Governor vetoes dollars for Lake Sammamish State Park

May 15, 2012

Cheryl Pflug

Questions about long-term funding for a proposed concession and event facility at Lake Sammamish State Park led Gov. Chris Gregoire to eliminate the $3.1 million legislators had set aside for construction.

The long-term plan for the state park included the concession and event facility as a supplement to the aging amenities at the lakeside destination. Officials questioned a plan from the cash-strapped state parks system to pay for the facility.

The governor struck the state park facility from the supplemental capital budget. The document authorized more than $1 billion in public works spending statewide, including a $4 million project to replace a problem-plagued Issaquah Salmon Hatchery dam.

Gregoire signed the supplemental capital budget April 24.

State Sen. Cheryl Pflug, a Maple Valley Republican and the representative for Issaquah, joined other senators to pressure the governor to preserve funding for the state park facility, but also raised questions about long-term funding.

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Commission seeks citizen input on state parks’ future

May 15, 2012

The agency responsible for Washington state parks is posing questions to citizens.

Should the state parks system operate more like a hospitality industry, a public conservation asset based mostly on grant and tax funding or a system of parks operating as community nonprofit entities? What do people enjoy about their park system? What improvements need to be made?

Citizens can offer answers to the questions as the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission starts a broad public outreach effort. The commission is seeking ideas through email, and in meetings with legislators, stakeholders and in public meetings.

Officials plan to use the input to create a transformation strategy to guide the park system through the next five years and beyond.

Participants at the public meetings can listen as parks staff members present a “state of state parks” report and ask for ideas and comments about three visions for the future. Participants at each meeting can discuss the themes and share ideas.

The meeting closest to Issaquah is scheduled from 7-8:30 p.m. June 6 at the King County Department of Development and Environmental Services office, 900 Oakdale Ave. S.W., Renton.

Find public comments, questions and suggestions received about the future of state parks at www.parks.wa.gov/Beyond2013 as the process proceeds.

Individuals, groups and organizations interested in joining the email list for updates regarding the planning process should email Strategic.Planning@parks.wa.gov.

Liquor sales expand in Issaquah, statewide June 1

May 15, 2012

Jeffrey Roh, of Milton, purchased the right to sell spirits at a liquor store under construction in the Klahanie Shopping Center. By Greg Farrar

The availability of liquor in Issaquah is poised to expand beyond a single storefront next month, as major retailers prepare to add spirits to store shelves and the state completes the process to privatize liquor sales.

Bartell Drugs, Fred Meyer, Front Street Market, Rite Aid, Safeway, Target, QFC, Walgreens and Costco received licenses to sell liquor. (QFC received licenses for the Northwest Gilman Boulevard and Klahanie stores.)

Until the transition to liquor privatization is completed, liquor is available only at a state-run store.

In the meantime, entrepreneurs purchased the rights to apply for a retail spirits license at the state-run liquor store along Northwest Gilman Boulevard and a liquor store under construction in the Klahanie Shopping Center.

State records show the right to the Issaquah store sold to Seattle merchant Leon Capelouto for $251,000. The right to the unfinished Klahanie store sold to Milton entrepreneur Jeffrey Roh for $82,100.

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Issaquah Highlands road link opens to vehicle traffic

May 15, 2012

By Dona Mokin

Issaquah Highlands residents, long limited to a single east-west route uphill through the hillside neighborhood, celebrated the opening of another road link May 10.

The city opened a pair of connected roads — Northeast College Drive and Northeast Falls Drive — to connect motorists to the area from Grand Ridge Elementary School to a proposed retail complex downhill from the campus.

The roads supplement the existing east-west corridor, Northeast Park Drive. The project is also meant to address congestion caused by morning and afternoon drop-offs and pick-ups at Grand Ridge Elementary.

The link starts at Central Park, runs behind the school and terminates at 10th Avenue Northeast. The link — completed by developers — is meant to offer additional access to the school, residences and a planned Bellevue College campus. (Hence the name Northeast College Drive.)

Developers shouldered most of the roughly $1.75 million project cost.

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County transit charge appears on vehicle tab renewals

May 15, 2012

Motorists in the process of renewing vehicle license tabs should notice a $20 charge authorized by the state Legislature and enacted by the King County Council last year.

The fee, billed as a Congestion Reduction Charge, is meant to prevent cuts to King County Metro Transit bus service. The county starts collecting the fee on June renewals sent out by the state Department of Licensing. The charge remains in effect until May 2014.

The renewal forms also include information for motorists to obtain tickets for eight free ride tickets on Metro Transit. The ticket incentive program is designed to build ridership.

