City upholds moratorium on medical marijuana gardens

July 26, 2011

Leaders intend to ‘give the city time’ to establish rules

In the emotion-laced discussion about medical marijuana rules in Issaquah, stage IV melanoma survivor Kathy Sparks added a patient’s perspective to the debate.

Before the City Council decided July 18 to uphold a moratorium on medical marijuana collective gardens, Sparks, a Tiger Mountain resident, asked members to consider patients unable to attend the hearing.

“There are lots of patients in stretchers and wheelchairs who can’t be here tonight to say these things,” she said.

Councilmen Mark Mullet (left), Tola Marts and Joshua Schaer listen as medical marijuana advocates address the City Council on July 18 about Issaquah's moratorium on collective gardens. By Greg Farrar

The council opted in a 6-1 decision — after poignant pleas from medical marijuana users and strikingly personal stories from council members — to maintain a moratorium enacted last month. Councilman Mark Mullet voted against the moratorium.

Under state law, a city can impose a moratorium on medical marijuana collective gardens as leaders consider possible land-use or zoning changes. The moratorium is in effect for up to six months, although council members urged city staffers to formulate possible solutions as soon as possible.

Recent changes in state law prompted the decision. So, too, did the opening late last year of a medical marijuana collective in a downtown Issaquah neighborhood.

Though medical marijuana dispensaries remain illegal under state law, hazy rules surround patient collectives.

Washington law allows up to 10 qualifying patients to join together and form a collective garden of up to 45 plants, so long as the marijuana is not visible from public spaces.

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King County forgoes crackdown on medical marijuana

July 26, 2011

Dow Constantine

King County is adopting a more laissez-faire approach to medical-marijuana operations as Issaquah, Sammamish and other cities tighten rules for patient-run collective gardens and other operations.

Issaquah City Council members upheld a six-month moratorium on medical marijuana collective gardens July 18 — the same day the council in neighboring Sammamish enacted a similar moratorium. Federal Way, Kent, North Bend and other cities also clamped down on medical-marijuana operations.

King County Executive Dow Constantine, however, does not intend to propose legislation to address the issue in rural and unincorporated areas.

“At this time, the executive does not plan to propose any new regulations governing dispensaries in unincorporated areas of the county,” said Frank Abe, a spokesman for the executive.

The decision means medical-marijuana operations in unincorporated areas, such as The Kind Alternative Medical Collective, a nonprofit collective in Preston, can continue operations unaffected.

In the meantime, county officials plan to reach out to residents in unincorporated areas to address concerns.

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Issaquah girl, 9, dies after Bellevue pileup

July 26, 2011

Rachel Beckwith, a 9-year-old Issaquah girl injured in a 14-vehicle pileup in Bellevue early last week, died July 23 from injuries sustained in the crash.

Rachel and a 2-year-old sister rode in a Lexus sedan driven by the girls’ mother, Samantha Paul, as a tractor-trailer jackknifed into a loaded logging truck and spurred the chain-reaction crash.

Medics transported seven people, including a handful of Issaquah residents, to area hospitals in the aftermath.

Only Rachel sustained life-threatening injuries, and responders rushed the girl to Harborview Medical Center.

Rachel Beckwith

Just before 8 a.m. July 20, as traffic slowed due to congestion near the Interstate 405 interchange at 133rd Avenue Southeast, authorities said a tractor-trailer jackknifed into a logging truck in the adjacent lane.

“For whatever reason, whether the semi truck was going too fast, wasn’t paying attention or a combination of the two, for the conditions, he didn’t seem to see that traffic had stopped until the last second,” said Sgt. Keith Trowbridge, a Washington State Patrol spokesman. “At that point, he tried to put the brakes on, but he jackknifed and went into the log truck.”

The impact dislodged the rear axle of the logging truck and sent the piece hurtling into traffic.

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Navy to close Issaquah High ROTC program

July 26, 2011

Despite what local officials termed an aggressive attempt at promoting the program, the Navy announced July 18 that it plans to “disestablish” the Issaquah High School Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps unit.

Students can continue in the program through the coming school year. But along with 28 others nationally, the local ROTC will be formally shut down effective June 30, 2012.

The JROTC program at Liberty High School should not be affected.

“The NJROTC program has a strong tradition and I am disappointed that the Navy has announced its disestablishment,” Issaquah NJROTC Cmdr. Larry Artman said. “We have been working hard to increase our enrollment, but I understand the significant budget constraints facing the Navy.”

Because the Issaquah unit was failing to meet enrollment standards established by the Navy, the unit was placed on probation earlier this year. According to Sara Niegowski, executive director of communications for the school district, local officials believed they had several months to increase enrollment in the program to 100 students, or 10 percent of the overall school student population.

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Meet local police during National Night Out

July 26, 2011

Local residents have two events to choose from to mark National Night Out Against Crime on Aug. 2.

The Issaquah Police Department will host the city’s annual happening on the steps of Issaquah City Hall.

Issaquah Police Sgt. Scott Trial said city officers used to visit neighborhood Night Out events, such as block parties and so on, but more recently began putting together a more unified event.

