School’s sustainability programs win state award

June 1, 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.

Stay safe on trails all summer long

June 1, 2010

Memorial Day weekend marked the unofficial start of hiking season.

Experts at Washington Trails Association — a hiking-trails advocacy and maintenance group — encouraged residents to stay safe on trails on in the months ahead. The group offers the following safety tips for hikers taking to trails:

-Pack the essentials: maps, compass, flashlight and extra batteries, extra food, extra clothing and shelter, sunglasses and sunscreen, first aid kit, pocket knife, matches and fire-starter, and adequate water.

-Research conditions thoroughly before setting out. Check weather forecasts and online trip reports for recent conditions. Check ahead with local ranger stations for current conditions on roads and trails, and closely watch weather forecasts. Find contact information for ranger stations here.

-Tell someone the destination, the trails and expected return time. Hike as a group, and end as a group. Pace the hike to the slowest person.

-Hiking poles can be helpful on stretches of snow-covered patches, in crossing downed logs and in stream crossings. Unhook packs when crossing a stream.

-Be prepared to turn back. Because weather changes quickly in the mountains, streams might be deep and swift in the spring due to snow melt.

Fish for free June 12-13

June 1, 2010

Fish without a license — legally — on Free Fishing Weekend, scheduled for June 12-13.

No license will be required to fish or gather shellfish in any state waters open to fishing. Moreover, no vehicle use permit will be required during Free Fishing Weekend to park at any of the 600 water-access sites maintained by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

In addition, anglers will not need a two-pole endorsement to fish with two poles on thousands of lakes statewide, nor will they need a Columbia River salmon and steelhead endorsement, otherwise required to fish for salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River and tributaries.

Although licenses will not be required during Free Fishing Weekend, other rules — such as size limits, bag limits and closures — will remain in effect. Anglers will also be required to complete a catch record card for any salmon, steelhead or sturgeon they catch.

Find the state’s sport-fishing rules pamphlet here.

Landowners can apply for state money to restore fish passages

June 1, 2010

The state Department of Natural Resources will accept applications until June 30 for funds to help landowners protect fish habitat.

The effort, the Family Forest Fish Passage Program, grants money for landowners to replace culverts blocking fish in streams crossing the land. The state considered small-forest landowners to be those who harvest less than 2 million board feet per year, on average, from their land.

The program pays from 75 to 100 percent of the cost to remove barriers. Successful applicants must be small-forest landowners with a forest road crossing a fish-bearing stream. Qualifying projects could include removal of log puncheons —upright pieces of timber — or undersized, elevated or collapsed culverts.

Officials rank projects based on the habitat affected, location in the watershed and cost benefit. Landowners enrolled in the program receive funding based on the ranking and as funds become available. The program contracts with local conservation groups to manage the projects.

Learn more about the program at the agency website.

Volunteer on National Trails Day

June 1, 2010

State Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark will join Mountains to Sound Greenway Volunteers at Tiger Mountain and Little Si trails on June 5 to mark National Trails Day.

Starting at 9 a.m. June 5, greenway volunteers will build a trail surface, improve the trailhead and improve drainage at the popular trails sites. Sign up to volunteer at the greenway website.

Goldmark celebrated National Trails Day last June at the same state-managed natural areas. The public lands commissioners also serves as a greenway board member.

Rangers step up enforcement of leash law in state parks

June 1, 2010

Parkgoers should expect stepped-up enforcement of a statewide leash law in state parks, due to the number of reported dog bites in recent years.

Last year, 22 dog bites to state park visitors were recorded and 31 such incidents in 2008. From the 2009 total, seven people required medical attention for the dog bites; eight needed medical attention the previous year.

Lake Sammamish State Park Manager Rich Benson said rangers had not recorded a dog bite to a park visitor here in several years, but a dog bit another dog last year. The attacked animal required treatment from a veterinarian.

“A leash is a good start, but owners need to be able to control their dogs,” Benson said.

Infractions issued for unleashed pets carry a fine of $87. County district courts handle the cases.

The state parks commission announced the leash-law emphasis last week — National Dog Bite Prevention Week.

“Even one case where someone gets a dog bite is too many,” Robert Ingram, chief of visitor protection and law enforcement for state parks, said in the news release. “We want a park system that’s welcoming to the whole family, including pets — so our priority has to be safety.” Read more

County honors Earth Heroes

June 1, 2010

Saving the planet one apple core, one plastic bag or one light switch at a time are this year’s King County Earth Heroes. The annual awards were given to one Issaquah School District teacher and three district schools. The individual winner was Meagan Elliot, a counselor at Pine Lake Middle School. Cascade Ridge Elementary School, Maywood Middle School and Pine Lake received schoolwide awards.

Jack Sansing (left) and Katie and Noah Springborn stand behind food-recycling bins. They were Cascade Ridge Elementary Green Team members who directed their classmates to use the correct bins after lunch. By Christopher Huber

County officials awarded nearly two-dozen individuals, groups and schools with the award. Each recipient created or maintained programs that significantly improve the health of the environment through recycling or conserving natural resources or energy, or by educating students.

Elliot earned recognition after working with teachers, students and custodians to implement Pine Lake’s food-scrap recycling program. Her efforts, with inspired initiative from students, she said, helped reduce the amount of trash collected daily from 15 bags to five bags, a 66 percent reduction.

Elliot also headed the implementation of a zero-waste locker clean-out program. Students push a cart through the hallways, collecting notebooks, coats and any other discarded school supplies. Whereas students used to throw usable materials away, most of them now help re-use items, Elliot said.

The motto is “don’t throw it away if it’s not garbage,” she said. “I just see people being more mindful about stuff.”

