokesperson said. PT Paper continues to invest millions of dollars into environmental systems, company officials noted. Most of the odor associated with the mill stems from the facility’s pond.

JULY

TEAM MAD DOG WINS FIRST IN RACE TO ALASKA

Most of the teams participating in the Northwest Maritime Center’s second Race to Alaska (R2AK) continue to paddle, row and sail toward Ketchikan. First prize in the engineless boat race, $10,000, went to Team Mad Dog Racing, which finished on June 30. Second prize – a set of steak knives – went to Team Skiff Foundation Jungle Kitty. Next to finish were teams 3) Big Broderna, 4) Madrona, 5) Mail Order Bride, 6) Pure & Wild, 7) UnCruise Adventures and 8) Turn Point Design.

CENTRUM DEBUTS MCCRACKEN FUND

Longtime Centrum program manager Peter McCracken received a surprise on July 4 during a concert at Centrum’s Festival of American Fiddle Tunes – a $1 million endowment fund in his name, created to support Centrum music programs in perpetuity.

During the Fiddles on the Fourth concert, played to a nearly full house at McCurdy Pavilion, Centrum executive director Robert Birman and Fiddle Tunes artistic director Suzy Thompson joined musician and philanthropist Ed Littlefield Jr. onstage to announce the Peter McCracken Heritage Fund, as a surprise to McCracken on the occasion of the 40th gathering of the workshop.

OLYMPIC MUSIC FESTIVAL OPENS IN PT

The Olympic Music Festival’s 33rd season features a new venue, the Wheeler Theater at Fort Worden, instead of its previous location on a farm north of Quilcene.

ACI BOATS LAUNCHES FIRST HULL

Saturday’s launch of the 34-foot aluminum catamaran Wild Cat marks the next chapter for ACI Boats’ planned line of production aluminum powerboats, being built at ACI’s Port Townsend Boat Haven facility.

The first hull in the new Alegria series, Wild Cat is soon to be joined by 30- and 36-foot versions; two other standard lines are in the design stages.

CITY COUNCIL APPOINTS ETHICS OFFICER

An “ethics hearings officer” has been appointed by the Port Townsend City Council and given 10 days to review an ethics complaint filed by former Upstage Restaurant owner Mark Cole.

Meeting in a July 7 special session, the City Council voted 3-1 to appoint Seattle attorney Peter Eglick as the city’s ethics hearings officer, with Robert Gray dissenting. The meeting was confrontational in tone, with audience interruptions causing the mayor to make multiple requests for order.

The appointment came in the wake of Cole’s 100-page ethics complaint filed against 13 current and former city staff and city council members, including the entire 2013 Port Townsend City Council and City Manager David Timmons.

PRILLS BID FAREWELL TO QUILCENE

People come and go from a small town, but the departure of such a sweet, fun and dedicated couple as Bob and Winona Prill is not easily accepted.

“The heart and soul of this community is leaving,” said Bob Rosen, Quilcene Community Center manager, during a community potluck hosted July 25 to honor the Prills.

About 50 people attended the gathering at the community center, hosted by the Quilcene Garden Club, Quilcene Food Bank and Quilcene Historical Museum, for which the Prills have been volunteers.

41 ANIMALS SEIZED FROM GARDINER HOME

Animal cruelty charges are under review by the Jefferson County Prosecutor’s Office after 41 animals were seized on June 30 from a residence near Gardiner.

A search warrant was served on the property following a six-week investigation by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office into reports of animal cruelty.

Seven puppies and 10 adult dogs, as well as goats and chickens, were removed. The dogs were all underweight and could possibly be suffering from malnutrition and parasites, deputy Bruce Turner said.

CITY APPROVES HOUSING STUDY

The Port Townsend City Council has authorized a study, in partnership with multiple nonprofit agencies, intended to help the city respond to what is termed a housing crisis.

The council on July 18 unanimously approved the proposal introduced by David Timmons, city manager, allocating as much as $30,000 for an organizational assessment regarding housing. Funding is to come from the city’s existing affordable housing fund.

Timmons noted that it was time to “come up with an organizational framework to do something different” about housing, and that getting other agencies on board through this assessment was the first step. Timmons said the goal is to find ways to create housing that remains affordable in perpetuity, citing the community land trust model that had been successful for projects he had worked on in Vermont.

