County Council succumbs to red-blue divide in health care debate

May 25, 2010

The nonpartisan King County Council cracked along partisan lines, as members praised national health care reform in a narrow decision.

The symbolic measure supports the implementation federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed by Congress in March. The council adopted the legislation in a split decision. Democrats on the nine-member council backed the measure; Republicans dissented.

“It is time to reform our health care system,” Chairman Bob Ferguson, the prime sponsor of the legislation and a Democrat, said in a statement after the May 10 decision. “The health care act isn’t perfect, but it will help provide access to basic health care for the more than 150,000 King County residents who are currently uninsured.”

The council decision follows a resolution passed by the King County Board of Health last year urging Congress to enact health care reform. Issaquah Mayor Ava Frisinger serves on the Board of Health.

Republican council members — Jane Hague, Pete Von Reichbauer and Issaquah-area representatives Kathy Lambert and Reagan Dunn — blasted the decision.

“I am concerned that the health care legislation recently passed by Congress is not fiscally sound,” Lambert said in a statement. “The health care services begin several years after the new taxes start, so it funds about six years of service over the first decade of tax collection.”

The dissenters noted a $60 million county spending gap, and said nonpartisan reports showed the federal legislation could cost the county $18 million to $34 million.

King County voters approved a measure in November 2008 to make the council, county executive and county assessor offices nonpartisan.

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District pledges support for state’s pursuit of federal grant funding

May 25, 2010

In an ever-shrinking environment of state and local budgets, state officials are joining the fray to secure crucial education funding from the federal government.

After a request from the governor, Issaquah and 251 other school districts signed on as partners to the state’s Race to the Top application, including the Lake Washington, Snoqualmie Valley and Renton school districts.

“A year ago, we decided we were going after Race to the Top funds our way, the Washington way. The strong support we have received from districts represents the great diversity of our state,” Gov. Chris Gregoire wrote in a statement released in partnership with state Superintendent Randy Dorn and State Board of Education Chairman Jeff Vincent. “This strength of support both in depth and breadth is a testament to the hard work that has been achieved to bring stakeholders together. Their effort shows the continuing commitment to improve our schools across the entire state.”

There are 295 school districts in the state.

Race to the Top is a federal grant that would infuse the state with nearly $250 million in education funding. The grant money is part of a nationwide initiative to kick-start a more competitive American education system.

In the past few weeks, Gregoire asked district officials, including teachers unions, superintendents and school boards, to join her in efforts to secure the grant money.

The endorsement of Issaquah School Board potentially means a piece of the pie if the state should win, since only participating districts will see funding, board member Chad Magendanz said.

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City Council will decide whether to give up right of way

May 25, 2010

City Council members will soon consider relinquishing the opportunity to develop unpaved right of way just above East Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast.

The council will listen to public comments before deciding whether to vacate right of way for 229th Avenue Southeast on June 7.

King County required the developer behind The Home Depot at East Lake Center and near the Boeing complex to dedicate right of way for 229th Avenue Southeast. Planners meant for the road to someday extend from south of Issaquah-Fall City Road to connect with Southeast Black Nugget Road. In order to accommodate eventual link, the county called for a 60-foot earthen embankment alongside the right of way.

Issaquah annexed the area a decade ago.

“We inherited it when we annexed,” city Engineer Bonita McPherren said.

City planners said a roadway could not be built on the right of way without first building a high, reinforced retaining wall. The hurdle makes a road connection along the right of way impractical. Hence, the city has no need to retain the property.

Under state law, the council must hold a public hearing before the vacation can proceed. The council held the initial hearing May 17.

The council agreed to continue the hearing June 7 to allow for comment from city residents and landowners. No one addressed the council during the May 17 hearing.

McPherren said the city contacted nearby property owners at the start of the process, but officials only heard from a single neighbor. Council members asked McPherren to contact nearby landowners again before the June hearing.

Besides the business district along East Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast, the annexation brought the Overdale Park neighborhood into the city.

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School district officials meet with state legislators

May 25, 2010

Issaquah School District officials met with state legislators to discuss the 2009 session at a meeting May 12.

The meeting was held before the evening’s regular school board meeting.

State Sens. Rodney Tom and Randy Gordon, and state Reps. Glenn Anderson, Deborah Eddy and Marcie Maxwell met with Issaquah School Board members to address education initiatives from the legislative session.

They also talked about reconciling the state’s budget this year and the expected budget gap coming next session that could greatly impact services to districts. Legislators said school districts, unions and parents would need to work together with one voice and agenda to help secure critical funding.

In addition, the officials and legislators spoke about the state’s Race to the Top application and legislative work around education reform through House Bill 2261.

Legislators also addressed rumblings of a potential initiative to go before voters for a state income tax. However, legislators said they have yet to see the initiative, nor have they heard of anyone who has signed onto it.

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Darigold, landfill honored for pollution prevention

May 25, 2010

King County environmental officials honored the Issaquah Darigold plant and Cedar Hills Regional Landfill for spotless wastewater discharge records last year.

Darigold and the landfill — just south of Issaquah in unincorporated King County — received kudos from the Industrial Waste Program on May 5. The landfill — operated by the King County Solid Waste Division — and 57 other entities received Gold Awards for no discharging wastewater without violations last year. Darigold and 16 other companies received Silver Awards for no discharge-monitoring violations last year. Darigold operates a landmark plant along Front Street North.

