Route 200 bus could expand to Squak

June 29, 2010

Metro bus service may finally be coming to Squak Mountain.

At a City Council committee meeting May 27, King County Metro Transit proposed a plan to the committee that would expand the Route 200 bus that services downtown Issaquah into two separate routes. One of the routes would service Squak Mountain residents. The routes would be added by late 2011.

Council Transportation Committee Chairman Joshua Schaer said the proposal looks promising.

“It solves multiple problems in one,” he said. “Not only is it a creative solution to solving the concerns of the residents of Squak Mountain, but also the concerns of providing adequate transportation to the newly opening Swedish Hospital and expanding Route 200 to better serve Talus and the Issaquah Highlands. It will essentially be two different routes for the price of one.”

Details about potential bus fare and neighborhood routing will be discussed at upcoming budget meetings.

Schaer said he believes most Squak mountain residents will be pleased with the solution.

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Issaquah’s ready for Downhome Fourth of July

June 29, 2010

Longtime Issaquah residents have always enjoyed the low-key, family friendly Downhome Fourth of July and Heritage Day event.

To start the day off, the Kids, Pets ‘N Pride Parade will begin at 11 a.m. starting at Rainier Avenue and Northwest Dogwood Street. Kids can decorate their bikes, wagons, pets or anything else they can think of in patriotic attire and be in the parade, which will end at Veteran’s Memorial Field, according to Robin Kelley, director of festivals.

Veterans’ Memorial Field will host a number of events throughout the day, including a pie-eating contest. It is unknown what kind of pie will be eaten.

“Our goal is that it’s something that is colorful and especially messy,” Kelley said. “Parents and kids sometimes compete against each other.”

Something that has been absent in the past few years from the city’s Fourth of July celebration has been the slug speed race and beauty pageant. The event was brought back this year because of the wet spring that has not been present the past few years.

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Thieves hit Grand Ridge Elementary

June 29, 2010

Thieves stole more than $3,000 in classroom equipment from Grand Ridge Elementary School overnight June 21.

Issaquah police said someone nabbed four printers, a computer, a projector, a digital camera and a combination VCR-DVD player from two classrooms in a portable classroom prior to 10:10 a.m. June 22. The estimated value of the pilfered equipment totaled $3,319.

Issaquah School District spokeswoman Sara Niegowski said the district had filed insurance claims for the stolen items.

Police said the thieves did not enter the main campus building, at 1739 N.E. Park Drive. The school year ended June 17.

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Council sets 2011 goals

June 29, 2010

The ambitious agenda for 2011 calls for the city to turn Issaquah into a mountain-biking destination, decide whether to annex Klahanie and surrounding neighborhoods, and continue to promote Issaquah to prospective businesses.

City Council members OK’d goals for 2011 last week, and handed Mayor Ava Frisinger a broad set of priorities to be accomplished next year. The decision represents the first step in the process to shape the 2011 city budget.

Department chiefs start to prepare the budget in summer. Frisinger then delivers a proposal to the council by October. Members mold the proposal into a final budget, and the council approves the spending plan in late December.

The list also calls for the city to improve transportation, foster economic development and reduce environmental impact.

The council seeks to build a mountain bike park in Issaquah and connect city trails to regional mountain biking trails. Though the process could take several years to complete, council members directed city staffers to start the process next year.

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First Stage reconstruction starts soon

June 29, 2010

The effort to replace the original Village Theatre — the frontier-era relic known as First Stage Theatre — inched ahead last week.

Crews closed the sidewalk in front of the historic building, and detoured pedestrians through wooden scaffolding built adjacent to the street. The sidewalk closure runs through March 2011.

Plans call for the existing structure to be razed in coming weeks, and for a modern theater to replace the almost century-old building at 120 Front St. N.

A rendering shows how the completed First Stage will appear. Contributed

Traffic passes the temporary sidewalk June 28 in front of the Village Theatre First Stage building at 120 Front Street N., as extensive renovations begin. By Greg Farrar

Crews from contractor Foushée & Associates, a Bellevue builder, started to disassemble the building last week. Construction should start on the new theater in July, theater spokeswoman Michelle Sanders said.

The builder intends to incorporate wood and other components, such as the iconic sign, from the historic theater into the planned building. Executives intend for the First Stage building to be LEED certified.

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Plan ahead for SR 900 lane closures

June 29, 2010

Crews will close a lane in either direction of state Route 900 from east of the Issaquah city limits to the Interstate 5 interchange in Tukwila overnight this week.

State Department of Transportation workers will close lanes at various locations between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. through July 2. Workers will add shoulder and centerline rumble strips and, in some locations, guardrails. Construction started last month and should wrap in August.

