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2012 Year in Review

The crusty crew of Blackbird Bakery marches along Winslow Way with an “I Love Toast” theme in the island’s 2012 July 4th parade. The annual parade stretched for more than two hours along Madison Avenue and Winslow Way. - Brian Kelly / Bainbridge Island Review
The crusty crew of Blackbird Bakery marches along Winslow Way with an “I Love Toast” theme in the island’s 2012 July 4th parade. The annual parade stretched for more than two hours along Madison Avenue and Winslow Way.
— image credit: Brian Kelly / Bainbridge Island Review

The Review takes a comprehensive look back at the stories that shaped our lives over the past year.

JANUARY

Plastic bag ban introduced: The city council didn’t waste any time shaking up things at the city at the start of 2012. Councilwoman Kirsten Hytopoulos first introduced the idea of a plastic bag ban on Bainbridge Island. She invited Katrina Rosen to city hall from Environment Washington to speak on the topic to get the ball rolling.

“Plastic bags pose a serious threat to Puget Sound and the wildlife in it,” Rosen told the council. “We saw the worst effects of this last year when we saw a beached whale in Seattle with 20 plastic bags in its stomach.”

“The fact is we have alternatives, we have reusable bags and this is happening all over the world,” Hytopoulos added. “To me it’s a step that we can take … in reality we probably use on this island somewhere in the vicinity of 5 million to 7 million bags a year, so consider that as having an incredible impact.”

Councilman Knobloch departs: When Bill Knobloch stepped down from the city council at the end of December, he left holding the record as the longest serving council member in the city’s 20-year history.

“I feel that I was able to deliver the message that council members have a responsibility to their community and not the city,” Knobloch said. “My basic philosophy about public service is that I am there to serve the citizens and not the city. It’s that simple.”

“The present administrative structure at the city is top heavy and overburdened with overhead cost and does not fit the size of our revenue base,” Knobloch said after he left his post on the dais. “The only way you are going to be able to have a sustainable government is to cut the cost of government and reduce the size of government.”

But despite leaving the dais, he vowed not to stay out of the game of island politics.

“I’ll stay involved,” Knobloch said. “What happens is that you realize you’re an asset for certain areas and you have a responsibility to help. Why would you walk away and say, ‘I’m not going to talk to you anymore?’”

Bauer’s future debated: On the heels of the council’s annual retreat, its new members began the process to replace City Manager Brenda Bauer at their second meeting of the year on Jan. 11. It came as a surprise to some council veterans.

“We all had a very clear conversation (at Sunday’s retreat) about the fact we are headed down a path to create performance measures for Brenda,” said Councilwoman Kirsten Hytopoulos. “And then, within one day, this is added to the agenda.”

The following two months would prove to be the last for Bauer at the city.

The seeds of Waypoint park are planted: A task force led by members of the Bainbridge Island Rotary Club began working to replace the old Unocal site on the corner of Highway 305 and Winslow Way into a park.

Bainbridge Island gets winter break: Islanders woke up to approximately four inches of snow that had blanketed the island overnight on Jan. 18.

One-by-one schools, some businesses and even city hall were closed down, providing plenty of people the free time to throw a snow ball, hop on a sled, or take a walk in a winter wonderland.

Gov. Chris Gregoire declared a state of emergency the following Thursday in response to the snowstorm and icy conditions across the region.

More than 100,000 Puget Sound Energy customers were left powerless elsewhere in the western part of the state.

Former secretary files whistleblower report: After a highly publicized battle with city officials, Kim Hendrickson, the former secretary/chief examiner of the city’s Civil Service Commission, filed a formal report with the State Auditor’s Office claiming that state laws, including those protecting whistleblowers, were violated.

Hendrickson’s 15-page complaint with 268 pages of attachments was officially dismissed in February citing that the matter was beyond the jurisdiction of the auditor.

February

Council opts not to pay legal bill: It was discovered that Councilmen David Ward and Steve Bonkowski and Mayor Debbi Lester has sought legal assistance from outside the city, and that council members met in secret with representatives with the law firm Inslee Best between Jan. 5 and Jan. 16 to initiate plans to terminate City Manager Brenda Bauer. The council voted 4-3 to not pay the $3,553 bill for Inslee Best.

Island man accused of rape, molestation: George R. Miller was arrested and charged with one account of felony sexual assault after allegedly raping a woman at his residence. Miller was also charged for allegedly molesting a 7-year-old girl in the Safeway bathroom on High School Road. Miller still awaits trial for the charges.

