Last cougar dies at Issaquah zoo

March 15, 2011

Nashi, a cougar at Cougar Mountain Zoo, died from old age Feb. 24. Contributed

The community is invited to Cougar Mountain Zoo to honor the life of Nashi, a cougar transplanted from the woods of Minnesota to the zoo more than 17 years ago.

Nashi died from old age Feb 24. Though he had been showing signs of slowing down for the past several months, the loss was still devastating to staff, volunteers and zoo visitors, Cougar Mountain Zoo General Curator Robyn Barfoot said.

“He was a fantastic cougar. He had a lot of spunk in him,” she said. “He enjoyed talking with the visitors every day.”

The Nashi Memorial Celebration will be at March 26 at the zoo. Instead of holding its traditional cougar lecture, the zoo will open the stage for people to talk about Nashi. Staff members who raised and worked with him will talk about his life.

“I used to joke around that he’s a rock star, because he is,” Barfoot said.

At the zoo, Nashi would model for product labels, television shows and nature documentaries.

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Proposed fire authority receives cool reception from cities

March 15, 2011

Issaquah, Sammamish leaders also raise concerns about pools at joint meeting

The potential regional fire authority for Eastside communities received a lukewarm reception from Issaquah and Sammamish leaders March 10, as city councils from both cities discussed planning for emergency services and other issues at a joint meeting.

Officials from Issaquah and rural fire districts formed a planning group in late 2009 to consider a regional fire authority in the Eastside Fire & Rescue service area. The authority could tax residents to fund emergency services, unlike EFR. Contributions from member cities and fire districts fund EFR.

“It’s really hard to see a scenario where you can provide fire service to the citizens of Issaquah with an RFA,” Issaquah Councilman Mark Mullet said as leaders from both cities met at Tibbetts Creek Manor.

Participation in the planning process does not commit Issaquah or the fire districts to joining a regional fire authority.

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FISH executive director to step down March 31

March 15, 2011

Some details about salmon eluded Gestin Suttle in April 2003, as she settled in as the Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery executive director.

“I knew some basic things about salmon, but I would not have called myself an expert by any means,” she recalled. “There was a sharp learning curve for me.”

Gestin Suttle

Now, eight years and countless coho later, Suttle is a sought-after source for salmon information.

“Every day, I learn something new,” she said.

Suttle plans to resign from the salmon-centric organization March 31. The former journalist and Sammamish resident accepted a position as a public relations coordinator for the local YWCA.

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Swedish asks young artists to decorate Issaquah hospital

March 15, 2011

Swedish Medical Center is seeking young artists to decorate the soon-to-open Issaquah Highlands hospital campus.

“Art plays an important role in creating a positive, welcoming and healing environment,” Janette Turner, a member of the hospital’s Art Committee, said in a release. “When deciding on what works of art to display in the new Swedish Medical Center/Issaquah, we knew we wanted to feature local artwork. And, what better pieces to include in the facility than works by children who live in the area?”

The initial stage — a medical office building and outpatient center — is scheduled to open in July. The hospital portion is on track to open in November. The grand opening celebration is scheduled for July 9.

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March, photo contest celebrate Mountains to Sound Greenway 20th anniversary

March 15, 2011

In 1990, a group of 100 hikers backpacked all of the way from Snoqualmie Pass to Seattle’s waterfront. Their five-day trek raised awareness about the vibrant places between the mountains and Puget Sound, including working forests, farms, historic sites, lakes, campgrounds, rivers, trails, wildlife habitat and communities, and helped inspire the creation of Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust one year later.

Every decade, the trust holds an anniversary march, making this the third time people will hike and ride from Eastern Washington to the sound.

This year, the march will take place over nine days, with festivities celebrating the hikers and the greenway during the first two weeks of July. The hike starts in Ellensburg with stops in Cle Elum, Crystal Springs, North Bend, Snoqualmie, Preston, Issaquah, Bellevue and finally Pier 58 in Seattle.

