Construction, jetty and election among 2018 highlights

Posted 1/2/19

Each week, the Port Townsend & Jefferson County Leader provides a digest of news, features and sports.

Here is our monthly recap in a monthly time-capsule breakdown:

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Construction, jetty and election among 2018 highlights


Each week, the Port Townsend & Jefferson County Leader provides a digest of news, features and sports.
Here is our monthly recap in a monthly time-capsule breakdown:

As is tradition, the beginning of 2018 was ushered in with the annual Mystery Bay Polar Bear Dip, the 28th consecutive year it had been held on Marrowstone Island.

Port Townsend City Manager David Timmons announced that he would leave his post on Dec. 31, 2018. He has since offered to stay on through June 2019.

On the business front, Steve Klinger, the CEO of Crown Packing Group, which owns the Port Townsend Paper Corp., reported investments at the mill up to $90 million since 2015.

The first baby of the year was born Jan. 4 to a Port Hadlock woman. The boy, who arrived five weeks early, weighed 6 pounds, 1 ounce and was 19 inches long.

On Jan. 5, a Sequim woman was fatally injured in a crash on state Route 20, and the incident closed the highway for seven hours.

Downtown water and sewer pipe work was underway as the city embarked on a $2.3 million Water Street enhancement project. One business, with a sign in its window, offered free beer for work crews if they could finish by March 31.

City Council members Michelle Sandoval and Ariel Speser were sworn into office, and Deborah Stinson was retained as mayor with a unanimous council vote.

As the Jefferson Teen Center was preparing to close its doors after 26 years, director Terri Murphy Naughton reported a unanimous donation would keep it open until at least June. The center was serving 20-30 students each week and about 350 per year.

A final price tag on Jefferson Healthcare’s Emergency and Specialty Services Building came in at nearly $23.4 million, 12 percent higher than the original construction estimate.

Port Townsend High School celebrated the 25th anniversary of one of its most successful boys basketball teams, which in 1992-93 finished 21-4, won league and district championships, and finished second at the Class A state tournament.

Later in the month, the city council considered a possible annexation of the City of Port Townsend into Jefferson County Fire District 1. The potential ballot measure would have shifted tax rates and continue to provide fire and emergency medical service to city residents. The proposal ultimately didn’t reach voters after the city council postpone it on April 9, but it will resurface in early 2019.

The Jefferson Community School received a $90,000 grant, the largest in school history, from an anonymous source.

Citizens packed the Jefferson County Superior Courtroom on Feb. 5 to provide input on whether or not county commissioners should extend a one-year moratorium on modifying or establishing commercial shooting facilities. The commissioners extended their deadline to make a decision.

When new taxes were announced, increases were felt throughout the county, mostly based on the way state school taxes were administered. Quilcene and Brinnon were most affected as they saw a 9 to 10 percent increase despite property values remaining flat. Marrowstone Island residents saw a 20 percent increase, although property values saw a similar rise.

The annual homeless count provided drastically different results as 41 people were located compared with 232 individuals in 2017. Kathy Morgan, the housing director for OlyCAP, said the count is typically more than 100, but they didn’t find that many despite going to known camps. The count is directly tied to state and federal housing funds, Morgan said.

Ryan Gutierrez won the Pacific Northwest Strongest Man competition in his weight class and advanced to a national event in Las Vegas. Gutierrez graduated from Port Townsend High School in 2004.

On Feb. 6, the Jefferson County PUD announced a $4 monthly base-rate increase along with two-tiered usage-rate increases that would go into effect March 1. The PUD board also announced it would close the customer service center in Port Hadlock and add one at the PUD’s main office at 310 Four Corners Road.

On Feb. 12, a Quilcene teen missing for more than a week was located with her father in Oregon.

More than 100 people gathered during a supportive rally when 16-year-old Bailey E. Scott was returned to her aunt, Roxann Anderson.

