Turnout is expected to rise for August primary

July 17, 2012

The top elections official in Washington, Secretary of State Sam Reed, predicted above-average turnout in the August primary election — 46 percent, or about 3 percent more than the last comparable election.

The summer primary — bumped up to Aug. 7 to accommodate military and overseas voters — allows local voters a chance to decide a property tax measure and cull the field in federal, judicial, legislative and statewide contests.

Reed made the turnout prediction July 12, about a week before ballots started to reach voters.

The electorate selects the top two candidates, regardless of party affiliation, in the all-mail primary election. The top vote recipients then advance to an all-mail general election Nov. 6.

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Meet candidates in contested congressional, legislative races

July 17, 2012

The only local races contested in the Aug. 7 primary election include a U.S. House of Representatives election and a state House of Representatives election.

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Senate is familiar territory for Sammamish’s Dino Rossi

July 17, 2012

State Supreme Court Justice Jim Johnson (left) administers the oath of office to former and current state Sen. Dino Rossi, R-Sammamish. Washington Senate Republicans

The next senator for the 5th Legislative District also held the post before the most recent occupant.

Republican Dino Rossi, a Sammamish resident, represented Issaquah in Olympia from 1997 until December 2003. In January 2004, Republican Cheryl Pflug succeeded Rossi and, after Pflug resigned to accept a state board post, King County Council members returned Rossi to the state Senate.

Rossi is not expected to serve for long. The next senator — either Mark Mullet, a Democrat and Issaquah City Council member, or Republican Brad Toft, a Snoqualmie businessman — is due to assume office in late November, after King County Elections certifies the Nov. 6 election results.

Rossi is not a candidate for the seat and, besides, after the November election, the political boundaries for Rossi’s neighborhood shift into the 45th Legislative District due to redistricting.

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Former Sen. Cheryl Pflug reacts to Dino Rossi appointment

July 17, 2012

Cheryl Pflug, former state senator for Issaquah and other Eastside communities, lambasted the appointment of Dino Rossi to fill the seat Pflug vacated late last month.

Cheryl Pflug

The sharp statement from Pflug, a Maple Valley Republican, came July 10, a day after the King County Council appointed Rossi to the seat as a caretaker until after the November election.

“I’m angry and appalled at the tactics of my former Senate Republican leadership, and I think they and Rossi shame themselves by trying to play godfather,” she said in the statement.

Pflug also endorsed Mark Mullet, a Democrat and Issaquah City Council member, in the race for the Senate race. Mullet is running against Brad Toft, a Snoqualmie businessman, for the post.

“This has been brewing for awhile, and I did tell Mark that he could put my name in the voters’ pamphlet,” she said in a later interview.

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U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert honors Issaquah police officers

July 17, 2012

U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert recognized the Issaquah Police Department last month to honor the officers involved in a deadly shootout late last year.

Dave Reichert

Cpl. Christian Muñoz, officers Laura Asbell, Jesse Petersen, Brian Horn, Tom Griffith and Sgt. Chris Wilson earned recognition from Reichert, a former King County sheriff and Auburn Republican.

Officers fatally shot Ronald W. Ficker just before noon Sept. 24 after the rural Maple Valley man abandoned a rental car at a downtown intersection and, carrying rifles and ammunition, set off in the direction of school campuses.

In a King County-mandated inquest held in May, jurors determined Asbell, Horn, Muñoz and Petersen faced a life-threatening situation and used proper procedures to stop Ficker on the Clark Elementary School campus.

On May 4, Asbell, Horn, Muñoz and Petersen also earned the Law Enforcement Medal of Honor, the top law enforcement honor in Washington.

Reichert also recognized the officers from the House floor May 10.

“On that day, as on every day, law enforcement officers saved lives calmly, swiftly and selflessly,” he said then.

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Central Issaquah Plan hearing continues July 19

July 17, 2012

Citizens can still comment on the historic proposal to transform more than 900 acres near Interstate 90 and state Route 900 in the decades ahead.

The far-reaching Central Issaquah Plan is a step closer to implementation, but before city leaders act on the plan, citizens can comment on the bid at a Planning Policy Commission public hearing.