Motorists must fill out a request form in order to receive the tickets. The value of the tickets also can be donated to a fund to support low-income residents relying on bus service.

Find information about the ticket incentive program and eligibility requirements at www.kingcounty.gov/metro/tip. Learn about the Congestion Reduction Charge at www.kingcounty.gov/metro/crc

Officials estimated the charge should generate about $50 million for transit service.

Candidates can file to run for election until May 18

May 15, 2012

Campaign season is under way, and candidates planning to run for office in the Aug. 7 primary election or the Nov. 6 general election must file by May 18.

During filing week, candidates can file online 24 hours a day until 4 p.m. May 18. Candidates can also file in-person from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily until May 18 at King County Elections headquarters, 919 S.W. Grady Way, Renton. The other option is for candidates to file by mail. Filings made by mail must be received no later than 4:30 p.m. May 18, regardless of the postmark date.

Find updated lists of candidate filing on the King County Elections website, www.kingcounty.gov/elections, at noon and by 6 p.m. each day until the filing week concludes.

The complete list of offices up for election, plus additional information about candidate filing and a manual for candidates, is available at www.kingcounty.gov/elections/candidates

The contests on the ballot include federal, statewide and legislative races. No elected positions in Issaquah municipal government or the Issaquah School District come up for election this year.

Student writers shine at Sunny Hills Elementary’s Young Authors Night

May 15, 2012

Jenaya Ray, 7, flips through her book ‘The Unicorns’ Magical Powers,’ which she also illustrated. By Lillian Tucker

The outside campus of Sunny Hills Elementary School was crawling with smiling, chatty students, hopped up on ice cream, pizza and the pleasure of being at school with friends and not having to hurry to class.

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Puget Sound Energy hikes electricity, natural gas rates

May 15, 2012

Issaquah residents started paying more for electricity and natural gas May 14.

In a recent decision, state utility regulators allowed Puget Sound Energy to increase rates 3.2 percent for electricity and 1.3 percent for natural gas customers.

The average residential electric customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours-per-month should pay about $3.30 more, for a bill total of $102.56. The typical natural gas customer using 68 therms per month should pay $1.08 more, for a bill total of $86.09.

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Harnessing the power of imagination to create solar car

May 15, 2012

Jeff Weng, an Issaquah High School senior, stands by his finished solar car. Photo Contributed

His idea was birthed on a sloshy, windy day while he was driving through Seattle. A solar panel — failing to work properly due to the wind and lack of sun — fell off a nearby streetlight, and Jeff Weng had an epiphany.

“It wasn’t really effective in what it was doing,” the Issaquah High School senior said. “I wanted to make something that could counter the environmental limitations that are inherent to living in the Northwest, while having the same advantages of a solar panel in a more sunny environment.”

Weng’s panel idea — along with a go-cart to utilize the invention — became the fruit of his 436 hours of labor last summer. Long days and all-nighters toying around in his garage paid off — Weng now has a pending provisional patent for his weather-savvy, solar panel invention.

Unlike other panels, Weng’s can attract the sun while maintaining a flat profile. The panel attaches to his car, charges its batteries and allows for his vehicle to travel at about 25 miles per hour.

“The panel has the ability to move in all directions through two separate drives and maintain flat while being able to attract,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if the sun’s out, it hits in the right spot in the sky, it will try to look at it to find efficiency.”

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‘The Producers’ at Village Theatre charms, offends for laughs

May 15, 2012

Brian Earp (Leo Bloom), Richard Gray (Max Bialystock), Nick DeSantis (Roger De Bris) and Chris Ensweiler (Carmen Ghia) perform a scene in ‘The Producers.’ Photo by Jay Koh/Village Theatre

“The Producers” caricatures and offends in strokes as broad as the Brooklyn Bridge.

The musical is the ultimate equal-opportunity offender. “The Producers” aims and fires at Jews, gays, women, Nazis — yes, Nazis — and almost everyone else in a rollicking production onstage at Village Theatre.

Indeed, the questionable material, especially the can-they-do-that moments, is the most enjoyable part of “The Producers.”

The mega-musical runs until July 1 and closes the 2011-12 season at Village Theatre.

“The Producers” is a breathless tribute to Broadway and, often in the same breath, a knife-edged parody. The appeal is the cynicism and crassness in the absurdist romp. So what, then, if some songs seem almost forgettable? The numbers still act as a capable delivery device for a handful of funnyman Mel Brooks’ sharpest lines.

The musical is a smash imported to Issaquah 11 years after Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick tore up Broadway in the original run. The lackluster 2005 film adaptation introduced audiences farther afield to the unabashedly old-school show.

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