Issaquah School District faces $3 million loss in House budget

April 7, 2011

NEW — 8 a.m. April 7, 2011

Issaquah School District administrators, already facing $1.45 million in state cuts, decried the $3 million trim outlined in the state House of Representative’s proposed budget.

The proposal comes after legislators slashed $1 million from Issaquah schools in December and another $450,000 last month.

Under the plan the House unveiled Monday, the district stands to lose another $3.095 million in the proposed 2012 budget.

“While any cuts to our operations budget are devastating — especially on the heels of more nearly $12 million in reductions the past two years — the silver lining in this proposal is that it maintains the instructional day and maintains our ability to collect local levy funding,” Jacob Kuper, finance and operations chief for the Issaquah district, said in a statement.

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Cascade Ridge student’s design could adorn ketchup packets

April 6, 2011

NEW — 3 p.m. April 6, 2011

Jeremy Kim's Heinz Ketchup packet design

Cascade Ridge Elementary School student Jeremy Kim’s artwork might become a common site on restaurant tables and in the condiment aisle at grocery stores.

The third-grader is a finalist in the national Heinz Ketchup Creativity Contest — a chance for students in first through 12th grades to redesign the venerable Heinz Ketchup packaging.

People can vote for the design through Monday.

The top three entries in each grade appear online. The public then selects 12 winners, and Heinz picks the grand prize winner from the dozen.

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Rebuilt First Stage Theatre readies for debut

April 5, 2011

Village Theatre plans additional offerings at downtown venue

Robb Hunt (above) shows off the finished interior of the rebuilt First Stage Theatre on March 29, as actors rehearse on the boards. By Greg Farrar

The curtain rises soon on the rebuilt First Stage Theatre in downtown Issaquah.

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Legislators consider $30 fee for public lands, state parks

April 5, 2011

Proposed Discover Pass could stave off closures

Hikers, mountain bikers and other outdoors enthusiasts using Issaquah as a starting point for treks could face a $30 fee to use public lands and state parks come July.

Lawmakers proposed the statewide fee in order to inject funds into the cash-strapped agencies managing public forests, open spaces and recreation facilities. The legislation aims to create a yearlong pass, called the Discover Pass, to park at trailheads and other state-managed lands. For users uninterested in the annual parking pass, the legislation proposes a $10 day-use fee for using the lands. Otherwise, violators could face a ticket.

By Dona Mokin

Though the Discover Pass proposal attracted broad support from outdoor recreation groups, Issaquah legislators remain concerned about the state imposing fees amid a tough economy.

If the Legislature decides against a recreation fee, agencies could close state lands to public access in order to cut costs. Squak Mountain State Park near Issaquah faces closure from July through 2013 as legislators scramble to patch a $5.1 billion hole in the 2011-13 budget.

David Kappler, Issaquah Alps Trails Club president and a former Issaquah councilman, said the Discover Pass could offer a short-term solution.

“I think some of the fees that they’re talking about are reasonable, at least for a while, until things improve,” he said. “I really don’t think that we want to get into that situation long term.”

Supporters said the per-vehicle pass could be easier to enforce, because officers can check parking areas for vehicle windshields displaying a Discover Pass, rather than tracking down users on trails.

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Citizens help others prepare for disasters

April 5, 2011

In Issaquah, a city of more than 30,000 people, only a handful of the population has completed the most rigorous training to respond to disasters.

The unfolding disaster in Japan — caused after a magnitude-9 earthquake rocked the island nation early last month — renewed attention on emergency preparedness on both sides of the Pacific Ocean.

Even in a city as focused on preparedness as Issaquah, some gaps remain in the system.

The city has spearheaded lessons in Map Your Neighborhood — a program to coordinate disaster recovery on a block-by-block basis and identify special skills, such as medical training, among residents — for dozens of neighborhoods, although less then 300 people had completed the more rigorous program, Community Emergency Response Team training, by mid-March.

City and independent emergency planners said the numbers belie the effect of trained responders, especially as CERT members start to educate family members and neighbors in disaster preparedness and response.

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Supporters outline future for human services campus

April 5, 2011

The push to select a location and raise dollars to build a long-planned human services campus in Issaquah — envisioned as a clearinghouse for employment assistance, food aid, health care and more — should start in earnest this spring and summer after years spent on discussions and studies.

