Car hits girl on Issaquah Highlands crosswalk

December 24, 2011

NEW — 10:30 a.m. Dec. 24, 2011

Issaquah police and medics responded to the Issaquah Highlands early Friday evening after a car struck a 14-year-old girl in a crosswalk.

Medics transported the girl to Harborview Medical Center, but she did not sustain life-threatening injuries.

The incident occurred at about 6 p.m. in the crosswalk at Northeast Park Drive and 24th Avenue Northeast near Zeeks Pizza as the vehicle headed west.

Police said the motorist involved in the incident remained at the scene until officers arrived.

The investigation into the accident is ongoing.

In major development decision, city OKs buildings up to 150 feet in business district

December 22, 2011

NEW — 9:30 p.m. Dec. 22, 2011

Tall buildings could someday punctuate the skyline in the modest business district along state Route 900, after city leaders created a framework Monday to transform acre upon acre blanketed in storage units, low-slung office buildings and automotive service centers into a dense neighborhood for shops and homes.

In a landmark decision, City Council members approved a 30-year agreement between the city and longtime Issaquah developer Rowley Properties to overhaul almost 80 acres in the coming decades. The council agreed to allow buildings up to 150 feet tall and mixed-use development on up to 4.4 million square feet in Hyla Crossing and Rowley Center — parcels along Interstate 90 and state Route 900.

The landowner, in turn, is required to pay for transportation upgrades, affordable housing construction, Tibbetts Creek restoration efforts and storm-water system improvements.

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Liberty boys basketball team downs Highline in nonleague game

December 22, 2011

NEW — 10:45 a.m. Dec. 22, 2011 

Ben Wessell scored 11 points and Tynan Gilmore had 10 points Wednesday as they led the Liberty High School boys basketball team to a 53-44 nonleague victory against visiting Highline.

Liberty jumped to a 11-10 first-quarter lead and held a 26-19 halftime lead. The Patriots pulled away to a commanding 13-point lead in the third quarter.

Jordan West added eight points and Matt Campbell for Liberty, which evened its season record at 4-4.

Highline’s Marcus Dolan led all players with 19 points.

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Overnight blaze destroys home in rural Preston

December 22, 2011

Brian Jarvis, a firefighter with Eastside Fire & Rescue Engine 72, sprays water into a window of a burning Preston family home Dec. 22. By Eastside Fire & Rescue

NEW — 5:30 a.m. Dec. 22, 2011

Eastside Fire & Rescue crews responded to a house fire in rural Preston at about 3 a.m. Thursday and, although the blaze leveled the home, the family inside escaped.

Firefighters responded to the Preston blaze, about five miles east of downtown Issaquah, after a report of fire on a forested stretch of roadway.

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Holiday travelers can expect a white Christmas on mountain passes

December 21, 2011

NEW — 3 p.m. Dec. 21, 2011

Travelers can expect a white Christmas on Washington mountain passes.

Forecasts call for a snowstorm to hit the mountain passes just in time for Christmas holiday travel — and travelers should plan to pack tire chains and a winter kit alongside gifts before hitting the road.

Meteorologists said to expect a storm system moving into the mountains late Saturday, Christmas Eve, into Sunday, Christmas, and heavy snow could hit areas above 2,500 feet — or all Washington mountain pass highways.

If the Christmas and New Year’s holidays fall on a weekend, traffic historically increases nearly 40 percent compared to a typical December weekend. Historic traffic volumes during the Christmas holiday rank 12 percent lower than Thanksgiving.

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State fines GEICO for overcharging, requires insurer to refund $7.5 million

December 21, 2011

NEW — 3 p.m. Dec. 21, 2011

The state fined GEICO $100,000 for overcharging Washington customers, and the insurer agreed to refund $7.5 million by the end of the year,.

In a Wednesday announcement, state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler said the excessive charges affected 25,267 customers.

“A computer database error caused the problem, which the company reported to us promptly,” he said in a statement. “GEICO has also agreed to a two-year compliance plan that includes multiple audits.”

