Issaquah Rotary Club’s Grape Escape grows in popularity

February 28, 2012

A vintner discusses his product with visitors to one of the previous Issaquah Rotary Grape Escape fundraisers. Contributed

Six years ago, the Rotary Club of Issaquah offered its first Grape Escape event. For four years, the event took place at one of the smaller venues in the local Hilton Garden Inn, said Rotarian and event chairman Scott McKorkle.

The event was conceived as a wine tasting. But the first events, while popular, featured only a handful of local wineries, maybe five or six, according to Lesley Austin, a Rotarian who has long been involved with the Grape Escape event.

How things change. Both McKorkle and Austin said the Rotary has put a major push behind Grape Escape, greatly expanding the offerings and tying it in with the Taste Our Town campaign featuring local restaurants, many of which will be represented at Grape Escape.

Proceeds from the evening will go to support the Rotary Club’s several charitable undertakings, most notably scholarships offered to students at Issaquah, Liberty and Tiger Mountain Community high schools.

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Longtime city public works director retires

November 8, 2011

Bob Brock is not a household name in Issaquah, but projects the former Public Works Engineering director oversaw reshaped the landscape — bridges across Issaquah Creek designed to ease flooding and road projects meant to alleviate traffic congestion.

Brock, 64, retired as the top engineering official in the city Nov. 4 after a lifetime spent in public works roles in California, Wyoming and, for the past dozen years, in Issaquah.

“I’m more of a behind-the-scenes kind of guy. It’s never been my forte to be up there in a suit and tie and everything and being in the foreground,” he said in pre-retirement interview. “I personally like to let my very capable staff get the exposure, No. 1, and the experience to share. It’s them that makes me successful.”

Since joining the city staff in May 1999, Brock supervised road and other infrastructure projects as the city added 19,000 residents through annexations and a home-building boom. Controversy also defined the area, as activists, leaders and residents debated the Southeast Bypass, a proposed road along Tiger Mountain designed to reduce downtown traffic headaches.

Brock led 30 or so Public Works Engineering Department employees from a corner office in City Hall Northwest. The space overlooks a recent city project, a pedestrian connector across Interstate 90 at state Route 900.

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Issaquah Chamber of Commerce to spotlight nonprofit groups at leadership summit

October 25, 2011

Rob McKenna

Issaquah Chamber of Commerce leaders plan to showcase local nonprofit organizations at a summit dedicated to the groups’ efforts in the community.

The chamber is hosting a Nonprofit Leadership & Civic Service Summit on Nov. 2 to spotlight nonprofit organizations and encourage business leaders to foster closer ties to the nonprofit sector.

“It’s a tough time for everybody,” chamber CEO Matthew Bott said. “If there are ways we can work together and partner, that’s what the chamber wants to help do.”

The chamber lined up Issaquah Mayor Ava Frisinger, Leadership Eastside President James Whitfield and state Attorney General Rob McKenna, a Republican candidate for governor, to speak at the summit.

(U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee is the Democrat in the gubernatorial race.)

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Hometown star runs to, then away with, Rotary Run 5K

October 4, 2011

More than 2,300 runners participate in 35th annual Salmon Days event

The Rotary Run field of 10K runners sprints out on 12th Avenue Northwest Oct. 2 as the air horn sounds the start of the annual race. By Greg Farrar

Not only did Jon Harding run in — and win — the Issaquah Rotary Run at Salmon Days’ 5K run, but he ran to it.

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Issaquah family takes a swing at ‘Redneck Croquet’

August 16, 2011

John Kilpatrick, of Issaquah, pours out the contents of a large pot for a traditional Southern ‘Dump Dinner.’ Photos by Sebastian Moraga

For a game played with big mallets, this particularly croquet game was sedate and relaxed.

The rivalry was elsewhere.

The host was Lynda Kilpatrick, a member of the Kiwanis Club of Kiwanis. The co-host for the “Redneck Croquet” dinner was her husband John, a Rotary Club of Seattle member.

It didn’t get more heated than that. The game itself ended up in a rain-soaked tie and the players took it in stride.

The only thing heated about the July 15 match was a huge pot in the backyard of the Kilpatrick’s home.

The highlight of the game was the subsequent dinner, boiling inside said pot.

“The dump dinner is a tradition,” said Connie Fletcher, a Kiwanis member and former Issaquah School Board member. “Rotary had it, then it was gone for a few years and I brought it back through Kiwanis.”

