Ferry tale

February 23, 2010

Vessel named for Issaquah overcomes early troubles to become fleet workhorse

Night descended hours earlier, when the weak, winter sun slunk behind the Olympic Mountains. Stragglers wait along Fauntleroy Cove; the afternoon rush ended long ago. The last commuters sit, impatient and weary, in vehicles, sealed behind steel and safety glass. Lines form and vehicles — mud-caked Subaru wagons, worn SUVs with stickers on the rear windows — inch into position. Destination: Vashon Island.

The ferry glides into view across Puget Sound. The hull carries the same name as a place 20 miles east: Issaquah.

The vessel matters little to the travelers; the Klahowya or the Tillikum could carry them home just the same.

Come daylight, the boxy Issaquah looks as unglamorous as a mail truck, with the same work ethic as a letter carrier — neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom keeps the ferry idle.

Darkness softens the hard edges, and the Issaquah looks handsome, even majestic. Light spills from the oblong windows and the open vehicle deck. Reflections glimmer across the dark water.

As the ferry approaches the West Seattle terminal, propellers churn the inky water into foam, like the frothy head on a glass of pilsner. The vessel nudges the dock, the ramp lowers and attendants in fluorescent gear direct vehicles from the maw. Not 20 minutes later, more cars, trucks and SUVs fill the hold.

The placid efficiency contrasts with the years in the Carter era when the Issaquah entered service and headlines blared problems aboard — and caused by — the ferry.

Read more

Special Olympics nurtures an enthusiasm for sports

February 23, 2010

With her straight, brown hair tied in a ponytail, 11-year-old Abbey Powers threw her basketball into the air, bounced it against the backboard and grinned as it fell through the hoop.

Her teammates whooped and her father shouted words of encouragement before the ball even hit the ground.

While many children play basketball, Abbey is a special case. Doctors diagnosed her with both autism and cerebral palsy, although they never gave her family a clear diagnosis that would explain all of her challenges.

“It was unbelievable,” her father Jeff Powers said. “We were told she wouldn’t walk, we were told she wouldn’t talk, we were told she would only live to 2.”

Now a sixth-grader at Pine Lake Middle School, Abbey has a full schedule. Four years ago, her family enrolled her in Special Olympics for a children’s basketball class. At first, her parents only knew of practices in Woodinville, and would drive Abbey all the way from Issaquah so she could dribble the ball as part of a basketball team.

When they learned Issaquah offered a Special Olympics program in their own backyard, they were delighted, Jeff Powers said. But they’re not nearly as excited as Abbey.

“She got up extra early this morning,” her father said as he watched her and her friends play ball at the Issaquah Community Center. “She could hardly wait for basketball.”

Read more

Think community, shop locally

February 23, 2010

When the winter snowstorms of December 2008 blanketed the Issaquah area, local shops and businesses experienced a spike in revenue. Shoppers stayed nearby, rather than brave snow and ice on the roadways to Bellevue or Seattle.

But once the weather cleared up, things were back to normal, said Matthew Bott, CEO of the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber and its member business owners want “normal” to be as it was when it snowed. That’s why they recently launched a “Shop Issaquah” campaign to bring awareness of the benefits of spending your money locally.

“When you shop locally … it develops the character of the community,” said Darlene Cohen, manager of the Gilman Antique Gallery, located in Gilman Square on Gilman Boulevard.

Her 17,000-square-foot antique mall is the largest antique mall on the Eastside, and offers one-of-a-kind arts, collectibles and gifts from vendors who have sold in Issaquah for 20 years or more. Each vendor is another entrepreneur, keeping commerce alive and well in Issaquah.

Other local businesses strive to be unique while filling a niche for their customers. Some local shops make room for youngsters to play in the corner while adults shop. Other businesses lead the way in community service. And almost all prefer to hire local employees whenever possible.

Read more

Discover your winter wonderland on snowshoes

February 23, 2010

With a steady snow falling, Sandra Hiltmann and David Millard strapped their snowshoes on and headed up Kendall Ridge overlooking Snoqualmie Pass and Lake Keechelus.

Crunching through snow-covered hills, the two friends enjoyed the hike’s quiet, easy pace.

Climbing up the Kendall Ridge Trail, the hikers enter another world apart from the crowded, noisy trailhead off Interstate 90.

The crowd thinned out, the silence echoed in their ears and the snow turned more powdery.

By far, snowshoeing is one of the easiest, no-fuss winter sports around.

It was Millard’s first time snowshoeing, but he cruised along without a problem. Most people quickly get used to walking in snowshoes.

“You strap them on and go,” he said as the snow crunched below his feet.

Read more

Living the dream

February 23, 2010

Issaquah resident Rick Rizzs fulfilled his boyhood fantasy of calling major league games

Dreams do come true. Seattle Mariners broadcaster Rick Rizzs is living proof. From the time he was able to pick up a baseball bat and throw a baseball, Rizzs dreamed of becoming a Big League announcer.

