Artist Michele Rushworth paints Gov. Chris Gregoire’s official portrait

February 5, 2013

Michele Rushworth (right) holds then-Gov. Chris Gregoire’s shoulder as a workman hangs the governor’s official portrait Jan. 11 at the state Capitol. By Weldon Wilson/Washington State Patrol

Michele Rushworth (right) holds then-Gov. Chris Gregoire’s shoulder as a workman hangs the governor’s official portrait Jan. 11 at the state Capitol. By Weldon Wilson/Washington State Patrol

The scene as a workman climbed atop a desk to hang the official portrait of Gov. Chris Gregoire in the Capitol seemed surreal to the outgoing executive.

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Gov. Chris Gregoire unveils official portrait by local artist

January 15, 2013

NEW — 8 a.m. Jan. 15, 2013

Outgoing Gov. Chris Gregoire unveiled her official portrait — a 44-inch by 30-inch piece by a local artist — Jan. 11, days before she hands the reigns to Gov.-elect Jay Inslee.

Joined by family and friends at the state Capitol in Olympia, Gregoire unveiled the portrait by Michele Rushworth, a Sammamish artist known for creating portraits of leaders in government, academia, business and sports.

“To have my portrait displayed among our state’s past governors is a tremendous honor,” Gregoire said in a statement. “If only my Mom could have been here to see this today. Here I am, the daughter of a short order cook from Auburn, and the first in my family to go to college. And now my portrait will be hanging in the office of the governor of Washington, alongside those who came before. I am truly humbled.”

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King County unincorporated area councils vary by geography, population

July 24, 2012

The county and the unincorporated area councils formalized a relationship after then-County Executive Gary Locke enacted the Citizen Participation Initiative in December 1994.

Then, about one-third of the county population — 500,000 people — resided in unincorporated areas. The number has since declined to fewer than 300,000 due to annexations and incorporations.

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Providence Marianwood celebrates Snoqualmie heritage

May 1, 2012

John Mullen shares tribal customs during Mother Joseph Pariseau Day

Wayne Greaka, who learned the art of carving from John Mullen, spoke briefly about the year or so he spent creating the beaver mask seen here. Greaka’s hands are resting one of Mullen’s handmade canoes. By Tom Corrigan

John Mullen, a member of the Snoqualmie Tribe, has been a carver and sort of spokesman and educator for the tribe for about 11 years.

In addition to spreading and teaching the Snoqualmie tradition of carving, Mullen also carries on the tribe’s tradition of singing and drumming.

On April 16, he was at Issaquah’s nonprofit Providence Marianwood skilled nursing facility, with his handmade tools, one of his handmade dugout canoes and plenty of stories to share.

Mullen’s visit was part of Marianwood’s marking of April 16, formally Mother Joseph Pariseau Day in Washington.

A member of the Catholic order of the Sisters of Providence, Mother Joseph is credited with building 29 hospitals, schools, orphanages and shelters for the aged or mentally ill in the late 1800s in Washington and surrounding states.

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Mountains to Sound Greenway comes of age

July 26, 2011

Leaders nurture Interstate 90 greenbelt, acre by acre, year by year

Ken Konigsmark (left), a longtime Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust board member, and founding president Jim Ellis stand near North Bend on Rattlesnake Mountain in 2000 . By Greg Farrar

Like the matter-of-fact name suggests, the Mountains to Sound Greenway starts amid the souvenir shops and seafood restaurants at the Seattle waterfront, unfurls along Interstate 90, encompassing cities and forests, and continues on, across the Cascades.

Issaquah, situated on the route, is not quite at the center, but the city is central in the long effort to create a greenbelt along the major roadway.

The idea for a conservation corridor along the interstate germinated in Issaquah more than 20 years ago. Issaquah Alps Trails Club members spearheaded a 1990 march from Snoqualmie Pass to Puget Sound to attract attention to the proposed greenbelt — a sort of Central Park for Western Washington.

The disparate citizen, conservation, corporate and government interests behind the proposal coalesced to form the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust in 1991. Supporters marched from Ellensburg to Seattle in early July to celebrate the 20-year milestone.

“The original vision was, what can we agree on to preserve what’s important to everyone along this corridor?” retired Issaquah City Administrator Leon Kos said.

The corridor stretches for 100 miles, connects 1.4 million acres — or a landmass about 15 times larger than Seattle — and includes more than 800,000 acres in public ownership.

The conservation is enmeshed in cooperation.

The organization is built to foster dialogue among divergent groups. Seattle civic leader Jim Ellis, founding president of the greenway trust, called on rivals to sit down at the same table to create the conservation corridor. So, representatives on the 58-member board include the Sierra Club and Weyerhaeuser Co.

