Puget Sound Energy hosts webinar to share energy-saving ideas

September 14, 2011

NEW — 7 p.m. Sept. 14, 2011

Puget Sound Energy is offering residents a chance to learn ways to save energy and money by participating in the utility’s inaugural customer webinar Thursday.

The event — titled “Re-Energize Your Home: Efficient Ways to Start Saving Energy Today” — runs from 10-11 a.m.

The event is meant to teach customers about available energy efficiency programs and rebates, plus no- to low-cost energy savings tips. Customers can receive answers to energy efficiency questions.

Users should register online and, after registering, receive a confirmation email containing login instructions.

Andy Wappler, vice president of corporate affairs, and Dennis Rominger, energy efficiency services program manager, host the webinar.

“We are excited to be able to offer this energy efficiency presentation as a webinar for the convenience of our customers,” said Cal Shirley, vice president of energy efficiency services.

Bellevue-based PSE serves more than 1 million electric customers and almost 750,000 natural gas customers throughout Western Washington, including Issaquah.

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Washington hosts ceremonies for prisoners of war, missing service members

September 14, 2011

NEW — 7 p.m. Sept. 14, 2011

The state Capitol campus is hosting a ceremony to honor veterans held as prisoners of war or missing in action Friday.

The memorial service starts at 10 a.m. on the Capitol grounds in Olympia. The event is held to honor the commitment and sacrifices made by prisoners of war, service members missing in action, and family members.

In addition, the POW/MIA Living Memorial and Bracelet Repository at the Washington Memorial Cemetery in SeaTac, 16445 International Blvd., hosts a public ceremony at 3 p.m. Participants can place POW/MIA bracelets of people accounted for, broken bracelets, inside a repository.

The bracelets originated in 1969 as a way to attract attention to U.S. military prisoners and service members listed as missing in Vietnam.

National POW/MIA Recognition Day is observed on the third Friday in September.

Washington passed legislation in 2002 requiring all state agencies, institutions of higher education, and every county and city to display the National League of Families POW/MIA flag alongside state and national flags on specified days.

Call Darrell Pilat at 430-7610 to learn more about either ceremony.

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Referees to throw blue flags for prostate cancer awareness

September 14, 2011

NEW — 5 p.m. Sept. 14, 2011

If football players, coaches and fans think they see officials throwing blue flags Friday, there is no need to check for color blindness.

For the fourth consecutive year, Washington high school football officials will raise the profile of Prostate Cancer Awareness Month by replacing traditional yellow penalty flags with blue flags during varsity games played from Thursday to Saturday.

The campaign is called “Coaches Against Cancer” and is sponsored by Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

“In most situations, officials want to avoid attention during games, but for three days we are hoping to attract a little attention with every penalty that is called,” Washington Officials Association Commissioner Todd Stordahl said. “By switching to blue flags, it will at least make the fans notice that something is different. This is a great way for the officials to participate in an activity that will help bring awareness to something that has had an impact on many lives including some of those who are out on the field as officials.”

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Issaquah office building sells for almost $20 million

September 14, 2011

NEW — 12:45 p.m. Sept. 14, 2011

Hawaii-based A&B Properties, Inc. has acquired the Siemens Building along East Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast for almost $20 million, the company announced Wednesday.

“This office building is well-located, approximately 16 miles east of downtown Seattle and in close proximity to the headquarters and offices of several prominent companies,” A&B Properties President Christopher J. Benjamin said in a statement.

The technology giant Siemens listed the 147,000-square-foot building for sale in 2008. A&B Properties purchased the building for $19.7 million. Siemens plans to lease space in the complex.

“The Seattle MSA is an attractive market featuring a diversified economy that continues to expand, adding high-quality technology and scientific jobs that are expected to sustain future demand for office space,” Benjamin continued. “Siemens, one of the world’s largest companies, will continue to fully lease the building, which it constructed and has occupied since 1994.”

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City, King County leaders flip switch on zHome in Issaquah Highlands

September 14, 2011

King County Executive Dow Constantine (center, at lectern) prepares to address the crowd at the opening of zHome in the Issaquah Highlands on Wednesday. Contributed

NEW — 4:45 p.m. Sept. 14, 2011

Issaquah and King County leaders gathered Wednesday morning to flip the switch on zHome, the first zero-energy, carbon neutral multifamily community in the United States.

Built to use zero net energy and 70 percent less water than a traditional home, the city, county and other partners collaborated to open the 10-townhouse complex in the Issaquah Highlands. The project is meant to serve as a model for incorporating “green” elements into mainstream homebuilding.

County Executive Dow Constantine joined Mayor Ava Frisinger to open the facility in a ceremony in the zHome courtyard.

“This pioneering project sets a new standard for how homes can — and should — be built in our region and country,” Frisinger said in a statement. “Our vision is that zHome’s innovative approach will catalyze the market for much greener building materials and technologies, as well as inspire the next generation of homebuilders through examples that are replicable and market rate.”

The project included aggressive benchmarks to set a different standard in “green” homebuilding. The zHome team said the project used almost 80 percent Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood, low-toxicity materials and salmon-friendly practices at the site.

