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Burglary suspect arrested -- News Roundup

A 36-year-old man wanted for residential burglaries on Mercer Island was arrested in Kitsap County after a high-speed chase this week, and may be linked to a recent break-in spree on Bainbridge, police said.

The suspect, address unknown, was arrested in the Gorst area after midnight Jan. 8, after crashing a stolen Cadillac during a pursuit by county deputies, Bainbridge Police Detective Scott Anderson said.

The suspect fled the scene but was run to ground by a dog, police said. Two women in the vehicle were apprehended at the scene, while a fourth occupant escaped.

Police had been looking for the Cadillac since it was stolen from a Port Ludlow golf course community in mid-December, when homes were broken into there and a Ford pickup stolen from Bainbridge was abandoned off a course fairway.

The pickup had been stolen from the island days earlier during a burglary spree in the Point White neighborhood. Numerous homes were broken into during the spree, and items valued in the thousands of dollars stolen. A similar rash of thefts was reported around Point White and Pleasant Beach last fall.

The suspect has not been charged in connection with any thefts or other crimes on Bainbridge Island, Anderson said, and police continued to pursue leads Friday afternoon. He was being held in the Kitsap County jail on suspicion of possession of a stolen vehicle, attempting to elude police, reckless endangerment, and harassment stemming from a protection order violation.

He also faces charges on Mercer Island for alleged burglary and possession of stolen property, Anderson said. Police said the suspect had been arrested there – again, tracked down by a police dog – after a string of residential thefts, but left the jurisdiction after being released from jail on his own recognizance.

Anderson said the suspect may have been working in south Bainbridge neighborhoods as a yard laborer and handyman, driving a red pickup and advertising his services with handbills.

Anyone who used his services is asked to call Bainbridge Police at 842-5211.

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***Rockaway well pump fails

Rockaway Beach residents have been asked to minimize water use until early next week, after the failure of well apparatus serving the neighborhood.

Customers there are served by a city-owned well at the Taylor Avenue road end. Crews discovered during their midweek rounds that the well pump had failed, with completed repairs not expected until Monday afternoon, said Lance Newkirk, city operations manager.

The well supplies a 132,000-gallon reservoir on Bill Point. As the Rockaway neighborhood consumes about 12,000 gallons per day during the winter months, the system has more than a week of capacity without the well, Newkirk said.

To guarantee adequate water in case of a fire, the city was to sign an agreement Friday with Island Utility, a water system owned by Port Blakely Tree Farms, for a temporary connection to that system.

Households were asked to conserve water, but were not given specific limits on usage.

“They’ve said ‘minimize,’ and I’m hoping everybody is,” said Charles Hawk, a Rockaway resident active in water and sewer issues. “I don’t think anybody is literally not bathing.”

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***Management issue mires

Discussion of city management issues yielded little in the way of consensus among council members Wednesday evening.

In an hour-long workshop, the council considered a 1997 survey of employees that had identified poor communication between departments, inconsistent application of policies and other problems.

Some of those issues have since cleared up, city Administrator Lynn Nordby told the council, with the unification of most employees under a single roof, and introduction of a wide-area computer network to improve communication and file sharing.

Policy issues continue to be a problem, Nordby said, but the city planning department has recently undertaken a review of the city code to ferret out inconsistencies.

Responding to a question from Councilman Bill Knobloch, Nordby said the city hall culture had “opened up” since 1997, with better management training.

Several council members were unswayed, and called in general terms for action.

“If you walk out on the streets, I think the public perception of city government is not as good as it might be,” Councilman Michael Pollock said, citing an unspecified “litany” of administrative issues.

Councilwoman Deborah Vann agreed, decrying a “lack of leadership” within the city, and a lack of leaders taking responsibility for department problems.

“What we have is minimizing, denying, and projecting problems on other parts of the organization,” Vann said.

The relevance of the report itself came into question – it was conducted nearly six years ago, with 60 percent of staff and two department heads having turned over since then.

Councilman Norm Wooldridge suggested polling city employees again to see if their perceptions of internal problems continue.

Councilwoman Lois Curtis said it was also incumbent on the council to better understand what the departments do, and further said that not all council members might agree with what others perceived to be problems.

The issue was sent the council’s operations committee for further consideration. Mayor Darlene Kordonowy missed the session, home with laryngitis.

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***Developer donates land

The city this week accepted the donation of five building lots off Robertson Road in the Fort Ward area. The donation was announced by the council after an executive session at Wednesday’s meeting.

The lots were donated by Portland, Ore.-based Mainlander Services Corp., which has built a number of homes in the area.

The city purchased two lots from Mainlander and principal John Niemeyer last June, for $100,000. Donation of the five additional lots, reportedly timed for tax advantages, completes that deal.

The lots are part of the area’s wetland system; development would have been problematic for the builder and contributed to the neighborhood’s drainage problems, city officials said.

Niemeyer had sought to give the parcels to the city in exchange for construction of a road accessing other lots he owns, but the council opted to buy them instead.

The seven lots comprise about two acres, and will be preserved as open space.

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***Gym names winnowed

Tom Paski and Gordon Prentice have emerged as favored honorees when the Bainbridge High School gymnasium is named.

A meeting at the BHS Commons Thursday drew impassioned support for both men, former coaches credited with positive impacts on the lives of students.

Paski coached three sports at BHS from 1947 until 1970, leading the boys basketball team to the state title in 1948. He still resides on the island.

“Tom didn’t intimidate, as unfortunately a lot of coaches do – he inspired,” said Bob Woodman, a former Paski charge in all three sports.

Frank Kitamoto, a 1957 BHS graduate, praised Paski for his good nature, saying, “I’ve never met anyone who was as much of a human being.”

Also earning support was Prentice, who served as BHS athletic director, and football and basketball coach, from 1973 until his death a decade later at age 41 while lifting weights in the old gym.

Jeff Dorsey, a 1981 BHS alum, said Prentice “gave his life for the improvement of human beings and athletes.”

At issue is a name for the 2,260-seat BHS gymnasium that opened two years ago.

More than 80 submissions have come in since the formal naming process was announced last month, many from out-of-state alums. A petition at a local market drew 53 signatories for Paski, with other proposals including island basketball great Ed “Ashcan” Loverich and former superintendent Neal Nunamaker.

An ad hoc naming committee comprised of school officials, historians and boosters will make a recommendation to the school board next Thursday, with a decision expected at that time.

Bruce Colley, executive director for administrative services for the district, said the discussion has also shown the need for a “Hall of Fame” or similar display honoring figures of great standing in BHS lore. Work on that project is expected to continue with Bainbridge Boosters after the gym is named.

“It’s gratifying to hear that educators have that kind of lasting impact on students,” Colley said. “That’s the real joy.”

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