Maywood continues on normal schedule despite power outage

January 19, 2011

NEW — 1:10 p.m. Jan. 19, 2011

The power went out at Maywood Middle School on Wednesday, but the outage did not interrupt classes or lunch.

The school experienced a power outage at 11:15 a.m. Puget Sound Energy expected the outage to last until about 1 p.m., Issaquah School District spokeswoman Sara Niegowski said.

Cafeteria staff had cooked hot meals before the outage and they were able to serve them to students. School will proceed on a normal schedule Wednesday, and will still have after-school activities.

PSE attributed the outage to substation issues. During the outage, emergency lights came on to illuminate classrooms.

“Classes are going on as normal, it’s a sunny day so the skylights are helpful,” Niegowski said. “The only change in process was that the lunch folks had to manually write down students’ lunch accounts.”

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County Council appoints citizens to redraw districts

January 19, 2011

NEW — 6 a.m. Jan. 19, 2011

King County Council members appointed a team of community leaders Tuesday to update the map for representation in county government.

The council appointed four members to the King County Districting Committee, the citizen committee responsible for redrawing council districts based on 2010 Census data.

“Redistricting is a challenging, time-consuming process that is vital to ensuring our residents are fairly represented,” Councilman Reagan Dunn said in a statement. “We are grateful that these four highly-qualified community members are willing to provide their service to King County.”

Dunn represents District 9 on the nine-member council. The district encompasses the rural area near Issaquah, plus Newcastle, Maple Valley and areas inside Bellevue and Renton.

Issaquah proper is inside District 3. Councilwoman Kathy Lambert represents District 3. The northeastern King County district is the largest in the county.

Read more

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Residents could lose voice if community councils fold

January 18, 2011

King County residents called on leaders last week to preserve community councils in rural and unincorporated neighborhoods, despite directions from the County Council to slash dollars for the groups.

Residents from the Puget Sound shoreline to rural areas near Issaquah operate unincorporated area councils to conduct neighborhood programs and foster citizen participation.

The councils also act as liaisons for unincorporated area residents to the county government based in Seattle. The county is home to 1.9 million people, including 340,000 residents in unincorporated areas.

But County Council members winnowed the budget for the unincorporated area councils from about $330,000 to $50,000 late last year, as the county faced a $60 million budget gap. Read more

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Curtain rises on refurbished theater sign

January 18, 2011

Shellee Miggins (left), neon department chief, and Chris Greytak, router operator, employees at The Sign Factory in Kirkland, turn up the lights for the first time Jan. 11 on the restored Village Theatre First Stage Theatre sign. By Greg Farrar

The color palette on the sign slicing the First Stage Theatre façade suggests a candy store.

Consider the rich chocolate and cream blended to form the soft-edged letters. Or the neon — as brash as Liberace — done up in bubblegum pink and spearmint green.

The restoration team at a Kirkland sign manufacturer spent weeks to restore the decades-old sign. Crews installed the refurbished sign on the façade Jan. 14, as the theater reconstruction project nears completion. Read more

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Questions linger in months after lethal shootings

January 18, 2011

By Dona Mokin

Gunshots interrupted the summer hubbub at Lake Sammamish State Park just after sunset last July 17. The picnics and twilight dips in the lake clamored to a halt as a fistfight escalated into a firefight.

In the six months since gunfire pierced the summer night, the lethal shootout at the packed Issaquah park has defied easy answers. The investigation remains open, but tips to the King County Sheriff’s Office dried up not long after the incident.

Now, King County Medical Examiner’s Office reports, court documents, and accounts from law enforcement officers and park rangers offer a glimpse at the chaos inside the park amid the firefight and the ensuing investigation.

Yang Keovongphet, 33, a Laotian immigrant and a Kent resident employed in manufacturing, and Justin Cunningham, 30, a native Seattleite and a mechanic, died in the shootout.

