Boundary change shifts 175 students from Grand Ridge to Clark

December 4, 2012

When the first day of school comes next fall, 175 students who had gone to Grand Ridge Elementary School will say “hello” to Clark Elementary School.

The move was announced Nov. 19 as part of a boundary shift that will help alleviate overcrowding at Grand Ridge. Additionally, all kindergartners will go to Challenger and Endeavour elementary schools.

Located in the continually expanding Issaquah Highlands, Grand Ridge has the capacity for about 600 students, according to Jake Kuper, CFO for the Issaquah School District. With the use of portable classrooms, the capacity jumps to 800.

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Raid uncovers 150 marijuana plants in Issaquah home

December 4, 2012

Police discovered more than 150 marijuana plants during a raid on a downtown Issaquah home, and later arrested a 52-year-old man involved in the grow operation.

Officers surrounded a home in the 100 block of Northwest Dogwood Street at about 11:30 a.m. Nov. 20 to serve a search warrant. Police called for occupants to come outside and, after officers realized the home was empty, entered the building and discovered the plants.

Issaquah Police Cmdr. Scott Behrbaum said charges have not been filed against the man arrested in the incident and the investigation is ongoing.

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John Urquhart takes office as King County sheriff

December 4, 2012

John Urquhart

John Urquhart assumed office as King County sheriff Nov. 28, months after retiring as the agency’s longtime spokesman.

Urquhart, a former sheriff’s office sergeant, defeated the incumbent sheriff, Steve Strachan, 56 percent to 43 percent, in the Nov. 5 election after a contentious campaign.

Strachan, a former Kent police chief, and Urquhart debated how to lead the sheriff’s office after a series of audits lambasted how the agency operates.

The sheriff oversees a budget of about $150 million and about 1,000 employees, and leads the largest local police organization in the state after the Seattle Police Department.

Urquhart won election to fill the remaining year in former Sheriff Sue Rahr’s unexpired term, and is due to face voters again next year.

Issaquah Democrat Mark Mullet joins state Senate

December 4, 2012

State Supreme Court Chief Justice Barbara Madsen (left) administers the oath of office to state Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, in the Senate chamber Nov. 30. Contributed

Issaquah City Councilman Mark Mullet joined the state Senate on Nov. 30 — 45 days before other freshman lawmakers convene in Olympia for the 2013 legislative session.

In a ceremony on the Senate floor, state Supreme Court Chief Justice Barbara Madsen administered the oath to Mullet as the Democrat’s family members watched.

Mullet joined the Senate after a bruising contest against Snoqualmie Republican Brad Toft to represent the 5th Legislative District — a mishmash between suburban and rural communities stretched between Issaquah and Snoqualmie Pass.

The last senator to represent the district, Maple Valley Republican Cheryl Pflug, resigned from the seat in June to serve on a state board. Sammamish Republican Dino Rossi — senator from the district in the late 1990s and early 2000s — served in the role between Pflug’s resignation and Mullet’s arrival.

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City launches revamped website

December 4, 2012

Issaquah municipal government entered the 21st century Nov. 28, and ditched a difficult-to-navigate city website for a user-friendly portal meant to connect residents to government services.

The city launched the website after a monthslong effort to remake the dowdy image projected by the old website. The updated website is meant to speed users to oft-requested information — Pickering Barn rentals and bill payments, for instance.

The overhaul ranked as a high priority for the City Council, and members authorized up to $125,000 for the website overhaul. The point person on the project, Communications Manager Autumn Monahan, said the project is likely to come in under the $125,000 budget once the final project cost is tallied.

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Volunteers inspire Merry Christmas Issaquah success

December 4, 2012

The nonprofit organization Issaquah Community Services encounters clients in times of need.

Sometimes, a landlord is threatening eviction, or a utility is about to turn off electricity. In some cases, assistance is needed to fund unexpected medical or repair expenses.

Milicent Savage, Issaquah Community Services president, said the organization’s volunteers fill a critical role. The organization relies on a trained team to assist people in need — especially if the person requesting assistance is embarrassed or reluctant.

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Activity buses offer ride home for students staying late

December 4, 2012

Angelique Cilliers, Simona Snapkauskaite and Joe McLendon (from left) climb aboard an extended day activity bus at Pine Lake Middle School. By Lillian O’Rorke

Monday through Thursday at about 4 p.m., long after class has let out, 10 yellow school buses chug along area roads, helping middle school students with extracurricular activities get home.

“This is a bad time of the day for parents to pick their kids up,” said Don Crook, who drives one of the two late buses at Pine Lake Middle School. “For all the kids that stay after, whether it’s for chess club or track … the activities buses provide them a means to get back to home or at least close to it.”

Extended Day Activity buses, which are better known unofficially as activity buses, operate at all five of the Issaquah School District’s middle schools.

Director of Transportation Jo Porter estimates that about 250 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders ride the buses. They stay after school, she said, for sports, clubs or just extra study time in the library. And of course, as activities change with the seasons, so do ridership numbers.

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King County matches turnout record in election

December 4, 2012

King County matched the record for voter turnout in a presidential election, and achieved other milestones in the Nov. 6 contest, officials announced late Nov. 27 after certifying the results.

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Office solves voters’ ballot signature issues

December 4, 2012

King County Elections solved signature problems on more than 13,000 ballots.

If Jonathan Doe is registered to vote as such, but signs the ballot as John Doe, the elections office contacts the voter to resolve the signature issue.

Signatures on the ballot and in the registration information must match. Washington State Patrol-trained elections staffers contacted voters to resolve problems on signature-challenged ballots.

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Demand is high at food banks in Issaquah, statewide

December 4, 2012

Demand is high at food banks across Washington, according to the latest figures from the state Department of Agriculture, and officials urged residents to donate to local food assistance programs.

The figures from the state agency show one in five Washington residents visited a food bank at least once during the past year. Between June 2011 and June 2012, officials recorded more than 8.6 million visits to food banks statewide — 500,000 more visits than in the previous year.

The holiday season often focuses attention on the need at the Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank.

Find a list of needs, or donate to the food bank online, at www.issaquahfoodbank.org.

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