Duvall farmer Eric Nelson elected to King Conservation District board

March 22, 2011

King Conservation District voters elected Duvall farmer Eric Nelson to the board of supervisors in a pioneering online election last week, although turnout dropped sharply from the last district election in 2010.

The contest concluded March 15, and conservation district officials announced the results March 17.

Eric Nelson

Nelson bested Kent farmer Bruce Elliott, Redmond real estate agent Teri Herrera and Sammamish retiree Preston Prudente to secure the open seat for a three-year term. Nelson is scheduled to assume office at the Washington State Conservation Commission meeting in May.

The election attracted 2,299 voters — a decline from 4,232 people in the last district election in March 2010. Officials had hoped the option for voters to cast electronic ballots online, instead of traveling to polling locations scattered throughout the county, might boost turnout.

The district offered a traditional polling site in Renton for 12 hours March 15.

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Lawmaker asks residents to list budget priorities

March 22, 2011

State Rep. Glenn Anderson is asking residents in Issaquah and elsewhere in the 5th Legislative District to rank budget priorities in a brief survey to gauge how the cash-strapped state should spend.

The legislator launched the survey after the chief state economist said the state is projected to collect almost $700 million less in taxes through 2013, increasing the budget gap to about $5.1 billion.

Glenn Anderson

“We simply cannot continue this death spiral of poor decisions every time another hit to tax collections is announced,” Anderson wrote in a message to constituents March 18, a day after the dismal revenue forecast announcement. “It’s time for politicians to change their mindset from one of figuring out gimmicks that keep the status quo of overspending, over-promising and under-delivering to one of being proactive and realistic.”

The longtime lawmaker also heard from Issaquah residents March 12 about the budget shortfall at a town hall meeting in Issaquah.

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Schools foundation awards grants big and small

March 22, 2011

It’s grant season for the Issaquah Schools Foundation.

Skyline High School teacher Courtney Bede holds a copy of ‘Classical Mythology,’ a book she plans to purchase for her students after receiving an Issaquah Schools Foundation grant. By Laura Geggel

This past February, dozens of teachers across the Issaquah School District applied for grants big and small — either for a classroom enrichment grant, worth up to $1,000, or a Kateri Brow big idea grant, valued at $10,000.

Ten teachers from seven schools won a 2011 classroom enrichment grant March 11, including Clark Elementary School Principal May Pelto, who wrote a grant request titled “Preparing all kindergarten students for academic success.”

With her grant, Pelto and Clark staff members will help teach incoming kindergarten students about letters, numbers, shapes and colors.

“Our students who did not know letters or numbers will receive a letter and sounds book, as well as number and adding puzzles, hopefully helping these students be more ready for kindergarten,” Pelto wrote in an email.

The grant will also pay for teachers to spend time in August placing students and planning instruction based on the students’ levels.

Pelto said she was grateful when she learned she received the grant.

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Sammamish balks at $500,000 EFR headquarters remodel

March 22, 2011

Eastside Fire & Rescue is considering remodeling its Issaquah headquarters to add office and storage space.

But with Sammamish’s future involvement in the agency in question, that city’s representatives were skeptical about paying for a remodel that could cost the agency about $500,000.

The details of the proposed remodel are still being ironed out, but the project would add seven offices, a small conference room and a copy room to the building, which was built in 1981 as a response station for King County Fire District 10, Deputy Chief Jeff Griffin said in an interview.

The district only had about 10 full-time firefighters at the time, but the building has now been partially converted into an administrative office for an agency that employs hundreds and covers three cities and dozens of square miles.

Griffin said there is no women’s bathroom on the second floor of the building, no elevator for disabled access and many offices designed for one employee house two. The upstairs copy machine sits in the hallway.

“It’s not an ideal use of the space,” Griffin said. “In some offices, one person has to leave the room while the other uses the phone.”

The project would also include a separate storage building behind the main building. Griffin said many of the agency’s backup vehicles and other equipment sit outside, which makes them depreciate in value more quickly.

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Issaquah School District changes class requirements to recommendations

March 22, 2011

In the past, high school students have needed to fulfill specific class requirements before taking higher-level courses.

Starting this fall, Issaquah School District administrators are changing those prerequisites to learning recommendations.

“We’re trying to increase access for students,” Executive Director of Secondary Education Patrick Murphy said. “We used to say, ‘You must have at least a B-minus to take this class.’ But what if I have a C-plus?”

Changing the prerequisites to learning recommendations has been a year and a half in the making. Throughout the year, Murphy meets with the principals from Issaquah, Liberty, Tiger Mountain Community and Skyline high schools. The group brainstorms ways it can increase access for students.

The access talks serve as an umbrella for several subjects, including how the district could increase student access to quality teachers, better activities and challenging courses.

This is not the first time the district has changed prerequisites to learning recommendations. Middle school students traditionally had to take a sixth-grade math placement test. If students performed poorly on the placement test, or if they missed the mark by a few points, they would be placed in the regular class.

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City planners approve Hyla Crossing extension

March 22, 2011

City planners approved a request March 4 to allow Rowley Properties until 2014 to develop the Hyla Crossing area near Interstate 90 and the base of Cougar Mountain.

