Here’s who to watch in 2014

Who were the newsmakers in 2013? What were their accomplishments, good deeds and actions? Will they vanish from our pages in 2014, or will they take on new roles and lead us to new heights?

Who were the newsmakers in 2013? What were their accomplishments, good deeds and actions?

Will they vanish from our pages in 2014, or will they take on new roles and lead us to new heights? Will they make Kitsap County a better place to be?

Those are some of the questions we asked the newsmakers as we looked at what may be ahead in 2014.

Josh Brown, Kitsap County Commissioner

One of the more prominent names in Kitsap County in 2013 was County Commissioner Josh Brown. Brown announced in October that he would leave his commission seat at the end of 2013 to become the executive director for the Puget Sound Regional Council, working for the economic development well-being of the entire Puget Sound region. Known for being the first central Kitsap commissioner to be re-elected since 1990, he began his second term at the beginning of 2010.

When he made his decision to leave, he said it was hard for him to leave his position as District 3 commissioner. But just knowing that the county is operating at a better level than when he took office made it a bit easier.

“You’d be hard pressed to find a time in recent history when the county was stronger,” Brown said, as he prepares to leave his job Dec. 31. “We’re stronger today than eight years ago when I took office. The county as a whole and the organization has weathered the great recession and we have a more stable economic environment than even before that.”

Brown, who has served on the commission for eight years, plans to move to Seattle soon and will not maintain a residence in Kitsap County.

In reviewing his time on the commission, Brown said one of the accomplishments he was most proud of were the changes to the department of community development.

“It was broken when I took office,” he said. “There had been eight directors in nine years. The day after I was elected, I worked with the other two commissioners and began interviewing (candidates for) directors.”

Brown said Larry Keeton, the current director of community development, who was the hire then “was the best hire ever.”

Brown was one of three local leaders who went to the Paris Air Show in June to promote Kitsap County and the region to the aerospace industry. Following that trip, he had this to say:

“It’s staggering the competition that’s out there,” Brown said. “For too long we’ve taken for granted our aerospace (companies) here in the Pacific Northwest. Our focus now has to be on what we can do to keep aerospace (work) in Washington.”

In 2014, Brown hopes to accomplish much with the PSRC. He wants to work on keeping aerospace work in the Puget Sound region and enhancing the region’s employment base. He will remain connected to Kitsap County, where he grew up, because he has family here and because “some of my bosses are here.”

Elected officials from various Kitsap-based governments and businesses are members and serve on the board of the PSRC.

Scott Bosch, CEO Harrison Medical Center

This upcoming will be a busy one for Harrison Medical Center, according to CEO Scott Bosch. In his year-end message to employees posted on the hospital’s website, Bosch summed up 2013 as a year of growth and change. Affiliation with the Franciscan Health System became official in late 2013 and will lead to continuing adaptation in 2014 including a new patient record-keeping system that will allow doctors to better share information. The opening of the Orthopaedic Center was long-awaited plus for Harrison in 2013 and as 2014 gets underway, the center will see more and more joint and spine surgeries, hospital officials have said.

In 2013, Harrison earned national recognition on multiple fronts, Bosch said, including designation by the Joint Commission for Hospital Oversight as a Top Performer for quality measures related to heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia and surgical care. Other awards included Stroke Silver Quality Achievement Award and the Beacon Award for Excellence for ICU services.

Continuing quality service to patients as the health care system changes and adapts to “Obama Care” is the focus for Harrison in 2014, he said.

Leslie Daugs, Bremerton City Councilwoman

Local Democrats have tapped Bremerton City Councilwowan Leslie Daugs as their first choice to replace Josh Brown on the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners.

“I think I was chosen because the Democrats know I have experience working with local governments,” she said. “And they know I have what it takes to get the job done and hold on to the job in the next election cycle.”

Daugs has been on the Bremerton City Council for two years. She was just recently re-elected to another two-year term in November.

Daugs also said her longterm relationship with the Kitsap County Democratic Party helped her have the advantage.

