National show makes House Hunter out of woman’s home search

August 17, 2010

When 27-year-old Issaquah native Ashley Sambrook decided it was time to fly her parents’ coop, she ended up on national television.

From the time of her birth until she turned 26, except for her years at college, Sambrook lived with her parents on Squak Mountain. After earning a degree in English literature from the University of Washington, Sambrook returned to Issaquah and began working at her father’s company, Diversified Systems Group, which custom prints CDs, DVDs and photos.

Working alongside her father and living at home gave her a lot of one-on-one time with her parents, and left her itching for a place of her own.

“I get to see them all of the time as it is, so I thought it would be nice to get out on my own and have a little independence,” Sambrook said. “I wanted to get out and enjoy being young and have a good time without thinking, ‘Oh, my mom and dad are probably up and wondering where I am.’”

After a failed attempt with a real estate agent to find a condominium on the Eastside, she called family friend and Issaquah RE/MAX Integrity Real Estate agent Cindy Hamman, who helped Sambrook find a dog-friendly condominium with a budget of $300,000 in downtown Kirkland.

“Kirkland is very hip. It’s a great place for young, single people,” Hamman said. “You can walk everywhere.”

Sambrook could barely contain her excitement at the prospect of having a place of her own. She and her mother Janice regularly watched “House Hunters” on HGTV, and Sambrook thought her story would fit perfectly into an episode.

She submitted an application and, to her surprise, Sambrook heard from the network the next morning.

Keys in hand, Issaquah native Ashley Sambrook (right) grins with her RE/MAX Integrity Real Estate agent Cindy Hamman after buying her first condominium. The HGTV ‘House Hunters’ show will feature both women in an episode scheduled to air Aug. 22. By Janice Samb

In each episode of “House Hunters,” a camera crew follows a prospective homebuyer to three places, and “people who are watching the show are supposed to figure out what house they’re going to pick,” Sambrook said.

“We liked the fact that here was a young woman who came up with a plan of ‘I’m going to move home. I’m going to save my money, reach a certain amount and I’m going to go out and buy a place,’” Drew Hallmann, co-executive producer of “House Hunters”, said.

Hallmann said it was a bonus that Sambrook’s story had a good family angle and that the real estate agent was a family friend.

Although Sambrook had already picked her dream place, with the help of Hamman, she returned to two other condominiums she had visited. In reality, Sambrook looked at 15 places.

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Local mom wins Miss Plus America pageant

August 17, 2010

Latasha Haskins wears all her pageant finery after winning the Miss Plus America 2010. Contributed

An arduous five-year journey ended with roses and a crown for Renton resident Latasha Haskins, 29, who was crowned Miss Plus America 2010 on July 17.

“I’m already extremely excited,” she said. “I’ve been really praying that God would open the doors for me to meet people that I would never, otherwise, be able to meet.

“I think that my personal platform, and that of Miss Plus America, is really relevant to our country right now.”

A tough climb

Two years ago, at 27, Haskins had done what takes many a lifetime to conquer — faced her fears, accepted herself and changed her outlook on life.

“I went through a period where I thought my life was over,” she said, in a 2008 interview. “I was living away from my family, raising two kids by myself, living on [Department of Health and Social Services], I was overweight and didn’t have a good job.

“One day, I realized that that wasn’t what I wanted, so I took a real hard look at myself — the whole thing, weight, appearance, education — I got real with myself and I was appalled.”

Slowly but surely, she conquered each obstacle in front of her, with her boys — Isaiah, now 10, and Kevin, now 7 — her mother and her father by her side.

She said she decided to join the Miss Plus America pageant system, because it’s something she believes in.

The national pageant is designed to foster the belief that “all women are beautiful, inside and out and deserve a chance to promote those causes closest to her heart with a title worthy of her representation,” according to the pageant organization’s website. Read more

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Creekside Elementary welcomes students with natural setting, high-tech touches

August 17, 2010

Robin Earl, Creekside Elementary School principal, stands in a balcony hallway overlooking the library core. Large windows bring the outdoor beauty inside. By Christopher Huber

To the tune of hammering and buzzing saws on a hot day at the end of July, Principal Robin Earl walked through the crowded hallways of her new school.

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Eastside Baby Corner hosts pants party

August 17, 2010

Donate new or gently-used pants to help Eastside Baby Corner increase its supply of pants for children in the upcoming school year.

Eastside Baby Corner is a charitable and green nonprofit organization that collects hand-me-down children’s clothing and other goods from the community; recycles and repairs items that would otherwise go to the landfill, purchases other basics; and distributes almost everything essential to children through more than 75 agencies serving families in greater east King County.

Since one of its recurring needs is clothing, especially pants for school-aged children, Eastside Baby Corner is inviting kids to join them for a Pants Party on Aug. 21. The sizes of pants most needed are 5-14, for both boys and girls. The main focus will be children’s pants, but volunteers will also accept other donations of children’s clothing and material goods. Read more

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Tutta Bella serves free pizzas to celebrate national award

August 17, 2010

Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria is serving free pizza through Aug. 22 to celebrate the latest honor the Seattle-based mini-chain has received: Independent Pizzeria of the Year.

