Eastside Fire & Rescue firefighters could receive 2 percent raise

September 13, 2011

Eastside Fire & Rescue staffers would receive a 2 percent raise every year through 2014 under a labor agreement that will go before the agency’s board Sept. 19.

Craig Hooper, president of IAFF 2878, the firefighters union that also represents battalion chiefs and office staffers, said the 2 percent wage increase garnered the support of about 70 percent of union members. The EFR board must approve the agreement before it takes effect.

Lee Soptich

EFR Chief Lee Soptich confirmed that the new labor contract — technically an extension of the old contract — contains automatic wage increases, but declined to comment on the specifics until it came before the board.

The contract had called for wage increases to be determined by comparing EFR firefighters’ salaries to those of neighboring departments and averaging the numbers out. In past years that has led to wage hikes as large as 3 or 4 percent. With the recession squeezing the budgets of EFR’s partner cities — Issaquah, Sammamish and North Bend — the union agreed to forgo that comparison process the last two years. Wages were frozen in 2010 and tied to the cost of living in 2011, meaning a one-fifth of 1 percent increase.

Fire administration officials warned Sammamish representatives earlier this year that the union may seek to “recapture” some of the wage increases delayed due to the recession.

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King County leaders commit $1.4 million to combat gangs

September 13, 2011

Lake Sammamish State Park shootout influences decision

King County leaders bolstered efforts to combat street gangs late last month and directed $1.4 million from a law-enforcement emergency fund to confront a rise in gang violence.

The funds aid prosecutors, sheriff’s deputies and community organizations in anti-gang efforts. The county intends to add three deputy prosecutors and a paralegal focused solely on gang-related cases. Plans call for the King County Sheriff’s Office to receive additional equipment and training.

Dow Constantine

Kathy Lambert

County Council members created the law-enforcement emergency fund last year to address unforeseen criminal justice needs.

Councilwoman Kathy Lambert, Issaquah’s representative, joined County Executive Dow Constantine, Prosecutor Dan Satterberg and other leaders Aug. 30 to announce the initiative. The council agreed to fund the initiative a week later.

“We want King County to be a family-friendly and gang-unfriendly area,” she said after the announcement. “We’re taking this very seriously. We’re not putting up with it.”

Lambert said the gang-related shootout at Lake Sammamish State Park in July 2010 also influenced the decision to confront gang violence. The lethal gun battle left a 33-year-old Kent man and a 30-year-old Seattle man dead.

“It used to be that gangs had a neighborhood that they lived in and now they go all over the place,” she said.

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Offer input on plan to redevelop business district

September 13, 2011

Citizens can offer input on a plan to transform Issaquah’s business district in the decades ahead.

Longtime Issaquah developer Rowley Properties is proposing a long-term plan to redevelop about 80 acres along Northwest Gilman Boulevard and state Route 900 from a commercial and light-industrial district into a mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented neighborhood.

Get involved

Rowley Properties draft environmental impact statement open house

  • Citizens can submit written comments on the draft to city Environmental Planner Peter Rosen at peterr@ci.issaquah.wa.us until 5 p.m. Sept. 29. Or, citizens can mail comments to Rosen at Issaquah Planning Department, P.O. Box 1307, Issaquah, WA 98207.

The municipal Planning Department issued a draft environmental review for the plan to redevelop Hyla Crossing and Rowley Center on Aug. 31. The review, or environmental impact statement, illustrates possible impacts on storm water, traffic, views and more.

Rowley Properties and city planners embarked on a bold effort in April 2010 to redevelop Hyla Crossing and Rowley Center in Central Issaquah.

The city is in the midst of a parallel effort to define redevelopment in 915-acre Central Issaquah in the coming decades. The agreement to redevelop the Rowley Properties land is seen as critical to the overall redevelopment push.

The city is hosting a public open house on the draft environmental impact statement Sept. 21. The meeting is meant to provide information about the review, but the city is not accepting verbal comments at the meeting.

Then, to address comments from the public, planners prepare a final environmental impact statement for the City Council. The council then uses the review to make a final decision on the proposed development agreement between the city and Rowley Properties.

Issaquah School Board adopts $287.7 million budget

September 13, 2011

On the last day allowed by state law, the Issaquah School Board on Aug. 31 passed its 2011-2012 budget.

The overall plan includes expenditures of $287.7 million, including general fund spending of $161.5 million, according to district Chief of Finance and Operations Jake Kuper.

As with most governmental budgets, the general fund pays for the day-to-day operations of the district and includes items like class materials and salaries.

Outside of the general fund, the overall budget includes $1.5 million for the purchase of new buses, $68.2 million for capital improvements, $49.5 million for debt service and a $7 million allocation for spending by student groups.

