King County expects layoffs, reduced road maintenance

August 24, 2012

NEW — 11 a.m. Aug. 24, 2012

King County expects to lay off 54 road workers and officials said the lack of attention on roads could mean further deterioration.

Officials also plan to leave 11 vacant jobs unfilled — for a total reduction of 65 jobs in the county Road Services Division — due to a drop in tax revenues. The reduction is expected to go into effect early next year, as the 2013 budget goes into effect.

King County Executive Dow Constantine announced the reductions Thursday. The loss of funding could mean reduced maintenance to correct problems, such as potholes, and a slower response during snow and ice storms.

The county is responsible for about 1,500 miles of roadway, but the reduction in revenue means less maintenance, especially roads in rural areas.

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King County considers cell tower proposal

August 7, 2012

King County is considering a proposal from AT&T to add antennae and equipment to the existing cell tower at 14327 228th Ave. S.E., on Squak Mountain near the Trinity Tree Farm.

AT&T applied to the King County Department of Development and Environmental Services to add three antennae, six remote radio heads and a surge protector to the tower.

The tower is about a mile west uphill from the Tiger Mountain Country Store at Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast and Cedar Grove Road Southeast.

Residents can send comments about the proposal to DDES — Building and Fire Services Division, 900 Oakesdale Ave. S.W., Renton, WA 98057-5212. The public comment period ends Aug. 16.

Citizens can also review the application at the Renton office.

King County plans summer timber harvest near Issaquah

June 4, 2012

NEW — 11:30 a.m. June 4, 2012

King County announced June 1 a summer timber harvest on Taylor Mountain near Issaquah.

The planned harvest encompasses about 66 acres in the 1,845-acre forest. Officials said the harvest includes poor-quality maple, and overmature and dying alder trees. Plans call for crews to then plant a mix of Western red cedar, Douglas fir and Western hemlock, depending on specific site conditions.

Officials said most of the conifers within the identified harvest area should not be cut, except for trees severely infected with root rot.

Eatonville-based Erickson Logging, Inc. is conducting the harvest operation. The sale of harvested logs is expected to generate $75,000 for county officials to manage forestland.

The activity is expected to start in June or early July, depending on rainfall, and should last up to six weeks.

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Motorists encounter fallen trees on local, regional roads

January 19, 2012

State Route 900 remains barricaded at midafternoon Jan. 20 to motorists wanting to go southbound past Northwest Talus Drive, a day after a downed tree blocked access to the urban village. By Greg Farrar

NEW — 1:15 p.m. Jan. 19, 2012

State transportation officials said the ice after a major snowstorm continues to create difficult driving conditions throughout the region.

Department of Transportation planners said frigid temperatures should continue to cause harsh conditions throughout Thursday.

“We had our crews out all night de-icing the roads. We threw everything we had at this storm — sand, de-icer, salt and plows,” Regional Maintenance Manager Dave McCormick said. “It’s so widespread that it’s been very difficult to keep up.”

State Route 900 is closed at Southeast May Valley Road. State Route 18 remains closed from Auburn Way and Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast due to multiple downed trees for several miles. State Route 202 is closed between Fall City and Snoqualmie due to downed trees. The roads should remain closed for several hours.

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King County road crews report ‘very treacherous’ conditions

January 19, 2012

NEW — 8:30 a.m. Jan. 19, 2012

King County Road Services Division crews reported “very treacherous” road conditions Thursday morning due to additional snow and freezing rain on local roadways.

Meanwhile, the state Department of Transportation extended the closure of state Route 18 from Interstate 90 to Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast from the interstate to state Route 164 in Auburn — a 22-mile stretch.

City crews reopened Newport Way Northwest from Northwest Oakcrest Drive to state Route 900 by 8:30 a.m. after a downed tree prompted a closure.

Though city, county and state crews continue efforts to keep major arteries clear for motorists, drivers should expect icy conditions on less-traveled roads. County crews reported problems related to downed trees and limbs from heavy ice accumulations.

More rain or freezing rain is in the forecast for the next several hours, s0 motorists should use extreme caution on local roads. If possible, officials urged people to postpone trips until later in the day after temperatures inch upward.

