King County leaders laud fingerprint lab for international accreditation

July 17, 2012

NEW — 9 a.m. July 17, 2012

King County leaders recognized the Automated Fingerprint Identification System on Monday for achieving international accreditation.

The system provides criminal fingerprint identification services to law enforcement agencies throughout the county, including the Issaquah Police Department. The regional Automated Fingerprint Identification System, or AFIS, received the accreditation for the Latent Print Unit.

The unit responds to major crime scenes and processes evidence in a lab by using chemicals, photography and other means to find fingerprints left at crime scenes. Investigators then enter the prints into the regional database to search for matches.

“AFIS is an invaluable law enforcement tool that plays a vital role in crime detection throughout the region,” Issaquah-area Councilman Reagan Dunn said in a statement. “The system’s accreditation recognizes the expertise and knowledge of the county employees responsible for the operation of the program.”

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Committee endorses human trafficking awareness campaign

July 10, 2012

King County Council members, led by Issaquah-area Councilman Reagan Dunn, recommended a proposal June 27 to educate the public about human trafficking.

The motion unanimously passed by the Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee calls on the county executive to embark on a public awareness campaign.

The measure heads to the full council for consideration.

Under federal law, human trafficking includes children involved in the commercial sex trade, adults 18 and older coerced or deceived into commercial sex acts, and anyone forced into different forms of “labor or services” — such as domestic workers held in a home or farmworkers forced into work.

“We know that educating the public on what human trafficking is, how the public can make a difference and getting information to trafficking victims on where to turn for help works,” Dunn, the motion’s lead sponsor, said in a statement issued after the committee decision.

Officials estimate 300 and 500 children could be bought and sold in King County in 2012.

“One of the most effective weapons against human trafficking is information,” Councilwoman Kathy Lambert — Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee chairwoman and the Issaquah representative — said in a statement.

Leaders highlight Evergreen State national parks

July 10, 2012

NEW — 8 a.m. July 10, 2012

King County leaders highlighted nearby national parks and declared Monday as Washington State National Parks Day to recognize the economic and environmental benefits such places add to the landscape.

The national parks in Washington attract millions of parkgoers each year, including many out-of-state and foreign guests. Officials said the visitors then contribute to King County and other communities near the parks. Washington received more than $264 million in economic benefits related to national park units in 2010, National Park Service officials reported.

“King County is uniquely placed between three major national parks — Mount Rainier National Park, North Cascades National Park and Olympic National Park,” Councilwoman Julia Patterson, proclamation sponsor, said in a statement. “Because of our close proximity to these national gems, King County residents benefit from access to nature and from the economic gains these parks produce through tourism.”

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Local 4-H programs could receive $100,000 to continue

June 27, 2012

NEW — 4:30 p.m. June 27, 2012

King County Executive Dow Constantine asked for $100,000 on Wednesday to continue county support for 4-H youth programs.

Constantine sent a budget request for the funds to the King County Council for approval. The measure is meant to continue 4-H programs through 2012. The proposal calls for dollars to continue horseback riding, county fair exhibitions and other 4-H programs.

The proposal also aims to re-appropriate $16,000 in funding from last year to Washington State University, the county’s partner in 4-H programs.

“More than 10,000 young people in King County gain valuable life experiences through 4-H, and this funding will keep the program going in collaboration with our partners at WSU Extension,” Constantine said in a statement.

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King County Council committee endorses awareness campaign for human trafficking

June 27, 2012

NEW — 3:15 p.m. June 27, 2012

King County Council members, led by Issaquah-area Councilman Reagan Dunn, recommended a proposal Wednesday to educate the public about human trafficking.

The motion unanimously passed by the Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee calls on County Executive Dow Constantine to embark on a public awareness campaign and for the King County Transit Division public service to educate the public the crime and to let human trafficking victims know about available resources.

The measure heads to the full council for consideration.

Under federal law, human trafficking includes children involved in the commercial sex trade, adults 18 and older coerced or deceived into commercial sex acts, and anyone forced into different forms of “labor or services” — such as domestic workers held in a home or farmworkers forced into work.

