Squak Mountain timber plan concerns conservationists, neighbors

February 8, 2013

NEW — 12:05 p.m. Feb. 8, 2013

High on Squak Mountain, pink plastic strips tied to trees mark 216 acres of forest as a timber harvest area.

Since a timber company purchased the forest and started the process to permit logging on the site, conservationists and nearby residents mobilized to fight the proposal to clear cut the land. The logging opponents said cutting trees on the land could lead to more flooding downhill, damage sensitive fish and wildlife habitat, and add a timber harvest site near conservation lands.

The proposal from Eatonville-based Erickson Logging to harvest timber on 216 acres on the mountainside above Renton-Issaquah Road Southeast galvanized residents on Squak Mountain and near May Creek, a destination for runoff from the mountain.

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Study: Washington election system is No. 2 in United States

February 8, 2013

NEW — 6 a.m. Feb. 8, 2013

Washington ranked No. 2 among states for election administration performance in 2010, according to a national study.

In the Elections Performance Index unveiled by the Pew Charitable Trusts on Tuesday, Washington ranked near the top after researchers examined election administration performance across all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

“It’s great news that Washington is one of the very top states when it comes to the accessibility and integrity of elections and voter registration,” Secretary of State Kim Wyman, Washington’s top elections official, said in a statement. “I appreciate the hard work put into the index and how it provides an objective set of measurements to look at how we and other states are conducting elections.”

Other top-performing states include Colorado, Delaware, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin.

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Issaquah Highlands retail lineup adds coffee, liquor

February 7, 2013

NEW — 4 p.m. Feb. 7, 2013

The latest announced tenants for the long-planned Issaquah Highlands retail center, Grand Ridge Plaza, offer shoppers a chance to catch a buzz — spirits at BevMo! and coffee at Starbucks.

The recent additions to the $70 million highlands project add recognizable names alongside the Regal Cinemas multiplex, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Marshalls and HomeGoods, and Safeway.

The project developer, Regency Centers, estimated for offerings to open starting in the summer and fall. Expect the movie theater and some restaurants to open initially.

BevMo! — a chain based in Concord, Calif. — intends to expand to Issaquah after opening outposts in Bellevue and elsewhere in the Puget Sound region after the state privatized liquor sales in June 2012.

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County seeks proposals for youth sports facilities

February 7, 2013

NEW — 8 a.m. Feb. 7, 2013

Local youth sports organizations can apply for King County grants to build or upgrade recreation facilities.

The county Youth Sports Facilities Grants Program provides matching grant funds from $5,000 to $75,000. Past grant recipients include playgrounds and athletic fields, including the Issaquah Little League’s Dodd Fields near Issaquah Valley Elementary School.

Other local grant recipients in the Issaquah area include city-run Central Park in the Issaquah Highlands and county-run Duthie Hill Park in Sammamish.

Overall, officials awarded $12 million through the program in the past 20 years.

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Explore outdoors in King County Parks Fitness Challenge

February 6, 2013

NEW — 6 p.m. Feb. 6, 2013

Parkgoers can participate in challenges, enjoy the outdoors and burn some calories as King County Parks rolls out a fitness program at Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park and other sites.

Countywide, organizers designed 30 challenge locations countywide for the King County Parks Fitness Challenge.

The challenge — initially created through a partnership with Group Health’s Fitness Network for county employees — is available to the public.

“The public can also enjoy the parks fitness challenge as a great way to exercise while enjoying some of the 26,000 acres of parks, 175 miles of regional trails and 180 miles of backcountry trails that we proudly maintain,” King County Parks Director Kevin Brown said in a statement.

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Arena Sports purchases Sammamish Club, announces changes

February 6, 2013

NEW — 5:30 p.m. Feb. 6, 2013

Change is coming to the Sammamish Club fitness and tennis facility at the base of Cougar Mountain.

Seattle-based Arena Sports intends to purchase the property. Plans call for the company upgrade the pool and fitness areas, and convert the tennis courts into a soccer field and indoor inflatable playground.

Arena Sports also operates facilities at Seattle’s Magnuson Park, South Seattle and Redmond.

The closing date for the Sammamish Club property is set for March 1.

The property consists of adjoining structures — a 24,000-square-foot indoor tennis facility built in 1978 and a 24,148-square-foot fitness facility built in 1999 — on 4.46 acres visible from Interstate 90 and Newport Way Northwest.

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Mountains to Sound Greenway, REI leader is choice for Cabinet

February 6, 2013

NEW — 2 p.m. Feb. 6, 2013

REI leader Sally Jewell, a leader in the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, is President Barack Obama’s choice for U.S. interior secretary.

Jewell is Kent-based REI’s president and CEO, in addition to serving as a board member for the nonprofit organization underpinning the greenway — a 100-mile greenbelt stretched along Interstate 90 from Seattle to Central Washington.

Obama announced Jewell’s appointment Wednesday at a White House ceremony. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, she is poised to succeed outgoing Department of the Interior chief Ken Salazar, a former U.S. senator from Colorado.

“Sally Jewell is a respected leader and passionate advocate for conservation, recreation and outdoor education,” Cynthia Welti, greenway trust executive director, said in a statement. “We are delighted with this news. Sally will serve our country well.”

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Let’s Go! for Feb. 7-13

February 6, 2013

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Artist Michele Rushworth paints Gov. Chris Gregoire’s official portrait

February 5, 2013

Michele Rushworth (right) holds then-Gov. Chris Gregoire’s shoulder as a workman hangs the governor’s official portrait Jan. 11 at the state Capitol. By Weldon Wilson/Washington State Patrol

Michele Rushworth (right) holds then-Gov. Chris Gregoire’s shoulder as a workman hangs the governor’s official portrait Jan. 11 at the state Capitol. By Weldon Wilson/Washington State Patrol

The scene as a workman climbed atop a desk to hang the official portrait of Gov. Chris Gregoire in the Capitol seemed surreal to the outgoing executive.

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Joe Forkner enters race for Issaquah mayor

February 5, 2013

Less than a week after rejoining the City Council, longtime community leader and seasoned Councilman Joe Forkner entered the race for mayor Feb. 4.

Joe Forkner

Joe Forkner

The announcement set up a contest between Forkner and a colleague, Council President Fred Butler. The councilmen hope to lead the city once Mayor Ava Frisinger steps down in January 2014 after 16 years in the top job at City Hall.

Forkner, 59, worked for the city in the past and served on the council in recent stints — from 2000 to 2005, and to fill a vacancy from September 2006 to late 2007. The latest appointment, a 10-month stint approved Jan. 29 in a 4-2 decision, caps a busy period after Forkner led the citizen panel responsible for outlining redevelopment in the business district.

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