Kos, a longtime greenway supporter and board member, said the Issaquah Alps Trail Club assumed a fundamental role early on.

“The community group that was really very instrumental was the Issaquah Alps Trails Club,” he said.

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King County Districting Committee proposes changes for Issaquah

July 5, 2011

The electoral map could look different for Issaquah voters in November 2012.

In January, King County Council members appointed a team of community leaders to update the map for representation in county government. The team delivered a series of proposals late last month to reflect population changes recorded in the 2010 Census.

“It’s very interesting to see the demographics and to see the changes in our county,” said Terrence Carroll, committee chairman and a retired King County judge.

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King County proposes changes to outreach

June 7, 2011

Plan calls for dividing unincorporated communities into service areas

King County intends to overhaul outreach from county leaders to residents in rural and unincorporated areas, including more than 16,000 people near Issaquah.

The proposal could reshape the relationship between county leaders and the Four Creeks Unincorporated Area Council, a liaison for unincorporated area residents near Issaquah to the county government based in Seattle.

Similar groups exist in unincorporated areas across King County, from Vashon Island to urban Highline between Burien and Seattle.

The unincorporated area councils do not represent all rural and unincorporated residents, however, prompting county leaders to consider other options for outreach.

So, County Executive Dow Constantine offered a proposal to divide unincorporated communities into so-called community service areas. The plan calls for assigning county staffers and residents in a designated area to coordinate on issues, such as crime prevention or concerns about development.

Unlike the existing arrangement, Constantine proposed for the community service areas to include communities not represented by a local council, such as Klahanie and the Snoqualmie Valley.

The proposal keeps the unincorporated area councils intact, but does not guarantee future funding for the organizations. Each council used to receive $10,000 per year in county funding.

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Executive proposes reform for outreach to unincorporated areas

April 19, 2011

NEW — 10 a.m. April 19, 2011

King County Executive Dow Constantine has proposed reforming the system county government uses to engage residents in unincorporated areas.

In a proposal released Monday, Constantine called for all unincorporated area residents to have a single point of contact for county services. In addition, the executive proposed for teams of existing county staffers to coordinate outreach to community groups.

“All residents should be able to have meaningful involvement in the decisions that impact their communities, and that’s just as true for those who live in unincorporated areas as those in cities,” he said in a statement. “This proposal retains the value and expertise of the existing unincorporated area councils while expanding our outreach to all unincorporated area residents.”

The councils also act as liaisons for unincorporated area residents to the county government based in Seattle. The county is home to 1.9 million people, including 284,000 residents in unincorporated areas.

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Sammamish portrait artist paints powerful, political

November 23, 2010

Sammamish artist Michele Rushworth recently completed a commissioned portrait of Melissa Essary, dean of the Campbell University Law School in Raleigh, N.C. By Christopher Huber

Upon entering Michele Rushworth’s humble second-story, in-home art studio near Discovery Elementary School, one might not gather that she paints portraits of the rich and famous.

You might gather that she has a steady flow of work to do by the empty golden frames dangling from large hooks on the wall. Or by the small sketch paintings lying on the table. But for Rushworth, business is booming. She has an up to two-year waiting list of well-to-do families, heads of state and pro athletes to have their lifelike portraits painted. She also paints landscapes and portraits of children.

Rushworth was recently chosen to paint outgoing Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons’ official portrait. The work, scheduled to be delivered by Dec. 17, will hang in the state’s capitol along with her portrait of former Gov. Kenny Guinn.

Rushworth will be paid $17,500 for the painting and the frame, and $2,500 for travel expenses. She was chosen after a monthslong selection process, involving 43 other artists from across the country, said Teresa Moiola, public information officer with the Nevada Department of Cultural Affairs. Read more

Sammamish artist picked to paint official portrait of Nevada governor

August 16, 2010

NEW — 6:45 p.m. Aug. 16, 2010

Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons has selected a Sammamish artist to paint his official portrait.

The governor picked artist Michele Rushworth — the artist behind official portraits of former Washington Gov. Gary Locke, former Wyoming Sen. Clifford Hansen, former U.S. Coast Guard commandant Adm. Thad Allen and former U.S. ambassador to Ireland Michael J. Sullivan.

Rushworth outlasted finalists Ned Bittinger — a Santa Fe, N.M., portraitist — and Yardley, Pa., artist John Ennis. The state Arts Council picked the finalists from 44 applicants; Gibbons had the option to pick from any of the 44.

Rushworth has another portrait on display at the Nevada Capitol in Carson City: She painted the official portrait of former Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn.

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