Safeway proposes highlands store, council OKs gas station

October 5, 2011

Safeway planners proposed a modern Issaquah Highlands store (above) in a permit application to the city. Contributed

NEW — 4 p.m. Oct. 5, 2011

The plan to open a grocery store in the Issaquah Highlands — a still-unmet target from early goals for the community — reached a milestone Monday, as Safeway submitted a proposal for a store in the neighborhood.

Meanwhile, City Council members adjusted longstanding development rules Monday to allow a gas station in the highlands — a critical factor in Safeway’s proposal to build the store.

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Cougar Mountain ranks among nation’s top 25 trail running destinations

October 5, 2011

NEW — 2 p.m. Oct. 5, 2011

Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park is among the 25 best places for trail running in the United States.

Runner’s World magazine named the Issaquah Alps peak to the list.

“Every urban area should be blessed with a trail running sanctuary as sublime as Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park,” the magazine notes.

The mountain boasts a 36-mile trail system. King County Parks and the Seattle Running Club produce a popular trail running series on the mountain each year.

Cougar Mountain is the only Washington destination on the list.

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Liberty High School girls soccer team wins showdown

October 5, 2011

NEW — 11 a.m. Oct. 5, 2011

Cassidy Nangle had a goal and an assist Tuesday as she led the Liberty High School girls soccer team to a 3-1 victory against host Interlake in a battle for first place in the KingCo Conference 3A/2A.

The teams entered the game tied for first place. Liberty went to 7-0 in league play while Interlake dropped into second place at 6-1. The Patriots handed Interlake its first loss of the season. The Saints had won eight straight games entering the contest with Liberty. The Patriots meanwhile won their eighth straight game to go to 8-1 on the season. Liberty’s only loss this season was to Skyline 1-0 in a Sept. 6 nonleague season opener.

Liberty struck early against Interlake when Nangle, assisted by Kailiana Johnson, scored at the 13th minute. Kiana Hafferty, assisted by Nangle, boosted Liberty’s lead to 2-0 seven minutes later. Kali Youngdahl, assisted by Johnson, wrapped up first-half scoring with a goal at the 33rd minute.

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Issaquah gunman: ‘Something big is going to happen’

October 4, 2011

Investigators recovered 952 rounds of ammunition from shooter’s body

King County Chief Deputy Steve Strachan points to a picture of the ditch on the east side of Clark Elementary from where Ronald W. Ficker fired at Issaquah police officers Sept. 24. By Greg Farrar

Just before midnight on a Thursday last month, a man stopped at Issaquah City Hall and asked for assistance from a police officer.

The man, slender and balding, carried a handgun tucked into his waistband — unusual, perhaps, but not illegal. The responding officer approached and asked the man to turn over the weapon.

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Friend describes Issaquah gunman as kind, laidback guy

October 4, 2011

Conversation offered clue to mental turmoil

The reason Ronald W. Ficker engaged in a fatal gun battle against Issaquah police at Clark Elementary School continues to elude detectives, but the gunman’s self-described best friend said the only clue to the incident came less than 48 hours before the Sept. 24 shootout.

Ronald Ficker

Mark Risdon, Ficker’s longtime friend, last spoke to the gunman just after 7:30 p.m. Sept. 22 — the night before police said Ficker rented a silver Kia Forte at a Seattle rental car counter.

The vehicle surfaced in Issaquah the next morning after police said the sedan stalled along Interstate 90 and again near a downtown intersection. Police fatally shot Ficker on the Clark Elementary campus at about 11:40 a.m. Sept. 24.

“The content of our conversation gave me a lot of concern,” Risdon said. “He just wasn’t making sense. He was talking, he was saying something about going into outer space.”

Risdon suggested watching a movie the next night, but in the end, decided not to call Ficker after the odd interaction. In the conversation, Ficker did not mention plans to rent a car or travel.

“I was kind of afraid to call him, because the conversation that we had Thursday was, well, alarming,” Risdon said. “I wish I had called him.”

Risdon said he attempted — but failed — to reach Ficker’s physician to discuss the episode. Risdon said Ficker had not said anything similar before the Sept. 22 conversation.

“When I talked to him Thursday, I was asking him questions in kind of a roundabout way — if he had been to his doctor recently, if he was having a bad reaction to any kind of a new medication or something,” he continued. “It just seemed like he was having, maybe, a medication reaction or something.”