Later in the month, the 2018 Rhododendron Festival royalty was announced, with Ashley Rosser named queen. The three princesses were Desirae Kudronowicz, Lacey Bishop, and Skyanna Iardella.

On the special election ballot, voters approved the Brinnon School District’s two-year maintenance and operations replacement levy, and the Queets-Clearwater School District proposal in West Jefferson County also passed.

On Feb. 23, Jefferson County PUD named Larry Dunbar as general manager. Dunbar, who began work April 23, had served as energy services director for the city of Ellensburg since 2012 and spent 12 years as the deputy director of power resources in Port Angeles.

Election season ramped up as James Kennedy announced his campaign for Jefferson County Prosecutor. Kennedy included two former employees of his opponent, incumbent Michael Haas, on his campaign team.

Separately, county employees addressed the commissioners March 5 and spoke about what they believed were unfair revisions to an arbitration process. The employees also lodged complaints about their pay and benefits.

Meanwhile, the Port Townsend City Council voted unanimously March 5 to rescind designation of two off-leash dog areas, citing the need to re-evaluate both parcels.

Jefferson County PUD put off plans to replace electric meters with the “smart” variety, citing a new general manager coming on board an an ongoing search for a chief financial officer. Assistant GM Kevin Streett made the recommendation to the PUD board of commissioners on March 6.

On March 9, Kathleen Kler, the first female chair of the county commission, announced she would not seek a second term.

The Northwest Maritime Center proposed a 50-year master lease of Point Hudson from the Port of Port Townsend in return for $4.5 million in cash and improvements, annual lease payments of $350,000 and 15 percent share of revenue over a baseline year. The NMC provided a 164-page document to the port for consideration. In April, the port suggested a shorter term with renewals.

At least 165 students from Port Townsend High School and more than 100 students from Chimacum High staged walkouts on March 14 in response to February gun violence at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

The city council voted April 2 to keep the winter shelter at the American Legion open for 60 days, extending a period that was set to close at the beginning of the month. Then on April 16, the county commission allocated $75,000 to fully fund the shelter for the summer. That appropriation also meant the city was refunded $40,000 for operational expenses it had budgeted for the shelter.

In business news, the Port Townsend Food Co-op announced plans to break ground on expansion on April 10, setting in motion a plan to add 2,900 square feet north of the building.

Meanwhile, permits were filed for a four-unit affordable-housing complex near Cherry Street about a year after the building was brought to Port Townsend with a barge from Victoria, British Columbia.

Following a fatal crash that involved a bicyclist on March 28, citizens asked the city council to make changes to streets that would increase safety measures for bicyclists and pedestrians.

On April 16, Robert Wayne Phillips, a 13-year PUD employee, died after the work vehicle he was driving drifted off state Route 20 and into a ravine.

Thanks to fundraising efforts, the Port Townsend High School orchestra got a chance to perform at Disneyland. Forty-one student and eight parent chaperones made the trip.

May kicked off the 2018 election season, as 11 candidates filed for open seats in Jefferson County government, while 17 others filed for state-level seats May 15.

Debate over where the annual Rhody Fest carnival was to be held ended when Jefferson County commissioners voted 2-1 to allow the carnival to be held at Memorial Athletic Field.  To ensure safety, the carnival did not include the ferris wheel. This year, commissioners and Rhody Fest organizers face a similar problem. Both Memorial Athletic Field and the Jefferson County Fairgrounds are off the table for holding the carnival, said Brandi Hamon, president of the Rhody Fest, in October.

May 12 saw the eighth annual Wearable Art Show, where artists showcased their talents while also raising funds to help women and girls in Jefferson County. This year, there were 47 entries, featuring clothing made from all kinds of materials, including balloons, beer cans, buttons and cedar boughs.

The Felicity Ann, a 1936 historic sailboat on which Englishwoman Ann Davison became the first woman to sail solo across the Atlantic in 1952, launched May 1, after the Community Boat Project and the Northwest School of Boatbuilding restored it.