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Nordstrom social-media maven shares a passion for fashion

July 26, 2011

The palatial Nordstrom flagship store almost doubles as a closet for Sanda Belaire, a designer saleswoman at the downtown Seattle landmark.

Sanda Belaire

In a 21st-century spin on renowned Nordstrom customer service, Belaire uses Facebook, Twitter and other tools to invite others to explore the fashion fantasyland, exchange ideas about the latest looks and select items for customers. The longtime Issaquah-area resident seamlessly melds chic and geek as a designer saleswoman and social-media maven for the Elle-and-Vogue set.

“I’m a firm believer in keeping up with technology,” she said. “You have to keep up with the world or it leaves you behind.”

Belaire shares snippets — a fire-engine-red Gucci dress, a Dolce & Gabbana lace sheath, a Jason Wu coat trimmed in ostrich feathers and velvet Miu Miu pumps attached to oversized bows, not unlike gifts beneath a Christmas tree — in iPhone photos posted to Twitter and Tumblr, popular social media sites.

“Twitter is another door into the store,” she said.

In 2008, Belaire joined the microblogging site and, a year later, created a popular account dedicated solely to style. The smartphone snapshots and 140-character musings reach almost 3,000 followers nowadays.

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Issaquah biker roars to Rolling Thunder rally

July 26, 2011

Dave Scandiffio, 55, has been riding motorcycles since he was 8 years old. But on June 12, having returned home from a monthlong, 8,965-mile trip across the country and back, the Issaquah man set a record for himself — and for most people.

Dave Scandiffio smiles, having just arrived in Washington, D.C., with 900 other Run For The Wall motorcyclists. Contributed

Scandiffio began in his trip in Issaquah with four friends from the area. The group motored to Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., where they united with other bikers in the Run for the Wall. The ride is an annual 10-day ride to the nation’s capitol as a gesture of appreciation for the sacrifices that veterans have made for the United States.

Upon arriving in Washington, D.C., the 900-strong pack joined what Scandiffio estimates were more than 500,000 motorcyclists in the annual Rolling Thunder demonstration. The demonstration’s mission is to educate the public about the many American soldiers who were left missing in action or as prisoners of war.

“It’s an emotional trip and there’s a reverence about the ride itself,” Scandiffio said. “The main message is that there are soldiers missing in action and prisoners of war left after every major war. It’s holding the government accountable for finding out what’s happened to them.”

Scandiffio served in the United States Navy from 1974 to 1979. A committed biker, he used to take his motorcycle aboard the ship. From 1983 to 1987, he served in the Oregon National Guard.

Though many of the riders were veterans, others joined the cause because they wanted to support those who fought for this country.

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Eastside Fire & Rescue board balks at price tag for proposed headquarters remodel

July 26, 2011

Within minutes of resolving to work out their differences so that Eastside Fire & Rescue could exist past its current 2014 expiration date, the fire agency’s board of directors grappled with a thorny issue as old as the agency itself.

Fire officials are pushing the agency’s partners to chip in for a remodel and expansion of the headquarters building, located on Newport Way Northwest in Issaquah.

In March, Deputy Chief Wes Collins proposed reconfiguring the inside of the building to add seven offices, a conference room, copy room and an upstairs women’s bathroom, as well as a storage building for EFR equipment that currently sits outside.

That plan’s approximately $500,000 price tag was a nonstarter for representatives from Sammamish, Issaquah and North Bend, some of whom questioned the wisdom of committing their taxpayers’ money to permanent improvements to a building that belongs to King County Fire District 10.

A hazy future for the agency also didn’t help.

Some partners were involved in discussions about an independent taxing authority for fire service and the agency’s interlocal agreement allows partners to withdraw from EFR in 2014.

Sammamish had never been interested in joining a fire authority, and discussions appear dead on arrival for cities like Issaquah, which would see a nearly 40 percent increase in the cost of its fire service, according to projections.

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City planners consider proposal to build subdivision on steep site

July 26, 2011

The city Planning Department could decide soon on a 43-lot subdivision near Providence Point, but the site along Southeast 43rd Way could pose challenges.

Bellevue architect Dennis Riebe proposed the subdivision on 11.97 unoccupied acres along the south side of the street, across from Providence Point and west of the Forest Village neighborhood.

The project proposal includes single-family detached residences and townhouses. The site is zoned for single-family homes on small lots.

The plan also includes proposals for road-frontage improvements and access to Southeast 43rd Way.

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Local teens fare well in junior golf district tourney

July 26, 2011

Sammamish’s R.P. McCoy watches his drive from the first tee box. By Christopher Huber

The Washington Junior Golf Association District 2 Championship tournament didn’t go quite as well as Li Wang would have hoped.

Over the two weeks prior, the incoming Eastlake High School junior had placed sixth and tied for fifth in two national American Junior Golf Association tournaments in Texas and Oregon and was ready to take this one by storm on the not-so-difficult Mount Si Golf Course.

After shooting a disappointing plus-4 76 on July 19, Wang managed to shoot on par (72) in the second round. But it wasn’t quite enough to take the title in his age group — the 16- and 17-year-olds.

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