Avoid unfortunate encounters with creepy crawlers

August 3, 2010

Summer means barbecues, outdoor activities — and more encounters with biting and stinging bugs.

Keeping calm around buzzing bugs can help reduce the risk of winding up on the business-end of a bloodthirsty mosquito or an irritated wasp.

The state Department of Health has a handy list detailing biting and stinging bugs found in the Evergreen State. Find the list at the agency website.

The mosquito season means increased concerns about West Nile virus.

In King County, a surveillance program tracks dead birds to monitor for the disease, because certain species of birds tend to get sick and die from West Nile quickly.

Report dead birds to Public Health – Seattle & King County online or call 206-205-4394.

The public health agency tracks information about dead birds, because increased numbers of dead birds in a particular area can be a West Nile warning sign. Some of the reported dead birds will be tested for the virus.

Residents should take steps to lessen the chances of mosquitoes breeding on their property, by eliminating standing water.

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Rural residents raise concerns about public safety cutbacks

August 3, 2010

County Executive Dow Constantine trekked east to Hobart — and into the sometimes-tenuous relationship between county government and rural King County residents — for a forum last week.

Constantine said unincorporated-area and rural residents stand to bear the brunt of looming cuts to county services, including King County Sheriff’s Office deputy layoffs and cutbacks to the county court system.

Contributed King County Executive Dow Constantine (left) addresses rural residents and the presidents of the six unincorporated area councils, including Four Creeks leader Tom Carpenter (far right), at a July 26 forum.

“There is significant disconnect between the cost of doing business and the dollars available,” he said during the July 26 meeting at Hobart Community Church. “We’re scrounging and scrapping to find ways to protect the quality of life for 2 million people in this county.”

Inside the overheated church, Constantine heard from leaders of the six unincorporated area councils — citizen groups elected by residents in regions as disparate as Vashon Island and rural Maple Valley. The unincorporated county is home to about 340,000 of the 1.9 million county residents.

The group includes Four Creeks, home to about 14,000 residents in a swath stretched between Issaquah and Renton. The area encompasses Maple Hills, May Valley, Mirrormont and other communities south of Issaquah city limits.

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Botched drive-by shooting lands Preston man in jail

August 3, 2010

Prosecutors said a Preston man attempted a drive-by shooting of his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend in late May.

But he shot up the wrong house.

Now, Andrew Michael Cox faces a drive-by shooting charge for the botched hit.

King County prosecutors said the 26-year-old Preston resident had been calling and harassing his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend for hours. The calls started late May 27 and continued into early the next morning.

Cox left numerous messages and called the man names, court documents state.

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Plan for overnight state Route 900 closures

August 3, 2010

Plan ahead for overnight closures as crews finish striping state Route 900.

Drivers can expect single-lane closures on eastbound and westbound state Route 900 from 8 p.m. – 5 a.m. through Aug. 5.

The westbound Interstate 90 off-ramp to state Route 900 closes from 8 p.m. – 5 a.m. Aug. 4-5. The state Department of Transportation plans to detour drivers to the exit at West Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast.

The striping comes as the DOT completes a long-running effort to widen state Route 900 through Issaquah. Work on the $33.9 million project started in August 2008.

The transportation agency opened almost a mile of widened lanes between Southeast 82nd Street and Newport Way Northwest in April. The stretch carries about 16,000 vehicles per day.

Crews widened the road from Newport Way Northwest to the vicinity of Northwest Talus Drive and Southeast 82nd Street.

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Voters decide races for local party officers, too

August 3, 2010

Besides the headline-hogging races for U.S. senator and U.S. representative, some voters face another, less glamorous choice on the Aug. 17 ballot: precinct committee officer.

The officer serves as local party representative in his or her neighborhood. In the role, the officer helps register people to vote and drums up party support as elections near by handing out campaign material and encouraging neighbors to vote.

King County has been carved into 2,538 precincts — neighborhoods or parts of communities.

Voters can consult their ballots or create a personalized voter guide at the King County Elections website to determine local precinct committee contests.

Candidates filed for 1,358 of the precinct committee officer positions on the primary election ballot. But another 1,180 precinct committee officer slots on the ballot remain blank.

Latecomers can file to run as write-in candidates for positions until 4:30 p.m. Aug. 16. If no one gets elected to a precinct committee officer seat, the local political parties can appoint someone to the post.

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To The Editor

August 3, 2010

State park deaths

Incident underscores need to ban both firearms and alcohol

The tragic confrontation at Lake Sammamish State Park punctuates the argument for banning firearms in parks.

Further, although I am personally not a teetotaler, this tragedy provides a solid argument for banning alcoholic beverages in state parks as well. It seems to be the igniter that can inflame passions and lead to the kind of craziness that resulted in this catastrophe.

No sanctions, however, can be effective without enforcement. Park security should be stationed at the entrance and park security should be added to patrol the area. Violation of the firearms ban should be considered a felony mandating a heavy fine and possible incarceration. Bringing alcoholic beverages into the park should carry a heavy fine. Read more

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Issaquah driver receives Metro’s highest honor

August 3, 2010

Countless miles of pavement behind him, Issaquah resident Marvin White manages to get his passengers to their destinations safely and with a smile.

After 31 years with King County Metro Transit, White, 58, was given the organization’s highest achievement for drivers Aug. 2 — the Operator of the Year award for 2009.

County officials, fellow drivers and friends gathered en-masse at the Eastside Base Operations Campus in Bellevue to celebrate White, saying his dedication, work ethic, skill and enthusiasm for his job more than qualified him for the honor.

“This is a great surprise,” White said. “It is a great honor and I thank everyone here for attending.”

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Press Editorial

August 3, 2010

Judicial candidates are all well qualified

Though the congressional and legislative races on the Aug. 17 primary ballot have received the most attention, local voters must also decide important judicial contests. However, due to limitations on what judges can say during an election, it is often the hardest ballot decision for voters.

Perhaps the most important decision for Issaquah, Sammamish and other Eastside residents is the contest for a new King County District Court judge. Voters will pick someone to fill a new position created to address increasing caseloads.

The court handles some civil matters, misdemeanor crimes and traffic infractions, plus local violations caught by the Washington State Patrol and other state agencies. Because of the broad range of cases that come before District Court, judges serve a vital role as spokespeople for the judicial system. Read more

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Off The Press

August 3, 2010

King County Fair: More than just a family outing

Chantelle Lusebrink Press reporter

Since 1863, King County families have traveled from near and far — by horse and vehicle — to reach the county’s annual fair.

Today, the King County Fair combines the best traditions of the past, but reinvents itself each year, so there is more for families to marvel at while spending quality time together.

This year is no exception, with local artists, rides and a world of invention and farming at the Enumclaw Expo Center.

Hear music by Emily Pratt, Phil Hansen, Boys of Greenwood Glen and the Allegro Women’s Ensemble while hunting for custom hand-thrown pottery and intricate quilts. Read more

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Candidates gird for tough fight in House race

August 3, 2010

Less than 100 days before Issaquah and Eastside voters elect a representative to Congress, another high-profile campaign has taken shape as Democrats gun to unseat incumbent Dave Reichert.

Like the 2006 and 2008 contests, the race for the 8th Congressional District — the only Western Washington district represented by a Republican — has attracted outside money and outsized attention. In the latest match-up, Reichert faces Democrat Suzan DelBene, a former Microsoft executive and Medina resident.

But the leading candidates and political observers said the race differs from earlier matches.

“The message du jour this year is, ‘I’ll cross the aisle to get things done,’” Seattle political consultant Cathy Allen said.

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