Transportation officials said the rumble strips and guardrails reduce the likelihood of crossover and run-off-the-road collisions.

In addition to the overnight roadwork, crews will close the right lane of westbound state Route 900 between 83rd Street and Newport Way Northwest from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. through July 2 in order to raise utility covers to the level of new pavement. On July 2, the lane will close from 8 a.m. – noon.

Crews expect to complete the utility work in mid-July. Work to widen the stretch of state Route 900 in Issaquah started in August 2008. The transportation agency opened new lanes in April.

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Educational assistants settle contract

June 29, 2010

The Issaquah School Board approved a new three-year contract for Issaquah School District educational assistants at its meeting June 23.

Educational assistants’ union representatives reached the agreement with district officials May 27. The union’s membership met June 15 and approved it.

Included in the contract are:

  • For each year of the contract, educational assistants will earn an additional 10 cents an hour, a raise of 30 cents an hour by the time the contract expires.
  • Educational assistants must be rated by their supervisors as performing satisfactorily on a performance review prior to being able to transfer to another location.
  • A management rights provision was added to the contract that explains what rights district officials and supervisors have.

The contract expires Aug. 31, 2013.

The school board’s vote was unanimous. Board member Brian Deagle was absent from the meeting.

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City leaders ignore protests, honor retired administrator Leon Kos

June 29, 2010

Former City Administrator Leon Kos shunned the spotlight during the week before he retired April 30. The longest-serving city administrator in the state repeatedly insisted against a farewell party.

Mayor Ava Frisinger and the City Council ignored the protests.

The city inducted Kos into the Issaquah Hall of Fame last month, but he had departed for a trip to the Midwest after he retired, and missed the ceremony.

City leaders managed to lure Kos back to City Hall on June 21 to recognize his contributions to Issaquah and the region.

“This year’s Hall of Fame recipient’s contributions to our community can’t be summed up quickly, because they took place over the course of 33 years,” Frisinger said at the June 21 council meeting.

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Press Editorial

June 29, 2010

The Fourth of July is more than a parade in Issaquah. It’s a day filled with a whole lot of flag waving. Red, white and blue streamers, and bunting and T-shirts will be in the parade of kids, their assorted pets and parents. The colors of patriotism will fly from tricycles, bicycles and wagons as the menagerie walk the length of Front Street North.

But amidst the hoopla, it’s the country’s flag that will wave as much as the people lining the street to cheer on the processional.

Old Glory will be celebrated across the land. For some, it may bring memories of war days gone by. For others, it may mean a GI Bill that paved the way for a college education. Some will be reminded of the constitutional rights guaranteed to us all — free speech and a free press, the right to bear arms, freedom of religion, the right to a speedy trial, the abolishment of slavery, women’s suffrage rights and many others.

Political hacks may get excited that election time is nearing once again, while the person seated next to them is reminded of the good effort of our U.S. athletes in world competition. Some will stand in honor of the passing flags, others will place a hand over their heart. Most will keep silent, enjoying the moment of a town and its citizens that have come together to celebrate all of the above.

The Downhome Fourth of July is an Issaquah tradition, but it’s built on an American tradition — of pride, of hope, of promise.

The parade begins at 11 a.m. Hope to see you there!

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Subway coming to downtown Issaquah; cupcake shop opens

June 29, 2010

The chain famous for $5 foot-longs plans to expand to downtown Issaquah next month.

Subway should open at 98 Front St. N. by mid-July, franchisee Karim Karmali said last week. The city issued a permit for the restaurant June 23 and, by the next afternoon, green “Coming Soon” banners hung in the windows.

Karmali also operates the Subway along Northwest Gilman Boulevard.

Upcoming additions to downtown also include dessert. The nationwide cupcake craze reached Issaquah last week.

The other addition, at the opposite end in the same building as the planned Subway — the storefront at 94 Front St. N. — opened June 28 as Confetti Cupcakes. Employees took to Twitter on June 23 to announce the opening.

Subway and Confetti Cupcakes join other businesses relocating downtown from other storefronts and from elsewhere in the city.

Bicycle Center of Issaquah moved from a downtown space into half of the former Allen’s Furniture this spring. Amante Pizza & Pasta plans to open in the renovated space next door within the next few weeks.

El Abuelo, a downtown Mexican grocery damaged in a January fire, did not reopen, and the owners did not renew the lease for the 147 Front St. N. space. Troy Salon — the adjacent business damaged in the blaze — plans to reopen in the space next door after the space has been renovated.

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

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