Conditions delay opening for Tiger Mountain biking trails

April 13, 2011

NEW — 6:30 p.m. April 13, 2011

For mountain bikers planning to hit Tiger Mountain trails Friday, the wait for springtime continues.

The state Department of Natural Resources aims to open mountain biking on the mountain April 15 each year, but the agency monitors the weather to determine opening day. The rain-soaked trails remain soggy, forecasts include more rain and the possibility of snow lingers, too.

The earliest the state can open the trails is April 22.

The state posts closure information throughout the year. Tiger Mountain near Issaquah is a popular destination for outdoor recreation enthusiasts year-round.

“It’s important to give the trails a chance to dry out before they get the high volume of use that comes with opening day,” Sam Jarrett, recreation manager for the agency’s Snoqualmie unit, said in a release.

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Liberty High School netters whip Interlake

April 13, 2011

NEW — 6 p.m. April 13, 2011

The Liberty High School girls tennis team took the No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles matches Tuesday as the Patriots defeated Interlake 5-2 in a 3A/2A KingCo Conference match.

Amber Eastham won the No. 1 singles with a 6-4, 6-3 victory against Interlake’s Isabelle Long. Veronica Granger and Audrey LaFraugh defeated Interlake’s Iryna Strinyska and Miyati Raghavan 6-3, 7-5 in the No. 1 doubles match.

In the 4A KingCo Conference, Skyline swept all three doubles matches en route to a 6-2 victory against Inglemoor. Alison Opitz and Molly Knutson, of Skyline, won the No. 1 doubles with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-0 victory against Leanna Thim and Mckayla Dear.

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Students receive hands-on restoration lesson at Issaquah Creek

April 13, 2011

Sarah Walker (right), of Issaquah, leads fellow Vista Academy seventh-graders Isaac Uselman, of Sammamish, and Elliott Moss, of Bellevue, along Issaquah Creek at Cybil-Madeline Park. By Greg Farrar

NEW — 1 p.m. April 13, 2011

The parkland stretching along Issaquah Creek along Rainier Boulevard North is often referred to as the crown jewel in the municipal parks system.

On Wednesday morning, more than 50 middle school students tromped across the dandelion-flecked grass and set about to polish the jewel.

The students trekked from Vista Academy, a private school on Cougar Mountain, to downtown Issaquah for the late-morning field trip. (The school serves many students from Issaquah and Newcastle, plus other King County cities.) Read more

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Mountains to Sound Greenway celebrates Earth Day

April 13, 2011

NEW — 10 a.m. April 13, 2011

Earth Day is more than April 22 for the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust. Instead, the organization plans a 10-day event for annual eco observance.

The organization is seeking volunteers for restoration projects in Issaquah, Mercer Island and North Bend. Projects in Issaquah include invasive-plant removal along Issaquah Creek.

(Earth Day is observed April 22.)

Earth Week is also a lead-in to the greenway’s 20th anniversary. Established in 1990 after hikers marched from Snoqualmie Pass to Seattle, the greenbelt stretches along Interstate 90 from the Emerald City to Central Washington.

The organization plans to re-create the march as part of the anniversary celebration. Participants plan to hike and ride bike for the nine-day trek or sign on for a single day. The organization plans to offer free community events in the evenings along the route.

In addition, Mountains to Sound Greenway Summer is scheduled to include anniversary-themed heritage events along in locations throughout the greenway. Celebrants can also mark the anniversary through a photo contest.

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Motorists can keep studded tires longer due to wintry weather

April 13, 2011

NEW — 10 a.m. April 13, 2011

Motorists can keep studded tires on vehicles until April 25, because forecasts call for possible wintry driving conditions across mountain passes and in higher elevations, the state Department of Transportation announced Tuesday.

If motorists fail to meet the April deadline, they could be cited by law enforcement officers.

The announcement marked the third extension for studded-tire removal. Motorists usually need to remove the tires by April 1.

“Winter is not quite over in the mountains. We have had close to 4 feet of snow in the mountains since April 1, and forecasts call for 1 to 2 feet more through the end of next week,” Chris Christopher, director of maintenance operations for the transportation department, said in a release.

Travelers in the lowlands can expect springlike weather, so people not using the mountain passes should remove studded tires now, Christopher added.

State law allows motorists use studded tires from Nov. 1 until March 31, unless the state changes the deadline.

