FISH, Issaquah Community Network earn state award

November 5, 2012

NEW — 8 p.m. Nov. 5, 2012

Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery and the Issaquah Community Network garnered a top honor for offering employment opportunities for young people with disabilities, officials announced Nov. 1.

The organizations received the Youth Employer Award from the Governor’s Committee on Disability Issues and Employment. The honor recognizes the organization’s partnership to accommodate workers with disabilities, and for efforts to create a productive and inclusive workforce.

The state-level committee behind the award advises the governor, legislators and state agencies on policy affecting people with disabilities.

In recent years, students with disabilities from local school districts received paid internships at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery, and helped hatchery staffers and volunteers complete important tasks.

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Who’s News

July 24, 2012

AtWork! director honored

Wendy Randall, AtWork!’s director of Quality and Community Access received a Legacy Award from The Arc of King County and was recognized as an “Employment Hero” by Dennis Bounds, emcee of the event.

Randall, who started out with Community Enterprises of Issaquah and came to AtWork! with the merger in 1998, has made a difference in the lives of individuals with disabilities for more than 25 years. Although she is based out of Bellevue now, Randall usually spends at least one full day each week helping clients in Issaquah.

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Former Issaquah Mayor Herb Herrington dies

April 24, 2012

Herb Herrington

Former Mayor Herb Herrington, a genteel Texan and the chief executive as Issaquah started a long metamorphosis from a one-stoplight town to a commercial hub, died April 13.

Herrington, 83, served as mayor from 1974-81, before the Eastside population boom reshaped Issaquah from a former coal-mining and logging settlement into a center for high-tech and service industries. Later city leaders credited Herrington for creating a City Hall culture more responsive to citizens’ concerns.

“One of the things I learned from him is that you can disagree without being disagreeable,” former Mayor Rowan Hinds said.

Compassion also defined Herrington’s legacy. In 1977, the then-mayor spearheaded Community Enterprises of Issaquah, a predecessor to AtWork! — a nonprofit organization dedicated to skills training and job placement for disabled people.

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Learn to grow more than vegetables in community gardens

April 17, 2012

Starting a community garden can lead to abundant beans, kale and squash all summer long — not to mention a closer bond among neighbors.

Still, despite the ample — and tasty — payoff, establishing and maintaining a community garden is not as simple as Miracle-Gro. The process requires a dedicated team, green thumbs aplenty and a lot of elbow grease.

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AtWork! endures theft, vandalism

February 7, 2012

Over the weekend of Jan. 21-22, someone broke into the grounds of the Issaquah AtWork! recycling facility on Northwest Juniper Street.

But, contrary to rumors, the thieves did not cause extensive damage or make off with enough in stolen goods that AtWork! clients lost any work, according to CEO Chris Brandt.

Based in Bellevue, AtWork! serves persons with special needs, aiding them with finding employment or providing them with employment.

Police reports show that on the morning of Jan. 23, AtWork! officials reported someone cut the wires on three machines at the Issaquah AtWork! facility, Issaquah Police Patrol Sgt. Bob Porter said. Police reports further said about 200 feet of wire was taken. Police put the value of the theft at about $1,500; Brandt said that was roughly the cost of repairs.

The AtWork! facility was then the victim of another crime. At about 12:30 a.m. Jan. 28, police arrested two people who allegedly were attempting to leave At Work! with various computer parts, Porter said. The two were charged with obstructing justice and third-degree theft.

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Father helps quadriplegic son communicate and hold jobs using specialized interface

December 27, 2011

Doug Brookens, left, helped design a computer system that allows his physically challenged son, Bob, to communicate, surf the Internet and hold down two paying jobs. By Tom Corrigan

Once his father switches it on, Issaquah resident Bob Brookens, who just turned 40, instantly starts operating the MacBook Air attached to his wheelchair. The cursor moves rapidly and the screen flickers and changes rapidly as well.

Through the computer, Brookens makes a personal comment to his father, Doug Brookens. Bob is then ready and willing to demonstrate how he completes his job for a call center provider.

Bob is a quadriplegic who has cerebral palsy and cannot communicate verbally. He’s not able to use a keyboard or a joystick. But in the early 1980s, working with the University of Washington, Doug was able to rig up a computer interface his son could use.

