Come summertime, backyard beekeepers reap sweet rewards

July 2, 2011

Carniolan honeybees scamper in and out of a beehive after retrieving pollen from plants near beekeeper Peter Jarvis’ home. By Greg Farrar

The pastoral landscape surrounding Issaquah is not quite the biblical Promised Land, but the area is rich in honey (if not milk) as beekeepers set up hives in area backyards and barnyards.

The buzz resumes each spring and summer as the daytime temperature nudges past 60 degrees and dandelions start to poke from the sodden soil. Then, all summer long, honeybees use assembly-line efficiency to gather pollen, and produce beeswax and liquid gold — prizes for amateur apiarists, or beekeepers.

Honey aside, backyard beekeeping continues to gain popularity as organic and urban farming trends attain mainstream success; gardeners opt for a back-to-nature approach; and beekeepers establish hives to counteract colony collapse disorder, a mysterious phenomenon responsible for countless honeybee disappearances since 2006.

The anemic economy also made a difference, as people started to rely on honeybees and mason bees, another species, to pollinate kitchen gardens and orchards — both cheap food sources.

Jerry Good established a beehive on 6.5 acres in May Valley a few years ago, and tended to honeybees pollinating apple, cherry, pear and plum trees on the land.

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Darigold puts the butter in famous butter crunch toffee

July 2, 2011

Confectioner Brown & Haley uses butter from the Darigold dairy in Issaquah for Almond Roca. By Greg Farrar

Inside each pink-and-gold tin, Almond Roca includes a fundamental ingredient: butter from Darigold in downtown Issaquah.

The longtime Tacoma confectioner Brown & Haley obtains butter — about 90 percent — for treats from Pacific Northwest dairies. From the local butter, about 90 percent originates at Darigold in Issaquah.

Brown & Haley CEO Pierson Clair said the arrangement includes benefits such as local job creation, reduced environmental impact and taste, a crucial factor in the confectionary industry.

“The flavor of the Issaquah butter is really, really good,” Clair said. “Almond Roca is all about quality. Darigold Issaquah butter is all about quality, and therefore, it’s just a perfect supplier for us.”

The beloved confection remains unchanged since 1923, when Harry Brown and J.C. Haley dreamed up Almond Roca. Company lore claims a librarian selected “roca” — Spanish for “rock” — for the name as a nod to the crunchy center.

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Issa-what? What’s a city dweller called, anyhow?

July 2, 2011

Washingtonian is simple enough, although the name requires Evergreen State residents and D.C. dwellers to claim joint custody.

However, pinning a name on Issaquah residents is not so easy, in part because the moniker is so unusual. Moreover, state and municipal records do not contain any official demonym — or name for a resident from a particular place — for citizens, other than the self-explanatory nods to Issaquah residents.

Issaquahite? The name could pass for a reference to the 10 Lost Tribes of Israel. Issaquahian? The name sounds more suitable for a “Star Trek” alien species than a suburbanite.

The most common name used for residents is, in fact, Issaquahn.

The designation is indeed rooted in history.

Issaquahn, sometimes spelled Issaquahan, started to appear in newspaper accounts as early as 1927 and continued to crop up again during the 20th century, although the name faded as decades marched on.

Perhaps the time is nigh for a revival.

Ahoy! Explore a sunken forest in Lake Sammamish

July 2, 2011

Branches poke from a sunken forest in Lake Sammamish. By Paul Scott

The pillars rise from Lake Sammamish, as large as whalebones and faded to a ghostly gray.

Embedded in the lake near Timberlake Park is a submerged forest heaved into the lake during a long-ago landslide and earthquake.

Kayak Academy and Issaquah Paddle Sports owners Barb and George Gronseth point out the landmark on frequent kayaking expeditions around Lake Sammamish. The primeval stumps poking skyward elicit strange looks from outdoor enthusiasts.

“They never believe me when I tell them there was a landslide,” Barb Gronseth said.

Indeed, the state Department of Natural Resources detailed the ancient earthquake on the nearby Seattle Fault — a shallow seismic zone stretched along the interstate from Puget Sound and east through lakes Washington and Sammamish. Geologists determined a major earthquake about 1,000 years ago dislodged old-growth forest from a hillside. The shifting land collapsed and slid into the lake.

