Seahawks linebacker Leroy Hill faces assault trial next week

July 21, 2010

NEW — 3:50 p.m. July 21, 2010

Seattle Seahawks linebacker Leroy Hill returned Issaquah Municipal Court on Wednesday afternoon.

Issaquah resident Hill, 27, returns court Friday. The trial for the misdemeanor assault charge he faces could start next week, and last two days.

The assault charge stems from a late-night incident April 10.

Issaquah police arrested Hill after a domestic violence incident at his Talus home, after authorities said he attacked his girlfriend. Police said the woman had marks and injuries consistent with assault; she told police Hill had caused the injuries.

But reaching her has been difficult for City Prosecutor Lynn Moberly and police officers, Moberly said Wednesday.

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Stay up late for Twitter ‘sleep up’ to document sleep disorders

July 21, 2010

NEW — 10 a.m. July 21, 2010

Swedish Medical Center sleep experts want you to spend the night.

Sleep Medicine Associates, a Swedish affiliate, plans the first all-night “sleep up” Thursday — a live, online stream documenting a patient’s overnight sleep-disorder testing. During the event, sleep doctors and technicians will answer viewers’ questions via Twitter and in video interviews.

The team hopes to raise awareness about sleep disorders and treatments through the social media experiment.

The sleep up runs from 8 p.m. Thursday to 8 a.m. Friday. Sleepless in Seattle types can follow along here.

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‘All hell broke loose’ during state park shootings

July 20, 2010

Lake Sammamish State Park shootings leave two men dead

The King County Sheriff’s Office’s Guardian One helicopter lands the morning of July 18 at Lake Sammamish State Park during the investigation of the previous night’s shootings. By Greg Farrar

In the fading summer light, some picnickers and parkgoers thought the pops echoing through Lake Sammamish State Park on July 17 sounded like fireworks.

But seconds later, the crowd unwinding at the packed Issaquah park recognized the noise as something else: gunfire.

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Shootings fail to deter visitors as park reopens

July 20, 2010

More than 1 million people visit 512-acre Lake Sammamish State Park during the summer months for hiking, picnicking and swimming.

On July 19, the day the park reopened after deadly shootings, some people said the incident gave them pause about returning. Others took a defiant tone against the violence.

The afternoon sunshine brought Carol and Joe Haldeman, 81, to the trails for a walk the day the park reopened.

“There’s nothing you can do with those gangs,” Joe Haldeman said. “When they get too close, they start shooting.”

Issaquah resident Victoria Law joined her 13-year-old son Dyllon Nguyen and two friends. The group made reservations for paddleboards more than a week ago. The shootings could not stop them from heading to the park.

“We were worried that the park would be closed for a while, but we got here about 11:15 this morning,” she said. “Something like this is unusual for Issaquah, or anywhere on the Eastside.”

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City’s population nudges upward

July 20, 2010

The number of people who moved to Issaquah last year could fit inside Pickering Barn and still have plenty of room to spare.

The annual tally from the state Office of Financial Management shows the city’s population nudged upward by 270 people last year, bringing the population to 27,160 residents. (The historic Pickering Barn holds 400 people.)

The latest population figures indicate a slowdown after a decade marked by large annexations and a housing construction boom in the Issaquah Highlands and Talus. The city ballooned by 139 percent between April 2000 and April 2009.

Issaquah ranked as the fifth fastest-growing city in the state during the previous decade. In early 2000, about 11,000 people called Issaquah home. The population had swelled to 26,890 by April 2009.

“It’s slowed down quite a bit, of course, over the last year, due to the recession,” city Planning Director Mark Hinthorne said.

Issaquah remains the 38th largest city in the state — a spot the city has held since 2008. The city ranked 61st in April 2000.

State demographers rely on changes in school enrollment, housing, voter registration, driver licensing and other indicators to determine population growth.

State officials use the population data to determine how dollars should be allotted to municipalities.

Despite the recession-related slowdown, Issaquah stands to grow in the years ahead. Earlier this year, planners proposed adding 5,750 housing units and 20,000 jobs to Issaquah by 2035.

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First salmon of the year reaches Issaquah Creek

July 20, 2010

Issaquah Salmon Hatchery workers and Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery volunteers spotted the first salmon of the year in Issaquah Creek last week — more than a month before the fish usually arrive.

Teams confirmed a fish in the creek to be a female chinook. But the species of another fish spotted in the waterway could not be determined, though hatchery volunteers believed the fish could be a chinook.

FISH Executive Director Gestin Suttle attributed the early arrival to unseasonable rainfall and higher-than-usual flow in the creek.

The first chinook salmon of the year to reach the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery swims in Issaquah Creek. Contributed

“We’re excited and wondering what’s going on,” she said.

