Substitute bus driver arrested for child pornography

May 11, 2012

NEW — 12:45 p.m. May 11, 2012

Federal agents arrested a substitute bus driver for the Issaquah School District for child pornography possession Thursday.

In the course of the investigation, security officials told district officials no evidence exists to believe any inappropriate or illegal activities occurred as the driver — identified as Carnation resident Andrew Bernard Rekdahl in court documents — worked for the district.

Prosecutors charged charged Rekdahl with possession and distribution of child pornography.

“This is obviously a very serious charge, and our first priority is making sure that he acted as a professional at all times while driving for us,” Superintendent Steve Rasmussen said in a statement released early Friday afternoon.

Prosecutors said Rekdahl shared explicit images and videos of boys online.

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Parents, students encouraged to apply for high school schedule committee

May 10, 2012

NEW — 3:30 p.m. May 10, 2012

As the next major step to align each of the three high schools schedules in the Issaquah School District, administrators encourage parents and students to become involved with the Liberty High School Schedule Committee that will be formed this month.

The parent and student application and a timeline of the project are available online now.

Applications are due to Kathy Schroeder in Liberty’s main office by May 18, and parents of Maywood Middle School and Liberty students are especially encouraged to apply.

The school will continue with the same eight-period schedule for the 2012-13 school year. Issaquah and Skyline high schools have a six-period daily schedule in place, while Liberty has eight.

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Issaquah police officers earn top law enforcement honor

May 8, 2012

Officer Jesse Petersen, Cpl. Christian Munoz, and officers Brian Horn and Laura Asbell (from left) stand at the Washington Law Enforcement Memorial after receiving the Law Enforcement Medal of Honor in a May 4 ceremony in Olympia. By Jacqueline Kerness/Issaquah Police Department

In a solemn ceremony not far from the state Capitol, Gov. Chris Gregoire slipped a Law Enforcement Medal of Honor around the necks of police officers involved in a deadly September 2011 shootout at Clark Elementary School.

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Eastside Fire & Rescue establishes rooftop beehive at Issaquah station

May 8, 2012

Brian Gilomen, Eastside Fire & Rescue support services technician, checks on one of the frames in which his honeybees have built a honeycomb to incubate eggs and store honey. By Greg Farrar

The buzz at a downtown Issaquah fire station is all about honeybees.

Eastside Fire & Rescue established a beehive on the roof at Station 71 next to City Hall. Station 71 is perhaps the only fire station in the state, and maybe beyond, to host a rooftop beehive.

Honeybees use assembly-line efficiency to gather pollen, and produce beeswax and honey — prizes for amateur apiarists, or beekeepers.

The focus at the Station 71 beehive is conservation, although the agency could someday sell honey from the beehive. The experiment in rooftop beekeeping is meant to lend a hand to the strained honeybee population.

EFR Chief Lee Soptich proposed the idea after reading about tenants in rooftop beehives established on Seattle skyscrapers. Intrigued, Soptich turned to Brian Gilomen, support services technician for the agency and a backyard beekeeper, to establish a rooftop beehive at Station 71.

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Construction could start on Issaquah Highlands retail center soon

May 8, 2012

More options to shop and dine in the Issaquah Highlands could open as soon as next year, after a landmark decision by city officials to approve a long-awaited retail complex in the neighborhood.

Regency Centers, a real estate investment trust based in Florida, intends to build the retail complex, dubbed Grand Ridge Plaza, on vacant land along Highlands Drive Northeast between Swedish/Issaquah and the Issaquah Highlands Park & Ride. Construction could start as early as next month.

The decision by the Urban Village Development Commission represents a milestone in the stop-and-go effort to add more retail options in the neighborhood. The commission — a city board to oversee large-scale projects in the highlands and Talus — OK’d the site development permit for Grand Ridge Plaza in a May 1 decision.

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City’s sales tax revenue is down so far in 2012

May 8, 2012

Issaquah municipal government did not collect as much revenue January through March as it did during the same period a year ago, although planned developments could strengthen city finances.

In 2011, sales tax revenues increased almost 10 percent from 2010, but only due to sales tax on construction, mostly related to Swedish/Issaquah.

However, the city received about $6.1 million in revenue through March, down 6 percent — or $393,286 — from the same period a year ago. The figure includes sales tax revenue, building permits, grants and other funding sources.

The construction of Swedish/Issaquah bolstered the 2011 total.

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Issaquah sales decline, state sales increase

May 8, 2012

Taxable retail sales in the state increased 3 percent to $103.8 billion in calendar year 2011, the state Department of Revenue reported April 27.

The 3 percent gain for 2011 compares to a 0.1 percent drop in overall sales in 2010. Overall sales dropped 11.2 percent in 2009 due to the recession.

In 2011, retail trade, a component of all taxable retail sales including retailers but excluding other industries, increased 3.5 percent from 2010 to $47.9 billion.

Construction dropped 1.7 percent last year, a smaller decline than the 12 percent drop in 2010. In addition, new and used auto sales climbed 8.3 percent last year, compared to a 2.8 percent gain in 2010.

In 2011, accommodations and food services rose 5.1 percent; apparel and accessories increased 5.5 percent; and sales of building materials, garden equipment and supplies declined 0.3 percent.

Sales of taxable retail sales in Issaquah amounted to $1.1 billion last year — down 2.61 percent from 2010.

King County recorded $40.4 billion in taxable retail sales last year — a 4.2 percent increase from the previous year. Overall retail trade in King County amounted to $16.7 billion — a 4.6 percent increase from 2010.

King County executive appoints rural outreach adviser

May 8, 2012

The latest King County strategy to engage rural residents — including more than 16,000 people near Issaquah — earned early praise from a community leader in the unincorporated tract between Issaquah and Renton.

County Executive Dow Constantine appointed a top adviser April 4 to lead the outreach effort from county government to residents in rural and unincorporated areas. The announcement marked the latest step in a long-running effort to change how leaders and residents interact.

Alan Painter — Constantine’s former adviser on human services, health and housing policy — is the manager for the community service areas program. In the past 18 months, county officials carved unincorporated land into designated areas to coordinate on issues, such as crime prevention or potential development.

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King County Library System’s Internet policy is unchanged after court ruling

May 8, 2012

The use of software to filter Internet content for library patrons received support in a recent federal court ruling.

Officials at the King County Library System filter Internet content at public computers, although library patrons can have the filter deactivated. The library system uses a tiered system of filters to determine patrons’ access to Internet content.

In April, Eastern Washington Federal District Court Judge Edward F. Shea ruled the Wenatchee-based North Central Regional Library did not violate the First Amendment by installing Internet filtering software on computers for all library patrons.

Under a policy adopted in August 2003, the Issaquah-based library system provides access to the Internet on all public computers and uses Internet filtering software.

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Issaquah School Board is unhappy about King County’s school site decisions

May 8, 2012

Members of the Issaquah School Board were unhappy to hear last week that a district-owned 80-acre property is most likely unusable.

“We own the land. If the county wants to condemn it then they can pay us and we’ll go find something else,” board member Brian Deagle said.

The board got the bad news at its April 26 meeting, when it received an update about the recent recommendations of the King County School Siting Task Force.

In his presentation to the board, Steve Crawford, director of capital projects for the Issaquah School District, explained that one of the recommendations is for Issaquah to basically give up the nearly 80 acres of land it owns on Southeast May Valley Road. The $1.4 million property, which sits between Squak Mountain to the north and the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill to the south, is outside of King County’s urban growth boundary.

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