County leader celebrates 30 years of conservation

July 23, 2012

NEW — 5 p.m. July 23, 2012

The program instrumental in conserving Cougar Mountain as permanent open space turns 30 in 2012, and outdoors enthusiasts planned a local event to celebrate the milestone.

In the last 30 years, county officials used $300 million in Conservation Futures Program funds and more than $150 million in matching funds to preserve land, including Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park near Issaquah. Overall, Conservation Futures Program dollars enabled the county to conserve 108,600 acres countywide, add 3,200 acres of urban parks and greenways, and protect 4,700 acres of watershed and salmon habitat.

Cougar Mountain is the initial parkland purchased with Conservation Futures Program funds.

“Through the commitment of residents and leaders over the past three decades, we have built a legacy of working forestlands and farms, linked trail systems and preserved beautiful open space for us — and future generations — to enjoy,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said in a statement.

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Runners break course record at 10-mile leg of trail run series

July 10, 2012

Beating the course record by nearly two and a half minutes, Seattle resident Eddie Strickler crossed the finish line of the latest installment of the Cougar Mountain Trail Run series July 7 with a time of 1 hour, 14 minutes and 54 seconds.

Iliana Sach (right), the first woman to cross the finish line at the 10-mile Cougar Mountain Trail Run on July 7, narrowly beats her husband Eric Sach. By Christina Lords

The previous record for the 10-mile run was held by Matt Messner’s 2006 time of 1:17:28.

Strickler, a 28-year-old software engineer who ran track and field and cross country for Seattle Pacific University, said he participated in each of the Cougar Mountain Trail Runs last year and plans to run in each of the five events this year.

This was Strickler’s first first-place win in the Cougar Mountain series.

“I probably run five days a week,” he said. “For me, it’s a good switch from sitting at a desk all day.”

Keegan Symmes, the race’s second-place finisher, and Gareth Jones, the runner who took third place, also beat the course record with times of 1:16:20 and 1:17:23, respectively.

“I love the park,” Strickler said. “I’ve run out here since being in college. I just love the trails … on a day like this you just want to get out into the woods and enjoy the day.”

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Boy Scouts tackle three Issaquah Alps in one day

July 3, 2012

Local group climbs mountains in less than 12 hours

A troop of Boy Scouts recently set what might be a world record when they climbed all three of the Issaquah Alps in one day.

Mason Jones, 11, the youngest of the group to complete the full hike, approaches the summit of Tiger Mountain, with the summit of Squak Mountain, climbed earlier in the day, at the right. By Rob McAdams

The 20-mile hike began behind schedule on a misty Saturday morning.

Roughly 10 minutes after 7 a.m. June 9, the hikers began their long walk from Newcastle to Issaquah.

The handful of Scouts accompanied by their parents had their work cut out for them. They called it the “Three Peak Challenge.” The troop was accompanied by experienced hiker Paul Mitchell.

The challenge was to hike Cougar, Squak and Tiger mountains within 12 hours. The Scouts finished the hike in 11½.

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What’s your Issaquah IQ?

June 28, 2012

So, you think you know Issaquah? Is the city just another buttoned-up suburb? Nope. Issaquah is home to more than 30,000 people — and more than a century of secrets. Issaquah anecdotes stretch deep into the past and continue into the 21st century. Look beyond the basics to discover tidbits and trivia.

Test your Issaquah IQ. (Scroll to the bottom to check the answers, but please, no cheating!)

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Sammamish Club goes up for auction

June 26, 2012

A Los Angeles-based commercial real estate company plans to auction the Sammamish Club fitness and tennis facility at the base of Cougar Mountain next month.

CBRE Auction Services is putting the property up for auction July 26. The opening bid for the Sammamish Club is $2.5 million and bidders must put down a $150,000 deposit.

The property consists of adjoining structures — a 24,000-square-foot indoor tennis facility built in 1978 and a 48,148-square-foot fitness facility built in 1999 — on 4.46 acres visible from Interstate 90 and Newport Way Northwest.

The land is inside the area targeted for long-term redevelopment in the Central Issaquah Plan, a sweeping proposal to transform the area into a pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use neighborhood. The seller touted the redevelopment opportunity in information about the auction.

The fitness facility includes a 25-yard enclosed swimming pool, spa and massage facilities, aerobic and training studios, and other amenities.

Homebuilder plans to add 81 homes on Cougar Mountain

June 26, 2012

Homebuilder CamWest announced plans June 6 to build 81 homes on Cougar Mountain.

