Mobile phone law goes into effect

June 8, 2010

From interstates to county roads to Issaquah streets, law enforcement officers will start enforcing a state ban on a distracted-driving law meant to prod motorists to hang up — or at least go hands-free — and drive.

Drivers face a $124 fine if officers catch them texting, or with a mobile phone pressed against their ears, starting June 10. The state will require hands-free devices, such as Bluetooth earpieces, for callers talking and driving. Moreover, drivers younger than 18 cannot use wireless devices at all, except in emergencies.

Sgt. John Urquhart, King County Sheriff’s Office spokesman, said deputies did not plan increased enforcement, known as emphasis patrols, because the agency lacks the manpower. Issaquah Police Chief Paul Ayers said officers would start to enforce the ban June 10.

“We’re not starting an all-out blitz on June 10, but we will enforce the law as we do with all of the others,” Ayers said.

Washington State Patrol troopers will not offer a grace period after the law goes into effect.

The state sought to prohibit texting and requiring hands-free devices in 2008, but the earlier law treated the issues as secondary violations. Officers had to witness drivers speeding or in the midst of another infraction in order to conduct a traffic stop.

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New admissions process at UW

June 8, 2010

High school seniors applying for admission to the University of Washington for fall 2011 will face a new admissions process.

Right now, the university processes applications to its school on a rolling admissions basis. A rolling admissions process reviews and assesses applications as they are received. If admissions officers feel the applicant falls in line with what the university is looking for an offer of enrollment is made, a press release from the university said.

Starting with freshman seeking admittance to the university for fall 2011, admissions officers will begin using a pooling admissions process. A pooling admissions process holds all decisions until all applications have been received and assessed.

Under the new system, applications for incoming freshman will be received between Oct. 1 and Dec. 15. Applicants will be notified of their admission status between March 15 and 31.

There are several reasons for the change, the release said. The first is applications to the university have increased dramatically in the past five years. Many of those applications arrive on or before the Jan. 15 deadline in place now, causing strain on admissions office personnel.

“More importantly, we’ve found that rolling out admission decisions from December through March was causing significant anxiety among applicants and their parents, leading to thousands of phone calls and e-mails about application status and notification about decisions,” Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Philip Ballinger said in the release. “By moving to an earlier application deadline, as well as a single admissions decision window for all freshman class applicants, we hope to bring more clarity to the admissions process, relieve undue anxiety among students and their families, and improve the efficiency and speed with which we are able to process and holistically review ever-growing application pools.”

Residents will help city restore Lewis Creek

June 8, 2010

The city and landowners plan a joint effort to remove sediment and create salmon habitat in ecologically sensitive Lewis Creek near Lake Sammamish.

The plan aims to restore habitat for the Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon — a dwindling freshwater salmon species. The city will guide landowners through the project, and the landowners nearest to the impacted stretch of creek will pay the $40,000 to $50,000 tab. City Surface Water Engineer Kerry Ritland expects work to last about two weeks.

Starting in July or August, crews will clear the channel at the mouth of the creek, in the Meadowbrook Pointe neighborhood along the southwestern shore of Lake Sammamish. Sediments built up and created a drop from the creek to the lake — another hurdle salmon must overcome in order to spawn upstream.

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County steps up enforcement of dog rules at parks

June 8, 2010

King County Animal Care and Control officers started cracking down on unlicensed, aggressive and unleashed dogs in county parks last week.

County rules state that pets are required to be leashed and under control at all times. The code also requires owners to clean up after pets. The emphasis patrols started June 2.

The increased patrols came in response to numerous complaints from park users over the past year about aggressive and uncontrolled dogs in county parks.

Patrols will first educate pet owners about county policies, but the penalty for failure to license a dog is $75. A first-time off-leash offender faces a $25 penalty. Subsequent violations within a year carry additional $50 fines.

Find the only county park with a designated, off-leash area at Marymoor Park in Redmond. The area consists of 40 acres of open space where dogs can run free. Remember: Handlers or owners must accompany pets, and good doggie etiquette must be observed at all times.

