Washington students score above national average on ACT

September 7, 2010

For the seventh consecutive year, Washington students scored above the national average on the ACT exam.

Washington students who graduated in 2010 tied for eighth place with Delaware, finishing behind students in Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Vermont on the test, used as a college assessment in the areas of English, reading, math and science.

A total of 12,897 high school seniors took the ACT in the 2009-10 school year — one-sixth of all seniors statewide and a record for ACT participation in the state.

Washington’s seniors averaged a composite score of 23, compared to the national average of 21, according to the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. Scores are ranked between one and 36.

About 10,000 Washington students took the optional ACT writing test this year, and averaged a composite score of 23.1 compared to the national average of 21.4.

ACT does not release school district or school results.

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Maywood Middle School students evacuate building

September 7, 2010

Maywood Middle School students had an unexpected evacuation Sept. 3.

At about 9 a.m., the school’s power went out. Shortly after, students and staff members reported smelling smoke and immediately evacuated the building, according to an e-mail Principal Jason Morse sent to parents.

King County Fire District 25 responded to the emergency call and found a faulty motor in the heating and cooling system had burned out because of the power outage. Firefighters evaluated the motor and allowed students and staff members to re-enter the building at about 10 a.m.

The school was expected to regain power by noon. Teachers continued to hold classes and were thankful it was a bright day, Issaquah School District spokeswoman Sara Niegowski said.

“The good news is that we were able to practice our fire evacuation procedures early in the school year, and everyone did a great job!” Morse wrote in his e-mail.

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State lands steward reminds campers to extinguish fires

September 7, 2010

The state Department of Natural Resources has been inundated by callers reporting abandoned campfires throughout King and Pierce counties.

Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark reminded campers to put out fires in order to reduce the risk of wildfires. Moreover, abandoning a campfire is illegal.

The agency encouraged people to put out campfires, and to extinguish any abandoned campfires they discover. Drown the fire with water, stir the ashes and check to make sure the ashes are cool to the touch; if not, repeat the steps.

The agency investigates wildfires and takes appropriate enforcement action — including recovering the costs to extinguish abandoned campfires — if negligence has caused a wildfire.

Under a summerlong statewide burn ban, designated campgrounds can allow campfires in approved fire pits. The state agency or campground can put additional restrictions in place depending on weather conditions.

The ban includes all forestlands in Washington, except federal lands, and ends Sept. 30.

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Fill the Boot returns Sept. 10

September 7, 2010

Local firefighters are fundraising for children and adults affected by muscular dystrophy.

Eastside Fire & Rescue firefighters will collect donations for Jerry’s Kids and the Muscular Dystrophy Association, which supports research and purchases necessities for patients. Proceeds will also help send children with muscular dystrophy to camp.

The firefighters will accept money from motorists from 2-6 p.m. Sept. 10 at the intersections of Front Street and Sunset Way in Issaquah and Southeast Issaquah-Pine Lake Road and 228th Avenue Southeast in Sammamish.

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Minor earthquake shakes Mirrormont neighborhood

September 7, 2010

Seismologists recorded a magnitude 2.6 earthquake Sept. 3 near Mirrormont, south of Issaquah.

University of Washington seismologists and the U.S. Geological Survey said the micro-earthquake occurred at 9:52 p.m., about two miles northeast of Mirrormont.

Residents in Mirrormont, along Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast and Southeast May Valley Road, said their homes shook for a few moments. No damage was reported.

The seismic activity came several weeks after seismologists recorded two micro-earthquakes near Issaquah.

Seismologists recorded a magnitude 1.6 earthquake about three miles northeast of downtown Issaquah on July 3. The quake followed a magnitude 1.1 micro-earthquake centered about four miles east of the city June 9.

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Frogs can be fun and help your garden

September 7, 2010

This frog was photographed on a peony in Sammamish. Frogs can be helpful in keeping a garden healthy and pest free. By Jeanine Bracco

They can be cute, slimy, freak people out, loud when you’re trying to sleep and children sometimes love to catch them.

Don’t be alarmed if frogs are in your yard — these amphibians mean that you have a healthy environment, free of pesticides and other harmful products.

“They eat insects and a lot of other smaller things that may be harmful to your garden,” said Michael Aguilar, certified professional horticulturalist and lawn and garden specialist at The Grange.

Attracting frogs into your yard can be easy; there are a few things that need to be done in order to do it. Read more

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Off The Press

September 7, 2010

Photo contest entries provide fun for staff

Ahh, our annual photo contest. The people, the animals, the scenes.

Kathleen R. Merrill Press editor

Everyone on our staff can help judge the contest every year and it’s one of the most enjoyable things we do. We have some really amazing amateur photographers in our coverage area!

This year we had 208 entries — 64 in the animal category, 52 in the people category and 92 in the scenic category. Each first-place winner gets $100. Not bad for doing something most people enjoy — capturing a fun, silly, spiritual, beautiful, inspiring moment in time.

The contest will be held again next year, so start saving your best photos now!

Congratulations to all of the people who won. See their photos on the front of our Community section this week, Page B1.

But I’d also like to congratulate the finalists in each category, who don’t get prizes, but will be in our online slideshow along with the winners and who took some awesome pictures. It was really hard to choose the winners! Read more

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Survey: Washington has third-lowest smoking rate nationwide

September 7, 2010

The adult smoking rate has dropped to 14.8 percent — a new low and the third-lowest smoking rate in the nation, a survey released last week by the state Department of Health shows.

The latest ranking is the best since measurements started in all 50 states in 1995. The rate declined from 15.3 percent in the previous year.

But the survey of 20,000 adults also showed that smoking rates among people from low income (29 percent) or lower educational (27 percent) backgrounds remain higher than the norm.

Moreover, smokeless tobacco use — including chewing tobacco and similar products — is also on the rise among smokers.

The state attributed the decline to several factors, including strong smoke-free laws, the third-highest cigarette tax in the country, and a comprehensive tobacco prevention and control program.

The department operates Quitline — 800-QUIT-NOW toll free, 877-2NO-FUME toll free or www.quitline.com — to provide free help to smokers and smokeless tobacco users interested in quitting.

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State senator’s healthcare law marks milestone

September 7, 2010

Issaquah-area state Sen. Cheryl Pflug, a registered nurse and Republican, sponsored a bill during the 2010 regular legislative session to establish pilot projects meant to make healthcare more affordable.

Group Health Cooperative has been selected as the lead organization for the projects, the Washington State Health Care Authority announced last week.

The effort encourages public and private healthcare systems to coordinate patient care and pay for results rather than treatments.

The programs must be developed and implemented by January 2012. State funding is not available to Group Health, but the Seattle-based system can seek federal funds, grants and donations.

“I’m excited to see the selection of Group Health as the lead organization,” Pflug said in a statement. “This next step will build upon their recent success with enhancing the coordinating role of the primary care provider. I look forward to substantial progress toward an efficient health system that is far more satisfying for patients and providers.”

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Streetlights go dark during power-line work

September 7, 2010

Streets in the Issaquah Highlands will go dark for about two months during power-line work.

The work will require the streetlights on Seventh Avenue Northeast and Northeast Blakely Drive to be taken out of service.

The road sections front the Swedish Medical Center campus under construction. The roads have not been completed and remain unopened. Streetlights on Eighth Avenue Northeast — a public street that serves Proliance Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Care — should not be impacted by the work.

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