Technology in emergency vehicles carries risks, rewards

July 6, 2010

State phone ban exempts emergency services agencies

Greg Tryon, Eastside Fire & Rescue battalion chief, describes the laptops, smart phones and other communications equipment used in the agency’s mobile command posts, fire trucks and aid cars. By Greg Farrar

Distractions abound for Eastside Fire & Rescue trucks roaring through downtown Issaquah or down Northwest Gilman Boulevard at rush hour: cars racing to catch a yellow light, cyclists steering through narrow bike lanes and drivers chatting into mobile phones or tapping out text messages.

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Sheriff’s office investigates death threat at Liberty

July 6, 2010

A threat scrawled on a restroom wall at Liberty High School raised concerns about school safety for Issaquah School District and law enforcement officials.

Police said the writer threatened to bring a gun to school Oct. 27 “and shoot everybody,” the message reads.

“If I were you I wouldn’t go to school,” the pencil-written message continues. “You are warned.”

Sgt. John Urquhart, King County Sheriff’s Office spokesman, said investigators must determine whether the source is credible and then — if the threat turns out to be legitimate — coordinate with the school district to determine appropriate action.

Police said a custodian discovered the disturbing message on a wall near a toilet stall in a boys’ restroom June 23. Principal Mike Deletis reported the graffiti to the sheriff’s office and school district officials.

Only school staff members had occupied the building since the school year ended June 17, although a student could have come to campus unnoticed. District officials checked security video, but did not notice anything unusual in the logs.

“The threat is not against Mike Deletis and is not specific to anybody,” Sara Niegowski, school district spokeswoman, said late last week. “This happened after school was out, the custodians have cleaned the bathrooms since, so it happened afterward and it is a mystery as to how it got there.”

She said district officials must determine the credibility of the threat, the person behind the message and the significance of the date.

Niegowski said she could not recall a situation like the Liberty threat happening before. She described the situation as unusual, because most threats against schools are more immediate.

For example, a 16-year-old Issaquah High School student made a bomb threat in December 2007, because he did not want to attend classes that day.

Officials evacuated the school, and sent students home after the 10:30 a.m. threat. Police eventually arrested the student responsible for the prank.

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Picnic to kick off idea fest for creek park

July 6, 2010

Architect pledges to listen to all

The landscape architect hired to design a city parks complex along Issaquah Creek plans to ask residents about their ideas for the site during a picnic at the creekside site.

The late August picnic launches a monthslong process to shape the downtown parks at the confluence of Issaquah Creek and the East Fork.

Guy Michaelsen, principal at The Berger Partnership, a Seattle firm, said the parks should be flexible for many users, and a destination for residents from throughout the city.

“It is your Central Park — I know you have a Central Park — but this one will be really central,” he said during a June 29 presentation to the City Council. “This will be your central, central park.”

The city hired Michaelsen to lead the overarching design, or master site plan, for three contiguous properties spread across 15.5 acres: Tollë Anderson, Cybil-Madeline and Issaquah Creek parks.

The process to develop the parks — often called the “crown jewel” in the municipal parks system by city officials — starts Aug. 26. City Parks & Recreation Director Anne McGill said residents should expect details about the picnic in coming weeks.

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Second local quake recorded

July 6, 2010

The ground beneath Issaquah shook — albeit slightly — early July 3, as a magnitude 1.6 earthquake rattled about two miles beneath the earth’s surface.

University of Washington seismologists said the micro-earthquake occurred at 12:19 a.m. Saturday, about three miles northeast of Issaquah.

The seismic activity came less than a month after another tiny temblor occurred near Issaquah. Seismologists said the magnitude 1.1 micro-earthquake shook at 2:29 p.m. June 9, about four miles east of the city, and five miles deep.

Such small quakes usually do not cause structural damage.

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Issaquah attorney enters race for judge

July 6, 2010

Issaquah attorney John L. O’Brien plans to challenge appointed District Court Judge Michael Finkle in the race to be judge in the Northeast Division of King County District Court, candidate filing records show.

The division includes Issaquah, Sammamish, Bellevue, Redmond, Woodinville and parts of unincorporated King County.

Voters will cast ballots in the race in the Aug. 17 primary election.

King County Council members appointed Finkle to the bench Feb. 22. The council created the position last year to address increasing District Court caseloads.

The court — the largest court of limited jurisdiction in the state — has responsibility for traffic infractions, certain civil matters and misdemeanor criminal offenses in unincorporated King County, contract cities and for the adjudication of state offenses — violations of state statute in the county or when the arresting agency is the Washington State Patrol or another state law enforcement agency.

District Court caseloads have increased each year since 2003; officials expect the caseload to increase further through 2011. Because of the increase in cases, the state Administrative Office of the Court — tasked with advising the Legislature about the number of judicial positions needed in each county — recommended for the number of King County District Court judges to be increased.

