Liberty High School cross country girls race to No. 5 spot

November 6, 2012

Liberty High School runners Megan Chucka (left) and Allie Wood run in tandem at the state cross-country championships held at the Sun Willows Golf Course on Nov. 3. By Mike Smith

To call the Liberty High School girls cross-country season a success would be an understatement.

The team, led by coach Mike Smith, brought home plenty of hardware this year, winning the KingCo 3A title for the first time in school history and capturing its third consecutive Sea-King District title.

Heading into the state championships, the team was ranked fourth in the state, its highest ranking ever.

At the Nov. 3 championships in Pasco, the Patriots placed fifth in what was the team’s best state finish ever.

But it was a bittersweet moment for the close-knit team, after star runner Megan Chucka suffered an asthma reaction during the race, preventing her from finishing in the individual top 10, as she had hoped, Smith said.

Still, the resilient Chucka, a senior, finished the race and even ran her best time at state with a time of 19 minutes, 56 seconds.

“You know, things can happen, you can get the flu, you can have an asthma attack and you can’t predict that,” Smith said. “Still, this is the very beginning of what I think is going to be a very long career for Megan.”

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Runner races for charity after storm cancels New York City Marathon

November 6, 2012

Sabina Honig, Becki Chandler and Amir Feinsilber (from left) come west on East Sunset Way as they near the two-mile mark of a 26.2-mile run — a substitute for Honig’s canceled New York City Marathon and as a fundraiser for Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. By Greg Farrar

In Issaquah, native New Yorker Sabina Honig awaited word from family and friends as Hurricane Sandy walloped the East Coast.

The prospective New York City Marathon runner also listened closely for information about the race scheduled to occur less than a week after the Oct. 29 superstorm.

Lingering damage from Hurricane Sandy led organizers to cancel the New York City Marathon, but Honig did not let the setback interrupt her race. Instead, she set out from home in the Issaquah Highlands on race day, Nov. 4, and logged 26.2 miles on local streets.

No medal awaited Honig at the finish line, but she used the race to raise money for relief efforts along the Eastern Seaboard.

Honig, 44, raised more than $2,000 by Nov. 5, as the fundraising cutoff deadline approached. The public can continue to donate online to Honig’s cause.

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Hurricane Sandy upends marathon plans for Issaquah runner

November 6, 2012

Brian Gallagher, a longtime runner from Issaquah, planned to race in the New York City Marathon to raise funds for Camp Korey, a Carnation organization for children suffering from serious medical conditions.

Gallagher, 44, arrived in the Big Apple not long before organizers canceled the race.

The area bore scares from Hurricane Sandy. Long traffic backups on expressways resulted as motorists jockeyed for gasoline. Darkness shrouded parts of Manhattan as Gallagher’s plane descended to New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport.

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Candidates’ signs raise stakes, then linger as litter

November 6, 2012

A cluster of political signs on the road shoulder vie for motorists’ attention Nov. 1 at the corner of Northwest Gilman Boulevard and state Route 900. By Greg Farrar

The emerald strip in the center of Northwest Gilman Boulevard is prime real estate for political signs, a landscaped median exposed to thousands of vehicles each day.

Unfortunately for candidates, city code prohibits campaign operatives from turning the median — and others around Issaquah — into a politician’s paradise in the run-up to Election Day.

Some passers-by regard political signs as litter, just another piece of detritus from a long and acrimonious campaign season. Others see the placards as grassroots organizing at the actual grassroots, a First Amendment affirmation.

Michele Forkner, code compliance officer for the city, treats the signs as a necessary but messy task.

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Issaquah Salmon Hatchery spawns chinook, coho

November 6, 2012

FISH docent Grace Reamer holds a handful of chinook salmon eggs for students at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery on Oct. 30. By Greg Farrar

Issaquah Salmon Hatchery workers and volunteers sloshed around in 40-degree water Oct. 30, as the annual effort to spawn coho salmon started again.

Teams from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery plan to collect 1.2 million coho eggs. The process to spawn coho started about a month after hatchery workers and volunteers started spawning chinook. In the resulting effort, teams collected 2.2 million eggs.

FISH Executive Director Jane Kuechle and John Kugen, hatchery foreman, said the partnership between the nonprofit organization and the state agency is essential for the survival of Issaquah Creek salmon — and the hatchery.

The hatchery, a fixture in downtown Issaquah for 75 years, spawns and raises coho and chinook.

State fisheries experts expected a more robust chinook salmon return but a smaller coho salmon return to Puget Sound streams in 2012.

