King County invites landfill neighbors to Issaquah meeting

March 29, 2011

King County is considering changes to how officials communicate to residents about the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill near Issaquah.

Officials started meeting with landfill neighbors in the mid-1980s to offer updates about landfill activities, and to allow citizens a chance to provide feedback and ideas for improving operations.

The county Solid Waste Division is hosting the next community meeting April 6 in Issaquah.

Participants can hear updates about proposed changes to community meetings, updates about operational activities — including construction and environmental management activities at the landfill — and the Bio Energy Washington landfill gas-to-energy plant at the site.

The community meetings offer a forum for residents and Solid Waste Division to discuss conditions and problems at the landfill. The meetings occur at least twice per year.

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

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Route 200 bus expansion is delayed until 2013

March 29, 2011

Route 200 bus riders can enjoy many more free rides following a City Council decision last week.

The council reluctantly agreed to delay the Route 200 expansion — and the plan to collect fares — to the Issaquah Highlands and Talus until February 2013.

“I hope nobody in our community views the delay until February of 2013 as this council not being committed to improving public transport throughout our city,” Councilman Mark Mullet said. “I think we’re firmly committed to that goal.”

In a January letter to the city, Port Blakely Communities — a financial partner in the Route 200 agreement — announced its decision to pull out of the agreement.

The route had been scheduled to extend to the highlands and Talus in September. The city and King County Metro Transit had also planned to start collecting fares then.

Municipal and transit officials could someday establish a route, 928, to offer additional service on Squak Mountain. In order to fund the additional service, Metro Transit needs to charge fares on Route 200 buses.

“I believe that the delay in expanding this bus service hurts Squak Mountain,” Councilman Joshua Schaer said. “It hurts Talus and it hurts the highlands.”

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Issaquah senator aims to pull shark fin soup off the menu

March 29, 2011

Though shark fin soup is considered a delicacy in Hong Kong, state legislators took a step March 7 to pull the item from menus.

State senators unanimously passed legislation to eliminate commercial shark finning in Washington waters. Sen. Steve Litzow, a freshman Republican from Mercer Island and a 41st Legislative District representative, urged colleagues to adopt the measure. (The district includes Cougar Mountain communities in Issaquah.)

“What has been most interesting as I looked into this is that over 73 million sharks are killed every year,” he said. “Ninety percent of the shark population in the open oceans has disappeared in the last several years. This is another one of the small steps in keeping a healthy ocean.”

Fins sell for as much as $700 per kilogram in Asia. Officials said finning has increased near the Washington coast in recent years as the price climbed.

The bill sponsor, San Juan Island Democrat Kevin Ranker, said the bill is meant to address trafficking in shark fins, not shark finning alone. So, recreational fishermen and -women could still fin sharks under the measure.

“Shark finners are active up and down Washington’s coast to an unsustainable extent,” he said. “Many catch the shark, cut off the fins and throw the body back into the water. Without this legislation, shark communities will only continue to shrink until they become endangered or extinct.”

The legislation heads to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

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City Council puts the trolley project on track

March 29, 2011

The oft-delayed Issaquah Valley Trolley Project could be on track due to a recent City Council decision.

Before trolleys can run through historic downtown Issaquah, the decades-old tracks and trolleys must be restored. The long-planned restoration proposal received a boost from the council March 21.

Members awarded the $135,274 track refurbishment contract to Lakebay-based Coast Rail and, in the same legislation, awarded the $220,000 trolley contract to Mukilteo-based Advanced Construction.

The measure also increased the project budget to $524,700 from $517,400 to reflect the original project budget, and to account for $7,400 in additional federal funds and expenditures made to date.

The council rejected track and trolley bids late last year. Because the lowest bid for the track project amounted to $15,000 more than the state Department of Transportation had estimated, city engineers and project backers raised concerns about running out of money before the trolley car could be repaired.

The city oversees and administers the grant dollars used to fund the trolley project.

The nonprofit trolley group leased a trolley from a Yakima organization, and ferried more than 5,000 passengers through downtown Issaquah in 2001 and 2002 in a successful test.

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Press Editorial

March 29, 2011

Preserving Park Pointe is a triumph for entire city

The momentous effort to preserve Park Pointe is complete.

Issaquah leaders and residents can celebrate after more than a decade of squabbling and maneuvering to stop hundreds of homes from rising on the land.

The transfer of development rights benefits the entire city.

Park Pointe, a majestically named parcel on Tiger Mountain near Issaquah High School, is forever preserved as public open space. So, too, is a 43-acre forest near Central Park in the Issaquah Highlands.

In exchange, homebuilders can construct up to 500 residences on 35 acres in the highlands. Despite the large figure, developers proposed far fewer homes for the site.

The deal protects land ill-suited for development and shifts construction to a site near roads and utilities.

In addition, the added residents to the highlands could help attract the retail businesses promised to neighborhood residents so long ago.

The deal is not perfect, but the benefits outshine the problems.