Students help Elliot further the cause with posters, and creating and showing an educational video in classrooms.

Elliot said she hopes to start a greenhouse and gardening project on the Pine Lake campus — maybe even with chickens.

Since 2005, Cascade Ridge students have been hard at work recycling, but this year, the school’s Green Team helped better educate students regarding what could and couldn’t be recycled by clearly labeling bins in the cafeteria for food scrap recycling.

As a result, students and faculty increased their recycling rate this year to 58 percent and decreased their garbage costs by 35 percent. They also eliminated the use of straws and polystyrene trays. Read more

Fred Meyer customers raise $2,197.32 for Issaquah schools

June 1, 2010

Fred Meyer customers donated $2,197.32 to the Issaquah School District by dropping their change in coin boxes located at Fred Meyer checkstands.

The district received the check last week. In 130 Fred Meyer stores in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington, a total of $367,382.05 in change was donated to local schools in an eight-month period. Throughout Washington, Fred Meyer customers raised $139,421.02.

Fred Meyer began collecting donations for school districts in June 2009 and continued through February 2010, with the exception of two weeks in January, when the coin boxes were temporarily earmarked for the American Red Cross Haiti Disaster Relief Fund, raising more than $70,000 for that organization.

Fred Meyer has had coin boxes at its checkstands for more than 10 years, and the money collected in those coin boxes are distributed through the company’s corporate foundation, The Fred Meyer Fund. June 2009 represented the first time the fund called out a specific organization on the coin boxes, letting customers know exactly where their donated change would be going.

From February 2010 to mid-May, the coin box money was directed to local food banks. The final tally for food banks is not yet available, but is expected to be at least $130,000 companywide. From May 23 through Aug. 14, coin box money will go to Operation Homefront, supporting troops and their families, in Idaho, Oregon and Washington. In Alaska, the change donations will go to the Armed Services YMCA of Alaska.

Fred Meyer has a number of other ongoing programs that help to support and raise money for local schools, including the Upromise, Box Tops for Education and E-Labels for Education programs. Learn more about Fred Meyer’s commitment to education and other programs here.

Gruesome scene at Liberty High School hopefully prompts smart choices

June 1, 2010

The lifeless body of Alexis Court, a Liberty High School senior and student officer, lay beneath a yellow tarp between two mangled vehicles in the student parking lot at 9 a.m. May 25. Beer cans spilled from one vehicle as the driver staggered out.

By Chantelle Lusebrink Liberty High School students look on as Eastside Fire & Rescue firefighters begin acting out CPR during a mock crash scenario to help teens understand the consequences of driving under the influence.

As Eastside Fire & Rescue firefighters and King County Sheriff’s deputies began checking pulses and getting stretchers, firefighter Ryan Anderson talked to the students circled around the school’s mock crash simulation.

Spring is a time of celebration for students at high schools across the state with prom, senior breakfasts and graduations. Parties often follow those functions.

Faculty members and the Liberty Parents, Teachers and Students Association put on the reminder.

“We do this once every two years,” Principal Mike Deletis said. “We want the kids to think about their choices during summer and through the senior season of celebration.

“We want to give them an experience they can look back on and hopefully help them realize they aren’t invincible, and that even the minute choices they make in life can have consequences that can last a lifetime.”

In the aftermath of the fake, head-on collision, two 2010 class graduates were dead, two were airlifted to Harborview Medical Center and senior Ryan Darnall was arrested for drinking and driving. He would likely face vehicular homicide charges if the situation had occurred, Anderson said.

Entering the school’s gym, firefighters and deputies recounted their experiences with real accidents involving students, and detailed the criminal charges they could face if the deadly scenarios had actually taken place.

“We do this because we’d rather be proactive rather than reactive to situations like this, and we do it because we want the kids to know we care about them,” said Deputy Dave Montalvo, the school’s resource officer.

To hit the point home, Aaron Braunworth, a 2000 Liberty graduate, came to speak. Read more

Schools finance officer is PTSA Educator of the Year

June 1, 2010

At their annual luncheon May 20, members of the districtwide Issaquah Parents, Teachers and Students Association awarded Jacob Kuper, the Issaquah School District’s chief executive of finance and operations, their Educator of the Year Award.

Jacob Kuper, the Issaquah School District’s chief executive of finance and operations, received the districtwide Parents, Teachers and Students Association Educator of the Year Award from President Heather Gillette. By Sara Niegowski

“Our Educator of the Year award is important, because it goes to someone who goes above and beyond at the district level to not just be a steward of educating our children, but to someone that educates our community and families about the educational process,” PTSA President Heather Gillette said.

“Jake has been instrumental in that through his financial management, but also by making the community aware of what is going on at the district and state levels financially,” she said.

The luncheon, at Tibbetts Creek Manor, is an end-of-the-year celebration for PTSA members and district officials.

It’s Kuper’s strength in strong fiscal management that has enabled the district to weather unprecedented economic cutbacks from the state and federal governments, Gillette said. Without that leadership, children wouldn’t have the same education they have in Issaquah.

“By managing resources and advocating for funding of public education, I believe we can provide every child with an education that will ensure they have the opportunity to be successful,” said Kuper, a father of two. “I believe education is the bedrock of our society and that is why I am so passionate about it.”

Kuper graduated from Eatonville High School in 1998 and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in political science and a minor in business and accounting from Oregon State University in 2002. In 2006, he earned his master’s in business administration from Pacific Lutheran University.

After graduation, he went to work for the state Auditor’s Office, where he conducted audits on government entities, including school districts, which gave him a better understanding of how to responsibly manage them financially. Read more

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