PORT ORCHARD — Residents entered 2021 with high expectations after surviving a year filled with an unprecedented array of events and calamities generated by a pandemic that had not been experienced in 100 years before by all but a few still living.
South Kitsap entered 2021 with the expectation that the COVID-19 pandemic would soon subside after vaccines were administered to the general population. While those vaccines have proven to be highly effective, a stubborn subset of the population has been reluctant in getting their inoculations.
With less than three-quarters of South Kitsap residents having been vaccinated, and a double whammy inflicted by COVID-19 variants, the pandemic continues to hamper a return to normal life for residents — and continues to kill some of those unvaccinated.
We looked back at headlines from a strange year in South Kitsap that was greatly influenced by the pandemic:
Training inadequate for restraint chair use at jail
Kitsap County Jail corrections officers involved in a violent encounter to place an inmate into a restraint chair that led to the man’s death had not been properly trained in the use of the chair, according to WSP investigators.
Main named deputy police chief
Sgt. Donna Main is the new deputy police chief of the Port Orchard Police Department. She replaces Deputy Chief Dale Schuster, who retired in December 2020 after 35 years in the police department.
SKSD ‘SK Flex’ K-2 instruction compromise reached
Many Port Orchard youngsters for the first time have come face-to-face with their teachers in classrooms as the South Kitsap School District’s back-to-school plan kicked off for students in kindergarten, first and second grade.
That One Place ignores governor’s orders
That One Place restaurant continues to provide indoor service to its customers, ignoring Gov. Inslee’s order that eateries are to provide just takeout or outside service at this time.
Commissioners voice their concerns about Inslee’s COVID plans
In an open letter to Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee, the three-member Kitsap County Board of Commissioners voiced concerns over the “apparent change in direction and lack of communication and clarity” of the state’s plan to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Public Health launches COVID vaccine clinic
The clinic will begin administering vaccine injections for people eligible under phase 1a and phase 1b, Tier 1.
SKSD transitions to flex education
South Kitsap School District is slowly transitioning from a fully online learning model instituted during the COVID pandemic to a model it has labeled SK Flex — a mix of online and in-person learning for its 9,000-plus students.
Police unveil five-year strategic plan
Increased diversity in the police force and creating a presence on Twitter and Facebook all appear to be in the future of the Port Orchard Police Department, according to the department’s five-year strategic plan.
SKSD’s replacement levy slightly leading
Election ballots counted shows SKSD voters are slightly in favor of approving a replacement educational program and operations levy by a 50.53% margin.
That One Place facing $132,000 in L&I fines
While the state Department of Labor and Industries may have asked the court to dismiss its restraining order against That One Place restaurant for its repeated violations on the COVID indoor dining ban, the Port Orchard restaurant still faces a whopping $132,000 in fines for ignoring the state’s health restrictions, according to L&I officials.
Chamber of Commerce changes its name
To expand its reach within the business community, the Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce is rebranding itself with a new name: South Kitsap Chamber of Commerce.
Kitsap County moves to Phase 2
For Kitsap County and all but six other counties in Washington state, the good news was that they were moved to the less-restrictive Phase 2 COVID status.
Kitsap Transit picks up fast ferry for a bargain
M/V Solano, a 125-foot power catamaran purchased by Kitsap Transit from the San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority, could soon ply the high-speed, passenger-only ferry route between downtown Seattle and Southworth.
Work begins on Old Clifton improvements
McCormick Communities LLC is beginning construction this month of a new street called Campus Parkway and associated roundabout intersections on Old Clifton Road between McCormick Woods Drive and Feigley Road.
High schoolers transition to SK Flex
The final element of South Kitsap School District’s transition to a hybrid in-school education model during the COVID pandemic by integrating high-schoolers will be put into place on March 15.
Improvements to terminal begin for fast-ferries service
The first step in a series of improvements planned to support the startup of Kitsap Transit’s fast-ferry service between Southworth and downtown Seattle began March 1 with the restriping of the Southworth Ferry Terminal’s parking lot.
Southworth-downtown fast-ferry service begins
South Kitsap commuters who work in downtown Seattle can revel in some good news: the long-anticipated fast-ferry route will begin service on March 29.