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Officers collect more than $7,000 in tips for Special Olympics

March 29, 2011

Issaquah police officers protect and serve — and on March 26, men and women in blue served meals, too.

Chris Wilson (right), an Issaquah police sergeant, serves lunch at Red Robin during the Special Olympics Tip-a-Cop fundraiser March 26. Members of the Gaines family are (from left) Bob, daughter Kara, 18, a Special Olympics basketball athlete, and mother Kathy, all of Newcastle. By Greg Farrar

For the annual Tip-a-Cop fundraiser, officers dished up burgers, fries and more to diners at Red Robin. Tips collected by officers benefited Special Olympics Washington.

Issaquah and Snoqualmie officers served meals for nine hours during the Saturday lunch and dinner rushes — and collected $7,741 in tips for the nonprofit organization.

“It’s just a positive feeling to know that you’re having fun and getting money to help out people that might not be able to participate in these sports events otherwise,” Issaquah Communications Specialist Jacqueline Kerness said.

Motorcycle officers and other motorcyclists kicked off the fundraiser at a motorcycle ride from the Issaquah Microsoft campus to the restaurant.

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Homeowner associations can join Sustainability Challenge

March 29, 2011

Friends of Quadrant Homes, a social network hosted by Quadrant Homes, has launched a 90-day sustainability challenge, lasting from March 15 through June 15.

Anybody living in a homeowner association can participate. The two HOAs that make the most creative environmental changes will receive $2,000 grants.

Of the HOAs that place, one will be urban and the other suburban, which includes communities in King County.

To register, HOA residents must do the following:

  • Register online.
  • Make a pledge to do at least one of the items in each of the three categories.
  • Create a pledge of their own.

Participants can make a difference by being conscientious of their energy, water and land use, including giving up paper cups for beverage mugs, replacing outdated showerheads with low-flow ones or planting a tree.

In addition to sustainability commitments, participants can share their photos, videos and stories on the Friends of Quadrant Homes Facebook page.

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Off the Press

March 29, 2011

Council vote was almost a time warp

Greg Farrar Press Photographer

As the Issaquah City Council’s first vote to fill its vacancy ended in a 3-3 tie, my life suddenly began flashing before my eyes.

And all I could think after the second ballot was, “Thank you, Joshua Schaer!”

If it hadn’t been for his wisdom and flexibility, I might’ve relived one of the craziest news stories of my life, the headline being, and I’m not making this up, “56 ballots to a council deadlock” in the Edmonds Enterprise in January 1984.

That was during my first full-time newspaper job just out of college, and not only was I doing the photography, but on that small staff one of my writing beats was Edmonds city government.

Here are hypothetical questions for you: What if the Southeast Bypass was still the major policy issue dividing Issaquah’s City Council? What if Maureen McCarry’s retirement had left the council in two evenly split coalitions?

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Leadership Eastside is committed to change

March 29, 2011

Leadership Eastside’s mission is to create fundamental changes — within the community and within the individuals who participate in the organization.

“One of our alumni recently said that the real project is you,” said James Whitfield, president of Leadership Eastside.

The nonprofit, officially launched March 16, 2005, “partners with the community’s greatest assets, its leaders, to meet the community’s greatest needs,” Whitfield said.

Indeed, the combination of community involvement and personal enrichment has seen much success during its past six years, largely due to what Whitfield refers to as LE’s primary product, a three-year leadership-development program, which accepts 40 to 45 applicants per year.

Issaquah Highlands resident Stuart Linscott, who was drawn to the program in 2006, said he believed the training would give him a “toolkit of skills” which could then be applied to many aspects in life, including furthering his community leadership, as well as personal and business relations.

Additionally, the people you encounter in the process, who share your values and goals of moving the community in a positive direction, often become lifelong friends, Linscott said.

“I think the neatest thing about the organization is that the people are all passionate about community involvement, and that really struck a chord with me,” he added.

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Edgar Martinez now swings a hammer

March 29, 2011

Local resident is passionate about giving back

To say Frank Perry is a busy man is quite an understatement.

Frank Perry (left) and Edgar Martinez pause in the middle of work to wave while building a home in February with other Habitat for Humanity of East King County volunteers in Puerto Rico. Contributed

Between volunteer work for Habitat for Humanity, The Martinez Foundation, The Moyer Foundation, the College Success Foundation, Washington State Mentoring and Zion Preparatory Academy, Perry is always busy with something. And to top it all off, Perry serves on the boards of a couple of those organizations.

Did I mention he also he does human resource consulting on the side?

“The days and the weeks just fly by with activities,” Perry recently said with a laugh.

Yes, Perry — a former senior vice president of human resources at Lanoga/ProBuild — is a busy person, but that didn’t stop him from taking five days off to help build a house for a low-income family in Puerto Rico.

The East King County affiliate of Habitat for Humanity organized the trip, which took place Feb. 14-18.

The trip was special not only for the work that the group was able to accomplish, but also for one of the members who joined them: Seattle Mariners legend and Puerto Rico native Edgar Martinez.

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