Crash snarls morning commute for Issaquah motorists

July 20, 2011

NEW — 8:25 a.m. July 20, 2011

Expect delays on westbound Interstate 90 near Issaquah due to a multivehicle crash at 133rd Avenue Southeast.

The state Department of Transportation said a load spilled from a logging truck. The crash encompassed other vehicles as well.

Bellevue Fire Department and Washington State Patrol crews responded to the scene. The extent of the motorists’ injuries is unknown.

The traffic backup stretched from 150th Avenue Southeast in Bellevue to state Route 900 in Issaquah — about five miles of roadway — just after 8 a.m. Wednesday.

Eastbound traffic on the interstate is unaffected.

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Deep Metro Transit cuts could halt Issaquah bus route

July 19, 2011

Route 200 is on chopping block as transit agency faces steep service reduction

Metro Route 200 bus riders Christina Martin and Paul Vranesh chat July 18 on their way from their residences in downtown Issaquah to work on Gilman Boulevard. By Greg Farrar

The proposed cuts to King County Metro Transit could create obstacles for commuters on cross-town trips, especially if the agency abolishes Issaquah-centric routes.

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Protection decision is due soon for Lake Sammamish kokanee

July 19, 2011

The long process to add the dwindling Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon to the endangered species list inched ahead July 12, as the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service agreed to make decisions soon about the salmon species and more than 700 animal and plant species under consideration for federal protection.

Under a legal agreement between the agency and environmentalists, the Fish & Wildlife Service is required to decide by the end of the year whether the Lake Sammamish kokanee proposal should proceed.

Taylor Goforth, a spokeswoman for the Fish & Wildlife Service in Lacey, said the agreement does not change the plan, because the agency intends to release a decision during the same timeframe.

“It’s still under review and we’re aware of the deadline and we plan to make it,” she said.

Local environmental groups, governments and the Snoqualmie Tribe petitioned in 2007 to list the landlocked salmon species as endangered.

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Man is unlikely to be charged for death in Lake Sammamish State Park shootings

July 19, 2011

In year since firefight, officials determine Renton man acted in self-defense

The man responsible for a death in a Lake Sammamish State Park shootout last July acted in self-defense and is shielded from prosecution under state law.

King County prosecutors and investigators said a then-21-year-old Renton man gunned down Justin Cunningham, 30, amid the July 17, 2010, shootout. Investigators also determined that Cunningham shot and killed Yang Keovongphet, 33, before the Renton man killed Cunningham.

Ian Goodhew, deputy chief of staff for King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, said investigators relied on forensic evidence from firearms used in the gun battle and bystanders’ interviews to re-create the chaotic moments in the park at about 9 p.m. on a Saturday, just after sunset.

Investigators determined Cunningham pulled a gun as a disagreement between groups picnicking in the park escalated into a fistfight. Then, gunshots ruined the calm night.

“When you’re getting shot at, or your friends or your group people are getting shot at, then you shoot back, it’s in self defense,” Goodhew said.

Though the Renton man does not face a charge related to the state park death, sheriff’s office investigators recommended a possible charge for unlawful firearm possession. The sheriff’s office said the man cannot possess firearms due to a prior felony conviction.

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Issaquah girl, 12, sentenced for Facebook cyberbullying

July 19, 2011

A 12-year-old Issaquah girl received a suspended sentence July 13 for posting lewd photos and messages on a classmate’s Facebook page, but she can continue to access the social-networking site, albeit under adult supervision.

The sentence includes 20 hours of community service in addition to supervision for all computer use. King County Juvenile Court also ordered the girl to write a letter of apology to the 12-year-old classmate targeted in the incident.

If she completes all conditions of the deferred sentence and stays out of trouble for six months, the court intends to dismiss the charges for first-degree computer trespassing, a felony, and cyberstalking, a misdemeanor.

Prosecutors said the girl and a classmate, a then-11-year-old, posted explicit photos and sent solicitations for sex from the account for Issaquah Middle School student Leslie Cote. Her family asked for media outlets to name Leslie in news coverage to draw attention to cyberbullying and Facebook misconduct.

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Issaquah mother is on the mend after close call

July 19, 2011

Sarah Bower doesn’t remember much of what happened Aug. 24.

Nate Bower (left), daughter Sage and wife Sarah are all smiles in their Issaquah home, 11 months along in Sarah’s recovery. By Greg Farrar

All she remembers is the pain in her head and side.

Expecting and overdue, Sarah and her husband Nate Bower attributed the pain to her pregnancy. He drove her to the hospital, where a situation like a horror movie unfolded.

First, Sarah had a stroke. Doctors performed a Cesarean section, delivering her daughter Sage to safety.

Physicians diagnosed Sarah with HELLP — hemolysis, elevated liver enzyme levels and a low platelet count — a rare condition in pregnant women that can elevate blood pressure, the likely culprit of her stroke.

