Olympic College president gives notice of resignation
June 10, 2008 · Updated 5:55 PM
"POULSBO - It's as if the 'Perils of Pauline' are following the Olympic College campus project, Poulsbo City Councilman Ed Stern said just 24 hours after hearing that the biggest advocate for the Poulsbo branch, OC President Karl Jonietz, has announced his resignation. The 1914 suspense movie series starring Pearl White was most famous for the damsel Pauline being tied to the railroad tracks as a train sped toward her. But while she was rescued time and time again, supporters are now wondering whether anyone will be there to untie Olympic College Poulsbo before the locomotive gives it a one way ticket to oblivion. Jonietz came to the college's aid in 1997 and has since played the part of hero to the branch campus, saving it from ongoing appeals, funding issues and infrastructure problems - the most recent of which have stemmed from conflicts with Olhava developers First Western. Nonetheless, the president said the uphill battle with First Western was not a major factor in his decision to give the required six-month's notice to the college board of trustees Wednesday. Progress is always difficult, Jonietz said. I'm, sorry we've been unable to do what we set out to do. Citing personal reasons for his departure, Jonietz explained that it was simply the right time for him to move on. He and his wife plan to relocate to Santa Fe, New Mexico. There's no big scandal. We're at a good place for the college, I feel, he remarked. There are obvious things I'd like to have accomplished - Poulsbo's campus being one of them. Mike Connolly, vice president of administration at Olympic College, didn't feel the resignation would have an adverse impact on the proposed branch, but Stern said the loss of Jonietz would likely have some effect on future negotiations between the college and the developer. This will mean a change of leadership. Obviously, I have some concerns with continuity, Stern said. Karl is very familiar with this project and after he made the announcement to the (Economic Development Council) he did express to me his deep frustration with First Western. Discrepancies over which party should provide the required fire flow to the proposed OC construction site at Poulsbo's northwestern edge brought progress there to a screeching halt earlier this year. And although the $13 million in state funds dedicated to the project is reportedly safe, that amount will dwindle as delays persist and inflation continues - something which has sent officials from the college on a search for other options. A search that has so far been fruitless. Despite months of postponing, First Western is still dragging its feet at the 215-acre development, which aside from the college is expected to become the location for a new residential area and commercial ventures. They haven't submitted any applications, city engineer John Stephenson confirmed Thursday. On Jan. 25, officials from First Western laid out their game plan for construction at the site, stating that by March 1 they would be submitting an application for engineering work and would have permits completed by May 15. On-site grading and drainage, Stephenson said, was supposed to begin June 15 but, so far, nothing has. They're going on about four months, he added. Stern said he hopes to end this trend though and plans to schedule a joint meeting between First Western and Olympic College in the ensuing months in an attempt to pull the branch campus off the tracks for good. "