Department of Ecology enlists teenagers to clean up litter

February 15, 2012

NEW — 12:15 p.m. Feb. 15, 2012

Issaquah teenagers can join the effort to clean up Washington parks and roadsides soon.

The state Department of Ecology’s Northwest Regional Office in Bellevue plans to hire about 72 teenagers to help clean up area roadsides, parks and recreation areas during the summer. Ecology Youth Corps members also learn how to better care for the environment through the program.

Youths ages 14 to 17 can apply through April 10 to work with one of Ecology Youth Corps crews cleaning up litter this summer in King, Skagit, Snohomish and Whatcom counties. Crews work Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., in a four-week session.

Sessions run from June 28 through July 25 and again from July 26 through Aug. 21. Participants earn $9.04 per hour.

Teenagers can pick up applications through area school counselors and online.

Dollars for the Ecology Youth Corps program comes from a dedicated fund called the Waste Reduction, Recycling and Model Litter Control Account.  The account is funded by a voter-approved tax on items related to the litter problem.

The program has been cut back due to the state’s reduced budget. In recent years, litter programs, including the Ecology Youth Corps, lost about a one-third of funding due to the downturn in the economy. The cutback means the agency can hire about 100 fewer youths statewide.

State to release initial 2012 salmon forecast Feb. 28

February 15, 2012

NEW — 12:05 p.m. Feb. 15, 2012

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife plans to announce the forecast for 2012 salmon returns and possible fishing seasons Feb. 28.

The annual forecast announcement is the initial indicator of salmon returns to the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery along Issaquah Creek.

The agency invited anglers, commercial fishers and others interested in salmon fisheries to the public meeting at the Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington St. S.E., Olympia. The meeting runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

To launch the salmon season setting process, Department of Fish and Wildlife officials present initial forecasts — compiled by state and tribal biologists — of projected returns. Meeting attendees can talk to fishery managers about the pre-season forecasts, and participate in work sessions focusing on possible salmon fisheries and conservation issues.

The state also scheduled additional public meetings focusing on regional salmon issues through early April. The public review of preseason forecasts marks the start of the North of Falcon process. The effort brings together state, tribal and federal fishery managers to establish salmon seasons for Puget Sound, Columbia River and the Washington coast.

The process is held in conjunction with public meetings conducted by the Pacific Fishery Management Council — the organization responsible for establishing fishing seasons in ocean water off the Pacific coast.

The final adoption of 2012 salmon fisheries is scheduled for April 6 at a Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting in Seattle.

Officials consider plastic bag ban for Issaquah

February 14, 2012

Officials intend to use Seattle ordinance as model

Canvas bags could turn into a more common sight in Issaquah checkout lanes soon.

The city is poised to join Bellingham, Edmonds, Mukilteo and Seattle to ban plastic bags at local retailers — to limit garbage headed for the King County landfill and reduce pollution in Puget Sound.

Though a decision on a plastic bag ban is months distant, the Council Utilities, Technology & Environment Committee plans to start collecting input from businesses owners and residents Feb. 16.

“To me, the beauty of it is, you get to your end objective, which is getting rid of plastic bags, and you’re not putting an undue, negative impact on the businesses in your community,” said Councilman Mark Mullet, a local merchant and the committee chairman.

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Governor signs same-sex marriage bill with local legislators’ support

February 14, 2012

Issaquah legislators joined Gov. Chris Gregoire to legalize same-sex marriage in Washington — a decision supporters hailed as an “historic” milestone.

Gov. Chris Gregoire

The governor, a Democrat, signed the legislation Feb. 13 as local state Sen. Cheryl Pflug and other supporters looked on from the packed State Reception Room at the Capitol.

The landmark legislation put Washington among the half-dozen states and Washington, D.C., to allow same-sex marriage, but the measure could face a challenge on the November ballot before any weddings occur.

“It is a day historians will mark as a milestone for equal rights — a day when we did what was right, we did what was just, and we did what was fair,” Gregoire said. “We stood up for equality and we did it together — Republicans and Democrats, gay and straight, young and old, and a variety of religious faiths. I’m proud of who and what we are in this state.”

The legislation cleared the state House of Representatives in a 55-43 decision Feb. 8 — the last hurdle before the measure reached the governor. Republican Glenn Anderson joined local Democrats in the House to approve a landmark bill to legalize same-sex marriage.

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Norovirus is to blame for cheerleader illnesses

February 14, 2012

Tests done at the state Public Health Laboratories revealed norovirus caused hundreds of students to become ill during and after a Feb. 4 cheerleading competition held at Comcast Arena in Everett.

At least eight Skyline High School cheerleaders were among those sickened, according to Sara Niegowski, executive director of communications for the Issaquah School District. Skyline Principal Lisa Hechtman also became ill after attending the event, as did one assistant coach.

As of Feb. 10, the students and staff were all doing better, according to Niegowski, who said the Skyline squad was slated to take part in a follow-up competition the weekend of Feb. 11-12.