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Excuse me? Uncover fertile dirt behind Poo Poo Point’s name

July 2, 2011

The collection at the Issaquah Train Depot includes a steam donkey. File

The poo poo referenced in Poo Poo Point is not destined for the bathroom.

Instead, the designation for a ridge on Tiger Mountain nods to logging.

Loggers used a winch called a steam donkey to haul logs through Tiger Mountain forests to a loading point.

“There was a steam whistle set up that they would blow before they started pulling these logs through the forest at high speed, which was dangerous,” Issaquah History Museums Executive Director Erica Maniez said.

The high-pitched whistle on the steam donkey emitted a “poo poo” sound.

(The history museums’ collection includes a steam donkey parked outside the restored Issaquah Train Depot.)

Maniez said Poo Poo Point is a contemporary designation. The late William Longwell Jr., a longtime Issaquah Alps Trails Club member, described the tale behind Poo Poo Point in a guide to Tiger Mountain trails.

Still, uttering “Poo Poo Point” prompts giggles from outsiders and recent transplants.

DIY’s ‘Bath Crashers’ features Issaquah homeowners

July 2, 2011

NEW — 1 p.m. July 2, 2011

The master bathroom in Jeremy and Carrie Paget’s South Cove home resembled a time capsule from 1981, the year the house was built — colorless tile, a slim skylight and oak cabinets accented in brass.

Factor in a leaky shower and a dearth of space, too, and the need for a floor-to-ceiling overhaul became apparent.

“We didn’t really use this room other than just to get ready and use the sink to brush our teeth, things like that,” Jeremy Paget said.

Now, after some persistence and TV magic, the blah bathroom is a destination. DIY Network’s “Bath Crashers” transformed the space.

The episode featuring the Pagets is scheduled to debut at 7 p.m. July 4. DIY Network is channel 203 on Comcast and channel 217 on Broadstripe.

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Liberty High School sharpshooters hit No. 1 spot in nation

June 30, 2011

NEW — 6 p.m. June 30, 2011

After an incredible show of teamwork, Liberty High School’s National Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps placed first nationwide as scholastic military champions at the National Rifle Association Air Gun Competition on June 23-25.

“As a team, they scored better than any other team in the nation,” Liberty naval science instructor Al Torstenson said.

Five Liberty air rifle team students — including graduating seniors Tyler Snook, Jackie Chueng and Murphy Ransier, incoming senior John Lorenz and incoming junior Sean Denson — flew to Camp Perry, Ohio, for the championship.

The coaches, Art Weatherford and senior naval science instructor Cmdr. Dan Joslin, accompanied the team.

Though the students won first place, “probably everything that could go wrong, went wrong,” such as equipment malfunctions, Weatherford said. But, “It wasn’t anything the kids weren’t able to rise to.”

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Contentious Interstate 90 pedestrian bridge to open Friday

June 30, 2011

NEW — 8 a.m. June 30, 2011

The pedestrian bridge at Interstate 90 and state Route 900 is due to open Friday, months after the expected completed date.

Delays related to the bridge pilings and inclement weather slowed construction on the $6.2 million project. The connector separates bicyclists and pedestrians from the busy roadway. The structure includes a 12-foot-wide pedestrian bridge across the westbound interstate on-ramp and a 10-foot-wide pedestrian crossing on the state Route 900 overpass.

The city contributed $354,000 to the connector. Federal and Sound Transit dollars covered the remainder.

The bridge is due to open by late Friday, after more than a decade of planning and sometimes-contentious discussions among city officials, transit advocates and trails enthusiasts.

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Maple Hills Elementary School gets new principal

June 29, 2011

NEW — 4 p.m. June 29, 2011

A new eagle has landed at Maple Hills Elementary School.

Sondra Maier, an elementary school teacher in the Federal Way School District, will take the reigns as principal of the school in July.

The former Maple Hills principal, Monique Beane, announced in June that she would move to Pacific Cascade Middle School, where she would work as assistant principal.

Shortly after Beane’s departure, Issaquah School District administrators began the search for her replacement. Parents filled out surveys online, indicating their preference for a principal who promoted transparency, collaboration and high standards, said an email district Superintendent Steve Rasmussen sent to parents on Wednesday.

“I believe we have found those qualities — in abundance — in Ms. Maier,” he wrote.

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Swedish/Issaquah prepares to open / June 2011

June 29, 2011

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