SHORT-TERM RENTALS: BOARD VOTES NO

The Port Townsend Planning Commission on July 13 voted 6-0 to prohibit non-owner-occupied short-term rentals in the city of Port Townsend. Advisory board member Paul Rice was not present.

The Planning Commission’s recommendations were accepted by the City Council July 18 as part of the update to the city comprehensive plan that’s in progress. No council action was taken.

The planning commission’s July 13 discussion centered around concerns about potential negative community impacts if non-resident owners were permitted to rent out housing on a short-term basis. A short-term rental is defined as being rented for a period of fewer than 29 days.

COAST GUARD RESCUES 2 FROM SINKING BOAT

A U.S. Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew rescued two boaters after their pleasure craft began taking on water and sank 10 miles north of Port Townsend on Thursday, July 14.

The two men were successfully hoisted from the Strait of Juan de Fuca and taken to WhidbeyHealth Medical Center for further medical evaluation.

PUD PRIORITIZES TREE TRIMMING

While crews were working to restore power in the Eaglemount area July 22, after a tree fell on a power line, other crews were preparing to trim trees in Port Townsend, hoping to stem the tide of future tree-related outages.

Jefferson County Public Utility District (PUD) manager Jim Parker said that the PUD had budgeted to spend $400,000 on tree trimming in 2016, “but I think we’ll spend maybe $1.2 million.”

TRIBES HONOR PTHS REDHAWKS

Leaders of the Jamestown, Lower Elwha and Port Gamble S’Klallam tribes presented a plaque to Port Townsend High School July 23, honoring the change of the school’s mascot and team name from Redskins to Redhawks.

The ceremony took place after members of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe of Clallam County had welcomed 22 canoes onto the Fort Worden State Park beach as part of the 2016 Tribal Canoe Journey, the Paddle to Nisqually.

Ron Allen, chair of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, formally presented the plaque to Port Townsend School District Superintendent John A. Polm Jr., who started his job July 1. Port Townsend High School student-athletes, coaches and Scott R. Wilson, assistant principal and athletic director, attended the beach ceremony.

The plaque reads, “We honor the Port Townsend School District and all the Redhawk team members and fans for being part of history, by adopting their new team name with enthusiasm, pride and courage.”

The Jamestown S’Klallam tribal members lobbied to change the PTHS Redskins mascot for nearly 20 years, believing it to be racist. The original PTHS logo depicted a Plains Indian–style chief in a feathered headdress that had been in use since 1928.

AUGUST

PRIMARY: DEAN, THOMAS ADVANCE IN COUNTY RACE

Election-night results show Democrats Kate Dean and Tim Thomas moving on to the general election in the five-way primary race for Jefferson County’s District 1 commissioner seat.

Dean leads with 1,777 votes (62 percent), while Thomas has 581 votes (20 percent). Following are Democrat Cynthia Koan at 235 votes (8 percent), Republican Jeff Gallant at 239 votes (8 percent), and Holly Postmus, who stopped campaigning in mid-July, at 54 votes (2 percent).

APPEALS COURT UPHOLDS DNR-NAVY EASEMENT

A Jefferson County sand and gravel company’s 2-year-old legal battle with the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has suffered another setback, and company officials are now weighing whether to continue the fight.

In May 2015, a visiting Kitsap County judge dismissed with prejudice the company’s claims against DNR in Jefferson County Superior Court. On July 26, a three-member panel of the Washington State Court of Appeals upheld that ruling.

“This is great news for the people of Washington,” Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark said July 26.

A federal judge in September 2015 dismissed similar claims against the Navy and other federal defendants.

PT FILM FEST FINDS STARS ELUSIVE

The 17th annual Port Townsend Film Festival (PTFF) won’t be without a Hollywood star or two, but it isn’t going to be featuring the “Guess the Guest” contest that has become a festival tradition.

The film festival, set for Sept. 23-25, typically runs a midsummer contest to guess the “mystery guest,” someone with major Hollywood connections who cuts the ceremonial ribbon and leads special events at the festival.

This year’s lineup features multiple stars – some you’ve heard of, some you haven’t heard of, and some you don’t yet know well.

Originally, the festival had one featured guest star. Lately, two or more people from the motion picture industry have been honored.

