State: Radiation from Japan poses little risk to Washington

March 12, 2011

NEW — 6 p.m. March 12, 2011

The state Department of Health has not detected any elevated radiation readings in Washington as Japanese officials struggle to avert a meltdown at a damaged nuclear power plant.

The state agency is conducting ongoing air monitoring for radiation to determine if the incident has affected radiation levels.

The agency’s Radiation Protection staff expects no public health risk in Washington, and the monitoring is precautionary. If the situation changes in Washington, the Department of Health plans to inform the public.

State health officials are monitoring the events in Japan, and remain in contact with the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Environmental Protection Agency.

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Steer clear of bogus charities in earthquake aftermath

March 12, 2011

NEW — 8 a.m. March 12, 2011

The devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan has many people in Washington eager to help victims, but would-be donors should do some research before donating.

Officials at the Charities Division of the Secretary of State’s Office urged people to use caution and to donate to reliable sources.

Though many groups responding to the disaster in Japan rank as long-standing and reputable charities, some might be bogus groups. Charity scams also sprouted in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“If you decide to donate money to the Japanese tsunami relief effort, you would want your money to go where it can do the most good to help victims and their families,” Secretary of State Sam Reed said in a statement. “So we encourage you to check before you give by doing your homework on the charities asking for your money. We don’t want scammers to benefit from this tragedy.”

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See Elizabeth Taylor classic at Issaquah film series Saturday

March 11, 2011

NEW — 6 p.m. March 11, 2011

Catch a classic Elizabeth Taylor film — for free — in downtown Issaquah on Saturday night.

“The Last Time I Saw Paris” plays March 12. The film — released in 1954 — features Elizabeth Taylor and Van Johnson in a loose adaptation of the F. Scott Fitzgerald short story “Babylon Revisited.”

The film starts at 7 p.m. at the historic depot, 50 Rainier Blvd. N. The program is free, due to support from the city Arts Commission and the King County cultural agency, 4Culture.

“Phantom of the Opera” — released in 1943 — concludes the film series April 9.

Since the program launched in October 2009, Films @ the Train Depot! has featured series of train-themed films, films set in Washington and noir classics.

South Africa relief is topic at Sammamish church Sunday

March 11, 2011

NEW — 4 p.m. March 11, 2011

Former Issaquah resident Melissa Van Der Wath will give a talk Sunday at Sammamish Presbyterian Church about her experiences in working with the people of South Africa.

The presentation starts at noon. The church is at 22522 N.E. Inglewood Hill Road.

Van Der Wath is in the area this month to spread the word about her work with the Hebron Community Project, an organization started by a family friend in an effort to aid positive change in South African society.

The community of Citrusdal, where she now lives in South Africa, has no electricity, no sewer or drainage, and only three toilets and three taps of running water for about 2,000 people.

Since moving to the area, Van Der Wath said she feels blessed by the support of the people she left behind, especially the involvement of Sammamish Presbyterian Church, where the pastor, Becki Barrett, is a close friend.

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Comcast broadcasts Japan earthquake coverage to Issaquah customers

March 11, 2011

NEW — 4 p.m. March 11, 2011

Comcast digital customers in Issaquah and elsewhere in Western Washington — regardless of service level — can watch TV Japan on Channel 245 through March 18. The channel is broadcasting ongoing live news coverage from earthquake- and tsunami-stricken areas in Japan.

Officials directed people to check the American Red Cross Safe and Well Program or call the U.S. Department of State at 888-407-4747 or 202-647-5225 for information about relatives impacted by the earthquake and the tsunami.

People can donate to disaster relief efforts through the Red Cross Serving King & Kitsap Counties. People can also text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation to help people affected by the earthquake in Japan and tsunami throughout the Pacific Ocean.

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County emergency planners use Japan disaster as reminder to prepare

March 11, 2011

NEW — 11 a.m. March 11, 2011

King County emergency managers continue to monitor the Japan tsunami, though the Office of Emergency Management does not expect the disaster to significantly impact the area.