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Ice poses travel risk; motorists should check conditions before driving

January 19, 2012

NEW — 8:15 a.m. Jan. 19, 2012

The state Department of Transportation is urging motorists to use extreme caution due to ice on roadways from freezing rain.

The agency closed state Route 18 between Interstate 90 and Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast shortly after 6 a.m. because ice knocked about two dozen trees onto the roadway. Fallen trees also led to road closures inside Issaquah city limits.

Officials also received reports of downed trees on other Western Washington roadways, prompting some lane and road closures. Elsewhere, the number of spinouts and cars in ditches increases as the morning commute continues.

Drivers should expect added delays and check road status as transportation crews close highways until the threat of falling tree limbs passes.

The ice also caused power outages throughout the region. Puget Sound Energy reported 582 customers in Issaquah without power by 8:10 a.m.

Downed trees snarl morning commutes in Issaquah area

January 19, 2012

NEW — 7:25 a.m. Jan. 19, 2012

Fallen trees caused road closures and traffic headaches early Thursday, as icy conditions caused fresh problems a day after a major snowstorm.

Newport Way Northwest from Northwest Oakcrest Drive to state Route 900 is closed due to a downed tree. State Route 900 from Northwest Talus Drive to the southern city limits is closed due to a downed tree.

Meanwhile, outside Issaquah city limits, state Route 18 is closed in both directions from Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast to Interstate 90 due to multiple fallen trees blocking the lanes.

Puget Sound Energy reported more than 1,200 without power at 7:45 a.m.

Early Thursday, National Weather Service meteorologists issued a regional ice storm warning through noon. Forecasters said to expect travel impacts related to icy conditions, although temperatures should start to rise by midday.

City road crews continue to focus on high-priority routes, as ice poses a different challenge than the snow from previous days.

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King County crews encounter headaches as snowstorm barrels across region

January 18, 2012

NEW — 2:45 p.m. Jan. 18, 2012

The snowstorm pummeling the Puget Sound region is causing transportation headaches across King County, officials said Wednesday afternoon as road crews attempted to keep major arteries open to traffic.

Officials said no county road is escaping the impact of the latest winter storm.

County Road Services Division crews reported hazardous driving conditions along and several road closures across the region. The county focused mostly on plowing and sanding along the major roadways throughout the county, such as Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast.

Countywide, about 150 field staffers continue to work 12-hour shifts to support 24-hour operations. That around-the-clock schedule is due to continue until conditions improve.

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Veterinarian fulfills a lifelong wish list

January 17, 2012

Sarah Owens (center) becomes friends with two women during a luncheon at one of the first gatherings of Tanzanian and Kenyan Maa-speaking peoples (Maasai nomadic tribes) at a sharing of the commonalities and differences in traditions. Contributed

As a young person, veterinarian Dr. Sarah Owens made a point of asking her elders what it was they wished they had done with their lives. As she listened to their regrets, Owens made a promise to herself to “make sure I didn’t miss out on anything.”

Owens kept that promise. She graduated from Brown and Harvard, traveled to the mountains of Nepal to care for animals on film shoots and spent many hours in the castles around Europe performing delicate surgeries on animals. In between stints at college, Owens was an active leader in several of nongovernmental organizations in South Africa. Eventually, the pull of her native Northwest roots drew her home to Issaquah.

“Aside from the Arctic and Antarctic, I’ve lived most my life on the continents and am completely happy to be back here in the Northwest,” she said, adding that she feels a symbiotic relationship to people in the Northwest.

“No matter where I was, every time I met someone in a remote and exotic locale who was from the Pacific Northwest, I felt we shared a certain way of connecting to the natural and social environment,” she said. “I am sure it stems from coming from a landscape of such great soul.”

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Hayes Nursery, longtime local business, to close

November 29, 2011

The entrance to Hayes Nursery below Tiger Mountain was recently renovated. By Greg Farrar

Hayes Nursery, a destination for springtime shrubs and sage gardening advice, plans to close by late December, after rain-sodden summers and a feeble economy hurt the longtime local business.

Clare and Larry Hayes opened the nursery along Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast in time for Mother’s Day 1987 and expanded the business throughout the decades.

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