City Council sets rules for Issaquah medical marijuana gardens

December 7, 2011

NEW — 10 a.m. Dec. 7, 2011

In a decision meant to balance concerns about patients’ rights and public safety, City Council members set rules Monday for medical marijuana collective gardens to limit such operations near schools, parks and other collective gardens.

City planners spent months collecting input from medical marijuana patients, law enforcement officers, elected leaders and residents to craft the ordinance. The result is a milestone in the effort to clarify jumbled rules for medical marijuana and untangle different local, state and federal rules for the drug.

The measure requires a 1,000-foot buffer between a collective garden and a community center, school or another collective garden. The ordinance also set a 500-foot buffer between a collective garden and park, preschool or daycare center.

The ordinance also established a limit of a single collective garden per site.

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Eastside Fire & Rescue reminds motorists to prepare for icy roads

December 7, 2011

NEW — 6 a.m. Dec. 7, 2011

The cold is causing a challenge for motorists as ice forms on roads and Eastside Fire & Rescue crews respond to motorists crashing, spinning out or landing in ditches.

The conditions make for icy and slick roads across the emergency response agency’s service area. EFR serves Issaquah, Sammamish and North Bend, plus areas in unincorporated King County.

EFR reminds motorists to learn how to navigate and maneuver in inclement weather conditions, such as snow and ice. Driving safely by slowing down under these conditions is essential to staying safe behind the wheel. The agency recommends the following safety tips:

  • If cars behind you tailgate during bad weather conditions, pull over and let them pass.
  • Having a front-wheel or four-wheel drive vehicle is not a guarantee it can handle icy roads.
  • Avoid using cruise control if driving on icy roads.
  • Stay alert, and refrain from talking on a cellphone while driving, even with a hands-free device.
  • Slow down and allow some distance between you and the car in front of you.
  • Always wear a seat belt.
  • Most of all, if you do not have to be out in the elements, stay home.
National Weather Service meteorologists said Issaquah residents should expect overnight low temperatures near freezing to last into next week.

Issaquah resident’s book commemorates Pearl Harbor anniversary

December 6, 2011

 Jerry Kaufman sits at his work desk, on which is spread out an early proof of his book, ‘Renewal at The Place of Black Tears,’ and the Nikon D300 plus 18-200mm lens with which he shot the images at the USS Arizona Memorial. By Greg Farrar

The shimmering layer on the crystalline water is called “black tears” — a relic and a reminder from the attack on the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor.

The shipwreck leaks more than a quart of oil each day and stains the harbor near the blinding white memorial to the sailors entombed below.

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Merry Christmas Issaquah inspires giving

December 6, 2011

Sometimes asking for help is difficult.

Alison Yi learned as much as childcare, housing and transportation expenses mounted.

The recent Issaquah transplant logged hours on the road each weekday, shuttling her young children to preschool in Shoreline and then heading to work in the Renton School District. The constant commuting put a strain on a tight budget.

“It was really hard for me to decide, should I really go and get help from somebody who I don’t know?” she said. “I did, and I’m happy that I did. I learned something. There’s a place that you can get help, and have the person who needs help proceed with their goal and their life and be successful.”

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City leaders announce up to 20 employee layoffs

December 6, 2011

The city plans to start employee layoffs in February, as officials launch a wide-ranging reorganization at City Hall.

Under a reorganization plan prepared by Seattle consultant Moss Adams, the city could shed as many as 20 employees to retool the Public Works Engineering and Planning departments. Meanwhile, the city could hire additional administrative staffers to shift paperwork and other clerical duties from high-level managers.

“Layoffs are never easy,” City Administrator Bob Harrison said. “Some of it is part of the economy and some of it is just dealing with the new realities of what today is.”

The municipal workforce includes about 200 employees. Officials plan to offer severance packages to employees in the affected departments next month.

The plan also recommends a more muscular economic development effort from the city. Harrison announced the initial step Nov. 29 — a plan to promote Keith Niven, the longtime Major Development Review Team manager, to economic development director. Leaders intend to hire economic development managers to complete the team.

The recommendations, from a report released last month, called for Mayor Ava Frisinger and other leaders to restructure development and planning functions.

“Times have changed, as we know,” Moss Adams’ Tom Krippaehne said in a presentation to City Council members Nov. 29. “They’re changing in the city of Issaquah and they’re changing in the development functions. It’s a good time to take a look at how to update your business model.”

