In Issaquah and Tampa, local Republicans join party festivities

September 4, 2012

State Sen. Dino Rossi visits the floor at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. Contributed

Cyrus Krohn, a pioneer in efforts to increase the GOP’s online presence, sat out the 2012 Republican National Convention.

The downtown Issaquah resident did not attend the convention in Tampa, Fla. — not in person, at least.

Instead, Krohn, a former digital strategist for the Republican National Committee, participated in a Google+ Hangout — or group video chat — streamed at the convention.

“Technology is such now that I feel like I’m a virtual participant in that I can keep up with everything, I can watch Web videos, I can follow the tweets and the posts,” he said. “It’s almost as good as being there without having to wear a raincoat.”

Even downpours from then-Tropical Storm Isaac did not dampen the mood in Tampa as party faithful gathered to nominate former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for president.

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Construction crews clear out as staff, students return to school

September 4, 2012

Construction continues on the performing arts center at Liberty High School. By Greg Farrar

It’s official. The new school year is here.

“It’s always exciting,” Superintendent Steve Rasmussen said. “The beginning of the school year is the culmination of a lot of work.”

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Shootings, election politics contribute to rise in gun sales

September 4, 2012

Police said recent mass shootings, and a superheated presidential election campaign, contributed to a rise in handgun-license requests to local law enforcement agencies.

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Issaquah police train for active shooter incidents

September 4, 2012

The worst-case scenario for most police agencies is a mass shooting — and Issaquah officers spend time preparing for the unthinkable.

The recent spate of such incidents — a Colorado movie theater and a Sikh temple in Wisconsin — called attention to the so-called active shooter training police undergo.

“Active shooter incidents are kind of rare, but they’re very traumatic when they happen, so we try to get as much training and expertise in that field as we can, along with many other things they train for,” Issaquah Police Chief Ayers said in a recent interview. “A lot of those things that they train for in active shooting can be used in their regular work — safety issues, how to react and those types of things.”

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Eastside Fire & Rescue, dispatcher improve relationship

September 4, 2012

Despite grumbling in the past year that Eastside Fire & Rescue may look at other options for its fire dispatching service, Chief Lee Soptich said the agency will likely stay with Bellevue-based NORCOM.

Lee Soptich

Earlier this year Soptich had talked with other agencies — namely Kent-based ValleyCom and the Seattle Fire Department — about dispatching for EFR after frustrations with NORCOM’s delayed software upgrade. The new system, a joint police and fire dispatching and record keeping program dubbed New World, launched in September 2011 but had to be taken offline after just 16 days due to multiple failures.

Because of the crash, EFR crews operated for several months without the “automatic vehicle locator” function in their dispatching system, which tracks individual units and ensures that a fire crew out and about in the community would be automatically alerted to a nearby call. Soptich said there hadn’t been any deadly consequences and NORCOM has since been able to regain the locator function in its previous software system. But after repeated delays and promises, Soptich said EFR is looking for tangible results in the new system in the coming months.

“We’re intent on watching this closely,” Soptich said. “We can’t afford to continue to see problems with our (dispatch) system. (New World) really needs to wow us.”

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Clark Elementary is among state’s most improved schools

September 4, 2012

Clark Elementary School is one of 58 Title 1 schools across the state that have been designated as “Reward Schools” by State Superintendent Randy Dorn.

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King County expects layoffs, reduced road maintenance

September 4, 2012

King County expects to lay off 54 road workers and officials said the lack of attention on roads could mean further deterioration.

Dow Constantine

Kathy Lambert

Officials also plan to leave 11 vacant jobs unfilled — for a total reduction of 65 jobs in the county Road Services Division — due to a drop in tax revenues. The reduction is expected to go into effect early next year, as the 2013 budget goes into effect.

King County Executive Dow Constantine announced the reductions Aug. 23. The loss of funding could mean reduced maintenance to correct problems, such as potholes, and a slower response during snow and ice storms.

The county is responsible for about 1,500 miles of roadway, but the reduction in revenue means less maintenance, especially of roads in rural areas.

The road overlay program is shrinking. Officials said only 11 miles of deteriorated roadway could be repaved before year’s end. In the next budget cycle, the county might not have any local funding for paving, unless officials gain additional revenue sources.

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Ex-Issaquah School District bus driver caught in federal sting dies

September 4, 2012

A former Issaquah School District bus driver and former Eastside Catholic High School teacher caught in a child pornography sting died Aug. 29 from cancer.

In May, federal agents arrested Andrew Rekdahl, 30, and 189 other suspects nationwide. The sting targeted the possession, receipt, transportation, distribution, advertisement or production of explicit images or videos.

Rekdahl faced child pornography charges after federal prosecutors said the Carnation resident shared images and videos of boys online from his home computer.

Officials at the school district and the parochial school said no complaints occurred against him at either organization.

In 2010, Eastside Catholic students and parents raised more than $17,000 to support Rekdahl as he underwent treatment for aggressive duodenal carcinoma, or cancer of the small intestine.

Issaquah School District outscores others on statewide assessments

September 4, 2012

Students in the Issaquah School District continued to outscore the state in all categories on 2012 assessments, according to results released Aug. 29 by the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

“This is just the beginning of our work,” Superintendent Steve Rasmussen said in a statement. “We get into the nitty-gritty details of our assessment scores, and individual schools and teachers use them to target and make plans to help all students, groups of students and individual students succeed.”

Scores released include results from the 2012 administration of the Measurements of Student Progress, High School Proficiency Exams, and math and biology EOC exams. The EOC exams are taken by students whenever they complete the corresponding coursework, regardless of their grade. This is a change from a generic math and science assessment taken by all sophomores.

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Press Editorial

September 4, 2012

Healthy ecosystem supports salmon

Last week, the first returning salmon of 2012 were seen at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery where they have come home to spawn. More will follow in the fall months ahead, crowding the many tributaries that feed into Lake Sammamish.

A healthy return of the Northwest’s favorite fish is an important symbol of the health of our streams, lakes and Puget Sound ecosystems.

While some residents are crying about the imposition of tough city laws meant to strengthen the salmon’s habitat — and our own — the fact remains that Issaquah has embraced its role as watershed steward. Our waterways are healthier today than 10, 20 or 30 years ago.

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