ArtWalk features return of founding members Michael Johnson, Greg Spranger

July 31, 2012

The Downtown Issaquah Association’s ArtWalk returns from 5-9 p.m. Aug 3. The community is invited to enjoy art, music and more.

Dozens of artists will present their work along Front Street and in the shops. New this month, ArtWalk founding members Michael Johnson and Greg Spranger will display and sell their artistic creations at Pedestrian Park, at the southwest corner of Front Street and Sunset Way.

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DownTown Issaquah Association hires executive director

December 20, 2011

Days after the DownTown Issaquah Association’s executive director abruptly resigned, the merchants group selected a board member and Issaquah resident as a replacement.

Karen Donovan

Karen Donovan is the nonprofit organization’s next leader, DownTown Issaquah Association leaders announced Dec. 16. Donovan leads Space Media, a full-service advertising agency specializing in music and events. The agency’s clients include the Puyallup Fair, plus several local government agencies in the Northwest.

“For the past year, I have thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the DIA board and the downtown community,” she said in a statement. “My board experience and professional experience will transition nicely with the executive director position.”

In addition to professional and DownTown Issaquah Association commitments, Donovan is involved in local arts and education organizations, including Arts Corps and the Issaquah Schools Foundation.

Donovan succeeds former Executive Director Annique Bennett, a onetime cultural events coordinator for the organization. Bennett resigned Dec. 6 after less than a year at the DownTown Issaquah Association.

The merchants group has experienced several changes in leadership since February.

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DownTown Issaquah Association hires executive director

December 16, 2011

NEW — 10:15 a.m. Dec. 16, 2011

Days after the DownTown Issaquah Association’s executive director abruptly resigned, the merchants group selected a board member and Issaquah resident as a replacement.

Karen Donovan is the nonprofit organization’s next leader, DownTown Issaquah Association leaders announced Friday morning. Donovan leads Space Media, a full-service advertising agency specializing in music and events. The agency’s clients include The Puyallup Fair, plus several local government agencies in the Northwest.

“For the past year, I have thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the DIA board and the downtown community,” she said in a statement. “My board experience and professional experience will transition nicely with the executive director position.”

In addition to professional and DownTown Issaquah Association commitments, Donovan is involved in local arts and education organizations, including Arts Corps and the Issaquah Schools Foundation.

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In another shakeup, DownTown Issaquah Association leader resigns

December 13, 2011

The leader of the DownTown Issaquah Association resigned Dec. 6 — after only a few months on the job and less than a year after board members replaced the organization’s longtime executive director.

Executive Director Annique Bennett joined the organization as cultural events coordinator in early spring and then, months after another employee left the organization, board members promoted Bennett to the top spot.

“I have not been empowered by the DIA board to accomplish the goals they set for themselves or for me,” she said in a resignation emailed to association board members. “I have enjoyed working with each of you and wish you the best of luck on your community wine events and marketing.”

The announcement came a day before a major event on the DownTown Issaquah Association calendar, a Christmas tree lighting ceremony at the historic Hailstone Feed Store.

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DownTown Issaquah Association director resigns

December 7, 2011

NEW — 3:30 p.m. Dec. 7, 2011

The leader of the DownTown Issaquah Association — the second person to hold the post since board members replaced the longtime executive director in February — resigned Tuesday, after only a few months on the job.

“I have not been empowered by the DIA Board to accomplish the goals they set for themselves or for me,” Executive Director Annique Bennett said in a message emailed to association board members Tuesday afternoon. “I have enjoyed working with each of you and wish you the best of luck on your community wine events and marketing.”

The announcement came a day before a major event on the DownTown Issaquah Association calendar, a Christmas tree lighting ceremony at the historic Hailstone Feed Store.

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DownTown Issaquah Association charts new course

April 26, 2011

The decision to oust the longtime DownTown Issaquah Association executive director has not impeded the organization in the run-up to ArtWalk, a spring and summer staple for downtown merchants.

Organizers credited former Executive Director Greg Spranger and former Cultural Events Manager Michael Johnson with building solid support for the event.

The upcoming ArtWalk has focused renewed attention on a February staff shakeup at the downtown business organization. ArtWalk returns for a 10th season May 6 and runs one Friday each month until September.

DownTown Issaquah Association leaders decided to scrap the executive director position and hired another candidate as community relations manager rather than longtime executive director Spranger. Johnson then resigned in protest.

The decision prompted angry letters to the editor and hard feelings among some downtown merchants and supporters.

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Press Editorial

March 1, 2011

Downtown Issaquah has opportunity ahead

The DownTown Issaquah Association has a new director. That announcement may seem insignificant, but at second glance, the association is important to everyone who lives here.

Newcomers repeatedly say it is the historic downtown along Front Street that is a prime factor is choosing Issaquah. It’s that last vestige of bygone Norman Rockwell-like days that lure people here.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that doing business in this central core is easy. The downtown has its problems — like traffic, lack of adequate parking and lack of a destination store. But it has its pluses — at the heart of the civic area, lower rents and it’s pedestrian friendly.

When Village Theatre expanded to its Mainstage theater, it was predicted that the downtown would become a cultural district. It took years to do that, but over time came the opening of the new Issaquah Library, the monthly ArtWalks and weekly Music on the Streets, the founding of artEAST and its Up Front gallery, and other businesses rounding out the scene with art and music classes. More restaurants followed, some with live music of their own.

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DownTown Issaquah Association replaces longtime director

March 1, 2011

Downtown Issaquah booster Greg Spranger — nicknamed “Captain Downtown” — is out at the DownTown Issaquah Association after leading the organization for more than a decade.

DownTown Issaquah Association President David Irons said the organization is pursuing a different approach to boosting businesses and programs in the historic downtown. So, the board scrapped the executive director position Spranger held, and created a community relations manager post as a replacement.

Greg Spranger

The board hired Issaquah resident Tanya Alter for the post. Irons announced the appointment Feb. 28, the same day Alter started in the part-time position.

“When looking at her résumé, she had the attributes we were looking for in a candidate,” Irons said.

The organization put out a call for applicants in January; 42 people applied for the position, including Spranger.

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Who’s News

January 11, 2011

Couple donates $40,000 to Athletes for Kids

Ken and Liz Moscaret, of Sammamish, co-founders of Athletes For Kids, donated $40,000 to the organization last month.

Athletes For Kids matches male and female high school athletes as mentors to younger children with disabilities, enabling them to overcome social challenges by improving self-esteem and promoting inclusion. Athletes For Kids operates at six area high schools and serves children with disabilities in Sammamish, Issaquah, Bellevue, Renton, Redmond and Woodinville. Read more

Picnic kicks off effort to plan parks

August 31, 2010

Like a scene from a spring L.L.Bean catalog, a doe and a pair of fawns peeked from the trees along the creek bank in the fading light.

The deer moseyed from the brush along Issaquah Creek just as the Aug. 26 meeting to plan the future of Tollë Anderson, Cybil-Madeline and Issaquah Creek parks came to a close. The picnic hosted about 130 residents, city staffers and community leaders to start a monthslong process to plan the 15.5-acre downtown parks.

But as the meeting ended, the remaining attendees forgot ideas for trails, a playground and, maybe, a history museum, and all attention instead focused on the deer.

“They were supposed to be here an hour ago,” landscape architect Guy Michaelsen cracked.

The architect and the team from The Berger Partnership jotted dozens of ideas for activities and facilities onto giant sheets of paper. The early favorite: restrooms.

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