Harrison also announced a plan to promote Sheldon Lynne, the longtime No. 2 official in Public Works Engineering, to director. (Longtime Public Works Engineering Director Bob Brock retired early last month.)

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American Kennel Club judge is suspect in ‘animal hoarding’ case

December 6, 2011

The suspect in a case investigators described as “animal hoarding” is a judge for the American Kennel Club, a prestigious registry of purebred dogs.

Pasado’s Safe Haven, a nonprofit animal rescue organization in Seattle, released the information Nov. 30, as the investigation continues into dogs discovered living in filthy conditions in Issaquah and Burien homes.

King County animal control officers seized 62 dogs from a Cougar Mountain home in Issaquah and 38 more from a Burien home in early October.

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Darigold manager gets probation for Issaquah Creek spill

December 6, 2011

The engineering manager responsible for a fish-killing ammonia spill from the downtown Darigold dairy has been sentenced to probation and community service for the October 2009 incident.

On Dec. 1, U.S. District Court Judge Mary Alice Theiler sentenced Darigold employee Gerald N. Marsland to two years probation and 70 hours of community service for the Issaquah Creek spill. Theiler also imposed a $2,000 fine on Marsland.

Darigold is required to pay a $10,000 fine and pay $60,000 to protect and restore natural resources in the Issaquah Creek watershed as a part of a plea agreement announced in June.

Prosecutors also said Marsland directed repairs and failed to prevent the spill. Prosecutors charged Marsland for violating the federal Clean Water Act.

Marsland’s attorney asked for his client to be sentenced to one year of probation and 50 hours of community service.

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Local ‘Antiques Roadshow’ uncovers diamonds in the rough

December 6, 2011

Linda Thompson has a basket her mom used to keep magazines in.

Joanne Scheele has a vase that was lucky to survive years of children playing roughhouse indoors.

Linda Johnson (left), of Klahanie, looks on as appraisers Jan Jarvis and Jeanne Klein admire her Thompson River Salish household utility basket at the Issaquah Valley Senior Center. By Greg Farrar

Both sought expert opinions regarding the value of their family heirlooms at the Issaquah Valley Senior Center’s first local version of the “Antiques Roadshow” Dec. 2.

Jan Jarvis and Jeanne Klein, from Brown Tag Estate Sales, both longtime antique dealers, were also offering their opinions for the first time in such a venue.

“We are used to doing this kind of thing for estate sales,” Klein said.

For just $3 an item or $5 for a maximum of four items, residents were invited to bring anything to be evaluated.

Courtney Jaren, senior center executive director, said she was pleased by the turnout, however small it was.

“It’s a brand new event,” she said. “People take time to warm up to them. Plus we didn’t want to overwhelm Jan and Jeanne.”

Like the PBS show “Antiques Roadshow,” items are brought in for evaluation by experts. Unlike the show, where viewers get immediate feedback on value and history, items had to be left behind for the duo to quickly research via the Internet for whatever they could. They shared their findings at a revealing session a couple of hours later.

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Council recommends study for pool financing

December 6, 2011

The city intends to survey Issaquah School District residents about support for financing a pool and other parks amenities next year.

City Council members included the pool proposal and others on a list of changes to the 2012 city budget.

In October, Mayor Ava Frisinger sent to the council a $32 million general fund budget — dollars used to fund police and fire services, community development and planning, parks and recreation, and municipal government.

Overall, the council’s recommended changes amount to $4.1 million. The change to the general fund is $469,784.

The total proposed city budget — including dollars for capital expenses and from other accounts — is $85.7 million after the council’s recommended changes.

The budget adjustment is routine. The council offers changes to the mayor’s proposed budget each year to produce a concrete spending plan.

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State parks gird for possible $30 million budget gap

December 6, 2011

Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission officials said the agency is prepared to change amid the prospect of a $30 million budget gap.

The state parks agency used to receive about 75 percent of operating funds from the state general fund, but in the last legislative session, lawmakers set aside $17 million in “bridge” funding to transition the agency off of general fund dollars. Legislators also implemented the Discover Pass, a parking fee for state parks and state-managed recreation lands.

The commission prepared a strategy to allow the agency to respond to a worst-case scenario if legislators cut the existing $17 million general fund dollars, or if Discover Pass and other revenues fall short. The strategy includes deep spending cuts, changes to service levels in the short term and re-engineering the agency for a leaner future.

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