“I’ve been active with the local Democrats for more than 10 years,” she said. “They know me and I have a relationship with the party.”

The party now hands the remaining two commissioners a list of their three top choices. Besides Daugs, who is the top choice, Irene Bowling, a local businesswoman and piano teacher, came in second, and Linda Streissguth, a manager with Puget Sound Energy, was third.

In all, seven Democrats sought the position. The others were former Bremerton Mayor Cary Bozeman, Richard Huddy, former executive director of the CAPRI heart and Lung Institute, Silverdale attorney Rob MacDermid, and Silverdale water commissioner John Poppe.

Central area commissioner Josh Brown left the position Dec. 31 to become the executive director for the Puget Sound Regional Council. The remaining commissioners, Rob Gelder and Charlotte Garrido, will now make the decision who will replace Brown. They will interview Daugs, Bowling and Streissguth and then name Brown’s replacement in January.

Daugs said if the historical pattern regarding replacements to elected seats repeats itself, commissioners will name her as the replacement.

“The top one going in is usually who gets the job,” she said.

Daugs said one of her first goals will be to see the Central Kitsap Community Campus be developed. The campus, between Silverdale Way and Randall Way,  is the home to the YMCA and is being considered as the site for a new library and performing arts center. If Gelder and Garrido can’t agree on the person to replace Brown, Gov. Jay Inslee will make the appointment.

Ed Wolfe, Bremerton  attorney

Ed Wolfe, a Bremerton lawyer and former U.S. State Department official, announced Dec. 3 he will file to run for the County Commission from Central Kitsap in 2014. The filing period isn’t until May. The primary will be Aug. 5, and the general election will be Nov. 4.

After the county commission appoints a Democrat to replace Josh Brown, the appointee will have eight months in office before the primary.

In his campaign announcement, Wolfe said he looks forward to “sharing more about my ideas that draw on my business, government, and legal experiences and that support a bipartisan approach to our county government. It’s time to put my experience serving our country, local families and taxpayers to work in Kitsap County.”

He added, “I’ve spent years living and working in our community, and believe now is the right time to take this next step to serve Kitsap County as commissioner.”

Wolfe, 66, has a heavy resume. He received his B.A. in 1969 from West Virginia University and his J.D. in 1977 from George Mason University School of Law. He served in the U.S. Army from 1969-71.From 1972-74, he was field manager at Coca Cola USA in Atlanta, Ga. He was senior legislative assistant to Rep. G. William Whitehurst, R-Va., 1976-78; and an associate in the firm of Steele and Utz in Washington, D.C., 1978-1980. He served as policy and program consultant for the National Marine Fisheries Service in 1981, and was legislative representative to the United States Tuna Foundation in 1981-82.

In the U.S. Department of State, he was special adviser for international affairs in the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs from 1982-83, and in 1983 was appointed deputy assistant secretary of state for Oceans and Fisheries Affairs. After 1984, he held the rank of ambassador when representing the United States at international conferences and meetings on fish and wildlife matters.

He founded Wolfe Law Offices in 1997, specializing in personal injury, employment discrimination, probate and estate planning, real estate and business disputes, and wrongful death. He served as president of the Kitsap County Bar Association. He was appointed judge pro tem in Kitsap County District Court and the cities of Bremerton, Bainbridge Island and Gig Harbor.

Wolfe’s civic involvements include Rotary, Boys & Girls Club, Olympic College Foundation, Puget Sound Naval Bases Association and the Bremerton Chamber of Commerce. In 2012, he served as county chairman for the Rob McKenna for Governor Campaign, helping McKenna win 50.13 percent of the vote in Kitsap County.

Jim Rothlin, Port of Bremerton CEO

Jim Rothlin has officially taken over as chief executive officer for the Port of Bremerton, replacing Tim Thomson who retired Dec. 31.

Rothlin came from Chehalis where he was executive director of the Port of Chehalis. Rothlin was among 30 applicants for the job and has been executive director of the Port of Chehalis since 2002. He also serves as the chair of the economic development committee of the Washington State Ports Association.

