Duthie Hill Mountain Bike Park opens / May 22, 2010

May 25, 2010

South Issaquah residents seek relief from odors

May 25, 2010

Air quality officials seek comments

Fed up with odors wafting from nearby Cedar Grove Composting, residents in the Four Lakes neighborhood south of Issaquah asked the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency to do something about the smell.

Now, as the air quality agency considers a permit for the composting facility, Four Lakes leaders want community members to offer input.

The agency wants to consolidate five permits for projects dating to 1993 into a single permit. The permit requires, for instance, Cedar Grove to filter air and handle waste inside enclosed spaces. In some cases, the company has already taken steps called for in the proposal.

The draft permit does not allow for production increases or changes to the way the facility operates.

Puget Sound Clean Air Agency officials will accept comments on the proposal until June 15. The agency will also hold a community meeting June 3 at Maple Hills Elementary School.

Cedar Grove turns food scraps and yard waste from more than 500,000 households in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties into compost at the Maple Valley facility.

The agency has received almost 8,000 complaints about the facility since 1988, with most of the complaints related to odor. Downwind residents reported burning eyes and throats as a result of the stench.

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New school absence policy to affect special-needs students the most

May 25, 2010

Issaquah School District officials have made changes to the attendance policy relating to excused and unexcused absences that will impact families who plan tutoring or regularly scheduled appointments for their children during the school day.

“We want our kids at school,” said Marilyn Holm, director of special education. “We are pleased to have our parents work with us. If there are special circumstances, we will consider those on an individual basis.”

School officials sent a letter to parents of children registered in the district’s special-needs programs May 21 explaining the changes, since it will predominately affect them.

The changes will be in place at the beginning of the school year to allow families to make alternate arrangements or get additional prescriptions before then.

Children with special needs often have many prescribed medical appointments that are covered by the excused absences category, Holm said.

But in recent years, district officials said they have noticed an increase in appointments during the school day that aren’t medically necessary or prescribed.

“We’ve always had many but there just seems to be more and more, mainly in special education, but in other areas as well,” Holm said. “Parents are pulling their children out of school for occupational therapy or physical therapy, vision therapy, counseling and even tutoring.”

That’s problematic because district officials are obligated to report excused and unexcused absences and truancies to the state, said Sara Niegowski, district communications director.

“It is the law for children to be in school,” she said. “We believe actually being present in school is the No. 1 factor to being successful in school.”

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Seahawks linebacker Leroy Hill makes Issaquah court appearance

May 25, 2010

Seattle Seahawks linebacker Leroy Hill appeared in Issaquah Municipal Court last week for a charge related to a domestic violence incident.

Hill faces a misdemeanor assault charge related to the April 10 incident. During a brief appearance May 19, the court scheduled the next pre-trial hearing for June 11.

Issaquah Police arrested Hill after a late-night domestic incident at his Talus home. Officers said a dispute occurred between Hill and his then-girlfriend. Police said the woman had marks and injuries consistent with assault; she told police Hill caused the injuries.

City Prosecutor Lynn Moberly asked the court to keep a no-contact order in place between Hill and the victim, although the victim had called for the order to be lifted.

“I think that he’s a potential danger to her, and I would ask at this time that the court not lift the no-contact order,” Moberly said.

The prosecutor said the victim had told police Hill had attacked her in the past. Moberly said the past incidents included a dispute when Hill held the victim down on a bed and “crushed her throat.”

The victim did not appear in court due to what Domestic Violence Advocate Kim Leyton described as a scheduling conflict. Leyton said the victim feels the no-contact order to be unnecessary. Jon Fox, the Bellevue attorney representing Hill, agreed.

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SR 900 crash injures Newcastle man

May 25, 2010

A late-night crash left a Newcastle man with serious injuries May 22 after a speeding car hit his pickup from behind.

Washington State Patrol investigators said the accident occurred at about 11:30 p.m. on state Route 900 near 172nd Place Southeast, southwest of Issaquah. Troopers said a 25-year-old Issaquah woman driving a Ford Focus headed eastbound on state Route 900 struck the Ford pickup driven by the 35-year-old Newcastle man.

The crash sent the truck into a ditch. The vehicle flipped and landed on its roof. Troopers said the Focus came to rest in the front yard of a nearby residence.

Medics transported the man to Harborview Medical Center for treatment. He had not been wearing a seatbelt. Troopers released the woman after she received treatment at the scene. Troopers continue to investigate the accident.

Memorial service planned by VFW

May 25, 2010

The Issaquah Veteran of Foreign Wars Post 3436 hosts a Memorial Day Service at Hillside Cemetery at 10 a.m. May 31, just below the Veterans Section.

The Issaquah High School Junior Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps unit will provide the Color Guard and Honor Guard for a 21-gun salute. The Liberty High School Junior Naval ROTC will provide buglers.

