Challenge Day Race is big fun for special-needs children

July 12, 2011

On July 16, the Rotary Club of Issaquah will host the 14th annual Issaquah Rotary Challenge Day Race. The event allows participants with mental and physical disabilities to experience the fun of a soapbox derby race.

“It’s great to see these special-needs kids having fun,” said Leo Finnegan, creator of the Challenge Day Race. “Everybody feels really good about what happens at the races.”

Excitement builds as teams of two climb into their soapbox cars. In the driver’s side seat sits an able-bodied youngster with the special-needs youngster riding shotgun.

When the starting gate hits the ground gravity takes over, causing the streamlined soapbox cars to roll down the hill. Some cars have reached speeds as high as 17 mph.

Each special-needs child will get three rides down the hill.

“The pre-selected driver’s seat is first offered up to siblings of the special-needs kids and family members of Rotary volunteers,” Finnegan said.

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Little Si trail offers hikers something new on each trip

July 12, 2011

As hikers approached the final uphill stretch of the Little Si trail, the downy woodpecker curiously peered around a tree and scooted up the side, pecking lightly at the bark.

People continued up the minor switchback and the black-and-white bird with a red crest spread its wings and swooped over to another tree near the trail. It seemed accustomed to the regular foot traffic as it alertly spied on passers-by from just a few feet off the trail.

While the woodpecker might be the only wildlife you encounter during a trip up the rocky mountain face, the 4.4-mile Little Si trail will make you want to return — and probably soon.

Bob Dubose and Kyoko Maruyama, both of Bellevue, enjoy the view from the top of Little Si after their July 6 hike. Contributed

Beth and Duane Carlson, of Bellevue, have come back a dozen times, they said while basking in the midday sun July 6.

The couple was planning to catch up on some yard work that morning, but the limited prospect of having another 80-degree day turned their thoughts toward the mountains.

“I was like, ‘You know what, let’s go hiking,’” said Beth, an avid outdoorswoman at 60.

And although he wanted to get work done in the yard, Duane said it didn’t take much convincing to change his mind.

“It took her two sentences to talk me out of doing yard work,” said Duane, 71, a retired doctor.

The Little Si trail, one of the more popular hikes in King County, along with the famed Mount Si trail, starts out steep, levels out a bit and tests hikers of all ages with a steep and rough finish.

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Issaquah car enthusiast’s collection strikes a ‘Cord’

July 12, 2011

Tall and silver-haired, with a steady gaze and thoughtful conversation, Tom Armstrong has been a regular at the Forest Grove Concours d’Elegance for more than 30 years.

Among Tom Armstrong's cars is a 1936 Cord Phaeton with its famous coffin hood. Above left, Armstrong stands with a classic Corvette from his collection. By Greg Farrar

He’s been an exhibitor, judge and, last year, served as senior judge at the classic-car competition held each July just outside Portland.

Armstrong, a retired shipping executive who lives in Issaquah, has serious car cred. He has been a Pebble Beach judge, was the founding chairman of the Kirkland Concours in 2003 and is a life member of the Classic Car Club of America, Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Club and the Society of Vintage Racing Enthusiasts.

He and his wife Susan own a 1931 Model SJ Duesenberg convertible sedan, which won the Forest Grove Sweepstakes Award in 1983 and is featured in “The Allure of the Automobile,” an exhibit illustrating the stylistic development of automobiles, at the Portland Art Museum this summer.

Tom’s history has history. Back in 1977, the Armstrongs’ black 1936 Cord Phaeton won Best of Show at Forest Grove and returned last year — 33 years later — as the program’s cover car. He has owned 98 collector cars — “I just can’t seem to hit 100” — but has trimmed his stable to 28 cars and motorcycles these days. Still, the black Cord has been his life’s work as a collector, from the day he found it in Dallas in the mid-1960s.

