Central Kitsap Commissioner Newsletter Winter 2021


Happy New Year! I am optimistic 2021 will be a year of hope and recovery for our community. When the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Kitsap last March, I never would have imagined the public sacrifice and disruption it has caused. Thank you to our local healthcare heroes and essential workers for their continued dedication and persistence during this unprecedented pandemic. Even with vaccine distribution underway, we must continue to wear masks, physically distance and follow other health guidelines as the virus remains active and deadly in Kitsap County. Please be vigilant and stay safe.

This newsletter is a resource for my constituents. Contact me at ewolfe@co.kitsap.wa.us with your questions or to share issues or concerns – remember, I work for you!

Central Kitsap Community Council Town Hall

Please join me and the Central Kitsap Community Council for a Central Kitsap Town Hall, to be held virtually from 5-7 p.m. Wednesday, February 3 via Zoom. We will discuss COVID-19, our new County vaccination site, planning the CK community campus, homelessness and affordable housing. Everyone is welcome to join! There will be ample time for the public to ask questions and share ideas.

To join the meeting, go to  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85678597024

To join by phone, call 253-215-8782    Webinar ID: 856 7859 7024

COVID-19 response

Vaccine update

On January 18, the state announced COVID-19 vaccination is now open to everyone 65 and older, and people 50 and older in multigenerational households. The state also launched a Phase Finder tool at FindYourPhaseWA.org to help people determine eligibility. 

While eligibility has expanded, be aware that the supply of COVID-19 vaccine remains very limited and not all healthcare providers are scheduling appointments at this time.

Key points to know:

  • Kitsap Public Health District and local vaccine providers are asking for your patience during this challenging phase of rollout. 
  • It will take weeks for everyone eligible under this Phase 1B Tier 1 to get vaccinated. 
  • Washington Department of Health has told us more vaccine is on the way. 
  • Please stay informed on the latest vaccine allocations through Kitsap Public Health's vaccine website at kcowa.us/vaccine.
Shot Pic

I received my COVID vaccine from Kitsap Public Health Officer Dr. Gib Morrow, pictured here, in preparation for volunteering at the COVID-19 vaccine clinic in the former St. Michael (Harrison) hospital in East Bremerton. More than 1,000 volunteers answered a call to help staff the Bremerton clinic and future community vaccine clinics. This could not be done without remarkable public-private partnerships, the hundreds of volunteers in the county's Medical Reserve Corps and dedicated staff of Kitsap Public Health and the county's Emergency Operations Center. During the first vaccine clinic Jan. 26-28, 1,800 appointments were scheduled and operations are running smoothly. Please continue to check http://kcowa.us/vaccine for the latest details on vaccine distribution. 

Resources for residents

The best way to learn about COVID-19 activity in our community, testing sites and vaccine availability is to subscribe to receive electronic notifications via email or text from Kitsap Public Health and the Kitsap County Emergency Operations Center. Click here to subscribe to these notifications and choose from dozens of other topics, including inclement weather, the weekly road report, current project updates and much more. Check the box for Emergency Management Updates and for Kitsap Public Health District COVID-19 and Vaccine updates to receive daily news and other important information.

Kitsap County 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.

Check the state's Healthy Washington - Roadmap to Recovery for the latest guidance for businesses and other reopening information

Volunteers needed

Volunteers with medical training can assist the Kitsap County Medical Reserve Corp to help with future community COVID-19 vaccination operations that are in the planning stages now, in support of the Kitsap Public Health District. Medical professionals of all types are encouraged to register, including nurses, medical assistants, dentists and others.

Volunteers are also needed in non-medical positions. My wife and I are among the non-medical volunteers. I am looking forward to contributing to this historic effort. If you are able, please join me. For details, go to http://www.kitsapdem.org/medical-reserve-corp.aspx 

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. 

County Commissioners send letter to Governor Jay Inslee

On January 15, Kitsap County Commissioners sent a letter to Governor Jay Inslee in response to the Healthy Washington - Roadmap to Recovery and COVID-19 vaccine plans, conveying the Board of County Commissioners' concerns about the change in direction and lack of communication and clarity. We also shared some observations about involvement, transparency, confusion and COVID fatigue. We wanted to make sure the Governor knew the complications our community has endured. Our hope is that the governor’s leadership team will take into account our perspective from boots on the ground. If interested, please read our letter here.

CARES Act Funding

At the end of 2020, Kitsap County Commissioners passed a resolution outlining local allocations of millions of dollars of federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding we received to assist in responding to the pandemic’s impacts on individuals, businesses and schools through through Nov. 30, 2020.

Commissioners directed expenditures of CARES funds to support additional staffing in the Kitsap Public Health District and Emergency Operations Center, county operations and personnel related to COVID response, public outreach and education, and the purchase of equipment and other supplies necessary for the public health response. In addition, Commissioners allocated $1.84 million to assist small businesses, non-profit organizations and local chambers of commerce; $1.7 million to schools and student assistance for distance learning, related technology, food and facility improvements; $136,000 to food banks; $750,000 for mortgage and rental relief for low-income residents; and nearly $2 million to provide shelter for those living without homes and others who need a safe place to quarantine and isolate when at risk of spreading the virus in their households.

We hope additional funding will be provided from the federal government in the near future and will work quickly and efficiently to ensure it is distributed to people in Kitsap to support those struggling to stay in business, pay their rent and mortgage and support their families.