“For the first time, he could communicate more than ‘yes’ or ‘no,’” Doug said, adding that with email and the Internet, Bob’s world eventually got a whole lot bigger. That interface, which has been through plenty of refinement over the years, now allows Bob to hold down not one, but two part-time paying jobs.

The call center job really is a long-distance, Internet position. The Bellevue office of AtWork! has even set up a space for Bob to complete his assigned tasks, said Lisa Fox, director of employment services for AtWork!

AtWork! is a nonprofit organization helping challenged people throughout the area.

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Decluttering offers chance to reuse, recycle

December 13, 2011

Habitat for Humanity Store volunteer Cindy Clark (left) and merchandising supervisor Molly Jacobson work in the Bellevue showroom, moving and assembling previously owned furniture donated to sell. By Greg Farrar

The items relegated to closets, crawlspaces, garages and junk drawers need not be banished to the landfill during a home decluttering effort.

Local recycling and reuse experts said the trick is to find fresh uses for old and unnecessary items, either through donations or repairs. Items in good condition make ideal candidates for donations to thrift stores. King County and local businesses offer recycling services for many household goods and items in not-so-good shape.

King County EcoConsumer Tom Watson said options abound for unloading the items cluttering the nooks and crannies in a home.

“Always consider donation, because reuse is better than recycling,” Watson said. “Someone else can use it — family, friends,” online classified services and thrift stores.

Watson adds another R to the time-tested mantra to reduce, reuse and recycle — repair. Often, furniture and other household items in otherwise good condition can be repaired for less expense and hassle than replacement. Old furniture, for instance, is a candidate for reupholstering.

Arie Mahler, donations manager for Seattle Goodwill, said sending items to a thrift store is a solid choice to reduce clutter — and aid a local nonprofit organization in the process, too.

“We’re pretty forgiving when it comes to donations,” he said.

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Food scraps return as compost to fuel community garden

November 29, 2011

King County EcoConsumer Tom Watson (left) adds compost to a garden plot Nov. 16. Contributed

Turning trash to treasure — or, at least, rich compost — could lengthen the landfill’s lifespan.

King County Solid Waste Division officials said the average King County family tosses 45 pounds of food scraps each month. The agency estimates food recycling could divert the amount of garbage headed to the county-run Cedar Hills Regional Landfill by more than 20 percent.

So, the Solid Waste Division enlisted 10 families in the Sycamore neighborhood near downtown Issaquah to collect food scraps throughout August — and demonstrate the ease of food-scrap recycling. Overall, neighbors amassed more than 400 pounds from refuse otherwise headed for the landfill — chicken bones, pineapple tops, paper towels soaked in bacon grease and much more.

The garbage pile festering beneath the hot August sun in Donna Misner’s driveway re-emerged Nov. 16 as rich compost.

King County EcoConsumer Tom Watson joined the residents in late August to bid the garbage heap farewell on a journey to Cedar Grove Composting.

Then, 85 days and a decomposition cycle later, Misner and other Sycamore neighbors gathered on a rain-soaked morning to see the result.

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Kiwanis Club of Issaquah hosts coat, shoe drive

November 22, 2011

The Kiwanis Club of Issaquah is holding a coat and shoe drive throughout November.

The drive runs through Nov. 30 and donations benefit the Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank.

Coats and shoes — in adult’s and children’s sizes — should be clean, and new or gently used.

Donation sites include The Issaquah Press, 45 Front St. S.; the Issaquah Gilman branch of KeyBank, 405 N.W. Gilman Blvd., Suite A; and AtWork! Issaquah Operations, 690 N.W. Juniper St.

Kiwanis Club of Issaquah hosts coat, shoe drive

November 15, 2011

The Kiwanis Club of Issaquah is holding a coat and shoe drive throughout November.

The drive runs through Nov. 30 and donations benefit the Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank.

Coats and shoes — in adult’s and children’s sizes — should be clean, and new or gently used.

Donation sites include The Issaquah Press, 45 Front St. S.; the Issaquah Gilman branch of KeyBank, 405 N.W. Gilman Blvd., Suite A; and AtWork! Issaquah Operations, 690 N.W. Juniper St.

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