Regulators file complaint against PSE for disconnect fee

December 20, 2011

State regulators issued a complaint against Puget Sound Energy and said the utility improperly charged a residential-visit disconnect fee to electricity and natural gas customers.

In the complaint issued Dec. 14, state Utilities and Transportation Commission staffers said PSE committed 1,639 violations of state consumer protection rules. Staffers also asked the commission to require the utility to refund customers charged the $13 fee in error.

Officials said a PSE representative could only charge the fee if he or she went to the residence to disconnect service. Under state rules, PSE may not charge a disconnect-visit fee if the utility visits a customer’s home for a purpose other than to disconnect service, such as leaving a 24-hour termination notice or collecting a payment.

The three-member commission is due to schedule a hearing for the complaint. Then, the company has 20 days to respond. The commission could assess PSE as much as $1,000 for each violation. If punished, PSE is not allowed to pass any penalty costs to customers through rates.

Bellevue-based PSE serves more than 1 million electric customers and almost 750,000 natural gas customers in Western Washington, including Issaquah.

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Still rethinking public space after 25 years

December 20, 2011

Pomegranate Center designs with openness, inclusion

Pomegranate Center Managing Director Katya Matanovic (left) and founder and Executive Director Milenko Matanovic stand before pictures of past Pomegranate projects on display in their Issaquah headquarters. By Tom Corrigan

While he now describes his work as community building, Milenko Matanovic says he began that work after realizing he was a frustrated artist.

Founder and executive director of the Issaquah-based Pomegranate Center, Matanovic, 64, contends that art lives too much in concert halls, museums and other similar spots.

“They’re all kind of like temples, right?” he said. “My own sense is that art should be infused into our daily lives.”

Marking its 25th anniversary this year, Matanovic’s nonprofit Pomegranate Center has attempted to move art out of the “temples” and into the every day. Doing that is where the idea of community building comes in, Matanovic said.

“Pomegranate isn’t the easiest thing in the world to explain,” admitted Katya Matanovic, one of Milenko’s daughters and Pomegranate’s managing director.

For the most part, with plenty of help required from the community involved, Pomegranate’s efforts are focused on creating parks or commons-like areas and including plenty of artistic touches. Milenko Matanovic seems to have borrowed the idea of the commons from Europe where he said many, if not most, traditional communities have a central, public space.

Locally, the Pomegranate Center is responsible for several projects including, for example, the planning and construction of Ashland Park in the Issaquah Highlands. While he could conceivably be talking about many Pomegranate Center projects, Matanovic said he saw the highlands’ park as “a place where festivals or a fair can happen.”

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Issaquah High School senior wins President’s Volunteer Service Award

December 20, 2011

Allie Lustig

Issaquah High School senior Allie Lustig won the silver level President’s Volunteer Service Award for more than 200 hours of community service with the city of Issaquah during 2010.

The silver level award is given by the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation to young adults who complete 175 to 249 hours of community service to thank and honor Americans who have inspired others to engage in volunteer service.

Lustig said that it was important for her to volunteer to give back to the community.

“I think you should give back to the places that give to you,” she said. “I grew up here and now that I’m going to college, I feel good that I gave back to the community that gave so much to me.”

In addition to an official President’s Volunteer Service Award lapel pin and a personalized certificate of achievement, Lustig also received a congratulatory letter from President Barack Obama.

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EFR teams with Santa to deliver a Christmas for families in need

December 20, 2011

Daniel Martinez-Otto, of Sammamish, poses with volunteer firefighters Michele Julum (left) and Emily Harig, and Frosty the Snowman (Discovery Elementary School Principal Tera Coyle) after giving a toy to Hopelink at Discovery on Dec. 16.By Christopher Huber

What’s not to love about climbing onto a fire truck and seeing your principal dressed up as Frosty the Snowman?

Hundreds of Discovery Elementary School students and their families literally filled Eastside Fire & Rescue’s traveling reindeer fire truck to capacity with toys Dec. 16. A steady stream of children poured out of the school onto the back playground for more than three hours on the last day before winter break, as they handed off toys for fellow youths they don’t know.

“I’ve never filled up the engine ‘til today,” said Emily Harig, a volunteer firefighter with EFR.

Harig and fellow volunteer firefighter Michele Julum estimated that the students donated 500 items, including Candy Land, Bop-It and other types of toys. The one-day effort was part of a massive, two-week food and toy drive to benefit Hopelink and the Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank.

