Paving work begins today on Southeast May Valley Road

September 4, 2013

NEW — 6 a.m. Sept. 4, 2013

King County Road Services will grind and repave a 3.4-mile section of Southeast May Valley Road starting Sept. 4.

The work will close lanes between state Route 900 and 229th Drive Southeast and will last approximately three weeks, starting with grinding and paving. Flaggers will direct traffic through the work zone when lanes are closed, and local access will be maintained.

Message boards will be posted to warn motorists of delays. Use an alternate route if possible, or expect delays up to 15 minutes when driving through the work zone.

This work is dependent on good weather. Get updates on King County’s Road Services website.

Cooperation could save city $10 million

September 3, 2013

If water district would allow takeover of wells

A recently released study found that cooperation in the city’s consideration to take over Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District wells could save $10 million.

In an effort to consolidate utilities for its citizens, Issaquah has considered assuming three wells that are within city limits. Toward that goal, it contracted RH2 Engineering to further understand the costs, benefits and potential hurdles that would accompany such a move. The study was released Aug. 15.

The study clearly outlines the $10 million cost difference based on whether the district would work cooperatively with the city in separating the utilities or not. It also says customers would pay less under Issaquah ownership.

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Festival hosts volunteer sign-up party

September 3, 2013

Salmon Days organizers need all the help they can muster to accommodate the more than 150,000 visitors expected to stream into Issaquah for the annual festival Oct. 5-6.

Prospective volunteers can join the iconic festival at the annual Salmon Days volunteer sign-up party Sept. 10. Organizers need volunteers for a variety of activities, including manning booths, selling souvenirs and cleaning up after the event concludes.

“We look forward to seeing the smiling faces of longtime volunteers as well as meeting new members of the community, who we hope, like our salmon, return each year,” Salmon Days Festival Director Robin Kelley said in a statement.

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State park officials unveil new boardwalk

September 3, 2013

The new 500-foot boardwalk at Lake Sammamish State Park ends in a viewing platform at Issaquah Creek’s outlet to the lake. By Greg Farrar

The new 500-foot boardwalk at Lake Sammamish State Park ends in a viewing platform at Issaquah Creek’s outlet to the lake. By Greg Farrar

State park officials, along with the Friends of Lake Sammamish State Park, will unveil the park’s newest improvement at a Sept. 12 ribbon-cutting ceremony.

A 500-foot boardwalk now travels from the park’s Sunset Beach out to the mouth of Issaquah Creek, replacing what was previously a muddy wetland.

“I think it’s amazing,” said Friends group member Connie Marsh. “To be able to go out through a wetland and have it be ADA accessible is historic.”

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Mayor joins survivor at gun control discussion

September 3, 2013

Mayor Ava Frisinger (left), holds a picture of her nephew who was killed by a gun accident as Jewish Federation shooting survivor Cheryl Stumbo listens during a discussion Aug. 27. By Peter Clark

Mayor Ava Frisinger (left), holds a picture of her nephew who was killed by a gun accident as Jewish Federation shooting survivor Cheryl Stumbo listens during a discussion Aug. 27. By Peter Clark

A survivor of the 2006 Jewish Federation shootings sat down with Mayor Ava Frisinger to call for universal background checks Aug. 27.

Cheryl Stumbo, one of six shot by Naveed Afzal Haq, has begun actively lobbying lawmakers to support Initiative 594, which calls for “extending the requirement for a background check to apply to all gun sales and transfers in the state.” Toward that aim, she was invited by Frisinger, herself a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns and a victim of gun violence, to lead a roundtable discussion at City Hall.

“We’re here today to share stories of gun violence,” Stumbo said. “This is sort of one of those taboo subjects and I think that’s part of the problem. We want our elected leaders to hear us.”

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Some programs restored in $183 million schools budget

September 3, 2013

The Issaquah School Board unanimously passed the district’s 2013-14 budget Aug. 28, and the $183 million expense sheet includes the restoration of a few services and programs that had been cut in recent years.

Like the state’s other public school districts, Issaquah was forced to complete its budgeting process later than normal because of the state Legislature’s extended special session that ran until June 29.

Under state law, districts have until Aug. 31 to finalize a budget. That left people like Jake Kuper, Issaquah’s chief of finance and operations, with little time to iron out details.

Kuper said the extended legislative session meant Issaquah’s timeline for hiring new personnel was “very condensed.” There was also very little verbal input from the public on budgetary matters, and district officials had much less time to plan major program changes for the 2013-14 school year.