Investigators hope ballistics tests help determine the shooter or shooters. Sgt. John Urquhart, sheriff’s office spokesman, urged observers to hold off on speculation until the investigation concludes — despite reports identifying either dead man as a shooter.

The investigation timeline remains uncertain, because the process has slowed as the state crime laboratory toils to process evidence in the case. The results could remain unavailable until almost a year after the incident.

The long backlog at the understaffed and underfunded Washington State Patrol crime laboratories means evidence needed for upcoming trials or to charge jailed suspects receives more immediate attention.

“It’s not like ‘CSI’ by any stretch of the imagination,” Urquhart said. “It just doesn’t work that way.”

Read more

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Investigators probe suspicious package at office building

January 18, 2011

A first responder’s hazardous materials suit lies on the ground as Eastside Fire & Rescue firefighters and Issaquah police officers gather after the lock down of the Lake Place Office Center on Jan. 13. By Greg Farrar

Issaquah Police Department and federal agents continue to probe a suspicious package delivered to a North Issaquah office building late last week.

Police said emergency crews mobilized at about 2 p.m. Jan. 13 after receiving reports of a package containing a suspicious powder. Eastside Fire & Rescue and Issaquah Police Department teams responded to the building in the 1600 block of Northwest Sammamish Road, after workers reported concerns about the contents in a package sent to the business. Read more

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Science and language arts curriculum update planned

January 18, 2011

The Issaquah School District is preparing to adopt new curricula this June: one for elementary school science and another for high school language arts.

District administrators try to update curricula every seven years, but sometimes budget cuts get in the way. The elementary science curriculum was last updated in 2003, but the wait has been longer for high school language arts — it was last updated during a three-year period from 1999-2001.

Some parents said they felt unsettled after last year’s math curriculum adoption, saying the district did not allow them enough input, especially because a group of parents disagreed with the curriculum that the Issaquah School Board approved. Read more

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City plans to count vehicles using Interstate 90 Undercrossing

January 18, 2011

Mayor Ava Frisinger (right) addresses city staffers at the opening ceremony for the Interstate 90 Undercrossing on Jan. 11. By Greg Farrar

Motorists continue to discover Fourth Avenue Northwest, a shortcut beneath Interstate 90, and the city plans to start counting the number of vehicles using the undercrossing as early as next month.

The undercrossing opened to traffic in mid-December after the city resolved legal challenges and concerns about the potential impact on the environment. Mayor Ava Frisinger, flanked by the crown-and-robe-clad King and Queen of Issaquah, Nathan Perea and Renee Zimmerman, snipped the ribbon on the road during a Jan. 11 ceremony.

Construction on the undercrossing started last May. Read more

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County seeks volunteers to upgrade habitat along regional trails

January 18, 2011

King County boasts more than 180 parks, 175 miles of regional trails and 130 miles of backcountry trails — and leaders need citizens’ help soon to maintain the system.

The county Department of Parks and Natural Resources needs volunteers to pitch in to plant native vegetation to enhance stream corridors, forests and wetlands. The process improves wildlife habitat, because the plants provide shade, help keep water cool, and control runoff and erosion.

The agency has numerous projects planned in the Issaquah area — including in 3,115-acre Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park — and in the Issaquah Creek basin. Read more

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Effort to preserve dwindling species is a team effort

January 18, 2011

Darin Combs, Issaquah Salmon Hatchery manager, lifts a screen to reveal a tray of 3,100 fertilized Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon eggs. By Greg Farrar

Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon used to turn the creeks branching from the lake to the color of rust as thousands of fish headed upstream to spawn.

The once-plentiful fish has declined in recent decades, perhaps due to construction near the tributary creeks, increased predators, disease or changes in water quality.

But the imperiled fish has received a boost from local, state and federal officials in recent seasons.

Scientists started to comb the tributary creeks for spawning salmon late last year and, during the ongoing spawning season, King County and local, state and federal agencies coordinated efforts to restore the species. Read more

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