Legislators salvage funding for Issaquah arts programs

June 7, 2011

Shakespeare on the Green is due to return to the Issaquah Community Center next month — and the “Macbeth” performance is safe, after state legislators approved a last-minute measure to shore up funding for the King County cultural services agency, 4Culture.

In addition to Shakespeare on the Green — from the Seattle Shakespeare Co. — dollars from 4Culture fund dozens of other programs in the community. Overall, 4Culture allocated more than $50,000 to arts, cultural and heritage organizations in the Issaquah area for 2011. Some organizations, such as the Seattle Shakespeare Co., could not offer Issaquah programs without the funding.

City Arts Coordinator Amy Dukes said funding from 4Culture is important because dollars allotted through the Arts Sustained Support Program can be used for operating costs.

“That’s really hard funding to replace,” she said. “Most funders want their funding to go toward specific programming, so the fact that 4Culture gives out this funding that’s unrestricted is a huge benefit.”

Lawmakers passed the 4Culture legislation as the last bill before the special legislative session adjourned May 25.

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Who’s News

May 24, 2011

Michael Barrack, Andrew Dedo, Ian Sutton and Caleb Walin. Contributed

Issaquah youths attain Eagle Scout rank

Four youths from Boy Scout Troop 316 of Issaquah — Michael Barrack, Andrew Dedo, Ian Sutton and Caleb Walin — were bestowed with the rank of Eagle Scout on May 14. Barrack’s project involved building a fence along the south side of Tibbetts Creek Manor. Dedo constructed a kiosk at the Bear Ridge Trailhead. Walin organized the planting of trees at Tradition Lake. Sutton created flowerbeds around the Meadowbrook Farm building. Although Troop 316 is less than 5 years old, 12 Scouts have already reached the rank of Eagle.

Ankhasha Amenti honored with Hospice Service Award

Providence Hospice of Seattle recently honored Sammamish resident Ankhasha Amenti with its annual Hospice Service Award for her continued support that has generated more than $20,000 in donations in the past five years.

Amenti started supporting Providence Hospice in 2007 with proceeds from her Issaquah thrift store, Ankhasha’s Consignments. During the years the store was open, Amenti and her customers donated more than $20,000 to the nonprofit that services children and adults with life-limiting illnesses.

Even after Amenti closed her consignment store in 2009, she continued to raise money for Providence Hospice through rummage sales. Today, she donates to Providence Hospice via sales of used furnishings from Murray Franklyn model homes and with a percentage of profits from consigned vintage and costume jewelry sales.

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Rebuilt First Stage Theatre readies for debut

April 5, 2011

Village Theatre plans additional offerings at downtown venue

Robb Hunt (above) shows off the finished interior of the rebuilt First Stage Theatre on March 29, as actors rehearse on the boards. By Greg Farrar

The curtain rises soon on the rebuilt First Stage Theatre in downtown Issaquah.

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Issaquah History Museums volunteer Stephen Grate dies in hiking accident

August 10, 2010

Stephen Grate teaches a girl at Heritage Day on July 4 how laundry was done more than 100 years ago. Contributed

Early last decade, a hiker had questions about the long-abandoned coalmines carved into the mountains surrounding Issaquah. The query led Stephen Grate to the Issaquah History Museums in 2003.

From the downtown Issaquah museum, he pored through the mining map collection and rummaged through archives to learn how the 19th century mines operated. Grate earned esteem in his final years for his knowledge of Eastside coalmining heritage and for the hikes he often led to derelict mine sites.

Grate, 52, died Aug. 6 in a hiking accident near Leavenworth. The outdoorsman died from head injuries he sustained in a fall from a rock on Asgaard Pass, a steep and challenging route in the Enchantment Lakes Basin.

The coalmining heritage brought Grate to the museums, but he also contributed to other civic and municipal organizations. Colleagues said the Renton resident brought a quiet passion to each role.

The independent computer consultant served on the Issaquah Cable TV Commission, taught a digital photography class at the Issaquah Valley Senior Center and volunteered as a docent at the historic Issaquah Train Depot. Read more

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Longtime Issaquah History Museums volunteer dies in hiking accident

August 9, 2010

NEW — 3 p.m. Aug. 9, 2010

Longtime Issaquah History Museums volunteer Stephen Grate — esteemed for his knowledge of the area’s coalmining heritage and a frequent guide for hikes to local mine sites — died Friday in a hiking accident near Leavenworth.

Grate, 52, died from head injuries he sustained in a fall from a rock on Asgaard Pass, a steep and challenging route in the Enchantment Lakes Basin.

Grate, a Renton resident and former Issaquah Cable TV Commission member, became interested in coalmining history after he noticed traces of old mines on the mountains surrounding Issaquah.

“He was one of those people who, when he was interested in a subject, he researched it until he knew everything about it,” museums Volunteer Coordinator Karen Klein said.

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City’s history comes out on DVD

August 3, 2010

Issaquah's Oral History Video Project

Six decades ago, Issaquah was a completely different city.

With fewer than 1,000 residents, zero traffic lights and acres of empty fields, the Issaquah of 1950 would be unrecognizable to those who know it today as the booming, fast-growing city of 27,000 people.

