Mayor unveils proposed 2011 city budget

October 5, 2010

Issaquah leaders plan a slight increase in city spending for next year, as the effects of the recession diminish and large construction projects continue.

Mayor Ava Frisinger has proposed a $30.4 million general fund budget for next year — a minor uptick from the $29.8 million general fund budget approved by the council last December. The proposed budget does not include recommendations for a property tax hike or rate increases. The plan does not cut city positions.

Frisinger characterized the proposed budget as austere, a nod to the uncertain nature of the economic recovery.

“We try to focus on the things that are the core functions of the departments,” she said. “I count on the department directors to tell me which things, if they are not done, are going to have dire consequences.”

The city deferred some maintenance and delayed building upgrades in order to cut costs last year. Frisinger said residents might notice frayed edges at municipal buildings as a result.

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The Issaquah Press honored for community service

October 5, 2010

The Issaquah Press has received statewide recognition for its community service efforts to raise awareness about the Tent City 4 homeless encampment in Issaquah.

The newspaper documented the camp from the relocation announcement in November 2009 to the day residents settled at Community Church of Issaquah in January until Tent City 4 departed in April.

The effort earned the 110-year-old publication the top community service award in the Washington Newspaper Publisher Association’s Better Newspaper Contest.

The Press, alongside sister publications Sammamish Review and SnoValley Star, received 29 journalism and service awards Oct. 1 at the association’s annual conference in Wenatchee. The awards reflect a broad range of coverage by the publications.

Reporter Warren Kagarise and former reporter Chantelle Lusebrink also placed second in the Comprehensive Coverage category for spending a night at Tent City 4 and documenting the experience in the paper and online. Editorials outlining ways for people to donate to the encampment complemented the coverage.

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Baseball club ex-treasurer charged with embezzlement

October 5, 2010

Prosecutors said a Sammamish man in charge of the finances of a local baseball club bilked tens of thousands of dollars from the organization for pornography, rental cars and a consultation with a psychic.

Charles Leinas, 45, faces a first-degree theft charge in King County Superior Court, after prosecutors said he stole more than $21,000 from the Spartan Baseball Club, a select baseball club for teenagers.

Leinas could not be reached for comment. He is scheduled to be arraigned Oct. 7. Leinas had been arrested Feb. 2 and charged Sept. 23.

In January, Leinas served as the club’s treasurer and club President Robert Rosemont became concerned because the club’s bank account was overdrawn, charging documents state.

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Issaquah schools showed mixed testing results

October 5, 2010

Last spring, thousands of Issaquah students took either the Measurement of Student Progress or the High School Proficiency Exam. Their results were as mixed as their peers from across the state.

“There’s no real perfect pattern,” Issaquah School District Assessment Director Sharon Manion said. “We have some schools up and some schools down in almost every category.”

Both the HSPE and the MSP had fewer questions than their predecessor, the Washington Assessment of Student Learning exam, known as the WASL. But fewer questions on the new tests caused each one to count more.

“It’s just like any other test the kids might take in the classroom,” Manion said. “When there’s 100 points on a test, the kids might miss some and still do well. When there is 20 points on the test, the kids can’t miss as many.”

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Governor shines international spotlight on Issaquah’s zHome

October 5, 2010

Gov. Chris Gregoire offered a high-profile shout-out to zHome during a Sept. 17 sustainability address at the Shanghai World Expo.

The governor, on a trade mission to China and Vietnam, mentioned the Issaquah Highlands townhouse project during a speech to the Sustainable Cities Forum, a part of the World’s Fair.

“The city of Issaquah is building a zero-energy housing development in partnership with businesses,” Gregoire said as part of her remarks. “It involves designing, constructing and selling houses that demonstrate advanced ‘green’ building technologies.”

Plans call for zHome to include 10 townhouses designed to produce as much electricity as the units consume. By harnessing solar power and using recycled building materials, developers hope the complex causes only minimal impact to the environment.

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Enter trail photography for chance to win prizes

October 5, 2010

The Washington Trails Association is holding its eighth annual Northwest Exposure photo contest. Photographers who capture award-winning photos from Washington’s trails have a chance to win a tour of Mount Rainier with a naturalist guide, a Snoqualmie snowshoe trek or a Woodinville wine tour with EverGreen Escapes.

Photographers can also win Lowepro camera bags and photography books.

The contest has five main entries: wild landscapes, flora and fauna, hikers in action, families on trail and offbeat photos. Photographers can submit one photo per entry.

The first, second and third place winners for each category will receive prizes, as well as have their art featured in the January/February issue of Washington Trails magazine. The grand prize photo will be featured on the cover.

Submit photos here by Oct. 17. The Northwest Exposure photo contest link is on the left side of the page.

Damaged sprinkler causes brief school evacuation

October 5, 2010

Issaquah Middle School students briefly evacuated the school the morning of Sept. 23, after a damaged sprinkler triggered a fire alarm.

Sara Niegowksi, Issaquah School District spokeswoman, said a sprinkler in the gymnasium had been damaged after a ball struck the sprinkler. The sprinkler started leaking and left a considerable amount of standing water on the floor. The damaged sprinkler caused the alarm to activate, and students evacuated as if in a fire drill.

Children returned to class after the brief evacuation.

The district called in a restoration company to estimate the damage, due to the considerable amount of water on the floor.

State closes lakes to salmon fishing due to low coho run

October 5, 2010

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife has closed lakes Sammamish and Washington to salmon fishing, citing concerns about the limited number of coho salmon.

The salmon fishery on Lake Sammamish is closed until Nov. 30. The closure runs until Oct. 31 on Lake Washington.

The coho run is low and the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery may not collect enough fish to meet egg-take goals. The state said the lakes could reopen to salmon fishing if the run increases in the coming weeks.

Muckleshoot Tribe officials had counted 3,247 coho at the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in Ballard by Oct. 3. Typical coho runs in the last decade included about 30,000 fish each year. Officials recorded the prior low of 6,000 coho in 2002. The largest-recorded run of 47,000 occurred in 2000.

House passes arthritis bill

October 5, 2010

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the landmark arthritis bill, the Arthritis Prevention, Control and Cure Act, Sept. 30.

The act had 179 cosponsors, including Rep. Dave Reichert. There was no record of which representative voted yea or nay available at press time.

About one in five Americans lives with arthritis. If passed, the act would strengthen and expand federally funded programs, including arthritis research, public health initiatives proven to help arthritis patients and improve access to pediatric rheumatologists.

Next, the act heads to the U.S. Senate. Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray are cosponsors.

Issaquah arthritis advocates will celebrate the passing of the act at the Bellevue Arthritis Walk on Oct. 9. Learn more at

Deadline approaches for retroactive veteran benefits

October 5, 2010

Certain members of the armed forces qualify for retroactive payments, but the deadline to receive the benefits is approaching.

U.S. Department of Defense officials said military members who had their service involuntarily extended, or who had their retirement suspended, between Sept. 11, 2001, and Sept. 30, 2009, due to stop loss can receive retroactive payments of $500 for each month their service was extended.

The deadline to apply for the benefits is Oct. 21.

Eligible members should print, complete and sign a Department of Defense Form 2944, Claim for Retroactive Stop Loss Payment. They must then select the appropriate method for submitting their claim form based upon their service requirements.

The information can be found on their service’s stop loss website. The sites can be accessed here. Or call 877-736-5554 for the Army, 901-874-4427 for the Navy, 877-242-2830 for the Marine Corps or 800-525-0102 for the Air Force.

The government has paid about 58,000 of the 145,000 eligible claims, leaving more than $300 million available to eligible veterans. The average payout for each veteran is close to $4,000.

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