Best Buy clears permit hurdle

August 17, 2010

The city has OK’d a part of a plan to turn vacant storefronts into electronics retailer Best Buy.

City planners approved the initial permit to modify the former La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries and Pacific Fabrics spaces along East Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast. The city announced the approval Aug. 11.

Best Buy plans to use 38,830 square feet of the available 45,440 square feet for a store. The leftover space will remain available for a future tenant.

Besides changes to the interior, the project calls for revisions to the delivery and service driveway, and loading dock, behind the building. The plan also includes modifications to the building exterior.

The plan does not include any proposed changes to the parking lot or the access from the retail center and the road.

The applicant has requested additional signage for the store. The city plans to handle the signage issue as a separate permit.

Planners continue to review separate permits for interior and exterior alterations, plus proposed public works changes.

In February, Best Buy — headquartered in Richfield, Minn. — announced plans to open a store in Issaquah. La-Z-Boy closed in June.

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Fred Meyer charity donates to Issaquah nonprofit organization

August 17, 2010

Issaquah Valley Community Services has received a $15,000 grant from the Fred Meyer Fund.

The nonprofit organization plans to use the grant dollars to upgrade computers and software at the Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank. The upgrades should make the client-intake process smoother.

The track record of the food bank and associated programs impressed the fund and advisory committee members, Glynda Brockhoff, philanthropy coordinator for Fred Meyer stores and the fund, said in a news release.

“We hope this community grant will help Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank continue the important work it is doing to enhance the welfare of the community,” she said. “We are proud to be part of the Issaquah community and are committed to helping where we can.”

The advisory committee includes local Fred Meyer employees. The group researches nonprofits and then awards the grants.

Employees and customers fund the grants through donations. Customers donated the money by dropping their change into coin boxes located at Fred Meyer check stands.

The fund assists nonprofit organizations dedicated to helping children and reducing hunger in communities served by 129 Fred Meyer stores in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington.

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Police join summer DUI crackdown

August 17, 2010

Issaquah police and more than 100 other law enforcement agencies started a statewide crackdown on drunken driving last week, as part of the largest-ever summer DUI enforcement push.

The extra patrols — part of the Drive Hammered, Get Nailed campaign — continue through Sept. 6. The campaign started Aug. 12.

The state experiences the greatest number of alcohol- or drug-impaired, driver-involved traffic deaths between July and September. In order to combat the problem, 178 agencies statewide signed on to the Drive Hammered, Get Nailed effort from the state Traffic Safety Commission.

Between 2000-09, 31 percent of impaired-driving deaths occurred in summer. Labor Day weekend averages more than seven deaths each year.

Read more

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Washington falls short in Race to the Top for school dollars

August 17, 2010

Washington is out of the running for the Race to the Top federal education grant program.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced 19 states as finalists July 27, but the list did not include Washington.

Race to the Top is a federal, incentive-based grant program that asked states to submit education reform packages to address assessment, teaching standards, early childhood education, graduation rates and the achievement gap.

“We are disappointed that the Department of Education did not select Washington to move forward in their competition for these federal education dollars,” Gov. Chris Gregoire, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn and state Board of Education Chairman Jeff Vincent said in a joint statement released after the July 27 announcement.

“We knew the process would be extremely competitive,” they added.

After a request from Gregoire this spring, Issaquah and 265 of the state’s 295 school districts — including the Lake Washington, Snoqualmie Valley and Renton districts — signed on as partners to the state’s Race to the Top application.

Read more

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Skyline High School loses an administrator

August 17, 2010

Skyline High School has lost one of its two assistant principals to the Bellevue School District.

Heidi Fedore, who began working at Skyline during the 2004-05 school year, is the new principal at Newport High School.

“That’s good and bad,” Issaquah School District Superintendent Steve Rasmussen said at the Aug. 11 school board meeting. “We lost that person, but we’re very happy she will be leading a high school.”

Skyline’s other assistant principal, Jeff McGowan, will work with Principal Lisa Hechtman and Rasmussen to find a replacement.

Hechtman is hoping to get someone on board as soon as possible.

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Press Editorial

August 17, 2010

Look beyond Issaquah for traffic solutions

Issaquah has waited a long time for definitive transportation improvements. At last, a few are coming.

