National Preparedness Month includes earthquake drill

August 30, 2011

September is National Preparedness Month, and Washington officials plan a statewide earthquake drill to help residents prepare for a natural disaster.

The statewide drop, cover and hold earthquake drill is at 10:15 a.m. Sept. 21. The monthly test of the Emergency Alert System marks the start of the drill.

“Citizens, companies and government agencies should review their individual preparedness plans, contact information and emergency kits, and need to prepare themselves to be self-sufficient for a minimum of three days following an act of terrorism, natural or manmade disasters,” Gov. Chris Gregoire said in a special proclamation.

Sept. 21 also includes a Tsunami Warning Communication System test in coastal Clallam, Jefferson, Grays Harbor and Pacific counties.

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State adopts changes to emission testing

August 30, 2011

The owners of some vehicles may no longer need to undergo emission testing after July 2012, as the state Department of Ecology prepares to enact rule changes to the testing program.

The state requires certain vehicles in King County and other densely populated areas to undergo emission tests to reduce air pollution.

Under the rule change required by the Legislature and due to go into effect next summer, all 2009 and newer model year vehicles do not require testing. In addition, additional businesses may be authorized to conduct tests. The rule change also eliminates some emission tests.

The measure calls for the same standards to be used for all 1995 model year and older gasoline vehicles. The rule change exempts light-duty diesel vehicles from testing and tightens test standards for heavy-duty diesel vehicles. The measure nixes the gas cap test and dynamometer testing.

Department of Ecology officials posted the complete rule and supporting documents on the agency’s air quality website. The agency announced the impending rule change Thursday.

The agency accepted public comments on the proposal in March and held a public hearing on proposed changes in Federal Way.

Besides King County, vehicles in Clark, Pierce, Snohomish and Spokane counties undergo emission tests.

If a vehicle needs to undergo the test, the owner receives a reminder inside his or her tab renewal notice or email reminder reading, “This vehicle must pass a Washington emission inspection.” Then, the vehicle must be tested before he or she can renew the tabs.

Press Editorial

August 30, 2011

Volunteer opportunities abound in the fall

As summer and its busy weekends wind down, kids are back in school and life gets back to a routine. It’s time to think about new activities.

Fall might mean a new computer class or getting back into a fitness program, signing up the kids for extracurricular activities — or volunteering.

If a onetime commitment to volunteering is preferred, think about helping out at the Salmon Days Festival. Now, that’s fun! Did you know it takes nearly 500 volunteers to help out? Salmon Days is Oct. 1-2.

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Off the Press

August 30, 2011

Get hooked on history with new series

Kathleen R. Merrill Press managing editor

I’ll never forget the first time I really got in trouble outside my home. And it was history’s fault.

Being scolded at home is routine for kids by the time they’re, what, 2? But having an adult who is not one of your parents give you what-for in a public place for the first time is beyond scary and more than a little mortifying.

I was hooked on history before I could even read. My dad has a fascination with old coins and I had a grandfather who loved and collected old cars. When I got to school and teachers started talking about things that were hundreds and sometimes thousands of years old, I was just mesmerized.

Many years later, the day I saw the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution in person was a great day indeed. I couldn’t help but think how old the paper was and about all the ways someone had safeguarded those documents so that we can see them today. So cool!

As I marveled about them out loud, I overheard someone (who later told me she was from England) say, “Two hundred years is nothing. My church is older than this document.” Touche!

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Gardeners grow community spirit in pea patches

August 30, 2011

Issaquah-area community gardens offer bounty, camaraderie

Summertime in the Mirrormont Pea Patch resembles a slice of Eden on Tiger Mountain.

Linda Jean Shepherd (above) points to some of the plants growing in a raised garden plot at the Mirrormont Pea Patch. By Greg Farrar

Pathways crisscross the ground among the lush leaves and verdant vines reaching out from bean, potato, tomato and dozens of other plants. Colorful blooms and delicate herbs greet guests at the garden gate.

“It’s about growing food, but it’s also about growing community,” Linda Jean Shepherd, a longtime Mirrormont resident and lead figure in establishing the pea patch, said on a stroll through the garden.

Some plots contain plants in neat rows. The plants in others bend and coil to Mother Nature’s whims.

“It’s so fun to see how people’s personalities are expressed in their gardens,” Shepherd said.

