County proposes yearlong trash rate hike to modernize system

June 8, 2011

NEW — 10 a.m. June 8, 2011

King County residents could pay more for garbage collection under a proposal to increase the disposal rate for one year in order to raise funds to modernize the county’s aging solid waste system.

The proposal calls for county Solid Waste Division disposal rates to rise from $95 to $108 per ton, or about 76 cents per month for the average residential customer putting out a single can for collection for all customers outside of Seattle and Milton. The proposed hike is the second rate increase in the last 12 years for the Solid Waste Division.

“Our solid waste facilities were largely built in the 1960s, and they were never designed to handle the nearly 1 million tons of garbage we now process,” Solid Waste Division director Kevin Kiernan said in a statement. “This one-year rate proposal keeps fees as low as reasonable, while covering the cost of providing the service and the capital improvements that our customers need and expect.”

Under the proposal, companies, such as Allied Waste and Waste Management, picking up garbage at the curb and hauling trash to county transfer stations would pay the fee. The additional cost is likely to be passed on to customers.

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Forecast is green for Issaquah Valley Elementary rain garden

June 7, 2011

Project gives water a place to go in school parking lot

A group of Issaquah Valley Elementary School students plant native species in the rain garden near a new city-owned parking lot and bus loop by their school. By Mary Joe de Beck

What used to be a strip of gravel parking spots near Issaquah Valley Elementary School is now a paved parking lot and bus loop. The new impervious surface has led to another development: a student-dug rain garden filled with 500 plants of varying shades of green.

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1,127 students to receive diplomas

June 7, 2011

After 13 years of schooling, 1,127 students from the class of 2011 will receive their high school diploma this month.

Each of the district’s four high schools — Issaquah, Liberty, Skyline and Tiger Mountain Community high schools — as well as the district’s community-based Academy for Community Transition for special-needs students will have commencement celebrations during the next week.

Here’s what you need to know about the celebrations, in the order they happen.

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King County proposes changes to outreach

June 7, 2011

Plan calls for dividing unincorporated communities into service areas

King County intends to overhaul outreach from county leaders to residents in rural and unincorporated areas, including more than 16,000 people near Issaquah.

The proposal could reshape the relationship between county leaders and the Four Creeks Unincorporated Area Council, a liaison for unincorporated area residents near Issaquah to the county government based in Seattle.

Similar groups exist in unincorporated areas across King County, from Vashon Island to urban Highline between Burien and Seattle.

The unincorporated area councils do not represent all rural and unincorporated residents, however, prompting county leaders to consider other options for outreach.

So, County Executive Dow Constantine offered a proposal to divide unincorporated communities into so-called community service areas. The plan calls for assigning county staffers and residents in a designated area to coordinate on issues, such as crime prevention or concerns about development.

Unlike the existing arrangement, Constantine proposed for the community service areas to include communities not represented by a local council, such as Klahanie and the Snoqualmie Valley.

The proposal keeps the unincorporated area councils intact, but does not guarantee future funding for the organizations. Each council used to receive $10,000 per year in county funding.

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Legislators salvage funding for Issaquah arts programs

June 7, 2011

Shakespeare on the Green is due to return to the Issaquah Community Center next month — and the “Macbeth” performance is safe, after state legislators approved a last-minute measure to shore up funding for the King County cultural services agency, 4Culture.

In addition to Shakespeare on the Green — from the Seattle Shakespeare Co. — dollars from 4Culture fund dozens of other programs in the community. Overall, 4Culture allocated more than $50,000 to arts, cultural and heritage organizations in the Issaquah area for 2011. Some organizations, such as the Seattle Shakespeare Co., could not offer Issaquah programs without the funding.

City Arts Coordinator Amy Dukes said funding from 4Culture is important because dollars allotted through the Arts Sustained Support Program can be used for operating costs.

“That’s really hard funding to replace,” she said. “Most funders want their funding to go toward specific programming, so the fact that 4Culture gives out this funding that’s unrestricted is a huge benefit.”

Lawmakers passed the 4Culture legislation as the last bill before the special legislative session adjourned May 25.

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Squak Mountain State Park to remain open

June 7, 2011

Budget prompts reduced hours, service at state park

Squak Mountain State Park’s operating hours and maintenance could be reduced, but the latest proposal from the state allows for the park to remain open.