PT PAPER WINS ENVIRONMENTAL AWARD

The Northwest Pulp & Paper Association (NWPPA) has presented its 2016 Environmental Excellence Award to Port Townsend Paper Corp.

During the past 10 years, the mill has reduced greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels by nearly 60 percent and is aiming to continue on that path by switching to using compressed natural gas (CNG) to save on fuel costs, according to mill officials.

PT DRIZZLE ARE STATE WOMEN’S CHAMPS

The Port Townsend Drizzle are the most successful women’s basketball team in Washington State Senior Games (ages 50 and older) history, winning gold medals for two consecutive years.

The fact that the Drizzle are also the only women’s team competing at the senior games is something the women want to change.

“There is no other team in Washington,” Robin Stemen, a Drizzle cofounder.

It’s not that Drizzle members – who range in age from 31 to 68 (senior games eligibility starts at age 50) – want cutthroat roundball competition; it’s just that they are tired of having to split the group and play themselves for a state medal.

NO JURY OR FINE FOR ANTIWAR ACTIVIST

Port Townsend’s Doug Milholland wanted a jury trial.

“I would like to have a jury trial about the clear and present dangers I see attendant to the continual use of the base,” Milholland told Jefferson County District Court Judge Jill Landes on Aug. 8 regarding Naval Magazine Indian Island.

Instead, the longtime antiwar activist was found guilty of a traffic infraction. Milholland was arrested June 19 on a disorderly conduct charge about an hour after crossing a federal property line along State Route 116 and sitting in front of the gated entrance to Naval Magazine Indian Island. Prosecutors reduced the disorderly conduct charge to a traffic infraction.

GIRL WHO DISAPPEARED REAPPEARS IN ART

It may be a long shot, but that’s often the only hope when investigating a “cold case” of a person’s disappearance.

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office’s cold case squad, with support from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, has produced an artist’s age-progression image of a 14-year-old girl who went missing 35 years ago this summer on Jefferson County’s West End.

Foul play is suspected. No trace of the girl, Carla Owens, has been found.

CITY SENDS NAVY NOISE COMMENT LETTER

The City of Port Townsend has drafted a letter to the U.S. Navy in response to a request for comment on the proposed “area of potential effect” (APE) of EA-18G Growler airplane operations on nearby historic districts.

At the City Council meeting Aug. 15, council members voted unanimously to approve the draft letter as presented, with some relatively minor corrections.

The council asked to include specific mention of the Fort Worden and Uptown national historic districts, concerns about effects of aircraft operations on historic buildings themselves as well as on people, and strengthening of language in support of the city’s 74-year “good neighbor” relationship with Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.

PUD AUDITS: A PERFECT STORM OF PROBLEMS

Jefferson County Public Utility District (PUD) had a 14-year run of clean state audits – until it accepted federal dollars and took over the East Jefferson County holdings of the giant private power company Puget Sound Energy (PSE).

State auditors and PUD officials call the result of that takeover a “perfect storm” of problems. State auditors released their conclusions for books in 2013 and 2014. Between 2012 and 2014, there were eight findings, the most serious of three audit levels.

ECONOMIC HOPES PINNED ON ‘WORK DISTRICT’

The Howard Street Extension project, which involves about 2,500 feet of new roadway with a roundabout on Discovery Road, is the launching point to create a “work district,” which, in 20 years, is being counted on to reverse the net local job loss of the previous 10 years.

The City of Port Townsend appears all in with this effort, pledging to allow building code flexibility in this zone and others, add a marketing campaign to promote Port Townsend as a “craft manufacturing” center, and to monitor development progress for 10 years to make policy adjustments as conditions change.

The street, underground utilities and a roundabout on Discovery Road are to be done by summer 2017.

JUDGE REJECTS CIVIL SUIT OVER BOAT YARD LEASE

Marc Landry’s civil lawsuit against the Port of Port Townsend has been tossed out of court.

Jefferson County Superior Court Judge Keith Harper ruled against Landry Aug. 24, finding that he had offered no evidence to support his allegations of fraud or collusion surrounding the signing of Landry’s January 2015 boatyard lease.

