Issaquah businesses target tourists for attractions, events

October 25, 2011

Issaquah leaders often describe local qualities as treasures — a quaint downtown, mountain panoramas, historic buildings and more.

Local businesspeople describe such attractions as “tourism assets” all set for out-of-town guests to enjoy and, in the process, spend dollars in hotels and restaurants.

Issaquah Chamber of Commerce officials gathered representatives from local “tourism assets” Oct. 18 to discuss successes and opportunities to lure more tourists to the area.

Leaders from artEAST, Cougar Mountain Zoo, Village Theatre, and other Issaquah attractions and events, said attendance is strong, but sometimes people overlook local offerings.

“Tastin’ N Racin’ — unfortunately — is Issaquah’s best-kept secret,” event organizer Craig Cooke said. “Nationally, it’s not. There are events in 13 other states that have all called and patterned their event on what goes on on land and what goes on in water.”

Tastin’ N Racin’ attracts 20,000 people — and sometimes up to 50,000 — to Lake Sammamish State Park each June for hydroplane races and onshore offerings.

Other long-established attractions face a similar challenge in luring potential tourists.

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Cruise passengers urged to explore beyond Seattle

October 25, 2011

From the Space Needle to Pike Place Market, Seattle has plenty to offer its guests, but the Washington Tourism Alliance and the Port of Seattle are encouraging cruise ship tourists to explore beyond the predictable city limits. They are hoping tourists will venture into the suburban and rural areas outside of Seattle, including Issaquah.

“It’s really about what can you offer as an attractive package as an add-on to the cruise purchase,” said Dan Trimble, then-economic development manager for the city of Issaquah. “We’re pretty fortunate here to have several things that can be easily compartmentalized to those packages.”

Bill Bryant

From the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery and Cougar Mountain Zoo, to outdoor opportunities and shopping districts, Issaquah has plenty to offer its tourists, Trimble said.

This is part of a plan carried out by the newly established Washington Tourism Alliance, which is working along with the Port of Seattle and other tourism agencies to let people know about the tourist opportunities that exist outside of Seattle.

“The cruise ship (industry) brings about $400 million to King County and the region, and that’s because the passengers are staying one to two nights in the area. But most of them are spending that time in downtown Seattle,” Seattle Port Commissioner Bill Bryant said.

He said he hopes the cruise ship tourists extend their stay and explore the surrounding areas, “whether that is wineries in Woodinville or going out to Snoqualmie Falls.”

The state Legislature recently cut funding for the state tourism office.

In its place, various stakeholders including the port, some of the hotel associations and some of the restaurant associations have established the WTA to serve as a vehicle for communities to reach out to tourists, Bryant said.

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Police seize 62 dogs from home in ‘animal hoarding’ case

October 11, 2011

King County animal control officers seized 62 dogs from a Cougar Mountain home in Issaquah — and 38 more from a Burien home — Oct. 6 in a case investigators described as “animal hoarding.”

Kristina Tsai bathes a dog Oct. 7 at a King County animal shelter after it was seized during an "animal hoarding" investigation Oct. 6. By Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times

In a raid on the Burien house, King County Sheriff’s Office deputies and Regional Animal Services of King County officers discovered 38 ill Chihuahua, Japanese Chin and Pomeranian dogs in dirty crates. Then, investigators searched a house in the 5900 block of 189th Avenue Southeast on Cougar Mountain, about a mile south of Cougar Mountain Zoo.

Veterinarians later euthanized nine dogs from the Burien house due to poor health. The day after the raids, veterinarians euthanized another dog due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Investigators said the animals from the Issaquah house appeared to be in good health and housed in clean crates, although the condition of the house prompted animal control officers to take the dogs into custody.

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Cougar cub is recovering after surgery to correct birth defect

August 23, 2011

Veterinary nurses Tina Branham (left) and Katie Mazuti with Tasha in the center, move about the operating room prior to the cougar’s surgery. Contributed

After undergoing surgery at a clinic in Kirkland, Issaquah’s Tasha, a 3-month-old baby cougar, is back home at the Cougar Mountain Zoo and, according to zoo General Curator Robyn Barfoot, is doing very well.

Tasha underwent surgery Aug. 17 to repair a congenital defect that was preventing her from eating solid foods.

“She’s running around and purring,” Barfoot said just two days after the surgery. “Actually, she’s purring an awful lot … She doesn’t seem fazed by any of this at all.”

Veterinarian Michael Mison led Tasha’s surgery at Seattle Veterinary Specialists.

“There were no complications during surgery,” Mison said. “I’m happy to report that Tasha is recovering nicely. We expect her to have a long and healthy life.”

SVS veterinarians diagnosed Tasha with what’s termed a vascular ring anomaly or defect on Aug. 10. Barfoot said keepers had noticed Tasha wasn’t keeping down much food, but at first attributed her vomiting to rough play. Normally, Tasha lives with two other cougar cubs. When Tasha’s problem persisted, Barfoot said zoo officials took her for tests at SVS where vets diagnosed the vascular defect.

According to information released by the clinic, vascular ring anomalies form before an animal is born when embryonic blood vessels develop abnormally.

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Cougar cub recovering after surgery to correct birth defect

August 18, 2011

NEW – 4:15 p.m. Aug. 18, 2011

After undergoing special surgery at a clinic in Kirkland, Tasha, a 3-month old cougar cub is scheduled to be back home soon at the Cougar Mountain Zoo and is reportedly doing fine.