Publisher change at The Review: Chris Hoch stepped down as publisher of The Review after 23 years with its parent company, Sound Publishing. Donna Etchey, the publisher of The Review’s sister publication The North Kitsap Herald, stepped in as the new publisher.

March

School board director arrested: School Board Director John G. Tawresey was arrested for DUI and hit-and-run after leaving the San Carlos restaurant on Madison Avenue.

In the weeks to follow, Tawresey would take a leave of absence from the school board, and ultimately resign his post. It was also discovered that the incident at San Carlos was his second hit-and-run. Previously, Tawresey was involved in another hit-and-run at the Pavilion on Jan. 10.

Fire claims two island homes: Two island waterfront homes were destroyed by fire within one week. The first home on Country Club Road at Restoration Point was over 100-years old. It went up in flames on Sunday, Feb. 26 due to a faulty and outdated chimney.

Firefighters responded to another fire at a home on Rolling Bay Walk on Thursday, March 1. The fire was caused by a transient that was staying in the vacated home.

Library turns 50: The island’s library celebrated its 50th birthday in 2012. Five decades worth of memorabilia and memories were put on display as islanders celebrated one of their favorite resources on Bainbridge.

Bauer fired: Even though a new city manager was far from being found, the city council showed Brenda Bauer the door anyway. By a 4-3 vote — Council members Bob Scales, Anne Blair and Kirsten Hytopoulos in the minority — Bauer was terminated from her position.

Fight breaks out at city council meeting: Within moments of Brenda Bauer’s firing, the council chambers remained in a tense state as former Councilman Bill Knobloch and former council candidate Robert Dashiell engaged in a brief tussle. It was unclear who instigated the fight, but witnesses were able to recall its end with Knobloch laid out on a table and Dashiell clutching his shirt, standing over him.

Unocal not leeching pollutants: The park project that would eventually be called “The Waypoint” received good news as experts released the results of a study of the former Unocal gas station site. Consultants also confirmed that pollutants from the Unocal land were not moving off site.

April

Sewage spills in Fort Ward: A 1-inch hole leaked approximately 4,000 gallons of digestive sludge from a tank at the Kitsap Sewer District 7 in Fort Ward. Local residents were warned to stay away from waterways such as Tani Creek and Blakely Harbor as Kitsap Health District officials tested for contamination.

Plastic bags banned: Plastic bags were banned on Bainbridge Island at an April 11 city council meeting by unanimous council approval. By November, plastic bags offered at check-out stands across the island would be banned.

Smith steps in as manager: Deputy City Manager Morgan Smith was approved to step in as the interim city manager while the council continued to look for former city manager Brenda Bauer’s replacement.

SGR come to town: The city council selected Strategic Government Resources as the search firm to find the next city manager of Bainbridge Island. The Texas-based firm’s CEO Ron Holifield impressed the council at a round of interviews between himself and representatives from three other companies.

May

Sailing team wins Northwest district: Sailors from the Bainbridge Island Sailing Team claimed first place at the Northwest District of the Interscholastic Sailing Association (Northwest District) team racing championship.

Scotch Broom Festival hits Winslow: Erin Ayriss was swept off her feet and into a car while walking to work the afternoon of Wednesday, May 2. With a crown of Scotch broom she smiled the whole car ride down Winslow Way. It was all part of Winslow’s historic Scotch Broom festival, an impromptu event on the downtown street, lasting only 10 minutes to celebrate everyone’s favorite seasonal allergen.

Mystery tree girdler strikes Battle Point: Someone had attempted to kill approximately 50 trees in Battle Point Park. Employees found trees wrapped with copper wire in an apparent attempt to “girdle” them. Girdling is a method to kill a tree by wrapping wire around the trunk. As the tree grows, the wire cuts into the tree, cutting off its supply of water and nutrients. The trees were saved this time, but park officials were unable to save 24 trees in January in another case of girdling.

Ostling trial begins: The long-awaited Ostling trial began on May 14. The incident that evolved into a civil rights case had been on islanders’ minds ever since police shot and killed a mentally ill man in October 2010.

Morrow takes oath: Dan Morrow was sworn in as the newest commissioner for the Bainbridge Island Fire Department.

BHS, Eagle Harbor make the list: U.S. News and World Report named Bainbridge Island High and Eagle Harbor High as two of the top high schools in the country. The influential news magazine ranked nearly 22,000 public high schools for its 2012 list, and Bainbridge High School was awarded a Gold Medal, placing the school among the top 500 high schools in the country.

