NK 2021 Year in Review

Top stories of 2021 in North Kitsap


Poulsbo Fire Department evacuated eight homes following a landslide in Seclusion Cove near Lofall.

As statewide restrictions on indoor gatherings were set to expire, Gov. Jay Inslee announced a new phased plan called “Healthy Washington — Roadmap to Recovery” to reopen businesses in the state, comprised of eight regions.

COVID-19 vaccine distribution began in Kitsap County in a phased approach allowing the most-vulnerable populations like seniors, healthcare workers, first responders and those with medical conditions to receive theirs first. The process was presented with numerous challenges such as supply and demand.

Suquamish Tribe elders were among the first, outside of healthcare workers, to be given COVID vaccines in the county, receiving about 600 doses initially that were administered to elders using drive-through protocols at the Clearwater Casino garage.

A no-contact advisory was issued on North Kitsap shorelines after sewage overflows from King County.

Like many movie theaters nationwide, Kingston’s Firehouse Theater sought alternatives such as a GoFundMe page to stay afloat amid COVID and the dying movie industry.

The Suquamish and Port Gamble S’Klallam tribes condemned the violence that took place at the nation’s capitol Jan. 6.

Free food pantries began popping up in Kitsap over the past year to help those who suffer from food insecurity, especially during the pandemic. North Kitsap locations included two in Poulsbo, two in Suquamish, one in Hansville, one in Indianola and four in Kingston.

A 25-year-old Poulsbo man was arrested on charges of suspicion of possession of child pornography.

One person died and another was injured after a vehicle collision at the intersection of Pioneer Hill Road and Highway 3.

After nearly two years, Charles Frederick Heller III was charged with the second-degree murder of 21-year-old Dustyn Hunt-Bagby of Kingston, which occurred Feb. 25, 2019.

The North Kitsap School District began bringing some students back for in-person learning through a phased approach.

In sports, the Olympic League expanded for the rest of the school year to include schools like South Kitsap, Bainbridge and Central Kitsap. High schools around the state took a more regional approach to competitions during the pandemic.


Amid the pandemic, Poulsbo police noticed an increase in online crime, such as fraudulent scams and sex schemes.

Kitsap County commissioners sent a letter to Inslee in response to the Recovery Plan, conveying their frustration over its inconsistencies, the regional approach being used, Kitsap’s designation and the metrics required to move from Phase 1 to Phase 2.

West Sound Academy student Abi Subramanian won three awards for her environmental film “Youth Misinformed.”

A new STEM and agriculture facility for North Kitsap School District was proposed to replace the old horticulture site near Poulsbo Middle School.

Kitsap County sheriff’s deputy Joshua Buonvino was under investigation following a traffic stop that turned into a shooting near the intersection of Highway 305 and Sol Vei Street in Poulsbo. Documents state that the deputy pulled over a suspected intoxicated driver and reportedly discharged his firearm at the vehicle. The suspect was uninjured and arrested.

A Kingston man was charged for being part of the riot at the U.S. Capitol the previous month.

The boat ramps at the Port of Poulsbo were closed due to deteriorating surface conditions that made it hazardous for those pulling and launching boats.

Kitsap County moved to Phase 2 of Inslee’s Recovery Plan, allowing restaurants, fitness centers and indoor entertainment venues to be at 25% capacity.

PBS star Patrick McMillan replaced Dan Hinkley as director of the Port Gamble tribe’s Heronswood Garden in Kingston.

Poulsbo purchased property on Viking Avenue that will be the new home for the Public Works Department.

The city approved artwork for the Johnson Road/Highway 305 roundabout after months of negotiation with artists and the public. The final art piece, designed and created by local artist Elijah Burnett, will cost $120,000 and be installed sometime in late 2022, following completion of the roundabout.

A survey showed there’s unanimous support and demand for the future Poulsbo Events and Recreation Center to expand operations.


In an effort to get as many people vaccinated as possible, Poulsbo launched a telephone line for those without internet to get information about where and when they can get a COVID vaccine.

Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson announced she would be running for a fourth term, noting she initially wasn’t going to run but the events over the past year played a significant role in her changing her mind.

The Suquamish Tribe began vaccinating NKSD teachers and staff.

Jamie Young joined the Poulsbo Police Department as its newest navigator. Navigators often have backgrounds in social services. They work with law enforcement and people they come in contact with who may be struggling with behavioral health, mental health, addiction, abuse and/or sexual assault issues and need someone to connect them to resources.

Kitsap County moved to Phase 3 of Inslee’s Recovery Plan, increasing indoor spaces to 50% capacity and 25% for outdoor venues.

Poulsbo chose to keep the caretaker position at Raab Park and committed to making improvements to the home and eventually purchasing a new home in the future.

