Stuffed donations give kids a friend waiting in the ER

December 6, 2011

Boy Scout Nathan Karren, 14, sits in his living room surrounded by about 650 stuffed animals he collected for his Eagle Scout service project. By Tom Corrigan

Back when she was 4 or 5, Nathan Karren’s sister had to take what her brother described as more than a few trips to the emergency room.

During those trips to the ER, Nathan remembers that Emma, now 7, would be given a stuffed animal to help her feel better. Nathan, now 14, used that memory of Emma’s experiences as his inspiration when dreaming up a service project in order to earn the rank of Eagle Scout.

In about a month, while it was dubbed “Project Teddy Bear,” Nathan’s undertaking gathered more than 650 stuffed animals of all types, including teddy bears, rabbits, hippos and about every other creature ever recreated as a soft toy. The fuzzy menagerie was delivered to the ER at Overlake Hospital Medical Center in Bellevue on Nov. 29. Nathan’s dad Boyd Karren said the delivery went very nicely.

“He was very well received,” Boyd said.

For his part, Nathan said Scouting is a big part of his life.

“It’s pretty important to me,” he said, adding it’s also a lot of fun.

While Boyd noted approximately one out of every 100 Boy Scouts becomes an Eagle Scout, Nathan is following what seems to be a family tradition. Boyd earned his Eagle award after creating a neighborhood watch group in Bellevue. Both Nathan’s maternal grandfather and great-grandfather were Eagle Scouts. Boyd said his father didn’t get to be an Eagle Scout when he was younger, but has earned a prestigious Silver Beaver award for his adult volunteering with the Scouts.

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Trooper unhurt after icy Interstate 90 crash

December 6, 2011

A state trooper rolled a patrol cruiser on eastbound Interstate 90 early Dec. 5 east of Issaquah amid foggy and icy conditions.

The incident occurred at about 3 a.m. as Trooper Casey Myers, 28, neared the end of his shift and hit a patch of black ice. The patrol cruiser veered off the roadway and then rolled into a roadside embankment.

The six-year veteran trooper did not sustain injuries in the crash, but he later checked into Overlake Hospital Medical Center in Bellevue as a precaution.

The state Department of Transportation also treated roads to combat ice, but crews responded to ice-related crashes on Eastside roads.

Officials used the incident as a reminder to motorists to use caution on icy roads.

Press Editorial

December 6, 2011

Initiative process needs reform

The state’s initiative process has turned Washington special-interest groups into children making up a Christmas list. Initiative creators come up with one pricey item after another that they want — or fees and taxes they want to go away — with little concern for the financial impacts.

In recent years, voters have decided that the Legislature needs a supermajority to raise taxes — essentially taking that option off the table.

If the initiative process is here to stay, one vital change should be made. All ballot language must include the financial impact.

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Family uses almost 400,000 lights to create Christmas extravaganza

December 6, 2011

The Ginnaty family home, just south of Issaquah, is a bright festival of Christmas lights, including Santa’s high-flying sleigh led by a red-nosed Rudolph. By Greg Farrar

The effort to install holiday lights on the Ginnaty home just outside city limits along the base of Tiger Mountain starts the weekend after Labor Day.

Jeri Ginnaty flips the switch on the estimated 350,000 to 400,000 lights on Thanksgiving night. The attraction lures Christmas light seekers down the rural road to see illuminated strand after illuminated strand.

The super-sized tradition started more than a decade ago, after Ginnaty traded a more modest display — a mere 50,000 lights — for a multicolored tribute to the season.

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Years in the making, settlement arrives over swapped black Labs

December 6, 2011

In December 2009, Issaquah’s Anne Galasso went to the PetSmart PetsHotel of Issaquah to pick up her black Lab.

Contributed Anne Galasso’s black lab LaiLa’s health deteriorated after a mixup sent her home with the wrong family in 2009.

Anne Galasso’s black lab LaiLa’s health deteriorated after a mixup sent her home with the wrong family in 2009. Contributed

On the same day, Stacey and Rob Peterson, of Maple Valley, went to the same business to retrieve their dog. The company admits the dog owners both went home with the wrong dog, according to PetSmart spokeswoman Michelle Friedman. The mix up eventually was caught by the dog owners and rectified. But Galasso alleged the damage to her dog LaiLa already was done.

Upon her return to her rightful owner, Galasso claimed LaiLa among other problems, had kennel cough and was limping. Galasso said the dog also developed severe stomach ulcers. But Galasso contended as LaiLa’s health got worse, so did any cooperation or assistance on the part of PetSmart.

