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News Roundup -- Islanders back a good library/Conference rescheduled/Have shoes, need closet/Blood drive good for life/Forensic class gets the nod

Islanders back a good library

Islanders reaffirmed the library’s place in the heart of Bainbridge Island, as about 25 gathered Monday night for Kitsap Regional Library’s invitation to “Talk with the Director” about the system’s future.

Suggestions were varied, but a recurring theme saw the library as a community hub; as one participant said, “Bainbridge Island defines itself through the library.”

There were also calls for maintaining a wide range of material, adding access to more online database services, and maintaining a knowledgeable staff.

Some brought up concerns about library access to the infirm and teens, and how to cultivate a love of the library among the young. Ideas included adding a café to the building, having more comfortable seating, partnering with community groups or sending bookmobiles to school classrooms and the homebound.

KRL is soliciting comments through community meetings at each branch through May 12, and via surveys available at each branch and online at www.krl.org. Director Ellen Newberg said library staff will then look at all the input and come up with strategic goals.

“We want to focus efforts on services people think are most important,” Newberg said. “There’s a real love of the library and concern that it stay current and relevant, and be there as a community resource. It’s a tremendously cost-effective resource for people and lifelong learning and information literacy.”

Despite some fears of the demise of the library as an institution in 10-20 years, Newberg says in Kitsap they are unfounded.

Circulation continues to increase and online accesses to the website and catalog are up. KRL is also among the largest 14 libraries in Washington with 148,046 card holders, ranking number two in turnover of materials and number 11 in library holdings per capita.

KRL receives 94.5 percent of its funding from property taxes, of which the library receives little compared to other public agencies. On Bainbridge Island, the library building and its upkeep are privately funded.

Cindy Harrison, branch manager of the Bainbridge Island library, was not surprised at the good turnout, the largest of the meetings so far.

“I think (islanders) are passionate and articulate,” she said, “and the values of the library are important to them.”

– Tina Lieu

Conference rescheduled

Members of the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community were surprised to learn a daylong conference at IslandWood on World War II internment was postponed due to low enrollment.

Initially set for this coming Sunday, the “Lessons from History: Nidoto Nai Yoni” event was to feature local veterans and internees discussing their experiences. The conference was also slated for a discussion on civil rights by King County Executive Ron Sims.

IslandWood officials say they hope to reschedule the $30 event for sometime this fall.

“IslandWood is committeed to the importance of teaching about the rich cultural history of Bainbridge Island,” Executive Director Ben Klasky said. “An important part of this history is the story of Japanese-American internment during World War II.”

IslandWood staff said only one person had registered for the event and that the postponement was based entirely on logistics.

But these reasonings don’t satisfy the community’s president Frank Kitamoto.

“It doesn’t fly,” he said. “I was very upset when I heard it was cancelled. It was a surprise to me.”

Kitamoto said he and other members of the community were unaware that preregistration was required. He was also disappointed with IslandWood’s low level of promotion linked to the event.

IslandWood staff deny that the controversial issues central to the event played into the decision to postpone the conference.

“The decision to postpone the event was based entirely on logistics and in no way signifies any departure from IslandWood’s commitment to teaching about these critical issues,” Klasky said.

IslandWood is still slated to host novelist Julie Otsuka on May 5. Her recent book “When the Emporer was Divine” tells the fictional tale of a Japanese-American family’s internment during World War II.

– Tristan Baurick

Have shoes, need closet

Joan Vassiliadis is looking for a little more than extra closet space to store her sneakers.

Since January 2004, Vassiliadis has been collecting old athletic shoes on Bainbridge Island for Nike’s Reuse-a-Shoe program that grinds up old athletic shoes for sport court surfaces, including the one at Seahawk Stadium.

But she’s desperately in need of a place to store the shoes, since Nike requires a load of 10,000 before they’ll come pick them up.

“I didn’t realize what (space) that many shoes took up,” Vassiliadis said.

Bainbridge Disposal donated bins for the collection points and boxes for storage, but even Vassiliadis’ carport and the Vincent Road recycling station combined isn’t enough room.

Ten thousand shoes fill 24 boxes, 4x4x4 feet each.

Recycling shoes has become a passion for Vassiliadis. She doesn’t know where she got her recycling gene that moved her as a child to put “Give a hoot, don’t pollute” bumper stickers on her parents’ car, or manage her family of four to only throw out half a can of trash each week.

A few times a month she collects shoes from the bins at Sakai Intermediate School, Commodore and the three public elementary schools, Town & Country Market, Island Fitness and the recycling center. Last June, she hit up the Rotary Auction for all of its unsold sneakers.

She brings shoes in really good condition to Helpline House.

Ironically, Kitsap County and the nonprofit Leadership Kitsap, which took over the drive this January and won a county Earth Day Award for their work, is ending it on Earth Day, unable to continue – at least for now – due to lack of storage.

But Vassiliadis wants to keep on collecting, because her goal is “just to keep these shoes out of landfills.”

Anyone interested in donating some storage space can contact Joan Vassiliadis at 780-6971.

– Tina Lieu

Blood drive good for life

Like many people, islander Lisa R. Thomas used to see the “Blood Drive Today” sign – and drive on by.

The importance of a steady blood supply came home to her when her mother was diagnosed with leukemia this past December, and came to depend on blood transfusions to live.

“It seems so inconvenient,” Thomas said of giving blood, “but when I’m done, this one hour to an hour-and-a-half out of my day may provide somebody with two to three weeks of hope.”

Hoping to convince others to become donors, too, Thomas is organizing a blood drive in honor of her parents – both of whom are fighting cancer – from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 2:30-4:30 p.m. April 28 at the Phelps Road fire station.

Thomas will provide childcare for busy parents who stop in to give.

Puget Sound Blood Center told Thomas it needed a commitment of at least 20-25 volunteers for the drive, but encouraged her efforts saying personally driven blood drives can often bring in new donors.

A Bainbridge volunteer firefighter/EMT, Thomas asked for help at her weekly drill meeting and got 90 percent to sign up. With her soccer team, she found that some members already donated regularly.

In the past, Thomas had “half-heartedly” tried to donate, but was rejected for anemic blood.

She was finally successful in February, and discovered that meeting others giving blood was an experience in itself.

She met a father and daughter who regularly donate together and a woman in her late 70s who has donated regularly for 20-30 years.

“I’ll be a lifetime donor now,” Thomas said.

For more information about giving blood, call the Puget Sound Blood Center at (800) 398-7888.

– Tina Lieu

Forensic class gets the nod

The Bainbridge Island School Board has approved the addition of an elective, year-long “forensic science” course at Bainbridge High School next year.

More than 200 students expressed an interest in the class, designed by BHS biology teacher Louise Baxter, who is an advisor to the school’s Forensic Science Club.

Board members were reluctant to approve the course when it was initially proposed in February, because of the $38,000 start-up cost in times of increasingly tight budgets.

But Baxter, with assistance from BHS principal Brent Peterson, managed to pare that down to $4,000, after obtaining $9,000 in donations of cash and equipment from other sources.

The pair also shaved costs for the course by choosing a curriculum that doesn’t require a textbook; sharing the use of equipment and materials with existing science classrooms; and phasing in units of study that will require acquisition of science kits and other materials at a later date.

“Louise continues to be our champion,” Peterson said, “looking for donations, partnerships and supplies.”

– Rhonda Parks Manville

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