Arborwood, a Kingston subdivision project 30 years in the making, broke ground.

After a year absence due to COVID restrictions, the Poulsbo Piranhas swim team returned to the pool at the North Kitsap Community Center.

Two downtown Poulsbo businesses were damaged after an elder accidentally drove a vehicle into them.

Work continued on the Johnson Road/Highway 305 roundabout, including a crane that was used to set tunnel segments and installation of stormwater infrastructure.

North Kitsap football completed its COVID-shortened season by going 5-0.


Inslee announced that beginning April 15, all Washington residents 16 or older will be eligible to get a COVID vaccine.

74-year-old Suquamish tribal elder Nancy McPherson died from injuries after being hit by a vehicle.

The Poulsbo Historical Society purchased the “old red house” on Front Street and opened its Heritage Museum (previously in City Hall) in it.

After about a year of being closed to in-person visits due to COVID, the Kitsap Regional Library in Poulsbo reopened at limited capacity.

The Next Door, a youth center for teens, opened across the street from North Kitsap High School, providing a place to gather after school to do homework or relax and play games.

The Port of Poulsbo voted to send the breakwater replacement project forward to the hearing examiner, who then ruled to move the proposal forward to Department of Ecology.

Kitsap County Public Works proposed developing the new $15 million Road Maintenance and Household Hazardous Waste facility at the intersection of Bond and Gunderson roads.

Poulsbo implemented a new way to send out mass notifications to residents through a program called Nixle.

Nine women volunteers were recognized by the city for their efforts in getting Poulsbo residents vaccinated for COVID.


A new barbershop, Timeless Cuts, opened in downtown Poulsbo.

After over a year of being closed, Poulsbo City Hall reopened to the public in a limited capacity.

Poulsbo approved the Building Department’s request to hire another inspector in an effort to keep up with the city’s growth.

The Port Gamble S’Klallam and Suquamish tribes hosted a vaccine clinic for NKSD students ages 12-17.

Poulsbo Public Works employee Cole Troyer sustained a compound fracture to his leg, a broken arm and head injuries after a driver fell asleep at the wheel and drove into a ditch, where he was cutting brush near Highway 305 and Sol Vei Street.

Big Leaf Maple Bakery, a small woman-owned bakery that began with wholesale baking, opened a retail location in Poulsbo.

Incumbents began filing for reelection for many positions across North Kitsap.

Theodore “Ted” George, the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe’s oldest elder, passed away at the age of 92.

Anthony Rinonos of Poulsbo was charged with assault with a deadly weapon after allegedly attacking two men with a baseball bat.

37-year-old Cory Slater of Kingston was arrested and charged with suspicion of first-degree rape of a child and child molestation.

Marion Sluys, founder and owner of Sluys Bakery in downtown Poulsbo, passed away at the age of 88.

Two men were rescued, uninjured but cold, by North Kitsap Fire & Rescue after their sailing craft capsized, dumping them into Puget Sound.


A 13-month-old mixed breed dog named Lucy was hailed as a hero after sounding the alarm to occupants sleeping on the bottom floor of a Rash Roadhouse as fire tore through its upper story in Kingston. All escaped safely.

A motorcyclist was injured at the Johnson Way and Highway 305 intersection in Poulsbo while evading the State Patrol.

The Hood Canal Bridge closed for several hours due to damage sustained to the bridge span following an apparent hit and run incident.

Josh Smith and Drake Jones of North Kitsap won the Olympic League doubles final in tennis over a duo from Bainbridge.

The NK basketball team beat Port Angeles to capture the league hoops title in a COVID-shortened season. Viking Jonas La Tour was named league MVP.

North Kitsap High School and Kingston High School Class of 2021 were able to celebrate their accomplishment in semi-normal fashion with traditional graduation ceremonies.

The Good Neighbors group in Indianola put in efforts to educate themselves and the community about the history of the land and build a better relationship with the Suquamish Tribe through projects and community outreach.

The Poulsbo City Council discussed possible uses for the $3.1 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds it was set to receive.

Kingston High graduate Tim Gallagher participated in the U.S. Olympic Swimming Time Trials, although he did not advance.

A message in a bottle from a couple married in Poulsbo in 2013 found its way to the shores of the Pacific Rim National Park in Canada.

The Port of Poulsbo began construction of a new boat launch into the marina near the Sea Discovery Center.

Matt Mattson of Poulsbo was killed during the opening races of the Richland hydroplane Regatta. He was making a turn at around 90 miles per hour when his hydroplane hit a wake and flipped, ejecting him, and then the boat reportedly flipped on top of him.