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County accepts applications for Metro Transit board

June 19, 2012

Issaquah residents can apply to a King County board to improve transit services.

Officials need a King County Council District 3 representative for the King County Transit Advisory Commission — a panel formed last year to advise King County Metro Transit staffers, the county executive and County Council, local jurisdictions and local transportation boards.

District 3 stretches from Woodinville to Issaquah, and from Lake Sammamish to the Kittitas County line.

Members include residents, entrepreneurs and other people concerned about transit service in the county. Members must live in King County and at least half of the members represent disabled or elderly riders.

The executive appoints members and, after approval by the council, appointees serve two-year terms.

The county accepts ongoing applications for the board. Learn more about the panel, and find application information, at http://metro.kingcounty.gov/have-a-say/be-an-advisor.html.

Elder Abuse Awareness Day includes safety message

June 19, 2012

King County Council members declared June 15 as Elder Abuse Awareness Day to reflect concerns about the safety of vulnerable adults.

The proclamation encourages citizens to commit to building safer lives and safer community for elderly residents.

The council also highlighted the public and private agencies in the fight against elder abuse, including the King County Prosecutor’s Office and the King County Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

“As difficult as it is to believe, many cases of elder abuse involve their own family members,” Councilwoman Kathy Lambert, Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee chairwoman and the Issaquah representative, said in a statement.

King County prosecutors handle about 350 cases a year involving elder neglect, abuse or financial exploitation. The office includes a specially trained unit to investigate and prosecute elder abuse cases.

Communities around the globe celebrate World Elder Abuse Awareness Day every June 15.

Evergreen Mountain Bike Festival offers muddy thrills

June 12, 2012

By Lillian Tucker The Jump-Off Huck Contest at the Evergreen Mountain Bike Festival gave riders the chance to catch air on some of the largest jumps at Duthie Hill Park.

Walking along the trail through Duthie Hill Park on June 9, the only sign that a mountain bike festival was taking place was the occasional rider that whizzed past.

Nearing the center of the 130-acre park, the tops of tents began to peek out through the trees. Soon, music seeped into the air and a clearing gave way to booths, bikes and people with mud-caked legs.

“We are celebrating mountain biking. This is just a great chance for everyone to get together,” said Stacy Karacostas, communications and membership director for the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance.

For the third year in a row, the non-profit group hosted the Evergreen Mountain Bike Festival. The event attracted more than 1,200 people.

“This is our biggest event of the year…we are definitely hopping,” Karacostas added.

Karacostas was busy that day renewing memberships, selling raffle tickets and handing out information packs. Around her, local vendors sold bratwursts, bike companies held demonstrations and a few festivalgoers paused for a break in the beer garden.

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King County Council proclaims Elder Abuse Awareness Day

June 12, 2012

NEW — 10 a.m. June 12, 2012

King County Council members declared Friday as Elder Abuse Awareness Day to reflect concerns about the safety of vulnerable adults.

The proclamation encourages citizens to commit to building safer lives and safer community for elderly residents.

The council also highlighted the public and private agencies in the fight against elder abuse, including the King County Prosecutor’s Office and the King County Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

“As difficult as it is to believe, many cases of elder abuse involve their own family members,” Councilwoman Kathy Lambert, Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee chairwoman and the Issaquah representative, said in a statement. “Some older women who are victimized by partners or children are afraid to report it because of concerns about financial security. They need to know that help is available from our Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and victim advocates.”

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Voters could decide $118.9 million county levy for fingerprint services

June 5, 2012

King County voters could decide on a $118.9 million property tax levy to continue funding criminal fingerprint identification services for local law enforcement agencies.

The proposal is to keep the Automated Fingerprint Identification System, or AFIS, in operation through 2018. The system provides criminal fingerprint identification services to law enforcement agencies throughout the county, including the Issaquah Police Department.

The proposed renewal levy rate is 5.92 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation, or about $20.72 per year for a $350,000 home.

Voters approved the initial AFIS levy in 1986, and overwhelmingly renewed the levy since then, most recently in 2006. The current levy expires in December.

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