Tasha underwent the surgery to repair a congenital defect that was preventing her from eating solid foods.

“There were no complications during surgery,” said Michael Mison, who led the surgery team at Seattle Veterinary Specialists. “I’m happy to report that Tasha is recovering nicely. We expect her to have a long and healthy life.”

SVS veterinarians diagnosed Tasha with what’s termed a vascular ring anomaly or defect on Aug. 10.

According to information released by the clinic, vascular ring anomalies form before an animal is born when embryonic blood vessels develop abnormally.

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Biodiesel blaze destroys Cougar Mountain home

August 2, 2011

Fire roared through a Cougar Mountain home early July 31 after a backyard biodiesel kit started the blaze.

Just after 6 a.m., neighbors reported flames and smoke shooting from a house in the 17000 block of Southeast 60th Street, a tree-lined neighborhood between Cougar Mountain Zoo and Cougar Ridge Elementary School.

Firefighters converged on the home, and discovered barrels and other equipment used to manufacture biodiesel in the backyard. Investigators later pinpointed the biodiesel setup as the cause of the fire.

“The fire began in the middle of that process, outside of the home, and came into the home from there,” said Lt. Troy Donlin, a Bellevue Fire Department spokesman.

Flames roared through the ground floor and damaged the attic. The basement sustained water damage as firefighters extinguished the blaze. Donlin estimated the total damage at $400,000.

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Fire from biodiesel kit destroys Cougar Mountain home early Sunday

July 31, 2011

NEW — 1:15 p.m. July 31, 2011

Fire roared through a Cougar Mountain home early Sunday morning after a backyard biodiesel kit started the blaze.

Just after 6 a.m. Sunday, neighbors reported  flames and smoke shooting from a house in the 17000 block of Southeast 60th Street, a tree-lined neighborhood between Cougar Mountain Zoo and Cougar Ridge Elementary School.

Firefighters discovered barrels and other equipment used to manufacture biodiesel behind the home. Investigators later determined the biodiesel kit started the fire.

“The fire began in the middle of that process, outside of the home, and came into the home from there,” said Lt. Troy Donlin, a Bellevue Fire Department spokesman.

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20 reasons to ♥ Issaquah

July 2, 2011

The spectacular landscape is a reason to love Issaquah. By Connor Lee

Discover 20 reasons to love Issaquah, from the highest Tiger Mountain peak to the Lake Sammamish shoreline, and much more in between. The community includes icons and traits not found anywhere else, all in a postcard-perfect setting. The unique qualities — Issa-qualities? — start at the city’s name and extend into every nook and neighborhood. (The lineup is not arranged in a particular order, because ranking the city’s pre-eminent qualities seems so unfair.)

Salmon Days

The annual salmon-centric celebration is stitched into the city’s fabric. Salmon Days serves as a last hurrah before autumn, a touchstone for old-timers and a magnet for tourists. The street fair consistently ranks among the top destinations in the Evergreen State and, for a time last year, as the best festival on earth — in the $250,000-to-$749,000 budget category, anyway.

Issaquah Alps

The majestic title for the forested peaks surrounding the city, the Issaquah Alps, is a catchall term for Cougar, Squak and Tiger mountains. (Credit the late mountaineer and conservationist Harvey Manning for the sobriquet.) The setting is a playground for outdoors enthusiasts. Trails — some official and others less so — for hikers, bikers and equestrians crisscross the mountains, like haphazard tic-tac-toe patterns.

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Cougar Mountain Zoo unveils cougar cubs

June 28, 2011

Months after Cougar Mountain Zoo’s iconic cougar Nashi died, keepers unveiled a trio of month-old cougar cubs June 23.

Cougar Mountain Zoo plans to unveil cougar cubs to the public July 16. Contributed

The cubs — one male and two females born May 20 — should go on display July 16. In the meantime, zoogoers might see the cubs during unscheduled public appearances after July 1.

“The cubs are absolutely adorable! They are extremely playful and curious about everything,” zoo General Curator Robyn Barfoot said in a news release. “I can’t wait to bring them home and introduce them to our zoo visitors.”

Barfoot and Senior Keeper Sasha Puskar picked up the then-2-pound cubs at a Wisconsin zoo.

The cubs replace Nashi, a longtime denizen at the nonprofit zoo. Nashi died in February at age 17. Keepers started the search for cougar cubs soon after.

The zoo lacked a namesake big cat in the months since Nashi’s death.

“We are still recovering from losing Nashi this past February. He was an incredible and iconic cougar,” Barfoot said. “With the addition of these new cubs, our hearts are happy again. The cubs have a lot to live up to, but so far, they are doing a fantastic job. They are healthy, happy cubs and I think our visitors will give them a wonderful welcome.”

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Issaquah’s Cougar Mountain Zoo unveils cougar cubs

June 23, 2011

Cougar Mountain Zoo's collection includes a trio of cougar cubs. Contributed

NEW — 8:30 p.m. June 23, 2011

Months after Cougar Mountain Zoo’s iconic cougar died, keepers unveiled a trio of month-old cougar cubs Thursday.

The cubs — one male and two females — should go on display July 16. In the meantime, zoogoers might see the cubs during unscheduled public appearances after July 1.

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