Merry Christmas Issaquah benefits diverse clientele

December 20, 2011

Issaquah Community Services, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people in need, has seen a change in clients in recent years.

Clients at Issaquah Community Services included a local veteran of the Iraq conflict. The organization helped the man — a husband and father facing post-traumatic stress disorder and combat-related injuries in addition to financial troubles — pay rent for the family.

Military benefits did not cover the family’s everyday expenses. Ongoing searches for jobs — for the veteran and his wife — also created financial strain.

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Voters asked to approve $5.5 million to build fire station

December 20, 2011

Officials said building a fire station in May Valley could improve response times for residents in the Issaquah area.

The issue is due to go before Fire District 10 voters early next year.

Officials plan to ask district voters to approve a $5.5 million bond in a Feb. 14 special election. Fire District 10 is the Eastside Fire & Rescue partner serving residents in Klahanie, May Valley, Preston and Tiger Mountain in the Issaquah area.

Officials plan to use bond dollars to relocate crews from Fire Station 78 from 16135 S.E. 113th Place just outside Renton city limits to a modern facility at a more central location at Southeast May Valley Road and 207th Avenue Southeast. Such a move is meant to shift a fire station about three miles east, deeper into the district.

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DownTown Issaquah Association hires executive director

December 20, 2011

Days after the DownTown Issaquah Association’s executive director abruptly resigned, the merchants group selected a board member and Issaquah resident as a replacement.

Karen Donovan

Karen Donovan is the nonprofit organization’s next leader, DownTown Issaquah Association leaders announced Dec. 16. Donovan leads Space Media, a full-service advertising agency specializing in music and events. The agency’s clients include the Puyallup Fair, plus several local government agencies in the Northwest.

“For the past year, I have thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the DIA board and the downtown community,” she said in a statement. “My board experience and professional experience will transition nicely with the executive director position.”

In addition to professional and DownTown Issaquah Association commitments, Donovan is involved in local arts and education organizations, including Arts Corps and the Issaquah Schools Foundation.

Donovan succeeds former Executive Director Annique Bennett, a onetime cultural events coordinator for the organization. Bennett resigned Dec. 6 after less than a year at the DownTown Issaquah Association.

The merchants group has experienced several changes in leadership since February.

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State’s recycling rate increases to highest level yet

December 20, 2011

Washington’s recycling rate increased to the highest level ever on record last year, reaching 49 percent.

The information comes from a report released Dec. 14 from the state Department of Ecology. Officials said Washington residents recycled more and tossed less in the trash.

The total amount of municipal waste recycled by state residents increased by more than 540,000 tons last year — up 14 percent from 2009. The total amount of waste disposed from households and businesses decreased through the recession.

The trend continued in 2010 as disposal dropped by about 65,000 tons, or 1 percent.

The statewide recycling goal — established in a 1989 state law — is 50 percent. The national average for recycling last year reached 34 percent.

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Senator: Put state government’s ‘sacred cows on a diet’

December 20, 2011

State Sen. Cheryl Pflug — a lawmaker representing Issaquah in Olympia — said state government needs to “put some sacred cows on a diet” to rein in spending as legislators return to the Capitol next month to tackle a budget shortfall.

Legislators adjourned from a 17-day special session Dec. 14 after adopting a $480 million package to trim spending. (The average cost of a day the Legislature is in session is more than $10,000 per day.)

Sen. Cheryl Pflug

Lawmakers needed to reduce spending by $2 billion in order to close a $1.4 billion budget gap. Gov. Chris Gregoire asked lawmakers to cut $2 billion and called the Legislature into a special session. The hole opened in the state budget due to lower-than-predicted revenues.

The governor called for a shorter school year, reductions to social-services programs and other measures to cut costs. Gregoire also asked lawmakers to send a temporary sales tax increase to voters to offset reductions.

Pflug said the governor must do more before lawmakers consider a tax increase.

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Latest political proposal splits Issaquah into suburban, rural districts

December 20, 2011

Washington State Redistricting Commission members Tim Ceis and Slade Gorton proposed a 41st Legislative District stretching from Mercer Island to Sammamish. Contributed

The latest proposal to redraw Washington’s political map shifts more Issaquah neighborhoods into a suburban legislative district.

In a plan unveiled Dec. 16, Washington State Redistricting Commission members Tim Ceis and Slade Gorton proposed a 41st Legislative District stretching from Mercer Island to Sammamish. The proposal encompasses North Issaquah, Newcastle and most Bellevue neighborhoods.