During the recent board discussion, board member Chad Magendanz warned that Olympia legislators still could have some surprises in store for the district. Magendanz said he has seen hints that a special session of the Legislature could occur with adjustments to the state budget at the top of the agenda.

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Police arrest 1,824 for DUI during recent crackdown

September 13, 2011

Officers from the Issaquah Police Department and other law enforcement agencies in the state arrested more than 1,800 motorists for drunken driving during the Drive Hammered, Get Nailed enforcement campaign from Aug. 19 to Sept. 5.

In King County, officers on routine and extra patrols arrested 452 motorists for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and statewide, law enforcement officers arrested 1,824 drivers for DUI.

Officials said more than 40 percent of the DUI traffic deaths occur in Washington during the summer.

The funding for extra patrols originated as a grant from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.

EFR extinguishes Klahanie brush fire amid heightened risk

September 13, 2011

Eastside Fire & Rescue responded to a brush fire in the 4200 block of Klahanie Drive Southeast on Sept. 7.

Someone working in the area reported the brush fire. The caller then attempted to extinguish the blaze, but the fire grew to a 20-foot-by-20 foot area burning in the trees, dry debris and duff located behind a community pool.

Firefighters contained and extinguished the fire in less than an hour. EFR called a King County fire investigator to scene to determine the cause. The cause is still under investigation.

Every year, EFR reports a hike in brush fires caused by careless smokers, unattended burns, illegal fireworks discharge and children playing with lighters or matches during the summer season.

Fire officials ask for residents to take a few precautions through the hot weather season. Build a defensible space around homes and report any suspicious behavior in neighborhoods. Talk with children about the fire danger and how to help community stay safer.

Find more tips about wildfire safety at EFR’s website, www.eastsidefire-rescue.org, or Firewise, at www.firewise.org, a national effort to promote fire safety.

Microsoft offers donations for Day of Caring

September 13, 2011

This year’s United Way Day of Caring on Sept. 16 will earn local organizations some extra donations thanks to Microsoft.

For the first time, Microsoft will contribute $100 for each Microsoft alumnus who participates in the Day of Caring. Up to $50,000 will be distributed to nonprofit organizations supported by Microsoft alumni doing work in King County through the Microsoft Alumni Foundation.

Microsoft employees will be working side by side with Microsoft alumni.

Learn more about the foundation and its involvement with United Way’s Day of Caring at www.microsoftalumni.org/home.aspx.

Clark Elementary School turns 60

September 13, 2011

Aging school faces uncertain future

Brandon Peterson, 12, (second from right) and James Adkins, 10 (far right), run one of the carnival games at Clark Elementary’s 60th birthday bash Sept. 9. By Tom Corrigan

For some time after it opened its doors in September 1951, the Issaquah elementary school on Second Avenue Southeast was simply known as “the new school.”

At least that is how articles from The Issaquah Press refer to the school, which initially consisted of six classrooms serving only grades one and two.

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Skyline’s class of 2001 plans school’s first 10-year reunion

September 13, 2011

In any number of ways, the class of 2001 was a special one for Skyline High School.

In terms of sports accomplishments, Spartans of that vintage helped win the girls state softball championship in 1999. The football team took the state title in 2000 and just missed doing it again the following year.

Still, probably most importantly, the graduates represented the first class to attend Skyline for all four of their years in high school.

“I think it’s worth remembering, worth commemorating,” said Kim Best, a member of the class of ’01 and one of the principal organizers of the school’s first 10-year reunion.

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Football season brings Friday night delights

September 13, 2011

Michael Payant Hall Monitor Liberty High School

There are many aspect to high school — the drama, the cliques, the stressful classes and the growing sense of responsibility placed on students, just to name a few. Ultimately, school is all about the student experience, and it doesn’t get much better than fall Friday nights in the Issaquah School District.

Skyline is perennially among the best 4A football teams in the state, despite falling short of its ultimate goal last season. Issaquah’s team sometimes gets lost in Skyline’s shadow, but their recent play has been nothing to scoff at either. Liberty has provided plenty of football drama in my four-year tenure here, and has found its way to the playoffs every year, including a 3A state championship appearance.

Last year, when Liberty took on Skyline and Issaquah at home in consecutive weeks, the school needed overflow seating to handle the massive crowds. Both Skyline and Issaquah sent out fans in droves and saw great games. This year, Liberty traveled to take on the opposing schools and the stands were packed once again.

There’s a reason “Friday Night Lights” was so popular. High school football on a crisp autumn evening is more than just a game. There is something special about gathering with hundreds of your peers to cheer your team to victory, especially against a rival. Divisive cliques fade into one cohesive cheer squad; the drama and stress that bother you in school turn into the drama and stress of excitement that makes sports great.

Win or lose, there is no other experience like it. Years into the future, when my hair grays prematurely, my vision starts to falter and lesser memories are forgotten, I will remember these Friday nights.

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