Costco garners top marks in consumer survey

April 10, 2012

Issaquah-based Costco earned top honors in a customer experience survey, organizers announced March 14.

Costco garnered the top spot among major department, wholesale and specialty retailers in a survey conducted by Satmetrix, the Net Promoter software company and leader in customer experience programs.

Satmetrix released the 2012 Net Promoter Industry Benchmarks for retail and other industries. The study reached more 30,000 U.S. consumers.

The benchmark is based on survey responses from consumers nationwide. Consumers rate experiences for primary brands. The overall score is based on customers’ likelihood to recommend the company’s product or service in the category being rated. Consumers also rate each brand on various aspects of customer experience, including product or service features, customer service and overall value.

Costco, Issaquah’s largest employer, earned a 71 percent score.

“The annual benchmark is an important guidepost for executives to understand which brands are truly winning the loyalty of American consumers,” said Deborah Eastman, general manager of consulting at Satmetrix.

State joins complaint against mortgage services

April 10, 2012

State Attorney General Rob McKenna and other legal officials from throughout the United States joined the U.S. Department of Justice and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to protest misconduct by the largest mortgage services in the nation.

The complaint against the banks, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, is a major step toward finalizing the biggest consumer protection settlement in U.S. history. The complaint claims the financial institutions’ misconduct “resulted in the issuance of improper mortgages, premature and unauthorized foreclosures, violation of service members’ and other homeowners’ rights and protections, the use of false and deceptive affidavits and other documents, and the waste and abuse of taxpayer funds.”

The complaint follows a joint investigation and a $25 billion settlement announced in February.

The parties also submitted a series of proposed federal court orders to formalize the settlements.

The settlement could provide $648 million in benefits to Washington homeowners. The state is still deciding how to best distribute $44 million for foreclosure relief and other programs.

In addition to the consumer relief, the proposed settlement agreements include comprehensive reforms of mortgage loan servicing practices.

Local high schools’ track teams evaluate mid-season progress

April 10, 2012

Joey Domek, Issaquah High School junior, leaps a barrier as he wins the 110-meter hurdles in a time of 17.54 seconds April 5 against Bothell. Domek also persevered in the 300 hurdles with a time of 44.4 seconds. By Greg Farrar

If there’s one single word in the English language to describe a strategy in high school track, it might be survival.

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Cougar Ridge Elementary School students witness citizenship ceremony

April 10, 2012

Ann Marie Petry, Cougar Ridge Elementary School music instructor (right), leads students in the singing of two patriotic songs at an April 6 naturalization ceremony held at Cougar Ridge. The naturalization candidates are on the stage behind Petry. By Tom Corrigan

Isabelle Bouanna came here from France in 1995 when her husband Cyril got a job at Microsoft.

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Proposed $200 million property tax levy clears hurdle

April 10, 2012

The proposed $200 million property tax levy to raise funds for a juvenile detention center cleared a King County Council committee April 3 — a key step to sending the measure to voters.

Budget and Fiscal Management Committee gave a “do-pass” recommendation to a measure to fund a replacement for the aging Youth Services Center, a juvenile detention facility in Seattle.

The legislation heads to the full council for final consideration. The council must act by the end of April to place a measure on the Aug. 7 primary ballot.

If the nine-year levy is placed on the ballot and passed, homeowners should pay about 7 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, or about $20 per year for a home assessed at $350,000.

The proposal calls for replacing decaying buildings constructed in the 1950s, 1970s and 1990s. Officials deemed the electrical, plumbing, and heating and cooling systems as beyond repair.

Judges and commissioners at the juvenile court on site handle 3,700 cases per year at the detention facility. The complex houses about 65 children and teenagers from throughout the county.

Issaquah High School marks formal opening with celebration

April 10, 2012

A crowd of students, alumni and local school officials gathered in the main lobby of Issaquah High School for remarks from Principal Paula Phelps and others. Though open to students since at least September, the district held a formal opening ceremony March 3 for the rebuilt high school. By Tom Corrigan

The building will have seen passage of its first full school year in just a few months.