The state suspended another $50,000 fine on the condition the Maryland-based insurance company abides by the terms of the compliance plan.

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Issaquah High School boys basketball guard hits for 41

December 21, 2011

NEW — 11:45 a.m. Dec. 21, 2011

Issaquah High School senior guard Nick Price practically got overlooked by almost all the KingCo Conference Crest Division boys basketball coaches when it came to picking last year’s all-league teams. He did manage to get honorable mention despite leading his division in scoring.

But that was last year. The way he has been hitting lately, Price should have no problem attaining higher honors.

Price scored a season-high 41 points Tuesday as he sparked the Eagles to a 86-78 KingCo 4A victory against host Inglemoor.

Last Friday Price scored 30 points when the Eagles lost to Eastlake. Against Inglemoor, he connected on 16 of 23 shots, including 4 of 8 from the three-point range.

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FedEx driver spots house fire on Tiger Mountain

December 20, 2011

Eastside Fire & Rescue firefighters place one of the ladders used to reach the deck of a home on fire Dec. 16 in the 13300 block of 249th Avenue Southeast. By Greg Farrar

Smoke greeted a delivery truck driver making the rounds in a Tiger Mountain neighborhood just before Christmas.

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Local charities combat ‘compassion fatigue’ amid year-end giving

December 20, 2011

What to know

If you make a donation to a charity this year, you may be able to take a deduction on your tax return. In order to help taxpayers interested in making charitable donations — and tax deductions — the Internal Revenue Service offers the following tips:

Make sure the organization qualifies — Charitable contributions must be made to qualified organizations to be deductible. Find a list of qualified organizations in IRS Publication 78, Cumulative List of Organizations, at www.irs.gov.

What you can deduct — You can deduct your cash contributions and the fair market value of most property you donate to a qualified organization, but special rules apply to several types of donated property, including clothing or household items, cars and boats.

When you receive something in return — If your contribution entitles you to receive merchandise, goods or services in return — such as admission to a charity banquet or sporting event — you can deduct only the amount exceeding the fair market value of the benefit received.

How to keep records — Keep records of any contribution you make, regardless of the amount. For any cash contribution, you must maintain a record of the contribution, such as a cancelled check, bank or credit card statement, payroll deduction record or a written statement from the charity containing the date and amount of the contribution and the name of the organization.

Handling pledges and payments — Only contributions actually made during the tax year qualify as deductible. For example, if you pledged $500 in September but paid the charity only $200 by Dec. 31, you can only deduct $200.

Many legitimate charities use telemarketing, direct mail, email and online ads to ask for contributions. Unfortunately, scam artists also use the same techniques to defraud donors. If someone asks for a donation, take time to learn about the charity:

Ask for the charity’s name, address, phone number and written information about its programs.

Ask whether the person contacting you is a professional fundraiser and how much of your contribution is meant for fundraising costs.

Check the history of the organization with the Washington Secretary of State’s Office at www.sos.wa.gov.

Potential donors should also know the warning signs of a scam:

Reject high-pressure pitches, and remember: It’s OK to hang up.

Be skeptical of a thank-you message for a pledge you do not remember making.; scam artists will lie to get your money.

Avoid giving cash donations.

Avoid charities offering to send a courier or overnight delivery service to collect money.

Avoid charities guaranteeing sweepstakes winnings in exchange for a contribution.

Avoid charities forming overnight, especially in the aftermath of natural disasters, or claim to be for police officers, veterans or firefighters.

Source: Federal Trade Commission

The year is almost over, and unending calls, email and mailers requesting donations pour in at the same pace as Christmas cards.

The need is up for local human services organizations and other nonprofit groups, but as the economy remains anemic, leaders at such organizations raised concerns about “compassion fatigue” — a drop-off in chartable donations due to overexposure to calls for aid.