Prior to coming to the Port of Chehalis, he was the CEO of Premiere Business Services, a business management consulting firm. From 1987 to 1994 he was the financial controller for National Semiconductor Corporation. He began his career in the Silicon Valley as a credit analyst for Hitachi America Ltd., in California.

Rothlin is excited about overseeing an airport and marinas, which was not part of his job in Chehalis.

“I know I’ll draw on the knowledge of the directors here who are familiar with the Bremerton airport and the marinas here,” he said. “But in my work with the State Ports Association, I have dealt with matters involving both airports and marinas and feel ready to oversee those things.”

He hopes to continue the successes of 2013 including a higher rate of occupancy at the Bremerton Marina and the Olympic Industrial Park which was signed leases in the past month with two new tenants.

Hazel Bauman, CK School District Superintendent

Central Kitsap School District Superintendent Greg Lynch announced in March he would be leaving the district to pursue a job at the Educational Service District 114. Lynch was replaced by Hazel Bauman, who started her work July. Lynch worked for the district for nearly a decade before moving on. Bauman previously had worked in the Coeur d’Alene district in Idaho, and had spent nearly 40 years in the education field. The experienced educator was hired for $160,000 for a one-year interim position. In November it was decided that Bauman’s contract would be extended for one year longer. After that, the educator plans to retire.

Her work in 2014 will include helping to get a levy passed in the district, moving the 9th graders into the high schools in the fall, and working to improve the curriculum in the district. Providing more professional development for teachers is also on the list.

The superintendent was born in Manchester, England, and moved to Canada in 1966 where she attended high school in Toronto. She began her career in education at age 17 after getting a two-year degree. “It was the dark ages,” she said. “Back then, in Canada, you could teach with a two-year college degree.” In 1974 she moved to Coeur d’Alene where she got her bachelor’s degree from Eastern Washington State College (now university) in Cheney. She taught blind and deaf children in a residential school setting and then began teaching special education classes for the Coeur d’Alene School District in 1979. She’d been going to school part time and received her master’s degree in education from Eastern Washington. She worked as a consulting teacher and spent time in a number of classrooms until 1984 when, after having two children, she decided to stay home and work part time for the University of Idaho at its Coeur d’Alene campus. She taught undergraduate students and was an advisor and supervised student teachers.

After her youngest was in school, Bauman went back to teaching full time in 1989 as the Coeur d’Alene’s interim curriculum specialist and stayed until she came to Central Kitsap.

Aaron Leavell, Bremerton School District Superintendent

The Bremerton native stepped into the Bremerton School District superintendent position after the former superintendent announced his departure. With less than a month prior to school starting, Lester “Flip” Herndon announced he would be leaving for a job with Seattle Public Schools starting Sept. 2. Herndon’s hope of leaving the district was no secret as he had applied for a few other superintendent positions over the last few years.The school board hosted a community forum to seek public comment for the superintendent position prior to the hiring for the position. AaronLeavell, who was the district’s assistant superintendent at the time of the departure seemed to be the favored candidate for the spot.

Leavell had returned to the district as Assistant Superintendent after a stint as North Kitsap School District’s Director of Secondary Education. The 2013-2014 top priorities for Leavell included directing focus on the levy, new Common Core State Standards, and the new teacher evaluations that were put into place.  “I’m just thrilled to be their superintendent,” Leavell said after being told he got the position. Leavell’s contract is for three years, and the Bremerton School Board can extend the contract annually. Per board policy, Leavell will be evaluated twice yearly.

Afton Prater, Silverdale student and singer

Afton, a student at Klahowya Intermediate School in Silverdale was featured in the Central Kitsap Reporter in June. As a young talent that entertains in this area, she’s working to advance her career nationwide. She was recently voted “Best Teen Songwriter” and “Best Country Songwriter” in the 2013 Indi Music Channel Songwriting Competition. She made the 2013 final ballot for the Grammy’s in three categories: Best Country Album  for “Stay with Me,” Best Country Solo Performance, “Forever with You,” and Best Country Song for “Forever with You.” She also completed two music videos in 2013, one which was filmed at the Admiral Theater in Bremerton. Afton just got back from LA where she recorded some radio promotion stuff and also recorded video footage for her new  music video for “Flawless”.

