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

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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New, relocated businesses boost Issaquah economy

May 4, 2010

The local economy has improved since last year, but increased retail offerings and high-profile construction projects could help the city rebound in the months ahead.

Economic Development Manager Dan Trimble said the city had progressed beyond the economic doldrums of last year. Joe’s — the longtime sporting goods retailer — closed as the city grappled with dual real estate and building construction slowdowns brought on by the recession.

“In 2010, we started to see the economic recovery start to take hold,” Trimble told City Council members April 27. “We’ve had some new retail moving in, both big and small. Construction activity has been returning.”

Swedish Medical Center started construction on a campus in the Issaquah Highlands late last year, and Best Buy and Sports Authority will open Issaquah stores in the months ahead. Sports Authority will occupy the old Joe’s space, and Best Buy will fill vacant space in the bustling East Lake Center shopping complex anchored by Fred Meyer and The Home Depot.

Sports Authority should generate $85,000 to $100,000 annually in sales tax revenue for the city; Best Buy should pull in $100,000 to $200,000, city Finance Director Jim Blake said in a May 1 conference call with council members.

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Help with spring cleaning in downtown Issaquah on Saturday

April 30, 2010

NEW — 6:39 p.m. April 30, 2010

Help spruce up downtown Issaquah during the annual spring cleanup Saturday.

DownTown Issaquah Association Executive Director Greg Spranger needs volunteers to help clean the historic Front Street corridor.

Volunteers will work from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Teams will meet at the restored Hailstone Feed Store, 232 Front St. N., and then fan out across downtown to sweep, weed and pick up litter. Free lunch donated by Flying Pie Pizzeria and the Issaquah Brewhouse will cap the event.

Spranger asked for volunteers to bring along a pair of gloves — as well a friend to pitch in. Contact Spranger at 391-1112 or mainstreetdude@aol.com for more details about the cleanup. Learn more about the DownTown Issaquah Association here.

Leon Kos will retire from city after 33 years

April 27, 2010

City administrator leaves behind a bigger, stronger Issaquah

Leon Kos

The past three decades can be attributed to — or blamed on — legendary City Clerk Linda Ruehle.

Issaquah needed a new city administrator in early 1977. Leon Kos, a recent Seattle transplant from California, applied for the job.

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Roll up your sleeves — it’s cleanup time

April 27, 2010

The DownTown Issaquah Association is looking for volunteers to do some spring cleaning and community building in its annual downtown spring cleanup.

The event will be from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. May 1. And if getting to know your neighbors isn’t incentive enough, lunch from the Flying Pie Pizzeria ought to be.

“We just want to invite everybody to come out, and it’s a great family event,” said Greg Spranger, executive director of the DownTown Issaquah Association, who’s helped organize the event for the last 10 years.

Volunteers should meet at the Hailstone Feed Store at 9 a.m. The plan is to clean a stretch of Front Street from the Grange Mercantile building to The Issaquah Press building, as well as a stretch of Sunset Way from the train depot parking lot to the library parking structure. Cleaning activities will include weeding, sweeping and picking up trash.

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Mayor proposes leaner budget for 2010

October 6, 2009

Fewer dollars would be set aside for the DownTown Issaquah Association, Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery, Village Theatre and other organizations supported by city money under the 2010 budget unveiled by Mayor Ava Frisinger. Read more

Artists create lasting memories of community icons

September 1, 2009

Artist Ashley Weiss paid tribute to set designer Alex Berry with this sculpture in last year’s Collective Memory project. File

Artist Ashley Weiss paid tribute to set designer Alex Berry with this sculpture in last year’s Collective Memory project. File

Alex Berry was left with such a lasting impression after being honored in the 2008 artEAST Collective Memory Project, that he decided to return the favor for someone this year.

The Collective Memory project began in 2007 when 18 artEAST artists partnered with local community members — from well known to obscure, quiet to colorful — who helped shape the community. The artists honored these citizens by telling their life stories through original works of art.

Berry, 43, a native of Issaquah, had his story told of working 30 years at Village Theatre as everything from director to set designer, in the form of a sculpture by artist Ashley Weiss.

“It was absolutely fabulous,” he said. “I was so impressed by all the quality of work produced.”