Nevertheless, school district officials threw an official opening bash for the rebuilt Issaquah High School on April 3.

“As far as we’re concerned, tonight is just a party,” Principal Paula Phelps announced toward the beginning of her remarks to a crowd of 100 or so people gathered around a stage and podium set up in the school’s main lobby.

Despite a steady rain, every visitor had been greeted outside the school’s main doors by the IHS marching band and school cheerleaders.

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Municipal League of King County honors local leaders, libraries

April 10, 2012

Efforts to help people find jobs, learn English and grow small businesses earned the Issaquah-based King County Library System a top honor from the Municipal League of King County.

The nonprofit, nonpartisan organization recognized the library system as Organization of the Year, and also honored King County Executive Dow Constantine and local state Sen. Steve Litzow in the 53rd Annual Civic Awards.

Each year, the Municipal League and the Municipal League Foundation present the honors to highlight people and organizations for significant contributions to the community. Organizers held a ceremony April 5 to honor the recipients.

Constantine received the James R. Ellis Regional Leadership Award for years of public service, efforts to bring a culture of performance to county government, completion of major projects and improved relationships among the county and other jurisdictions.

The award honors individuals and organizations for contributing significant leadership in tackling regional public policy issues.

Litzow, a freshman Republican from Mercer Island, and state Sen. Ed Murray, a veteran Seattle Democrat, shared the Warren G. Magnuson Award for bipartisan leadership to pass same-sex marriage legislation. (Litzow represents Issaquah neighborhoods in the 41st Legislative District.)

Skyline quarterback Max Browne passes on Dawgs for USC

April 10, 2012

Nation’s top prep passer dreamed of throwing for the Trojans

Not long after Max Browne’s plane touched down in Los Angeles, the Skyline High School quarterback was sitting down to lunch at Lemonade, a USC hot spot, with Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley.

Browne, the nation’s top-rated prep passer according to both Rivals.com and Scout.com, admitted he was “kind of nervous,” but the latest in a long line of USC All-American quarterbacks quickly put him at ease.

“Matt Barkley is a guy you see on ESPN very consistently,” said Browne, who ordered a chicken sandwich Barkley recommended. “That’s one of the biggest things you find with the guys at USC — they’re just real guys. I sat down for an hourlong lunch with Matt Barkley and it was an easy conversation.”

After three days in Southern California, Browne decided he was ready to tell friends and teammates he would play football for the Trojans. He made the announcement the night of April 4 at Skyline.

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Issaquah Schools Foundation awards Kateri Brow enrichment grants

April 10, 2012

Celebrating receiving an Issaquah Schools Foundation Kateri Brow grant at Issaquah Valley Elementary School are (from left) teacher Heidi Jones; Robin Callahan, foundation executive director; Principal Diane Holt; foundation board member Neva Luke; and teacher Julie Ann Enyeart. By Tom Corrigan

Late last month, the Issaquah Schools Foundation awarded $66,505 worth of grants to 17 teachers or groups of teachers at schools throughout the local school district.

Named for a past superintendent of the Issaquah School District, Kateri Brow Big Idea Grants are awarded “for programs that reflect vision and innovation in education,” according to the ISF website.

At Issaquah Valley Elementary School, teachers Julie Ann Enyeart and Heidi Jones received almost $2,000 for their “Buddies, Books and Bags” program. The idea is to increase student access and interest in reading, Enyeart said.

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Watercraft enthusiasts take Easter egg hunt to new depths

April 10, 2012

Nearly 50 personal watercraft enthusiasts hit the 45-degree water of Lake Sammamish in a search of the lake for Easter eggs on April 8.

“I can’t feel my toes,” Danya Simpson, of Ocean Shores, said after returning to shore with three eggs in hand at the conclusion of the third annual On-Water Easter Egg Hunt Fundraiser.

The event began at 10 a.m., with personal watercraft riders departing from the Lake Sammamish State Park boat launch area.

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