In June, the first ever monohull and first all-women’s sail team won the Race to Alaska. The Melges 32 with a fuel-pedal drive lead by First Federal’s Team Sail Like A Girl bested 37 multihulls and human-powered vessels. The team won the race at 12:17 a.m. Alaska Daylight Time on June 24.

The primary election season was in full swing. Candidates for county prosecutor, county commissioner and county sheriff went head to head in debates June 24 at the Honest Forum at Port Ludlow.

On June 10, tragedy struck when an early-morning fire at a cabin in Brinnon killed two adults and three children. Neighbors reported hearing an explosion and saw the hillside and cabin on fire.

County commissioners voted unanimously to adopt development regulations and to enter into a development agreement with the Pleasant Harbor Marina and Golf Resort June 4 for the Pleasant Harbor Master Planned Resort. The vote came after many years of public process on the redevelopment of 237 acres of the former NACO Campground on the Black Point Peninsula.

A homeless man from Port Angeles was arrested for stabbing a man multiple times outside of Memorial Field on July 1. The victim, another homeless man, was flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle in serious condition, but Port Townsend Police reported that he was in stable condition July 2.

Although rainy weather caused a delay, the first phase of construction on Water Street came to an end in July. The community came together to celebrate the new Tyler Street Plaza on June 30, and construction workers finished up work on repaving Water Street in early July.

PUD commissioner and district court judge candidates debated July 9, as did candidates for the House of Representatives. Topics included gun control, healthcare and affordable housing.

The Port Townsend Marine Trades Association published its economic impact study July 12. The study, which was funded by donations made from members of the maritime and marine trade community in Port Townsend, showed that the maritime industry continues to be one of the best in the state and in Jefferson County, bringing in a total of $336.7 million per year of economic value and providing more than 2,300 local jobs.

Jefferson County had the fourth highest voting rate in the state in the Aug. 7 primary election. The Chimacum School levy passed and 22 candidates were voted in as precinct committee officers in Jefferson County.

The city and county began meeting more frequently to discuss an interlocal agreement to fund affordable and homeless housing in August. The interlocal agreement was approved in November.

On Aug. 10, clothing and equipment matching that of missing 22-year-old Jacob Gray, of Port Townsend, was found in the Olympic National Park. The search for Gray began late April when Gray’s bicycle and camping gear were found on the side of the Sol Duc Road in the park.

As the first day of school drew near, construction on Salish Coast Elementary was not yet finished when members of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 302 began striking Aug. 21, causing some construction projects to come to a halt.

The Boiler Room board of directors scrambled to find a way to keep its mission going in Port Townsend, knowing that failure to implement an “actionable plan” by Sept. 19 would result in all assets being liquidated. That selloff started later in the month when no proposals were submitted.

A recreational marijuana producer and processing business seeking to start up in East Jefferson County took their case before the county hearing examiner. Port Townsend residents Roger and Kathryn Hall requested a permit for their proposed “Auntie Onolicious” business in the 100 block of Milo Curry Road in Port Townsend.

Port Townsend police sought a man and woman as suspects in a possible attempted murder case. A 28-year-old Port Townsend man was stabbed at Adams and Washington streets around 11:30 p.m. Sept. 5.

Public comments began concerning a hotly contested shooting ordinance. Members of the Tarboo Ridge Coalition asked for more clarity on the draft ordinance concerning commercial shooting facilities in unincorporated areas of Jefferson County during the public comment period at the county commissioners’ meeting Sept. 24.

An attorney threatened the Jefferson County Commissioners with an open meetings lawsuit when a number of members of the public, including his client Joe D’Amico, president of Fort Discovery, were allegedly “turned away” from an Oct. 1 public hearing on the drafted shooting ordinance. It was estimated that about 300 people attended the meeting.