VFW sponsored Boy Scout Troop No. 709 and Cub Scout Pack No. 639 will help set up at 9 a.m. May 29 and take down decorations from the cemetery after the ceremony. There will be someone at the cemetery between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday to hand out forms for people to specify the symbols — such as crosses and flags — they want on their veterans’ graves.

Cascade Ridge Elementary School gets new principal

May 25, 2010

Issaquah School District officials announced May 6 that they had hired a new principal for Cascade Ridge Elementary School.

Natalie Fowler, a program assistant for Cougar Ridge and Newcastle elementary schools, will begin in July. She is also a teacher for the gifted program at Apollo Elementary School.

Cascade Ridge Principal Colleen Shields announced her resignation earlier this spring after her husband was relocated to California.

Fowler has worked in the district for six years. She came to the district after relocating from the Austin, Texas, area, where she worked as a teacher for two years.

She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in textiles and apparel from the University of Texas at Austin, and holds a post-baccalaureate degree in education from there as well.

In her six years with the district, Fowler went back to school to earn her master’s degree in education and educational leadership certification from City University in 2009.

Superintendent Steve Rasmussen wrote in a letter to the community that it was clear from community survey responses that the next Cascade Ridge principal should be a person who builds relationships through honesty, openness and approachability. The next principal also needed to remain committed to helping every student succeed while retaining a unique sense of community, he wrote.

“It’s a tall order — justifiably so — and I believe I have found a match in Principal Fowler,” Rasmussen said. “For the past six years, Principal Fowler has shown tremendous instructional leadership in the Issaquah School District.”

Shields will help Fowler transition into her new role at Cascade Ridge in the coming months.

Lawmakers hope candy tax could be sweet charity for budget

May 25, 2010

The latest measure to close a $2.8 billion state budget gap could hit consumers in the sweet tooth.

Consumers will pay sales tax for candy, gum and soda starting June 1. Lawmakers imposed a 2-cents-per-12-ounces tax on carbonated beverages last month. Legislators also repealed the sales tax exemption for bottled water.

But the impending candy tax — with more exemptions than a Whitman’s Sampler has chocolates — has attracted the most attention.

The state does not levy sales tax on food. Lawmakers decided to no longer consider candy as a food. Instead the state will consider candy as, well, candy. Not all candy, however.

Products made with flour derived from grain will not be considered candy. The exempt items include both the chocolatey — Twix and other cookie-based bars — and the gummy — Twizzlers and other licorice.

Confused? The state Department of Revenue has posted a list of more than 3,000 sweets online to help consumers tell the difference between taxable and exempt indulgences.

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City leaders select architect for downtown parks

May 25, 2010

City parks officials picked a Seattle landscape architect to plan the “crown jewel” of the municipal parks system — a network of parks at the confluence of Issaquah Creek and the East Fork in downtown Issaquah.

The confluence area includes three contiguous properties: Tollë Anderson, Cybil-Madeline and Issaquah Creek parks. City leaders refer to the area as the “crown jewel” of city parks.

The city selected The Berger Partnership, the firm responsible for redevelopment at Warren G. Magnuson and Cal Anderson parks in Seattle. Officials announced the deal May 24.

“We take our role as stewards of the environment seriously and continuously strive to achieve balance between people and nature,” Guy Michaelsen, a partner and the landscape architect, said in a news release. “The opportunity for Confluence Park to celebrate this balance is unparalleled — Issaquah had great foresight to acquire this natural treasure in the heart of its increasingly vital downtown.”

City leaders requested proposals from landscape architects in January; the city Parks & Recreation Department received 16 responses. Staffers culled the list to the five top-scoring firms, held interviews and then invited the final three firms to participate in a conceptual design competition. Staffers and community members then picked The Berger Partnership.

Though architects sketched a conceptual plan for the parks, the final plan will be developed with input from residents about the features park-goers want. But geography and preservation requirements will limit the parks to passive recreation, such as walking trails.

Issaquah voters approved money for development of the confluence area parks in a 2006 parks bond. The measure passed with 76 percent of the vote.

Work starts on East Sunset Way interchange next month

May 25, 2010

State Department of Transportation officials last month awarded a $1.3 million contract to a Bellevue contractor to widen and upgrade the cramped East Sunset Way approach to Interstate 90.

Construction on the project should start next month and wrap by fall. Crews will widen the narrow roadway from a single lane in each direction and remove concrete barriers alongside the lanes. The temporary support wall near the roadway will be replaced. Workers will also reconfigure storm water retention ponds down the hill from the roadway.

DOT officials picked Tri-State Construction to complete the long-planned project. The department budgeted $3.5 million for the project, but bids arrived far below estimates.

Most of the work will take place off of the roadway, but the project could require up to 60 nighttime lane closures.

Crews completed most of the interchange in 2003, but left the East Sunset Way stretch undone in order to connect to the planned Southeast Bypass. City Council members canceled the proposed 1.1-mile roadway across Tiger Mountain in 2008, after 12 years of planning and $4 million.

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