Issaquah startup transforms trash into treasure at local grocery store

May 15, 2012

City Council President Tola Marts speaks at WISErg’s public unveiling of a food-scrap harvester at PCC Natural Market on May 8. By Autumn Monahan

The castoffs from daily activity in a grocery store — fruit peels from the juice bar, meat trimmings from the deli, discarded vegetable leaves from the produce section — no longer go to the compost heap at the PCC Natural Markets store at Pickering Place.

Instead, employees dump the refuse into a boxy structure tucked near the loading dock. The apparatus, a machine called a harvester, transforms the peels and trimmings into sludge — a building block for organic fertilizer.

Issaquah-based WISErg developed the harvester and built the prototype for the local grocery co-op. The company also uses the sludge to produce fertilizer, a tawny liquid no thicker than water.

Microsoft alumni Larry LeSueur and Jose Lugo founded WISErg in 2009. The startup venture is based across the street from Pickering Place. (The company name is a nod to the erg, a tiny unit of energy.)

“We all know the scraps headed for the Dumpsters are full of nutrients and value,” LeSueur said at a public debut for the harvester May 8. “The last thing we should do is landfill them and create more environmental and community headaches.”

WISErg approached Diana Crane, director of sustainability for Seattle-based PCC, and broached the idea of installing a harvester at a store.

“How exciting it is that the trash produced daily from our juice bar, deli, meat and produce departments that would otherwise be sent to landfills is now being offered in our PCC stores as a high-quality plant food,” Issaquah Store Director Debbi Montgomery said.

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Preliminary timeline is in place for school, fields construction

May 15, 2012

Issaquah School District officials are wasting no time when it comes to putting their recently approved $219 million bond into action.

The school board reviewed a preliminary schedule of projects and timeline for school construction and other district upgrades at its May 9 meeting. Some projects could begin as soon as July and other smaller projects extend through the end of 2019.

“Somebody has to be first and somebody has to be last,” said Jacob Kuper, chief operations officer for the district.

Phase 2 construction of Liberty High School and Phase 2 at Maywood Middle School are first in line with finishes projected by the end of 2013. At the caboose of the tentative timeline of the larger projects is the reconstruction of Sunny Hills Elementary School, which wouldn’t finish until December 2018.

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Newcastle author pens children’s book after bout with heart failure

May 15, 2012

Carolyn Banguero (right), Newcastle resident and ‘Paolo’s Adventures’ author, signs a book for a fan at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park. Contributed

Newcastle resident Carolyn Banguero had just been flown halfway across the United States in a small medical plane to the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio after being diagnosed with heart failure — the same hospital where her father had died with the same condition 25 years before.

That was a Wednesday.

She was to be hooked up to an IV with medication, a breathing tube and a medical device that would force her heart to pump.

“It was freaky,” she said. “I had never even broken a bone.”

By Monday, the Federal Way School District teacher was told by doctors to be ready to receive a heart transplant because her heart was only doing about 6 percent of the work it should be doing.

She was only 31.

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Issaquah Relay for Life sets record-breaking goals

May 15, 2012

Teams walk around the Skyline High School track last year, fundraising for the annual Relay for Life event. File

When you have one of the most successful programs around, that essentially leaves one goal each year: do better than the previous year.

Such is the envious dilemma facing Gwen Schweitzer in her first year as the coordinator of the Issaquah area’s Relay for Life.

At this time last year, there were 78 teams signed up. This year, there are already 81, just four away from the goal, Schweitzer said. After last year’s two-day event netted more than $285,000, that left her with the goal of reaching $300,000 in 2012.

“We are one of the only mega events to raise over $200,000. Overall, the relay has seen a drop in contributions due to the economy,” Schweitzer said. “Issaquah has been lucky. We’ve seen funding increase by a small margin every year.”

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Tradition lives on at Issaquah Valley Senior Center’s annual pancake breakfast

May 15, 2012

Nothing says Americana more than the family tradition. The Issaquah Valley Senior Center is inviting the public to a tradition it has hosted since opening 33 years ago — its annual pancake breakfast fundraiser from 9-11:30 a.m. May 19 at the center, 75 N.E. Creek Way.