Under a plan offered last year, Squak Mountain and other recreation sites faced a shutdown as early as July 2011. Instead, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission is considering a service reduction in order to cut costs. Under the proposal, the 1,545-acre destination for hikers and equestrian trail riders could close on weekdays.

“We know we have to make some service reductions, but we’re trying to figure out ways to have the parks not be to zero service,” commission spokeswoman Virginia Painter said.

Still, reduced service could make for some notable changes on Squak Mountain.

“The intention for us is to have it open on weekends — Friday, Saturday, Sunday — and probably holidays with some limited services, meaning limited maintenance,” Lake Sammamish State Park Manager Rich Benson said. “We’re probably not going to do as much as we once did.”

(Rangers manage Lake Sammamish, Squak Mountain, Bridle Trails and Olallie state parks from a lakeside office in Issaquah.)

The state could also find a partner, such as a nonprofit group, to help maintain Squak Mountain, although no such agreement has been announced.

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Starbucks to offer beer and wine at Issaquah location

June 7, 2011

Starbucks plans to offer a different kind of jolt to Issaquah customers soon.

The bustling Starbucks at the Meadows complex along Northwest Gilman Boulevard is in line to become the only store other than Seattle and Portland, Ore., so far to offer beer and wine.

The coffee colossus filed for a liquor license last month as Starbucks prepares to renovate the Issaquah location in late summer. The project is due to start in early August and should be completed in late September.

Plans call for the location to remain open during construction, although some seating might be unavailable for stretches during the remodel.

The overhaul marks Starbucks’ inaugural attempt to offer alcohol options and additional menu offerings in a suburban setting. Imagine charcuterie and a cheese plate — savory snacks to accompany the craft beers and regional wines Starbucks plans to offer.

The customer base and buzzing traffic at the Issaquah store offer the Seattle-based company a chance to test a concept honed at Emerald City locations.

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Motorcyclist arrested after fleeing from police at more than 100 mph

June 7, 2011

Police descended on the Issaquah Highlands June 3 after a man driving a motorcycle at more than 100 mph led state troopers to a condominium near Grand Ridge Elementary School, prompting administrators to take precautions as the school day ended.

The afternoon incident started after the crew in a Washington State Patrol airplane observed a motorcycle rider driving more than 100 mph on westbound Interstate 90 near Preston. The crew in the Cessna 206 had been monitoring King County traffic.

After receiving notification from the aircraft crew, a trooper in a patrol car pulled behind the motorcycle and turned on its flashing lights to try to stop the vehicle, but the driver continued undeterred.

“Because of the extreme speeds and the maneuvering that he was doing, the trooper did not pursue,” Trooper Julie Startup said.

Meanwhile, the crew aboard the Cessna continued to monitor the motorcycle and relayed the location to troopers on the ground. Troopers then followed the motorcycle to the highlands.

The aircraft crew observed the driver pull into a garage at the highlands condominium complex and close the garage door moments before patrol cars arrived at the scene. The motorcycle driver, later identified as a 62-year-old Issaquah resident, lives at the complex.

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City counts 219 bicycle commuters on Bike to Work Day

June 7, 2011

The city Resource Conservation Office declared National Bike to Work Day a success in Issaquah.

Cascade Bicycle Club, the largest such organization in the United States, helped put on Puget Sound’s F5 Bike to Work Day event May 20.

Issaquah set up a station at state Route 900 and Northwest Sammamish Road to count cyclists, offer bike repairs and hand out snacks. Officials counted 219 cyclists on Bike to Work Day in Issaquah — more than last year but shy of the record 254 in 2008.

Participants met bike commuters coming from as far away as Duvall and headed as far as Kent.

Resource Conservation Office employees, alongside Pacific Bicycle Co. owners Scott and Kristie Fredricks, and Cycle the Wave ambassadors from the Lakemont Ladies Cycling Club staffed the station. Issaquah-based Costco donated fruit and Pacific Bicycle Co. offered bike repairs.

Bikers received free Clif Bars, water bottles, maps and information about bicycling in the Puget Sound region.

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Squak Mountain neighborhood water main project starts

June 7, 2011

City planners issued notice May 23 for contractors to start a routine water main project along Idylwood Drive Southwest and Greenwood Boulevard Southwest in a Squak Mountain neighborhood.

The work should be complete within 70 days. The contractor is Kent-based Laser Underground & Earthworks.

Residents can call city Engineer Tony Nguyen at 837-3437 to learn more.

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