The Legislature’s mandate to fully fund basic education by 2018 took a small step forward this year. During an Aug. 14 public hearing on the budget, Kuper said while Issaquah’s increase of $3.1 million — 1 percent of its total revenue — is “meager growth, we’re heading in the right direction.”

The district lost nearly $16 million in state funding for the three fiscal years beginning in 2009-10, so there’s a substantial amount left to restore funding to pre-recession levels.

However, the $3.1 million increase will allow Issaquah to hire new personnel for each of its 24 schools.

All buildings will receive additional support for their health rooms. At the district’s three comprehensive high schools — Issaquah, Liberty and Skyline — mental health counseling services will be restored.

Starting in the spring semester, students at Issaquah and Skyline high schools will be able to enroll in a voluntary seventh-period class designed to provide academic performance.

Administrative positions will be added at the elementary- and middle-school levels as it attempts to implement a new statewide teacher evaluation system. Elementary schools will have additional secretaries, and some custodial and maintenance positions will be restored.

Issaquah could’ve chosen to fund additional teaching positions, but Kuper said officials felt new deans and health-room specialists were the way to go.

“We feel these investments will support our classroom teachers and their mission to provide high-quality instruction to our students,” Kuper said. “When our skilled professionals are allowed to focus on teaching, student achievement will improve.”

Superintendent Ron Thiele said this year’s budget reflects the district’s primary task — serving students.

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Student scores improve on state assessments

September 3, 2013

Twelfth-graders in the class of 2013 passed state assessment requirements by an overwhelming majority and, overall, test scores continue to show a slight improvement, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn said Aug. 26.

Dorn’s comments came as part of the official release of scores for the 2013 administration of the Measurements of Student Progress for grades three through eight, and High School Proficiency Exams and End-of-Course exams for students in high school-level courses.

“There aren’t any dramatic changes from last year,” Dorn said in a news release about the scores. “But our scores are up on more tests than down. In particular, I congratulate the class of 2013 for their success in meeting a high bar on their exit exams.”

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Meet author J.A. Jance at Issaquah Library Sept. 10

September 3, 2013

Meet bestselling author J. A. Jance, who will discuss her 21st mystery featuring Seattle detective J. P. Beaumont, at 4:30 p.m. Sept. 10 at the Issaquah Library.

The library is at 10 W. Sunset Way. Jance will sign books, and copies of her latest book will be for sale at the event.

In “Second Watch,” Beaumont is finally getting around to having his knee replacement surgery, but he’s in for more than that.

A series of dreams bring him back first to his early days on the force at Seattle Police Department and then, even earlier, to his days in Vietnam. Drug induced hallucinations? Maybe. But his haunting visitors from the past lead him into current complications where the dead bodies from the “Second Watch” won’t stay buried.

 

GPS system helps school bus fleet stay efficient

September 3, 2013

Jim Enfield, shop foreman for the Issaquah School District’s transportation department, can access Zonar through his office computer. Zonar systems (below), have been installed on more than 400 Issaquah School District buses and vehicles. By Neil Pierson

Jim Enfield, shop foreman for the Issaquah School District’s transportation department, can access Zonar through his office computer. Zonar systems (below), have been installed on more than 400 Issaquah School District buses and vehicles. By Neil Pierson

When Jim Enfield wants to know the whereabouts of a bus, he doesn’t have to pick up a radio and wait for the driver to respond. The answer is at his fingertips.

Enfield, the shop foreman for the Issaquah School District’s transportation department, uses a sophisticated global positioning and radio-frequency identification system called Zonar to track buses. Not only can he pinpoint the location of a bus, he can see the route it has traveled, how fast it’s going, how long it’s been idling and whether it needs maintenance.

Issaquah began using Zonar about four years ago, according to Jo Porter, the district’s transportation director. Many other Washington districts use it too, including neighbors like Bellevue, Lake Washington and Puyallup.

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WSDOT calls for tallying volunteers

September 3, 2013

From Oct. 1-3, the Washington State Department of Transportation needs about 400 volunteers to count the number of people who ride bikes or walk to their destinations for the department’s sixth annual survey.

During the 2012 survey, volunteers across Washington counted nearly 60,000 bicyclists and pedestrians who traveled by walking or biking.

“Counting bicyclists and pedestrians helps us more accurately measure demand, gauge the results of our investments and plan for future improvement projects,” Secretary of Transportation Lynn Peterson said in a press release. “We couldn’t document the number of people walking and biking without the help of many volunteers from across the state.”

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