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Liberty High School cross country team encounters gunman, assists detectives

October 4, 2011

Liberty High School cross country runners set off for a late-morning practice from Clark Elementary School on a muggy morning late last month and, as the sun inched upward in the sky, slurped Otter Pops and chatted in the parking lot.

Then, as members rested after a run along Tiger Mountain trails, a bang echoed across the campus. Maybe a firecracker, runners said later.

Instead, the noise came from a shot fired on the nearby Issaquah Middle School campus as gunman Ronald W. Ficker headed across downtown on a fatal trip to Clark Elementary.

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Hometown star runs to, then away with, Rotary Run 5K

October 4, 2011

More than 2,300 runners participate in 35th annual Salmon Days event

The Rotary Run field of 10K runners sprints out on 12th Avenue Northwest Oct. 2 as the air horn sounds the start of the annual race. By Greg Farrar

Not only did Jon Harding run in — and win — the Issaquah Rotary Run at Salmon Days’ 5K run, but he ran to it.

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Salmon Days Festival delivers mild, wild fun

October 4, 2011

Issaquah’s annual celebration returns for 42nd year

The S’Duk Albix parade float, with Snoqualmie Tribe members, enthralls Grande Parade spectators. Phot0 by Greg Farrar

Organizers promised a wild Salmon Days Festival.

The mild temperatures — misty clouds on Oct. 1 yielded to stray sunshine Oct. 2 — belied a rowdy theme, and crowds turned out in droves for the salmon-centric celebration.

The festival unfolded as a tribute to the untamed under the theme “Wild Things!” — a riff on the classic children’s book “Where the Wild Things Are.”

Salmon Days spanned Issaquah, from hydroplane races on Lake Sammamish to booths lined up downtown to a float-filled parade inching along city streets. The festival lured more than 150,000 people to Issaquah as the annual autumn celebration returned for a 42nd year.

To celebrate the occasion, Maple Valley resident Bob Taylor ordered a Flintstonian turkey leg from a Foods of the World booth along the trolley track and tore off a bite from the outsized drumstick.

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Eastlake girls glide to easy victory over Skyline

October 4, 2011

Keegan Symmes, Skyline High School junior, approaches the finish line in 15:41, well before the rest of the field Sept. 28 during the Spartans’ cross country meet against Eastlake at Klahanie Park. By Christopher Huber

Skyline High School junior cross country runner Keegan Symmes continued his dominance in the KingCo Conference 4A Sept. 28 at Klahanie Park.

Against Eastlake and Inglemoor, he finished in 15 minutes, 41 seconds. Symmes finished 46 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Michael Flindt, of Eastlake.

With Symmes leading the pack, Skyline eked out a win with 31 points to Eastlake’s 32. Inglemoor took third with 62.

“I just ran with the team,” Symmes said after the race.

Symmes and his coach, Brendan Hyland, said most runners took it a little easier at Klahanie, as both Eastlake and Skyline were preparing for the Oct. 1 Tomahawk Twilight Invitational in Marysville. Still, Symmes’ time was near the course record.

“It’s coming together,” he said. “The season hasn’t been as fast as I’d like, but hopefully I’ll get better later.”

Symmes ended up having a busy weekend. At the Tomahawk Twilight Invitational, on the Cedarcrest Golf Course, he finished first in the 3.1-mile race in 15:54. Then, on Oct. 2, Symmes finished second in the 10K race at the Issaquah Rotary Run. He completed the race in 33:27.

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Federal government declines to list Lake Sammamish kokanee as endangered

October 4, 2011

Population is in decline, but local stock is not ‘distinct’ from other kokanee

Federal officials decided dwindling Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon do not qualify for protection under the Endangered Species Act, prompting a chorus of disapproval from local officials.

The species’ decline concerned U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service officials, but did not merit the fish being listed under the act. The agency announced the decision Oct. 3.

The once-abundant kokanee declined in recent decades, perhaps due to construction near creeks, increased predators, disease or changes in water quality.

In recent years, the number of salmon in the late-fall and early-winter run has dwindled to fewer than 1,000 in some seasons. Kokanee return to only a handful of creeks — Ebright, Laughing Jacobs and Lewis — to spawn. Scientists estimated the total 2010 run at 58 fish, including the 40 kokanee spawned at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery in a last-ditch effort to save the species.

The decision came after the agency spent four years to review the Lake Sammamish stock’s health.

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