When Sarah didn’t respond to normal reflexes, doctors rushed her to a CAT scan. The scan revealed she had bleeding in her brain, causing it to swell. As a Jehovah’s Witness, Sarah would not accept a blood transfusion. Nate agreed to let doctors use a drug not yet approved by the FDA for the procedure on his wife.

The drug worked, stopping the bleeding.

“It was clearly a very dangerous situation,” Swedish neurosurgeon Gregory Foltz said. “She was definitely at risk of dying from the hemorrhage in the brain, not to mention the HELLP syndrome.”

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Issaquah bus driver qualifies for international ‘roadeo’

July 19, 2011

Joe Lee maneuvers a school bus during the driving portion state roadeo. By Madeline Lee

Rookie Kelly Rupp started driving school buses this year, but the greenhorn has already earned himself a place at the international school bus “roadeo.”

Rupp placed second at the Washington Association for Pupil Transportation State Roadeo on June 26 in Yakima. His co-worker, Joe Lee, placed 16th out of 26 competing bus drivers.

Rupp began driving this year after seeing how much his children liked their bus drivers.

“I have a daughter who goes to Beaver Lake and a son who goes to Endeavour,” he said. “I was watching my kids get on the bus and I would see the impact the bus driver has on a child’s day.”

He started driving in November, and hit the books with his colleagues in February, studying for the Annual Puget Sound Regional Bus Roadeo Competition, held May 14.

Bus drivers and coaches Becky Flaherty and Kathy Garrison volunteered to prep them for the roadeo.

“The roadeo is really about safety,” Rupp said. “Our job is to get kids to and from school. The rodeo is about knowing your rules and regulations.”

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Cardboard keys take beginner musicians way beyond ‘Chopsticks’

July 19, 2011

Issaquah piano teacher Carolyn Carson’s fingers flew across the keyboard, and although she pressed on the keys, her sonata was silent.

Bobbie Anderson, David Hewett, Sally Allen, XiaoLing Yue and Sharon Bestwick (from left), play piano on their cardboard keyboards at Providence Point’s Communiversity. By Carolyn Carson

Instead of teaching on a piano or an electric keyboard, Carson instructs her students on cardboard keyboards.

The Providence Point resident began teaching her neighbors how to play the piano in January through Communiversity. Demand for her classes was so high that she began offering two sessions for her 13 students.

Piano student Sally Bahous Allen hasn’t played the piano since she was a girl in Palestine. At Communiversity, Allen said she likes playing on a cardboard keyboard because she can take it home with her to practice.

“I don’t have a piano at home, which is really devastating,” she said.

During class, Carson tapes her cardboard keyboard to the wall and shows the fingering to her students. The cutout’s keys are the same size as a regular keyboard, so when the time comes, “We are prepared to put our fingers on the piano,” Allen said. “It’s just the same.”

The students take turns playing a real piano, and everyone plays in class recitals on a real instrument.

Teaching piano allows Carson to spread her joy for music. As a child, she would listen to her grandfather, a tailor in New York, sing arias all day. She began taking piano lessons at age 6.

“I was one of those weird kids,” Carson said. “I didn’t mind practicing.”

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‘Deathly Hallows’ casts a spell over local Harry Potter fans

July 19, 2011

“It’s the end of our childhood,” said Rebecca Solem, 18, one of about 50 or so Harry Potter fans lined up outside the Regal Issaquah 9 Theatre on July 14.

Jamie Loudon (left) and Lauren Loudon dressed in 'Harry Potter' garb to await the opening of the final film in the series at midnight July 14 at the Issaquah 9 Theater. By Tom Corrigan

With a fancy hat and a shawl, Solem was one of many who showed up in costume for the occasion, the release of the last film of the “Harry Potter” movie franchise.

Solem’s spot on the sidewalk outside the movie house also was occupied by several other characters from the books and films, most notably Albus Dumbledore complete with wizard robes and long, flowing beard.

At least a few of the costumed crowd had arrived as early as 9 that morning to be among the first to see “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2.”

The movie started playing at 12:01 a.m. July 15.

“We all grew up on ‘Harry Potter,’” Solem continued, by way of explaining her initial comment, with which her six or seven cohorts agreed.

Solem noted the first “Potter” book was the first book she read on her own. Megan Winter, 18, said her father used to read her the first few books. Several others in the crowd quickly shook their heads in agreement, saying one parent or the other had initially hooked them on the tales of the young wizard.

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Birthday celebration helps others with rare developmental disorder

July 19, 2011

Dalean Pack prepares to blow out the candles on her 23rd birthday cake. By Dale Pack

Dalean Pack smiled as friends and family wished her a happy 23rd birthday at the Lake Sammamish Elks Lodge No. 1843 on June 16. But the party was more than just a birthday celebration.

Dalean, who was diagnosed with pachygyria soon after birth, is the Washington Elks Therapy Program for Children poster girl. The party was also a fundraiser for the program.

Dalean, of Preston, was originally diagnosed with lissencephaly, a gene-linked brain malformation that results in the absence of folds, called gyri, in the cerebral cortex.

“Doctors said she wouldn’t make it past her first year,” Dalean’s father Dale Pack said.

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