Steve Litzow elected to represent Issaquah in state Senate

December 7, 2010

Republican defeated incumbent Randy Gordon for seat

The last undecided race to represent Issaquah in Olympia came to a close Dec. 3, more than a month after Election Day.

Republican Steve Litzow defeated appointed incumbent Randy Gordon to represent the 41st Legislative District in the state Senate. The district includes Talus and other Cougar Mountain communities in Issaquah, plus Mercer Island, Newcastle and rural King County.

State Supreme Court Justice Jim Johnson (right) administers the oath of office to new state Sen. Steve Litzow at the Capitol in Olympia on Dec. 6. Contributed

Democrat Gordon trailed Litzow by more than 1,000 votes in the days after the Nov. 2 election. The gap between the candidates slimmed to 194 votes — or 0.32 percent — as the county tallied ballots. Litzow clinched the seat by 192 votes after the recount.

Under state law, a machine recount is required if the difference between the candidates is less than 2,000 votes and also less than one-half of 1 percent of the total number of votes cast for both candidates. King County Elections tallied 63,361 ballots in the race.

The elections office completed the mandatory recount for the contest Dec. 1 and King County Canvassing Board members certified the recount results Dec. 3.

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Crews used more than 600 tons of sand during snowstorm

December 7, 2010

By Greg Farrar Chip Lauterbach, city maintenance worker, sweeps up sand with his Elgin Broom Bear on Northwest Lac Leman Drive in the Montreux neighborhood Dec. 3 after the Nov. 22 snowstorm.

City road crews used more than 600 tons of sand to keep Issaquah streets passable during the recent fall snowstorm.

The sand has replaced snow along road medians and shoulders a week after snow blanketed the Puget Sound region.

Bret Heath, city Public Works Operations and emergency management director, said crews plan to sweep and collect the sand throughout December. The department then screens debris from the grit and plans to use the sand again if road conditions deteriorate.

“We recycle as much of it as we can,” Heath said. “We’ll pick it up, store it, screen it and reuse it, either for sandbags or for sanding again.”

The city Public Works Operations Department deployed sanders and snowplows as snowflakes started to fall Nov. 22.

Crews applied sand sprayed with a de-icing fluid — calcium chloride with a modifier added to reduce corrosion — to Issaquah roadways.

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Press Editorial

December 7, 2010

Budget keeps service, reflects priorities

Last December, as the City Council pieced together a tight budget for 2010, Mayor Ava Frisinger described the spending plan as lean but not mean. The same could be said for the proposed 2011 budget expected to be passed Dec. 20.

The plan for the coming year is a reflection of residents’ priorities and council members’ goals. Though some of the ideas recommended by the council seem destined to wither before winter is over, the overall plan is smart.

The council spent a good deal of time discussing transportation, a critical issue in gridlocked Issaquah. Members’ recommendations to the mayor include a smart and savvy blend of transportation projects that can be completed in the near future.

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DOT updates snow priorities

December 7, 2010

The state Department of Transportation and Washington State Patrol announced a plan last week to join forces the next time ice and snow cover roads.

The agencies announced the creation of two Joint Response Teams — a DOT snowplow and a state patrol cruiser — to be deployed to collisions involving buses, tractor-trailers and other large vehicles. The teams plan to work in the King County area.

Transportation officials also announced a plan to convert pickups into mini-sanders. The smaller vehicles should be able to maneuver more easily between stopped vehicles than full-size sanders or snowplows.

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Updated shoreline rules outline creek and lakeside construction

December 7, 2010

City aims to balance ecology and expansion

The latest city shoreline rules should help planners to determine appropriate creek and lakeside areas for construction, plus offer more clarity to landowners along Issaquah Creek and Lake Sammamish.

The city Planning Policy Commission has OK’d the updated Shoreline Master Program — the guide to construction along Lake Sammamish, and the main stem and East Fork of Issaquah Creek. The measure heads to the City Council for adoption.

“The objectives are to allow redevelopment and expansion,” city Environmental Planner Peter Rosen said. “But, then, there’s also some requirements to improve the existing conditions along the lake.”

The updated shoreline regulations apply to land located within 200 feet of the shorelines, plus associated wetlands.

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Tiger Mountain, state lands are not open for tree cutting

December 7, 2010

Forget about cutting a fresh Christmas tree in the Tiger Mountain State Forest or on other state lands.