Judge Harper also determined that Landry’s assertions that his lease was invalid because of the port’s collection of a “derelict vessel fee” as a security deposit were unfounded, and that the lease and subsequent eviction were valid. Codefendants PT Marine Enterprises, Gold Star Marine and Jim Heckmann were also cleared in a separate, related ruling in the same suit. Landry has 30 days to appeal the decision.

SEPTEMBER

SMITH TAKES DRAINAGE DISTRICT SEAT

Port Ludlow resident Katie Smith has been appointed to replace Jim Boyer on the Port Ludlow Drainage District (PLDD) board of directors.

Boyer resigned his position on the three-member board in July.

Smith, 73, said she has lived in the North Bay community since 1978 and has attended PLDD meetings since its creation.

PROSECUTOR ORDERS INMATE’S RELEASE FOR INFO

On a Saturday night in July, Jefferson County Prosecutor Michael Haas released from jail a man arrested a day earlier and granted him immunity from prosecution in exchange for what turned out to be a false lead.

That’s according to a series of emails that the prosecutor’s office released to the Port Townsend & Jefferson County Leader Aug. 26 in response to a Public Records Act request.

PT DAY CARE CLOSING; PROPERTY LISTED

When Tonya Brinkley and Maria Horton learned that the property they are renting for their day care, The Learning Company Inc., was going on the real estate market, they decided it would be best to close rather than enroll any more children.

So after six years of caring for children, the last day for the center, which has a state license to accommodate as many as 39 children, is set for Sept. 30.

WILSONS SELL LEADER; STAYS INDEPENDENT

The Port Townsend & Jefferson County Leader has new owners.

Brothers Lloyd Mullen, 28, and J. Louis Mullen, 31, purchased The Leader from Scott Wilson and Jennifer James-Wilson.

Lloyd Mullen, the general manager of the Shelton-

Mason County Journal, has taken the helm as the Leader’s new publisher. His brother Louis owns weekly papers in Idaho; Newport, Washington; and Wyoming, where he works and lives with his wife, Lisa, and daughter Nora.

“I’ve known Scott for a few years and had the opportunity to come up to Port Townsend multiple times. It’s a phenomenal newspaper. I’m grateful to be here,” said Lloyd Mullen.

PIT-TO-PIER SUIT DEAD IN WATER

A Poulsbo company’s lawsuit challenging a restrictive easement on Hood Canal appears to be dead in the water.

Hood Canal Sand and Gravel sued a host of state and federal defendants in August 2014 over a 55-year easement that the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) sold to the U.S. Navy in July 2014 for $720,000.

That easement – which covers more than 4,800 acres of state-owned aquatic tidelands along some 70 miles of the Hood Canal’s western coastline from the Hood Canal Bridge south to the Jefferson/Mason County line – effectively blocked the company’s plan to build a 1,000-foot pier off its Jefferson County waterfront property, located 5 miles south of the bridge, for loading gravel onto barges for shipment to local and international markets.

GRAY WHALE BONES DELIVERED TO CENTER

The bones of a dead gray whale anchored underwater in Port Townsend Bay off U.S. Naval Magazine Indian Island have been transferred to the Port Townsend Marine Science Center.

The gray whale died in May 2016 in Elliott Bay near downtown Seattle. The 30-foot-long, 30,000-pound juvenile female gray whale was between 2 and 4 years old, according to the National Marine Mammal Foundation.

The Cascadia Research Collective and the Washington Department of Natural Resources towed the whale to Indian Island for a necropsy.

HADLOCK PIZZERIA HIT BY HIDDEN CAMERA

Ferino’s Pizzeria owner Adam Burns says he may not reactivate the interactive part of his Facebook page ever again after it was hacked Sunday, Sept. 11 and photos of female employees using a restroom were posted online.

Burns said he first thought that someone was prank-calling the Port Hadlock business, but then he looked on the business’s Facebook account and “it was blowing up with disgusting comments,” he said. The videos showed females, in various states of undress, using the restroom.

COUNTY JAIL INMATE DIES AT HOSPITAL

A Jefferson County Jail inmate found trying to harm himself in his cell Sept. 16 died the next day at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO).

A fellow inmate observed Thomas G. Lorecki, 48, of Port Townsend attempting to harm himself at about 4:43 a.m., Sept. 16. That inmate notified corrections staff, who intervened and summoned medical aid.