Commissioners held the initial hearing July 12, and then continued the hearing to July 19 to accommodate citizen comments. The commission meets at 6:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall South, 135 E. Sunset Way.

The long-term Central Issaquah Plan is meant to guide redevelopment from shopping centers and low-rise office buildings to a taller neighborhood meant for businesses and residences.

Central Issaquah encompasses 915 acres — including retail destinations, such as Pickering Place, and the Meadows and Issaquah Commons shopping centers. The area does not include historic downtown Issaquah.

The environmental review, or environmental impact statement, for the project arrived June 28.

The commission is due to send the proposal to the City Council for consideration in the weeks ahead.

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American Hero Quilts Galleria offers thanks to Iraq, Afghanistan veterans

July 17, 2012

Bellewood Retirement Center residents Ursula Tueffers (from left), Merle Klavano, Herb Lyons and Peggy Duncan unfold a quilt that will be displayed with others in the galleria display space for four weeks before being sent to soldiers. By Greg Farrar

She never heard his voice.

She never shook his hand or gave him a hug.

She didn’t even know his name until after he hanged himself.

But the story of Ken Dennis, a 22-year-old Marine who took his short life in 2004 after serving in Iraq, still haunts Sue Nebeker eight years later.

“He and his dad were at the mall,” she said, “and his dad said he looked around and said, ‘You know, I don’t fit in here anymore. I can’t do this. I’ve seen too much.’”

Nebeker would first learn of the Marine’s story in “The War Comes Home: Rifleman couldn’t take any more,” an August 2004 Seattle Post-Intelligencer article about Dennis’ struggle — facing the challenges of a recently discharged serviceman. And while most people would absorb the information and move on, Nebeker knew she had to do something.

That’s when she started American Hero Quilts, a project that aims to ensure wounded veterans in Iraq and Afghanistan come home to a tangible thank you through the warmth and comfort of a patriotic quilt. Nebeker vows to continue the project until U.S. forces are out of Afghanistan, and she is working to make quilts available to Vietnam veterans as well.

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Offer input about May Valley fire station at open house

July 17, 2012

Residents can learn about a fire station planned for May Valley at a July 19 open house hosted by Fire District 10.

The district is the Eastside Fire & Rescue partner serving residents in Klahanie, May Valley, Mirrormont, Preston and Tiger Mountain in the Issaquah area, plus Carnation in rural King County.

Plans call for EFR crews from Fire Station 78, at 16135 S.E. 113th Place near Renton, to relocate to a modern facility at a more central location at Southeast May Valley Road and 207th Avenue Southeast after construction is complete.

Construction on the May Valley station could start next year.

The open house is at 7 p.m. at EFR headquarters, 175 Newport Way N.W. Participants can offer input and ask district commissioners questions about the project.

In April, district officials completed the process to issue $5.5 million in construction bonds to build the fire station and complete other projects throughout the district.

The district encompasses about 130 square miles and about 28,000 people.

In February, 64 percent of voters in the district approved a bond measure to generate the construction dollars.

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Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank to provide backpacks, school supplies

July 17, 2012

The Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank is prepared to meet the school supply needs of up to 1,000 returning students this fall, about twice as many as last year.

Low-income families in need of backpacks and school supplies should sign up at the food bank, 179 First Ave. S.E. Students must be attending school in the Issaquah School District.

Refer families in need of backpacks to the food bank.

The backpacks and supplies are being donated by numerous individuals and businesses in the community, including Kiwanis Club of Issaquah, Issaquah Schools Foundation, SanMar, Issaquah Rotary Club, Office Depot, Issaquah Education Association and others.

Local PTAs collected $500 in gift card donations in June to support the bulk purchase of supplies.

Donations can be sent or dropped off at the food bank. Call 391-4123 for more information.

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Giving back to Issaquah Salmon Hatchery, a community ‘treasure’

July 17, 2012

When Kelly Richardson was a child, her grandmother used to take her and her sister for picnics along Tibbetts Creek.

“We saw fish spawn, tree frogs lay their eggs, and watched eagles and blue herons fly,” she said.

These days, the Issaquah resident volunteers with the city’s historic staple attraction — the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery. Richardson calls it an “Issaquah treasure.” She works for a program called FISH, or Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery, which gives tours to thousands of visitors a year.

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