Cougar Ridge students study zombees to hunt honeybee killer

October 30, 2012

Julianna Hirao, a fifth-grade student at Cougar Ridge Elementary School, examines Washington’s second confirmed zombie bee and the pupae that surround it. By Lillian O’Rorke

Forget the trick-or-treating witches and ghouls — real zombees are out there and fifth-graders at Cougar Ridge Elementary School are hunting them.

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Department of Transportation hosts local meeting on Snoqualmie Pass project

October 22, 2012

NEW — 6 a.m. Oct. 22, 2012

The state Department of Transportation is at work on a major project to improve safety and meet traffic demands on the east side of Snoqualmie Pass, and local residents can comment on the project.

The project is on a 15-mile stretch between Hyak and Easton in Kittitas County. Improvements to the corridor include building a six-lane highway, stabilizing rock slopes, building wildlife crossings, reducing sharp curves and adding chain-up areas.

The 45-day public comment period for the draft environmental review on avalanche structures proposed for the project runs through Nov. 19.

The agency plans to hold a public meeting for residents to ask questions and discuss the project from 4-7 p.m. Tuesday at the Lewis Creek Visitor Center, 5808 Lakemont Blvd. S.E., Bellevue, near Cougar Ridge Elementary School.

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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.

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Schools receive nearly $40,000 in donations

June 19, 2012

It’s the end of the school year but that doesn’t mean that donations to local schools have to end.

At the June 13 Issaquah School Board meeting, five donations of more than $2,500 each were approved by the board.

Among those was a $12,850 gift to Issaquah High School from its PTA. The funds will be used to purchase technology hardware and supplies for a mobile technology learning unit. The Grand Ridge PTA gave $8,655 to Grand Ridge Elementary School to purchase National Geographic subscriptions, music instruments, ebooks and gym class equipment.

The Career and Technical Education program and the Technology Education and Literacy in Schools program got a boost from the Issaquah Schools Foundation in the form of an $11,800 grant.

Math students at Cougar Ridge Elementary School will get new Excel math worksheets thanks to a $3,583 donation from the school’s PTA. Cougar Ridge’s PTA also donated $2,598 to help pay for half-day substitutes so teachers can be released for team science planning.

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Issaquah School District receives state energy grants

June 12, 2012

The Issaquah School District has been awarded energy grants totaling $120,084, according to the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.

“In addition to helping create jobs, it will help the district move forward with work that will reduce energy consumption and improve the learning and working environments,” Capital Projects Director Steve Crawford said in a statement. “The annual savings from this grant combined with our 2011 grant work will save the district a little over $200,000 a year in operational costs … especially significant as it is a reduction in general fund operational costs, which compete with classroom funding.”

The grants are intended to produce long-term energy and operational savings for the district, improve the indoor environmental qualities of schools and help stimulate construction-industry jobs. The energy projects use utility incentives, energy savings, local money and grant funds to make improvements that may otherwise not be affordable. The OSPI awarded $5.9 million in energy grants to 14 school districts throughout the state.

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Homebuilder plans to add 81 homes on Cougar Mountain

June 8, 2012

NEW — 8 a.m. June 8, 2012

Homebuilder CamWest announced plans Wednesday 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.

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Cougar Ridge Elementary School students witness citizenship ceremony

April 10, 2012

Ann Marie Petry, Cougar Ridge Elementary School music instructor (right), leads students in the singing of two patriotic songs at an April 6 naturalization ceremony held at Cougar Ridge. The naturalization candidates are on the stage behind Petry. By Tom Corrigan

Isabelle Bouanna came here from France in 1995 when her husband Cyril got a job at Microsoft.

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Issaquah PTSA honors outstanding volunteers at Golden Acorn Awards

April 3, 2012

The primary decorations were orange construction cones and yellow caution tape. Winners were described in terms keeping with that theme, such as construction tools or architects. One winner from the Issaquah School District PTSA Council was described as “the construction glue” that holds the council together.

Gathered in the commons of Pacific Cascade Middle School, the Issaquah PTSA Council held its annual Golden Acorn Awards ceremony March 27.

Not counting the several winners from the districtwide PTSA council, the night honored approximately 75 winners from 23 PTSA units, said Becky Lawrence, vice-president of elementary schools for the PTSA council. A committee of PTSA leaders from each school picked the winners from their individual schools, Lawrence added. As you might expect, criteria included what PTSA members have done for their schools, but also the district and their involvement in the community as a whole.

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Music lesson gets drummed in to elementary students

March 20, 2012

Sowah Mensah, serving as artist-in-residence at Cougar Ridge Elementary School, teaches the basics of drumming to a group of second- and third-graders. By Tom Corrigan

With a group of second- and third-graders sitting around him in a circle, Sowah Mensah, 57, asks a rhythmic question, playing that question with his hands on the bongo drum in front of him.

A native of Ghana and now a professor at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn., Mensah was the artist-in-residence recently for a week at Cougar Ridge Elementary School.

After Mensah played the question, individual students were supposed to answer with their own colorful bongo drums.

“When I beat out the question, you beat out the answer, whatever comes to mind,” Mensah told his charges.

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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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