Lorecki was airlifted to Harborview for further treatment. The hospital informed JCSO on the afternoon of Sept. 17 that Lorecki had died.

TOXIC ALGAE TRIGGERS ALARM FOR PT WATER

The City of Port Townsend prepared for a possible emergency distribution of bottled water after initial testing found potentially toxic blue-green algae in the city’s untreated source reservoirs.

Subsequent tests revealed no toxins, and no public health warning has been issued.

Although bacteria found in lake algae has been a health concern in East Jefferson County since two dogs died after drinking from Anderson Lake in 2006, it previously had never been detected in the public water supply from Lords Lake or City Lake, according to David Timmons, city manager of Port Townsend.

City officials learned Sept. 15 that blue-green algae had been detected in the reservoir lakes during routine testing. The general public was not notified until Sept. 23, although the city had begun making emergency plans to distribute bottled water in the event any algal toxins were found.

ASBESTOS DUMP ‘BIGGEST’ IN A DECADE

Two state agencies are investigating who is responsible for illegally dumping more than 100 plastic bags full of what appears to be hazardous concrete asbestos board at two sites in Jefferson County this month.

“I’ve been here 11 years, and that’s the biggest illegal asbestos dumping that I have seen,” said Mike Shults, an air-quality specialist with the Olympic Region Clean Air Agency, based in Olympia. Shults covers six counties for the agency. “If there had been a bigger one, I would have heard.”

STATE’S HIGH COURT RULES ON RECORDS CASE

A Poulsbo man plans to ask the state Supreme Court to reconsider its Sept. 1 ruling in his Public Records Act (PRA) case against Jefferson County.

Otherwise, Mike Belenski, 59, formerly of Jefferson County, declined to comment. Belenski, who in May stood before the state’s high court to argue his case, has until Sept. 20 to file for reconsideration. If the court takes it up, Michele Earl-Hubbard of the Allied Law Group won’t be far behind, joining Belenski as a friend of the court to argue on behalf of individual newspapers around the state as well as the Coalition for Open Government, Allied Daily Newspapers of Washington and the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association, of which the Port Townsend & Jefferson County Leader is a member.

JUVENILE SUSPECTED OF VOYEURISM

A former Ferino’s Pizzeria employee may face charges in a voyeurism incident that prompted owner Adam Burns to turn off his business’s Facebook page and ban employee cell phone use inside the eatery.

Jefferson County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Anna Phillips said on Friday, Sept. 23 that she is reviewing a report by Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office Detective Brett Anglin.

Anglin recommended the juvenile could be charged with as many as four counts of voyeurism for videos that were posted online showing female employees of Ferino’s in various stages of undress inside an employee restroom.

[A 17-year-old Chimacum boy later pleaded not guilty to four counts of voyeurism involving cell phone videos taken at Ferino’s Pizzeria in the employee restroom.]

QUINAULT TRIBE VOICES CONCERN ABOUT MPR

County officials hosted representatives of the Quinault Indian Nation on Sept. 23, marking Jefferson County’s second government-to-government meeting with tribal leaders this year.

On April 18, the county hosted members of the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe to discuss the tribe’s concerns over a long-planned, 231-acre master planned resort at Black Point, 2 miles south of Brinnon along Hood Canal.

OCTOBER

HOSPITAL OPENS $21 MILLION ESSB

Jefferson Healthcare’s $21 million Emergency and Specialty Services Building (ESSB) debuts Sunday, Oct. 23.

A grand opening for the 46,000-square-foot hospital-grade building takes place on Oct. 23, with patients being seen in the new facility the next day.

CHIMACUM SCHOOLS PREPARE FOR SHOOTER

If you can’t run and you can’t hide, “fight like your life depends on it, because it does.”

That’s what Chimacum School District students and staff are expected to do in an active-shooter situation on campus, according to the district’s emergency procedures handbook.

“Disperse and leave the building if you can,” the handbook states, suggesting people break a window if necessary. “This will make a less dense target population.”

If that’s not possible, hunker down and barricade the doors and windows, the handbook states. Fighting an intruder is the last resort.