Eagle Harbor High was awarded a Silver Medal and ranked at Number 40 in Washington and number 1,583 nationally.

Shopping center developer sets sights on Bainbridge: The Visconsi Company submitted a development proposal to the city to build a new shopping center on the corner of Highway 305 and High School Road. With a Bartell Drugs store as an anchor store, the company proposed to build an 8-acre shopping center comprised of seven commercial buildings totaling 53,345 square feet.

BHS girls lacrosse team takes title: The Spartans were crowned state champions in girls lacrosse after a pressure-packed 13-11 win against Lake Sammamish on Saturday, May 19.

The state title was the team’s fourth back-to-back title. The Bainbridge program currently stands as the all-time leader in girls lacrosse with nine state titles. The 2012 win broke a tie with Lakeside, a team that had won the crown eight times.

BHS soccer wins state: Bainbridge Island celebrated another state title after a thrilling 3-2 victory by the Spartans boys soccer team against Mercer Island at Carl Sparks Stadium in Puyallup on Saturday, May 26.

Woman jumps from ferry: A woman was rescued from the frigid waters of Puget Sound after she went overboard during a ferry ride to Bainbridge Island on the 9 p.m. sailing May 26. The ferry halted and then reversed its course to search for the woman in the dimming evening light. She was located and brought back on board the boat by ferry crews.

Ostling jury begins deliberations: After 11 days of trial and testimony, the jury in the Ostling family’s civil rights case gathered in Tacoma for their first full day of deliberations on Thursday, May 31.

June

Ostling family awarded $1 million: The jury for the Ostling trial awarded the Ostling family $1 million dollars in damages in their civil rights lawsuit against the city of Bainbridge Island. The final verdict was a split decision. The jury decided that officers were justified in the shooting, but that the Bainbridge Police Department had not adequately trained its officers and the family’s civil rights had been violated because the killing had severed the relationship between Ostling and his parents.

Liquor goes private: Friday, June 1 marked the first day of private sales of spirits in Washington state. Overnight, the locations offering spirits on the island tripled. Safeway and Rite Aid on High School Road were selling liquor on the first day of the switch. The island’s long-established liquor store on Hildebrand Lane continued running under private ownership.

The Town & Country Market would become the fourth seller of spirits on the island before the summer’s end.

Guild votes “no confidence” in chief: The city of Bainbridge Island launched an investigation into Police Chief Jon Fehlman after the island’s police guild took a vote of “no confidence” in the chief. The union sent a letter to the city alleging a range of claims about the chief such as poor management decisions, misuse of his police SUV, failure to follow city policies and a “lack of connection to the community.”

Pinball wizards descend upon Bainbridge Island: The International Flipper Pinball Association held its 2012 championship on the island over an intense two days of competition that drew 64 players from 12 countries at islander, and former NBA player, Todd MacCulloch’s home.

Bay Hay building turns 100: Today it is called the Bay Hay and Feed. But the iconic landmark has held a few titles over the 100 years it has served Bainbridge Island. The building celebrated its 100th birthday in June.

Man tries to suffocate wife: Early in the morning of Friday, June 15, Kevin Michael Hardee allegedly attempted to suffocate his sleeping wife at their home by placing plastic Saran Wrap over her face. His wife fought him off and he was arrested that day.

Bainbridge gets beered: BHS 2000 alum Russell Everett returned to the island and opened Bainbridge’s own brewery. The brewery and tap room opened in late June in the Copper Top Loop off Sportsman Club Road.

 

July

The show goes on in Eagle Harbor: Despite a freak explosion that torched the entire inventory of fireworks for the July 4th display, the show still went on over Eagle Harbor. In the week leading up to the show, the shipping container storing all the fireworks for Poulsbo and the island was ignited at a wrecking yard in Belfair when a father and daughter were firing guns at targets around the container. Local man Robert Nitz was able to replace almost every firework effect for the show and was on his barge lighting up the sky on July 4th.

The 122 burns down: At approximately 4:40 a.m. Monday, July 9 The 122 bar and restaurant was discovered engulfed in heavy flames. The building burned down over the morning hours as fire crews worked to put it out. The building was a total loss. An investigation into the fire revealed that a bolt of lightening had struck an air conditioning unit on the roof of the building and started the fire.

Blueberry farm continues on: Stacey Lewars and Dylan Tomine purchased the decades-old blueberry farm off Madison Avenue fearing it may fade into island history. The new farmers opened the U-pick blueberry and dahlia farm in late June for the inaugural season of the Bainbridge Island Blueberry Company.

