Council OKs money to change Providence Point intersection

June 22, 2010

City Council members took the initial step June 7 to improve the accident-plagued intersection at the entrance to Providence Point.

The city and consultants will make the project “shovel ready” — and more competitive for state or federal dollars. Officials hope the state or federal governments could pick up all or most of the eventual construction cost. Beyond the city-funded planning, however, the future of the project remains uncertain.

City Council members agreed to spend up to $100,000 to complete plans to realign the intersection at Southeast 43rd Way and Providence Point Drive Southeast. The effort will require utility providers to prepare plans to move utility lines in order to accommodate proposed changes.

Before city engineers consider the project to be “shovel ready,” the city must also complete the environmental review for the project and secure right of way for the proposed realignment. Providence Point management has indicated interest in donating right of way to the city.

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Redesigning college, one course at a time

June 22, 2010

A new project aims to make college textbooks more affordable — and ultimately, prevent more students from dropping out.

The Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges has initiated a 15-month project to improve student success and reduce the price of textbooks by redesigning 80 high-enrollment first- and second-year college courses.

The project, the Washington State Student Completion Initiative, will be supported by grants of $5.3 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and $800,000 from the Ford Foundation.

Community and technical college instructors and librarians will assemble a set of course materials from free or inexpensive resources. Ten Bellevue College instructors and staff members — including one from Issaquah and one from Newcastle — have been selected to work on the initiative.

A goal of the initiative is to reduce the cost of textbooks and other course materials to no more than $30 per course.

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City signs interlocal animal control agreement

June 22, 2010

Issaquah intends to participate in the updated plan for animal care, control and licensing, though most city residents might not notice any changes.

City Council members agreed last week to join the regional plan for King County Animal Care and Control services. The agency handles responses to complaints about vicious animals, animal-cruelty investigations and pickups of stray animals.

The updated agreement calls for similar services, but puts more emphasis on pet licensing to help fund the agency.

The council approved the contract in a unanimous decision June 7. King County officials and representatives from Issaquah and 26 other cities worked for months to develop the updated plan.

County Executive Dow Constantine sent a package of proposed reforms to the King County Council to remake the troubled animal-control agency. Constantine proposed code changes to restructure license fees and smooth the way for partnerships between the county government and private organizations to care for stray animals and license pets.

Constantine also requested $3.2 million — backed by $2.5 million from licensing fees and other revenue — to implement the model.

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County Council’s proposed tax plan raises sales tax, lowers property tax

June 22, 2010

The lawmakers representing the Issaquah area on the King County Council last week proposed raising sales tax and cutting property taxes to pay for criminal justice programs.

Kathy Lambert and Reagan Dunn offered a proposal to cut some existing property-tax levies and raise the sales tax two-tenths of a percent, to 9.7 cents per dollar, and 10.2 cents on restaurants and bar purchases.

“Citizens who are dealing with reduced salaries and job losses want their government to make cuts and reprioritize expenditures,” Lambert said in a news release. “These choices are hard, just like the cuts families make every day.”

The proposal aims to reduce several property levies — measures for parks expansion and flood control, as well as a levy to raise funds for unincorporated areas and a measure to pay for the automated fingerprint-identification system used by local law enforcement agencies.

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Watch for stopped buses at rail crossings

June 22, 2010

King County Metro Transit buses started making more safety stops at railroad crossings June 10 as a result of updated state regulations.

State legislators changed the rule for public transit, charter buses, school buses and trucks transporting hazardous material to stop at almost all crossings.

Drivers will notice buses slowing down and activating the four-way hazard lights at almost any railroad crossing — including locations where buses may have not stopped before. The rule requires buses to stop at these crossings regardless of whether the bus is carrying passengers or heading back to the transit base empty.

Metro encouraged other motorists on the road to be aware of buses stopped in traffic at these crossings, follow buses at a safe distance and to use caution when passing them.

School board mulls new high school chemistry curriculum

June 22, 2010

Issaquah School Board members will decide whether to adopt a new high school chemistry curriculum July 14.

The Issaquah School District’s Instructional Materials Committee recommended adopting Chemistry 2008, by Prentice Hall, June 11. If adopted, the textbooks would be in classrooms this fall.

The recommended materials can be viewed from 7:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. weekdays June 14 – July 14 at the district administration building, 565 N.W. Holly St.

Celebrate graduation with a free new ’do

June 22, 2010

Evergreen Beauty & Barber College is offering free services to graduating seniors who come into the salon dressed in their caps and gowns.

The college’s Bellevue and Everett salons are offering up free haircuts and finishing services to recognize students’ achievements and keep them looking stylish in their graduation photos or as they embark on new adventures.

Graduates can make appointments Tuesdays through Saturdays through the end of June.

Schedule an appointment here.

Representative receives pro-business honor

June 22, 2010

State Rep. Glenn Anderson has been named a Guardian of Small Business by a national advocacy group.

National Federation of Independent Business leaders said Anderson — a Fall City Republican whose district includes Issaquah — had a 100 percent “pro-small-business” voting record in the 2009-10 legislative sessions. Anderson has received the award five times since he joined the state House of Representatives a decade ago.

“The health of our small business community is the key indicator of a vibrant and growing economy,” Anderson said in a news release. “They are the engines that provide good, family-wage jobs that create personal wealth and ownership in the areas where they are located.”

Anderson will face Sammamish Democrat Dean Willard as he campaigns for a sixth term. The race also includes David Spring, the 2008 Democratic nominee for the seat, although local Democrats endorsed Willard for the post.

Evergreen Ford helps raise $3,560 for high school

June 22, 2010

Ford Motor Co. and Evergreen Ford partnered to help raise money in support of Eastlake High School as part of Ford’s Drive One 4 UR School program.

Eastside community members put pedals to the metal and helped raise up to $3,560 for Eastlake High School by test-driving select new Ford vehicles. Evergreen Ford worked with the school to host the one-day event May 22. About 178 people participated. For each participant who came from a unique household, Ford and Evergreen Ford donated $20.

County adopts plan to preserve parks, open space

June 22, 2010

King County Council members last week approved the Open Space Plan, the document behind county acquisition, development, funding, management and stewardship of undeveloped land across King County.

The document helps the county to be eligible for federal and state grants, including funds from the state Recreation and Conservation Office. The council adopted the plan in a unanimous decision June 14.

The plan places emphasis on the regional role of the county in parks and open space, as well as the role the parks fill in rural areas. The plan reflects the changes the county parks division has undergone in recent years, and advances goals in the areas of equity and social justice, backcountry trails and forest management, climate change and biodiversity.

Officials last revised the plan in 2004. King County Parks and Recreation — the agency updating the plan — tends to natural areas and forests, in addition to 200 parks and 175 miles of trails, spread across 26,000 acres.

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