Friedman said the company always was willing to work with Galasso. Only recently a PetSmart associate had contacted Galasso looking for documentation of LaiLa’s problems, but received no response, Friedman said. Galasso disputed any recent contact with PetSmart’s corporate offices, but Friedman said Galasso’s case had been closed because of her lack of response.

While both sides declined to give details, there apparently was some further back and forth shortly after The Issaquah Press contacted the company about LaiLa’s story. On Nov. 21, Galasso stated the company offered her a $2,000 settlement, which she refused, claiming treatments needed by LaiLa would cost more than that amount.

Still, just a few days later, Galasso said the two sides had come to an accord. A signed confidentiality agreement prevented her from discussing any details.

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Issaquah Valley Elementary principal feted for school’s academic improvement

December 6, 2011

Diane Holt named a distinguished principal of the year

When her school was named a School of Distinction for 2011, Issaquah Valley Elementary School Principal Diane Holt handed out specially made commemorative key chains to each member of her staff. By Tom Corrigan

“If somebody does something spectacular for your children, you’re never going to be more grateful,” said Trisha Neill, a PTSA officer and parent of a young student at Issaquah Valley Elementary School.

Neill is one of apparently a lot of parents ready and willing to sing the praises of Issaquah Valley Principal Diane Holt.

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Christmas tree cutting is banned on Tiger Mountain, other state lands

December 6, 2011

Forget about cutting a fresh Christmas tree in the Tiger Mountain State Forest or on other state lands.

The state Department of Natural Resources does not sell Christmas trees or pine boughs from state trust lands.

The agency manages forests on state trust lands and only allows timber to be harvested to benefit public schools, universities and other state institutions.

“Cutting trees from state trust forests isn’t allowed,” state Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark said in a statement. “These trees need to grow to build future public schools in our state, as well as provide wildlife habitat and clean water and air.”

Though the state does not allow Christmas tree cutting, people can cut trees at private farms and on U.S. Forest Service land.

Purchase permits to cut Christmas trees inside the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest at Trees can be cut in eastern portions of King County, plus parts of Pierce, Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties.

Christmas tree seekers can find places to cut trees from the Washington members of the National Christmas Tree Association at or the Pacific Northwest Christmas Tree Association at

Couple searches for lost wedding ring

December 6, 2011

Tyler and Tami Johnson’s lost ring is seen here around the leg of their son Deacon, who was born prematurely along with twin sister Avigail. Contributed

On Nov. 29, Tami Johnson’s husband Tyler visited the Fred Meyer store in Issaquah. She admits the wedding ring he lost at the store can be replaced, but the memories attached to it are well out of the ordinary.

When Tami Johnson gave birth to twins in 2009, she had been pregnant for a mere 24 weeks. Deacon and Avigail weighed in at 1 pound, 10 ounces and 1 pound, 7 ounces. They were given only a 40 percent chance of survival.

“I am very fortunate to say that today they are healthy children with minimal issues,” Johnson said.

Deacon is in therapy to help with some general motor skill issues, but otherwise both children are in good health, she said.

Still, back when they were born, Tyler Johnson could put his wedding ring around Deacon’s leg with room to spare. That is the source of the couple’s added emotional attachment to the ring. The Johnsons have a striking picture of the ring around Deacon’s leg, with Tami’s hand in the frame to add a further sense of scale.

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City plans website overhaul

December 6, 2011

The difficult-to-navigate municipal website — a portal to City Council documents, event schedules and emergency preparedness information — is about to receive a makeover.

The council plans to spend up to $125,000 to overhaul the outdated website early next year. The action follows a council discussion last year to remake the website, Funding for the overhaul comes from the Cable TV Fund — dollars from the franchise agreements between the city and cable providers.

Autumn Monahan, city communications coordinator and the point person on the redesign, collected input from department chiefs, council members, Mayor Ava Frisinger and website managers in other cities to prepare a plan for overhauling the website.

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Skyline Spartans continue dynasty, conquer state championship

December 6, 2011

Skyline wins sixth title since 2000 with 38-7 dominance over Skyiew

Mason Gregory, Skyline High School senior wide receiver, outleaps Skyview senior defensive back David Garlington for a 35-yard touchdown catch. By Greg Farrar

TACOMA — Before heading to the field for his second 4A state championship football game as a starter, Skyline High School junior quarterback Max Browne sat in the same chair in the same locker room as he did last year.

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