Kudos given to earth-conscious volunteers, businesses

The Kitsap County Commissioners have honored a number of area businesses, volunteers and students for environmentally friendly acts.

Playing to a standing-room-only crowd, the county commissioners celebrated Earth Day on Monday by officially honoring those who strive every day to better the environment in Kitsap County.

“The ceremony is a big chance to recognize volunteers and organizations for their long-term efforts,” said Vicki Bushnell, Earth Day Awards Coordinator and Public Works technician. “It also raises awareness about projects and activities in the community that you might want to join in on.”

The commissioners handed out 10 awards at the 11th annual Earth Day recognition event on Monday.

Award recipients also received medals, fashioned from blue recycled glass, etched with the likeness of the globe, and strung with colored ribbon in an Olympics-esque style.

Bushnell said the volunteer selection committee found it difficult to choose the winners after sifting through the more than 100 nominations — 22 community generated selections and the 79 businesses automatically nominated by virtue of their designation as distingushed businesses in the county’s Green Works Program for 2001.

“The number of categories have increased since the start of the awards because there are more projects going on out there,” Bushnell said. “There is a lot of organization and a lot of projects that have been going on for years.”

All areas of Kitsap County were represented at the annual awards ceremony on Monday, with two organizations and one business from Bainbridge Island honored as well as two Port Orchard residents, a group of Suquamish Elementary School kids and a vast array of volunteers from throughout the peninsula.

They winners were:

• Port Orchard residents Clyde Muirheid and Louise Martin received the Outstanding Achievement in Waste Reduction and Recycling Award on Monday. Both try to reduce their dependency on automobiles by working from home whenever possible.

Even though Muirheid works in Portland, Oreg. for a few days each month he travels their using public transportation options only. He walks down to the Horluck Ferry terminal, crosses Sinclair Inlet to Bremerton and catches a Seattle-bound ferry. Once one the other side, Muirheid then completes the journey by boarding a train to Portland.

Martin doesn’t use pesticides or herbicides in their South Kitsap garden and irrigates it with water collected in a plastic rain barrel.

• Town and Country Markets received this year the Outstanding Achievement in Business Recycling Award. Town and Country owns and operates Town and Country Thriftway, Poulsbo Market Thriftway and Central Market.

According to the Public Works Division, Town and Country is already known in the grocery business as an environmental leader. Just recently, the company hired an environmental coordinator who oversees employee waste-reduction education, community events and other promotional activities.

Last year, Town and Country trained all of its department managers about recycling, the life cycle of paper and plastic bags and efficient bag use.

The stores even promoted a Grab Your Bag program, which resulted in the sale of 3,000 reusable grocery bags made from recycled plastic soda bottles.

• Bainbridge Island-based Fairbank Construction received the Oustanding Achievement in Environmentally Construction Company Award.

The company developed an eco-friendly checklist to follow during the construction of a project. Categories include preserving vegetation and increasing stormwater management, reducing waste by using recycled materials, improving air quality, properly managing hazardous waste, educating homeowners about environmentally sound stewardship techniques.

• Nick Penovich of the Lawn Jockey received the Best Hazardous Waste Program Award. Penovich uses overseeding to increase grass growth to crowd out weeks, thus reducing the need for chemical fertilizers and herbicides and increasing the microbial breakdown of thatch buildup. The strategy conserves water and reduces the chances of polluting streams.

• The Association of Bainbridge Communities received the Outstanding Achievements in Water Quality Protection Award. This consortium of volunteers kick-started a grass roots effort to participate in the clean up of the Bainbridge Island Landfill by hiring a technical consultant, for one, hosting an array of public meetings and serving as an information conduit among interested parties and citizens.

• Illahee resident Jim Trainer received the Outstanding Achievement in Conservation Leadership Award. Trainer has led a slew of conservation efforts in Kitsap County as a forester for Puget Sound Energy and Asplundh Tree Experts and as a volunteer.

He has been directly involved with the restoration of Illahee, Gorst, Pinsch and Steele creeks. He has helped by procuring donations of trees and other native plants for stream corridors.

• A volunteer group of Suquamish Elementary students received the Outstanding Achievement in Youth Leadership Award. The students have created a marsh adjacent to their school playground. They have planted native plants and it is used as a hands-on laboratory for science, math, language arts and fine arts. It is inhabited by birds, amphibians, reptiles and insects. The students used native plants used by the Native American community for weaving.

• Linda Waltie, Deb Fleming, Laura Rencher and Diane Digleria “the compost queens” received the Outstanding Achievement in Volunteerism Award. These four women monitor and maintain the Raab Park compost demo site and put on regular compost classes for adults and kids.

• The Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce received the Outstanding Achievement in Environmental Leadership Award. The chamber has been a leader in offering information about waste reduction and recycling at their monthly meetings and in their monthly newsletters. Seven Bainbridge businesses became Green Works members last year because they heard about the program through the chamber.

• Kitsap County Public Works employee Molly Foster received the Kitsap Waste Wi$e Award for saving the county more than $800 by using the in-house exchange program, whereby surplus office supplies are swapped for use.