Afton is currently booking high school shows to benefit local nonprofits. She has a show to benefit Coffee Oasis Benefit Jan. 17 at 8 p.m. at Bremerton High School. Afton is set to play at Wenatchee High School in April to benefit the Suicide Prevention Coalition at the school.

Her songs are being played on radio stations in Ohio, Texas, Michigan, and New York and she hopes to get more radio coverage in 2014, especially in Washington. According to her mother, Carrie, Afton hopes to play more shows with her band. Band members are Kim Enloe, keyboards, Jonathan Enloe, drums, Brett Angelo, guitar, and Steve Warren, bass. Gary Steelman is back up bass player. She also plans to return to Nashville in spring 2014 for a showcase that her producer (The Record Shop) would host.  If time allows she may record a couple more songs when in Nashville.

Joyce Merkel, Old Town Silverdale activist

A community activist for sure, Joyce Merkel has graced the pages of the Central Kitsap Reporter many times in 2013. She worked to defeat the incorporation effort in Silverdale, fought to keep a residential development out of Tracyton, and is working to get the county to enhance Silverdale Way by enforcing its sign regulations.

In 2014, she plans to continue that activism.

“I am always concerned about maintaining the character and quality of Old Town Silverdale and want to make sure that the business that plan to open respect the sense of community that is reflective to the area,” Merkel said. “I love the park and how it is such a receptive area for smaller children and family use.”

She added that the Silverdale Port is essential in supporting the quality of Old Town and thinks its board has done an admiral job.

“Another issue that I am concerned about is the sign ordinance that could impact the streets of Silverdale,” she said. “We do not need to have flashing signs directing you some place or giving you a thought for the day as you drive down Silverdale Way – It is a dangerous enough drive now can you imagine what it would be if you had more distractions. I wish the county would actually talk to the citizens before they devise a proposed policy not afterwards.  Get input before developing a plan.”

There are always county-wide issues that will be coming up, she said, but the most important concern is keeping the quality of life that is here.  “Balancing out growth with environmental concerns,” she said. “We need to be vigilant of our resources, environment and appreciate the beauty of the area. It can easily be taken away or destroyed. If it wasn’t for our foresight – I am sure that Dyes inlet would look like a porcupine with a million docks sticking out into the sound.”

She also said she hopes people will not get discouraged at the construction of a new Clear Creek Bridge.

“It will do a lot to facilitate traffic and will augment the wonderful resource we have in the Clear Creek Trail,” Merkel said.

Mick Hersey, historic memorial preservationist

Mick Hersey is well-known in the area for his dedication to refurbishing and cleaning up memorial sites throughout the county. Since 2010, Hersey led groups in training how to properly clean memorials.  When he started in on restoration, he said he didn’t “realize there were so many memorials and museums in our county.” Apparently neither did Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent. When he came to her and requested to start research, she asked what he wanted out of the project. He simply asked for a “comprehensive map” of county and city memorials so people know where to go. The county had a count of 27 memorials. In reality, said Hersey, there are actually 53 memorials. This year, he got his dream of a completed map that showcases all the memorials — sponsored by the Kitsap Mall — that takes visitors on an 8-hour tour if they want to see every memorial, he said.

As a retired U.S. Navy vet, the memorials are a little more personal. His first project involved 60 other sailors from the USS Ronald Reagan to work on the Bremerton boardwalk. The group — which also included sailors from the naval hospital — repainted the utilities building on Bremerton’s boardwalk. The building was originally painted white with green striping. It is now traditional haze grey with a dark grey railing, doors and accent stripes. Hersey and the sailors also cleaned up the USS Franklin memorial plaques on the side of the building.

