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Rotary Auction sets record, again -- News Roundup

Even in a down economy, the Rotary Auction thrives.

The June 29 event raised a record $229,800 – up from a previously unprecedented $210,000 in 2001.

“I’m very pleased,” said Brent Olson, immediate past president of Bainbridge Rotary. “I’m surprised. With the rain and the new venue and everything, I hadn’t expected such a great gain.

“We’re just delighted with it.”

Olson credited a “new camaraderie” as longtime Rotarians, new club members and volunteers turned out in a force of more than 200 to stage the event.

“It paid big dividends,” he said.

Rotarians had been concerned that economic downturn, coupled with the temporary move to the smallish Sakai Intermediate School campus, would depress donations and sales.

Instead, they were rewarded with yet another banner return from the sale of old cars, clothing, books and stereo equipment.

In fact, some aspects of the campus, including vehicle traffic circulation, may have worked better than the usual Woodward site, one Rotarian said.

Proceeds from past auctions have gone into an array of community projects, including the new swimming pool, the skate park and and the Boys and Girls Club hall now under construction.

Is a single-day, quarter-million dollar return out of the question next year?

“That’s my challenge to my successor,” Olson said.

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***All quiet on the Fourth

Bainbridge Police reported few incidents of note over the Fourth of July holiday.

Only one arrest was reported, and that was unrelated to the festivities.

A 28-year-old Poulsbo man was arrested behind the Bainbridge Performing Arts building early Thursday evening, after fleeing the scene of an alleged domestic assault at a Madison Avenue residence. He was already wanted on warrants related to traffic offenses, and was taken to the county jail, Bainbridge Police Lt. Denise Giuntoli said.

There were also spot calls of illegal fireworks use, one of which may have contributed to a small residential blaze.

Fire crews responded to a fire on a garage roof on Rockaway Beach, around 11 p.m. Thursday. The blaze was noticed by a passerby, and residents turned a garden hose on the flames before crews arrived.

The roof sustained little damage, Bainbridge Fire Capt. Butch Lundin said, and cause of the blaze could not be determined with certainty.

“There were fireworks that were being shot off, but they were several houses away,” Lundin said.

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****Workshop on sewers planned

To avoid a protracted discussion at next week’s city council meeting, the council has instead scheduled a workshop on the whole south-end sewer issue.

The workshop will take place from 6-8 p.m. July 17 in the council chambers at City Hall.

“With only two council members who have been in on this from the beginning, and three new council members, the plan is to have a discussion where everyone can get up to speed,” Mayor Darlene Kordonowy said.

In deference to the workshop, the sewer issue has been deleted from the agenda for Wednesday’s council meeting.

This is the “11th hour” in the protracted debate over bringing sewer service to four south-end neighborhoods – Emerald Heights, Pleasant Beach, Rockaway Beach and Point White.

Neighbors in those areas who want sewer service complain that septic systems perform poorly or not at all because of poor subsoil conditions and small waterfront lots.

The plan has been to connect some or all of those areas to the Fort Ward sewer treatment plant owned and operated by Kitsap County Sewer District No. 7.

The city would sell bonds to pay the costs up-front, but the neigborhoods would form Local Improvement Districts, which would pay off the bonds over 20 years through a tax levy.

Chief items on the agenda at the scheduled workshop will be two issues discussed this week by the council’s public works committee – who can opt out of participating, and how can the city be sure it is reimbursed for the up-front costs it incurs if for some reason one or more of the LIDs is not formed.

Though no public comment will be taken at the workshop, Kordonowy said it is important for affected residents to show up as an indication of their support for the sewer plan.

“Representatives of the neighborhoods show up at the meetings and say that the plans have support,” Kordonowy said, “but all it takes is a couple of emails to create doubts in the council’s mind. Even if there are no comments, people coming out may be important.”

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****Ericksen wires may be buried

The city may put up most of the money to bury utility lines along Ericksen Avenue if property owners are willing to pay the hookup costs.

But before they can respond, the owners want some estimate of what the costs might be.

“Are we talking about $1,000 or $10,000?” asked Carol Thornburgh, whose insurance agency would be affected.

Reasonable question, city officials said, but one for which no immediate answer was available.

The plan is to find out what the hookup costs were on lower Madison Avenue, when utility lines were buried as part of that street’s reconstruction, then gauge the level of interest on Ericksen.

The push to bury the lines came from Ken Guy, executive director of the Bainbridge Island Fire Department, who said overhead lines present a safety hazard.

“The two most important things to do in a fire are to get on the roof and cut a hole to relieve the pressure,” he said.

“Electrical wires interfere with your ability to operate a ladder apparatus, and if a live wire comes down, you have to shut off the power before you can do anything else.”

The issue is coming up now, he said, because of the level of development planned for Ericksen, and because the street will be rebuilt next year, with a bike lane and a sidewalk to be added.

Members of the city council’s public works committee agreed that the safety argument was compelling.

“There is a window of opportunity here, and we have to take the long-term view,” Councilman Bill Knobloch said. “This is part of our central-core district, so we should do it right.”

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****Library system going ‘Wi-Fi’

Kitsap Regional Library is installing “Wi-Fi,” wireless fidelity Internet hubs, in all nine libraries in Kitsap County.

Wi-Fi technology allows people with properly equipped laptop computers, cell phones or PDAs such as Palm Pilots to gain instant high-speed Internet access in and around Kitsap libraries.

A small antenna on the computer, phone or PDA connects with a wireless hub inside the library, and the patron become instantly connected to the Internet through the library’s high-speed “T-1” lines.

The system is now functional at the central branch in Bremerton, and will be added to other libraries including Bainbridge over the coming months.

At “Central,” even the parking lot is covered, allowing the potential for 24-hour Internet.

Kitsap Regional Library is the first library in the area to install the technology.

“Internet access is particularly good at the southern end of the library’s parking lot,” said Michael Schuyler, library support services manager. “There is also a near-perfect signal from every desk and table in the library.”

Technically, the system uses the 802.11b standard for wireless local area networks.

Many new laptops, cell phones and PDA’s come already equipped to log onto a “Wi-Fi” system. Others require a card to be installed that costs less than $100.

Wireless Network Interface Cards plug into either a PCMCIA slot on the laptop or through a USB port, which most new laptops have.

Kitsap Regional Library has chosen to use the “Wi-Fi” technology to better support the over 300 computers currently connected to the library’s computer system with traditional wiring.

“Our new “Wi-Fi” system will let us place our public access computer terminals in more patron-friendly locations than our existing wired system allows,” Schuyler said.

“It will reduce the man-hours and expense associated with running and maintaining miles of cable to support the library’s 300 computers, and allow patrons direct access using their own equipment.”

In recent years, the popularity of Internet usage has grown faster than any other library service, library officials said.

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