Issaquah and, indeed, the entire Puget Sound region maintain a long-held reputation for generosity to charitable causes. However, compassion fatigue is acute, especially as local organizations assist more people amid the economic downturn and groups face the ever-present prospect of additional cuts as local and state governments trim spending.

“Where does the fatigue come from? I think it comes from the number of people asking in a noncoordinated fashion that are all trying different strategies,” said Jared Erlandson, public relations manager for United Way of King County.

Timing is another factor. The entreaties from nonprofit organizations come amid the holiday season, as people juggle commitments.

“Our experience is that people give at the end of the year,” Together Center Executive Director Pam Mauk said. “That’s when they think about it. That’s when they want to give.”

(The nonprofit Together Center, a human services campus in Redmond, serves clients from Issaquah and elsewhere on the Eastside.)

But the deluge from numerous nonprofit organizations can sometimes turn off potential donors.

“People are indeed swamped by the requests and probably aren’t appreciative of all the requests that they’re getting,” Mauk said.

Organizations also need to offer a compelling message to donate in order to cut through the clutter to reach potential donors.

“You can’t be saying the same thing every time,” Erlandson said. “If you’re always saying, ‘The sky is falling. Things are worse now than they’ve ever been. The need is greater.’ Those are the kind of catchphrases that, I think cause compassion fatigue.”

Still, the limping economy has created a greater need and especially a temporary need for people slow to rebound after job losses or other setbacks.

“We all know somebody who needs a hand right now and may not a month from now,” Erlandson said.

Though donations spike in the aftermath of major tragedies, such as the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina, giving is sometimes tougher for organizations addressing ongoing issues, such as homelessness and poverty.

“We know that people in a huge, epic disaster don’t even think twice. It’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, Katrina, where’s my checkbook?’” Erlandson said. “Those kinds of donations are over and above their normal giving.”

Claire Petersky, executive director of Sammamish-based Eastside Friends of Seniors, said showing potential donors how funding is used is important.

“Whether you are donating or whether you are volunteering, I think if you see a visible change in somebody else’s life, then you have a feeling that this isn’t like a never-ending pit of need,” she said.

The solution for Eastside Friends of Seniors is to send regular updates to donors about how donations assist the organization’s mission to aid local senior citizens. Petersky said a board member even joined the organization after reading about Eastside Friends of Seniors’ accomplishments in a message sent to donors and volunteers.

“I know I made a difference in that person’s life. I think that that gives a sense of accomplishment and helps overcome that sensation of being overwhelmed,” Petersky said.

(The organization changed names from Faith in Action to Eastside Friends of Seniors in late September.)

Contact between organizations and donors throughout the year is essential, too, leaders at local nonprofit groups said.

“If people see, here’s my 50 bucks, here’s my 100 bucks and they never hear back from you, they never see any result, they don’t know what that donation accomplished, it’s going to really compile for next year or later on this year when you go back to ask these people,” Erlandson said. “So, for us, a key is showing results.”

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

International Smile Power, dentists aid Tent City 4 residents

December 20, 2011

Issaquah-based International Smile Power and local dentists teamed up last month to brighten Tent City 4 residents’ smiles.

The nonprofit International Smile Power and Dr. Jeffrey Zent, a local dentist, combined resources to treat more than 30 Tent City 4 residents at Zent’s offices. For the Nov. 19 event, 20 dentists, hygienists, assistants and drivers participated to offer the residents dental care at no cost.

“This is the second time we have hosted Tent City 4 and it has been a very rewarding event,” Zent said. “We were able to provide 20 cleanings, 36 fillings, 39 extractions and multiple dentures.”

In the past, providing dentures to Tent City 4 residents posed a challenge, but for the November event, denturist Perry Balcom offered his services. Balcom donated many dentures, and International Smile Power donated others.

“In the past, we have been able to fix broken teeth and get people out of pain,” Zent said. “But this year, we have been able to give people a smile or even just a way to eat with Perry’s dentures. This will have a major impact on their life.”

International Smile Power delivers dental health care, supplies, education and training to underserved people in the United States and around the globe.

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