The state Department of Natural Resources does not sell Christmas trees or pine boughs from state trust lands.

The agency manages forests on state trust lands and only allows timber to be harvested to help public schools, universities and other state institutions, handled through permits and leases.

Although DNR does not allow Christmas tree cutting, people can cut trees at private farms and on U.S. Forest Service land. Purchase permits to cut Christmas trees inside the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest through Dec. 23. Trees can be cut in eastern portions of King County, plus parts of Pierce, Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties.

Foragers can gather other holiday decorations, such as pinecones, from state lands. Learn more about harvesting forest products at the DNR’s Ear to the Ground blog.

Local actor channels the bully in ‘A Christmas Story’

December 7, 2010

Scut Farkus (Ashton Herrild, center) and Grover Dill (Keenan Barr, right) confront Ralphie (Clarke Hallum, left) and Randy (Matthew Lewis, lying center) in ‘A Christmas Story, The Musical!’ By Chris Bennion

All 9-year-old Ralphie Parker wants for Christmas is “an official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range model air rifle with a compass in the stock, and this thing which tells time.”

While he impatiently waits for Santa Claus to bring him the BB gun for the holidays, the star of the new 5th Avenue Theatre musical production of “A Christmas Story, The Musical!” has to deal with a foil his own age: bully Scut Farkus, played by Newcastle 13-year-old Ashton Herrild.

In addition to bullying Parker at school, Farkus bullies him in his daydream fantasies that pop up in The 5th Avenue Theatre’s musical, playing a shark, a pirate and even a creature that looks like the evil monkey from “The Wizard of Oz.”

“I’m pretty much the main antagonist,” Ashton said.

The hit 1983 movie, based on real and fictional stories by Jean Shepherd, follows the Parker family through a Christmas season in the 1940s. But Ashton advised patrons to see the musical first and the movie later, so “they won’t say, ‘That’s not the same as the movie,’” when they watch the show, he said.

Ashton has acted since age 4, when he took acting classes at Mercer Island’s Youth Theatre Northwest.

His mother, Beth Herrild, remembered how her son used to wake her and her husband David up in the morning, dressed to the nines in a costume of his own making.

“I was always that kid who was loud in class and wasn’t really embarrassed,” about it, Ashton said.

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Off the Press

December 7, 2010

It is time to overcome hardship with giving

Let’s get right to the heart of the matter. Government budget cuts in 2011 are going to hurt the people who need the most help. With the federal, state, county and city dealing with huge revenue deficits — just when layoffs, furloughs and medical cost hikes are hurting most — the shredded social safety net is going to fail a lot of folks.

That’s why it is so important, in fact imperative, that this Christmas season we try to keep our local charities uppermost in our giving impulses. It’s the worst hardships those in need in the next calendar year will face that we need to anticipate and head off here and now.

In case a memory refresher will do some good, these are a few local places that can use our spirit of generosity:

Eastside Baby Corner in Issaquah provides for children in need from birth to age 12 throughout the Eastside. To quote their website, “What you give, we give, to Eastside families struggling with job loss, homelessness, medical crisis and poverty.”

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Temple leader faces charges in Issaquah molestation incident

December 7, 2010

Police said the leader of the Bellevue Vedic temple molested a 12-year-old Issaquah girl after he used his position as a spiritual leader to become close to the girl.

Investigators said Vinay Keshavan Bharadwaj, 35, faces three counts of second-degree child molestation. The spiritual leader met the girl at the temple. In November 2008, Bharadwaj started calling her on the phone every night and speaking to her near bedtime, court documents state. Investigators said Bharadwaj started kissing and fondling the girl at about the same time. He asked her not to tell her parents about the incidents.

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Councilman urges King County to find better plan to fund public safety

December 7, 2010

Reagan Dunn urged other King County Council members last week to create a “priority commission” to determine how the cash-strapped county can fund the criminal justice system.

The county councilman offered the proposal less than a month after voters rejected a sales tax hike meant to limit cuts to the King County Sheriff’s Office and county courts. The idea received a cool reception from other County Council members and County Executive Dow Constantine.

The council later cut more than 20 deputies from the sheriff’s office in a lean 2011 budget. Dunn argued against the criminal justice cuts and refused to approve the spending plan.

Locally, Liberty High School is scheduled to lose a school resource officer as a result of the cuts, and a police storefront near Issaquah is due to close.

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