COUPLE BRINGS 4 RECYCLED HOMES TO PT

Joe and Katie Johnson stood on the corner of Port Townsend’s 20th Street and Sheridan Avenue on Oct. 5 and watched as three recycled homes from Victoria, British Columbia, were moved slowly by a crew from Nickel Bros. The homes were destined for lots purchased by the couple and located behind their own home, off Wilson Street.

A fourth home from Mount Vernon, a 1920s Craftsman farmhouse that they both are excited about, is set to be moved to one of the residential lots Oct. 13.

SEPTIC SYSTEM WOES SHUTTER AJAX CAFE

The Ajax Cafe in Lower Port Hadlock is the first restaurant in Jefferson County to be closed because of a failed septic system, according to Dr. Tom Locke, the county’s public health officer.

And he’s the one who closed it, on Oct. 10, after efforts failed to motivate the building’s owners to repair its septic system.

“It’s a very fundamental thing. You can’t run a restaurant if you have a failed system,” Locke said.

PROPERTY VALUES: PT RECOVERS FROM RECESSION

Most of Port Townsend’s property values have recovered from the Great Recession, and the values of properties in Port Ludlow and Shine also rose in 2016.

“I would say in the city, you are seeing full recovery from the recession in values and maybe even getting higher in some areas,” Jefferson County Assessor Jeff Chapman said of more than 12,000 revaluation notices that were mailed earlier this month to property owners.

Overall, the value of county properties rose about 4.6 percent in 2016 to $4.85 billion, which is about the same percentage increase as 2014 and 2015 combined, Chapman said.

SHERIFF STANKO REGRETS FACEBOOK POST

While Sheriff David Stanko said he’s receiving supportive comments over his Facebook reaction to an Internet story of Muslims beheading Christians, Boiler Room executive director Amy Howard said the message created a widespread social media controversy.

“There was a huge uproar,” Howard said over Facebook posts that some people took to be Islamaphobic comments by the elected sheriff of Jefferson County on his personal Facebook account.

Stanko last week resigned as an honorary cochair of The Boiler Room’s annual fundraising auction, set for Feb. 18, 2017 with the title “A Night of Heroes.”

PT MAY FINALLY BE KNOWN AS A ‘COLLEGE TOWN’

Port Townsend may finally become known as a “college town” now that Peninsula College has a modern facility at Fort Worden that offers higher education opportunities.

Students have been using the renovated 14,000-square-foot Building 202 since Sept. 28. The ceremonial ribbon was cut Oct. 24 for a $6 million project spawned about nine years ago by Jefferson County residents who wanted more from their community college system.

NOVEMBER

DNR BOUNDARY HEARING BRINGS SUPPORT, QUESTIONS

Most of those attending an Oct. 25 hearing in Quilcene voiced support of the state Department of Natural Resources proposal to expand the Dabob Bay Natural Area Preserve and Devils Lake Natural Resources Conservation Area (NRCA).

Devils Lake is an upland lake near the entrance to Quilcene Bay on Mount Walker’s northeastern flank. The Devils Lake proposal would add 415 acres to the current Devils Lake NRCA of 80 acres to extend its boundaries southward from the lake and eastward to Quilcene Bay, protecting the lake, peat bog, wetland and forest-to-coastal-bluff shoreline.

MANRESA CASTLE SELLS FOR $1.9M

Manresa Castle, one of Port Townsend’s most iconic buildings, has been sold for $1.9 million to H&R Hospitality Inc.

Ravin Patel, the new manager of the 41-room Manresa Castle since May 2015, has also managed the Aladdin Inn, at 2333 Washington St. on Port Townsend Bay. Both accommodation properties are now owned by the same company. Patel said the investors are local and members of his family.

DEAN, RANDALL ARE IN LEVY OUT IN BRINNON

Jefferson County voters chose Kate Dean, a Democrat from Port Townsend, to be the next county commissioner, while Jeff Randall unseated Barney Burke for a Jefferson County Public Utility District seat. Voters in Brinnon rejected a proposed parks and recreation district property tax levy. In the presidential race, Hillary Clinton receives nearly twice as many votes as Donald Trump in Jefferson County.

STANDING TALL FOR STANDING ROCK

Gary Buckman, who owns Big Wolf Trading Co. in downtown Port Townsend, closed his cubby-hole-size shop for two weeks in October to be part of what he considers history.

