Central Kitsap Commissioner Newsletter Fall 2020

D3 Fall 2020 Newsletter

Happy Fall! As the season changes, our resolve to keep our community safe and informed does not. We’ve weathered spring and summer with COVID-19. Now, as we move towards the upcoming holiday season, one certainty is that Kitsap remains strong and resilient. This is due to the commitment our citizens make in continuing to wear facial coverings and following health guidelines that slow the spread of COVID-19.

The goal is to keep you informed on the latest updates on this ever-evolving fight against the pandemic.  Kitsap leadership, the Kitsap Public Health District and the county’s Emergency Operations Center, in close coordination with the Governor’s Office and state agencies, are working to keep Kitsap safe and maintain our health, social and economic wellbeing. We’ll get through this together!

Please stay informed and keep in touch. Contact me directly at ewolfe@co.kitsap.wa.us with your questions or to share other issues or concerns – remember, I work for you!

COVID-19 response

Resources for residents

The best way to easily stay informed of the COVID-19 activity in our community is to subscribe to the Emergency Operations Center daily bulletin that includes the latest COVID-19 test results, data from Kitsap Public Health, and the most current resources and information available. Sign up to receive these via email or text at kcowa.us/covidupdate. While you’re there, you can also subscribe to dozens of other topics including inclement weather alerts, the weekly Road Report and current project updates.

The Emergency Operations Center continues to maintain a Coronavirus resource and information website at http://kcowa.us/covid19resources with updates for businesses, workers and families. The state Department of Health also provides information at coronavirus.wa.gov. Contact the coronavirus hotline by calling 2-1-1 or text ‘coronavirus’ to 211211 for additional questions and resources.

County operations

Kitsap County departments continue to provide and expand online services. Many of our employees are telecommuting and most public service counters remain closed. However, services are still being delivered either remotely or in-person by appointment. The public is encouraged to visit http://kcowa.us/online for updated details on contacting individual departments with links to each department and a list of services available online. 

CARES funding update

To help combat public health and economic impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government provided Kitsap County with $20.3 million through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. These funds are primarily to cover costs of the public health response, but County Commissioners also committed more than $4 million of these funds for rent and mortgage relief for individuals, and to support local food banks, chambers of commerce and our schools.

Kitsap County partnered with the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance to distribute over $1 million for rent relief to small, local businesses of up to $10,000. For more information, visit https://www.kitsapcaressmallbiz.com/.

Funds are also being distributed, in coordination with Kitsap Community Resources, to provide rent and mortgage assistance for households hardest hit by the pandemic. Contact Kitsap Community Resources at https://www.kcr.org/ or call (360) 473-2035 to apply.

Kitsap County partnership offers tutoring for local students

Kitsap County is partnering with local school districts to provide free online and drop-in tutoring sessions for Kitsap students, to help alleviate some of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic associated with online and hybrid learning. As of October 21st 2020, there were 386 tutoring sign-ups, of which 144 are in-person sessions at the Eagles Nest. 

Options are available for all Kindergarten through 12th-grade students on a first-come basis. Sessions are underway now until Nov. 23. To learn more about this program and sign up please click here.

Thank you, Kitsap volunteers!

Thank you to the 55 frontline volunteers who provided COVID-19 testing for 2,325 employees and vendors of St. Michael Medical Center (formerly Harrison) in Bremerton after an outbreak occurred in August. This effort was supported by Kitsap County’s Emergency Operations Center, in coordination with the Kitsap Public Health District.

Volunteers have also been vital to supporting the county’s quarantine and isolation center that provides housing for individuals exposed to or who have tested positive for COVID-19 and need a safe place to stay to protect others in their household.

I publicly thanked these volunteers in a “My Turn” piece in the Kitsap Sun. The article further expands on the role of the Department of Emergency Management, Kitsap’s unified response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the community volunteers who support our efforts. My gratitude extends to everyone who volunteers to support other county programs and organizations!

Kitsap County News

tires recycled


60 tons of tires collected!

On October 4, Kitsap County Public Works Solid Waste Division hosted a tire collection event that gathered approximately 60 tons of waste tires. That’s right, 60 tons!

Nearly 500 residents attended the collection event funded by the Washington Department of Ecology’s Waste Tire Program. This was an incredible community effort to properly dispose of and remove so many tires from backyards. Some of the tires will be recycled into tire-derived fuel and products. Thank you to our residents for investing in a clean Kitsap!  

COVID-19 safety measures were in place throughout the event. Masks, physical distancing and self-unloading measures protected the public from staff contact. These measures will also be in place for he upcoming Styrofoam Roundup event planned for January 2, 2021 at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds Sheep Barn. Learn more about upcoming events here.


LIght up the


Lighting up to celebrate women’s right to vote

On August 26, the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners passed a proclamation celebrating “Women’s Equality Day,” commemorating the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment and women’s constitutional right to vote.  To celebrate this momentous occasion, the county joined local, state and federal government agencies across the country in lighting up their buildings in purple and gold for Forward Into Light, named in honor of the historic suffrage slogan, “Forward through the Darkness, Forward into Light.”


I voted

Get Out and Vote!

Election day is Tuesday, November 3.  It is important that everyone’s voice is heard. Ballots for the election will be mailed to registered voters by October 16. If you choose to return your ballot by mail, please mail it by October 27. Ballots can also be dropped off until 8 p.m. on Election Day at the Auditor’s Office (619 Division Street, Port Orchard) or in drop boxes located throughout the County. For more information on drop box locations, voting centers, and accessible voting please visit the Kitsap County Elections website at http://kcowa.us/elections.