A “coffin-nosed” Cord 810/812 is a coveted prize in the car-collecting world. Designed by Gordon Buehrig, only 2,830 were built by Erret Lobban Cord in 1936-37 in open and closed styles. A stunningly advanced design, with no running boards and no obvious grille, they also featured front-wheel drive and a pre-selector gearbox with a troublesome electric shift mechanism.

When the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg empire collapsed in 1938, the complicated Cord 810s and 812s were fairly new, but lacked any factory warranty. As a result, disappointed owners parked them in garages as they failed, and most survived.

“I had a 1948 Lincoln Continental convertible that got us into the classic car world,” Armstrong remembers. “I’d been transferred to Dallas, Sue and I were just married and we had no money — and a baby. I met this old man who had a Cord. It was locked up in a garage with swing-out doors that wouldn’t open because the driveway had been graveled. But I could pry open the doors and look inside.

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Issaquah pitcher sparks Spice

July 12, 2011

Pitcher Brielle Bray, of Issaquah High School, posted a 3-1 record with a save for the Seattle Spice U-18 fastpitch softball team, which recently won the Sparkler Open Tournament in Westminster, Colo.

Bray also led the Spice in hitting.

More than 200 teams participated in the tournament. The Spice was the second team from Washington to ever win a bracket championship in the Sparkler tournament.

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Softball all-stars knocked out

July 12, 2011

The Issaquah/Sammamish all-star team got off to a promising start in the District 9 Little League Tournament for 10- to 11-year-olds, but it couldn’t maintain the momentum as the club was eliminated in three games.

In the opening round game July 2, Issaquah/Sammamish pounded Kirkland, 11-1, at North Bend’s Torguson Park.

Winning pitcher Natalie King had six strikeouts. Kendall Kauzlarich had three hits to lead Issaquah/Sammamish. Taylor Juenke and Shayna Swanson each had two hits.

On July 5, Issaquah/Sammamish dropped a tough, 11-9, decision to an all-star team composed of players from Bellevue West, Bellevue Thunderbird and Mercer Island. Emily Holderness led Issaquah/Sammamish with three hits. Juenke, Swanson, King and Athena Benjamin each had two hits.

On July 7, Issaquah/Sammamish again came up short when it lost to Snoqualmie Valley/Snoqualmie North, 7-6. Juenke had three hits and Swanson two hits. Snoqualmie Valley/Snoqualmie North eventually won the district title.

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Issaquah all-stars valiant run through District 9 tourney ends

July 12, 2011

The Issaquah 10-11 Little League all-star baseball team made a valiant run in its District 9 Tournament, but just barely missed qualifying for the title game.

Bellevue West knocked Issaquah out of the tournament July 10 with a 5-4 victory at Bellevue’s Hidden Valley Park.

Issaquah was attempting to reach the title round after losing its opener to Redmond North, 7-5, July 3. After the loss, Issaquah bounced back to defeat Kirkland National, 5-0, July 4.

Winning pitcher Jack Westover had three hits and drove in two runs. Torin Crockett and Justin Buckner each had two hits.

On July 6, Issaquah defeated Kirkland American, 11-3. Winning pitcher Brandon Peterson had three hits and Crockett had two hits.

Issaquah beat Redmond West, 8-2, July 7 behind the pitching of Mack Mahovlich. Zach Van Dyke had two hits for Issaquah.

On July 9, Issaquah avenged its loss to Redmond North by winning the rematch, 3-1. Buckner was the winning pitcher and Van Dyke hit a home run.

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Swedish/Issaquah receives official welcome as opening nears

July 12, 2011

Mayor Ava Frisinger welcomes Swedish/Issaquah at the July 7 opening. By Greg Farrar

Swedish Medical Center executives, community leaders and elected representatives stood beneath a banner proclaiming “the future of health care” and cut a blue ribbon July 7 to open Swedish/Issaquah, a $365 million hospital and, officials hope, a model for “green” practices and patient healing.