FISH Education Coordinator Celina Steiger spotted the salmon earlier in the week, and Hatchery Manager John Kugen later confirmed the find.

Suttle described the mid-July arrival as the earliest in recent memory.

In 2009, the hatchery recorded the arrival of the first chinook — a 25-pound hen, or female — in late August.

Muckleshoot Tribe biologists had counted about 360 chinook salmon at the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in Ballard by July 19. Most of the chinook and coho passing through the locks head to Issaquah Creek in order to spawn.

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or Comment at

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Speeding crackdown continues

July 20, 2010

Issaquah police and law enforcement agencies throughout King County plan to blanket area roads with extra patrols in order to crack down on speeding.

The beefed-up enforcement continues through Aug. 1 as part of the Slow Down or Pay Up campaign. Safety officials said the effort ties into a statewide plan — called Target Zero — to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries on Evergreen State roads by 2030. The state Traffic Safety Commission funds the extra patrols.

“Speeding may seem like a quick and effective shortcut, but in fact it is a leading cause of traffic deaths and injuries in King County and Washington state,” Dr. David Fleming, director and health officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County, said in a news release. “Speed-related crashes harm individuals, families and communities, and many people hurt in these crashes suffer life-altering trauma and never recover fully.”

Speeding drivers killed 140 people in King County between 2006-08, accounting for 44 percent of traffic deaths in the county during that period.

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Nudists take another crack at skinny dipping world record

July 20, 2010

On July 10, 187 naked men and women of all ages submerged side-by-side together in a pool, beneath the hot summer sun at the Fraternity Snoqualmie Family Nudist Park.

Each was participating in the park’s second annual skinny-dipping competition, held at the 40-acre property located just three miles outside of Issaquah and owned by Fraternity Snoqualmie since 1945.

Sara (left), of Lakewood, who asked her last name not be used, and Frank McConnell, of Kent, greet each other at Fraternity Snoqualmie July 10 during 187 club members’ attempt to help break last year’s skinny-dipping record set by nudist camps around the country. By Greg Farrar

The event was a part of a national skinny-dipping competition, sponsored by the American Association for Nude Recreation, which takes place annually. Participants at Fraternity Snoqualmie dipped simultaneously alongside nude clubs all over North America. Last year, 13,648 people in roughly 270 nudist clubs across the country participated in an effort to break the Guinness Book of World Records Skinny Dip.

As the public relations representative for Fraternity Snoqualmie, Dawnzella Gearhart, explained, certain rules had to be followed for the event to be considered an official world record attempt.

“Someone within good standing of the community had to be present,” she said. “It authenticates the whole attempt.”

And every participant signed a release form, and had to be completely naked and submerged by the established time of noon.

Fraternity Snoqualmie beat its record of 186 from last year by one person.

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Seahawks linebacker Leroy Hill returns to Issaquah courtroom

July 20, 2010

Embattled Seattle Seahawks linebacker Leroy Hill should return to Issaquah Municipal Court on July 21.

Hill, facing a misdemeanor domestic violence charge, is due back in Judge N. Scott Stewart’s courtroom then. The 27-year-old appeared in court July 14 as attorneys for the case discussed procedural matters.

The charge stems from a late-night incident April 10, when Issaquah police arrested Hill after a 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.

The incident occurred less than a month after a Georgia judge sentenced Hill to 12 months probation for marijuana possession. The probation could be revoked because of the domestic violence charge.

The legal troubles raised questions about Hill’s future with the Seahawks.

NFL officials suspended Hill from the Sept. 4 season opener against the San Francisco 49ers for violating the league substance-abuse policy.

Hill had not been part of any off-season practices since the Issaquah arrest, but rejoined workouts June 14. The team starts training camp July 31.

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Downtown trolleys will be delayed until at least next spring, backers say

July 20, 2010

Historic trolleys might not clang through downtown Issaquah until next spring, despite plans to relaunch the tourist attraction much earlier.

Trolley backers had hoped to run the historic cars from the Issaquah Train Depot downtown to the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce office by late summer.

Engineers had hoped to advertise the project to potential contractors by May, but August seems more realistic under the updated timeline.

The city oversees about $500,000 in grant money awarded to the project. Barb Justice and other Issaquah Valley Trolley Project volunteers manage the long-running effort to run trolleys in downtown Issaquah.

The group has become accustomed to the delays inherent in restoring 75-year-old trolleys and readying unused railroad tracks for the vehicles.

“Things seem to take 10 times longer than one would hope,” Justice, grants coordinator for the trolley project, said in early July.

City Senior Engineer Rory Cameron said the city last week submitted the application for authority to administer the grant. The city submitted the proposal to the state Department of Transportation, the agency responsible for managing federal transportation dollars in Washington.

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