Drive-through COVID test sites

Our drive-through community test sites are a joint effort between Kitsap Public Health and the Emergency Operations Center. Testing is available six days a week at multiple locations throughout Kitsap for anyone who has COVID-19 symptoms, been exposed to a COVID-19 case, or meets other testing criteria. Pre-registration is required but health insurance is not. Go to http://kcowa.us/covidtesting to learn more and register. Click here for other testing providers and visit Kitsap Public Health's vaccine page for more information.

Canvassing Board

Canvassing Board

As a County Commissioner, I serve on multiple local, state and regional boards, councils and committees. One of these is the Kitsap Elections Canvassing Board, a public entity that conducts by statute, a formal assessment of elections. This entails reviewing vote totals, determining validity of challenged ballots, and finally, certifying the vote. I was honored to be part of the certification of Kitsap County 2020 General Election results. Pictured with me certifying the election here is Kitsap County Auditor Paul Andrews and County Prosecutor Chad Enright.

County News

30th Annual Kitsap County Conference for Human Rights

The 30th Annual Kitsap County Conference for Human Rights took place virtually Dec. 4. Nearly 200 people logged in to participate in multiple interactive sessions throughout the day. Suquamish Chairman Leonard Forsman and Congressman Derek Kilmer joined me, Commissioner Garrido and Commissioner Gelder in welcoming everyone and recognizing all those who do the vital work of advocating for human rights here in Kitsap.

I was especially pleased to see Harriette Bryant receive the Linda Gabriel Lifetime Achievement Human Rights Award for her long-time work with Olympic College, the Bremerton Housing Authority, Kitsap Community Foundation, YWCA, Partnering for Youth Achievement and as founder of OurGEMS. OurGEMS was also recognized with a Gabriel award for its work to help young people reach their fullest potential. Alejandra Pulido received the youth Gabriel award and Christina Barone the individual award. Congratulations to these recipients of this special recognition and thank you to all the volunteers on the Council for Human Rights who organized the conference!

New parks director

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Alexander Wisniewski as new director of the Kitsap County Parks Department, replacing former parks director Jim Dunwiddie who retired the end of 2020. Alexander will manage the county’s more than 60 parks, greenways and open spaces, totaling nearly 11,000 acres, in addition to the Kitsap County Fairgrounds and Events center and other community recreation facilities. He is certified as a parks and recreation professional through the National Recreation and Parks Association. Alexander resides in North Kitsap, has worked for Port Townsend’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services since 2014 and as director since 2017. We welcome him to Kitsap County!

Funding mental health services

On November 9, 2020, County Commissioners approved the allocation of $5.5 million in funds generated from the 1/10th of 1 percent sales and use tax, designated for mental health, chemical dependency and therapeutic court services in Kitsap County. Recommendations from the Kitsap County Mental Health, Chemical Dependency and Therapeutic Court Citizens Advisory Committee were important for our final decision. In these unprecedented times, I believe these funds are more important than ever to support the health and well-being of our local people. A complete list of programs and projects funded for 2021 are available here.  

Local Projects

Chico Park

 Chico Creek Salmon Park 

I am happy to report the completion of a new 140-foot bridge on Golf Club Hill Road that replaced a 36-foot culvert that was blocking salmon from making their way up Chico Creek to undeveloped upstream habitat. The culvert was originally built as a railroad spur for the Navy in the 1930s. Now, salmon and other wildlife can move freely and access upper reaches of the creek and its tributaries.

This project was successful due to the cooperative partnership between the Suquamish Tribe, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Kitsap County, and Interwest Construction Inc. I look forward to continue enjoying Chico Creek, and seeing the wildlife thrive in this improved environment for years to come.

Seabeck CC

Seabeck Community Center

The Seabeck Community campus is growing. Planning is underway to convert the gymnasium of the former Seabeck Elementary School into a new community center. This effort is the result of a partnership between the Central Kitsap School District, Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue, and the local neighbors. The County strongly supports this project. The school district will repair the building while local residents will clean it and host activities. For more information on efforts to create this community gathering place and how you can support the project, go to https://www.seabeckcc.org.

Fairgrounds Road in Central Kitsap

The project to make much-needed improvements to Fairgrounds Road NW in Central Kitsap was awarded $2.3 million from the federal Surface Transportation Program. The scope of work includes construction of six-foot sidewalks on both sides of Fairgrounds Road from Woodbridge Lane to the Nels Nelson Road intersection, 11-foot travel lanes, an eastbound bike lane and better lighting. This project will provide direct and safe pedestrian and bicycle connections along Fairgrounds Road, which serves four schools with approximately 2,500 students, including Fairview Middle School, Cottonwood Elementary School, Woodlands Elementary School, and Olympic High School. Improving safety and access will increase opportunities for walking, bicycling and other physical activity to benefit public health.

Clear Creek apartments project

A 148-unit apartment complex off Clear Creek Road, north of The Trails at Silverdale, is planned. The apartment complex will border the Fieldstone Senior Living Community, and provide more flexible housing options for Silverdale. Units will range from studio apartments to three bedrooms.

Seabeck Creet

Seabeck Bridge reopens

Another 2020 culvert replacement project in Kitsap was completed on Seabeck Holly Road NW, three weeks ahead of schedule. The road was closed to replace an undersized culvert with a new bridge. The upgrade now allows fish the ability to pass through to improved stream beds. The road was closed from late July to mid-December. Though the road is open, additional work such as planting vegetation and utility work will continue until mid-February. Thank you to the Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group and Kitsap County Public Works for all their hard work on this project.