So impressed, he asked to be involved this year as an artist. Karen Abel, executive director of artEAST, paired him with Greg Spranger, the man behind many DownTown Issaquah Association projects.

“I had heard of Greg long before I actually met him,” Berry said. “A couple years ago, he called me and wanted me and my father to come down and paint oversized wooden Christmas ornaments for the Hailstone Feed Store project.” Read more

Model Ts to make stop at depot museum

July 7, 2009

One of two teams driving 1909 Model T Fords prepares to leave the starting line of the Ocean to Ocean Endurance Contest. Fifty-five Model Ts are recreating the route this summer, arriving in Issaquah on July 11.http://oceantoocean.ning.com

One of two teams driving 1909 Model T Fords prepares to leave the starting line of the Ocean to Ocean Endurance Contest. Fifty-five ModelTs are recreating the route this summer,arriving in Issaquah on July 11 http://oceantoocean.ning.com

In his youth, Greg Spranger enjoyed the thousands of tales his grandfather shared, especially those involving the family’s Model T Ford motor car.

“He described driving throughout the states, finding routes where there weren’t any roads and even ‘discovering’ California,” Spranger said.

As the head driver for an Indiana trucking company after the depression hit, Spranger said his grandfather was one of the first in the community to pack up the family and head west to start over in California.

So, it was a no brainer that Spranger jumped at the opportunity to act as liaison between the DownTown Issaquah Association and King County, organizing the local leg of an historical cross-country journey involving Model T Fords. Read more

Depot Museum unveils display on Seattle’s first world’s fair

June 16, 2009

Original postcards of the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition depict  the ‘Pay Streak’ arcade boulevard and a roller coaster

Original postcards of the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition depict the ‘Pay Streak’ arcade boulevard and a roller coaster ontributed by Greg Spranger

Long before the Space Needle pointed skyward and a monorail whisked passengers downtown, Seattle hosted one of the most successful world’s fairs, the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition. The event’s centennial is being commemorated this summer at the Issaquah Depot Museum.

Greg Spranger, world’s fair enthusiast and executive director of the DownTown Issaquah Association, loaned AYPE memorabilia to the museum. His collection includes souvenirs from the four-and-a-half month event. Postcards depict fair scenes in vivid detail; snow-capped Mount Rainier is the only distinguishing characteristic of the Seattle skyline.
The exposition attracted more than 3.7 million visitors to the then-tiny University of Washington campus. Many Issaquah residents rode trains into Seattle to participate in the fair.
“It was a huge, huge success,” Spranger said.
The successful exposition was a precursor to the successful 1962 World’s Fair, which begat the Space Needle and the Seattle Center Monorail.
Visitors to the depot museum have an opportunity to view century-old AYPE souvenirs and other artifacts throughout the summer.
The exposition lasted from June 1-Oct. 16, 1909. President William Howard Taft opened the event from Washington, D.C., by pressing a gold telegraph key.
At the same moment Taft opened the fair, racers set off from New York to Seattle in a cross-country auto race. A Ford Model T won the race, but was later disqualified after organizers learned the race team changed the car’s engine at a stop along the more than 3,800-mile route.
“They could, because there were a lot of little Ford dealerships popping up across the United States,” Spranger said.
Model T enthusiasts are re-enacting the race in honor of the centennial. Dozens of Model Ts will stop at the depot museum overnight July 10. Spranger said organizers plan to hold a barbecue to welcome the travelers to town.
Spranger said he started collecting AYPE memorabilia more than two decades ago “on a fluke” when he happened upon souvenirs at an antiques show.
“What is this?” he recalled. “I had to know more about it.”
Today, his collection includes postcards, medallions, ashtrays and hard-to-find silk handkerchiefs embroidered with the exposition logo — three women from the United States, the Yukon and Japan. Among Spranger’s finds is a handmade invitation to the opening gala, painted with delicate watercolor flowers.
He said the success of the exposition is even more impressive because Seattle was far from major cities of the era, yet the fair was still able to attract visitors in droves.
“A hundred years ago, we put on one of the largest world’s fairs anywhere,” Spranger said.
Reach Reporter Warren Kagarise at 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.

Long before the Space Needle pointed skyward and a monorail whisked passengers downtown, Seattle hosted one of the most successful world’s fairs, the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition. The event’s centennial is being commemorated this summer at the Issaquah Depot Museum.

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