Liberty High School girls basketball team stuns Juanita

February 9, 2011

NEW — 10:30 a.m. Feb. 9, 2011

The Liberty High School girls basketball team got one of its biggest victories of the season Tuesday when the Patriots topped Juanita 53-44 in the semifinals of the 3A KingCo Conference tournament at Bellevue College.

Juanita, the regular-season champion, had defeated Liberty twice during the season. However, the Patriots took control in tournament contest by shooting to a 19-12 first-quarter lead. Liberty held a commanding 32-21 lead at halftime.

Danni Sjolander and Aspen Winegar each scored 15 points to lead the Patriots.

Liberty plays Mount Si at 8:15 p.m. Feb. 10 in the tournament title game. Mount Si defeated Mercer Island 61-49 in the other semifinal.

The top four KingCo teams and the top eight from the Metro League advance to the Sea-King District Tournament, which begins Saturday.

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King County redistricting panel taps retired judge as leader

February 9, 2011

NEW — 8 a.m. Feb. 9, 2011

The citizen panel responsible for redrawing King County’s electoral map selected a retired Superior Court judge as chairman Monday.

Former King County Superior Court Judge Terrence Carroll is a respected arbitrator and Distinguished Jurist in Residence at the Seattle University School of Law.

The retired judge leads a four-member panel appointed by King County Council members. Under the county charter, the appointed Districting Committee members had to select a fifth person to serve as a chairperson.

Carroll specializes in alternative dispute resolution, and has heard more than 3,000 mediations and 1,000 arbitrations during the past 20 years. The chairman has also served as a deputy prosecutor, a public defender and a private-practice attorney.

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City Council vacancy attracts nine applicants

February 8, 2011

The contenders in the running to succeed Maureen McCarry on the City Council include people familiar to city leaders.

Joe Forkner has served on the council before, including a stint as a caretaker member after a councilwoman resigned. Stacy Goodman, past editor of The Issaquah Press, used to cover City Hall as a reporter. Nathan Perea campaigned against Tola Marts for the open Position 7 seat in 2009. Paul Winterstein managed Marts’ successful campaign. Other applicants serve on municipal boards and commissions.

The rare midterm opening for the Position 5 seat attracted nine candidates.

In addition to Forkner, Goodman, Perea and Winterstein, the lineup includes Michael Beard, a district manager for a facilities maintenance company, attorney Cristina Mehling, Urban Village Development Commission member Nina Milligan, Boeing analyst Erik Olson and Development Commission member Mary Lou Pauly.

Candidates face the council in public interviews scheduled for March 1. Then, after the 10-minute interviews, council members could recess into a closed-door executive session to discuss candidates’ qualifications.

Under state law, the council can discuss candidates’ qualifications in a closed-door session, but interviews and the decision must occur in public meetings.

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Bellevue College is closer to highlands land purchase

February 8, 2011

Bellevue College is poised to complete the purchase of land for a proposed Issaquah Highlands campus by the end of the month.

College President Jean Floten said the institution signed a purchase-and-sale agreement to buy 20 acres from highlands developer Port Blakely Communities.

The agreement contains some routine contingencies — such as the college agreeing to the architectural standards for the highlands — and must undergo review from the state Department of General Administration, because the college is a state agency.

The final contingencies should be removed before the month ends. The process is not expected to cause problems, college spokesman Bob Adams said.

The transaction is part of a complicated transfer of development rights to preserve forested land on Tiger Mountain near Issaquah High School and open additional highlands land for construction.

The city solicited proposals last October from potential buyers for the parcels. Candidates received bonus points for including affordable housing and public spaces in the proposals.

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Democracy Live shifts ballots from polling place to the digital age

February 8, 2011

Most voters pick up a pamphlet from the mailbox or steer to a county or state elections website to study candidates and issues before Election Day.

The process of researching ballot issues and mailing a ballot is not so easy for residents living abroad and military members deployed overseas.

Bryan Finney, founder and president of Democracy Live, describes a webpage that shows ballot measures and office candidates. By Greg Farrar

“You think about the soldier out there in Kandahar, you know, he’s fighting for our right to vote and our democracy and, ironically, he’s the one guy who can’t vote,” Democracy Live founder Bryan Finney said.

The endless chatter from cable TV pundits and countless jokes on late-night TV in the 36 days after the disputed 2000 presidential election inspired Finney to create a better process to elect leaders. The former U.S. Senate staffer had created a dot-com startup, so he melded the skills to launch Democracy Live.

The result is a technology firm dedicated to simplifying elections for military voters overseas and disabled voters in the United States. The technology the Issaquah company offers is light years distant from infamous butterfly ballots and indecipherable chads.

“Here it is, the late 20th century and we still can’t figure out how to count votes,” Finney said. “So, I got involved with modernizing the balloting systems and voting technologies that were out there to try to rid the world of hanging chads and butterfly ballots.”

The company’s signature product, LiveBallot, is not online voting. The tool allows voters to print, mail and track ballots.

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Issaquah teen dies in car accident

February 8, 2011

Tyler Lucas

Issaquah teenager Tyler Lucas died the morning of Feb. 1 after his Dodge Neon struck two other vehicles on Interstate 405 in Bellevue.