When it was all said and done, Discovery families donated 2,874 pounds of food and hygiene necessities from Dec. 12-16, including 305 pounds of pasta and rice, 477 pounds of peanut butter and jelly, 811 pounds of flour and sugar, 625 pounds of oils and sauces and 656 pounds of diapers and toiletries, Principal Tera Coyle said. In addition, fourth-graders spent much of their last day of school making uplifting cards for cancer patients at Seattle Children’s. She was excited about the outpouring of generosity from the Sammamish students and families.

“We have an incredible community that has more than a lot of others and is willing to give back to the community that is less fortunate,” Coyle said.

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Restaurateurs’ wine earns top marks from magazine

December 20, 2011

Wine Enthusiast magazine named a wine produced by local restaurateurs as a top wine.

In its December issue, the magazine praised Poggio Nardone 2006 Brunello Di Montalcino as “an absolutely gorgeous Brunello with incredibly smooth, rich and beautiful aromas of mature blackberry, coffee, tobacco and smoky barbecue sauce. The wine’s texture is dense but also silky and the fruit-driven finish lasts many minutes.” The wine is produced in Italy’s Tuscany region.

The wine topped a list of 100 wines from around the globe in the magazine’s Top 100 Cellar Selections 2011.

In Issaquah, the wine-producing Nardone family operates Montalcino Ristorante Italiano downtown. The eatery features the wine honored in Wine Enthusiast.

Giovanni Nardone, Nardone Wine & Food founder and CEO, has a traditional history of discovering and producing fine wines. In addition to wine, the family also imports Italian food products and uses many at the Issaquah restaurant.

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Puget Sound Energy warns customers about email scam

December 20, 2011

Puget Sound Energy warned customers to beware of a fraudulent email meant to mimic a bill-payment notification. The bogus email does not affect PSE customer accounts.

The email resembles the notice PSE sends to online-billing customers when a utility bill is ready to be viewed and paid. The message contains PSE’s logo and some legitimate links to the utility’s website.

The phony email has reached some PSE customers, plus people in other states. The email is part of a nationwide phishing scam.

In email billing notifications, PSE always addresses customers by their full name rather than using “Dear Customer” — a clue of the fraudulent email. Another indication of the false email is the boldfaced message, “Refer to the attached file.”

PSE’s website advises customers to take the following steps if they receive the bogus email. Customers should not click on the link in the email or open any attachments. Then, they should delete the email notice immediately.

PSE customers should call 1-888-225-5773 toll free if they have questions or want to learn more.

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Press Editorial

December 20, 2011

Merry Christmas Issaquah fosters giving spirit

Like the old adage goes, ’tis better to give than receive.

The holiday season is the peak time for giving, as some donors catch the Christmas spirit and others seek to make a donation before the year ends.

Readers face many choices to donate hard-earned dollars to each holiday season, but Issaquah Community Services is the organization many local residents turn to for help to pay the rent or keep the lights on. The organization’s annual Merry Christmas Issaquah fund drive is essential.

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Seattle Humane Society asks for pet food donations

December 20, 2011

Seattle Humane Society and Safeway teamed up for a Holiday Pet Food Drive to help fill the shelves of the Humane Society’s pet food bank. Find collection bins at Safeway stores throughout King County. The nonprofit organization’s greatest need is for dry cat food.

The pet food bank provides pet food every month to more than 1,600 pets belonging to low-income seniors and people disabled by AIDS.

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Support local food banks during holiday season

December 20, 2011

Get your gifts wrapped and your picture taken with Pablo the Donkey and help support the Issaquah and Maple Valley food banks.

The event is sponsored by the Golden Horseshoes 4-H Club and is planned from 3-7 p.m. Dec. 22 in front of the Quintessence Gift Shop, 23916 S.E. Kent-Kangley Road, Maple Valley.

With some dressed as elves, 4-H members will wrap gifts and pose for pictures with visitors and Pablo, Golden Horseshoes organizer Tammy Reeve said. Pictures will be printed at the site.

Cash donations to benefit the two food banks will be accepted, though Reeve said donations of items for the food banks would be taken as well.

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King County offers tips to turn holiday season red and ‘green’

December 20, 2011

King County is encouraging revelers to turn the holiday season red and “green.”

The county Solid Waste Division launched the Green Holidays campaign at to educate consumers about how to cut waste, save energy and support the local economy during the holiday season.

The campaign covers holiday décor, entertaining, Christmas tree-cycling and more. The “green” motif also extends to cards, packaging and gift wrap.

Residents can dump grease from entertaining, for instance, at designated drop-off sites to avoid clogged pipes in the sewer system and recycle food scraps for composting.

Green Holidays also offers environmentally sound advice for donating to others during the holiday season. Participants can also enter a Green Holiday Drawing for a chance to score meals and other “experience” gifts.

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