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News Roundup - Enviro agency signed into law/Senator earns ‘green’ award/New summit on disability/Getaway driver gets booked

Enviro agency signed into law

Thanks to a local legislator, the state now has new state agency dedicated to restoring Puget Sound.

Sen. Phil Rockefeller, a Bainbridge Democrat, watched Gov. Chris Gregoire sign his Puget Sound Partnership bill into law Monday during a ceremony at a Des Moines marina.

The partnership, introduced at the request of Gregoire, sets the goal of restoring the sound’s health by 2020. The new agency will set up a framework through which private and public organizations can team together more effectively to help with recovery efforts.

“This is a tremendous victory not only for the Puget Sound but for our future,” said fellow Bainbridge Democrat Rep. Christine Rolfes, who attended the bill signing with her two young daughters. “Our children and our children’s children deserve the right to enjoy the beauties of the Northwest. Our generation can’t turn a blind eye – we have a responsibility to protect this treasure.”

In addition to Rockefeller’s bill, two of Rolfes’ measures designed to lend additional assistance to Puget Sound clean-up efforts were signed into law.

One allows cities and counties bordering the sound to establish community-based marine stewardship committees to assist with preservation and protection plans. Another of Rolfes’ newly signed bills creates an account to help finance scientific research deemed necessary by the partnership.

Senator earns ‘green’ award

Washington Conservation Voters named Rockefeller its “Legislator of the Year” for his leadership on environmental issues during the 2007 legislative session.

“When Puget Sound needed a champion, Senator Rockefeller stepped up and made it a priority,” said Kurt Fritts, WCV’s executive director.

WCV praised the Bainbridge Democrat for leading efforts to make the Puget Sound Partnership a permanent state agency. The partnership, which was signed into law Monday, will focus on clean-up strategies and recommend long-term conservation policies.

Rockefeller helped shepherd other environmental measures through Senate while serving on the Water, Energy & Telecommunications Committee.

WCV also commended Rockefeller for his work to pass laws for cleaner air, cleaner burning fuels and a ban on toxic flame retardants.

“The environment enjoyed unprecedented success this year in Olympia,” said Fritts. “Senator Rockefeller was one big reason for these achievements.”

-Tristan Baurick

New summit on disability

The Bainbridge Island Special Needs Foundation will host a community brainstorm Saturday on ways to boost and broaden support for the growing number of disabled islanders.

“This benefits a broad spectrum of disabled people from infants, to school age and on up,” said Diane Walkowski, whose son is disabled. She attended the last disability summit six years ago and credits the event with sparking many service improvements on Bainbridge.

The Stephens House on Winslow Way was one such summit-born idea that quickly became a reality said, said BISNF board member Dale Cunningham.

The building houses Trepp’s Donuts, which helps support BISNF, and provides vocational training and a variety of day activities for disabled people.

“That’s a good program we want to see enhanced,” Cunningham said.

Other care facilities have been established, including the Hope House and the Speckled Egg Farm for young women.

The Bainbridge Island School District formed a post-high school transition program to assist special education students.

“This program needs to grow because our population is growing,” Cunningham said. “The question now is what to do.”

Part of the summit’s aim is to answer that question.

Disabled islanders need more affordable housing, work training programs and respite programs to give breaks to full-time caregivers, Cunningham said.

“What we hope to do is generate new energy and new ideas.”

The second Bainbridge Island Community Summit on Disability is scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday at the First Baptist Church.

Call 855-9625 for more information.

-Tristan Baurick

Getaway driver gets booked

A 22-year-old Silverdale woman was arrested on Friday in connection with the October robbery of a Winslow drugstore, police said.

Officers said the woman admitted to helping plan the robbery – which occurred at gunpoint on Halloween night – and to driving the car in which the robber escaped.

Simon Diot Stocker, 24, formerly of Bainbridge Island, pleaded guilty to the crime and last month was sentenced to 30 months in state prison.

At the home of the woman arrested Friday police found several bottles of prescription drugs allegedly taken during the robbery.

Police said the handgun used in the robbery was recovered from a relative’s house on Bainbridge Island.

The woman was booked into Kitsap County Jail. Bail was set at $10,000.

In other court news, the primary suspect in the harassment of a special needs student at Bainbridge High School was found guilty of two counts of indecent exposure and one count of malicious harassment.

Several students allegedly exposed themselves repeatedly to the boy over several months.

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