“The USS Franklin lost 913 men during World War II” and their names are etched in granite on three plaques that adorn the walls of this building, along with memorials of two Medal of Honor Recipients on their ship,” said Hersey. “We honor those men and their ship by painting this building to resemble an aircraft carrier island structure in these colors.”

In 2012, Lent called Hersey “a treasure for the city.”

From Hansville to Bremerton, there are few memorials Hersey hasn’t seen or fixed up in some way. And he isn’t done yet.

In the upcoming year, Hersey, 58, already has four projects scheduled. One is at the Sylvan Way Branch Library — a memorial that honors a gentleman who was the founder of a Navy league in town. Bataan Park in Bremerton has three plaques Hersey wants to clean up, and there’s a WWII anchor in Poulsbo sitting next to a veterans plaque.  Between April and August, Hersey hopes to plan a community-wide event at Ivy League Cemetery to work on veterans graves that are overgrown.

“Time goes fast when you’re having fun,” he said. “Always something to do.”

Dianne Canafax, Kitsap Humane Society volunteer

Animal lover Dianne Canafax has spent the last 15 years dedicating volunteer hours at the Kitsap Humane Society. She so loves four-pawed furry friends that she frequently fosters shelter pets in addition to the five animals she has in her home already.

“I’ve always loved animals,” she said.

Canafax, a certified pet dog trainer, frequently works with shelter dogs with bad manners such as jumping on guests. Training dogs with positive reinforcement helps better habits sooner and makes them more adoptable, she said. With her wealth of knowledge on dog behavior, Canafax has also founded Kitsap Animal Rescue & Education (KARE) to provide information to the public on welfare education and shelter rescue support. Under KARE, Canafax brings resources to the shelter to educate dog owners on how to work best with their dogs. Some of her classes — all free to the public — include dog socialization tips, helping a fearful dog, and learning how to properly walk with a loose leash. The trainer teaches “Doglish,” a class that helps dog owners learn how to understand canine communication. Pet lovers can keep an eye out in 2014 for one of many classes Canafax will offer. Doglish will be offered on Jan. 19 at 1 p.m. at the training center. The shelter can hold nearly 80 dogs, which means Canafax stays quite busy when she comes in to volunteer three to four times a week. It’s volunteers like Canafax who keep the shelter going, said Sarah Moody, KHS volunteer coordinator.

“The staff is very grateful for the support of all of our volunteers, but especially for the support of volunteers like Dianne who give so much of their time and energy to the shelter,” Moody said. “These volunteers not only make life better for the homeless animals in our shelter, they are also powerful ambassadors for the shelter when they are out in the community.”

With limited resources and many animals to care for, Moody said volunteer help is always welcome, especially when the shelter is at full capacity. Even with 296 “active” volunteers — those who have been at the shelter at least once in four months — the shelter usually has about 100 dedicated weekly volunteers. “There is a core group of volunteers who always show up for their assigned shifts and really take on the bulk of the volunteer responsibilities, and they are invaluable to KHS,” Moody said. The program coordinator is looking to recruit more volunteers in the new year for tasks such as early morning walks with dogs.

When volunteers like Canafax take on roles such as offering behavioral training, it makes adoptions much more plausible. The avid volunteer said that it’s the “great American shelter dog” that keeps her coming back, even when her heart starts to break.

“There’s been times when I’ve walked away because it’s heartbreaking,” she said. “But then I think, ‘who else is going to do it?’” For more information on volunteering or classes, visit or call 360-692-6977 ext. 1119.

Patty Lent, Mayor of Bremerton

Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent cruised to re-election in November with a convincing victory over political newcomer Todd Best.

Lent ran on the record she established in her first term on the job and cited her prior experience as a Kitsap County commissioner.

Lent, though, also looked ahead. Looking 10 years down the road, Lent said she hopes that the city’s population has grown, home prices have gone up and the fire department is a self-sustaining district of its own.

Lent sees a lot of other changes as well.

“I see us having tall buildings,” she said. “I see us having more people downtown. I see a fast ferry on the hour or every 45 minutes going to Seattle. I see more artificial turf fields and activities.”