The city approved the initial plan in July 1998. The approval remained valid for a decade. Rowley Properties requested a three-year extension, and in March 2008, the City Council extended the deadline to July 2011.

The developer sought and received another three-year extension for the master site plan. Now, the plan is valid until July 2014.

Hyla Crossing has been approved for about 620,000 square feet of commercial use on about 45 acres.

Some of the area — including a Hilton Garden Inn and a Chevrolet dealership — already came to fruition. The approved plan also includes office buildings and parking structures.

Most of the property is zoned for intensive commercial use, and a small portion along Tibbetts Creek is zoned for professional office use.

Hyla Crossing is also part of a long-term effort to redevelop the city’s 915-acre business district.

Should principals come from education backgrounds?

March 22, 2011

Legislators consider bill to answer question

A bill pushing to allow noneducators to work as school principals does not sit well with those now on the job.

Josh Almy, Ed Marcoe and Ron Thiele, all who have served as principals and teachers, said that while a few exceptional leaders might succeed in the principal world under the auspices of the bill, the majority of incoming principals would benefit if they tried their hand at teaching first.

“The educational system acts a little different from the private sector,” said Almy, principal of Beaver Lake Middle School. “If I were coming in from the private sector, the learning curve would be pretty steep.”

To which state Rep. Glenn Anderson, R-Fall City, said leadership is leadership.

House Bill 1593, which Anderson co-sponsored, passed the House and sits in the Senate this week. If it becomes law, it would allow noneducators to become principals.

“It’s an alternative certification path for individuals who are not certified educators,” Anderson said. “We have an opportunity to find well-qualified people to become principals.”

The program, which school districts would opt into, would be reviewed after one year, Anderson said.

Under the program, a school district must recommend an applicant to the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, which would review his or her qualifications.

Candidates would receive intensive mentoring for at least one school year, the bill reads.

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A week without…

March 22, 2011

My attempt at a week without my cell phone

By Katie Sutherland

It’s a known fact that many Americans — especially high school students — are too “plugged in” to technology.

So in honor of March’s National Day of Unplugging, I was asked by my editor to spend an entire week without using my phone.

Unplugging myself was much easier said than done. After trying and failing several times, I realized that a week without a cell phone is virtually impossible. As hard as I tried, I often found myself sending a text message or making a call.

Nevertheless, the National Day of Unplugging wasn’t a complete failure for me. While I still carried my cell phone with me every day, I only texted or called when absolutely necessary. I set an actual alarm clock for the first time in years instead of using the one on my phone.

These changes, however, weren’t the difficult ones. Spending a week without having Angry Birds, Facebook, Cliff’s Notes, Words With Friends and all my other favorite apps in the palm of my hand was practically torture. By the end of the week, though, it had become easier to live without my smart phone glued to my hand.

Even though I technically cheated, I still learned my lesson — it’s nice not to be constantly distracted by technology. In the end, that’s what the National Day of Unplugging is about.

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Salmon Days nets awards for promotion of 2010 festival

March 22, 2011

The iconic Salmon Days Festival earned eight awards March 15 in a state ranking of top festivals.

Salmon Days received the top honor — a Gold Summit Award — for Best Overall Promotional Campaign, Best T-shirt, Best New Green Program and Best Other Merchandise for the punny Fishlips Fish Balm.

In the next tier, the festival received Silver Summit Awards for Best Pin and Best Community Program; and Bronze Summit Awards for Best Promotional Poster and Best Events Program.

The Issaquah Press produces the Salmon Days Ohfishal Program for the festival organizer, the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce.

The professional competition from the Washington Festivals and Events Association attracts entries from festivals and event producers in the Evergreen State.

Salmon Days competed against festivals in the $150,000-and-more budget category. The awards honored the 2010 festival and the theme “Something up our leaves.”

Organizers received the awards at the Northwest Festivals and Events Conference in Bellevue.

The festival last October attracted more than 180,000 people to downtown Issaquah and the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery. Salmon Days returns for a 42nd year Oct. 1-2.

Troopers nab impaired St. Patrick’s Day drivers

March 22, 2011

Post-St. Patrick’s Day hangovers started early for some drivers late March 17 and early March 18, as state troopers arrested 29 motorists for driving under the influence.

Troopers made the arrests in a 12-hour period — including at least one arrest along Interstate 90 near Issaquah — and reported no fatality collisions.

The state patrol added four troopers to the regular patrol to crack down on impaired drivers. In addition, state patrol King County Target Zero team members usually work Thursday evenings, including St. Patrick’s Day.

DUI arrests made in the 12-hour period starting at 5 p.m. on St. Patrick’s Day totaled more than double what the agency has arrested on any Thursday night so far in 2011.

Issaquah police officers did not make any alcohol-related arrests on the holiday.

Several troopers investigated a serious injury hit-and-run accident just after midnight at the Mount Baker Tunnel.

During holidays or special events with a history of serious injury and deadly collisions related to drinking and driving, law enforcement agencies step up enforcement to catch impaired drivers.

Target Zero Teams include more than 35 police agencies in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties. Several additional agencies participated in the patrols in King County on St. Patrick’s Day.

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