Buckman and others from Port Townsend have gone or are going to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation to join an effort to block an oil company from building an underground pipeline 1,172 miles from North Dakota through South Dakota, Iowa and into Illinois.

REACTION TO TRUMP WIN FELT

From the halls of Chimacum High School to the sidewalks of Port Townsend, on social media websites and in mass emails, students, political party leaders and attorneys in Jefferson County were sharing their perspectives on what a Donald Trump presidency means for the United States and people locally.

“I would describe it as unrest,” said Whitney McCann Meissner, Chimacum High School principal, of what happened at school the day after the Nov. 8 election. Meissner said she had never seen “more displays of conflict in a short period of time.” It since has quieted down, she said Tuesday morning.

QUILCENE POSTS RECORD SEASON

Quilcene has earned its best-ever state tournament finish in volleyball with a fourth-place trophy at the 2016 Class 1B tourney.

The Lady Rangers (22-2) in 2016 won the school’s first volleyball league championship since 1992, and also won the league tournament and tri-district tournament.

PUD SUED OVER CLOSED-DOOR MEETINGS

Tom Thiersch has filed a lawsuit against the Jefferson County Public Utility District, alleging that commissioners and specifically Commissioner Wayne King violated the state Open Public Meetings Act more than 30 times in 2015.

The 23-page suit was filed Nov. 15 in Jefferson County Superior Court by Allied Law Group attorney Michele Earl-Hubbard on behalf of Thiersch.

DECEMBER

CALLAHAN OUSTS COWAN TO LEAD DEMOCRATS

Linda Callahan, an attorney from Brinnon who was endorsed by Bernie Sanders supporters to lead the Jefferson County Democrats, defeated incumbent party chair Bruce Cowan by two votes Dec. 4 during a party reorganization.

More than 300 Democrats crowded into the Chimacum High School commons for one of the largest turnouts of party faithfuls in years. The crowd was reminiscent of the record turnout at Democratic caucuses last March.

PORT BATTLES STATE OVER DERELICT BOAT

A derelict vessel is the subject of a dispute between the Port of Port Townsend and Washington State as to its disposition and the responsibility for its repair.

The port claims that the John N. Cobb, now in the corner of the Boat Haven’s linear dock, was illegally conveyed by the Seattle Maritime Academy to a boat owner who could not afford its upkeep, leading to its dereliction. The school maintains that it is exempt from these regulations.

The dispute is between the port and the Washington State Attorney General’s Office, which acts as counsel for the public university. The matter could end up in court.

NAVY HEARS RUMBLES ABOUT GROWLERS

The U.S. Navy on Dec. 5 conducted the first of five open-house meetings to measure public response to a recent draft environmental impact statement about the impact of increased testing of EA-18G Growler aircraft originating from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.

JOHNSON RETIRES ON A HIGH NOTE

James Fritz led off the praise for retiring Jefferson County Commissioner Phil Johnson with the understatement “I’ve not heard anyone say a bad word about him.”

George Yount drew laughter when he reported, “Phil, I still have your ‘Back on Track’ T-shirt, even though it has holes in it now.”

Like many attendees of the commissioners’ Dec. 12 meeting, Yount had followed Johnson throughout his 12 years in county government, and even recalled their shared rides to Olympia to lobby legislators.

“I was impressed with the number of folks you knew,” Yount said. “You were a catalyst. And when the one chairman kept ignoring us, and you read him out, I enjoyed that, too.”

MURDER CONVICTION UPHELD

Michael J. Pierce’s 2014 conviction for the murders of Janice and Patrick Yarr in Quilcene in 2009 has been upheld by the state Court of Appeals.

The decision could end a convoluted six-year legal saga that has included four trials, including the last one, in which Pierce was convicted a second time. There also was one mistrial and a near mistrial in 2014.

Pierce’s court-appointed defense attorney, Catherine E. Glinski, has 30 days from Dec. 6 to take action.

If Pierce doesn’t appeal the decision, it would end the protracted case dating to the murder of the Yarrs in their home on March 18, 2009.

PORT LUDLOW LOGGING DISPUTE SETTLED

Jefferson County and Port Ludlow Associates (PLA) have signed a settlement agreement that the county said protects “open space reserve” land and details protocols for timber harvesting on other property within the mast

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