In Mirrormont and elsewhere in the Issaquah area, community gardens continue to sprout on empty lots and unused corners. The pea patches offer opportunities to grow produce, sure, but also a chance to grow community as neighbors join to dig and plant.

Gardeners from the pea patches often donate fresh, and often organic, produce to the Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank and other food pantries.

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Public Meetings

August 30, 2011

Sept. 1

Cemetery Board

6:30 p.m.

Coho Room, City Hall

130 E. Sunset Way

Sept. 5

City, county, state and federal offices, and schools, close for Labor Day

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Neighborhood turns trash, food scraps, to treasure, rich compost

August 30, 2011

Residents donate 400 pounds of garbage for composting effort

The half-gnawed corncobs, shorn pineapple tops, slimy banana peels and grease-stained pizza boxes simmered in the midday sun — a concoction assembled from the kitchen castoffs of 10 Issaquah families.

Residents of the Sycamore neighborhood near downtown Issaquah dump a last load of food scraps into more than 400 pounds of collected food waste. Contributed

The festering pile in Donna Misner’s driveway Aug. 24 included more than 400 pounds collected from residents in the Sycamore neighborhood near downtown Issaquah.

King County joined the residents to increase food-scrap recycling for a month to accomplish dual goals: demonstrate the ease of food-scrap recycling and turn the garbage into rich compost for a community garden.

“I don’t consider this waste. People always joke, ‘Oh, it’s garbage and it’s stinky. This is a material. This is a resource — that’s what this is right here,” King County EcoConsumer Tom Watson said during a midday event in the Sycamore driveway. “It may smell a little bit on a hot day, but when you do it at home, it’s not going to smell. When Cedar Grove makes it into compost, the final product is a product that’s going to help your garden grow. It’s a resource.”

Cedar Grove Composting plans to transform the refuse into compost and then donate the results to the Issaquah Flatland Community Garden near the AtWork! Recycling Center by late fall. Gardeners send 25 percent of the organic bounty to the Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank.

“The garden is a nice focal point for the Issaquah community,” AtWork! Community Development Manager Dennis Wadja said. “Neighbors walk to the garden, children are exposed to growing food, the food bank receives nutritious organic food and space is available for the disabled population. We see this recycling project as an opportunity to connect deeper to the wider community.”

(Cedar Grove Composting is near the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill in unincorporated King County between Issaquah and Maple Valley.)

Officials and teams from the King County Solid Waste Division and Cedar Grove Composting — including a county staffer dressed as a banana — gathered at the Misner home along Issaquah Creek as Tiger Mountain basked in the sunshine beyond.

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To the Editor

August 30, 2011

Education

State senators, representative support environmental education

During the week of July 25, I had the opportunity to meet with my state senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, as well as Congressman Dave Reichert’s senior legislative assistant in Washington, D.C., regarding environmental education and sustainability.

I am a fourth-grade teacher in the Issaquah School District. I have integrated environmental education into the core curriculum for many years using science lessons from Project Learning Tree, in particular.

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Siblings exchange visits with students from sister cities

August 30, 2011

Contributed Christina Corbitt (left) spent about a month as the guest of the family of Samanta Kaleja in the latter’s hometown of Liepaja, Latvia.

“Hot, really hot,” said Scott Corbitt, 15. “It just gets hot and stays that way.”

And while she talked a bit about the weather, for Scott’s older sister Christina, 17, it was the architecture that first grabbed her attention.

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Rapid Response

August 30, 2011

The city is the midst of a $50,000 study to better determine how municipal departments function. What steps would you take to make city government more efficient?

Thought the mayor had a paid individual to manage the different city government departments. If the city has to blow $50,000 for some hokey study, then fire that manager.

Ken Sessler, Issaquah

Frankly, I think Issaquah city staff are amongst the best you will find — listen to them regarding what needs to be fixed, what doesn’t and how they would go about it. It has to be difficult for them with all the expansion and changes under way.

Mark Bowers, Issaquah

First, start with a 10 percent cut to all programs. We all have had to do this in our personal lives and businesses. Why should government be immune? Yes, some may lose their jobs and have to work harder … so have the rest of us. Second — Cap the budgets not to exceed this cut amount for three years.

Matthew Balkman, Issaquah

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