State utilities regulator focuses on energy conservation

February 8, 2012

NEW — 6 a.m. Feb. 8, 2012

The state utilities regulator, the Utilities and Transportation Commission, has created a Conservation and Energy Planning Section to focus on energy use and renewable energy, officials announced Tuesday.

The section focuses on conservation and renewable energy requirements, energy reliability, greenhouse gas emissions and low-income programs.

“These changes recognize that conservation and renewable energy have become larger and more visible parts of our work,” Regulatory Services Director Mark Vasconi said in a statement.

The just-created Conservation and Energy Planning Section is under the leadership of longtime staff member Deborah Reynolds, assistant director.

Officials appointed Acting Assistant Director for Energy Regulation Tom Schooley as the permanent assistant director for the energy section. The section continues to focus on economic regulatory matters, including rate cases, finance and accounting.

Skyline cheerleaders sickened after Everett competition

February 7, 2012

NEW — 8:35 p.m. Feb. 7, 2012

Skyline High School cheerleaders brought home a championship at a recent competition held in Everett.

They also may have brought back an as-yet-unidentified health problem.

State health officials say they are investigating a possible intestinal illness among attendees at a cheerleading competition held at Everett’s Comcast Arena on Feb. 4. Symptoms began to appear Feb. 5 and 6. They include vomiting and diarrhea, according to a state press release.

Skyline cheerleaders began reporting symptoms the evening of Feb. 5, said Sara Niegowski, Issaquah School District executive director of communications, in an email. In total, eight cheerleaders have been out sick, Niegowski added. The Skyline ill also include Principal Lisa Hechtman and one assistant coach. Hechtman attended the cheerleading event, Niegowski said.

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Mayor focuses on economy in State of the City address

February 7, 2012

Mayor Ava Frisinger highlighted a more muscular economic development effort and a reshuffled City Hall structure in the State of the City address — the speech to set Issaquah leaders’ agenda for the months ahead.

The address, delivered Feb. 6, days after the city announced employee layoffs, echoed a top priority from the City Council — a concerted effort to attract businesses to Issaquah and convince established businesses to remain in the city. The effort to remake City Hall functions also dominated the speech.

Ava Frisinger

“A major focus for 2012 will be enhancing our economic vitality, which is a community’s capacity to be economically competitive, resilient and attractive to both private and public enterprise,” Frisinger said.

Under a reorganization plan prepared by Seattle consultant Moss Adams and delivered late last year, the city focused on efficiency and effectiveness. The consultant discovered different cultures, expectations and management styles across municipal departments. Moss Adams pointed out the differences in coordination, scheduling and tracking across departments.

“In the end, our goal is to enhance customer service, find efficiencies and prepare our city for the years and decades ahead,” Frisinger said.

Though the reorganization emerged as a strong theme, Frisinger also used the address to spotlight ongoing projects.

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Senators offer key support for same-sex marriage bill

February 7, 2012

Issaquah legislators offered key Republican support for the same-sex marriage bill passed in the state Senate on Feb. 1.

Cheryl Pflug and Steve Litzow joined the 28-21 majority to endorse the legislation.

So far, a half-dozen states — Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont — plus Washington, D.C., allow same-sex marriage. Washington state has had a domestic partnership law — or “everything but marriage” law — in place since 2009.

Cheryl Pflug

Steve Litzow

(Pflug, a former state representative from Maple Valley, represents the 5th Legislative District; Litzow, a freshman senator from Mercer Island, represents the 41st Legislative District.)

Issaquah’s other senator, Democrat Rodney Tom, also endorsed the legislation. (Tom represents the 48th Legislative District, including the Greenwood Point and South Cove neighborhoods.)

The measure heads next to the state House of Representatives. The bill is expected to easily pass the House and proceed to Gov. Chris Gregoire to be signed into law.

The governor, a Democrat, endorsed same-sex marriage legislation last month. Gregoire praised the Senate decision.

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Receive free health screenings at Issaquah-Sammamish Health & Safety Fair

February 7, 2012

The eighth annual Issaquah-Sammamish Health & Safety Fair will be held at Pickering Barn on Feb. 11 with plenty of free health screenings to make it worthwhile for area families. The free event is from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

The fair will feature more than 50 health care professionals. They will offer a number of free health screenings, including blood pressure, bone density, cholesterol, blood sugar, eye pressure, body composition and spinal/posture.

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Local Republicans gear up for caucuses, a chance to pick presidential nominee

February 7, 2012

Local Republicans could tilt the national contest to nominate a GOP challenger to President Barack Obama, as residents across Washington gather for caucuses early next month.

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City seeks applicants for municipal boards, commissions

February 7, 2012

City leaders need civic-minded citizens to offer advice on key issues as municipal board and commission members, even as officials remain undecided about just how many such groups Issaquah needs.

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Together Center receives $35,420 grant for renovation

February 7, 2012

The Together Center in Redmond, which helps local residents, has received a grant of $35,420 from the Employees Community Fund of Boeing Puget Sound to support renovation of recently vacated space for use by nonprofit, direct-service agencies.

Previously, the center was the recipient of two $5,000 grants from the Microsoft Corp. and the Norman Archibald Charitable Foundation, while the Rotary Club of Redmond pitched in an additional $1,500.

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State leaders promote Earned Income Tax Credit

February 7, 2012

Gov. Chris Gregoire and other state officials urged Washingtonians to apply for the Earned Income Tax Credit on federal income tax returns.

The program goes unused by about 20 percent of qualified workers entitled to receive a check for up to $5,751. In Washington last year, 426,124 taxpayers applied for the credit, bringing about $847 million into the state economy.

Gregoire proclaimed Jan. 27 as Earned Income Tax Credit Day to raise awareness.

“Every year, there is money available to working families and individuals that does not get claimed,” she said. “File your 2011 tax return and take advantage of this tax credit, which puts money in your pocket and into our local economy.”

The state Department of Commerce and the state Department of Social and Health Services joined the federal Internal Revenue Service, plus other local and national organizations, to remind people to apply for the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Find eligibility requirements and learn more at the Department of Commerce website, www.commerce.wa.gov.

 

Bellevue utility tax hits some Issaquah residents

February 7, 2012

Bellevue officials decided Jan. 23 to impose a utility tax on water customers in Greenwood Point and South Cove — Issaquah neighborhoods served by the Bellevue municipal water system.

Bellevue City Council members approved extending a utility occupation tax to the water utility’s revenue, including for customers beyond Bellevue. Starting March 1, customers should start to see a 10.4 percent increase on water bills. The change does not affect customers in Bellevue.

Officials intend to use the additional dollars for fire hydrants, oversized pipes and reservoir storage.

The decision followed a 2008 state Supreme Court ruling related to how cities pay for municipal fire hydrants. The ruling in Lane v. Seattle identified hydrants as a general government service and not a utility.

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