Around the Island

Rolfes now has a challenger

Republican Mark Lowe of Bremerton has announced that he will challenge Democrat Christine Rolfes of Bainbridge for her seat in the state House of Representatives.

Lowe is a retired U.S. Navy master chief who specialized in security and counter-terrorism for the Navy’s Northwest Region.

He cited issues including transportation efficiency, urban growth management, veterans affairs and property taxes, as well as a general lack of action in state government, as reasons for seeking office.

“I was tired of talking and decided to do something about it,” Lowe said.

Rolfes, a former Bainbridge City Council member, is seeking her second term in Olympia.

In March, Republican Connie Lord, a Poulsbo City Council member, kicked off her campaign against Bainbridge’s other resident state legislator, Democrat Sen. Phil Rockefeller.

– Tad Sooter

Bainbridge is bike friendly

Bainbridge Island was officially dubbed a “bicycle friendly community” by the League of American Bicyclists last week, making it one of 11 communities throughout the country to be so recognized.

“I have to say this is a huge accomplishment,” said Don Willott, chair of the city’s Non-Motorized Transportation Advisory Committee. “The designation is one with real meaning – it is a very competitive process.”

Eighty-four communities have been named bicycle-friendly since 2003, a recognition which is granted in one of four levels: bronze, silver, gold, and platinum.

The island was given a bronze nod.

Cities and counties, are judged on engineering, encouragement, enforcement, evaluation and planning.

Past winners have hailed from 31 states. Winners this year besides Bainbridge include Minneapolis, Minn. and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

Respondents to the recently completed community priorities survey said building and maintaining bike lanes along island roads should be among the city’s top spending priorities.

“We’re fortunate to have a cycling community which is committed not only to riding their bikes, but to educating the rest of us about the needs of bicyclists and the benefits of alternative transportation,” Mayor Darlene Kordonowy said. “Completion of the application was truly a grassroots effort. Island residents and cyclist Joel Levin deserves special appreciation for his leadership on this project.”

–Julia Ringo

BICC honors biz couple

Businesses come and go on Bainbridge Island, but some, such as Hay Bay and Feed, slowly become island retail icons because the owners love what they do and have become an integral part of the community. And some 30 years later, as is the case for Howard Block and his wife, Ce-Ann Parker, the island’s Chamber of Commerce has decided to honor them as its 2008 Business Couple of the Year.

They will be saluted at a “roast and toast” banquet on May 21 at Wing Point Golf & Country Club, and also as honorary Grand Marshals in this year’s Grand Old Fourth of July Parade.

“We couldn’t think of a more perfect pair to recognize,” said BICC board member Sheri Watson. “They and their store mean so much to our community and they have done an incredible job of running their business and being involved.”

When Block and Parker bought the 1912-era building and feed store business in the late 1970s they planned to restore it as a natural foods store, but life got in the way – in the form of children Teague and Abbie – and it gradually morphed into the animal feed, nursery, clothing and outdoors store that it is today.

The business now has a staff of 20 full- and part-time employees, many of whom have helped the owners gain the trust and loyalty of customers who keep coming back to the store day after day, year after year.

“Our staff and we have made personal friendships with customers over the years,” Parker said. “It makes you want to come to work every day.”

The Rolling Bay shop also has become a tourist attraction, with many visitors buying the store’s signature animal print shirts. More than 750,000 T-shirts and sweatshirts have been sold.

Tickets for the event are $25 and reservations can be made by calling 842-3700.

–Julia Ringo

IslandWood lands big grant

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission announced last week that, as a part of its grant program “No Child Left Inside,” it would grant $200,000 to three of Washington’s environmental education organizations, including Bainbridge Island’s IslandWood.

The grant program also announced that it would award $1.5 million to education and recreation programs throughout the state.

Its main aim is to urge children to leave their televisions and computers to seek outdoor activities, which are said to reduce a child’s stress, lengthen their attention spans, increase test scores and improve their behavior in general.

Washington’s is the second state legislature to establish and furnish funds for a program specifically designed just to promote outdoor education.

In 2007, the Washington Legislature chose the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission to head up the program.

The Commission then created a committee made up of 22 organizations, natural resource agencies, private businesses and outdoor education leaders to establish guidelines and help with selection from among the total of 238 grant applicants.

The No Child Left Inside grant is intended to provide for environmental education programs, particularly for children of low-income families, along with field trips, after-school programs and other nature experiences for those living on a limited income.

According to the Washington State Parks Web site, those who will benefit most from the grant will be preferably “students at risk of failing or dropping out of school, underrepresented learners, and those facing social, behavioral, economic and health barriers.”

IslandWood, which will share the $200,000 grant with North Cascades Institute and Olympic Park Institute, offers opportunities for children to learn about science, the arts, and cultural and biological diversity.

Its programs are offered in the forms of residential courses, training sessions for educators, and summer and year-round weekend offerings for adults.

–Julia Ringo

Hunt will seek a third term

Islander Robin Hunt last week announced she will seek reelection in the state Court of Appeals.

Hunt has for 11 years presided over District 2, Division II, which hears appeals from county superior courts across western Washington.

She also has been a substitute justice in the state Supreme Court.

Early in her career she was a King County prosecutor, Bainbridge Island hearing examiner and municipal judge pro-tem.

Her opponent, Tim Ford, was a long-time building industry attorney before joining the state Attorney General’s Office.

He is Open Government Ombudsman, co-chair of the Public Records Exemptions Accountability Committee, co-chair of the Attorney General’s Eminent Domain Task Force and assists the public and agencies with questions, training, policy, and compliance with the Public Records Act and Open Public Meetings Act.

For more information about their respective campaigns, visit and

Grand Old Fourth coming

Street fair, parade and classic car chow applications for the island’s Grand Old Fourth of July celebration are now available at the Chamber of Commerce office.

The event – now in its 41st year – is an all-day celebration that includes a street fair, classic car show, music and other family fun and entertainment, capped off by the “Zaniest Small Town Parade in America.”

The parade begins at 1 p.m. This year’s theme is “Celebrating the Fabulous 1950s.”

Go to for booth, parade and classic car show forms, or drop by the office at 590 Winslow Way East. Information: Call 842-3700 or 819-3618.

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