County leaders take step to rein in labor costs

July 14, 2010

NEW — 12:50 p.m. July 14, 2010

King County leaders took a step Wednesday to reduce labor costs — or 60 percent of the cash-strapped county’s budget.

The proposed reforms could require county employees to pay more for health and dental benefits, limit inflation-related raises, cut overtime and call for employee layoffs to be based on merit instead of seniority.

County Council members — acting as the Labor Policy Committee — adopted the set of labor reforms in a unanimous decision. The changes could impact as many as 11,000 county employees.

The package could prompt a face-off between county leaders and public employee unions, as the county struggles to contain a $60 million budget deficit next year.

Councilwoman Kathy Lambert, the Issaquah representative on the council, and council Chairman Bob Ferguson spearheaded the effort.

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CSI: Issaquah / July 14, 2010

July 14, 2010

Salmon Days gets new title spawnsor

July 14, 2010

NEW — 6 a.m. July 14, 2010

Virginia Mason Medical Center is now the ohfishal title spawnsor for Issaquah’s Salmon Days Festival.

Virginia Mason has been the ohfishal Go Fish! Stage spawnsor for the past two years. Now, Salmon Days has signed a multiple-year contract with Virginia Mason as the ohfishal title spawnsor.

Virginia Mason offers a full range of primary and specialty care services at its Issaquah clinic, 100 N.E. Gilman Blvd.

The Issaquah Salmon Days Festival, ohfishally brought to the community by the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce, celebrates the return of the salmon in downtown Issaquah. The festival, held Saturday and Sunday, has all kinds of fun, fishy, family friendly and free activities.

In its 41st year as Issaquah’s premier, free, community event, Salmon Days and Ohfishal Title Spawnsor Virginia Mason Medical Center invite you to come to the festival, from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Oct. 2 and 3.

Learn more about Salmon Days by going to www.salmondays.org, e-mailing info@salmondays.org or calling 392-0661.

Overnight blaze damages Chinese restaurant

July 13, 2010

Cleaning crews scour the air ducts at Cascade Garden after fire damaged the Chinese restaurant overnight July 9.

Flames damaged a Chinese restaurant along Northwest Gilman Boulevard early July 9.

Eastside Fire & Rescue crews responded to a small fire at Cascade Garden, 1580 N.W. Gilman Blvd., at about 1:15 a.m.

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Issaquah, Tibbetts creeks monitored for growth impacts

July 13, 2010

The federal government awarded almost $1 million to King County last week to monitor Issaquah Creek and other salmon-bearing streams.

The county intends to use the federal dollars to monitor up to 50 sections of streams in the Sammamish watershed, as well as 10 Environmental Protection Agency sites. The watershed encompasses numerous streams — including Issaquah and Tibbetts creeks, as well as other smaller creeks draining to the east and west shores of Lake Sammamish.

The grant funds creek monitoring for the next four years. Scientists intend to examine the impact of growth on the watershed and determine how to best manage the waterways.

King County received $995,716 from the EPA to supplement the $335,933 the county has pledged to the project. The federal agency announced the recipients July 6.

EPA leaders characterized the local grant as part of a regional effort to improve water quality in Puget Sound.

“Puget Sound is our region’s icon,” Dennis McLerran, the regional EPA administrator in Seattle, said in a news release. “Every grant dollar we’re announcing today directly supports the goal of a healthy Puget Sound by 2020. We have a strong team working for progress we can all be proud of.”

The agency received more than 100 applications, and awarded almost $30 million to address industrial contamination, urban pollution and habitat loss in the sound.

The grants fund projects to remove invasive species from local watersheds, improve salmon migration and increase fish population, purchase ecologically sensitive habitat and educate Puget Sound-region residents about ways to reduce their environmental footprint.

“This funding helps us fulfill our commitment to environmental stewardship while expanding our partnerships across the Puget Sound region,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said in a statement. “By partnering with the EPA and other agencies, we are getting more accomplished for fewer taxpayer dollars.”

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

Hot spell is no sweat for residents

July 13, 2010

Temperatures in Issaquah rose into the 90s last week, as summer weather made a belated debut.

The area posted records July 7-9 with three days that sent the mercury soaring past 90 degrees at Sea-Tac International Airport, where official measurements are taken, National Weather Service Meteorologist Mike McFarland said.

The 90-degree heat July 7 and 95-degree heat July 8 broke records set at 88 degrees in 1953, while the 93-degree record July 9 broke the record of 91 degrees set in 1985, he said.