The 18-year-old was driving northbound on I-405 just north of Interstate 90 at about 10:20 a.m. A collision further up the interstate had caused traffic to slow, and Lucas made a sudden motion to avoid stopping traffic, the Washington State Patrol said.

When traffic slowed, Lucas braked, lost control and rear-ended a Chevrolet Suburban driven by Mountlake Terrace resident Peter Gradwohl.

Lucas’ Neon then spun into another lane and struck a Honda Accord driven by Shelly Keene, 46, of Renton. Troopers said Lucas’ vehicle was moving too fast for the conditions, and was likely a factor in the accident. Lucas was taken to Harborview Medical Center, where he died from his injuries.

Gradwohl was taken to Overlake Hospital Medical Center in Bellevue. Keene was treated for minor injuries. The collision is under investigation.

Drugs and alcohol were not a factor in the accident, and all parties involved had been wearing seatbelts, police said.

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Community honors ‘a great person, a great teammate, a great friend’

February 8, 2011

Patty and Jim Lucas thank Tyler Lucas’ friends and family for their support during the vigil at Issaquah High School Feb. 2, a day after Tyler died in a car accident on Interstate 405. By Laura Geggel

Friends and family gathered at Issaquah High School on Feb. 2 to honor and celebrate the life of Tyler Lucas, an 18-year-old lacrosse player who died in a car accident on Interstate 405 on Feb. 1.

More than 100 of his peers and lacrosse coaches attended, holding candles that lit up the dark, clear night as they remembered a teammate who inspired them to play with a passionate verve.

Students stood silently in circles, praying, wiping away tears and hugging friends. Issaquah High School Lacrosse Junior Varsity Coach Mark Greenhall broke the silence, reading a letter his son wrote to Tyler’s parents, Patty and Jim Lucas.

“He was a great person, a great teammate, a great friend,” Greenhall said, reading from the letter that described Tyler as a confident athlete whose magnetic personality always attracted a crowd of friends wherever he went.

As more people stepped up to share their memories of Tyler, his mother Patty Lucas thanked the crowd and told her son’s friends that her house would always be open to them.

“I don’t ever want it to be quiet,” she said.

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City hikes impact fees to match inflation

February 8, 2011

The city has updated impact fees to adjust for inflation.

The affected areas include fees for government buildings, fire, parks, police and transportation. The city updates the fees each year.

Per the City Council, the city updates the fees updated annually to avoid larger changes every few years. The annual fee changes do not require council approval. The updated rates took effect Feb. 1.

Residents can find a complete list of impact fee changes at the municipal website.

The city requires impact fees as part of any construction, reconstruction or other uses of property if the project requires the review and approval of a development permit.

The state Growth Management Act authorizes cities to collect impact fees to help pay for the additional facilities — such as parks and roads — needed to serve the additional construction.

In Issaquah, the council has OK’d impact fee ordinances for city and King County traffic, schools, parks and fire impacts. The city assesses government buildings and police impacts during the environmental review process.

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Issaquah legislator introduces measure to eliminate some counties

February 8, 2011

Under a proposal offered by state Rep. Glenn Anderson, state leaders could dissolve some Washington counties for taking in more in state dollars than they contribute through state tax revenue.

The measure is unlikely to emerge from the House of Representatives, or even a committee. But the proposal has started a discussion about the harsh budget reality legislators face.

Democrats from populous Western Washington counties — Seattle Rep. Reuven Carlyle and Snohomish Rep. Hans Dunshee — joined Anderson to introduce the proposed constitutional amendment.

“Washington is facing an extraordinary budget crisis, just like California,” Anderson said in a statement. “We must take direct action to restore fiscal sanity.”

The six-term Fall City Republican has represented Issaquah and other 5th Legislative District communities in East King County since 2001.

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County announces deal to turn trash gas into cash

February 8, 2011

The methane gas created from decomposing garbage at the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill could net King County about $1 million per year.

The county announced a deal Feb. 1 to sell emissions credits to Puget Sound Energy. King County Council members authorized the Solid Waste Division to enter into a contract to sell the credits to PSE. The agreement is expected to generate about $500,000.

“We have harnessed a valuable commodity from something that was once a discarded byproduct,” County Executive Dow Constantine said in a statement. “The contract with PSE is just one example of how we are delivering on the commitment we made in the 2010 Energy Plan to stimulate the development of ‘green’ energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save taxpayer and ratepayer dollars.”

The county Solid Waste Division also generates another $500,000 per year by selling the byproduct from rotting trash — methane — to a facility at the landfill. The unrefined methane is then collected, processed into pipeline-quality gas, sold to PSE and piped to natural gas-fired power generating plants. Few garbage utilities separate the sale of emissions credits and the sale of landfill gas.

Constantine outlined a “green” energy plan last year to capitalize on the landfill as a source for renewable energy. County Council members also set similar goals in a strategic plan adopted last year.

The landfill encompasses 920 acres in unincorporated King County between Issaquah and Maple Valley.

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