News Roundup -- Big strides for cabin project/Council clears the dockets/Guterson to appear/Creativity grants given

Big strides for cabin project

The end of the timeline falls on or around Lincoln’s birthday, 2007 – coincidental, but highly symbolic for the restoration of a log cabin.

And that’s the plan at Camp Yeomalt, where backers say a Depression-era cabin could be ready for community use in just over a year, if funds, materials and volunteers come through.

“It’s a ‘do it yourself’ project, and isn’t life always when it gets right down to it,” said Jerry Elfendahl, a Bainbridge historian leading the restoration effort.

The park board Thursday authorized Elfendahl’s group, Team Yeomalt, to begin fund-raising to restore the historic scout cabin on park grounds east of Winslow.

The decision was timely; on Friday, the National Park Service announced that the cabin has been added to the National Register of Historic Places, as recommended by the Governor’s Advisory Council of Historic Preservation.

“Icing on the cake,” Elfendahl said.

Built during the days of the Works Progress Administration, the cabin served for decades as a scouting lodge before it was allowed to fall into disrepair and was declared unsafe for occupancy.

The park district threatened to tear down the cabin earlier this year, until local historians and neighbors stepped forward to champion its preservation.

Team Yeomalt now hopes to raise some $130,000 in cash and in-kind donations of materials to restore the building.

A new shake roof is planned, and the concrete floor will be dug out and repoured lower to raise the effective height of the cabin’s low ceiling. A heating system and other minor amenities are also planned.

Key to the restoration is finding new logs to replace several that have rotted out in the structure’s walls. A Bainbridge landowner is letting Elfendahl’s group scout out trees on his property to be felled and milled to replace the logs.

The logs will have to be stripped and dried before they can be used – “a lot of this is dependent on nature,” Elfendahl said – but there’s plenty to do in the meantime.

The project timeline unveiled this week calls for design and fund-raising through the first half of 2006, with restoration to begin next fall. The group must secure city permits for the work.

How much the park district might contribute to the project in money and staff resources has yet to be determine. Thursday, the park board sparred a bit with Team Yeomalt members over it.

Board chair Kirk Robinson suggested that the community needs to show its support for the project through fund-raising, to which Elfendahl responded, “I think the community pays their taxes, and that’s a commitment they pay every year.”

The board, which was short two members on the evening, agreed to take up the issue at a future meeting when a full complement of commissioners are present.

Once restored, the cabin could be used as a meeting hall and community theater, as it has a small stage built into one end.

“We really are encouraged by the people who say ‘This is neat, let’s make it happen,’” Elfendahl said. “That’s kept us going.”

The fund drive will be done through the Bainbridge Island Parks Foundation.

– Douglas Crist

Council clears the dockets

The City Council cleared its desk Wednesday of two of the year’s most substantial pieces of legislation: an update of the Critical Areas Ordinance and the 2006 city budget.

The CAO update, which goes into effect Feb. 15, 2006, traveled a long, rocky road before finally passing 5-2. Councilors Deborah Vann and Bill Knobloch voted against the update. The ordinance regulates land use near wetlands, streams, wildlife habitats and other sensitive areas. The council and community wrangled for months over existing CAO provisions considered too restrictive by some landowners and changes that raised the ire of environmentalists. Major changes to the approved CAO update include new buffer sizes surrounding wetlands and streams, significant buffer increases around fish-bearing streams, a greater emphasis on water quality, more human-use options within wetlands and new requirements for construction on steep slopes.

Next year’s $50 million budget included police and human resources staffing cuts and financial boosts for open space acquisition, road work and non-motorized transportation improvements.

— Tristan Baurick

Guterson to appear

Bainbridge writer Mary Guterson will discuss “How do you keep going?” from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 20 at the Field’s End Writers’ Roundtable. The roundtable will meet at the Bainbridge public library, 1270 Madison Ave.

Guterson began her writing career in New York. After moving back to her native Northwest, she wrote commentaries for Seattle’s National Public Radio affiliate, KUOW-FM, and began editing literary journals.

Her debut novel, “We Are All Fine Here,” was published earlier this year by Putnam.

The roundtable - free and open to all writers - takes place every third Tuesday. The guest introduces the topic and participants break into discussion groups. Reports from the groups, a recap by the author and socializing follow.

Field’s End, the writing community affiliated with the nonprofit Bainbridge public library, conducts the monthly roundtables. Additional support comes from the City of Bainbridge Island Arts and Humanities Fund, administered by the Bainbridge Island Arts and Humanities Council.

Creativity grants given

The Bainbridge Island-based Return To Creativity Foundation nonprofit gave out its first round of art grants to four visual artists to help them further their work.

The first place grant of $2,500 went to Sandra Dean of Seattle’s Trees of Life for her pencil drawings; second place sumi painter Fumiko Kimura of Tacoma received $1,500 for her work bringing back the origins of Chinese culture through pictographs.

Tying for third place and receiving $1,000 each were Elsbeth McLeod of Sequim, who fashions minimalist clay and bronze sculptures of the human face;and Debbie Fecher-Gramstad of Bainbridge Island, known for her ceramic work, which is evolving towards more realistic sculptures of the human body.

Honorable mentions went to printmaker Wendy Orville of Bainbridge Island, pen and ink artist Timothy Cross of Seattle and natural collage artist Joan Bittinger of Bremerton.

The award ceremony was held on Nov. 19 at Kiana Lodge in Poulsbo.

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