Born in the South, the dump dinner consists of seafood, meats and corn boiling inside the pot. When they are done, the contents of the pot get dumped on a table and people dig in.

To honor the dinner’s Southern origins, post-game snacks and refreshments consisted of cheap beer, fried bologna sandwiches and Moon Pies.

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Nightly dinner is a chance for a good meal, talk

August 16, 2011

“You better watch him, he’s homeless,” a visitor called out from the other side of the Issaquah Community Hall on Sunset Way.

Starlene Tant and husband Michael Tant join volunteers Sylvia Mason and Diana Brown (from left) helping out in the kitchen and on the serving line during a recent free dinner offered by Catholic Community Services in Issaquah. By Tom Corrigan

The target of the jibe just laughed as he talked with a reporter, knowing that both and he and his would-be tormentor are indeed homeless.

They both also were tabbed as regulars at the free meals at the hall by Catholic Community Services.

Volunteers serve up the dinners at 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at 180 E. Sunset Way.

“I come mostly for the camaraderie,” said the visitor, who declined to give his name.

He said he’d been coming to the community hall for almost a year and knew quite a few of the other regulars among the visitors and the program volunteers.

Adria Briehl is a volunteer coordinator for the Seattle-based CCS and director of the local meal program. CCS began offering the dinners in 1989, but the program is still not very well known, Briehl said.

The meals are offered to anyone who shows up, no questions asked. Visitors usually number about 30 each evening. Many clients are homeless, but Briehl said she also sees plenty of seniors and others just looking to help make ends meet.

“A lot of people don’t think there’s homelessness in Issaquah,” Briehl said. “It just looks different than it does in Seattle.”

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Rotary Challenge Day Race / July 16, 2011

July 27, 2011

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Challenge Day Race is big fun for special-needs children

July 12, 2011

On July 16, the Rotary Club of Issaquah will host the 14th annual Issaquah Rotary Challenge Day Race. The event allows participants with mental and physical disabilities to experience the fun of a soapbox derby race.

“It’s great to see these special-needs kids having fun,” said Leo Finnegan, creator of the Challenge Day Race. “Everybody feels really good about what happens at the races.”

Excitement builds as teams of two climb into their soapbox cars. In the driver’s side seat sits an able-bodied youngster with the special-needs youngster riding shotgun.

When the starting gate hits the ground gravity takes over, causing the streamlined soapbox cars to roll down the hill. Some cars have reached speeds as high as 17 mph.

Each special-needs child will get three rides down the hill.

“The pre-selected driver’s seat is first offered up to siblings of the special-needs kids and family members of Rotary volunteers,” Finnegan said.

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Swedish Medical Center: A great fit for Issaquah

July 5, 2011

Mayor Ava Frisinger

As the entire region will soon enjoy the expanded medical care offered by Swedish/Issaquah, our city has much more to celebrate: a great fit with this community.

Some benefits are obvious. We now have a state-of-the-art hospital and medical campus that offers emergency services, a highly advanced cancer center and an impressive list of specialty-care services — all here in our backyard.

Swedish, however, provides plenty of additional perks for Issaquah. The healthcare provider consistently advocates for healthier lifestyles, which fits well with our active, outdoor-oriented community.

The nonprofit organization is also very much in sync with Public Health – Seattle & King County. Both organizations aim to educate the public that “health” is not merely the absence of illness, but is rather a longer, more enjoyable life. Look soon for Swedish’s great variety of free or low-cost classes regarding vital health topics here in Issaquah.

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Outdoors for All offers opportunities for disabled adventurers

July 2, 2011

Outdoors for All participant Laszlo Jajczay paddles with two volunteers at Green Lake Park in Seattle. The nonprofit organization invites volunteers to help participants throughout the summer. By Ed Bronsdon

The world of Susan Camicia, an avid Issaquah bicyclist and skier, turned upside down on June 19, 2006.

She had registered for a triathlon and was cycling on Mercer Island during a training session. As she neared the Mercer Island Park & Ride, some fence work threw her off guard and she ran into a pole, toppled over the handlebars of her bike and broke her neck.

In an instant, Camicia essentially became a quadriplegic, except for limited use of her hands.

“People always think that they work, but I have no strength in them at all,” she said. “If someone hands me a cup of coffee, it’s going to fall on the ground.”

She has learned to use both hands when picking up a cup of joe at her favorite coffee cafes. With such limited mobility, she worried that a sedentary life would be her default fate, until her recreational therapist recommended she try the Outdoors for All Foundation.

“It’s a great organization,” she said. “It has great volunteers.”

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