In the past decade, Issaquah got an Intelligent Transportation System that allowed traffic lights to be synchronized and reader boards to advise drivers of traffic revisions. Two years ago, the great debate over whether to build a southeast connector road from Interstate 90’s Exit 18 at East Sunset Way to Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast was decided.

This summer, two big changes born of that decision will provide real improvements.

Sunset Way at Second Avenue will be widened to allow for a turn lane. Second Avenue Southeast will also get a right-hand turn lane onto Sunset. The changes should significantly improve traffic flow through the intersection, especially in the afternoon, when schools release students for the day. Read more

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Off The Press

August 17, 2010

Laura Geggel Press reporter

I have come full circle. Issaquah is where my story begins and is now beginning again, but let me explain before I get ahead of myself.

In 2006, I interned at The Issaquah Press during my junior summer of college. Reporting for a community newspaper was different from reporting for my college newspaper. Instead of interviewing 20-somethings or professors, I drove out into the community, reporting on elementary school history lessons, Locks of Love contributors, the edible forest along Northwest Gilman Boulevard and the obituary of an Issaquah man who had died in a marine accident.

Community journalism inspired me, and hopefully inspired my readers. Issaquah’s students and historians welcomed me. I learned about the allegedly haunted train cars at the depot and about programming for the elderly at Providence Marianwood. I found out every person had a story when I threw a dart at the phone book and interviewed an Issaquah man who swore carrot juice had contributed to his longevity.

Bolstered by my experiences at the Press, I entered what I call my “year of internships” after college, first interning at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and then at a publication at Harvard Medical School. Read more

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School district prepares to pass annual budget

August 17, 2010

Issaquah School District budgeted revenue

The Issaquah School District is one step away from approving its 2010-11 school year budget. If passed, the budget would absorb large state cuts, but make up for them temporarily by raising the levy lid.

The budget would also maintain last year’s class sizes, increase the district’s reserve fund and allow the district to continue to operate with a low overhead.

The Issaquah School Board heard the first of two readings of this year’s budget as district Chief of Finance and Operations Jake Kuper familiarized them with its ins and outs at the Aug. 11 board meeting.

The board is scheduled to vote on the budget at its Aug. 25 meeting.

Although the district has lost a large amount of state funding — $10.4 million since 2009 — the district’s financial department has found a way to work around the losses; not one teacher was laid off because of budget cuts, and the district has hired 77 new teachers, 47 of which are new due to enrollment or program increases.

The state cuts show no signs of stopping. In the 2010-11 budget, the district was forced to take a $3.1 million cut in state support, Kuper said. Read more

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Hatchery goes fishing for volunteers

August 17, 2010

John Springer (right), a FISH master docent, shows a display exhibiting five stages in salmon egg growth to visitors. Contributed

Attention Issaquah: In just a few weeks, Issaquah’s very own chinook and coho salmon will begin arriving back in their home waters of Issaquah Creek to spawn after a long journey from the ocean.

During this busy season, the Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery are asking for help from anyone interested in volunteering as a FISH docent.

Docents work as guides from mid-September until December, leading tours and educating hatchery visitors seven days a week, especially Monday thru Friday. Visiting groups include members of the public and many groups of grade-school children from local elementary schools.

Beverly Lee, volunteer coordinator for FISH, said that the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery is the most heavily trafficked hatchery in the state.

“There is a lot going on at the hatchery in the fall,” she said. “The docents are there to tell people what is happening. They educate visitors about salmon that are returning, and also talk about the environment and about keeping it clean and uncluttered.”

Each September, the hatchery typically takes on about 60 docents. The schedule and time commitment involved is at the discretion of the individual volunteer. Read more

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To the Editor

August 17, 2010

Summer heat

Don’t forget to keep the family pet safe as temperatures hit record highs

It’s a good time to think about our favorite companions, keeping in mind that summer can be an unusually dangerous time for dogs, cats and other animals.

A few important things to remember:

Dogs should only be walked when it’s cool outside. Concrete gets horribly hot, and can damage the soft pads on a dog’s feet. Early morning or late afternoon are the best times for exercise.

Save games of catch for cooler days, and don’t overexert your dog by playing catch — even in water. The temperature of the water may be too cold too fast, and may cause severe breathing problems — even drowning. Read more

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