Issaquah legislator touts effort to donate flags to deployed soldiers

February 16, 2011

NEW — 10 a.m. Feb. 16, 2011

Soldiers deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere from Washington often fly the state flag at faraway places.

Under a quirk in state law, military members had to buy the flags, because the law prohibited donations of state property to private citizens.

State Rep. Jay Rodne, a 5th Legislative District lawmaker and Iraq war veteran, sponsored legislation in 2009 to create a state flag account.

The program is accepting donations from the public to raise money to purchase the flags to be mailed to deployed military units. Residents can donate to the account through the Secretary of State’s Office.

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King County seeks citizens for Rural Forest Commission

February 16, 2011

NEW — 8 a.m. Feb. 16, 2011

King County seeks applicants for the Rural Forest Commission, the citizen board responsible for advising the county executive and County Council about forestland and forestry issues.

Created in 1997, the commission advises leaders on policies and programs, identifies strategies to conserve forestlands, and promotes forestry in rural areas.

The all-volunteer commission meets a half dozen times per year, and sometimes for subcommittees. The county Department of Natural Resources and Parks needs to fill four open seats.

“One of the benefits of the commission is the opportunity to communicate rural viewpoints directly to county managers and elected officials,” Linda Vane, the county staff liaison to the commission, said in a release.

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2011 Winter Issaquah Living

February 15, 2011

Open publication – Free publishingMore magazine

Broadway beckons Village Theatre musicals

February 15, 2011

Musicals nurtured at Issaquah theater charm audiences and rack up awards in the Big Apple

Tony Award-winning actress Alice Ripley (center, seated) leads the ‘Next to Normal’ cast in a performance at the Arena Stage, the musical’s last stop before debuting on Broadway. By Joan Marcus

The brick-and-glass theater along a fashionable street in Oslo, Norway, seems like a strange place to re-create Yankee suburbia.

Onstage, “Next to Normal” — a rock musical fostered in Issaquah — is about to be performed. The story about a suburban — and quite American — family straining against mental illness has been translated into Norwegian for the international premiere.

The debut last September marked a milestone for the musical. “Next to Normal” had already stormed Broadway — earning Tony Awards and the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama in the process.

Before the accolades and Oslo, “Next to Normal” emerged in a Village Theatre program designed to foster original musicals.

The long-running program has cemented the reputation of the downtown Issaquah playhouse as a cradle for Broadway.

Village Theatre cultivated “Next to Normal” and the jukebox musical “Million Dollar Quartet” from unpolished ideas to splashy Broadway musicals in recent years.

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Blast off into outer space — without ever leaving the Eastside

February 15, 2011

A viewing audience reclines in theater seats to view the Milky Way galaxy projected on the Willard Geer Planetarium dome at Bellevue College. By Greg Farrar

Bellevue College offers excursions into the cosmos from the comfort of a planetarium seat

There are a thousand ways Armageddon could destroy life on earth, and all without the help of aliens.

During its 220-million-year rotation around the Milky Way, our sun could pass through a giant dust cloud, blocking the sun’s rays to earth and triggering an ice age that could last thousands of years. Or, a nearby star could die in a supernova explosion. Its energy could burn a hole in the ozone layer, exposing us to the sun’s radiation — rays that would fry everything in their path.

Both of these and more are covered in “Violent Universe, Catastrophes of the Cosmo,” narrated by Patrick Stewart — a movie that literally surrounds the viewer at Bellevue College’s Willard Geer Planetarium.

The college has much to brag about when it comes to its planetarium. Former physics instructor Willard Geer, who helped invent the color TV, provided the impetus for starting the planetarium during his years at the school, from 1968-75.

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Up, up and away: Evergreen State peaks challenge climbers

February 15, 2011

John Junke, a supervisor at the Issaquah REI, poses at the summit of Mount Rainier. Contributed

Mount Rainier and other Evergreen State peaks challenge climbers of all skill levels

For skiing, go to Colorado. For surfing, grab a ticket to Hawaii. For mountaineering? You don’t have to go anywhere; you’re in Washington state — a veritable Mecca of peaks that many consider one of the best climbing locales in the country.

“You could spend the rest of your life in the Olympics and Cascades and not have climbed every peak,” said 60-year-old Joe Horiskey, a longtime climbing guide with RMI Expeditions. “There are so many rarely climbed peaks out there. I’ve been climbing for decades and haven’t even scratched the North Cascades personally.”

But just because you can do Tiger Mountain or Mount Si in your sleep doesn’t mean you’re ready for the big boys. And however tempting it might be to charge up Mount Baker in hiking boots and a fleece, there’s a certain amount of training necessary to make sure you get to the summit and then home safely to brag about your adventure to friends and family.

