Inaugural bus ride-along gets kindergartners ready for school

August 14, 2012

Issaquah School District kindergarten students and their parents line up to board a school bus Aug. 8 at Issaquah High School to become familiar with part of their new school experience. By Lillian O’Rorke

Standing in line next to a row of big yellow school buses, a flock of incoming kindergartners squirmed and jibber-jabbered as they awaited their maiden voyage.

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Lindbergh High School’s Max Ferguson wins Cougar Mountain Trail Run Series

August 14, 2012

Skyline High School’s Keegan Symmes finishes second

Marlene Farrell, of Leavenworth, runs toward the finish line to post her winning time for women on the 13-mile course with a time of 1 hour, 56 minutes, 9 seconds. By Greg Farrar

People take interest in running for a lot of reasons. They do it for the health benefits, the stress relief and even the runner’s high. But for Cougar Mountain Trail Run Series 13 Mile winner Max Ferguson, he had only one thing in mind.

The ladies.

“I guess I started in eighth grade because I wanted to be better at the mile in P.E.,” Ferguson said. “I thought that me being better at the P.E. mile would help me do better with the ladies than I was doing at the time.”

Ferguson attended Lindbergh High School where he ran as a member of the cross-country team. After going to college on the East Coast, Ferguson returned home and, like a certain Tom Hanks character, kept running.

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Issaquah School District officials propose ‘flat’ $167.5 million budget

August 14, 2012

“Flat” was the key word Aug. 8, when the Issaquah School District rolled out its draft budget for the 2012-13 academic year to the tune of $167.46 million.

But it wasn’t necessarily a bad word. In this case, flat means not only no major leaps in spending or state funding but also no major program reductions or changes in class-size allocation.

“Who thought flat state funding would be an exciting thing?” asked Jake Kuper, chief of finance and operations for the district.

When the recession hit in 2008, state funding for schools began a steep downward spiral that totaled a nearly $16 million loss for the district. During the 2008-09 school year the state paid 68 percent of the district’s bills. Since then, that rate has dropped to 60.8 percent and there, Kuper said, is where it remains stagnant.

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Issaquah Police Department joins regional DUI crackdown

August 14, 2012

Issaquah police officers plan to join a regional push to pull drunken drivers from local roads in the run-up to Labor Day.

The agency is joining other police departments in King County, Washington and across the United States from Aug. 17 to Sept. 3 in the Drive Hammered, Get Nailed campaign.

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Issaquah burglary offers lesson in vigilance

August 14, 2012

The call from the Issaquah Police Department interrupted dinner at Pogacha for Fred and Mardi Nystrom, longtime residents in the Sycamore neighborhood south of downtown.

The officer on the line asked if the Nystroms expected any family members to leave their home through a bedroom window.

“I told him, ‘Not our family, man, we wouldn’t fit through that window,’” Fred Nystrom recalled Aug. 13.

They rushed home July 6 to discover their home had been burglarized. The thief shimmied into the home through a small bedroom window left open in the July heat, and stole jewelry, computers and family heirlooms.

“Most of what she stole from me were memories,” Fred Nystrom said.

Police later identified the suspect as Jackie Jean Johnston, 45, a SeaTac resident with a long rap sheet.

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City Council hosts public retreat on Central Issaquah Plan

August 14, 2012

Citizens can learn more about the historic proposal to transform more than 900 acres near Interstate 90 and state Route 900 in the decades ahead.

The far-reaching Central Issaquah Plan is a step closer to implementation, but before city leaders act on the plan, City Council members will have a retreat Aug. 27 to discuss the proposal.

The retreat is open to the public. The council meets at 5:30 p.m. in the Eagle Room at Issaquah City Hall, 130 E. Sunset Way.

The long-term Central Issaquah Plan is meant to guide redevelopment from shopping centers and low-rise office buildings to a taller neighborhood meant for businesses and residences.

Central Issaquah encompasses 915 acres — including retail destinations, such as Pickering Place, and the Meadows and Issaquah Commons shopping centers. The area does not include historic downtown Issaquah.

Local family experiences Olympic history in London

August 14, 2012

Giant Olympic rings dangle from the Tower Bridge as a double-decker bus crosses the span. Contributed By Sue Hamke

London extinguished the Olympic flame in a glitzy, star-studded ceremony Aug. 12, after 16 days defined by milestones reached, records shattered and, for a local family, a golden opportunity to experience the 2012 Summer Olympics up close.

Sue Hamke — joined by husband Kurt, daughter Jessica and son Tyler — left the Sammamish Plateau for London in early August.

The family attended the Winter Olympics in 2002, 2006 and 2010, but London offered the Hamkes a chance to experience the Summer Olympics in a familiar setting. The family lived just outside the city from 2004-06, as the International Olympic Committee awarded the games to London and preparations for the event started in earnest.

The games, clustered in futuristic venues constructed mostly in London’s East End, did not disappoint.

“The amazing thing about the Olympics is seeing athletes from all over the world and how the crowd cheers for them all,” Sue Hamke recalled Aug. 12.

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Photographer Barry Sweet brings book of iconic images to Issaquah

August 14, 2012

Madonna performs at the Paramount Theatre in 1985. Explosions demolish the Kingdome in 2000. By Barry Sweet

Barry Sweet, a Pulitzer Prize nominee and The Associated Press’ longtime Seattle-based photographer, captured photos as astronauts returned from the moon, as Robert F. Kennedy campaigned for president, after Mount St. Helens erupted and at thousands of other events across the Pacific Northwest.

In 1985, however, Sweet received a more unfamiliar assignment — instructions to photograph a pop singer on the rise.

“None of us had any clue who Madonna was or what she was or what she was going to become,” he recalled in a recent interview. “Basically, I got a phone call saying, ‘There’s a woman who’s a singer. She’s going to be at the Paramount singing and she’s pretty good — and it’s really interesting because she’s going to be on stage and wear her underwear outside of her clothes.’”

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Epic torch relay, basketball game define London Olympics for local man

August 14, 2012

The action surrounding the 2012 Summer Olympics extended far beyond London.

Kyle Haddad-Fonda experienced the Olympic Torch Relay in Oxford and later headed south to experience the games. (Haddad-Fonda’s parents live in Issaquah.)

London Olympics organizers intended for the 70-day torch relay to crisscross the United Kingdom in the run-up to the July 27 Opening Ceremony.

In Oxford, Haddad-Fonda and a friend stood along St. Clement’s Street to see the torch speed past.

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Citizens’ Elections Oversight Committee seeks members

August 14, 2012

The group responsible for monitoring local elections needs Chinese-speaking and Vietnamese-speaking representatives.

King County leaders put out a call for the openings on the Citizens’ Elections Oversight Committee — the watchdog group created to ensure elections follow proper procedures.

Learn more about qualifications for the position and find the application at

King County Council members created the Citizens’ Elections Oversight Committee in 2003 to oversee elections and improve performance and accountability at the then-King County Elections Division.

The council made the oversight group permanent in 2006, after the contentious 2004 contest for governor between Chris Gregoire and Dino Rossi. Overall, committee members have offered more than 180 recommendations to improve local elections.

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