Then on Oct. 8, Jefferson County Commissioners voted unanimously to expunge all public testimony, both written and oral, received during the Oct. 1 public hearing on the draft shooting ordinance, out of concerns raised the hearing violated the open public meetings act.

During an Oct. 15 commissioners meeting, members of the Tarboo Ridge Coalition expressed concern that Fort Discovery was going against a moratorium prohibiting modifications to existing or new commercial shooting facilities or the establishment of new facilities. Fort Discovery Inc. had submitted an application for a stormwater management permit to the Department of Community Development on Oct. 3.

The Rhododendron Festival carnival for 2019 found itself without a host. Brandi Hamon, president of the Rhody Fest continued to discuss the situation with Jefferson County Commissioner Kate Dean.

But with Memorial Athletic Field in Port Townsend and the Jefferson County Fairgrounds both apparently off the table, Hamon was at a loss for other potential locations.

The Port of Port Townsend learned it would lose its director of operations in November, as Greg Englin had been named the new executive director at the Port of Kingston.

A temporary order of protection was filed against Chimacum School Board director Robert Bunker, and the board chair and superintendent asked him to resign.

The month started with the election of Joe Nole as sheriff, Greg Brotherton as county commissioner in District 3, Mindy Walker as district court judge, James Kennedy as prosecuting attorney and coroner, and Dan Toepper as commissioner for District 3 of the Jefferson County Public Utility District.

The results were certified Nov. 27.

On Nov. 2, Jefferson County commissioners passed an ordinance 2-1 requiring new and existing commercial shooting facilities to obtain operating permits.

Commission chair David Sullivan and commissioner Kathleen Kler voted for the ordinance, while commissioner Kate Dean voted against.

The Jefferson County Planning Commission then began deliberations on a draft ordinance that would amend unified development code regarding commercial shooting facilities at a special meeting Nov. 19.

On Nov. 9, East Jefferson Fire Rescue deployed four certified wildland firefighters to help battle the Woolsey fire in California. The team was deployed for about two weeks.

The Tarboo Ridge Coalition filed formal complaints Nov. 16 with three government agencies, contending that Fort Discovery Inc. had started work on its proposed 40-acre Cedar Hills recreational facility without any of the required permits.

On Nov. 14, Nell Allen and stepdaughter Whitney Stuart were sitting next to the front window  at Hanazono Asian Noodle, 225 Taylor St., when a vehicle jumped the curb and struck the window area to the left of the front door, injuring them both.

On Nov. 19, the Jefferson County Planning Commission, a citizen advisory group, recommended amending the county land-use code to prohibit military and law enforcement training at commercial shooting facilities, among other regulations.

The Port Townsend City Council adopted a $36.7 million budget for 2019. During its regular meeting Nov. 19, the council voted 6-1 in favor of the budget. Robert Gray, Position 4, cast the sole no vote, stating he was concerned because the projected expenses, totaling $36,689,350, exceed the projected revenues of $34,940,280. The difference will be paid for through reserve funding.

The holiday season began Dec. 1 as hundreds turned out to see the lighting of the Port Townsend Holiday Tree.

On Dec. 10, the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners listened to three hours of public testimony about rules for commercial shooting facilities at the Fort Worden Commons.

The sudden closure of SOS Printing at the beginning of the month came as a surprise to Port Townsend and Jefferson County communities when owner Dan Huntingford, who had been diagnosed with cancer, announced his departure from the business early in November.

On Dec. 14, a shooting ordinance was passed allowing gun ranges if they comply with the state Environmental Policy Act and get permits. The ordinance fell short of the recommendations of the citizen planning commission, which had included limiting hours at facilities, requiring setbacks from water and stricter noise abatement and prohibiting law enforcement and military training at facilities.

The Jefferson County PUD Board of Commissioners placed Larry Dunbar, the utility’s general manager, on paid administrative leave Dec. 19, citing many challenges that need to be addressed.