Off The Press

August 27, 2013

Put your clothes on for back to school

It’s almost time for young people to go back to school, which means for weeks we at the newspaper have been receiving emails and phone calls galore about what students and parents need to know.

Kathleen Merrill Press managing editor

Kathleen Merrill
Press managing editor

Last week, I got several emails from schools about dress codes for students. This reminder in one of them from a high school made me howl with laughter:

“At all times, your chest/cleavage, thighs/buttocks and shoulders must be covered, and all underwear must be UNDER another piece of clothing and not visible.”

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Off The Press

August 20, 2013

Chandler and Jamie, this column is for you

I got two emails last week, on two consecutive days, that made me cry.

The first, an announcement and a photo, was one of joy — Chandler Balkman was getting married.

You may remember Chandler. On Aug. 3, 2006, Balkman, then 16, and his father went for a swim in Lake Sammamish.

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Off The Press

August 13, 2013

Frank Blethen, Jeff Bezos and the future of news

Peter Clark Press reporter

Peter Clark
Press reporter

Stars aligned in inviting me to see The Seattle Times Publisher Frank Blethen speak at the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce lunch only two days after The Washington Post announced its purchase by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.

Blethen gave an expert and impassioned speech regarding the family-owned daily The Times, the future of the newspaper industry and the state’s hurdles in improving the educational system. However, the event shined during the question and answer session.

To me, it was relevant on many levels. Along with the local implications including my appreciation of The Seattle Times (full disclosure: The Issaquah Press is owned by the company of the only daily left in the metropolitan area), hearing Blethen speak about the decision of another local powerhouse taking an active interest in my industry left my head spinning with speculation.

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Off The Press

August 6, 2013

Get it right for the kids

I was driving along with my radio blasting when my least favorite commercial came on: Kars4Kids. I dislike this commercial on two levels. First, it is such a catchy tune that it sticks in my brain for hours. Of course that makes it a commercial success. The second reason I don’t like it stems from my years as an English teacher: it misspells car.

Hillary Clinton told us it takes a village to raise a child, and I can remember those times I got home and somebody had already called my parents to report some misbehavior. However, the village can also damage kids when it messes with the language.

Joe Grove Press reporter

Joe Grove
Press reporter

Children come to school with a language structure already in place. They don’t come to school with a history or math structure in place. The English teacher works to correct and polish that language structure. When advertisers purposely misspell words as in kars for cars, kidz for kids, lite for light or nite for night, etc., because it is kind of cutesy, they are a part of the village that damages the kids.

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Off The Press

July 30, 2013

Kings on their thrones should be so blessed

This little tale has a touching beginning and a sad middle, but a very happy ending and a hero at the finish, so I hope you’ll make it to the end.

There once was an old metal office chair, made in the 1930s, surplused from The Boeing Co. with a metal company serial number on it, which made its way at some point to The Issaquah Press. A number of people who loved this little community paper used it over the years, and it eventually was used by Myrtle Winslow, the newspaper accountant, for more than 20 years until she retired in 1989.

Greg Farrar Press photographer

Greg Farrar
Press photographer

In 1996, 17 years ago this month, the paper hired a full-time photographer. That, by the way, was me! I was given a desk, but it didn’t have any particular chair. Between the several unused ones to choose from, was this old green metal antique that made a lot of creaky noises and had sort of fake cracked green leather upholstery on the seat, back and armrests.

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Off The Press

July 23, 2013

Luigi and I prove to be a perfect match

Astute observers may have spied me behind the wheel of a spiffy, yellow Fiat buzzing around town lately. A confluence of odd factors combined to put me in said driver’s seat.

No. 1, I was growing tired of the commute between Issaquah and Kirkland in a 15-year-old car. While my Japanese car was built in America, it was not designed with ideal gas mileage in mind. Especially since the price of gas in recent years is celebrated for not topping $4 a gallon. I occasionally grow nostalgic for my first car, which I filled up for $10 or less.

David Hayes

David Hayes

And two, the RAV4 was beginning to exhibit additional signs of impending doom. Already the recipient of two major surgeries, it was time to look for a replacement before it required a third.

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Off The Press

July 16, 2013

The money’s been spent so enjoy the ride

Shortly after I moved here, the bike trail along East Lake Sammamish Parkway was blocked off and construction began. As I watched men, women and equipment at work, I concluded I was watching an overly constructed, public works project in progress.

Joe Grove Press reporter

Joe Grove
Press reporter

The paving of 2.2 miles of bicycle trail for $2.7 million seems a little steep. I suppose all this was hashed out long before I got here.

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Off The Press

July 9, 2013

Softball, reporter come full circle in summer game

There are always certain places from our youth that remain entrenched in our memories, no matter what.

For me, one such place is Kirkland’s Everest Park, where in 2000, as a member of the North Issaquah Little League softball 9/10 all-star team, I enjoyed one of the best summers of my life.

Christina Corrales-Toy Press reporter

Christina Corrales-Toy
Press reporter

Exactly 13 years after our team took second place in the District 9 tournament, I returned to the fields to cover the Issaquah/Sammamish softball all-star team July 5. As you can imagine, I was hit with an overbearing wave of nostalgia.

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Off The Press

July 2, 2013

Peter Clark Press reporter

Peter Clark
Press reporter

How I remember Doc

When I decided to re-enter college after a three-year hiatus, one of my first political science classes at Indiana University Southeast was taught by Dr. Tom Kotulak. He would go on to define my educational experience, my personal drive toward accomplishment and set a standard of knowledgeable debate that I strive to realize on a daily basis.

He died June 11 from complications of pneumonia and it hit me harder than I expected.

I agree that the idea of a professor turned mentor is a romanticized idea that generally makes for better hyperbole than truth, but it is no exaggeration to say that I would not be where I am in life without that man. And I really like where I am in life.

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Off The Press

June 25, 2013

And The Beat will go on, with your help

The Beat team and I had to make some hard decisions a few weeks ago when we had an end-of-the-school-year meeting. Do we go forward? How do we rebuild the team? How do we get the funding to continue our teen journalism project?

The Beat is our monthly (during the school year) page by teens, about teens, for teens. The team — students from Issaquah, Liberty, Skyline and Eastside Catholic high schools — meets once a month to plan what to write about, and the students learn about journalism and newspapers long before they get to college. Some even then decide to study journalism, which always makes me proud.

Kathleen R. Merrill Press managing editor

Kathleen R. Merrill
Press managing editor

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