Chinese New Year celebration / Jan. 28, 2012

January 31, 2012

Cleanup from storms could last for weeks in Issaquah

January 31, 2012

Terry Hillier, a Capella Drive Northwest resident, unloads branches from his station wagon Jan. 28 at Tibbetts Valley Park. By Greg Farrar

In the days after snow and ice hobbled Issaquah and the region, crews deployed across the city to collect sand from streets and downed trees from neighborhoods.

The recovery effort lurched into gear before snow and ice melted, but city residents and officials continue a daunting task to clean up from the recent storms and prepare for possible conditions in the months ahead.

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Dump winter storm debris at county sites or curbside

January 31, 2012

Debris continues to linger outside King County homes, long after the snow and ice melted.

The recent snowstorm and ice storm left tree branches and limbs, plus other debris, on roads and lawns in Issaquah and elsewhere. King County Executive Dow Constantine cleared the way for disposal events in the days after the storms.

“We have made it easy for residents to dispose of debris so they can quickly put the storms of last week behind them and move on with life,” he said in a statement released Jan. 26.

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State insurance commissioner offers advice for understanding storm claims

January 31, 2012

The top insurance regulator in Washington offered some insurance-claim tips to residents cleaning up from recent snow and ice storms.

“We encourage people to start with their agent or insurer. But our staff can often help with denied claims, delayed payments and confusing policy language,” state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler said in a statement.

Consumers call the Insurance Consumer Hotline at 1-800-562-6900 toll free or file a complaint at

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Homeowners should check contractors before hiring for storm cleanup

January 31, 2012

The state Department of Labor & Industries reminded residents to check contractors’ credentials, as residents seek help to clean up from recent winter weather.

Whether the job requires residents to hire a tree-removal service to clean up a downed tree or a general contractor to repair damage to a roof and gutter, the agency said a little homework upfront can protect consumers against fraud, shoddy work or, simply, bad contractors.

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King County mails ballots for Feb. 14 election

January 31, 2012

Voters in communities just outside Issaquah — Klahanie, Mirrormont, Preston and more — started to receive ballots in recent days for a Feb. 14 special election.

On Jan. 25, King County Elections mailed ballots and voters’ pamphlets to Fire District 10 voters. The district, plus a handful of school districts elsewhere in King County, is placing a measure before the electorate.

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Issaquah Chamber of Commerce seeks business, nonprofit innovators

January 31, 2012

Issaquah businesses and nonprofit organizations continue to innovate, despite a tough economy and other challenges.

In order to recognize local entrepreneurs’ accomplishments, the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce is seeking nominees for the Innovation in Issaquah contest, a showcase for local businesses offering unique services. Honorees demonstrate innovation in product development, services, systems or strategies.

The chamber launched the program last year. The initial honorees included Democracy Live, Restorix Health, Applied Precision and the nonprofit Eastside Baby Corner.

Nominate a business or nonprofit for the honor at by 5 p.m. Feb. 6.

Chamber leaders plan to recognize the 2012 honorees at a Feb. 22 luncheon.

Issaquah School District does not seek waiver for snow days

January 31, 2012

During the recent snowstorm, schools throughout the area were closed for the better part of a week and Gov. Chris Gregoire declared a state of emergency.

Because of that declared emergency, school districts have the option of going to the state and asking for a waiver that allows them not to make up the days missed due to weather.

In the case of the Issaquah School District, no waiver will be sought, according to Sara Niegowski, district director of communications. That may change if further classroom days are lost to weather conditions.

“We strongly believe in at least 180 school days for students,” Niegowski said in a press release.

The district will seek a waiver for high school seniors who, with the snow days, would fall one day short of the required days needed for graduation.

Students in the Snoqualmie Valley Public Schools missed four days, according to Carolyn Malcolm, district public information coordinator. She said no decision yet has been made as to whether or not the district will seek snow-related waivers from the state.

For the current school year, the district’s last day of instruction was to have been June 11, which happens to be a Monday. The school year logically could be extended to Friday, June 15, Malcolm said.

According to Malcolm, waiving days is not as easy as it sounds. Districts still need to make up instruction hours even if school days are waived, she said.

Superintendent plans no prompt changes to high school schedules

January 31, 2012

No major changes, at least not immediately.

Steve Rasmussen

That was essentially the recommendation of Issaquah School Superintendent Steve Rasmussen regarding possible adjustments to the schedules at the district’s four high schools.

But at the same time he made that recommendation to what proved to be a somewhat dissatisfied school board, Rasmussen did lay down several action steps he expects high school principals to take in the coming months.

District officials have been studying common schedules at the high schools in part in order to make better use of resources, including teachers. A schedule committee failed to come up with any final recommendation for a unified schedule, though they shared numerous findings on the overall issue.

“With the committee’s report in hand, I am announcing there will be no significant changes to the schedules at any of our high schools for 2012-2013,” Rasmussen told the school board at its regular meeting Jan. 25.

Currently, Liberty High School operates on an eight-class schedule. Issaquah and Skyline high schools have six classes a day. One argument has been that the eight-class schedule allows students more opportunity to take elective classes. A counter argument runs that Liberty’s schedule does not allow enough contact time between teachers and students, especially in core classes.

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Washington officials split along party lines in responses to State of the Union address

January 31, 2012

Gov. Chris Gregoire and Washington lawmakers split along party lines in response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.

Dave Reichert

In a forceful speech to a joint session of Congress on Jan. 24, Obama laid out proposals for “green” energy, job creation and tax reform. (The president is due to visit Seattle on Feb. 17.)

“I’m pleased that President Obama, like me and my gubernatorial colleagues, has put a strong emphasis on rebuilding our middle class and preserving jobs that our citizens deserve,” Gregoire said in a statement. “He knows no challenge is more urgent. We must rebuild a nation where every citizen has the opportunity to succeed, where our middle class is secure and where the American dream is still within reach.”

The governor, a Democrat, attended the speech as U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s guest. Pelosi, a California Democrat, is the minority leader in the House of Representatives.

The lawmaker for the 8th Congressional District, Republican Dave Reichert, said the speech contained “divisive rhetoric.” (The district includes Issaquah, plus communities in eastern King and Pierce counties.)

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