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Blaze damages Winslow home -- News Roundup

A late-evening blaze damaged a Grow Avenue home Sunday.

Firefighters were summoned to the home in the 400 block of Grow at 10:08 p.m., and found a room that had been converted to an office engulfed in flames.

Firefighters used an estimated 1,500 gallons of water to keep the blaze from spreading throughout the residence, and to an adjacent home 10 feet away.

No injuries were reported.

Cause of the blaze was determined to be combustible materials left near a baseboard heater, Chief Jim Walkowski said. Property damage was estimated at $20,000, and content loss at $10,000.

Fire officials cautioned residents to keep combustible materials at least 18 inches away from all heat sources.

Wade wades into park board race

Vista Drive resident John Wade filed at the last minute Friday for a seat on the proposed Bainbridge Island Metropolitan Park and Recreation District board.

Wade, 68, an architect, filed for the position 5 seat for which Kirk Robinson, an incumbent on the current park board, is also running. With five seats up for grabs, Wade said he chose the position 5 seat at random.

It’s his first attempt at public office; Wade said he has been involved in youth swimming programs as a parent.

“There seems to be a need to represent youth activities more vigorously, and I decided to try to be that voice,” he said.

If voters approve creation of the metropolitan park district on Sept. 14, the new board will operate side by side with the current park board for the next year, while assets are transferred from old district to new.

If the metropolitan district is rejected, the new board will not be formed.

– Douglas Crist

City honchos’ salaries hiked

Eight high-level city employees will receive pay hikes retroactive to July 1, as part of a one-time “market adjustment” approved without comment by the City Council last week.

The hikes follow similar adjustments to some unionized city positions, and fulfill an earlier-adopted policy of keeping salaries aligned with the average pay for similar posts in same-sized area cities.

Receiving raises were the directors of public works, finance, planning, police and information technology, as well as the assistant public works director and two assistant city engineers.

The raises were based on a market survey done earlier this year, which compared job titles and descriptions to comparable cities. The survey found that the then-current salaries of $6,800-$7,300 per month for Bainbridge Island city department heads were 12-18 percent less than their peers in comparable cities – 29 percent less, in the case of the police chief.

The disparity raised fears that valued employees would bolt the city for other public and private sector jobs.

Also last week, new city Administrator Mary Jo Briggs agreed to minor contract revisions, with the finalized contract released by the mayor’s office Friday.

Briggs will receive a base salary of $124,000 per year, plus compensation in lieu of health care coverage for which she is already provided through her husband’s job with the state of Washington. She will accrue 25 days of vacation per year, but a proposed housing allowance was dropped.

Briggs’ contract is open-ended, but if it is terminated without cause, she will receive a full year’s salary as severance.

Mayor Darlene Kordonowy and council members favored a contract arrangement and generous severance, to give the administrator political independence and give the mayor and council incentive to work out any disputes with Briggs that might arise as she does her job managing City Hall.

“We really need that kind of frank and candid discussion to create the kind of organization I want, and the council wants,” Kordonowy said.

– Douglas Crist

Teen dances seeks business sponsors

Instead of lamenting that Bainbridge’s isolation may push teens to make bad choices, David Buck is proposing a solution.

“There’s very little for teens to do on Bainbridge Island except hang out at Safeway... and frankly do drugs and alcohol,” said Buck, owner of TRU Rhythms, a DJ company on the island.

Buck is calling on the business community to help establish a regular weekly event where teens can dance and socialize.

“Students are talented but isolated,” Buck said. “There have been attempts in the past, but they were not successful because of security (issues) or (the attempts) were not formal enough.”

Buck got the idea talking with his cousin who grew up on the island, and as a teen was frustrated by the lack of things to do, so “ran around at night, got into trouble.”

With a weekly event, Buck hopes youths can come together for a good time without drugs or alcohol.

Donating the music and coordination for the weekly event, Buck is looking for two to three vendors for each of four service categories: facilities to host at least 75 people, food vendor for basic refreshments, security, and communications such as flyers, ads and signs.

Buck would like something started by the end of this year. Those interested should contact him by Sept. 15 at 842-4551 or by email at verimus@comcast.net.

“If this comes to be, it adds to the number of things teens can do in this area,” Buck said. “I’m in business to make money, but also want to make an impact on the community.”

– Tina Lieu

Get 200 kids ready for school

Project Backpack, the annual community effort to collect and distribute backpacks and school supplies to children in need on Bainbridge Island, runs through the month of August.  

American Marine Bank, Paper Products, Windermere Bainbridge, and the Kiwanis Club are among the many local organizations supporting the popular back-to-school program.

Among the items on the Project Backpack Top Ten list are spiral notebooks, pencil pouches, glue sticks, colored pencils and markers, basic calculators, boxes of tissues, three-ring binders and “Fiskar”-type scissors. These items were culled from supply lists that are distributed to families every summer by local public schools. 

New, sturdy student backpacks are also needed.

Although Helpline House has distributed a limited number of school supplies for many years, Project Backpack was started four years ago by Michelle Hutchins, a local mother and community activist who realized that the cost of school supplies put financial stress on many families. 

Now a program of Helpline House, Project Backpack served more than 200 children in kindergarten through high school last year. A similar number of children are expected to benefit from the program this year.

School supplies, backpacks, and financial donations to Project Backpack can be dropped off at Island Fitness, the Town & Country espresso stand, and Helpline House through August. Donations are tax-deductible.

For more information about Project Backpack or to sign up to receive school supplies through the program, call Helpline House at 842-7621.

GOP to open Bainbridge office

Kitsap Republicans will open a Bainbridge Island office next week.

A grand opening is slated for 5-7 p.m. Aug. 12 at 470 Ericksen Avenue. GOP candidates for local and state office will be on hand to meet the public, with information, bumper stickers and yard signs available, and refreshments provided.

Information: (206) 570-7711.

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