Fire roars through empty High Point home

June 29, 2011

NEW — 12:30 p.m. June 29, 2011

Eastside Fire & Rescue responded to a house fire in the High Point area late Wednesday morning, after a neighbor reported flames shooting from the home’s roof.

The neighbor said no one is home at the house near 282nd Avenue Southeast and Southeast 66th Street, about six miles east of downtown Issaquah.

The narrow road leading to the house posed a challenge for fire crews. The area does not have fire hydrants, prompting EFR to call a water tender, or tanker truck, to the scene.

“Equipment is critical, but you need people on a fire, so we want to make sure we don’t want to stack all of the equipment so we’re all jammed in there and the water tender can’t get in there and out,” EFR spokeswoman Josie Williams said.

The fire caused extensive damage. Neighbors managed to rescue dogs from the inside the house as the blaze spread.

Firefighters received the call at 11:47 a.m. Wednesday. EFR has since requested a King County fire investigate to determine the cause of the blaze.

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Issaquah hospital is designed to transform health care

June 28, 2011

Workers install 12 flat panel monitors in the Swedish/Issaquah atrium for a video wall to display artwork and information. By Greg Farrar

Groundbreaking design is meant to soothe patients, employees at Swedish/Issaquah

The hospital due to open soon in the Issaquah Highlands is designed to be more than a hospital.

The atrium, all blond wood and glass, resembles a mall or airport concourse more than a health care facility. Crews installed a dozen screens just inside the entrance to function as a digital art piece designed to display nature scenes from the Pacific Northwest. Nearby, baristas prepare cappuccinos and proffer scones.

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Swedish/Issaquah price tag reaches $365 million

June 28, 2011

Swedish/Issaquah is designed to change ideas about health care across a broad spectrum, from how patients heal to how a hospital uses energy.

The innovations did not come cheap.

The cutting-edge facility in the Issaquah Highlands cost $365 million — $165 million for the medical office building scheduled to open July 14 and another $200 million for the hospital phase due to open in November. The price tag includes the 18 acres Swedish Medical Center purchased for the campus.

Swedish financed the construction project by tapping into reserves and selling 30-year bonds. The nonprofit health care system did not use any public money to build the facility.

Kevin Brown, Swedish senior vice president and chief administrative officer, said the highlands facility benefited from a $100 million fundraising campaign meant to fund capital projects throughout the hospital system.

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Issaquah family bids bittersweet goodbye after decade in business

June 28, 2011

Goodfellas Sandwich Shop, a decade-old gathering spot for Issaquah High School sports teams and office workers on lunch breaks, closed June 24 after owners Steve and Melinda Sanelli stacked the last sandwiches.

Jessica Crites (back row, from left), Mario Sanelli, Julie Donate, Stephen Sanelli, Sicily Sanelli, Nolan Graham, Angelina Edwins and Tyler Edwins join Melinda Sanelli (front row, from left) Brody Edwins and Steve Sanelli for a last lunch at Goodfellas Sandwich Shop on June 21. Contributed

Steve Sanelli, a longtime South Cove resident and Issaquah High assistant baseball coach, said business was good, but the impending closure stems from a disagreement between the eatery and the building owner.

“It would be one thing if I was failing in business and we had to close,” he said. “This is something that’s not my choice.”

For Sanelli and other family members, the closure is about more than the bottom line.

“When you’re in business this long, it kind of becomes who you are,” Melinda Sanelli said. “In a way, you feel like you’re being stripped of your personality and how everyone sees you and what you stand for.”

The closure announcement came as a surprise to employees and customers.

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City Council enacts moratorium on medical marijuana gardens

June 28, 2011

Issaquah leaders enacted a six-month moratorium on medical marijuana collective gardens June 20, as the city prepares to address a state law meant to clarify the hazy rules surrounding medical marijuana.

City Council members enacted the moratorium in a unanimous decision. State law authorizes a city to impose a moratorium as leaders consider possible land-use or zoning changes. The pause is meant to allow city leaders to consider options for collective gardens.

Under state law, up to 10 qualifying patients can join together and form a collective garden of up to 45 plants, so long as the marijuana is not visible from public spaces.

The initial measure before the council included language about a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries as well. Councilman Fred Butler eliminated the language before the vote.