Some cities, including Snoqualmie and Issaquah — on July 8 — will host events open to the public. Learn more about times and locations at

The first two days, participants can ride a bike or a horse, and the rest of the hike is by foot. Marchers will be able to connect with nature and each other, walking through paths far from the chaos of the city.

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Washington State Patrol lab relies on DNA to solve crimes

March 15, 2011

The state crime lab used DNA testing to complete a record-setting 379 hits last year.

Teams at the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab use a national database, the Combined DNA Index System or CODIS, to offer leads to investigators.

Since the program debuted more than a decade ago, the crime-fighting tool has provided more than 1,500 leads.

Investigators at the Seattle lab also processed evidence related to the deadly shootings at Lake Sammamish State Park in July 2010.

“This is about arresting and convicting the guilty, and clearing the innocent,” state patrol Chief John Batiste said. “DNA is the most reliable way we’ve ever had for telling if someone was present at a crime scene.”

The lab receives about 1,400 samples from convicted offenders each month.

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State seeks input to streamline vehicle emissions tests

March 15, 2011

The state Department of Ecology seeks comments on a proposal to streamline the state’s motor vehicle emissions testing program.

The agency requires emissions tests in King County and four other populous counties to limit air pollution near population centers.

Officials propose to adopt a rule detailing how the program operates, starting in July 2012. The current rule is to remain in effect until then.

The state is accepting public comments on the proposal through March 31 and expects to adopt changes June 23. The agency has also scheduled a public hearing March 22 in Federal Way.

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Washington Conservation Corps seeks applicants

March 15, 2011

The state Department of Ecology is seeking 22 people between the ages of 18 and 25 to serve in Washington Conservation Corps positions in King County and elsewhere.

Members receive job training, help restore and protect the environment, offer environmental education and volunteer opportunities for thousands of residents of all ages, and provide assistance to citizens in the Evergreen State and across the nation during natural disasters.

In recent months, corps members assisted in trail restoration and habitat projects near Issaquah. And corps members joined AmeriCorps teams to restore Squak Mountain trails last month.

Members selected for six-month stints earn state minimum wage and a $2,675 AmeriCorps Education Award for repaying student loans or for future tuition expenses.

Established in 1983 as a response to a sour economy, the program became a program under the AmeriCorps umbrella in 1994 and then expanded.

The corps includes 180 positions at more than 35 locations across the state.

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Crews upgrade boat launch at state park

March 15, 2011

The new metal pier floats in the water at Lake Sammamish State Park. By Greg Farrar

Boaters should notice upgrades to the boat launch area at Lake Sammamish State Park come springtime.

The construction swapped wooden piers for sturdier metal. The updated piers also reach farther into the lake to accommodate boats. Crews completed the project at the popular park in late December.

The state used grants to fund the project, but the State Parks and Recreation Commission did not secure enough funds to replace all of the aging piers. The total price tag for the project remains undefined.

The state enlisted Issaquah-based Thornberg Construction Co. for the project.

Crews installed the old piers atop wooden pilings in the early 1970s.

Park Manager Rich Benson said the plan to upgrade the boat launch area sat idle for years.

“During the winter when the water level comes up, they don’t float, so they’re underwater for months at a time,” he said. “That puts a lot of stress and strain on them.”

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Issaquah Farmers Market seeks vendors

March 15, 2011

The popular Issaquah Farmers Market returns April 16.

In the meantime, market organizers continue to attract vendors to the Pickering Barn market. The city is hosting a meeting for potential vendors from 9 a.m. to noon March 26 at the barn, 1730 10th Ave N.W.

Potential vendors should bring a product sample to be juried. Call 837-3311 to learn more.

The farmers market runs every Saturday, rain or shine, from mid-April to Oct. 28. The market features seasonal produce, crafts, food vendors, and demonstrations or live entertainment each week.

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