Transportation officials do not anticipate any further extensions beyond April 25.

Despite the extended deadline, officials remain concerned about possible roadway damage related to studded tires. In addition, research shows studded tire-equipped vehicles require longer stopping distance.

The agency encouraged drivers to work with local tire dealers to determine the best tires for vehicles and driving conditions, including traction tires meant for legal and safe year-round use.


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Sammamish education advocate to address local Democrats

April 13, 2011

NEW — 10 a.m. April 13, 2011

Kelly Munn, state field director for the state League of Education Voters and a longtime advocate for Issaquah schools, is due to address local Democrats on April 20.

Munn, a Sammamish resident, is scheduled to speak about the state’s achievement gap between whites students and students of others races in standardized-testing scores, as well as the squeeze on funding for public education, teacher salaries and graduation rates.

The issues came into focus last week after legislators proposed cuts to education, amounting to a $3 million hit for the Issaquah School District.

The local 5th District Democrats meet at 7 p.m. at the King County Library Service Center, 960 Newport Way N.W. The meeting is open to the public.

The legislative district stretches from Issaquah to Snoqualmie Pass, and from Sammamish to Maple Valley.

Munn has been active in the Issaquah Parent Teacher Student Association for years, serving as a legislative representative and earning numerous statewide leadership awards from the group.

The state League of Education Voters works to support students from early learning through college.

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Swedish Medical Center campus nears completion

April 12, 2011

The north wall of the Swedish Medical Center campus in the Issaquah Highlands is close to completion. By Greg Farrar

Campus serves as economic engine in highlands

Starbucks is coming to the Issaquah Highlands.

Only, rather than opening a shop on a street corner, the coffee giant is setting up inside the Swedish Medical Center.

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Police determine shooters’ identities in state park gun battle

April 12, 2011

Investigators recommend firearms charge as case closes on lethal shootout

Investigators said a gunman died during the shootout at Lake Sammamish State Park last July, after another parkgoer shot the gunman in self-defense, the King County Sheriff’s Office said as the monthslong investigation came to a close.

Investigators used statements from witnesses and forensic examination of firearms and bullets from the July 17 shootings to determine Seattle resident Justin Cunningham, 30, shot and killed Kent resident Yang Keovongphet, 33, before a 21-year-old Renton man shot and killed Cunningham.

The sheriff’s office recommended for King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg to charge the Renton man for unlawful firearm possession. The man cannot possess firearms due to a prior felony conviction.

County prosecutors must determine if the man indeed killed Cunningham in self-defense. Dan Donohoe, a spokesman for Satterberg, said the case is still under review.

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District faces another $3 million hit from state

April 12, 2011

Proposal abandons teacher pay hikes, class-size reductions

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 April 4, 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 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.

The proposed 2012 budget is similar to the proposed budget Gov. Chris Gregoire released in December. The state Senate is expected to offer different budget priorities. Then, legislators and the governor negotiate to produce a final budget. The task is difficult because the state faces a $5.1 billion shortfall in the 2011-13 budget.

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City closes sidewalk due to landslide risk

April 12, 2011

Groundwater seeps through the timber retaining wall, and a pedestrian sidewalk is closed along Southeast Black Nugget Road at Southeast 62nd Street. By Greg Farrar

The chain-link fence erected along the Southeast Black Nugget Road behind Fred Meyer and The Home Depot raised questions among motorists concerned about possible landslides.

City Public Works Engineering Director Bob Brock said municipal crews added the fence late last month as a precaution amid the risk for small landslides. The city is also addressing long-term issues related to the retaining wall along the same stretch.

“We’re trying to investigate what we can do to stop the earth movement above the wall, which is a separate issue from the wall itself,” Brock said. “The wall is in no danger of coming down, it’s just that it’s got a reduced lifespan because of some of things that were not done per plan.”

Instability on the slope is common after soaking rains, but city officials said the slippage does not pose a risk to the residences perched above Southeast Black Nugget Road. Way Back Inn, a Renton nonprofit organization, owns the land on the slope.

“It seems like this year, we’ve had a lot more water. It’s moving a little bit more and it’s got some fluidity to it that it didn’t have before,” Brock said. “So, as a precautionary measure, we closed the sidewalk just on the off chance that something might fall over the top of the wall there.”

Crews also planted stakes in the hillside to track shifts in the slope. The fence and the stakes attracted attention from Klahanie resident Sandi Dong.

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