Organizers determining if summer events are a ‘go’
With signs that the COVID pandemic may be edging closer to a conclusion, organizers of major summer festivals and events around Kitsap County differ on whether they can pull off their crowd-intensive happenings this summer.
Winter to remain as SKSD superintendent
South Kitsap School District Superintendent Tim Winter, a finalist for the superintendent position at Peninsula School District, wasn’t chosen for the post.
Homeless shelter being relocated to former Olympic Fitness Center site
Kitsap County officials have been quietly working to open one the largest homeless shelters in the county this summer in Port Orchard, Kitsap Daily News has learned.
Possible anti-Asian hate crime being investigated
Police officials are investigating a report of property destruction and graffiti as a possible instance of an anti-Asian hate crime.
Special report: Soul-crushing COVID-19: a lonely, difficult journey for small-business owners
Individuals have faced myriad hardships since the COVID pandemic arose just over a year ago, from job layoffs to reduced work hours, to being house-bound and working from a spare bedroom, to being unable to see family and friends. Small businesses have also been greatly impacted by the pandemic.
Lid blows off at contentious SKSD board meeting
Trouble has been percolating during SKSD’s board of directors meetings over the past few scheduled meetings conducted virtually.
SKHS’s graduation set for June at Cheney Stadium
South Kitsap seniors will be able to enjoy an in-person graduation ceremony in June, after all. The 2020-21 graduating class commencement ceremony will be held June 19 at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma.
Police chief talks body cams, bias, relationships
The widely watched murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the death of George Floyd seemed to drive plenty of questions during Port Orchard Police Chief Matt Brown’s first virtual “Chat with the Chief.”
Port Orchard nurse feels their pain
Emily Busha’s childhood stays at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital add an empathetic element to her interactions with sick kids.
Design firm presents initial concepts for SK Community Events Center
Steve Rice, the principal partner at architectural design firm Rice Fergus Miller, introduced design concepts at the May 25 Port Orchard City Council meeting.
Retiring Sheriff Simpson reflects on his 36-year law enforcement career
Two-term Kitsap County Sheriff Gary Simpson says it is time for “a change of watch” and will be retiring at the end of the month.
SK wrestling wins SPSL title
South Kitsap trailed Sumner by about 20 points heading into Day 2 of the South Puget Sound League wrestling tournament, but the Wolves’ upper weights proved dominant as they ran away with the league championship.
Manchester Library expansion now underway
Work is underway to expand the Manchester Library by an additional 900 square feet to better accommodate the facility’s programs and meet the community’s meeting space needs.
‘Senseless’ accident leaves a community grieving with Will Huck’s passing
Huck lost his life when he drowned while in Horseshoe Lake on June 28. Hundreds came together to celebrate his life on June 29 at Whiskey Coffee Pub in Annapolis.
SKSD grappling with concept of ‘equity’
Over the past year, SKSD staff have had larger conversations about incorporating equity in its policies and practices in order to better create equal opportunities for all students.
Recent heatwave reportedly claims four Kitsap lives
The Kitsap County Coroner’s Office is investigating four deaths believed to be related to the recent heatwave that scorched the region.
Fentanyl deaths exploding this year in Kitsap County
Nearly as many people have died in Kitsap County in fentanyl-related overdoses this year as in all of 2020, according to county officials.
Long-awaited project begins at Manchester Fuel Depot
A project to upgrade the fuel tank storage capability at the Manchester Fuel Depot facility was officially kicked off with a speech by Navy officials and U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer.
The purchase of the Dragonfly Cinema building promises a revitalized arts scene for downtown Port Orchard.
John Gese appointed new sheriff
The Kitsap County Commissioners unanimously appointed interim Sheriff John Gese to fill the vacant sheriff’s seat.
Retsil resident dies of COVID; 39 test positive
A resident at the Washington Veterans Home in Retsil has died from complications of COViD.
Area leaders coalesce to seek a fix for the Gorst Corridor
A group of South Kitsap and North Mason public leaders have joined with Rep. Derek Kilmer and local and state legislative officials to form a coalition and lobby for funding to build a nearly half-billion solution to the Gorst corridor traffic congestion.
