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News Roundup -- Rev. Middleton set to retire/City hands off new parkland/Residents fete mobile park/Get ready for Grand Ol’ 4th

Rev. Middleton set to retire

The Rev. Dick Middleton will retire July 31 after 26 years as head pastor of Rolling Bay Presbyterian Church.

A celebration of his ministry will follow the Sunday service on that day. Tables will be set up on the church grounds with food and music offered, plus entertainment – some serious and some lighthearted.

Members of Rolling Bay Church and pastors of the Interfaith Council are welcome to attend.

Middleton and his wife, Martha, will continue to live on the island, where he is developing a private counseling practice specializing in marriage help for couples and individuals with spiritual issues and addictions. He earned a counseling degree from Seattle University in 1991.

Under Middleton’s leadership, the church grew in membership from 200 to its current 569. An emphasis on children and youth ministries increased staff and new facilities were needed – a sanctuary was built in 1980, and a Christian Education building in 1994.

“He was such a good preacher that we didn’t have room to seat people in the Old Sanctuary,” said Dorothy Paterson, church secretary for many years.

Outside speakers have been brought in from various streams of the Christian tradition – Catholic and Anglican as well as Presbyterian – for weekend conferences open to the community.

Rolling Bay Church has had outreach in the community proceeding from Middleton’s belief that “the journey inward leads to the journey outward.”

To that end, Rolling Bay members take part in volunteer staffing, food collection and counseling help for Helpline House, build and support homes for Habitat for Humanity, and over the years have offered regular use of their facilities to organizations such as Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers, AA, Mothers Nurturing Mothers and the Boy Scouts.

Beyond the island, the church has lay participation in missions to the world at large. Members are active in New Horizons, a street ministry to homeless youth on the streets of Seattle.

Teenagers travel each summer to Tijuana, Mexico, and build a home in a week. The Marcus Mission presents summer Bible school for small churches in Eastern Washington.

Bridge Ministries for Disability Concerns receives backing to help the needs of the physically and mentally disabled.

And across the world in places like Uzbekistan, fraternal relations have been established.

City hands off new parkland

The Bainbridge City Council approved the transfer of four open space properties to the park district Wednesday.

The parcels include the nearly 50-acre Peters property at the island’s southwest corner, the 12-acre Hall Property on Eagle Harbor’s shoreline, the Rockaway Beach park and a strip connecting Battle Point Park and the Grand Forest.

Purchased with funds from the 2001 open space bond levy, the properties are to be maintained as public parks.

Sprawling southeast from Gazzam Lake Park, the Peters property, purchased for about $1 million, is densely wooded with varying terrains and secluded groves far from roads and houses.

The Hall land boasts acres of marshlands thick with cattails and 600 feet of pebble-covered shoreline. Purchased for almost $800,000 in 2002, the property is nestled at the end of Hawley Way, only a stone’s throw from docking ferries. The property is also prime habitat for shorebirds and thickets of wild rose.

Stretching almost a mile, the collection of properties that form a trail link between Battle Point Park and the Grand Forest swells and shrinks between 120 and 10 feet wide.

Volunteers hacked out a path over the last two years but the park district will need to make substantial improvements on the trail before it’s passable year-round, according to city officials.

The half-acre Rockaway Beach property is known for stunning views of Seattle and is a popular destination for divers exploring the area’s deep ridges and rich sea life.

The park board will consider approval of the properties June 9.

—Tristan Baurick

Residents fete mobile park

After an emotionally stormy 17 months, the sun shined on the Islander Mobile Home Park Monday.

A blessing ceremony for the 6.4-acre site took place on Memorial Day under clear skies, as the residents and their friends and families gathered in a circle to mark the start of a new experience: as owners of their land and their destinies.

A blessing by the Rev. Tim Istowanohpataakiiwaa of Grace Episcopal Church marked the end of one chapter and the start of another. He urged the residents to be good stewards of the site.

A short awards ceremony following the blessing honored individuals who were instrumental to the success of the transaction: Norm Down, Ed Kushner, Bill Reddy, Bill Isley, Kelly Samson, Marci Burkel and Mayor Darlene Kordonowy.

And then it was celebratory party, food and music for all.

“Everyone’s ecstatic,” mobile home park resident Bill Isley said.

The ride began in May 2003 when longtime mobile home park owner Pat Alderman decided to sell the property, which had long been an oddity of affordable housing in the heart of Winslow.

The residents of the close-knit community faced losing their homes – representing life savings for some – and the city and local housing organizations got involved.

Eventually, the residents formed a nonprofit corporation, the Islander Residents Association, and purchased the land themselves, with each mobile home owner owning a share of the association.

Community “angels” put up funds for the purchase, which Kushner and Down guided through to closing.

Purchase by park residents closed on Oct. 31, 2004.

“It’s more than a place to live, it has become our community, it has become our tribe; it has become our family,” said Jackie Terry, president of the Islander Residents Association. “There’s now a deeper-felt stake in what happens now and how we move forward. That’s empowering.

“We’re not through all the details, but we are settling in and it’s becoming one of the best places to live.”

– Tina Lieu

Get ready for Grand Ol’ 4th

Time to Celebrate Grand Old Fourth of July

Planning is under way for the 38th annual Grand Old Fourth of July Parade and Community Celebration, produced by the Chamber of Commerce. This year’s parade theme is “Let Freedom Ring.”

Named one of the premiere holiday events in the Puget Sound region, the Grand Old Fourth draws close to 30,000 visitors to the island.

Street fair vendor applications, ranging in cost from $50 to $300 (for commercial food), parade applications ($25 for commercial and political entries, $10 for all others), and Classic Car Show forms ($15 per entry) are available at the Chamber office on Winslow Way or at www.bainbridgechamber.com.

Volunteers are needed to stage the all-day event.

The 2005 Premier Sponsor is CFA Northwest Mortgage Professionals. Other corporate sponsors include Hill Moving Services Inc., American Marine Bank, Sears & Associates, Sterling Savings Bank, Bainbridge Disposal, Hockett & Olsen, Parker Auto Supply, Exotic Aquatics, Fox Paw and Gateway Towing.

For sponsorship opportunities, contact the Chamber at 842-3700.

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