Center Director Courtney Jaren said she hopes to attract as many as 300 hungry eaters to the all-you-can-eat buffet, which features bacon, sausage, eggs, coffee, tea and juice to accompany the pancakes. At just $5 per person, Jaren said that adds up to a nice amount for the center.

“It’s our biggest fundraiser of the year,” she said. “Netting $1,500 would be nice. It will go toward paying for all our programs. And nothing specific. Rather, it’s an amount to help defray all our costs.”

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Issaquah High School lacrosse closes out perfect 21-0 season

May 15, 2012

Matt O’Neill, Issaquah High School senior, fires the first goal of the lacrosse match May 11 as Eastlake junior Danny Keogh defends and Issaquah senior Cole Greer looks on. By Greg Farrar

The clock struck 7:48 in the first quarter and it was business as usual for the Issaquah High School boys lacrosse team. A spin, a juke and a furious goal from senior Matt O’Neill would be the first of many as Issaquah finished their perfect season by beating Eastlake, 13-4, May 11.

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Issaquah Schools Foundation sets record at annual luncheon

May 15, 2012

More than 1,000  people turned out, donated $650,000

With a sold-out event at the Issaquah Community Center, the Issaquah Schools Foundation set a record of $650,000 in donations at this year’s Nourish Every Mind Luncheon on May 10.

More than 1,000 people were at the event, the 14th annual luncheon foundation officials have held. This year is the 25th anniversary of the foundation.

Because of interest in the foundation’s largest fundraiser, next year’s attendees might see two events instead of one, according to Robin Callahan, executive director of the foundation. That could be a breakfast type event and a luncheon, she said.

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Skyline soccer team loses championship title in overtime 4-2 shootout

May 15, 2012

The 4A KingCo championship game between Skyline and Roosevelt high school soccer teams was not decided in regulation play. It also was not decided in the two, five-minute overtime periods.

It all came down to one-on-one penalty kicks.

With no clock, no defenders to contend with and no teammates to help them, it was between shooter and goalie. In the end, Roosevelt won the penalty-kick round, 4-2, and ultimately the KingCo tournament trophy.

Kicking for the Skyline Spartans were Ryan Shim, Sean McDonald, Kaleb Strawn, Pedro Miola and Jason Twaddle. Together, they made 28 of Skyline’s 37 goals this season. McDonald and Strawn each netted a shot for Skyline.

Taking turns with them in the spotlight was Ben Morgan, goalie for the Spartans. Morgan stopped the ball fired by Willie Spurr, a senior forward for Roosevelt. However, the Roughriders’ other four shooters scored, securing the win.

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Community Awards ceremony switches to evening event

May 15, 2012

The ceremony for the Community Awards is getting a makeover as organizers prepare for the 33rd annual event.

The event celebrates individual, organizations and service clubs in the Issaquah area.

In past years, Community Awardees received honors during a luncheon at the Holiday Inn – Issaquah. Come May 31, the event transitions to a nighttime celebration at the Issaquah Hilton Garden Inn, 1800 N.W. Gilman Blvd.

The festivities start at 6 p.m. Learn more about the celebration and purchase tickets at

The honorees at the event include the inductee into the Issaquah Hall of Fame, Citizen of the Year and more.

Issaquah High School musicians win state honors

May 15, 2012

Several students from Issaquah High School ended the month of April on a good note, literally.

They competed at the Washington State Solo and Ensemble Contest April 27-28 and walked away with several wins.

During the contest, the campus at Central Washington University was teeming with hundreds of musicians. They were there to compete in a variety of categories, including small strings ensemble, vocal and solo bassoon.

Among the first-place finishers were Ali Campbell and Annika Dybevik, who took first in the women’s small ensemble category for their duet. First place for tuba went to Clayton Dungey while Andy Abel finished third.

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