Issaquah is a Tree City USA for the 19th year

April 17, 2012

The state Department of Natural Resources recognized Issaquah and 82 other Washington cities April 10 for efforts to protect and expand urban forests.

Issaquah is a 19-year Tree City USA. The honor from the Arbor Day Foundation is bestowed on cities dedicated to urban forestry. Washington celebrated Arbor Day on April 11.

The city is required to observe Arbor Day in order continue as a Tree City USA. Officials must also designate staff to care for trees, appoint a citizen tree board to advocate for community forestry, establish a tree ordinance and spend at least $2 per capita on tree care.

In Issaquah, the municipal Park Board handles tree-related issues.

The city Parks & Recreation Department is holding a community tree planting from 11 a.m. to noon April 21 at the Pickering Trail entrance, near 1730 10th Ave. N.W. Participants should check in from 9-11 a.m. at a community information booth near the trail entrance.

Organizers collected more than 150 trees for participants to plant.

Food preservation goes beyond home canning

April 17, 2012

Samantha Zistatsis, of Issaquah, cans everything at home, like peaches and pickles, to better preserve nutrients. By Greg Farrar

As a child, Samantha Zistatsis grew up outdoors, with a garden, critters and the whole nine yards. Her family took the best of nature and canned it for healthy eating throughout the year.

But when she grew up, Zistatsis took a hiatus from the outdoors, moving inside to concentrate on a career in electrical engineering.

However, armed with a new understanding of processes, when Zistatsis married and had children, she left the workforce to become a full-time mom and return to her first love — healthy eating.

To achieve that goal, she dove full bore into food preservation. She knew she had everything she needed to succeed at her Issaquah home.

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Gaining ground for Puget Sound by building rain gardens

April 17, 2012

12,000 Rain Gardens campaign aims to curb pollution, create beautiful landscapes

A completed rain garden must be maintained through ongoing mulching, weeding and watering as needed and the avoidance of fertilizer and pesticides. By Stewardship Partners

As more than 14 million pounds of toxins enter the Puget Sound each year, two Washington entities are working hard to curb the contamination — 12,000 times over.

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Learn to grow more than vegetables in community gardens

April 17, 2012

Starting a community garden can lead to abundant beans, kale and squash all summer long — not to mention a closer bond among neighbors.

Still, despite the ample — and tasty — payoff, establishing and maintaining a community garden is not as simple as Miracle-Gro. The process requires a dedicated team, green thumbs aplenty and a lot of elbow grease.

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City Council, Issaquah School Board gather for joint meeting

April 17, 2012

City Council and Issaquah School Board members face a substantial docket soon, as the elected groups meet for dinner and a discussion about shared issues.

Officials expect to release discussion topics for the meeting in the days ahead, but the casual get-together between the groups at a Chinese restaurant is meant to build ties and discover common issues among the members.

The council and board plan to meet at 5 p.m. April 24 at Mandarin Garden, 90 E. Sunset Way. The meeting is open to the public; no action is expected to be taken.

The groups last met in May 2011. They discussed a proposed Issaquah School District bond, a planned Bellevue College campus in Issaquah and traffic along Second Avenue Southeast — a corridor bordered by Issaquah High School and other campuses.

Puget Sound Energy offers solar energy guidance

April 17, 2012

Puget Sound Energy is providing contractor referrals to residential electric customers interested in installing home solar-electric photovoltaic systems.

Bellevue-based PSE added 14 solar installers to the Contractor Alliance Network — a group of independent contractors prescreened by the utility to perform energy-related home improvement.

Customers interested in installing a solar-power system and in need of a contractor can receive estimates from contractors when they request a referral at or by calling 1-800-562-1482 toll free.

In addition to installing customers’ home solar-power system, contractors can help customers prepare interconnection and production payment documents necessary to participate in PSE’s net metering program.

Overall, more than 1,000 PSE electric customers have had solar-power systems installed and connected to the grid — up from a little more than 500 such systems in early 2010. The total generating capacity from customer-owned solar-power systems is more than 5 megawatts, compared to 2 megawatts in early 2010.

Customers can receive a 30 percent federal tax credit and other financial incentives for installing a solar-power system.

The state provides another incentive, administered by PSE through Renewable Energy Advantage Program. The state incentive pays customers for every kilowatt of power produced by solar-power systems.

King County Elections records strong voter participation

April 17, 2012

Though the deadline for the April 17 special election is history, King County Elections officials continue to reach out to voters to resolve signature issues on ballots from the all-mail contest.

Staffers compare the signatures on returned ballot envelopes against the signature on file in voter registrations. If the elections office receives unsigned ballots, officials attempt to contact the affected voters to resolve the problem. Signature problems must be resolved before the election is certified April 27.

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Police alert neighbors to sex offender address change

April 17, 2012

Michael Vossler

King County Sheriff’s Office investigators said a sex offender changed addresses to a residence near Briarwood Elementary and Liberty High schools last month.

William Michael Vossler, 22, relocated to the 17000 block of Southeast 134th Street and reported the address change March 14.

Vossler registered as a Level III sex offender after being convicted of attempted rape of a child and voyeurism in King County in 2007. Police said Level III sex offenders have a high risk of re-offending.

Police said Vossler stands 6 feet, 1 inch tall, weighs 155 pounds, and has brown hair and brown eyes.

Residents can search for Vossler and other registered sex offenders at the sheriff’s office sex offender website,

Grand Ridge Elementary’s Lightning Readers win county library contest

April 17, 2012

The Grand Ridge Elementary School Lightning Readers celebrate winning the King County Library System’s Global Reading Challenge on March 23. By Tom Corriga

They started in October, eight students setting out to read 10 books.

They spent plenty of their own time between the covers of those books, but toward the end of the challenge they gave up their recess and lunch times to stay in the classroom in order to read and answer questions about what they’d read.

“And all that paid off,” declared Grand Ridge Elementary School student Gargi Panatula.

The Issaquah School District has entered the King County Library System’s Global Reading Challenge for 11 years. Teams competitively answer questions about assigned books. Issaquah squads have made the finals previously. But the district has never won the championship. That changed March 23 when Grand Ridge’s Lightning Readers went the distance and beat out three other finalist teams to win the Grand Challenge.

“And I think we got smarter,” team member Emma Huryn said.

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Plan for overnight parking changes during downtown work

April 17, 2012

Downtown motorists, merchants and residents should prepare for changes in parking as crews inspect and repair water lines.

Crews started the process April 15 and expect the routine maintenance to last until June 8. The work is scheduled to occur from 8 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays along Front Street North from East Sunset Way to Northeast Crescent Drive.

Officials expect minimal traffic impacts to occur during the project.

Crews plan to restrict nighttime parking only in areas where work is occurring. The city plans to post no-parking signs at least 48 hours before work starts in a designated area.

The work could cause temporary interruptions in water service. Officials plan to reach out to business leaders to coordinate the timing of such interruptions.

Call city Water Operations Manager Greg Keith or city Senior Maintenance Lead Shaun Kurtz at 837-3400 to learn more.

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