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News Roundup -- Small change, big donations/Bike/Ped plans rolling forward

Sakai fifth-graders Sarah Dacquisto and Rachel Kaminer tally up coins for the Coins That Care tsunami relief fund. - RHONDA PARKS MANVILLE/Staff Photo
Sakai fifth-graders Sarah Dacquisto and Rachel Kaminer tally up coins for the Coins That Care tsunami relief fund.
— image credit: RHONDA PARKS MANVILLE/Staff Photo

Small change, big donations

The children of Bainbridge Island have emptied piggy banks and pockets, sold hot chocolate and collected spare change on the streets, raising well over $10,000 for the Coins That Care tsunami relief fund.

High School senior Skodi Van Reis led a contingent of teens that collected more than $3,000 last week, soliciting donations at stores and coffee shops.

Meanwhile, students in Woodward Middle School’s Leadership and Natural Helpers classes carried milk jugs around campus before school and during lunches, collecting $2,500 by Friday afternoon.

Two other Woodward students, Paige Farwell and Kathleen Callahan, set up a hot chocolate stand in their neighborhood, raising $100. And at Sakai Intermediate School, a coin collection competition between various sections of the school’s buildings brought in an estimated $5,000 as of Thursday.

And the coins keep rolling in.

“It was just wonderful to see the outpouring of energy and determination and dedication,” said Suellen Cunningham, founder of Coins That Care.

So far the fund-drive has raised $17,600, distributed equally to Doctors Without Borders, Oxfam, and UNICEF. The first $7,000 was sent to the charities last week.

By next week, elementary school students in the Bainbridge Island district will be depositing their two cents – and more.

“We’re not just letting the money sit in the bank, but we are sending it out on a weekly basis,” Cunningham said. Donations of rolled coins and checks are being accepted at any branch of American Marine Bank.

Other Bainbridge-based efforts to help the victims of South Asia’s devastating earthquake and tsunami are well under way.

Organizers of Sunday’s “Wave of Caring: Concert for Tsunami Relief” expect to raise thousands from the 3 p.m. extravaganza in the Bainbridge High School gym, with admission donations going toward the American Red Cross International Fund.

The event will feature more than 100 voices in a community choir composed of members of Bainbridge Chorale, Ovation! Musical Theater Bainbridge, and seven community church choirs.

The concert will also feature soloists, instrumentalists, ensembles, youth performers, poets, readers and actors.

“We are overwhelmed at the outpouring of support and the desire to participate in this incredible event,” said Marijane Milton, one of the event coordinators. “We hope as many people as possible can come and witness the unprecedented coming together of our arts community in support of such an important cause.”

For a full list of the participants, see www.ovationmtb.com.

One person who would love to be at the concert, but won’t, is islander Peter Perry. He caught a red-eye flight Friday that will take him to Meulaboh, a city on the Sumatran coast that lost roughly half its population in the disaster.

To make matters worse, the bridge into the city – critical to relief efforts – was wiped out in the monsoons this week.

Perry, who worked in Indonesia for two decades and speaks the language, will help rebuild the bridge, and will document the names of people who have lost limbs, so that they can get prosthetic replacements.

Perry and his wife, Dea McKibben Perry, are providing aid through several networks, which include the Indonesian government, the American Overseas Medical Aid Association, Mercy Corps and the U.S. State Department. The couple has founded the Bainbridge Island/Sumatra Tsunami Relief Fund, and are seeking non-profit status.

Peter Perry initially planned to work in Banda Aceh, but there has been a flurry of relief activity there, while other regions were being neglected. He is expected arrive in Meulaboh on Sunday, his wife said.

– Rhonda Parks Manville

Bike/Ped plans rolling forward

Holding aloft a flashing red light and dressed in a blazing orange jacket, Chuck Beek certainly didn’t look like a statistic.

But he almost was one.

“A month ago, on Eagle Harbor Drive, a car locked its brakes and skidded within six inches of my rear bike wheel,” Beek said, displaying the clothes and bike light he hoped would make him more visible to motorists.

“The guy said he was blinded by another car’s lights in his face. I’m never afraid riding in Seattle, but I’m frequently afraid on Eagle Harbor Drive. I don’t want to be a statistic. We now have the opportunity to be the most bike-friendly place in the area.”

Beek was one of 30 residents that gathered Tuesday to discuss ways to spend $1.6 million for non-motorized transportation improvements.

His comments echoed many residents’ concerns for improved safety for the island’s foot and pedal-powered travelers.

Non-motorized Transportation Advisory Committee member Dennis Vogt said he was surprised by the large amount awarded by the City Council in budgeting for 2005. The $1.6 million gives him hope that some of committee’s plans would quickly become reality, he said.

“We were stunned when we found out how much the Council was allocating,” he said. “We’ll still work with the same priorities, but we’ll just be able to do them now.”

The 2005 non-motorized transportation improvement work plan unveiled at the meeting included the council’s initial $800,000 allocation. The committee had already detailed projects for these funds, including bike lane and sidewalk improvements on Wyatt Way, between Finch and Weaver roads, and design plans for portions of Grow Avenue and Wing Point Way.

The new work plan took the full $1.6 million into account, with State Route 305 receiving a $500,000 shoulder widening while the ferry terminal area, Lynwood Center Road, Wallace Way and other areas were also earmarked for funds.

Dana Berg, president of bicycle advocacy group Squeaky Wheels, said she was pleased to see part of $50,000 set aside for education and community outreach.

“The best use of these funds is education,” she said. “The last two accidents on the island happened in bike lanes. Bike lanes make things more pleasant, but they don’t necessarily protect. So if we could educate people with a huge campaign, that would be a big help.”

Some attendees said they’d like to see a re-prioritization of proposed improvements.

The City Council will hold a special meeting on non-motorized transportation improvements Wednesday, 6-9 p.m. at City Hall.

– Tristan Baurick

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