Bellevue College eyes Issaquah Highlands for campus

August 31, 2010

Bellevue College is interested in buying 20 acres in the Issaquah Highlands for a potential extension campus, the college president announced last week — days after the City Council opened the land under consideration to denser development.

The announcement kicks off a comprehensive review by Bellevue College leaders. The college — the third-largest educational institution in the state — intends to determine how the site could suit long-term needs.

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City invites input as mayor prepares to hire administrator

August 31, 2010

The candidates in the running to become the next Issaquah city administrator — the No. 2 position at City Hall — offer experience as managers in similar-sized cities.

Mayor Ava Frisinger and Greg Prothman, the Bellevue headhunter hired by the city, had narrowed the list to a half-dozen candidates by last week. The number had shrunk to five by Aug. 30, after a finalist accepted a job in another city.

Frisinger has so far remained tight-lipped as she searched for a successor to Leon Kos, the city administrator for 33 years. Kos retired in late April and the search for a replacement started in late spring.

The process has been kept quiet in part because the applicants do not want their current employers to know about their job searches.

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New era dawns for Issaquah High School

August 31, 2010

Classrooms, office and gymnasium fill new three-story building

For the first time in five years, Issaquah High School has freshmen, and for the first time since it moved to its current site in 1962, it has an entirely new school building.

School opened Aug. 31 to more than 1,800 Issaquah High School students. Students can see 21st century technology breathing out of every corner, and views of Tiger Mountain and the stadium from most of the school’s windows.

The roof by the library has a garden of red and green plants growing toward the sky. Students will be able to access wireless Internet from anywhere in the school once it is set up, in about three weeks.

Librarian Bill Schadt said the new library is larger than the old one. The new space can fit two classes instead of one and has 40 computers. As for the rooftop garden, “I think it will be a nice view to study near, looking at the mountains and plants,” he said.

Lights are either on timers or motion sensors, saving the school on its electricity bill. Every teaching classroom has ActivSlate and ActiveExpression, smart technology that allows students to interact more with their teachers and classmates during lessons.

“One of the things we wanted in the new science room was more integration,” chemistry teacher Jay Radmer said.

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Picnic kicks off effort to plan parks

August 31, 2010

Like a scene from a spring L.L.Bean catalog, a doe and a pair of fawns peeked from the trees along the creek bank in the fading light.

The deer moseyed from the brush along Issaquah Creek just as the Aug. 26 meeting to plan the future of Tollë Anderson, Cybil-Madeline and Issaquah Creek parks came to a close. The picnic hosted about 130 residents, city staffers and community leaders to start a monthslong process to plan the 15.5-acre downtown parks.

But as the meeting ended, the remaining attendees forgot ideas for trails, a playground and, maybe, a history museum, and all attention instead focused on the deer.

“They were supposed to be here an hour ago,” landscape architect Guy Michaelsen cracked.

The architect and the team from The Berger Partnership jotted dozens of ideas for activities and facilities onto giant sheets of paper. The early favorite: restrooms.

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King County picks plan to keep landfill open for another decade

August 31, 2010

Cedar Hills Regional Landfill could remain open until the mid-2020s under a proposed plan, even as other factors — such as increased recycling and a feeble economy — stretch the number of years the landfill could operate.

The proposal to increase capacity at the giant landfill has inched ahead, after King County Solid Waste Division leaders spent 16 months addressing concerns about the project as part of a required environmental analysis.

Nearby homeowners raised concerns about odors, noise, storm water runoff, ground water contamination and traffic, plus potential impacts on flora and fauna.

Solid Waste Division leaders released the detailed analysis, or environmental impact statement, of the expansion proposals in late July.

The landfill encompasses 920 acres in unincorporated King County between Issaquah and Maple Valley.

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Zoo offers chance for photos with cheetah

August 31, 2010

Cougar Mountain Zoo has raised all but about $100,000 needed for the Issaquah institution to open a cheetah exhibit, possibly as early as next year.

The zoo has planned a posh Cheetah Masquerade Gala for Sept. 18 to help meet the fundraising goal. Zoo General Curator Robyn Barfoot announced a special treat for attendees at the gala: the chance to have their photo taken next to a cheetah.

