Proposed stadium upgrades form controversial part of bond

March 27, 2012

From the beginning of the discussions over the upcoming school bond issue, Issaquah School District officials have admitted funding for millions in improvements to athletic fields in the district might be a hard sell to voters.

“We’re not doing anything outlandish,” said Steve Crawford, district director of capital improvements.

Crawford made the comment in September, answering questions from the school board prior to its vote to place the bond issue on the ballot.

At the same meeting, board members talked about issues of equity, saying they couldn’t appear to be playing favorites among the schools if they expected the bond to pass. One chief example held up was the plan to renovate the stadium at Skyline High School. The revamping will put the school on equal footing with other high schools in the district, said board member Chad Magendanz, who has since become president of the board.

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Press Editorial

March 27, 2012

Controversial bond deserves a yes vote

W  e wish the Issaquah School District had been more conservative in its request to fund the long list of items on the April 17 construction bond, but we get why it did so.

With another school bond ending its 20 years of tax collections, this is a good time to get a lot of catch-up work done on our school facilities, while still giving taxpayers a couple hundred dollars’ reduction in property taxes next year (an estimated $215 drop on a $500,000 assessed valuation home.)

Volunteers for Issaquah Schools, the group pushing a yes vote, say this is the biggest campaign it has ever mounted. It’s no wonder. With so many questions and a $219 million price tag, the proposed bond has raised a lot of eyebrows.

There are a lot of questions voters are asking, as we did. Do the middle schools really need artificial-turf fields? Does it really make sense to tear down Clark Elementary School? Does Tiger Mountain Community High School, population 80, really need to be relocated at a cost of $4 million? Isn’t $75,000 for clocks at Beaver Lake Middle School rather excessive? And so on.

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Bond package includes artificial turf for middle schools

March 27, 2012

There are a couple of themes that come up over and over as backers and school officials talk about the prospect of placing artificial turf on the fields of each of the five Issaquah School District middle schools.

The upcoming bond package also would provide the middle schools with rubberized outdoor running tracks if voters decide to approve the $219 million capital improvement plan.

District officials hope to install the turf and tracks at a cost of $1.5 million per school, not counting fields that could go in at a transplanted Issaquah Middle School.

The IMS fields would be added after the school is rebuilt; associated costs are not specifically spelled out in the district’s bond package.

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King County joins Issaquah, other cities in climate change effort

March 27, 2012

King County Council members approved a partnership among the county, Issaquah and other cities March 19 to coordinate regional efforts on climate change and sustainability issues.

In a unanimous decision, leaders OK’d a program to bring together county and city staffers to collaborate on greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets and other shared projects.

In June 2011, the county and several cities formed a partnership called the King County-Cities Climate Collaboration. The focus is to pool resources to combat the impact of climate change.

“We will share information that helps us do these things,” Issaquah Mayor Ava Frisinger said March 23. “So, for instance, the county has programs that help people do land-use and transportation planning that make connectivity stronger.”

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Some Issaquah customers could pay more for water, sewer

March 27, 2012

Overhauling the rate structure for the Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District could help stabilize the revenues from year to year at the expense of lowering the financial incentive for water conservation.

The revised rate structure could mean a 17.1 percent hike for sewer service and 8.6 percent increase in the cost of water for the average single-family home. The increased rates could help make up a more than $2.3 million deficit in the district budget.

The district is investing in updated pipes, pumps and other infrastructure to accommodate growth, but revenue is falling due to lower water consumption by customers.

The average home in the district uses about 1,400 cubic feet of water in a two-month period and could pay a water bill of $68.98 under the overhauled rate structure — up from $63.50 under current rates. The rise in sewer could be more drastic, from $42.96 every two months for the average homeowner to $50.34 for the same period.

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Students at local high schools get inventive

March 27, 2012

Reid Malmquist is the king of ventures

By Iman Baghai Issaquah High School

When it comes to entrepreneurship, Reid Malmquist is king.