In addition, Lent talked about moving the city towards having a city administrator position and making changes to keep the fire department sustainable.

“The general fund cannot support (a city fire department),” Lent said. “I’ve told (our firefighters) this and they say they’ve heard I want to get rid of them. I don’t want to get rid of them, but I want to do something that’s sustainable for them and our citizens. With more people paying into a district for a levy and with higher value homes there will be more money from taxes to support fire service.”

Todd Best, former mayoral candidate

Although he didn’t fare very well in his first campaign for public office, Todd Best promises he isn’t going to exit public life. In fact, he’s not ruling out another run for office, either for the mayor’s seat again in four years or some other post, perhaps on the city council or some other elected office, prior to that.

“Four years is gonna go by quick,” Best said on election night. “I’m only 40 years old, a young guy, and I’ve got a lot of energy. I’ve got a great life and it’s not like I was running because I need a job. I was running because I love Bremerton  — I want to affect good, forward-looking change.”

Despite Mayor Patty Lent’s wide margin of victory over Best, she earned 66.8 percent of the vote to his 32.5 percent, he said he was far from discouraged and was proud to have had a chance to debate Lent in an effort to make the city more accountable to residents and business owners. Apart from politicking and campaigning, though, Best promises to stay involved in grassroots efforts to beautify Bremerton that are similar to his past efforts to successfully clean up and completely revamp the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the Ivy Green Cemetery and other volunteer efforts. Although his campaign for mayor is getting further and further away in the rearview mirror, Best still often meets people for the first time who say they voted for him.

“I tell them that if everybody who says that actually voted for me I would have won in a landslide,” he joked.

Eric Stevens, Kitsap Humane Society

While he joined the Kitsap Humane Society in 2012, Executive Director Eric Stevens, along with the staff and board, has been the force behind the re-organization of the society and shelter which has turned the corner on its questionable financial past.

Stevens said he and others are most proud of balancing their budget and erasing the $500,000 budget deficit that KHS inherited in early 2012.  However, he said, KHS’s cash flow remains very, very tight and KHS has no reserves to handle emergency repairs or other sudden spikes in expenses. “This is a critical issue that needs to be addressed going forward,” Stevens said.

KHS is also proud that for the fourth year in a row, they have saved the lives and adopted out 94 percent of the pets arriving at KHS. The shelter performed more than 4,000 spay/neuter surgeries in one year for the first time ever.

KHS opened its new small dog kennel and significantly increased the rescue and adoption of small dogs from around the region.

Some of KHS’s top goals for 2014 include: continuing to strengthen finances to address critical programmatic and cash flow needs; continuing to build community awareness and support; and completing a multi-year strategic plan for KHS to map out needed financial, programmatic and facility improvements.

KHS also hopes to expand the board of directors to 20 members and continue to maintain its high rate of saving animals’ lives; educate the public more  about the benefits of spay/neuter surgery in saving lives and reducing animal overpopulation; continue to expand volunteerism and permanently implement the expansion in behavioral rehabilitation services for dogs that began in late 2013.

Roger Zabinski, Port of Bremerton Commissioner

Active in the Bremerton/Chico community for the past several years, Roger Zabinski has given his time to see that the Port of Bremerton properties are financially successful. While he has spoken about seeking other political offices, Zabinski said his focus in 2014 will be on his job as a port commissioner.

Some of the major projects he would like to see the port work on are: finishing phase 2.1 of the Cross SKIA (Airport Way) road; start development on the east side of the runway area; and see the Bremerton Motorsport Park break ground on their new site across Highway 3.

“I would like to see the marketing efforts for the Bremerton Marina continue, and I would like to see occupancy reach about 80 percent, more if possible,” he said.

He also would like to see the port recruit more companies and add more jobs to the area.

“I would like this to include aviation, light manufacturing, and high tech companies,” he said.

Additionally, he’d like to see new Port CEO Jim Rothlin work with the commission and the staff to establish a strategic business plan.