Kilmer roundtable discussion with the Independent
The 6th District congressman champions a fix for the Gorst interchange mess, seeks help for distressed communities and funding for fish culverts.
Daily asks court to appeal SKSD board decision
A summons and complaint have been filed on behalf of SKSD board director Jeff Daily against the school’s board of directors.
10 County Jail inmates test positive
Ten inmates at the Kitsap County Jail have tested positive for COVID and are now isolated from the general population, according to the sheriff’s office.
Diners once again need to don masks
Those going out to dinner once again need to slip on face masks as they head inside their favorite South Kitsap restaurants.
Ken Paskett fills his final script, South Park Pharmacy closes
The locally owned family pharmacy at South Park Village closes after losing its lease. Paskett served Port Orchard residents for 53 years.
Retirements putting pressure on county’s hiring needs
“Help Wanted” signs hanging in business windows are as common these days as overcast skies in the Northwest.
SKSD bus driver shortage impacting transportation grid
A shortage of SKSD bus drivers has resulted in fewer bus routes, inconsistent pickup and drop-off times, and cases of overcrowded buses at a time when COVID rates among students have spiked.
Council is receptive to new SKCEC design
The latest design iteration of the South Kitsap Community Events Center is presented to the Port Orchard City Council and is met by rave reviews by council members.
SKSD averts a transportation crisis but is still short of drivers
Already dealing with a shortage of school bus drivers, SKSD officials breathed a sigh of relief when learning that only one driver refused to get vaccinated, as required by Gov. Jay Inslee’s vaccine mandate, and would be let go by SKSD. But they also learned five drivers had resigned for non-related reasons other than the mandate.
Gattenby resigns from SKSD board
Eric Gattenby, president of the SKSD board of directors, submitted his resignation in a Sept. 28 letter to Superintendent Tim Winter.
Town Square’s new ownership has big plans for reimagined mall
The commercial development company Zaxium, whose ownership purchased the newly renamed Town Square retail center for $9.4 million in late April, says it has big plans for the once-thriving but now moribund property at 1700 Mile Hill Drive. The plans include multiple restaurants, shopping options and a large plaza gathering place they hope will attract people from among South Kitsap’s growing community.
Suspect confesses to killing man during botched pot deal
Kannon Anthony Stephens told Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office detectives that he shot 19-year-old Tyrone Robert Sero of Port Orchard in the back of the head during a marijuana drug deal gone bad early in the morning of Oct. 20.
Incumbents re-elected to Port Orchard council seats
Three Port Orchard City council incumbents swept aside their challengers to win reelection to another term, based on election-night results tallied by the Kitsap County Election Division.
Kitsap homeless facility delayed by supply-chain issues
Kitsap County’s new homeless shelter just off Mile Hill Drive in Port Orchard was originally scheduled to open its doors this month, but supply-chain issues have put off the opening until sometime next year.
It’s cleanout time for Bay Street’s renamed theater
The new Polaris Theatre in Port Orchard is getting a $50,000 grant from the Cowlitz Tribal Council, kickstarting the theater’s rehab work.
$89 million funding for Naval Base Kitsap restored by Biden order
President Biden’s termination of a national emergency directive by then-President Trump has reestablished funding for a military construction project at Naval Base Kitsap.
City officials call for county to remove homeless encampments at Veterans Park
Port Orchard city officials remain irked over the county’s inability to resolve problems associated with homeless encampments scattered throughout Veterans Memorial Park in Port Orchard.
Mother charged in daughter’s death after giving her fentanyl
But the 40-year-old woman, incarcerated awaiting trial, is found dead in her cell at Kitsap Jail.
City purchases Kitsap Bank property to waterfront project
Port Orchard is inching closer with its plans to build the South Kitsap Community Events Center and redevelop the downtown waterfront by closing on a real-estate agreement to acquire the Kitsap Bank property.
Espy appointed to fill vacant SKSD board seat
Following candidate interviews conducted by the SKSD board of directors, Kate Espy was appointed to replace Eric Gattenby, who earlier resigned his seat.