Before the tender age of 17, Malmquist has launched more businesses than most people do in a lifetime — and he’s been successful. Malmquist does an array of things that include website design, programming and photography.

Malmquist’s first venture was Voomo, a social networking site. A friend and Malmquist developed the site and then realized they didn’t have the capacity to truly get it to where they wanted it. They sold it for more than $500.

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Grandparents get a hands-on lesson in salmon’s circle of life

March 27, 2012

Jerry Pearson and his grandson Dylan Pearson, 5, release salmon fry into Issaquah Creek March 21 under the Northwest Sammamish Road crossover with other Issaquah School District classroom students, teachers and parents. By Greg Farrar

Five-year-old Dylan Pearson took extra care as he crept his way across the rocks under the watchful eye of his PeePah to the edge of the creek to release the young salmon fry swimming at the bottom of his plastic cup.

Participating in the life cycle of the salmon was an important lesson that Dylan’s grandfather, Issaquah native Jerry Pearson, wanted to teach his grandson. Pearson can still remember the salmon spawning in Lewis Creek near his home when he was the same age as his grandson.

“Sharing this moment and the lessons we learn about the renewal of life are things that I will never forget,” Jerry Pearson said. “Hopefully, the salmon will inspire Dylan to nurture new life and then set it free.”

The youngster and his grandfather joined third-graders from Apollo Elementary School on March 21 to release more than 230 small coho salmon that were raised from eggs in their classroom into Issaquah Creek behind Pickering Barn. Many students were sad; others cheered as they watched the tiny fish swim away.

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Issaquah resident elected to King Conservation District board

March 27, 2012

Issaquah resident Christopher “Kit” Ledbetter is the latest addition to the King Conservation District board after a little-noticed, uncontested election.

Ledbetter, longtime parks and recreation director for SeaTac municipal government, earned a supervisor seat on the board of the conservation district — the agency responsible for promoting sustainable use of natural resources, and providing information and technical assistance to landowners.

Landowners fund the district through a $10-per-parcel assessment fee.

In 2011, the district shifted to online elections in a push to boost turnout. King County Elections does not administer district elections. Instead, the district relied on Bellevue-based Election Trust and Scytl USA to coordinate the balloting.

Though the district encompasses most of the more than 1.1 million registered voters in the county, anemic turnout defined recent conservation district elections.

Ledbetter received 205 votes out of 216 votes cast during the monthlong election. Other votes went to write-in candidates; one voter cast a ballot for Mickey Mouse.

The results do not become official until certified by the Washington State Conservation Commission in May.

State extends studded tire deadline to April 16

March 27, 2012

The state Department of Transportation extended the studded tire removal deadline to April 16 in preparation for possible wintry conditions during the Easter holiday weekend.

In Washington, studded tires can be legally used between Nov. 1 and March 31, unless the state extends the removal deadline. Violators face a $124 penalty during other months.

“This year, we have a combination of winter weather still in the forecast for much of the state,” Chris Christopher, director of maintenance operations, said in a statement. “With spring break and Easter right around the corner, we wanted to give drivers the chance to travel before having to take off their studded tires.”

The state transportation agency recommends motorists headed into higher elevations carry chains and use approved traction tires year round.

Officials do not expect to extend the deadline beyond April 16.

King County crews start roadside weed control soon

March 27, 2012

King County road crews plan to roll out a roadside weed control program in unincorporated areas April 9.

Through the annual program, certified technicians conduct controlled herbicide spraying along road shoulders during the spring and summer. The program is meant to reduce safety hazards for bicyclists, motorists and pedestrians.

The spraying also controls noxious weeds — a potential threat to animals and native vegetation.

If residents do not want county crews to spray the county right of way near their property, they should post “owner will maintain” signs. The owners must also agree to maintain the right of way themselves. Maintenance agreements must be completed and returned to the county Road Services Division before the signs can be issued.

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