Island man accused of sexual assault: Jaime Silva-Arroyo, 26, of Bainbridge Island was arrested Monday, July 23. Police said he sexually assaulted a 19-year-old woman on Sunday, July 22 but broke off the attack after the woman fought back. Silva-Arroyo allegedly followed the young woman from Safeway and assaulted her on a trail off Madison Avenue.

A second incident occurred just down the street off Madison Avenue and Bjune Drive within minutes after the young woman fought off her attacker. An unknown man groped a woman on the street before running away. Silva-Arroyo was not confirmed as the assailant in the second attack.

Silva Arroyo awaits his trial in a Kitsap courtroom on Jan. 14 for charges of sexual assault.

Diver drowns in Rich Passage: Diver David D. Scheinost, 24, drowned off the shores of Bainbridge Island while he was working for the Department of Natural Resources. Scheinost was part of a DNR dive team that was sampling for paralytic shellfish poisoning on the Restoration Point geoduck tract, an area of wild stock geoduck fishery managed by the state. It was later discovered that Scheinost had cocaine in his system during his dive.

Akio Suyematsu passes away: Bainbridge Island’s influential farmer and historic neighbor Akio Suyematsu passed away at 90. Islanders came together on his farm off Day road to honor the man and share their memories.

August

Council directs WSF funds: The city council finally decided where to aim the $2 million gained from the settlement with the Washington State Ferries. The island’s road ends committee received $150,000, while $1.85 million was dedicated to a variety of improvements to Waterfront Park.

City hall goes solar: City hall’s roof began buzzing with solar power as the new 71.28 kilowatt system went online. A total of 297 solar panels with 30 inverters comprise the largest solar power system on the island.

T&C starts farming: The Town & Country Market announced it had established a farming operation on the island to expand its organic produce offerings. The farm on the corner of Wyatt Way and Weaver Road added two new greenhouses to expand production.

Transportation benefit district formed: The Bainbridge Island City Council unanimously approved the formation of a transportation benefit district as the first step on the path to eventually adopt a car tab fee that will help pay for road maintenance on the island. While the district has met each month since its formation, it still has yet to establish the car fee.

Wilkes postpones opening: Students at Wilkes Elementary School got an unexpected extension to their summer vacations after the Bainbridge Island School District announced that the school could not open as planned on the first day of school Wednesday, Aug. 29. It opened a week late on Sept. 4.

September

Wing Point home burns down: An Eagle Harbor home was a total loss after flames tore through its walls and scorched a nearby tree Sept. 4. The house, with an estimated value of $385,000, was a total loss. Heavy machinery underneath the house was cited as the source of the fire.

Fehlman resigns: Despite an investigation into claims alleged by the police guild largely exonerating him, Chief Jon Fehlman resigned from his position with the Bainbridge Island Police Department. Fehlman received a salary payout of approximately $72,450. He had served on the island force since 2008 when he came from the Santa Rosa Police Department in California.

Liquor thieves hit Bainbridge Island: Three young women were arrested in Port Orchard after an alleged liquor stealing spree hitting a string of Safeways, including on Bainbridge Island. It was the second time they hit the island Safeway. The heist on Monday, Sept. 3 claimed multiple bottles of Crown Royal whiskey from boxes at the Safeway, and filled their purses with the bottles.

RadioShack closes: After 19 years of business on Bainbridge Island, the RadioShack in the Village Shopping center closed its doors. The owners cited online competition as one reason that sales have suffered in recent years.

Schulze hired as city manager: Nine months after the council decided to begin searching for a new city manager, Doug Schulze was selected as its top pick for the position. After resigning from his job as city manager of Normandy Park, Schulze began working at the city on Nov. 5 with a $150,000 a year contract.

Island’s religious leaders support marriage equality: Ten of the island’s religious leaders signed a letter in support of marriage equality. The letter came two months before the statewide vote, and approval, of Referendum 74 affirming Washington’s recognition of same-sex marriages.

“Marriage equality is a justice issue which is why United Methodists in the Pacific Northwest Conference support the passing of R-74,” said the Reverend Robert Henre of Seabold United Methodist Church.

BHS teacher heads out to sea: Bainbridge High School teacher Rory Wilson embarked on a one-man journey across the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii. Sailing out of Sand Diego on Wednesday, Sept. 19, Wilson used the power of oars and a little wind harnessed through kites to power his self designed and built vessel KROS (Kite, Rowing, Ocean, Solar).