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Prosecutors: Preston man masturbated at coffee stand

February 14, 2012

Prosecutors said a 31-year-old man attempted to break into a Northwest Gilman Boulevard coffee stand and then masturbated outside as terrified employees called police.

Preston resident Samuel K. McDonough faces a felony indecent exposure charge for the Feb. 2 incident. Police also arrested McDonough for indecent exposure in 2006, 2008 and last year.

Prosecutors said the latest incident occurred at about 8:30 a.m. at the BigFoot Java stand, 736 N.W. Gilman Blvd. The two female employees said McDonough purchased a drink and then asked to use the restroom inside the drive-thru coffee stand, court documents state.

The women refused to allow the man to enter. Then, he sat outside and started blowing kisses at the employees.

McDonough then sat outside the stand and started masturbating, court documents continue. Prosecutors said one employee noticed the man sitting on a chair outside and staring inside the stand during the incident.

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Executive emphasizes partnerships, prosperity in State of the County address

February 14, 2012

King County is akin to the Oakland A’s depicted in the film “Moneyball” — nimble and unconventional — County Executive Dow Constantine declared Feb. 6.

Dow Constantine

Constantine, in the annual State of the County address, used the baseball team to illustrate a recent effort to streamline county government.

“The county used to be a little like the New York Yankees. Its first response to a problem was to throw money at it,” he said. “Now we’re more like the 2002 Oakland A’s depicted in ‘Moneyball’ — smart and scrappy. Finding inefficiencies in the established system — seeking out the highest performance at the lowest-possible cost. Getting the best value.”

The top elected official in the county emphasized partnerships and prosperity as steps to reshape local government. Some changes resulted from a performance-based management program modeled on a system at Toyota.

“The state of county government can be found in this simple fact: King County is back on sound financial footing,” he said.

Officials did not need to make deep cuts to services last year in order to craft a 2012 budget.

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City creates commission to attract, retain businesses

February 14, 2012

City leaders continued the latest push to bolster economic development Feb. 6 and created a municipal Economic Vitality Commission — another piece in the effort to attract entrepreneurs to Issaquah and retain existing businesses.

City Council members formed the commission to handle a marketing plan to attract businesses, consider opportunities to improve signage options for merchants, review municipal permitting and inspection processes, and produce annual report cards on strategies recommended in the 2005 Economic Vitality Plan. The commission is expected to offer regular updates to the mayor and council.

The idea for a commission stems from a goal council members set at a May 2011 retreat to outline priorities for 2012.

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Issaquah residents invited to legislative town hall

February 14, 2012

Residents can join Issaquah legislators to discuss the ongoing session in Olympia at town hall meetings in Mercer Island and Newcastle soon.

Meet state Sen. Steve Litzow and state Reps. Judy Clibborn and Marcie Maxwell — 41st Legislative District lawmakers — at the Feb. 18 meetings. The sessions come as the Legislature confronts a $1.5 billion shortfall in the state budget.

The bipartisan delegation — Republican Litzow; Democrats Clibborn and Maxwell — plans to answer participants’ questions.

The morning meeting is scheduled from 10-11:30 a.m. at Hazelwood Elementary School, 7100 116th Ave. S.E., Newcastle. The afternoon session is planned from 1:30-3 p.m. at Mercer Island High School, 9100 S.E. 42nd St., Mercer Island.

Participants can submit questions before the meeting. Email questions to townhall41@leg.wa.gov or mail them to Sen. Steve Litzow, P.O. Box 40441, Olympia, WA 98504.

Washington State Redistricting Commission members shifted the 41st District from encompassing Cougar Mountain neighborhoods to include North Issaquah and Sammamish. (Remaining Issaquah neighborhoods fall inside the 5th Legislative District.)

The realigned political maps go into effect for the November election.

Issaquah residents escape car collision unharmed

February 14, 2012

Issaquah residents survived a wrong-way collision Feb. 12 on state Route 18 near the Cedar River.

Washington State Patrol investigators said a Honda Civic coupe headed westbound in the eastbound lanes from 244th Avenue Southeast to the Cedar River Bridge as a Chevrolet Impala and a Toyota Tacoma approached in the eastbound lanes. Troopers said the Honda struck the Chevrolet, rotating the vehicle into the Toyota. The incident occurred at 12:38 a.m.

Medics treated and released the driver of the Honda, a 24-year-old Kent man. Investigators said alcohol or drugs contributed to the crash. Police later booked the man into the King County Jail for driving while intoxicated. He remained in jail on $500 bond at noon Feb. 13.

The occupants in the Chevrolet, a 42-year-old North Bend man and a 41-year-old North Bend woman, did not sustain any injuries. The occupants in the Toyota, a 42-year-old Issaquah man and a 42-year-old Issaquah woman, also escaped unharmed.

Police said everyone involved in the crash was wearing seatbelts.

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