Sammamish decides against taking over Klahanie Park

April 13, 2010

Sammamish will not become the temporary owner of Klahanie Park, the Sammamish City Council decided last week.

With a 7-0 vote, the council decided against becoming the temporary owner of the park April 6. The city will still work to keep the park open.

King County had offered up the park on a three-year basis and on the condition that if Issaquah annexed the Klahanie development in the future, the park would transfer to Issaquah.

For Sammamish to take it over on a permanent basis, the Sammamish City Council would have to sign off on the transfer, the city of Issaquah would need to remove the park from its potential annexation area and the King County Council would have to give its blessing, too.

None of that may matter now, though. The prospect of paying to maintain the park without having permanent ownership wasn’t all that appetizing to Sammamish’s council.

“Why are we cutting their grass for free? That’s how I see it,” Councilman John Curley said.

Concerned Citizens of Klahanie, a citizen group that opposes Sammamish’s proposed takeover of the park, also turned some council members’ heads.

“We’ve gotten a lot of e-mails from people in Klahanie. They really don’t want Sammamish in their park. I think we really should respect their wishes,” Councilwoman Nancy Whitten said.

Councilwoman Michele Petitti went so far as to say that she was offended by the negative publicity attached to the proposed takeover. Read more

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Volunteers complete trail

April 13, 2010

Issaquah Alps Trails Club and Washington Trails Association volunteers have donated more than 2,200 hours to complete a new trail in the West Tiger Mountain/Tradition Plateau Natural Resource Conservation Area.

Volunteers completed the 0.34 mile-long trail in early March. The groups continue to tweak the path, but the trail has opened to the public.

The trail provides safe access to the High Point Trailhead, when the upper parking lot is full and the only parking available is along Southeast 79th Street.

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County 911 system receives national recognition

April 13, 2010

For the first time, the King County Sheriff’s Office Communications Center received national accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement.

Commissioners conferred the award to the center March 27. The sheriff’s office announced the honor last week.

Accreditation culminated a rigorous, 28-month process to meet more than 200 standards of professional communications excellence.

Evaluators examined how the communications center conducts business in January, as part of the accreditation process. The team reviewed policy and procedures, management, operations and support services.

The center handles 911 calls from unincorporated King County, 12 cities, Metro Transit Police, King County Airport Police and King County Animal Care and Control. Emergency 911 calls made within Issaquah route to the Issaquah Police Department.

“I am very pleased our comm center met the very exacting standards of CALEA,” Sheriff Sue Rahr said in a news release. “It demonstrates the high level of law enforcement services and commitment our employees offer to the citizens of King County.”

The accreditation lasts for three years before the center will be verified again.

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Cascade Ridge principal resigns

April 13, 2010

Colleen Shields, principal at Cascade Ridge Elementary School, announced her resignation April 5 after two years at the school.

“It is with extremely mixed emotions that I am announcing my decision to accept a new leadership position in the State of California beginning July 1,” she wrote in a letter to the community. “This new position allows me to be closer to members of my family and to support my husband’s current employment situation.”

Shields was hired in 2008. She came to the school with 11 years as an elementary school principal and 12 years of experience as an elementary school teacher.

“Cascade Ridge has thrived under Colleen’s leadership. She and her staff expect every student to achieve remarkable things — and they do,” Superintendent Steve Rasmussen said. “She has a heart for students and elementary education. We will certainly miss her.”

Parents are asked to help district officials find a new principal by filling out an online survey by 4 p.m. April 16. Parents can take the survey, which includes questions about what characteristics are important in a principal, here.

District officials will use the survey results to help hire a new principal for the school with help from a committee, which will include faculty members and parents.

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Library jobs program earns national honor

April 13, 2010

A King County Library System jobs outreach project received a third national award, library officials announced late last month.

Look to Your Library — a community outreach project by the library system — has been named a winner in the 64th annual John Cotton Dana Library Public Relations Award Competition, sponsored by the H. W. Wilson Co. and coordinated by the Library Leadership and Management Association.

The award — the longest-established and most prestigious honor for library public relations through the American Library Association — recognizes libraries for excellence in communication promoting library services. The award marks the third such honor the library system has received since 2000.

Look to Your Library combined library events, in-person coaching, a dedicated Web section featuring library and community resources, and a comprehensive media and community outreach campaign to connect Puget Sound-area residents with information and services to help them weather the recession. Libraries implemented the program early last year.

The program remains popular with library patrons. The special-purpose Web section for the program has recorded nearly 30,000 visits in 10 months. Meanwhile, media coverage of the program reached record highs for the library system.

More than 40 libraries submitted entries for the prestigious award, and a jury selected six recipients. Each winning library will receive a $5,000 award.

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Council keeps human services coordinator

April 13, 2010

City Human Services Coordinator Steve Gierke will remain on the job, the City Council decided last week.

