The stories that shaped South Kitsap | Port Orchard Independent

A look at the first half of 2017

Here are some notable stories that were published in the Port Orchard Independent in the first half of 2017. We’ll publish the second half next issue.

JANUARY

— Passenger ferry passes muster in public rollout: On a dreary, rainy and windy day — meaning perfect weather for a demonstration run aboard the prototype Kitsap Transit passenger-only ferry Rich Passage 1 — the boat equipped with advanced technology to reduce the impact of ferries on the surrounding countryside — was unveiled Jan. 18 to elected officials and VIPs.

— Kitsap women take part in largest protest in U.S. history: The Women’s March was based in Washington, D.C., but marches also were staged in London, Budapest and Paris — there were even demonstrators in Antarctica.

Seattle was also home to one such demonstration, the Womxn’s March, which had an estimated 125,000 people marching in support of women’s rights, including some women from Kitsap County.

FEBRUARY

Rep. Young reprimanded by state House counsel: Rep. Jesse Young, 26th Legislative District Republican, was accused in a letter by state House Counsel Alison Hellberg of abusive and intimidating behavior while working with his legislative assistants.

As a result of those accusations, Young’s interaction with his assistants was restricted to “very limited direct contact,” according to a Dec. 13 letter sent to Young by Hellberg. Contents of the communication were first reported by Rachel La Corte of the Associated Press.

Port Orchard man found dead in Sinclair Inlet waters: The Kitsap County Coroner’s office said Russell M. Nilson, 65, of Port Orchard died of accidental drowning in Sinclair Inlet. Port Orchard police were determining whether Nilson had been aboard a 40-foot vessel that was found around near Ross Point earlier that morning.

SKSD’s $172.6 million bond measure comes up short: A general obligation bond measure put before voters Feb. 14 for the third time by South Kitsap School District fell short of its needed supermajority of 60 percent plus one vote. Voters in the district rejected Proposition 2 by a 50.8 percent to 49.2 percent margin. Votes to approve the measure totaled 8,702. Votes to reject it totaled 8,414.

Gaeta found not competent to stand trial — yet: At a competency hearing Feb. 22 in Kitsap County Superior Court, Gabriel Gaeta, the former high school wrestling star charged with raping and killing his 6-year-old neighbor, was found not competent to stand trial — but that is far from the end of the story.

MARCH

— Southbound SR-3 bottleneck fix project announced: “We’ll use the existing highway’s footprint, and we’re going to extend the second lane of SR-3 for about a mile,” said WSDOT spokesperson Doug Adamson.

“This will provide congestion relief for drivers in the area.”

The project would also impact drivers coming from West Bremerton, using State Route 304/Charleston Boulevard.

— Traveling from the past to learn about our future: With immigration being the hot topic in today’s modern world, teachers Michele Standridge, Christine Fleagle and Margarita Hemmings wanted to teach their class about the past and how it hasn’t changed much.

Ellis Island in New York was the gateway for more than 12 million immigrants into the United States as the nation’s busiest immigrant inspection station from 1892 until 1954. In 2017, fifth graders at Hidden Creek Elementary learned what it was like to immigrate from Russia to the United States in 1908.

— It’s never too late to get ready for ‘The Big One’: As earthquakes go, the recent 4.2 shaker near Belfair was small potatoes for quake-savvy Puget Sounders. The quake resulted in barely a nudge for many residents and didn’t inflict injuries or property damage.

The Pacific Northwest Seismic Network’s blog said that tremors like the one in Belfair are part of the Cascadia Subduction Zone’s ongoing reaction to the Juan de Fuca Plate’s slow slip westward, which adds stress to the 620-mile subduction zone that stretches from northern Vancouver Island to Cape Mendocino, California.

— Become a code city? City Council edging toward a decision: Should Port Orchard drop its second-class city designation and become what’s known as a “Code City”? According to Mayor Rob Putaansuu, it was a no-brainer decision.

He says the city’s second-class city status was inefficient and incompatible with modern business practices.

It also left Port Orchard government vulnerable to challenges that potentially might be put before a court judge.

APRIL

— Coffee Oasis establishes crisis line for youth: On March 20, The Coffee Oasis launched a two-pronged program to reach out to youth in crisis. The program is funded in part by Kitsap County’s 1/10th of 1 percent sales tax for mental health, chemical dependency and therapeutic courts services. Included is a crisis line for youth, 360-769-2076.