County budget

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a decline of several revenue sources this year, Kitsap County’s General Fund has been reduced an estimated $5 million in 2020 and county departments were asked to make 5 percent spending reductions for the remainder of the year. While property tax income has remained relatively steady, sales and gas tax revenues declined significantly. To balance the 2021 budget, our departments were asked to submit budgets showing a 10 percent reduction. The Commissioners were no exception. The other Board members and myself made cuts to our budget and benefits along with all other County departments. 

This is a difficult position for all of us to be in, but the Board of County Commissioners must ensure spending stays within available revenues. There are reserve  funds for these types of situations, but we don’t want to have to leverage those, especially since we don’t know the duration of this current economic downturn.  My hope is that reducing spending in the short term will allow us to rebound more quickly than the last recession.

Visit the Department of Administrative Services budget website for more information. including recordings of each department’s budget presentation and associated documents.

To see a comprehensive listing of county online services and check what offices are open, click here, call Kitsap1 at 360-337-5777 or email info@kitsap1.com.

budget dollar

Graphic represents the distribution of an average property tax dollar

Lodging Tax Committee

This year was my second year chairing the Kitsap County Lodging Tax Advisory Committee. Lodging taxes are collected when visitors stay in a hotel, bed & breakfast, or short-term vacation rental in unincorporated Kitsap County. Those funds are then awarded to groups, such as non-profit organizations, that promote tourism within Kitsap County. This year we awarded approximately $300,000 for tourism promotions in 2021. Visit Kitsap and the Silverdale Chamber of Commerce were among the top recipients of these funds. Both of these non-profits are doing great work to promote tourism in Kitsap County. For more information please visit the Kitsap County Lodging Tax Website.

Public Works projects

Taylor Road Bridge

Taylor Road Bridge

Kitsap County has contracted with the Washington State Department of Transportation to remove and replace the existing temporary steel girders with permanent, precast, prestressed concrete girders on Taylor Road Bridge over Chico Creek. The replacement is a permanent solution to temporary materials currently being used. The contract was the result of a competitive grant with the state that fully funds the project.

Seabeck Bridge replaced with new span

The Kitsap County Public Works Department and Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group are working together to replace the Seabeck Bridge with a new 60-foot span over Seabeck Creek, which resulted in the closure of Seabeck Holly Road NW to through traffic between Foley Lane and Larson Lane until December 31, 2020. Traffic is being diverted to NW Holly Road past Lake Symington and Wildcat Lake to Seabeck Highway. The detour route is fully marked.

Contractors with the Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group, in partnership with Kitsap County, will replace the undersized 72-inch culvert. The new bridge will allow stormwater to flow unobstructed and improve the fish passage and surrounding wildlife environs after a long history of industrial-scale logging and rural development in the area. Large woody debris will be added to the creek to improve habitat complexity and retain sediment. The banks will be revegetated with 3,200 native plants to help create cooler water for fish, provide stabilization, and encourage a healthy and diverse ecosystem for birds, bugs, and other wildlife. Learn more about the project and detour route here.

Bay Shore update

Bay Shore Drive NW and Washington Avenue NW is now under construction. This work continues for the next two years to improve Old Town Silverdale's infrastructure. This is a joint project with our Public Works Roads, Sewer, and Stormwater divisions. 

To minimize disruption to businesses, construction will be completed in increments. For the latest news and to sign up for project updates, visit the project website here.

Scope of project:

  • Replace and upsize 3,900 feet of outdated sewer gravity main along Bay Shore Dr NW and Washington Ave NW.
  • Upgrade 1,400 feet of existing sewer lines.
  • Replace 3,300 feet of water main and install 700 feet of recycled water main.
  • Reconstruct storm system with biofiltration to remove metals, oils, and sediment.
  • Install an 8-foot sidewalk on the waterside of Bay Shore Dr NW, new sidewalks throughout the project limits, and new street lighting.
  • Upgrade street pavement, intersections, pedestrian crossings and street side parking throughout the project limits.

Commissioner’s Corner showcases projects and people


Commissioner Wolfe learns more about water quality monitoring at Chico Creek.

Among my favorite activities as County Commissioner is filming Commissioner’s Corner programs for Bremerton-Kitsap Access Television (BKAT). This is a great way to showcase county projects and people.

In September, I interviewed Grant Holdcroft, manager of the Kitsap Public Health District Pollution Identification and Correction Program. We discussed water quality and sampling in Chico Creek. Grant and his staff sample about 70 streams, including Chico Creek, and swimming beaches across the county for fecal bacteria, an indicator of pollution caused by human or animal waste. Please watch my discussion with Grant on the BKAT episode  and see the Health District staff take water samples at Chico Creek. Check out the 2019 Water Quality Report, in which Chico Creek was found to have low rates of bacteria. 

My most recent Commissioner’s Corner features an interview with Karen Vargas, founder and director of Living Life Leadership, Living Arts Cultural Heritage Center, a youth mentoring program. I had the opportunity to discuss race and equality in our community with her during a lively conversation.

Karen has advocated for youth in Kitsap County schools for over 25 years and served as chairperson of the Multi-Cultural Advisory Council for Bainbridge Island Schools. She has been an inspirational and tireless advocate in our community for many years, organizing events such as this year’s Juneteenth Monumental March for Black Lives and giving youth-focused workshops for many years at the annual Kitsap County Conference for Human Rights.

To view our full conversation, please click here.

BKAT Karen Vargas

Commisssioner Ed Wolfe talks with Karen Vargas for his latest Commissioner's Corner program