Celebrate Mother’s Day at Habitat for Humanity construction site

May 4, 2011

NEW — 10 a.m. May 4, 2011

Celebrate Mother’s Day and National Women Build Week at the Habitat for Humanity construction site in the Issaquah Highlands.

Starting Friday, teams plan to swing hammers and pound nails to help build homes for 10 families at the Magnolia Village site, 2500 N.E. Magnolia St. Volunteers can join Habitat homeowners, staffers and AmeriCorps members to celebrate empowered women and affordable housing.

Lowe’s Home Improvement and Habitat for Humanity joined forces to create National Women Build Week. The annual observance challenges women to devote a day to the effort to eliminate poverty housing.

The highlands event is a part of Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build program and is underwritten by Lowe’s. The program recruits, educates and nurtures women to build and advocate for simple, decent and affordable houses.

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Issaquah Schools Foundation launches campaign for science curriculum

May 4, 2011

NEW — 9 a.m. May 4, 2011

State lawmakers’ unexpected midyear $1.45 million cut to the Issaquah School District has sparked an initiative to pay for a new elementary school science curriculum.

The Issaquah Schools Foundation, the Issaquah PTSA Council and the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce have joined forces to raise money for the Elementary Science Initiative.

The district had initially planned to use money from its reserves to pay for the science curriculum, but that money has since been used to backfill the state’s cuts.

The current science curriculum does not match state standards, and half of the district’s fifth-graders did not pass the 2010 science Measurement of Student Progress state test.

The new curriculum would give classrooms lessons and materials that would help bring students up to speed.

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Highway lanes closed after truck hits bridge near Issaquah

May 3, 2011

Officials inspect a damaged highway overpass at state Route 18 and Interstate 90 as crews clean up debris. Department of Transportation

NEW — 5:30 p.m. May 3, 2011

Crews closed the right lanes of westbound state Route 18 and eastbound Interstate 90 east of Issaquah after a tow truck damaged the girders supporting the eastbound interstate lanes.

The incident occurred at about 3 p.m. Tuesday at the interstate overpass at state Route 18, about nine miles from downtown Issaquah and about five miles from rural Preston.

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Issaquah School District could lay off up to 51 teachers

May 3, 2011

If the worst were to happen, Issaquah School District’s budget would take quite a hit for the next school year.

Although the Legislature has yet to finalize its biennial budget, the district is required, through its contract with the Issaquah Education Association teachers’ union, to alert teachers about impending layoffs by the last school board meeting in April.

At the board meeting April 28, Jacob Kuper, finance and operations chief for the district, presented a worst-case-scenario, predicting the district would lose $2.7 million — a cut that would lead to the layoffs of 51 teachers, two maintenance-and-operations personnel, six custodians, 1.3 bus drivers, 1.15 educational assistants and 1.3 teachers on special assignment.

Of the 51 teachers, 15 plan to leave through normal attrition, meaning 36 teachers will receive layoff notices. There are 1,078 teachers is the district.

“One of the challenges that you face in an educational system is that 85 percent of our costs are salaries,” Associate Superintendent Ron Thiele said.

During the past two fiscal years, the district has received a $12 million reduction in state funding, money that was used to pay for classroom teachers and other school employees. The Legislature has reduced programs funding teachers, including suspension of Initiative 728, which pays for more teachers and professional development, and the elimination of the kindergarten-through-fourth-grade class-size reduction.

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Incident exposes concerns about cyberbullying

May 3, 2011

Issaquah girls, 11 and 12, charged in Facebook case

The lewd messages and photos started appearing on 12-year-old Leslie Cote’s Facebook page at about 3 p.m. March 18.

Investigators said someone scrawled the phrase “I’m a slut” across a photo of the Issaquah Middle School sixth-grader and used the site’s instant messaging service to proposition boys for sexual acts.

Officers arrested a pair of Issaquah girls, ages 11 and 12, for the R-rated prank hours later. The girls have been charged with cyberstalking and first-degree computer trespassing — and face up to 30 days in juvenile detention if convicted. The girls are the youngest people to be charged in King County under the state electronic harassment law.

The Issaquah Press usually does not name defendants age 12 or younger.

In the days after the county prosecutor filed charges April 26, the incident attracted comparisons to “Mean Girls” — a 2004 comedy about a catty high school clique — and directed a national spotlight on cyberbullying.

Officials said filing charges in the groundbreaking case is meant in part to launch a discussion about civility in the social media age.

“I think there’s been this pervasive sentiment that the Internet is some giant, lawless place where you can act anonymously without any sort of repercussion,” King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said in a telephone interview April 29. “That’s not true.”