— Mullenix Ridge student choppers to school in style: A sixth-grade student at Mullenix Ridge Elementary in Port Orchard got the ride of a lifetime on the way to school March 31. Kaylie Colombo was choppered in by the King County Sheriff’s Office.

— Kalac found guilty of first-degree murder: David Kalac, on trial in Kitsap Superior Court for the first-degree murder of Amber Coplin, was convicted by a jury April 19. Kalac, 35, was charged with killing a Port Orchard resident in her apartment on Nov. 3, 2014.

— Ready, set, bid — Tremont project nearing construction: The City of Port Orchard inched closer toward the reality of a transformed Tremont Street corridor following a $2 million influx from the state Legislature’s 2017-19 transportation budget, approved unanimously by the Senate April 21 in Olympia. The state House passed the bill by an 82-14 vote on April 20.

MAY

— Convicted murderer Geraldo DeJesus awaiting appeal hearing: Geraldo Castro DeJesus was found guilty of murdering ex-girlfriend Heather Kelso and 2-year-old Kaden Lum in a case that shook the community.

The tragic incident took place at the Kariotis Mobile Home Park in East Bremerton on March 28, 2015. De Jesus was ultimately convicted of two counts of first-degree murder — one with a special allegation of domestic violence — and two counts of attempted murder. De Jesus has always maintained his innocence.

— It’s 82 years in prison for murderer Kalac: Convicted murderer David Michael Kalac was sentenced May 16 to 82 years in state prison by Kitsap County Superior Court Judge Jeanette Dalton.

— Rosapepe and Wheeler announce City Council bids: Jay Rosapepe, director of Transportation for the South Kitsap School District, announced May 8 that he would run for the council’s at-large seat. Clancy Donlin was the incumbent at-large council member.

On May 9, community organizer Maureen Wheeler also announced her City Council candidacy to take on incumbent Fred Chang for the Position 6 seat.

— Volunteers join forces to build humane housing for homeless: Tim Blair, pastor of Ekklesia Church of South Kitsap, members of his church and volunteers from First Lutheran Church in Port Orchard partnered to build three tiny house cottages.

These structures and others built in the county will serve as transitional housing for homeless people in Kitsap County, some of whom will live in a gated and supervised village of 12 units located at a location in South Kitsap.

JUNE

— New St. Vincent de Paul building opens: After months of delays because of weather and funding issues, the Port Orchard not-for-profit opened its new building on Bethel Avenue. The agency’s previous home on Bay Street was torn down to make way for Port Orchard Ford’s expansion plans.

— A final farewell and ride to proper resting place for the ‘unforgotten’: Robert McIntosh II, Wallace Curry, Raymond Capps, Harrison Syler, Edna Louise Taylor and William Michael Taylor — their names haven’t been forgotten by veterans, friends and others who knew them. But their earthly remains were never claimed by relatives, nor had an estate determine where they should be laid to rest.

The remains of these U.S. Army, Air Force and Marine Corps soldiers were taken to rest at Tahoma Memorial Cemetery with a proper departure ceremony signifying the nation’s thanks for their military service.

— VFW opens the doors to its Mile Hill post: Port Orchard’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Fred Needham Post 2669 formally opened its doors June 3 at its new location at 3100 SE Mile Hill Drive.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was headlined by the 26th Legislative District’s state Sen. Jan Angel and state Rep. Michelle Caldier.

— Scarsella bid doesn’t add up; ACI is apparent winner of Tremont project: Mayor Rob Putaansuu said on June 8 that the Scarsella Bros. bid of $11,472,645 — approximately $1.3 million under the second-lowest bid of $12,779,179 by ACI — was off by about $1.5 million.

— South Kitsap High School — Graduating into the future: As the choir sang Mariah Carey’s “Hero,” 476 South Kitsap High School students walked down the processional aisle at the Tacoma Dome June 13 to graduate.

— Fathoms O’ Fun’s grand parade celebrates its 50th year: Fathoms O’ Fun — as its name strongly suggests — is all about the “fun” for residents of Port Orchard and South Kitsap each summer.

But this year, however, the “fun” part was partly absent because Jessie Turner, a longtime community volunteer and Fathoms O’ Fun mainstay, wasn’t part of the festivities this time around.

Turner died suddenly of cardiac arrest earlier this year.

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