Tutta Bella bested more than 33,000 independent pizza restaurants nationwide to earn the title from Pizza Today, a trade publication. Founder Joe Fugere plans to celebrate by offering a free pizza to every table.

The offer applies to both lunch and dinner for dine-in guests only. The freebie is not valid with any other offer.

Last June, Fugere opened a restaurant in Issaquah at 715 N.W. Gilman Blvd. The chain includes three pizzerias in Seattle.

“I have personally visited Tutta Bella four different times over the years, and I’ve never left any of the company’s four locations without feeling absolutely blown away by the superior food quality, service, attention to detail, ambiance, you name it,” Pizza Today Editor in Chief Jeremy White said in a news release. “This might well be the perfect pizzeria.”

Tutta Bella is the first Vera Pizza Napoletana in the Pacific Northwest. The certification means pizza made at Tutta Bella pizzerias meets exacting standards set by the Italian government.

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Back to School Essentials

August 17, 2010

  • The first day of school is Aug. 31 this year, prior to the Labor Day holiday. To see when your child begins and ends school, refer to the bell-time schedule.
  • Basic statistics: The Issaquah School District serves more than 16,000 students in a 110-square mile area. It has 15 elementary schools, five middle schools, three comprehensive high schools, an alternative high school and oversees education at Echo Glen Children’s Center, the state juvenile detention center.
  • Family Access is an online tool that allows students and parents to view their educational records, including test scores, attendance records and class schedules. Families with secondary school students also have access to grades. Login or get more information about obtaining your password at If you don’t already have a password, obtain it from your school secretary or registrar by showing photo identification. Read more
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Swedish teams combine efforts in new atrial fibrillation procedure

August 17, 2010

Dr. David Gartman (center) and his team operate on their portion of the second patient ever west of the Mississippi to receive a hybrid procedure for atrial fibrillation at Swedish Medical Center. Issaquah resident Steve Beer received the first. Contributed

Steve Beer has always enjoyed living in the Issaquah area for its convenient access to outdoor activities, such as hiking to motorcycle riding.

Then, a few years ago, as he approached his 50s, Beer noticed his energy reserves were sapped more quickly.

“I could work out in the yard for hours and be dead as a doornail afterwards,” he recalled. “I just thought I was getting older, out of shape.”

Then, in 2008, an unrelated sinus surgery had to be postponed due to anomalous electrocardiogram readings that concerned his doctors. Further tests by a cardiologist proved Beer had atrial fibrillation, the most common type of arrhythmia or abnormal electrical activity in the heart.

Beer wasn’t alone in his diagnosis. According to the American Heart Association, about 2.2 million Americans live with AF. It is also the most common “serious” heart rhythm abnormality in people over age 65. Read more

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School construction by the numbers

August 17, 2010

Pacific Cascade Middle School

  • Construction: June-August 2010
  • Approximate cost of conversion and construction: $310,000
  • Square footage: 107,557
  • Classrooms: 25 regular rooms and four specialized teaching spaces
  • Science laboratories: six
  • New features: Additional track and field structures, like a long-jump pit, shot put and discus area were added. Former elective classrooms and equipment for them, like the engineering class, were turned into regular classrooms and the equipment was divided between Issaquah and Skyline high schools. All high school textbooks were replaced. Administratively, the school will handle three grades instead of one and there are dozens of new faculty members.

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Stephen ‘Steve’ Michael Grate

August 17, 2010

Stephen Grate

Stephen “Steve” Michael Grate, of Renton, died Aug. 6, 2010, as a result of injuries he sustained while hiking in his beloved Cascade Mountains. He was 52.

A celebration of Steve’s life was Aug. 12 at St. Peter’s United Methodist Church, Bellevue. Read more

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August 17, 2010

Overlake’s Issaquah clinic offers classes

Overlake Hospital Medical Center offers the following classes at its Issaquah clinic, 5708 E. Lake Sammamish Parkway S.E., Suite 103. Register at Call 688-5259 for class information.

Weight Loss Surgery Seminar” — 6-7:30 p.m. Aug. 24, free

-“You and Your Baby: 5 Class Series” — 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Sept. 2-30 and 10 a.m. – noon Sept. 15 – Oct. 13, $55

-“Condensed Series: Preparation for Childbirth & Newborn Care” — 9:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. Sept. 10 & 17, $95 per couple

-“Comprehensive Preparation for Childbirth and Newborn Care 7-week series” — 7-9 p.m. Mondays Sept. 13 – Oct. 25, $105 per couple

Swedish offers class in Issaquah

“Joint Replacement: The Right Choice for You?” is at 6 p.m. Aug. 26 at Swedish Medical Center’s Issaquah clinic, 2005 N.W. Sammamish Road. Register at swedishhealth.

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