“When you really believe in something, it is amazing how much you can accomplish when you put your mind to it,” Kevin Brown, Swedish Medical Center senior vice president and chief administrative officer, said at the ceremony. “The residents of the greater Issaquah-Sammamish area put their mind up that they wanted to have a facility, a hospital that they could call home and never gave up on that idea. Neither did Swedish.”

The hospital opens to patients July 14. The portion containing the hospital beds is due to come online in November, months ahead of schedule.

Come July 2012, Swedish/Issaquah is projected to sustain 1,000 jobs.

For the opening celebration, the hospital resembled a hotel lobby more than a health care facility. Sunlight glinted off of the polished terrazzo floor as musicians performed up-tempo numbers and servers in black ties carried platters of cheese and charcuterie through the scrum.

Officials estimated the invitation-only crowd at the ceremony at about 1,000 people.

“Today is truly a day to celebrate,” Mayor Ava Frisinger said to the dignitaries gathered in the atrium and perched on mezzanines overlooking the space.

The mayor then set aside the notes on the lectern and ad-libbed about the differences between the Issaquah hospital and health care facilities from the not-so-distant past.

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Farm invites Harry Potter fans to free party

July 12, 2011

Fox Hollow Family Farm invites Harry Potter fans to celebrate the release of the final Harry Potter film during a costume party filled with games and treats.

Guests are encouraged to dress as their favorite Harry Potter character at the free party from 5-8 p.m. July 15 at the farm, 12031 Issaquah-Hobart Road S.E.

Muggles, witches and wizards can play a variety of games, including broomstick racing, Mrs. Weasley’s cakewalk and a horcrux hunt.

Though not required, party organizers ask guests to RSVP by emailing The party is first come, first serve.

Though the party is celebrating the release of the movie, the movie will not be shown at the farm.

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Swedish emergency room services to relocate July 14

July 12, 2011

Swedish Medical Center administrators and physicians plan to transfer emergency room services from the standalone facility near Lake Sammamish to Swedish/Issaquah early July 14.

The relocation is poised to unfold in a careful choreography as the initial phase of the hospital opens to patients. Dispatchers plan to direct ambulances to the hospital ER in the Issaquah Highlands starting at midnight.

“We’re doing this transition in the middle of the night because that is our lull point. Typically, the lowest census in any emergency department is that kind of 3-4 a.m. range,” said Dr. John Milne, a Swedish emergency physician and Issaquah resident. “Most sane people are asleep.”

The portion of the hospital for inpatients does not come online until November.

Jeff Griffin, Eastside Fire & Rescue deputy chief of operations, said agency administrators continue to update ambulance crews about the change. EFR emergency crews also toured the Swedish/Issaquah ER to prepare for the transition.

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Port Blakely announces plan to build highlands shopping center

July 12, 2011

A view east toward Ninth Avenue Northeast shows the 14 acres being considered by Florida-based Regency Centers for a 175,000-square-foot shopping center in the Issaquah Highlands. By Greg Farrar

The plan to add more stores to the Issaquah Highlands, a subject responsible for much grumbling among neighborhood residents and city leaders, lurched ahead July 5, as highlands developer Port Blakely Communities announced a deal to sell 14 acres for a proposed shopping center.

If the deal is completed, as executives hope, construction could start as early as next year. The announcement also prompted some residents to point to similar — albeit unsuccessful — attempts in the past.

The agreement calls for Regency Centers, a real estate investment trust based in Florida, to purchase about 14 acres of highlands land and build a 175,000-square-foot shopping center along Northeast High Street and Northeast Park Drive — a site once set aside for a stylish retail destination called The High Streets.

Regency Centers also plans to acquire a retail-and-office building along Northeast Park Drive. Caffe Ladro and other businesses occupy the building’s 39,000 square feet.

The companies did not disclose terms of the transaction. The deal is expected to close by the end of the year.

Jacksonville-based Regency Centers owns almost 400 shopping centers from coast to coast, including Pine Lake Village and Sammamish Highlands on the Sammamish Plateau.

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