The council authorized $23,250 to fund the position, as well as a recording secretary to attend city Human Services Commission meetings, through December. Gierke, as a consultant contracted by the city rather than a full-time employee, does not receive city benefits.

Gierke oversees a broad human services portfolio — the council funds 31 agencies and 37 programs — and serves as the liaison to the Human Services Commission.

Officials ordered a study last fall to determine if the city needed a human services coordinator, or if other city employees could pick up the tasks. The council agreed to spend $10,000 to fund the position through early 2010.

The study determined the tasks assigned to Gierke could not be reassigned to other staffers. Officials cut the municipal workforce by 10 percent last year though layoffs, a hiring freeze and a severance program.

Mayor Ava Frisinger and council members will decide whether to fund the human services position for 2011 when the budget process starts in October.

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City works to cut storm water pollution

April 13, 2010

Staffers touted a city program to reduce the amount of pollutants running into the municipal storm drainage system and local streams in a recent report to the state Department of Ecology.

The city submitted the third annual report to the Department of Ecology as part of a storm water permit.

The permit requires the city to develop and implement a storm water management program for 2007-12. The program must then be approved by the Department of Ecology. The annual report identifies requirements the city had to meet during the past year.

Staffers reduce pollutants through public education, outreach and participation. The city works to detect illicit discharges and eliminate any problems. Controlling runoff from construction sites also forms a key part of the plan. Staffers also take steps to prevent pollution through city operation and maintenance operations.

The focus last year centered on updating city regulations related to erosion and sediment control at construction sites, as well discharges into storm drains.

Workers will update inspection and maintenance programs for public and private storm water facilities throughout 2010.

Read about the program and find the complete report on the city Web site, or contact city Surface Water Engineer Valerie Monsey at 837-3408.

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Highlands storage facility construction starts next month

April 13, 2010

A developer plans to break ground on a self-storage facility near the Issaquah Highlands Park & Ride next month.

The facility will include 500 storage units, including 800 square feet of climate-controlled space for wine storage. Plans call for the facility to open next March.

The building will stand taller than surrounding buildings, including the transit lot. Other projects planned for the area (such as a movie theater) or under construction (YWCA Family Village at Issaquah) could help the storage facility blend in with surrounding structures. Crews broke ground last week on zHome, a collection of 10 townhouses designed to produce as much electricity as the units consume. The complex will be built on about a half-acre near the YWCA housing.

The developer said the design of the storage facility would include energy-saving features.

The storage facility will become the latest project under construction in the highlands, where the recession has slowed development. Highlands developer Port Blakely Communities seeks a new development partner in order to complete the retail vision for the highlands. The latest plan offered by the developer includes the storage facility, a grocery store, the movie theater and a gas station.

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City folk give urban farming a try

April 13, 2010

Where did your breakfast this morning come from?

If you dig into the rising trend of urban farming, it could come from your own backyard.

Urban farming has become increasingly popular in recent years, and people are pushing its boundaries beyond a few tomato plants. Year-round vegetable, fruit and herb gardens, and chickens, goats and even bees are now being raised in people’s yards.

“The last couple years, we’ve seen a huge upsurge in people’s interest in growing food in the city,” said Liza Burke, communications director of Seattle Tilth, a nonprofit education group with classes in Seattle and Issaquah.

Such people come from all walks of life.

The demand for chickens has “become insane” at The Grange Supply in Issaquah, said Susan Saadati, who orders things including baby chicks for the company.

“Most of our customers are new to chickens,” she said.

Many people might be intimidated at the idea of raising livestock or even just lima beans in their backyard, but anyone can be an urban farmer, experts said. Read more

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School district contract negotiations begin

April 13, 2010

Issaquah School District and union officials are rolling up their sleeves and coming to the bargaining table as four employee groups’ contracts expire this summer.

Contracts for teachers, bus drivers, secretaries and educational assistants expire Aug. 31.

Public employees in the state are required to join unions and bargain for wages, hours and conditions of employment.

District and union officials started meetings even as the final state budget and potential cuts to education are in flux. They are also taking a different approach to negotiations this year.

The Issaquah Education Association “has met with the district for three all-day sessions,” President Neva Luke wrote in an e-mail. “Both sides have worked very hard to get negotiations off to a good start.”

For instance, district and Issaquah Education Association officials — the teachers’ union — participated in interest-based bargaining training with officials from the Public Employment Relations Commission, according to the district’s Web site.

The training included negotiation methods that asked each side to bring interests to the table, rather than positions, and work toward collaborative solutions. The training also included brainstorming and consensus decision-making.

To help write the contract, teams come to a solution on an interest or issue they enter into a tentative agreement. The collection of tentative agreements makes up the final contract. However, the final contract must still be approved by the teachers’ membership and the Issaquah School Board before becoming official. Read more

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