Organizers plan to launch a fundraising campaign for the campus, identify anchor tenants and, most critically, select property or a building to house the facility.

John Rittenhouse

The result could resemble the nonprofit Together Center, a similar campus in Redmond. In 2007, Issaquah leaders and the Together Center — then called the Family Resource Center — partnered to spearhead a feasibility study for a campus in Issaquah.

Together Center Executive Director Pam Mauk and John Rittenhouse, a former Issaquah councilman and a Together Center board member, presented the study to City Council members March 29.

“So, what does the study conclude?” Rittenhouse asked. “It concludes that a human services campus being sited in Issaquah is feasible. Under all scenarios that were studied by the consultants, a campus is doable in Issaquah.”

Plans for the campus hinge on the location, and whether organizers opt to build a campus or lease space in existing structures.

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Fred Butler announces re-election campaign

April 5, 2011

Longtime Councilman Fred Butler, a respected authority on regional transit issues, announced plans March 29 to run for a fourth term.

Fred Butler

The incumbent candidate, a Squak Mountain resident and a retired U.S. Army colonel, joined the City Council more than a decade ago, and served on the board as Issaquah experienced a population boom.

“I want to continue to serve the citizens of Issaquah and the region with my enthusiasm, energy and experience to make Issaquah a better place,” he said in a statement. “I am committed to working collaboratively to solve problems. I pledge to work hard, listen and help when I can.”

Butler, a Sound Transit board member, served last year on a regional effort to guide King County Metro Transit service in the decades ahead. In addition, County Executive-elect Dow Constantine tapped Butler to serve on the transition team as Constantine shifted from the County Council to the top county office in 2009.

On the Issaquah council, Butler serves as deputy council president, the No. 2 position on the board.

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Press Editorial

April 5, 2011

Readers are invited to discuss newspaper

The Issaquah Press is calling on its readers to tell us how they read the newspaper.

If you have your favorite sections, wish we’d organize the news differently, don’t understand why some things are the way they are, or dislike some policies, this is your opportunity to speak up.

We often hear from readers with an opinion, but one voice is but a whisper among the estimated 30,000-plus people who read The Press each week.

Readers are invited to apply for a spot in our readership focus groups, to meet at 6:30 p.m. April 14, or 1 p.m. April 15. A dozen readers will be selected for each group to meet at the Hailstone Feed Store, the historic gas station, along Front Street North. A facilitator will lead the group through a discussion.

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Off the Press

April 5, 2011

Recycling in Issaquah is a not-so-dirty job

My grandma spoils my sweet tooth. For holidays, birthdays or just for a lark, she’ll whip up a chocolate cherry cake or a marble pound cake, box it and mail it across the whole county, straight to me.

Laura Geggel Press reporter

Her famous kiffles — thin dough wrapped around a bounty of nuts and jelly — always disappear quickly, but the packaging peanuts stick around, and not just static-electricity wise.

For years, I am ashamed to admit, I would throw them away. In my defense, I didn’t know what to do with them. I would reuse them if I could, but it wasn’t often I needed packaging peanuts to send presents.

Now. as an avid recycler, I know just what to do with packaging peanuts. The UPS Store on Northwest Gilman Boulevard will take and reuse them. The store also recycles bubble wrap, another helpful packaging tool that often gets tossed into the trash once its work is done.

Now that I have a venue to recycle packaging material, I started thinking of places I could recycle other things, like plastic bags, cellphones or alkaline batteries.

It turns out that Issaquah is a haven for recycling just about everything.

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Unclaimed customer rebates prompt Costco to sue state

April 5, 2011

Costco filed a lawsuit against the state Department of Revenue in early March, after the agency ordered the Issaquah-based warehouse club to pay $3.2 million in unclaimed customer rebates.

The complaint in King County Superior Court came about a month after the state directed Costco to pay into a state fund for unclaimed property.

Costco paid the money, but is seeking to recoup the dollars in the lawsuit. The amount represents unclaimed rebates from the years 2004 to 2010, plus interest.

“The department’s action not only harms Washington consumers, but also sets a toxic precedent for any individual or business the department decides to subject to future demands for ‘unclaimed property,’” the lawsuit states.

Under state law, uncashed rebate checks constitute unclaimed property.

The order for Costco to pay the $3.2 million came after the Department of Revenue audited Costco’s customer-rebate program.

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