News Roundup -- Council axes ‘City News’/Commodore gets commons/Students work for ‘the good’/‘Alternative gifts’ offered

Council axes ‘City News’

What’s black and white and read all over?

Not the City News, according to the City Council.

The quarterly newspaper covering city government issues was cut from the 2005 budget Monday, ending a short life that councilors eulogized with terms such as “propaganda” and “junk-mail.”

“City News comes across as propaganda and is treated as such: it’s thrown in the wastepaper basket,” Councilman Nezam Tooloee said.

Nixing the eight-page publication will save the city $23,000 in design, postage, consulting and printing fees for 2005.

The fall issue covered the city’s work on the Critical Areas Ordinance, the harbor moorage plan, the acquisition of Pritchard Park, the Winslow Tomorrow project and other topics.

But councilors said these, and most issues that have been presented in City News, are adequately covered by the local newspaper and other area media.

“I don’t feel there’s as much of a vacuum as there was three years ago,” said Councilwoman Christine Rolfes.

Some councilors felt uneasy with a city-run information outlet.

“I’ve never been comfortable with the government producing the news,” Rolfes said.

“It’s a luxury and it’s basically propaganda,” said Councilman Bob Scales, who said he had never read the sheet until joining the council. “It’s not a critical look at what we’re doing,”

– Tristan Baurick

Commodore gets commons

Construction of the new “Commodore Commons” is slated to begin Dec. 6, under a $600,000 bid approved last Thursday night by the school board.

Camco Construction of Spokane submitted the lowest of eight bids to complete the project, and received favorable references from other recent clients, including the U.S. Postal Service and Washington State University.

The work will convert the high school’s lower gym and now-abandoned boys and girls locker rooms into a commons area for Commodore Options School, said Tamela VanWinkle, facilities project manager for the Bainbridge Island School District.

The 5,000-square-foot structure will include a lunchroom and serving kitchen.

The total budget for the project is estimated at $900,000. The work should be complete in April, VanWinkle said.

–Rhonda Parks Manville

Students work for ‘the good’

The bad is pretty bad when your friend’s brother commits suicide and then a few years later a good friend dies in a tragic car accident.

Vince Palazzolo hopes the good will be the show he is putting together about teens for teens and adults, motivated by tragedy he has seen and experienced.

“You go through the bad to get to the good in life,” Palazzolo said.

The Bainbridge High School senior formed This is Now Productions to produce “This is now... that was then” as a part of a school “off-campus experience” study, but ultimately a personal way to speak to teens and adults.

The show includes a series of dance and song pieces that deal with issues confronting teens today, going from the bad – personal battles, eating disorders and suicide – but ending with the good: love.

“Hopefully, we will be a group of kids that says, ‘We get it,’” Palazzolo said. “People are involved (with the show) because they have something to say and want to help.”

A fund-raising sneak preview of the show will be held 6:30-8:30 p.m. Dec. 1 at the BHS LGI room; it’s free to all, but donations are welcomed.

The youthful group of 33 performers and 24 crew from Bainbridge, Kingston, Seattle and Silverdale, has raised $3,000 toward a target of $25,000 for a March performance. The monies will cover performance space, insurance, publicity, costume and sets, a portable dance floor – to be donated to Bainbridge Performing Arts and BHS after the show – and $200 stipends for performers.

Stipends are intended to help students serious about the theater world, where paid stints carry more weight.

Ironically, a frustration of youth – being treated like kids – has made it difficult to get insurance, with agents not returning their calls, associate producer and BHS freshman Danielle Yocum said.

Principally, Palazzolo hopes the show will provoke awareness “to make people not turn their backs to issues that need to be addressed.

“I hope people will see this and leave questioning the way they live their lives and (that they) make decisions that affect others,” he said.

Other members of the troupe were also motivated to join through first-hand experience of a friend’s suicide or having desperately, yet secretly, unhappy friends.

“The biggest problem is they (suicidal teens) think they are stuck. Life is 100 percent what you make it,” Palazzolo said. “I get it and hope people start taking more initiative and chances... Life is wonderful.”

For more information or to make a donation, email

– Tina Lieu 

‘Alternative gifts’ offered

The best gift you give this year might be $11 to buy three jars of peanut butter for an area food bank, or $50 to supply clean water to 30 rural Ugandan families.

“Every one of these gifts reflects our deep respect for life and our commitment to global stewardship,” said Carrie Klein, social action chair of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Bainbridge Island and North Kitsap.

“Whether you want to stock the shelves at a local food bank, help an Afghan girl return to school, save threatened habitat, or supply boots for a community volunteer in rural South Africa, the list we’ve put together has something for everyone.”

The third annual Alternative Gift Project, sponsored by the Social Action Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, is an alternative to conspicuous consumption.

Gift-givers choose from more than 50 specific “gifts” – representative goods or services that could be purchased with a given donation – for one of more than 20 local, national, and international charitable organizations.

Gifts recipients – in whose name donations are made – can be informed of the gift with an art card created at the Special Needs Foundation.

Last year the program raised more than $13,000 for over a dozen local nonprofits including the Rotary Club of Bainbridge Island’s Ugandan Wells Project, Helpline House, the Fishline food bank and the Bainbridge-Ometepe Sister Islands Organization.

Klein says this year’s target is $20,000. Recipient nonprofits have expanded to include national and international organizations such as Doctors without Borders, Clear Path International, the Nature Conservancy, a Peace Corps scholarship fund in Ecuador championed by island native Caitlin Gerdts, and organizations with ties to Unitarian Universalism, including a program in India that serves children freed from bonded labor and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee’s Haitian Emergency Fund.

The Alternative Gift Project catalog and order form will be available at or by calling 842-1438.

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