The office directed people to check the American Red Cross Safe and Well Program or call the U.S. Department of State at 888-407-4747 or 202-647-5225 for information about relatives impacted by the earthquake and the tsunami.

Following the magnitude-8.9 earthquake, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued alerts for the U.S. West Coast, and around 8:45 a.m., a small wave — about 4.5 inches and smaller than high tide — reached the Seattle waterfront.

“Our thoughts go out to all those affected by this disaster,” County Executive Dow Constantine said in a statement. “While the tsunami didn’t affect King County, our Office of Emergency Management has been on top of developments and coordinating with our partners throughout the region.”

Though the county escaped harm in the ongoing disaster, the tragedy in Japan serves as a reminder to prepare now for emergencies.

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State fire marshal: Change clocks, batteries on Sunday

March 11, 2011

NEW — 6 a.m. March 11, 2011

As the change to daylight saving time approaches Sunday, the state Fire Marshal’s Office reminds residents to make another life-saving change: changing the batteries in smoke alarms.

“Take time to change the batteries in your smoke alarms, testing your smoke alarms, planning two ways out and practicing escape routes with the entire family,” Fire Marshal Charles M. Duffy said. “Being prepared and knowing what to do if fire happens to occur can save your life and the lives of your loved ones.”

Smoke alarms most often fail because of missing, dead or disconnected batteries, so maintenance is a simple, effective way to protect families and reduce home fire deaths.

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Democratic chairman to discuss proposal to scrap presidential primary

March 10, 2011

NEW — 3:15 p.m. March 10, 2011

The leader of the state Democratic Party is scheduled to speak in Issaquah next week about a proposal to scrap the Evergreen State’s presidential primary in favor of the caucus system.

Washington State Democrats Chairman Dwight Pelz is due at the March 16 meeting of the 5th District Democrats, the local party organization.

Gov. Chris Gregoire, a Democrat, called for eliminating the 2012 presidential primary in order to save the cash-strapped state about $10 million. Voters mandated the primary in a 1989 ballot initiative, but Democrats and Republicans rely more on party caucuses to allocate delegates.

The local Democrats meet at 7:30 p.m. at the King County Library Service Center, 960 Newport Way N.W.

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National Weather Service issues wind advisory

March 10, 2011

NEW — 8 a.m. March 10, 2011

Forecasters issued a wind advisory for Western Washington early Thursday morning, as strong winds swept across the region.

National Weather Service meteorologists in Seattle said the Issaquah area could experience winds between 13 and 21 mph, and gusts as high as 26 mph.

Forecasters expect the strongest winds to occur in the afternoon. The advisory is in place until 9 p.m.

The wind is also all but certain to whip rain throughout the area Thursday. The chance of precipitation is 100 percent during the day and 60 percent at night.

Strong winds can cause power outages and topple trees.

The weather service issues a wind advisory if the forecast calls for sustained winds between 30 and 39 mph, and gusts between 45 to 57 mph.

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Issaquah senator aims to pull shark fin soup off the menu

March 10, 2011

NEW — 6 a.m. March 10, 2011

Though shark fin soup is considered a delicacy in Hong Kong, state legislators took a step Monday to pull the item from menus.

State senators unanimously passed legislation to eliminate commercial shark finning in Washington waters. Sen. Steve Litzow, a freshman Republican from Mercer Island and a 41st Legislative District representative, urged colleagues to adopt the measure. (The district includes Cougar Mountain communities in Issaquah.)

“What has been most interesting as I looked into this is that over 73 million sharks are killed every year,” he said. “Ninety percent of the shark population in the open oceans has disappeared in the last several years. This is another one of the small steps in keeping a healthy ocean.”

Fins sell for as much as $700 per kilogram in Asia. Officials said finning has increased near the Washington coast in recent years as the price climbed.

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