The proposed map puts the remaining Issaquah neighborhoods in the 5th Legislative District — a more rural area stretched from Issaquah to Snoqualmie Pass.

Under a legislative map adopted a decade ago, Issaquah is split between the 41st and 5th districts at 12th Avenue Northwest.

South Cove and other neighborhoods along Lake Sammamish fall inside the 48th Legislative District. The proposal from Ceis and Gorton moves the 48th District north to encompass Bellevue and Redmond.

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Jan Colbrese steps down from Issaquah School Board after more than a decade

December 20, 2011

By Tom Corrigan Issaquah School District Superintendent Steve Rasmussen was one of the many well-wishers who feted former school board member Jan Colbrese as she attended her last meeting Dec. 14.

Issaquah School District Superintendent Steve Rasmussen was one of the many well-wishers who feted former school board member Jan Colbrese as she attended her last meeting Dec. 14. By Tom Corrigan

Joining the school board was simply a natural progression of earlier involvement with the Issaquah School District for Jan Colbrese.

After 12 years in office, she attended her last meeting of the district school board Dec. 14, at least as a member of the board.

After the meeting, Colbrese said her time on the board really was a combination of her two passions: education and public service.

“It’s everyone’s job to give back to their community,” she said.

Colbrese announced prior to the November election that she would not run for re-election. She was replaced by Bellevue resident Anne Moore, who took her oath of office Dec. 14 along with board members Brian Deagle and Suzanne Weaver.

Moore ran unopposed for Colbrese’s vacated seat. Deagle and Weaver both beat out challengers to win re-election.

Moore is no stranger to the district having served with the PTSA and on various district committees for what she said has been 14 years. Among other activities, Moore has served on bond and levy committees, including the committee that made initial recommendations for a bond question that will be in front of voters next year. Like Colbrese, she has said joining the board feels like a natural progression of her past involvement with the schools.

Neither Colbrese nor Moore made any formal comments during the Dec. 14 meeting. Later, in listing a few of her accomplishments, Colbrese talked about working through district financial problems in some tough economic times. During her tenure on the board, Colbrese said she often found herself frustrated by not having the money to do some things she and other board members felt needed to be done, adding she was especially annoyed by recent “clawbacks” adopted by the state Legislature.

“Clawbacks” are promised dollars taken away in one form or another in the middle of the school year.

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Holidays mean reduced Metro Transit, Sound Transit service

December 20, 2011

King County Metro Transit bus riders should prepare for reduced service during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

The transit agency operates on a reduced weekday schedule on several holidays through January — including a full week of reduced service at the end of December.

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Holiday gifts can benefit King County Parks

December 20, 2011

King County Parks leaders encouraged people to consider holiday gifts to support the county parks system.

Shoppers can browse King County Parks’ online store to create custom holiday cards, purchase parks-themed stamps or donate to the King County Parks Legacy Fund.

Sales benefit King County Parks’ 26,000 acres of public land, including Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park and Duthie Hill Park near Issaquah, plus hundreds of miles of regional and backcountry trails systems.

The online retailer Zazzle donates up to 27 percent of net sales from purchased items back to King County Parks.

The agency has also joined www.41pounds.org, a nonprofit organization formed to reduce waste and pollution by helping people to limit the amount of junk mail they receive, to raise dollars for parks and programs.

The organization has pledged to donate to King County Parks for every subscriber referred through the King County Parks page, www.kingcounty.gov/recreation/parks.aspx.

Rogue the reindeer is ready to take the reins

December 20, 2011

Rogue, Cougar Mountain Zoo’s 5-month-old reindeer, looks through a window checking out visitors to Santa’s house during the Reindeer Festival this month. By Greg Farrar

He may be only 5 months old, but he already weighs 84 pounds and is about three and half feet tall at his shoulders.

Especially as this is the holiday time of year, he has made numerous personal appearances at Christmas tree lightings and similar events, said Robyn Barfoot, general curator of the Cougar Mountain Zoological Park.

The toddler in question, however, probably is not going to be caught sitting on Santa’s lap.

Instead, Rogue the reindeer already is harness trained and ready to help pull Santa’s sleigh, Barfoot said.

“Santa likes to refer to him as ‘Blitzen,’” Barfoot added.

Rogue even already has his own Christmas song. The private Cougar Mountain Academy is near the zoo. Teachers and children there have come up with a version of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” using Rogue’s name, Barfoot said.

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