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Lake Sammamish level concerns homeowners

May 3, 2011

County announces plan to unclog lake-to-river transition

King County environmental managers plan to tackle the high water level in Lake Sammamish, after aquatic weeds and sediment clogged the outlet from the lake to the Sammamish River.

The problem — although centered at county-run Marymoor Park along the lake’s northern shore — reflects a common complaint among lakeside residents in Issaquah and Sammamish about the water level.

“It’s really important that we remove these things. Particularly at the north end up around Marymoor Park is a real problem, and it’s spread to the rest of the lake,” Save Lake Sammamish founder Joanna Buehler said. “For real control, you need everybody around the lake to work on it.”

The effort calls for yanking invasive plants, increased mowing near the transition zone from lake to river and enacting other steps along the lake in order to address levels along the shoreline.

County Executive Dow Constantine said the series of steps is necessary to reduce seasonal flooding along the lake.

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Commission questions rezoning of parkland

May 3, 2011

The city Planning Policy Commission raised questions April 28 before rezoning downtown open space to accommodate a long-planned park.

The city needed to rezone the park parcels from open space to community parks before the development process could proceed. The site encompasses Tollë Anderson, Cybil-Madeline and Issaquah Creek parks. The city Parks & Recreation Department intends to develop the parcels as a single park. The city cannot develop a community park on open space due to zoning restrictions.

“We’re rezoning all of them because we’re treating the confluence park as one big community park,” city Associate Planner Jason Rogers said in a presentation to the commission.

The proposal prompted some grumbling from Planning Policy Commission members.

“If you’re asking me to approve the zoning so we can have a large park area, I agree. I have no argument with that,” Commissioner Irv Levin said. “If that’s as far as I’m involved, then I have no argument. I am curious with what you’re going to do with all of that park area.”

The city hosted public meetings last year to gather input about the site. Residents can comment about the parks again at a May 4 community conference — a public meeting to gather additional input about the proposal.

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Honor a veteran for Memorial Day

May 3, 2011

For the second year, The Issaquah Press will publish profiles of Issaquah men and women who served in the U.S. armed forces in a May 25 Memorial Day section.

To be included or honor a friend, download a form from the newspaper’s website, or pick up a form at office.

Email photos to editor@isspress.com or mail them to The Issaquah Press to be scanned by May 18. There is no cost to submit a profile.

Last year, The Press honored 87 Issaquah veterans, including 19 who were killed in wartime — two in World War I, 13 in World War II and four in Vietnam.

The Memorial Day section is a remembrance of those who served the U.S. during times of war and peace.

The help the VFW sponsor the section, send a check payable to The Press.

Download a form or visit The Issaquah Press office at 45 Front St. S. by May 18.

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Issaquah growth center proposal raises questions

May 3, 2011

The nascent proposal to add almost 5,000 residential units to the business district in a pedestrian- and transit-friendly hub received a skeptical reception from city planning commissioners last week.

The city is considering a proposal to add a regional growth center in a bid to attract dollars for transportation and mass transit to Issaquah. The initial plans outline such a hub in 915-acre Central Issaquah, the commercial area spread along Interstate 90 and state Route 900.

The long-term blueprint for the Puget Sound region calls for areas designated as regional growth centers. The designation helps officials plan regional transportation infrastructure and determine the best sites for economic development.

The centers also receive higher priority for state and federal funding in order to connect the regional hubs — a crucial selling point.

Still, Planning Policy Commission members raised questions about a proposal to create a regional growth center and add up to 4,650 residential units in a dense neighborhood.

“I think the biggest question is, do we want to do this?” Commissioner Joan Probala asked during the April 28 meeting. “Because when we decide that we want to do it, you’re looking at changing the rest of the areas to some extent, and you’re going to encourage building to happen there” in the targeted area.

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Issaquah Schools Foundation luncheon sets record

May 3, 2011

In spite of the recession, the Issaquah Schools Foundation has never had such a successful fundraiser.

At the 13th annual Nourish Every Mind Benefit Luncheon, the foundation raised the considerable sum of $593,000 April 28. Last year, the luncheon raised $410,000, and organizers had set a goal of $450,000 for 2011.

Still, more money is needed. The Issaquah School District has plans to buy a new elementary science curriculum, but doesn’t have the funds. The money it had earmarked for the curriculum was spent covering the $1.4 million the state retroactively took from its budget this year.

In light of the state’s cuts, the foundation has jumpstarted a campaign to raise $500,000 to buy the elementary science curriculum by June 30.

Thanks to the successful luncheon at the Issaquah Community Center, the foundation has raised $263,000 of the $500,000 needed.

“As public funding shrinks, we will need to do more,” foundation community representative Leigh Stokes said.

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