“It comes and goes,” Kugen said. “The best one that we had that I can remember was 2001, when we had 18,000 coho and then a couple years ago we had 13,000. Coho come back in bigger numbers because they’re released as bigger smolts. They’re about 7 or 8 inches long, so there’s less predation on them than chinook.”

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Issaquah author explores Jewish culture in historical thriller

November 6, 2012

Author Jane Isenberg sits in her home office, surrounded by research materials for her latest novel, ‘The Bones and the Book.’ By David Hayes

Writers never know what will spark their next great idea or where they’ll be when it strikes.

Issaquah author Jane Isenberg traces the roots of her new novel “The Bones and the Book,” to a turn-of-the century business card she discovered in the gift shop of the Tenement Museum in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

While tracing her own Jewish roots in the late 1990s, Isenberg visited the Tenement Museum built in the very building that housed the Jewish immigrants from a bygone era. There in a display case was the business card of Professor Dora Meltzer, proclaiming herself a clairvoyant in the matters of love, family and business.

“I was fascinated because only God is supposed to know the future,” Isenberg said. “What would make her defy orthodoxy?”

A teacher, Isenberg resolved then and there to write a historical mystery addressing these issues. Coming up with the most Yiddish name she could think of, Feigele was born, where she lived in Isenberg’s imagination until 2006, when she was ready to bring her to life in a story of her own.

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Newcastle actor’s film debut is ‘All I Want is Christmas’

November 6, 2012

Ashton Herrild, of Newcastle, plays antagonist Jack the Jerk in a still from the locally-shot film ‘All I Want is Christmas.’ By Laurie Clark Photography

Newcastle actor Ashton Herrild isn’t mean or rude, but that may be hard to believe for audiences who saw him star as the bully Scut Farkus in The 5th Avenue Theatre’s 2010 production of “A Christmas Story, The Musical!”

The 15-year-old Liberty High School sophomore is a hardworking student who enjoys doing a little acting on the side.

But for some reason, the charismatic teen keeps getting cast as an antagonist.

“I think it comes with the red hair,” he said as he smiled and pointed to his ginger locks. “You see a lot of movies with red-haired bullies just because they may be different.”

Fortunately, Ashton doesn’t mind, and it’s a good thing because he was cast as Jack the Jerk in his film debut, “All I Want is Christmas.”

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Patriot Players to perform contemporary ‘Snow Angel’

November 6, 2012

Benny, played by senior Taylor Schadt, gets as close as he can to the sweet-smelling Jill, junior Mina Massey. By Katie Simmons

The show must go on.

That phrase, known to thespians worldwide, rang true for the Patriot Players this fall when they found out the new performing arts center at Liberty High School would not be ready in time for their production of “Snow Angel.”

“I know how construction goes, so I wasn’t completely surprised when it wasn’t ready,” Director Katherine Klekas said.

Construction of the new theater facility was originally set to finish in the summer of 2012 before it was pushed back. The latest estimate for its completion is mid-to-late December, according to Steve Crawford, the Issaquah School District’s director of capital projects.

The show will go on, but at a different venue. Nearby Lord of Life Lutheran Church has offered to let the students stage their play in its open, domed sanctuary for five nights.

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Darigold donates water for Lake Sammamish kokanee

November 6, 2012

Darigold joined the effort in recent weeks to preserve dwindling Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon, Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery announced Oct. 26.

The downtown Issaquah dairy is donating water from a well to the Lower Issaquah Valley Aquifer for the hatchery to use in the ongoing effort to restore kokanee. The contribution from Darigold should save the hatchery about $50,000 over the program’s anticipated lifespan through 2021.

Experts said the Darigold water is ideal for kokanee due to consistent quality and temperature. Using the water allows hatchery teams to prevent the fish from imprinting on Issaquah Creek water, and instead allows fry to imprint on Ebright, Laughing Jacobs and Lewis creeks.

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Issaquah Schools Foundation launches fund for arts

November 6, 2012

When the Skyline High School Orchestra started this year, it was short nine cellos. The arsenal for Issaquah Middle School band for years included a baritone saxophone from 1925. Instead of being in a museum, it was played until its metal decayed beyond repair.

“They’re all over the district, of course — instruments that have either been around a long time or have seen rough decades. It’s been an ongoing problem for a long time,” said Doug Longman who teaches orchestra at Skyline and Issaquah high schools. “We are not even providing all the instruments that kids are playing.”

Larger instruments — like cellos, tubas and bass clarinets — are hard for students to carry back and forth from home, where they practice, to school, where they take band or orchestra classes. They’re also expensive to rent, if they can be rented at all. To help students in their musical endeavor, the ideal solution is for those larger instruments to be provided in class. But that is easier said than done.

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