To tell its story beginning with the early pioneers of the 1920s, the Issaquah History Museums have partnered with the Issaquah Cable Station 21/61 to create the Issaquah Oral History Video Project.

The project includes 17 video shorts and 25 in-depth interviews with early, influential members of the community.

“It’s a really easy way to introduce history to people,” Issaquah History Museums Director Erica Maniez said. “History can be dry and unappetizing, but the videos are a way for people to tell the stories of their own lives. It’s a lot more personal and interesting.” Read more

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Issaquah’s ready for Downhome Fourth of July

June 29, 2010

Longtime Issaquah residents have always enjoyed the low-key, family friendly Downhome Fourth of July and Heritage Day event.

To start the day off, the Kids, Pets ‘N Pride Parade will begin at 11 a.m. starting at Rainier Avenue and Northwest Dogwood Street. Kids can decorate their bikes, wagons, pets or anything else they can think of in patriotic attire and be in the parade, which will end at Veteran’s Memorial Field, according to Robin Kelley, director of festivals.

Veterans’ Memorial Field will host a number of events throughout the day, including a pie-eating contest. It is unknown what kind of pie will be eaten.

“Our goal is that it’s something that is colorful and especially messy,” Kelley said. “Parents and kids sometimes compete against each other.”

Something that has been absent in the past few years from the city’s Fourth of July celebration has been the slug speed race and beauty pageant. The event was brought back this year because of the wet spring that has not been present the past few years.

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Issaquah History Museums offers weekend hikes

June 18, 2010

NEW — 5:30 p.m. June 18, 2010

Hike through history this weekend on Issaquah History Museums hikes.

Museums Director Erica Maniez will lead a Saturday walk, and museums volunteer Steve Grate will lead Saturday and Sunday hikes.

Grate will lead a Saturday hike to the Grand Ridge mine site, and another hike Sunday to the former Issaquah & Superior Mine. Both events start at 10 a.m with a slide presentation at the Issaquah Train Depot, 50 Rainier Blvd. N.

Maniez will lead a walking tour of the historic downtown at 1 p.m. Sunday. The tour starts at the depot.

Hikes require advance registration, and hikers must complete a release form. Find more details here.

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City picks architect for downtown parks

June 1, 2010

The landscape architect behind Warren G. Magnuson and Cal Anderson parks in Seattle has been picked to design a trio of downtown parks along Issaquah Creek.

The selection kicks off the monthslong public process to plan the park complex. The Berger Partnership, a Seattle firm, and the city Parks & Recreation Department will seek input from residents about the features people want for the downtown Issaquah parks.

The architect will spearhead the overarching design, or master site plan, for three contiguous properties spread across 15.5 acres: Tollë Anderson, Cybil-Madeline and Issaquah Creek parks. The city plans to spend up to $1.6 million to complete the plan and build the initial phase. Issaquah voters approved money for development of the confluence-area parks in a 2006 bond.

Issaquah Parks & Recreation officials announced the selection of The Berger Partnership on May 24.

Preservation rules and the parks’ creekside geography will limit development to trails, picnic areas and other passive recreation uses.

City Parks Planner Margaret Macleod said the parks department had not picked a date for the first meeting of residents, parks staffers and the architect. Macleod said she expects the department to start asking for public input within the next few months.

“The public process is going to be a huge part of the master site plan process,” she added.

The park complex should be completed early in the next decade, though the final timeline hinges on available grants and city dollars.

Guy Michaelsen, principal at The Berger Group and the landscape architect, led the transformation of old runways and taxiways at Magnuson Park — 315 acres of a former military base along Lake Washington — into manmade wetlands and sports fields. The architect trekked through the Issaquah parks several times after he decided to submit a proposal for the project.

“You can design something with an aerial photograph and a survey, but there’s something to be said for the feel of the place,” he said.

Michaelsen said the Issaquah Creek-side parks should “enhance ecology, improve the environment and invite people in.”

The city received 16 responses from landscape architects, and the selection committee culled the list to three finalists. The Berger Partnership and the other finalists prepared a conceptual design for the parks.

The other finalists: San Francisco landscape architecture firm Bionic and Nakano Associates, the Seattle firm behind the 1995 rebuild of the International Fountain near the Space Needle.

The Berger Partnership transformed decaying Lincoln Park into Cal Anderson Park early last decade. The design added a lid to the Lincoln Reservoir on the site, capped by sports fields and a landmark fountain.

Officials in neighboring Sammamish also enlisted the firm to design Sammamish Landing Park. Read more

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From Squak to Gilman to Olney to Issaquah

February 23, 2010

City has had multiple names in its 118-year history

Everybody wonders about the name, the jumble of vowels and consonants joined by Q-U, and almost unpronounceable to outsiders: Issaquah. But the tale behind the name — and the names Issaquah had before city fathers picked Issaquah — brings up almost as many questions.

The first white settlers reached the area now known as Issaquah in the mid-1860s. Because officials incorporated the town a few decades later — and changed the name a few years hence — questions still arise about when, exactly, Issaquah was founded.

How about 1862, when the first settlers arrived? How about 1892, when the town incorporated as Gilman? Or, why not 1895, when the Legislature approved the latest name, Issaquah?

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