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Greenpeace sends blimp to protest Costco seafood policies

July 6, 2010

Greenpeace has launched a splashy campaign against Costco to change how the Issaquah-based chain procures and labels seafood.

Greenpeace activists sent a green blimp bearing the message “Costco: wholesale ocean destruction” to hover above Costco corporate headquarters and the flagship warehouse during the June 30 morning commute.

Greenpeace airship A.E. Bates brings a message to Costco employees from the skies above the chain’s Issaquah corporate headquarters June 30. By Anthony Bolante

The environmental group demanded for Costco — the third-largest retailer in the United States and the largest employer in Issaquah — to stop selling fish species threatened by overfishing and to adopt a sustainable-seafood policy for other offerings, including salmon and shrimp.

Greenpeace profiled Costco and 19 other grocery retailers in a recent sustainable seafood guide, Carting Away the Oceans. The report lambasted Costco, in part because executives refused to answer questions about how the 568-store chain acquires seafood.

Target, East Coast chain Wegmans and Whole Foods Market earned the top three spots on the Greenpeace list. The group ranked Costco at No. 14.

Greenpeace said Costco — the largest wholesale club in the United States — sells 15 of the 22 species on the list, including Atlantic salmon, Chilean sea bass and orange roughy.

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Updated animal services program debuts

July 6, 2010

The way King County, Issaquah and 26 other cities handle animal control, sheltering and pet licensing services changed last week.

The updated plan took effect July 1, as 27 cities and the county signed a cost-sharing agreement to provide animal services.

Officials hope the changes help the county move beyond a troubled, unprofitable era in animal services. Problems with King County Animal Care and Control leadership, organization and operations led to public outcry and legal challenges, prompting the King County Council to direct County Executive Dow Constantine to make changes late last year.

The two-and-a-half-year agreement divides King County into four animal control districts, each staffed by at least one animal control officer. Even the name — King County Animal Care and Control — changed to Regional Animal Services of King County.

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 county estimates pet licenses can raise most of the $2.5 million needed to pay for the bulk of the program.

Issaquah City Council members agreed last month to join the regional plan.

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Changes coming for some trash customers

July 6, 2010

Trash pickup for about 900 customers in South Cove and Greenwood Point could improve soon.

On July 10, the trash collector for the area, Allied Waste, plans to deliver garbage and yard waste carts to customers without the carts. Customers should start using the new carts next week.

The updated service agreement OK’d by the City Council in April calls for Allied Waste to provide free wheeled garbage carts for all residents in the neighborhoods, as well as free curbside electronics pick-up.

Customers can also recycle more items, including plastic cups, trays and bags; clean aluminum foil and trays; clean paper latte cups; textiles; lids three inches and larger in diameter; and small metal appliances, such as toasters.

Polystyrene — known by the brand name Styrofoam — cannot be put out for recycling.

Old cans, carts and containers can be recycled starting this week. Residents should put out old containers on collection day and place a large note indicating “recycle” on the container. Unmarked containers will not be picked up.

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School board renews superintendent’s contract

July 6, 2010

At its June 23 meeting, the Issaquah School Board unanimously agreed to renew the contract of Superintendent Steve Rasmussen.

Board members said they were very pleased with the progress Rasmussen has made as superintendent this past year.

Steve Rasmussen

“I want to commend you on creating a culture for our teachers to grow,” board member Marnie Maraldo said. “By placing student achievement as highest priority and helping teachers to be instructional leaders, we are saying that we want our teachers to be the best they can be.”

Board member Suzanne Weaver praised the district’s financial positioning.

“We are very pleased with where the district is financially,” she said. “We were able to anticipate the increase in the levy lid, which helped us not only in maintaining class sizes, but we didn’t have to eliminate any teacher positions this year.”

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Issaquah graduate wins merit scholarship

July 6, 2010

Issaquah High School graduate Gretchen Allen is a National Merit Scholarship recipient.

Allen’s scholarship was awarded by Scripps College, a private liberal arts college for women, in Claremont, Calif. While there, Allen intends to study art conservation.

Allen’s scholarship will provide between $500 and $2,000 during each year of her undergraduate studies.

Allen is one among 4,900 National Merit Scholarship recipients this year. There are three types of national merit scholarships awarded — college or university financed, corporate-sponsored and National Merit. In total, their scholarships amount to more than $36 million.

Students are entered into the National Merit Scholarship program by taking the Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. If a student scores well on the exam, he or she can be selected as a semifinalist, after which he or she must submit a scholarship application that details his or her academic record, is endorsed by a school official, contains an essay, and earn high scores on his or her SAT exam.

Learn more about the program here.

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