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News Roundup -- Police wary of recent reports/Photo lab closes shutters

Police wary of recent reports

Reports of a man in a white truck approaching youths at island roadsides continued this week, Bainbridge Police said.

But the accounts have been so varied in their description of the suspect or suspects, and his vehicle, that their accuracy is unclear, police say.

“The reports do not correlate into any kind of pattern, besides white vehicles stopping in the vicinity of kids,” Bainbridge Police Detective Scott Anderson said. “We have no evidence of an increased threat, but we believe parents should always be vigilant, and so should children.”

Several new reports filtered in this week, with youths reporting the approach of a man in a white truck in the Manzanita and Lynwood Center areas. Those followed two reports, a week earlier, in which an unknown man is said to have offered rides or given unsettling looks to youths on Wyatt Way and in Fort Ward.

But the suspect’s description has varied so wildly – 21-years old with a thin build in one report, 30-42 and stocky in another, 50-60 in still another, with hair variously described as dark, grey, long and short – that police can’t rule out simple happenstance or misunderstanding.

Nevertheless, Anderson urged parents to put their kids on the bus to school rather than having them walk, and to take turns monitoring school bus stops.

– Douglas Crist

Photo lab closes shutters

The one-two blow of Sept. 11 and the rise of digital photography has knocked out local photo lab Madison Avenue Photo.

Demand for photo finishing declined after the 9/11 terrorist attacks subdued tourism, a large source of photo finishing work, owner Alan Francescutti said.

“It was followed by the digital revolution, so business just really never came back,” Francescutti said. “Vast numbers of people are taking digital photos and – the few (who print) – are printing them at home. Most are not printing at all.”

Madison Avenue Photo, which first opened its doors in Winslow in 1980, closes after business today. Francescutti says he will miss most the customers, some of whom first visited in the arms of their parents.

“I think I’m going to miss my interaction with customers more than they’ll miss us, but we’ll all be staying on the island,” he said.

While the store competed on its quality of product and knowledgeable staff, online photo finishing services offered prints at a fraction of their price. Also, a small lab serving a small community could not afford the investment for digital technology costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“We always stressed the quality of our product and our customers took their picture-taking seriously,” Francescutti said. “Our customers really pay attention to their pictures.”

The store did commercial photography over the years, and Francescutti says he will continue that work, though without a studio. He has plans to do personal biographies and family histories, using video for interviews and panning and scanning still prints.

In the meanwhile, Francescutti urges people to pickup unclaimed prints at the store.

The store will also call customers to pick up their photos. Portrait customers will be called when the work is ready for pickup.

“We’ve really enjoyed doing business on this island. Our customers are by and large generous and gracious,” Francescutti said. “We’ve built relationships with them and very much appreciate the support we’ve had all these years.”

Madison Avenue Photo in Winslow Green will be open for the last time today 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Afterwards, the shop will open a few hours each afternoon to let people pick up completed jobs. Call ahead to 842-7518.

–Tina Lieu

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