Since 1969, the Industrial Waste Program has required many industries to pre-treat wastewater before release in order to safeguard sewer treatment facilities, workers, the environment and public health.

Besides regulatory enforcement, the program serves as a resource for businesses by supporting permit compliance efforts and educating entrepreneurs about pollution prevention, waste reduction and water conservation. Learn more about the program here.

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Newcastle school’s sustainability programs win state award

May 25, 2010

Newcastle Elementary School is the recipient of a $300 grant from the state Department of Ecology, officials announced May 18.

The annual Terry Husseman School Awards program recognizes and rewards schools for their commitment to ongoing sustainable programs, including waste reduction efforts, creating new environmental awareness programs, and developing and implementing innovative curricula.

Newcastle, part of the Issaquah School District, is one of 45 public and private schools from across the state to win an award ranging between $150 and $3,150. More than 70 applications were received.

Newcastle won a Sustainable School Program Award for its ongoing waste reduction and composting program as well as its program to encourage alternative commuting options for energy conservation.

Two other types of awards were given. A Seed Award is given to schools or communities to initiate a new waste reduction or sustainability program and the Creative Environmental Curriculum Award, is given to students, teachers or school officials who introduce original curricula to further conservation efforts in schools.

In total, more than $28,000 in funding will be given out.

Funding for the program comes from the Waste Reduction, Recycling, and Litter Control Account, generated by a tax on industries that sell, manufacture, or distribute products and packaging that tend to become litter, a press release said.

See a full list of winners here.

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Cascade Bank awarded outstanding CRA rating by FDIC

May 25, 2010

Cascade Bank, the principal operating subsidiary of Cascade Financial Corp., has been awarded an overall rating of “outstanding” on its Community Reinvestment Act Performance Evaluation from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

The rating of “outstanding” is the highest rating possible by the FDIC, and was awarded to less than 5 percent of banks nationally in 2009.

The CRA evaluation is based on performance in three tests, including lending, investment and service, as well as CRA activities conducted between 2006 and 2009. The evaluation assesses a bank’s specific initiatives and efforts toward meeting the credit needs of its assessment area in a manner consistent with its resources and capabilities.

The Community Reinvestment Act is a federal law created in 1977 to encourage commercial banks and savings associations to meet the needs of borrowers in all segments of their communities by reducing discriminatory credit practices against low- and moderate-income neighborhoods.

Cascade Bank, a state-chartered commercial bank headquartered in Everett, operates 22 full-service branches

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Liberty, Skyline boys win district track championships

May 25, 2010

Joshua Gordon, Liberty sophomore, wondered on May 6 during the all-city track meet why he couldn’t come up with an extra quarter-inch to reach 21 feet in the long jump. His redemption came at the 3A Sea-King district meet, winning the event with a 21-foot, 10 1/2-inch leap. By Greg Farrar

The Skyline and Liberty high school boys track teams head to the state championship meet this week as district champions.

Skyline captured the 4A Bi-District meet title May 22 and Liberty took the 3A Sea-King District championship May 21 at the Southwest Complex in West Seattle.

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2010 Community Awards

May 25, 2010

City inducts Leon Kos into Hall of Fame; chamber names Bob Ittes as Citizen of the Year

Leon Kos, Hall of Fame

Community leaders honored the man at the helm of city administration through more than three decades and four mayors with the top city award last week.

The city inducted retired City Administrator Leon Kos into the Issaquah Hall of Fame during the 31st annual Community Awards Luncheon.

Besides Kos, the city and civic organizations honored people in 15 categories for community and volunteer efforts at the May 18 ceremony.

Issaquah Chamber of Commerce leaders named longtime community banker Bob Ittes as Citizen of the Year. Chamber CEO Matt Bott praised Ittes as “one of the pillars of our community” before the announcement.

“In his quiet way, the recipient has provided strong, steady leadership to a number of local organizations,” Bott said.

Ittes launched Issaquah Community Bank in July 2007 — “known by many as Bob’s bank” — Rowley Properties executive Kristi Tripple, the ceremony emcee, said in the announcement.

The bank merged with three other Puget Sound-area institutions in February to become Bank of the Northwest.

“Pulling together a bank merger during one of the worst economic periods in history is no small feat,” Tripple said. Read more

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Kentwood bounces Skyline from playoffs

May 25, 2010

It was a rough way to end the season for the Skyline High School baseball team May 22. The Spartans made 4A regionals after winning all the right games at the end of the regular season.

Its hopes were dashed in a 16-4 loss to the Kentwood Conquerors in the first round of the state tournament at Everett Stadium.

Kentwood (18-4) eventually advanced to the state semifinals after beating Mountlake Terrace that same day 13-2.

“It’s great we made it this far,” starting pitcher Peyton Harrod said after the game.

Although Harrod had his moments against Kentwood, the Conquerors wasted no time in putting runs on the board. Kentwood batted through the lineup in the first, scoring four runs on four hits, including a Skyline error that got one man on base and let one score.

Harrod contained Conqueror hitters with three up and three down in the second. Skyline answered with three runs in the top of the third inning, to come within one.

Kentwood pitcher Austin Voth walked Connor Gilchrist, who stole second and scored on an Anthony DeMatteo single to center field. Nate Litka drove a single to center and then stole second base. With runners at second and third with one out, Jim Sinatro, a sophomore, lined out to third. Read more

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