“I’m one of the most fortunate guys in the world,” the Issaquah resident said. “How many people get to do what they dreamed of as a kid?”

Rizzs grew up in Chicago and was passionate about baseball at an early age.

“I’ve always been a baseball fan,” said Rizzs, who would get together with guys in his neighborhood and play sandlot ball during the summer.

“We would play all day long,” he said.

Read more

Community leaders of tomorrow

February 23, 2010

Youth activism can lead to a better world

Teens today are changing the world one day and one life at a time and Issaquah youths are joining the movement.

Volunteering by 16- to 19-year-olds has more than doubled since 1989, from 13.4 percent to 28.4 percent, according to a 2007 report from The Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that oversees service programs in the U.S. Volunteering by that age group is also 36 percent higher than it was in 1974, when it was 20.9 percent. Today, 8.2 million people ages 16-24 volunteer their time.

Mitchell Byron, a Liberty High School alumni who volunteered for Athletes for Kids and is deaf, is one of them.

“I want to give back to a community that has given so much to me,” he said.

Students are learning philanthropy at home; through community organizations, like Kiwanis and Rotary clubs; in children’s leadership groups; and in school, according to the agency’s reports.

Locally, there is an Issaquah School Board policy dedicated to ensuring students learn philanthropy before they graduate, said Superintendent Steve Rasmussen.

“Globally, we want kids to know that we’re in a world that they can impact, personally and in larger groups,” he said. “I want them to know what they do impacts the rest of the world, and it is incumbent upon them to be much wiser than my generation.”

Students in Issaquah have taken that message to heart, not just for their grades, but also in hopes of leaving their world better.

“We have to take action to see the outcome that we want,” said Lindsay Baringer, a senior at Issaquah High School who volunteers with the Issaquah Schools Foundation. “If you help out, the world will be a nicer place to live.”

Read more

A band of free spirits

February 23, 2010

Michelle Dvorak

The best part about being in a band, Nick Luempert said, “is jamming with friends.” For Neil Gregerson, it’s making music and “figuring out how to put the pieces together.”

The two seniors started their band, Masters and Johnson, during the summer of their sophomore year at Issaquah High School. You can catch them playing at a number of music venues, including the Old Firehouse in Issaquah, and at art galleries, such as the Ursa Minor in Seattle. Read more

2010 Census: Time to stand up and be counted

February 23, 2010

Once every 10 years, it comes out of hiding, and it feeds. It feeds on your personal information, and it’s hungry for its decennial supper. No, it’s not a horrible monster; it’s the 2010 census.

Here’s the good news: The Census Bureau has taken steps to ensure the process is as quick and painless as possible for residents.

The census is a short questionnaire mailed to every household across the country every 10 years. Only one census must be filled out per household, and the census will ask about the number of people living in a given household. Specifically, it will ask the ages, genders and races of the people living in the household, and their relations to the homeowner. It will also ask for a phone number.

All residents need to do is fill out the census and return it in the postage-paid envelope the Census Bureau provides. It’s as simple as that.

Read more

Ben Allen Gay

February 23, 2010

Ben Gay

Ben Allen Gay, of Sammamish, died Feb. 15, 2010, after a valiant battle with brain cancer. He was 53. Read more

Frigid fanatics take the Polar Plunge

February 23, 2010

Or, how I learned to stop worrying and love near-hypothermia

Does jumping into brutally cold water sound like fun to you? On a hot summer day, it may sound like a good idea, but what about in the dead of winter? If this painfully cold combination sounds appealing, you may consider taking a polar bear plunge.

Yes, polar bear plunges are what you may expect: events where masses of people run and dive into frigid water when the weather is at its coldest. So, do you need to be completely out of your mind to participate? Not necessarily.

Polar bear plunges are held all across the country, and they are usually held as fundraising efforts. In Washington, there is a Polar Plunge series that benefits Special Olympics Washington.

The 2010 series stops at six cities, and it kicked off New Year’s Day in Lake Sammamish at Redmond’s Idylwood Park. After the kickoff, the Polar Plunge series also made stops at Alki Beach in Seattle and Columbia Park in Kennewick.

The series also stopped at Sarg Hubbard Park in Yakima Feb. 13, Walla Walla Point Park in Wenatchee Feb. 20 and Medical Lake Waterfront Park in Medical Lake Feb. 26. Visit Special Olympics Washington’s Web site for more information on upcoming plunges.

It seemed covering the series’ kickoff would make for a chillingly good article. However, since the event was in Redmond, the story needed an Issaquah connection, which meant finding Issaquah residents who were taking the plunge. This turned out to be quite difficult during the holiday season, and I was forced to resort to my plan B: take the plunge myself.

Read more

« Previous PageNext Page »