Only a lucky handful can get up close to the cheetah — a 4-year-old female named Taini from Wildlife Safari in Winston, Ore. — by bidding for three photo opportunities up for grabs in a silent auction.

Wildlife Safari, a drive-through preserve about 90 minutes south of Eugene, is the only facility in the Pacific Northwest to exhibit cheetahs.

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More chinook reach Issaquah Salmon Hatchery

August 31, 2010

Chinook salmon started to trickle into the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery last week, about a month after the first salmon reached Issaquah Creek.

The latest arrivals appeared at the hatchery a year to the day after the first chinook returned in 2009.

“This is really more on target with our normal first arrival,” Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery Executive Director Gestin Suttle said Aug. 26, the day after the chinook arrived.

The fish had reached the hatchery weir by Aug. 25. Suttle said hatchery workers and FISH volunteers had not yet been able to determine the gender of the four chinook.

The hatchery expects more chinook in the weeks ahead, as the salmon return to Issaquah Creek to spawn. FISH docents start leading hatchery tours in mid-September.

The mid-July arrival of the first chinook — the earliest in recent memory — surprised hatchery workers and FISH volunteers.

The hatchery recorded the arrival of the first chinook — a 25-pound hen, or female — in Issaquah Creek last year on Aug. 25.

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New May Creek Bridge opens to vehicles

August 31, 2010

May Creek Bridge near the intersection of Southeast May Valley Road and state Route 900 has reopened to traffic after a summerlong closure.

King County crews built a $1.7 million May Creek Bridge to replace a timber-supported span across the north fork of May Creek. The larger, safer bridge opened Aug. 27 — ahead of the Aug. 31 completion deadline.

Teams from Kirkland-based MidMountain Contractors dismantled the aging bridge and built a modern replacement designed to include wider lanes and shoulders, and bear heavier loads.

The old bridge closed June 21. The timing coincided with summer break in the Issaquah School District. Students returned to school Aug. 31.

Linda Thielke, Road Services Division spokeswoman, said the county received few comments from drivers during the shutdown and construction — aside from the usual questions about why the bridge had to remain closed for several weeks.

King County Road Services Division planners picked a full shutdown because the option allowed for the fastest construction of the replacement.

The old bridge constricted traffic at the nearby intersection of state Route 900 and Southeast May Valley Road.

Planners started outreach for the project years ago. The county hosted open houses and, before the June shutdown, sent 8,000 mailers with construction information to nearby residents.

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Local ‘Judge Judy’ rebuked in Time magazine piece

August 31, 2010

Judge Judith Eiler — the tough-talking King County District Court judge — has been reproached in a blistering piece in Time magazine.

Adam Cohen — a lawyer, former Time scribe and past editorial board member at The New York Times — took Eiler to task for her brusque behavior on the bench in a piece posted to the magazine’s website Aug. 18. Read the piece here.

The state Supreme Court rebuked Eiler in early August. Justices ordered Eiler to be suspended from the bench for five days without pay.

Eiler used to preside at the Issaquah Courthouse, but has since been reassigned to a district courthouse in Seattle. The court handles traffic infractions, small claims and some civil matters.

Cohen applauded the Supreme Court decision, but pushed for justices to do more. He also made inevitable comparisons between Eiler and a certain former New York City Family Court judge.

“It is hard to believe TV’s Judge Judy was not a strong influence on Seattle’s Judge Judy,” he continued. “TV’s Judge Judy yells at litigants and belittles them, and her specialty is finding innovative new ways of calling people stupid.”

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Press Editorial

August 31, 2010

Ambulance fees worth considering

Yes, the economy has not turned around, but sometimes government cannot simply slice and dice its way to a balanced budget. All ideas are on the table for increasing revenue — including an Eastside Fire & Rescue fee for ambulance rides.

The city of Sammamish has asked EFR to present a budget with no increase in spending from last year. While unrealistic, it’s an interesting exercise, and has produced some interesting ideas. Charging for ambulance rides is one worth examining. Read more

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