During the hot spell, police officers, city officials and firefighters said they kept busy with routine calls, but there were few instances of people in distress due to it.

“There were a few calls from folks who were worried about dogs left in vehicles, but the dogs were all OK,” city spokeswoman Autumn Monahan wrote in an e-mail.

There weren’t any cases involving heat-related injury or illness, Eastside Fire & Rescue spokeswoman Josie Williams said.

The local American Red Cross chapter and Public Health – Seattle & King County reminded Issaquah and King County residents — including children, the elderly and people with chronic health issues — to take precautions to address the heat and stay safe.

To help, The Issaquah Valley Senior Center, 75 N.E. Creek Way, opened its doors to everybody who wanted to use the building as a cooling shelter.

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Congressman talks trade during stop here

July 13, 2010

Congressman Dave Reichert emphasized trade as a prescription to revive the stalled economy during a meeting with Issaquah business leaders late last week.

Reichert, a Republican and former King County sheriff, stopped at Blakely Hall in the Issaquah Highlands on July 9 for a 90-minute discussion about how recent federal legislation affects businesses.

The congressman called on the federal government to make ports in trade-dependent Washington more attractive to businesses, because, he added after the Issaquah meeting, the state cannot afford to lose trade to ports in neighboring British Columbia.

Dave Reichert

“If our ports start to lose business, the businesses here that are supported by importing and exporting goods will begin to falter,” he said.

The fallout, he said, could impact businesses throughout the Eastside — the population center in the congressional district Reichert has represented since 2003.

President Obama appointed Reichert to the President’s Export Council in May. The group — lawmakers, federal department chiefs, and business and labor leaders — advises the president on trade issues.

Reichert offered support for a White House goal to double U.S. exports by 2015.

“His mission, which I applaud, is to double exports in the next five years,” Reichert said. “I’m going to bring some ideas on how we might be able to do that. One of those would be: We need to pass trade agreements.”

The congressman said a proposed free trade agreement between the United States and South Korea could help meet the goal. Though the Bush administration negotiated most of the pact, the proposal has been stalled since 2007.

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Comcast price hike does not affect Issaquah

July 13, 2010

Though Comcast intends to raise prices about 5 percent for some Western Washington customers, the coming hike does not affect Issaquah customers.

The city Cable TV Commission and Comcast continue to negotiate a franchise agreement for Issaquah. Under the existing system, separate agreements cover Issaquah.

South Cove and Greenwood Point residents paid higher prices for cable services to a separate company operating under the Comcast brand.

Issaquah annexed the neighborhoods in 2006, and the franchise proposal under consideration unites the city under a single agreement. City officials expect prices to rise under the updated agreement, though the amount remains uncertain.

Cable TV Commission and Comcast officials plan to finalize the agreement in the coming months.

Comcast announced a plan in early July to raise prices for most cable customers Aug. 1.

Greenway pioneer receives top environmental honor

July 13, 2010

Mountains to Sound Greenway pioneer Ted Thomsen — “the unsung hero” behind the 101-mile greenbelt — received the highest environmental honor in Issaquah in a City Hall ceremony last week.

The late Thomsen received the Ruth Kees Award for a Sustainable Community — the prize named for the late environmentalist, a tireless advocate for open space preservation. The city selected Thomsen for the yearslong effort to establish a billboard-free greenbelt from Seattle to Central Washington along Interstate 90.

Cynthia Welti, Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust executive director, nominated Thomsen for the honor.

“He was essential to bringing the greenway vision to fruition,” she recalled in the nomination. “Ted is the unsung hero of the launch of this tremendous coalition effort.”

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Executive outlines county ‘green’ energy plan

July 13, 2010

King County Executive Dow Constantine debuted a plan last week to cut energy use, stimulate the development of “green” technology and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The plan sets goals to produce, use or buy renewable energy equal to 50 percent of total county energy requirements by 2012; reduce energy usage in county buildings 10 percent by 2012; and cut energy use in county vehicles 10 percent by 2015.

Constantine announced the plan July 7.

“This 2010 King County Energy Plan builds on these investments and supports my reform agenda’s focus on improving the sustainability and efficiency of county operations,” he said in a news release. “We’ve taken advantage of incentives from local utilities to make investments that produce long-term savings and partnered with private sector companies to produce energy from existing county facilities, such as the Cedar Hills landfill and the West Point Wastewater Treatment Plant.”

Cedar Hills Regional Landfill — spread across more than 900 acres south of Issaquah — serves a role in the “green” vision described by Constantine. Read more

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