October

Heroin use on the rise: The Review reported the trend of rising heroin use on Bainbridge Island. After nearly a year of police reports piling up on heroin related incidents the trend was becoming a concern for officers.

“Everything is pointing to an increase in heroin use,” said Dr. Scott Lindquist, director of health for the Kitsap Public Health District.  Lindquist spoke to The Review about the issue and how, as an islander himself, he has seen the problem grow larger.

“Personally, the number of people on Bainbridge that I know who abuse heroin has gone up,” he said.

Olsen breaks the rules: Candidate for the House of Representatives Position 2 in the 23rd District, and Bainbridge Islander, James M. Olsen, was warned by state officials that his campaign fliers featuring the state seal, as well as the seal of the Coast Guard Reserve, were against the law. Washington state law clearly states that “The state seal shall never be used in a political campaign to assist or defeat any candidate for elective office.”

Despite the warning, Olsen continued to distribute the fliers.

Poet visits island: Famed poet Billy Collins visited the island for three appearances to raise money for the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art currently under construction.

Hammers clank and machinery steadily hums on the corner of Winslow Way and Highway 305, working toward the expected opening during the summer of 2013.

November

Wilson arrives in Hawaii: BHS math teacher Rory Wilson landed in Hawaii on Nov. 1, completing his trans-Pacific journey in an impressive 44 days.

Marijuana legalized: The Washington State Liquor Control Board said it will build a system “from the ground up” to allow the growing, processing, retailing and possession of marijuana following voter approval of Initiative 502 in November’s elections. The initiative was approved with 55-percent of voter approval. Bainbridge Island voters approved the initiative by 69 percent.

Same-sex marriage approved: It was a close call, but in the end Washingtonians backed the state’s previous move to recognize same-sex marriages in the state. Kitsap county was one of six counties that approved Referendum 74 and came out with 53 percent in support of it. A total of 81,757 votes weighed in on the matter in the county. Bainbridge Island alone approved the referendum by 78 percent.

Harrison Medical Center announces plans: Harrison Medical Center announced that it has purchased 2.5 acres of land on the corner of New Brooklyn Road and Madison Avenue.

The hospital plans to build a 13,000-square-foot facility to provide urgent care on Bainbridge Island.

Bainbridge swim team wins second place at state: The Spartan swim team took the second place title at the state meet. Swimmer Shayla Archer nabbed a first place title for the 100-yard backstroke.

Police commander placed on leave: Police Commander Sue Shultz was placed on administrative leave Monday, Nov. 19 following an investigation into claims by two police lieutenants that she discriminated against them based on gender.

BHS principal retires: Brent Peterson announced that the 2012-13 school year will be his last with the Bainbridge Island School District.

The educator leaves the district after 32 years on the island.

Baby on board: A baby was born onboard the M/V Tacoma during the 1:10 p.m. sailing Thursday, Nov. 29 from Bainbridge to Seattle. Ferry crew members, along with two skilled volunteers, helped deliver the baby in transit. Baby Lucy was born before the ferry could reach Colman Dock in Seattle and was rushed to a Seattle hospital soon after arriving on shore. Baby Lucy and her mother were given a clean bill of health and made sure to return on the Tacoma to thank the crew that assisted with the birth.

Propellers pilfered: Three stainless steel propellers were stolen off the Bainbridge Island Police Department’s patrol boat docked on the south side of Eagle Harbor sometime during the week before Nov. 26. The three propellers were valued at approximately $2,000. Officers deduced that the thief had to approach the police boat from the water to take the propellers.

December

City sends bloated sewer bills: Bainbridge Island city staff scrambled to repair overcharges to islanders’ sewer bills — as well as customer relations — after a flurry of complaints poured into city hall. A billing error occurred after the city failed to adjust from summer to fall rates and customers were overcharged for the utility. City Manager Doug Schulze said that islanders were receiving credits on their next bill.

Hardee sentenced: Kevin M. Hardee, 30, was initially charged with second-degree attempted murder for an attack on his wife in June. The charges were reduced to two counts of second-degree assault and two counts of unlawful imprisonment. Hardee pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced to 38 months in prison.

Police commander resigns: Bainbridge Island Police Commander Sue Shultz resigned from her post at the embattled police department Dec. 14, one day after the results of an outside investigation into allegations of gender discrimination by Shultz against other female officers in the department was released.

City Manager Doug Schulze called it a “mutual decision” between himself and the city’s top commissioned officer.

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