Norm McLoughlin

You can call it 'the Norm'

kitsapsun.com

You can call it 'the Norm'

Staff photo by Steve Zugschwerdt
The new government center in downtown Bremerton will be named for one of its champions and future occupants, U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Belfair.

Staff photo by Steve Zugschwerdt The new government center in downtown Bremerton will be named for one of its champions and future occupants, U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Belfair.

Norm Dicks now has an eternal place in the city he loves.

Local government leaders made sure of that Monday, naming the $25 million government center in downtown Bremerton after the boisterous, powerful congressman who championed issues important to his hometown throughout his 28-year legislative career.

A sign reading "The Norm Dicks Government Center" will adorn the front of the building at 345 Sixth St. when the building hosts its grand opening Oct. 23.

The government center will house Bremerton City Hall and the Kitsap County Health District, along with offices for the Bremerton and Kitsap County housing authorities, the Navy and Dicks' local office.

"In most of our minds, that was the No. 1 choice," Bremerton Mayor Cary Bozeman said. "If there was one person who probably deserves to have something as significant as this named after them, it was Norm Dicks.

"The other thing is it's such a shame to wait for someone to die before you honor their contribution, so it just seemed like the right thing to do. And as we talked to other people in the community, they felt this was the right thing to do."

The tireless Dicks accepted the honor graciously. His voice cracked over the phone line, hinting at what the moment meant to him.

"Obviously, I was honored that I would even be considered," Dicks said. "The city of Bremerton means a great deal to me. This is where I was born and raised. And my mother was born and raised there. So Bremerton has a special place in my heart.

"It's really a well-done building, and my office will be there. So it really means a lot to me."

Dicks, D-Belfair, has advocated securing federal dollars to help rebuild Bremerton's downtown core, including the remodel of the city-owned Admiral Theatre, the building of the Bremerton Transportation Center, and a proposed $28 million tunnel project.

Along with those, Dicks also has been a leader in keeping jobs at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, bringing new businesses to the region, and finding federal money for salmon restoration, further protecting the Olympic Peninsula's precious ecosystem.

"Norm certainly more than deserves the honor," said County Commissioner Chris Endresen. "All of the work he has done to help not only Bremerton but all of Kitsap County in all of his years in office has been invaluable."

"The main thing is that he's never forgotten where he came from," added Norm McLoughlin, head of Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority, which is overseeing construction of the government center. "He cares enormously. And he does more than just bring in funding. He brings people together and helps things happen in a positive way."

Dicks said he's not done contributing to Bremerton's rebirth. He plans to stay involved in the downtown's progress, with the building bearing his name playing a pivotal role in the process.

"We are committed to everything that we can do to help the city of Bremerton," Dicks said. "It just means a lot to me to see Bremerton coming back, and to be revitalized.

"We've done it in Tacoma. And Tacoma is really becoming a neat place. And I want to see the same thing happen in Bremerton."

Reach reporter Eric D. Williams at (360) 792-3343 or at ewilliams@thesunlink.com.<

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© 2007 Kitsap Sun