A 10-year-old boy swept out to sea at Point No Point in Hansville was rescued by bystanders, one of whom needed rescuing himself. Both were ultimately brought back to shore safely through the help of others.

A new pizza joint, The Slab, opened in Suquamish.


Few public firework displays were held for the 4th of July in North Kitsap due to continued COVID concerns for big gatherings.

North Kitsap High graduate Christian Liden, 26, traveled across country to find the elements to build an engagement ring for his bride-to-be.

The family of Stonechild Chiefstick filed a lawsuit against the city of Poulsbo in federal court, almost two years after his death at the hands of a Poulsbo police officer. The lawsuit alleged negligence on the part of the city in addition to inadequate officer training and use of excessive force.

A new breakfast spot, Seawolf Diner, opened in Kingston next to the Firehouse Theater.

NKSD announced the NK Community Pool would be reopening in the fall following modifications to bring back diving competitions.

Poulsbo approved a .1% increase in sales tax, the revenues of which would go toward affordable housing and related services. The tax increase will go in effect Jan. 1, 2022.

A trailer full of fireworks was accidentally ignited, leading it to be engulfed in flames in Suquamish.

Robert Fleeks Jr., 19, was sentenced to 16 years in prison for the second-degree murder of Suquamish tribal member Marlin George Jr. in 2018.

Several bills having to do with police reform went into effect, changing the way local police departments operate.

Former chairman of the Suquamish Tribe Richard Belmont Jr., who played a critical role in the success of the tribe, was laid to rest.


The Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe opened a new health center on its government campus – the first tribally owned and operated health clinic in Kitsap County.

The Army Corps of Engineers denied the state Department of Fish and Wildlife’s application to build a boat ramp at Point No Point, citing the impact on the Suquamish Tribe’s fishing rights.

Hannah Ronning, 22, of Poulsbo had never used a rowing machine until 2019, but over the course of the last year, she’s broken three world records.

36-year-old Vincent Giamona of Poulsbo was found dead off of Clear Creek and Orweiler roads, a victim of a hit and run incident.

Kingston has hosted a “Wine Walk” for years, but this year the walk was transformed into more of a festival atmosphere that included breweries and cideries as well.

The Port Gamble tribe reached a deal with Rayonier purchasing 18.4 acres of a conservation easement on the Pope & Talbot Mill site.

The Poulsbo Arts Festival was held at Muriel Iverson Williams Waterfront Park after being canceled last year, a 35-year tradition of celebrating various artists in and around the Viking city.

The Suquamish Tribe held a scaled-down version of its Chief Seattle Days celebration due to increasing cases of COVID in Kitsap County.

A presentation was given by ant-LGBTQ speaker Joseph Backholm at Gateway Fellowship Church in Poulsbo, which led to a protest of about 300 people.

Leaders of the Poulsbo Fire Community Assistance, Referral, and Education Service (CARES) team were honored by the Seattle Mariners as part of the team’s Hometown Hero initiative recognizing first responders and front-line workers.

The highly contagious delta variant and unvaccinated people, along with summer travel and events, have led to the worst COVID figures in North Kitsap since the pandemic began.

The Department of Health announced that masks are not required for outdoor sports this fall.


NKSD students returned to school for full-time in-person learning for the first time since March of 2020. Numerous COVID protocols were put in place in efforts to keep everyone safe.

The Poulsbo City Council approved a grant that will allow the city to expand the scope of police-led behavioral health response in North Kitsap through the police navigator and a peer support member within the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe.

The city also announced it is offering a new Emergency Flexible Pay Plan to assist utility customers who have fallen behind on their bills due to the financial impacts of COVID.

After initially planning to hold the event, Poulsbrew was suddenly canceled due to “many circumstances outside our control,” per the Poulsbo Chamber of Commerce.

The Yard Fitness Club opened at the former location of Kingston Lumber.

A statue honoring 3-year-old Eli Creekmore who was beaten to death by his father in Everett will be part of Poulsbo’s new Rotary Morrow Community Park.

Hate symbols, such as swastikas, protesting COVID vaccines were displayed on signs in North Kitsap.

Four people were taken to the hospital after an 18-year-old Bremerton woman suspected of being drunk crashed her car in North Kitsap. The driver was later charged on four counts of vehicular assault.


A peaceful protest against the NKSD’s treatment of sexual abuse cases was held at the corner of Highway 104 and Miller Bay Road in Kingston.

After having to cancel its last three events due to COVID, the Poulsbo Beer Run was held.

A woman sleeping inside only had moments to escape but no one was injured when a Kingston couple’s 30-foot travel-trailer home and most of their possessions burned near Highway 104.

Port Madison Enterprises announced a partnership with sports gambling company FanDuel to operate sports betting at the Suquamish Clearwater Casino Resort.