The development, called Belvedere, is in Bellevue inside Issaquah School District boundaries and near Cougar Ridge Elementary School. Plans call for CamWest to develop the homes on half-acre sites.

CamWest started developing plans for the site since securing the location in February. The sales center for the neighborhood is expected to open in August.

In November, Toll Brothers — based in Horsham, Pa. — acquired Kirkland-based CamWest to enter the Seattle home market.

Executives at the combined company said the Cougar Mountain location is a selling point.

“Belvedere’s location — with sweeping views of the Olympic Mountains, Puget Sound and the Seattle skyline — will make this community unlike any other in the region,” said Eric Campbell, president of Toll Brothers’ CamWest division. “We’re starting to see growth in the real estate economy and we expect Belvedere’s luxury homes — which will be designed to maximize these extraordinary views — will quickly become sought after by home buyers looking for a distinct address.”

In Issaquah, CamWest built the Highlands Square, Hunters Place and West Highlands Park developments in the Issaquah Highlands.

Police ask for help to find suspect after violent attack

June 12, 2012


Police asked for assistance June 5 to find the suspect in a violent attack against a woman near Southeast Newport Way and Lakemont Boulevard Southeast at the base of Cougar Mountain.

Bellevue investigators said the woman used pepper spray to fend off the attacker and later escaped. Bellevue police responded to the area near the Bellevue-Issaquah city line at 11:30 p.m. June 1.

The 23-year-old woman had just disembarked from a King County Metro Transit bus at a stop near the intersection. Police said the male suspect, another passenger on the bus, followed her as she exited the vehicle. The bus did not have a surveillance camera.

The suspect then grabbed the woman from behind and attempted to drag her from the roadway. Police said she resisted, but the suspect punched her in the face several times and then threw her to the ground.

What to know

Investigators ask people with information about the Southeast Newport Way and Lakemont Boulevard Southeast attack to call 911 if they see the suspect.

The woman then retrieved pepper spray from her pocket and sprayed the suspect. The attacker then fled from the scene.

Police later used a dog to search for the suspect, but could not locate him.

The woman and the Metro bus driver described the suspect as a noticeably pale, white male. They described him as mid-20s; about 5 feet, 7 inches tall; with a thin build, shaved head and thin mustache. Police said he wore a white polo shirt with brown horizontal stripes and baggy blue jeans.

Homes sought for neglected dogs seized from Issaquah home

June 12, 2012

Local shelters need to find homes for Chihuahuas seized from a filthy home in Issaquah last year, officials at the organizations announced June 8, days after the dog owner convicted in the case pleaded guilty to animal cruelty charges.

Regional Animal Services of King County and foster families started caring for the dogs in October, after animal control and King County Sheriff’s Office investigators discovered 62 dogs in a raid on a home in the 5900 block of 189th Avenue Southeast on Cougar Mountain, about a mile south of Cougar Mountain Zoo.

Prosecutors said Issaquah resident Margaret Ann Hamilton, 70, hoarded more than 100 dogs at homes in Issaquah and Burien. Police discovered 38 more dogs at a Burien home owned by Hamilton’s brother-in-law.

Veterinarians later euthanized 14 ill animals — 13 dogs from the Burien home and one dog from the Issaquah home.

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Cougar Mountain Trail Run series continues

June 12, 2012

The second of the SCOTT Cougar Mountain Trail Run series will take place June 16.

“The course builds on itself throughout the series and brings runners through a lush forest of fern-lined, single-track trails, over hills and along marshes and wetland habitats,” according to the Northwest Trail Runs website.

The only distance option for this race is eight miles. Runners can register online at or by mail.

Shelters join forces to find homes for Chihuahuas seized in Issaquah

June 8, 2012

NEW — 12:25 p.m. June 8, 2012

Regional Animal Services of King County and the Seattle Animal Shelter need to find homes for Chihuahuas seized from a filthy home in Issaquah last year, officials at the organizations announced Friday.

The county animal control agency and foster families started caring for the dogs in October, after King County Sheriff’s Office investigators raided a home in the 5900 block of 189th Avenue Southeast on Cougar Mountain, about a mile south of Cougar Mountain Zoo.

“We’re happy that these dogs have a second chance at a good life,” Glynis Frederiksen, Regional Animal Services of King County operations manager, said in a statement. “Thanks to our hard-working staff and wonderful foster families, we’ve been able to nurse them back to health. The previous owner has agreed to release them so that we can find them new forever homes.”

Prosecutors said Issaquah resident Margaret Ann Hamilton, 70, hoarded more than 100 dogs at homes in Issaquah and Burien.

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