“The reason for deleting ‘medical marijuana dispensaries’ is, they’re currently illegal and were not addressed in the” recent state legislation, he said before the council decision.

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Alternative proms gain a following

June 28, 2011

Sixteen-year-old North Bend junior Kayla Morrill wanted to go to prom this year, yet she faced a crisis.

Kayla Morrill talks with Mary Cook, first counselor in the General Relief Society Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, at Issaquah’s alternative prom. Contributed

“A lot of my friends couldn’t go to the high school prom, so we went to a different one,” she said.

In today’s language, a different prom is what has become known as an alternative prom, commonly called a modest prom. Such proms are events that cater to teens who opt out of their school dance for a variety of reasons.

“A regular prom would have been way too expensive,” Morrill explained.

Another benefit?

“None of that dirty-dancing stuff,” she said.

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Issaquah food bank offers free summer snacks

June 28, 2011

For some, summer means hunger.

The Summer Lunch Program attracts clients and their children June 21 to the Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank, which provided grocery bags of healthy children’s snacks  By Greg Farrar

During the school year, the federally funded National School Lunch Program keeps students fed during the breakfast and lunch hours, offering free or reduced-price meals to children in need.

Once school gets out for the summer, those meals disappear.

Thanks to the Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank and volunteers from Eastridge Church, families can get free, healthy snacks for their children every Tuesday throughout the summer, until Aug. 16.

“These families have to make choices between buying meals or paying for bills,” Lindsay Ztyree, an AmeriCorps worker with Eastridge Church, said.

Families must live in one of the following ZIP codes to participate: 98027, 98029, 98075 or 98059, and have proof of address and identification.

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City denies business license appeal from medical marijuana collective

June 28, 2011

GreenLink Collective, a medical marijuana collective along a tree-lined street in a downtown neighborhood, is more similar to a drugstore or pharmacy than a social services organization, a city development official decided last week.

In a decision issued June 20, Hearing Examiner Ted Hunter denied GreenLink’s appeal. (The hearing examiner is a municipal official responsible for certain development-related decisions.)

GreenLink operators appealed in March after the city denied a business license application for the medical marijuana collective. GreenLink operators said the facility qualified as a nonprofit social-services organization — a use allowed in residential areas.

The planner assigned to process the license “noted that although some classes are offered that may be similar to the operations of a nonprofit, the primary purpose of the business as described on its website is that of retail sales,” the decision states.

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City raises Southeast Issaquah-Fall City Road speed limit

June 28, 2011

Motorists no longer need to clamp down so hard on the brake on a steep section of Southeast Issaquah-Fall City Road.

On June 20, City Council members raised the speed limit from 35 mph to 40 mph on a section from East Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast to the eastern city limits near the 238th Avenue Southeast intersection. The faster speed limit took effect June 25.

City crews plan to post signs featuring the 40 mph limit along the affected roadway. The sign replacement should cost about $350.

Before the decision, planners commissioned a traffic engineering study for Southeast Issaquah-Fall City Road between East Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast and Southeast Black Nugget Road, and between Southeast Black Nugget Road and Southeast Issaquah-Pine Lake Road to determine whether a 35 mph speed limit remained appropriate.

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Central Issaquah Plan environmental impact is meeting topic

June 28, 2011

The city is seeking input from residents about how to gauge potential impacts on the environment during a decadeslong redevelopment effort.

Interested people can offer input at a public open house and scoping meeting at 6 p.m. July 13 in the Council Chambers at City Hall South, 135 E. Sunset Way.

City planners set up the meeting to collect information about the environmental impact statement process for the Central Issaquah Plan, a blueprint to guide redevelopment in the 915-acre commercial core.

The city intends to analyze transportation, land use, aesthetics, fish and wildlife habitat, public services and utilities in a future environmental impact statement.

Officials received Central Issaquah Plan recommendations from a mayor-appointed task force last year, but no timeline has been established for redevelopment.

The public is also invited to comment on the scope of a potential environmental impact statement.

The city is accepting written comments on the environmental impact proposal until 5 p.m. July 22. Send comments to Environmental Planner Peter Rosen, Issaquah Planning Department, P.O. Box 1307, Issaquah, WA 98027, or

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