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Library won’t pursue lid lift

Citing the current economic situation, the Kitsap Regional Library Board of Trustees have decided against seeking a levy lid-lift tax initiative on the November ballot.

President Teresa McDermott said in a statement following Thursday’s board meeting in Poulsbo that a lid-lifting levy probably will be considered for a November 2009 ballot initiative.

“We are extremely sensitive to the current economic climate,” McDermott said. “We, too, are making difficult economic choices.”

KRL had a levy lid-lift measure defeated on May 15, 2007. If passed, it would have given the library an additional $6.1 million (increasing the budget to $15.4 million) in 2008 by allowing an 18-cent increase for every $1,000 of assessed property value. The current county-wide rate is about 30 cents for every $1,000 of assessed value.

The board considered another levy try last summer, but decided against it. The library has cut more than $2 million from its 2008 budget and KRL Director Jill Jean said more cuts will occur next year.

Althea Paulson, Bainbridge Island’s representative on the board, said there will be a shortfall of about $650,000 in 2009.

“I’ve been heartened by the fact our staff has really buckled down to find areas to make cuts and streamline our service,” Paulson said Friday. “Nobody likes library hours being cut, but that’s the reality of our situation. We’re not even keeping up with the cost of living these days.”

– Dennis Anstine

Wicca to be saved...again

Facing demolition in Port Gamble this week, the houseboat Wicca was given yet another chance at life.

The city asked Caicos Corp. to continue storing the cabin of the former Eagle Harbor houseboat, after a number of citizens turned out to a Wednesday city council meeting to speak in favor of its preservation.

The city took possession of Wicca in February following a code violation, then had the houseboat towed to the Caicos yard in Port Gamble in March. There its float was removed and its cedar-shake cabin was placed on shore.

Wicca was supposed to be stored for 30 days while citizens interested in saving it made proposals for its renovation, but that period was later extended to 60 days. The city had set June 27 as the deadline for Wicca’s demolition, before granting it another reprieve Thursday.

In a statement presented to the City Council Wednesday, the Historic Preservation Commission suggested the city make another request for proposals for restoring the houseboat.

“Although at no time did we unanimously agree that Wicca be saved as an historic property,” the statement said, “we would like to see someone recycle the houseboat into a useful building that would benefit the community or even grace a person’s property.”

An EDGE-y BPA benefit

Just days before Bainbridge Performing Arts was set to launch its first Families on the EDGE fundraiser last summer, organizers were in a bit of a panic because they’d only sold a handful of tickets.

But in the end, the family-friendly event drew a darned fine turnout and raised enough money for the BPA Theatre School scholarship program to ensure a “second annual,” and hopefully more to come.

“The island is so laid-back, and people are so last-minute,” said BPA board member Laurie Arnold. “So you call them on the phone and say, “Hey, are you coming?” And they say “Oh yeah, we’re coming!’”

This year’s event, which gets under way Sunday afternoon on the grounds of BPA, will take roughly the same format as last year’s, with a barbecue on the lawn accompanied by entertainment; a kid-friendly silent auction; and then a performance by the EDGE! Improv troupe.

Actually, make that an interactive performance; last year, EDGE members brought kids on-stage to introduce them to the world of improvisation. Before long, Arnold said, everyone was acting like a Rotary Auction item.

“For me the highlight was seeing these kids going up onstage with the EDGE,” Arnold said. “The kids were beaming.”

Guy Sidora, unofficially known as the Pied Piper of Bainbridge, will lead the kids outside during intermission for ice cream and entertainment, while the adults stay inside for a short, raise-the-paddle auction.

For Arnold, a board member for three years whose younger son is a BPA Theatre School veteran, Families on the EDGE has become close to her heart because of the possibilities it opens up to kids through theater.

“As wealthy as this island is, you’d be surprised how many kids are on scholarships (at BPA Theatre School). And we never turn anyone away,” she said. “For some kids in particular, it’s just life-changing.”

Families on the EDGE begins at 5 p.m. June 29 at Bainbridge Performing Arts. Tickets are $50 for adults, $25 for youth, available at 842-8569 or at the BPA box office. For information, see www.bainbridgeperformingarts.org.

– Lindsay Latimore

Helm named to direct BIHS

The Bainbridge Island Historical Society, which operates the island’s historical museum, ended its search for a new executive director this week, tabbing acting executive director Hank Helm for the permanent position.

Helm has served at several administrative positions for BIHS since joining the nonprofit nearly two years ago. He was promoted to acting executive director in March, following the resignation of former director Theresa Cosgrove in January.

An island resident since 1969, Helm has served as a board member for both the Bainbridge Island Schoold District and the Bainbridge Island Metropolitan Park and Recreation District.

He said he was by no means an island history buff when he started with BIHS.

“I’ve learned a tremendous amount, working with a great staff,” Helm said.

Helm doesn’t have plans to shake up the museum’s operations, but said he wants to work closely with its fundraising committee to increase revenue.

“I’m confident that the fundraising committee will have some good events and increase our funding level,” he said.

– Tad Sooter

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