King County Medical Examiner’s report shows a decline in homicides, suicides

January 3, 2012

King County experienced the fewest homicides — 59 — in a decade last year, and suicides declined after a spike in 2009.

The information comes from the King County Medical Examiner’s Office. In the agency’s annual report, officials analyze suspicious, sudden, unexpected and violent deaths in King County, plus trends in drug overdose deaths, homicides and traffic fatalities.

The medical examiner’s office assumed jurisdiction in 2,060 deaths — 953 natural deaths, 593 accidental deaths, 232 suicides, 150 traffic deaths, 59 homicides and 73 deaths due to undetermined causes. (Officials investigated 253 suicides and 63 homicides in 2009.)

“Every death we review receives our fullest respect and attention,” Dr. Richard Harruff, chief medical examiner, said in a statement. “We work to investigate and resolve the manner and cause of death as quickly as possible, and in the most scientific and professional manner so grieving loved ones can find some solace.”

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Dave Reichert’s district retains Issaquah under redrawn congressional map

January 3, 2012

Dave Reichert

Issaquah remains in U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert’s 8th Congressional District but some Issaquah School District communities shift to another district as the state panel responsible for a redrawn political map shifts boundaries to create a new congressional district centered in Olympia.

In a plan unveiled Dec. 28, Washington State Redistricting Commission members Tim Ceis and Slade Gorton proposed a 10th Congressional District based in the capital city and a 9th Congressional District stretching from Tacoma to Bellevue.

The redrawn 8th District — confined to King and Pierce counties in the existing arrangement — is stretched from South King County to Wenatchee in Chelan County. The current and future district includes Issaquah.

Under the redrawn map, Issaquah remains in a redrawn 8th District alongside other cities contained inside existing district boundaries — North Bend, Sammamish and Snoqualmie — plus Pierce, Chelan and Kittitas counties.

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Sound Transit honors Councilman Fred Butler

January 3, 2012

Sound Transit board members elected Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy as chairman and honored the outgoing vice chairman, Issaquah Councilman Fred Butler, in a Dec. 15 decision.

Butler and Lakewood Councilwoman Claudia Thomas served as vice chairpersons during the most recent term.

The board elected Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon, the outgoing chairman, and longtime board member Julia Patterson, a King County councilwoman, as vice chairpersons.

Butler, a 12-year councilman, is a respected expert on transit and transportation in the Puget Sound region.

Troopers arrest 161 motorists for DUI during holiday weekend

January 3, 2012

State troopers arrested 161 motorists suspecting of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs during Christmas weekend.

The figure is down from the 194 arrests troopers made during the period last year. The tally does not include arrests made by local law enforcement agencies, although the Issaquah Police Department is participating in holiday season drunken driving patrols.

“We’re going in the right direction, but these numbers are still too high,” Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste said in a statement. “There’s just no excuse for putting yourself and others at risk by driving while impaired.”

The state patrol noted three fatal collisions during the holiday weekend. Troopers believe alcohol or drugs contributed to the death of a 47-year-old Chehalis man on State Highway 2 in Snohomish County. Investigators said the driver went around barricades and drove onto a pedestrian walkway, killing a man and injuring another.

No fatal collisions occurred during the same period in 2010.

Through Nov. 30, state troopers had arrested 20,130 motorists for DUI for the year — or up about 1 percent from the same period in 2010.

Press Editorial

January 3, 2012

2012 Issaquah goals are very achievable

Each year our news staff and editorial board put their heads together to create a list of goals for the Issaquah area. Some are repeats from former years, but are still on our wish list.

Environmentally speaking — Local restaurants need to step up and get compliant with the city’s mandate on use of recyclable containers. Most already have, but not all. The city should go a step further and follow Seattle’s lead in banning plastic grocery and retail bags.

Central Issaquah Plan — The plan that will act as a guideline for redevelopment of Issaquah’s business district should be completed this year. Take it one step further and implement it for new development in the highlands, too.

Park Pointe — Now that the land deal is done, the city and volunteers can transform the 100 acres on Tiger Mountain for everyone to enjoy; Issaquah Environmental Council volunteers started the process last week by planting native species.

Economic development — With the re-engineering of how City Hall functions to encourage a more robust economic development of the business community, the time has come for action. Put measurable goals in place immediately with an eye toward filling vacant storefronts.

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To the Editor

January 3, 2012

Re: DownTown Issaquah Association hires new director

As a business owner on Front Street, I was disappointed with last year’s decision by the DownTown Issaquah Association to dismiss Greg Spranger. It was a monumental mistake.

Greg was the driving force of the association and received tons of accolades from the city and our community for his achievements. In my opinion, he was the DIA.

I hope Ms. Donovan (new executive director) does well and can mirror Greg’s devotion and contribution to Issaquah (a difficult feat at best). Only time will tell if she stays or joins the bandwagon of resigned members and rides off into the sunset.

In that event, the association should ask Greg to come back and get the DIA back on track.

Roland Segers

Issaquah

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State minimum wage rises to highest in nation

January 3, 2012

Washington’s minimum wage increased Jan. 1 to $9.04 per hour — the highest state minimum wage in the nation.

The state Department of Labor & Industries calculates the state minimum wage each year.

The recalculation is required under Initiative 688, a measure passed by Washington voters 13 years ago.

The increase reflects a 4.258 percent increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers since August 2010.

The calculation is a measure of the average change in prices over time of goods and services — such as food, clothing and fuel, and services, such as doctor visits — purchased by urban wage earners and clerical workers.

The minimum wage applies to workers in agricultural and nonagricultural jobs, although 14- and 15-year-old workers may be paid 85 percent of the adult minimum wage, or $7.68 per hour, starting in 2012.

Issaquah Highlands Community Association hires director

January 3, 2012

Sarah Phillips

The community association for the Issaquah Highlands hired the former city manager of a Chicago suburb as the organization’s next executive director, officials announced Dec. 21.

Sarah Phillips served as city managers in Rolling Meadows, Ill., and Johnstown, Ohio, before assuming the Issaquah Highlands Community Association role. Association President Brian Daniels said she is due to start as executive director Jan. 23.

“I look forward to working with the board and staff as we continue to provide and enhance our services for this growing community,” Phillips said.

Phillips succeeds Vicki Stier, a longtime executive at highlands developer Port Blakely Communities and the current executive director. Stier — a force in a 15-year effort to foster community in the neighborhood — plans to retire to South Carolina in 2012.

The association’s search committee spent months to find a candidate.

“From the pool of candidates we received, Sarah was the best fit to ensure we continue to maintain Issaquah Highlands among the best communities in the country and one of the most desirable places to live in the Puget Sound region,” Daniels said in a message to residents.

Liberty High School junior spearheads letter campaign for soldiers overseas

January 3, 2012

Liberty High School student Stacey Hurwitz poses with a few of the letters she gathered to send to members of the United States military stationed overseas. Contributed

Liberty High School junior Stacey Hurwitz, 16, has no relatives serving in the military.

Still, she noticed some things regarding United States soldiers that bothered her. She saw news stories about high unemployment rates among former soldiers. She read a story about high suicide rates among military personnel over the holidays. In the end, she wanted to do something about what she saw and heard.

“I decided I could probably do something to help them,” Stacey said, adding she became determined to do something more personal than donate money.

“She’s a humble girl but she’s definitely a go-getter,” mom Barbra Hurwitz said.

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Public Meetings

January 3, 2012

Jan. 5

Council Transportation Committee

5 p.m.

Pickering Room, City Hall Northwest

1775 12th Ave. N.W.

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