Pumpkin patch events began occurring in North Kitsap as Halloween approached.

Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson suggested the city implement a personnel policy change to not hire anyone who isn’t vaccinated for COVID until the end of 2022.

Runners and walkers flooded Poulsbo as the city hosted its annual Half Marathon and 10k. The event saw the biggest turnout since starting in 2016.

The Poulsbo City Council approved the use of up to $7,000 of city funds for emergency rental assistance to assist people whose income is at or below 60% of the area median income.

Washington State Ferries temporarily operated reduced schedules on most routes, including Kingston/Edmonds, due to staff shortages.

Poulsbo is interested in purchasing a resident’s property next to the future Poulsbo Events and Recreation Center at College Market Place in efforts to expand that area with a potential park.

Many COVID-conscious Halloween events were held across North Kitsap.

NKSD superintendent Laurynn Evans said the district is facing critical staffing and substitute shortages that could result in moving certain classes or schools to remote learning temporarily.

Some Poulsbo businesses were victims of a recent crime wave, such as Liberty Bay Auto Center, Dairy Queen and Fairfield Inn & Suites. Poulsbo police chief Ron Harding said lack of staffing and recent law changes have hindered response efforts.

Watson Furniture in Poulsbo won a handful of awards for innovation.

An author’s writing studio and a woman’s mobile home were crushed by giant trees in Indianola after the region’s first fall storm. Both barely escaped serious injury.

North Kitsap quarterback Colton Bower broke Jared Prince’s school’s passing record in a dominant win over rival Kingston.

Suquamish Tribe Chairman Leonard Forsman was appointed to the University of Washington’s Board of Regents by Inslee, becoming the first Native American to serve on the board.

The Kitsap County Parks Department brought some clarity to recent tree-cutting near North Kitsap Heritage Park, stating it was legally permitted by the county. The tree-cutting is needed for utilities for the nearby Arborwood housing development. The cut trees were mistakenly taken from the park but later returned.


In the few contested races in North Kitsap, all incumbents retained their positions after the general election.

After being canceled last year due to COVID, the 2021 Art in the Woods studio tour took place at venues across North Kitsap.

After over 30 years of serving Poulsbo, longtime staple That’s-A-Some Italian Ristorante closed its doors as the owners were ready to retire. A new Italian restaurant will be taking its place.

The Poulsbo City Council discussed a proposed feasibility study for the second-floor green roof at City Hall to add maintenance access and the possibility of a public patio.

Poulsbo Fire Department began providing its annual Santa tours through neighborhoods.

The Suquamish Tribe completed primary construction of its new health clinic with the installation of six prefabricated modules that will create the 4,116-square-foot facility. It is expected to open in early 2022.

The NK girls volleyball team advanced to state before being knocked out by Anacortes.

NK quarterback Colton Bower was named league MVP for the third straight season.

Firefighters were reportedly threatened by a man with an axe when they responded to a suspected arson of a home and vehicle near Kingston. Shots reportedly were fired by a neighbor who was trying to stop the alleged arsonist. The home and vehicle were destroyed, but no one was seriously injured.

Tree farms in North Kitsap opened up in late November as folks began preparing for Christmas.

Nine-year-old Wyatt Christensen from Kingston continues to rack up national and worldwide accolades in BMX racing, most recently winning the 2021 National Championship at the USA Grand Nationals in Tulsa, OK.

The NK football team advanced to the state semifinals, the farthest they’ve ever made in school history, before losing at Lynden in a windy and rainy game.


After having its annual holiday event canceled last year due to COVID, the Poulsbo Sons of Norway held Julefest Dec. 4 to honor Nordic culture and heritage in the city known as “Little Norway.”

The Poulsbo Yacht Club put on its 52nd Lighted Ships Parade Dec. 11, when holiday-decorated vessels made their way through the waterways of North Kitsap for about five hours spreading Christmas cheer.

A fundraising campaign is underway to purchase and preserve 100 acres adjacent to the Hansville Greenway to protect it from development.

The Poulsbo City Council extended its Summer Fair program through 2022, allowing restaurants and bars to use public right of ways for seating such as parking spaces to comply with COVID social distancing restrictions.

The council also voted to establish a Transportation Benefit District with the implementation of a $20 car-tab fee for vehicles registered in the city to increase funding for neighborhood street improvements.

Poulsbo approved two donations of property — one that will add onto Fish Park and the other for a park near Walmart.

New inductees for the 2021 Kitsap Sports Hall of Fame have been announced, including Shawn Deeds of North Kitsap High School (1989-91) who was a standout three-sport athlete in football, basketball and baseball. He went on to play for Washington State University from 1991-95.