The photovoltaic panels on the rooftops capture sunlight in the summer and create energy for the units and the regional grid. In the winter, as the units pull power from the grid, the energy use evens out to zero.

The city spearheaded the project, alongside King County, Built Green — a nonprofit program focused on sustainable construction — highlands developer Port Blakely Communities, Puget Sound Energy and the Washington State University Energy Program. Ichijo USA, a subsidiary of a large Japanese homebuilder, and local builder Matt Howland built the units.

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City plugs in energy-saving zHome, leader in ‘green’ living

September 13, 2011

Family spends night at zero-energy townhouse to test innovations

Some of the 10 carbon-neutral townhomes of the zHome community glow in the setting sun along Northeast High Street in the Issaquah Highlands. By Greg Farrar

The steeply angled roofs and street-side rain garden attract attention to the townhouses along Northeast High Street.

The effect is deliberate, because the 10-townhouse complex, called zHome, is designed to encourage people to explore and rethink notions about “green” living. The project is the first carbon-neutral and zero-energy multifamily community in the United States.

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Community pauses, reflects to commemorate 9/11

September 13, 2011

If terror remains the most vivid memory from Sept. 11, 2001, then resilience emerged as the most forceful message on the 10th anniversary.

In a series of solemn gestures, amid a ceremony steeped in symbolism, community leaders gathered beneath a crystalline sky Sept. 11 to remember the 2,977 people lost in the attacks, and the more than 6,000 military personnel felled in Afghanistan and Iraq since then.

Issaquah police officers, Veterans of Foreign Wars members and city leaders salute the U.S. flag at Issaquah’s 9/11 remembrance ceremony. By Warren Kagarise

“This is a time to remember the victims of Sept. 11, as well as remember those who risk their lives every day to protect ours,” Mayor Ava Frisinger said in a stirring speech to the crowd assembled on the Issaquah Community Center lawn. “My hope — and it’s an ongoing one — is that we as a nation and as communities may live without fear and act without fear.”

The experience on a sun-splashed afternoon echoed a vigil from the day of the attacks, when stunned residents gathered on the same spot for a sunset ceremony.

The crowd at the 10th anniversary, about 200 people strong, did not match the attendance from then.

In the opening prayer, Eastside Fire & Rescue Chaplain Mike Ryan said 9/11 served as the catalyst for “this age of terror and these moments of remembrance” — a theme repeated throughout the remembrance ceremony.

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City, King County changed disaster preparedeness since 9/11 attacks

September 13, 2011

The decade since 9/11 has reshaped how Issaquah and King County leaders prepare for disasters and manage the response to emergencies.

The attacks also meant increased attention — and dollars — for emergency management efforts, although local officials said the initial focus on counterterrorism sidelined plans about other dangers, such as floods and earthquakes.

“All of the sudden there was a big focus on emergency management in general. That was good news from an emergency management perspective,” said Bret Heath, city public works operations and emergency management director. “The bad news is that it shifted from all hazards to almost strictly terrorism immediately following 9/11.”

Issaquah planners focused on more common emergencies — floods, snowstorms, windstorms and the like — in the years before the attacks.

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Issaquah resident finds New York City ‘a little bit quieter’ on anniversary

September 13, 2011

On Sept. 11, as families of people killed in the attack on the World Trade Center filed to the memorial site to mark 10 years since the tragedy, Issaquah resident Elizabeth Case emerged from the security cordon and headed uptown.

“Everything is a little bit quieter,” she said as Manhattan settled into a strange rhythm early in the afternoon. “I think people who live in New York are hanging out at home or doing family things today or don’t want to be there.”

Lights illuminate the under-construction 1 World Trade Center tower in red, white and blue on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. By Jeremiah Case

The “there” she referred to is ground zero, a 16-acre site forever changed on a Tuesday morning a decade ago. President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush marked the anniversary at a ground zero memorial to the 2,606 people killed in the World Trade Center towers.

Case joined husband Jeremiah on a business trip to Manhattan. The trip dates and the 9/11 anniversary coincided.

The accommodations for the trip turned out to be a Marriott in the Financial District across the street from ground zero. Officials increased security in the city as the anniversary approached, and tightened the restrictions further around ground zero on the anniversary.

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Union calls for action on school crowding

September 13, 2011

After passing their latest district spending plan, Issaquah school officials quickly stated that despite funding cuts and the overall economic downturn, local class sizes had remained the same.

“We were able to retain our class sizes from the prior year’s budget cycle,” said Jake Kuper, Issaquah School District chief of finance and operations.

That may be true, according to Phyllis Runyon, president of the Issaquah Education Association, the local teachers union.

But Runyon also said teachers still are struggling with oversized classes throughout the district. She added there are at least a few overloaded classes in every building and also talked about class size problems at specific schools and in specific grade levels.

For example, there are about 36 science and language arts-social studies classes overloaded at Beaver Middle Lake Middle School, Runyon said. She also talked about crowded conditions in secondary music classes.

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