That training is a small investment in exchange for the experience of being on top of the world, said John Junke, a climber and supervisor at the Issaquah REI. Junke vividly recalls the site of the sun cresting over the horizon early in the morning on his first Mount Rainier climb.

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All in the family: Discover Issaquah’s sister cities

February 15, 2011

Issaquah sister-city bond fosters cross-cultural understanding in Morocco — and at home

The dominant color in Chefchaouen, Morocco — Issaquah’s sister city since April 2007 — is a dreamy shade of blue. Contributed

The grand and imposing door, set amid brick buildings and evergreens in downtown Issaquah, offers clues from a far-off place.

The door is as solid as the Rock of Gibraltar and built to endure for ages. The place is ancient.

The door is painted in the same soothing blue as a summer sky over the Mediterranean. The place is exotic.

The door is a gateway. The place is Chefchaouen, Morocco.

The door on the Issaquah City Hall grounds is a gift from Chefchaouen, a sister city almost 6,000 miles from the Cascade foothills.

The relationship is a study in contrasts.

Suburban Issaquah is perched on the outer rim of Greater Seattle. Chefchaouen is isolated in mountainous terrain, 100 miles from the nearest major city, Tangier. Chefchaouen is in Muslim-majority Morocco. Issaquah is in the secular United States.

Issaquah and Chefchaouen inked a sister-city agreement in 2007.

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Uncover the dark side of Issaquah

February 15, 2011

Vehicles streak through the darkness in downtown Issaquah. By Greg Farrar

The tree-lined suburb of today evolved from a frontier town of sinister secrets

Welcome to Issaquah!

On your left, you’ll see the Triple XXX Rootbeer Drive-In!

On your right, you’ll find the Village Theatre!

Oh look, over there is the beloved Issaquah Salmon Hatchery!

A typical tour of town might go something like that, detailing the proud past of a historic city.

What about the strange, seedy and sinister history of this former frontier town? What about the ominous undertones? Not many tours take you down the alleys of the city or expose what had been its underbelly.

But this one does, and it will tell you about some of the most notable incidents that occurred here in the decades after white settlers arrived in the 1850s. Murders. Bombings. Fires. Explosions. Abductions. Plus, plenty of other mayhem.

Get in your DeLorean and prepare to tickle your morbid curiosity, because we’re headed straight to the past and into the dark side of Issaquah.

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Many faiths, one community

February 15, 2011

Issaquah is a melting pot of major religions from across the globe

Twelve families celebrate Hanukkah at the Donna and Stuart Rosove home in Lakemont, as they light menorahs, share food and conduct other traditions of the Jewish holiday. By Greg Farrar

The loud rock music echoes from the concert-worthy stage as worshipers lift their hands and sing in the main auditorium. Greeters smile wide and shake hands as families filter in through the main entrance. While the adults find their seats for the service, their children shoot down colorful slides into the KidZone, a place of fun and adventure that takes up the whole downstairs.

This is a typical Sunday morning at Eastridge Church.

Like Eastridge, dozens of churches and places of worship contribute their own cultural and religious style and flavor to make up the fabric of faiths in Issaquah.

In addition to the evangelical Christian faith Eastridge attendees practice, Issaquah residents attend Christian churches of a variety of denominations, including St. Joseph Catholic Church and School. Many others keep their Jewish faith alive at the Chabad of the Central Cascades near the Issaquah Highlands.

Issaquah is also home to growing Hindu, Muslim and Baha’i contingents, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints plays a major role in numerous community service events and activities.

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Eastside Fire & Rescue firefighters tackle hot jobs

February 15, 2011

Capt. Steve Westlake with Eastside Fire & Rescue Station 71 walks toward an incident in downtown Issaquah, where a granddaughter checking in on an elderly woman in her home had found her deceased and called 911. By Greg Farrar

From adrenaline-charged emergencies to routine calls, firefighters share gritty details

Do you know if your co-workers snore? What about their eating preferences, or whether they prefer washing dishes to cooking?

“There are very few jobs where you know people’s sleep habits,” Eastside Fire & Rescue firefighter Pete Wilson said.

Firefighters are a tight bunch, and they know just about as much about each other as they do the areas they serve. They are viewed through a glamorous lens, with their heroics of saving people from fires and helping car accident victims — not to mention the steamy firefighter calendars published annually.

But the daily routines of firefighters are not always quite as dramatic. Aside from giving grade-school students tours of their stations, firefighters perform daily inspections on fire engines and study to renew their medical and rescue certificates.

Firefighters are held in the high esteem of many. Some people might have a beef with the police, but their firefighter brothers and sisters are usually excluded from public retaliation.

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