State representatives host teleconference June 17

June 8, 2010

State Reps. Glenn Anderson and Jay Rodne will join constituents in a 5th Legislative District-wide phone conversation June 17. The lawmakers will discuss the recent legislative sessions and address other state government issues.

The hourlong teleconference begins at 6:50 p.m. The program works much like a call-in radio show. Call the toll-free number at 877-229-8493, and enter the code 15539 at the prompt. Callers can select star 3 on their telephone keypad to ask a question. Participants will also have a chance at the end of the teleconference to leave a message for legislators.

Anderson and Rodne, both Republicans, represent Issaquah and parts of Sammamish and unincorporated King County.

County hopes to improve taxis for disabled riders

June 8, 2010

King County wants taxi operators to offer wheelchair-accessible taxicabs. The county assessed services and determined customers with disabilities need additional wheelchair-accessible service.

Drivers will be allowed to pick up passengers in Issaquah, unincorporated King County and Seattle, as well as several cities with interlocal agreements with the county for taxicab regulation. Issaquah has signed such a pact.

The county has issued a request for proposal aimed to attract interested taxicab driver groups. The 15 new licenses will require the operators to provide services to both passengers using mobility devices and people who do not need mobility assistance. The county will accept proposals until July 8, select a provider after mid-September and then issue licenses.

Learn more about the proposal here.

Catch free film noir at the depot

June 8, 2010

The film noir series at the Issaquah Depot concludes June 12.

“Murder My Sweet” plays at 7 p.m. The film captures the style and wit of the novel “Farewell, My Lovely” by Raymond Chandler. Catch the free film at the historic train depot, 50 Rainier Blvd. N.

The city Arts Commission and 4Culture — King County’s cultural services agency — will screen the flick as part of the Films @ the Train Depot! program.

Films @ the Train Depot! launched last October with a lineup comprised of films set in the Evergreen State. The winter series included train-centric movies. The film noir series started in April.

Move over for emergency vehicles or face fine

June 8, 2010

Every driver knows he or she must yield to emergency vehicles, but the Legislature has updated the law to give first responders a wider berth.

The change calls for drivers to make room for a stopped emergency vehicle — such as a patrol cruiser or ambulance — if the vehicle has sirens blaring or lights blazing.

On a highway with at least four lanes — with two lanes in each direction — drivers should, whenever possible, change lanes or move away from the parked emergency vehicle. If changing lanes or moving away cannot be accomplished, drivers must reduce speed and proceed with caution. Otherwise, drivers could face a $101 fine.

The original law called for drivers to yield the right of way.

Undercrossing construction hindered by wet weather

June 8, 2010

Rain has slowed construction on the Interstate 90 Undercrossing and, because soil at the site is sensitive to moisture, crews must take care to manage storm water runoff and prevent soil erosion.

During Memorial Day weekend, the city monitored storm water runoff from the site. The results showed low levels of turbidity, or murkiness from soil and other particles — well below the threshold required for corrective action by city code. Runoff turbidity levels remained low last week.

Construction workers broke ground on the undercrossing in early May. Initial plans called for the road link to be completed by early fall.

Crews will build a two-lane roadway from the traffic signal at the post office along Northwest Gilman Boulevard and link the road to the rail corridor behind Gilman Station. The road will form a T-shaped intersection at Southeast 62nd Street, continue along 221st Place Southeast and end at Southeast 56th Street, across from the East Lake Center retail complex.

Biking event attracts about 100 riders

June 8, 2010

On Bike to Work Day late last month, about 100 cyclists stopped by the station set up by the city and Cascade Bicycle Club at state Route 900 and Northwest Sammamish Road.

Pacific Bicycle Co. performed light tune-ups and adjustments for riders at the station, and the Lakemont Ladies Cycling Club motivated riders, provided information and sold Cascade Bicycle Club T-shirts.

The club tallied 14,251 riders at Bike to Work Day stations across the region during the May 21 event.

Morning commuters enjoyed clear weather, but rain fouled the afternoon trip. In Issaquah, Bike to Work Day ended with a free barbecue for cyclists at Pickering Barn.

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