Picture this

February 21, 2014

Issaquah sets its sights on adding the French town of Savigny-le-Temple to its family of sister cities.

The city of Issaquah is expecting.

Like most new parents, city officials have a special glow in anticipation of the new arrival. Members of the City Council and Sister Cities Commission are anxiously waiting for a written proposal from the town of Savigny-le-Temple in France to establish a Sister City relationship.

Contributed Minister Mohamed Saad El Alami, mayor of Chefchaouen (center), and former Issaquah Mayor Ava Frisinger (right) walk through the Moroccan city’s streets with other delegation members and a security detail in 2007.

Minister Mohamed Saad El Alami, mayor of Chefchaouen (center), and former Issaquah Mayor Ava Frisinger (right) walk through the Moroccan city’s streets with other delegation members and a security detail in 2007.

The transatlantic courtship began last fall, when a delegation of students from the French town came to Issaquah during Salmon Days and were so impressed they requested their city reach out to establish an official relationship. Leaders from the community 20 miles southeast of Paris have made plans to send another contingent of young people to the Northwest this summer.

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Issaquah City Council applicants present themselves for consideration

January 22, 2014

NEW — 1:19 p.m. Jan. 22, 2014

Fred Butler’s move to mayor left a vacancy on the Issaquah City Council and seven people want the job.

The candidates introduced themselves during 10-minute presentations at the Jan. 21 council meeting. The varied field offered far-ranging experience from the worlds of engineering, real estate, software development and communications.

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Who’s News

January 29, 2013

Local Realtors earn regional leadership posts

Joan Probala

Joan Probala

Joan Probala, a managing broker at Windermere Real Estate/East in Issaquah, has been elected as the 2013 president of the Seattle King County Realtors.

Probala, a real estate professional since 1990 and resident of Issaquah, serves as vice chairwoman of the Issaquah Planning Policy Commission, chairwoman of the Issaquah Arts Commission and survivor chairwoman for Issaquah Relay for Life. In addition, she is a past president of the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce and Kiwanis Club of Issaquah.

Also named to the leadership team was Mike Winkler, principal managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain Issaquah, as this year’s East Region director.

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Issaquah Rotary is part of district given First Citizen Award

July 3, 2012

Rotary International District 5030 — which runs from Mill Creek to Enumclaw — has recently found itself in distinguished company.

The district, which includes the Rotary Club of Issaquah, joins the Gates family, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and former Seattle Mariner Jamie Moyer as recipients of the Seattle-King County First Citizen Award for their commitment to community and public service.

Don Oellrich, president of the Rotary Club of Issaquah, said being part of the district that received the award is an honor.

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Issaquah Arts Commission’s open mic night celebrates written word

February 28, 2012

Nancy Talley, a Providence Point resident, reads one of her poems at the Issaquah Brewhouse. By Greg Farrar

A flier for the evening promised “poetry, prose and other ponderings.”

Open mic nights of the Issaquah Arts Commission are the third Tuesday of each month at the Issaquah Brewhouse on Sunset Way.

The evenings are now dubbed “Poetry and Prose on Tap.”

“We had a lot of fun and a lot of people,” Joan Probala, commission chairwoman, said of the open mic events that were formerly held at Vino Bella.

She noted the open mic events are for writers of every stripe and skill level.

For this night, the second event at the Brewhouse, there were about a dozen people and some competition for attention. The same night as the open mic event, the Brewhouse hosted a meet and greet with a Rogue Ale brewmaster. Still, those involved with the open mic night didn’t seem overly bothered by the loud atmosphere or the AC/DC music pouring out of the bar’s speakers.

“I’m happy to see people stroll in,” Probala said.

While she is not a writer herself, she appreciates the craft and likes the open forum.

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Issaquah community members influence hospital design

July 5, 2011

Judd Kirk, of Port Blakely Communities, Mayor Ava Frisinger, Swedish CEO Dr. Rod Hochman and Gov. Chris Gregoire (from left) chat after the Swedish/Issaquah groundbreaking ceremony in October 2009. By Greg Farrar

Long before dignitaries gathered on windswept Grand Ridge on a cold October day to dip shovels into soil for a Swedish Medical Center campus in Issaquah, hospital executives asked community members to shape the facility.

The hospital system turned to a former Issaquah School District superintendent to lead the group, and enlisted a community cross section — 20 or so medical professionals, elected officials, community leaders, senior citizens and young parents — to serve.

The group shaped the hospital in the months before the October 2009 groundbreaking ceremony and continues to advise executives about Swedish/Issaquah.

“We were clearly looking for people who were not afraid to express their opinion, who were not afraid to tell us we were all wet and wrong,” said Dr. John Milne, vice president of medical affairs for Swedish/Issaquah and the emergency and ambulatory care centers in Redmond and Mill Creek. “We didn’t handpick people because they were going to be yes people.”

Former Superintendent Janet Barry, a Sammamish resident and Community Advisory Committee leader, said the group tackled a paramount question early on: “How do people fit into this building?”

Members emphasized modern technology for the hospital, but also advocated for softer touches, such as ample artwork and natural light. (Both features factor prominently into the completed hospital campus.)

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Commission questions rezoning of parkland

May 3, 2011

The city Planning Policy Commission raised questions April 28 before rezoning downtown open space to accommodate a long-planned park.

The city needed to rezone the park parcels from open space to community parks before the development process could proceed. The site encompasses Tollë Anderson, Cybil-Madeline and Issaquah Creek parks. The city Parks & Recreation Department intends to develop the parcels as a single park. The city cannot develop a community park on open space due to zoning restrictions.

“We’re rezoning all of them because we’re treating the confluence park as one big community park,” city Associate Planner Jason Rogers said in a presentation to the commission.

The proposal prompted some grumbling from Planning Policy Commission members.

“If you’re asking me to approve the zoning so we can have a large park area, I agree. I have no argument with that,” Commissioner Irv Levin said. “If that’s as far as I’m involved, then I have no argument. I am curious with what you’re going to do with all of that park area.”

The city hosted public meetings last year to gather input about the site. Residents can comment about the parks again at a May 4 community conference — a public meeting to gather additional input about the proposal.

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Issaquah growth center proposal raises questions

May 3, 2011

The nascent proposal to add almost 5,000 residential units to the business district in a pedestrian- and transit-friendly hub received a skeptical reception from city planning commissioners last week.

The city is considering a proposal to add a regional growth center in a bid to attract dollars for transportation and mass transit to Issaquah. The initial plans outline such a hub in 915-acre Central Issaquah, the commercial area spread along Interstate 90 and state Route 900.

The long-term blueprint for the Puget Sound region calls for areas designated as regional growth centers. The designation helps officials plan regional transportation infrastructure and determine the best sites for economic development.

The centers also receive higher priority for state and federal funding in order to connect the regional hubs — a crucial selling point.

Still, Planning Policy Commission members raised questions about a proposal to create a regional growth center and add up to 4,650 residential units in a dense neighborhood.

“I think the biggest question is, do we want to do this?” Commissioner Joan Probala asked during the April 28 meeting. “Because when we decide that we want to do it, you’re looking at changing the rest of the areas to some extent, and you’re going to encourage building to happen there” in the targeted area.

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City Council confirms, lauds municipal board appointees

May 3, 2011

Onetime City Council finalist Paul Winterstein is going to continue serving the city on the Human Services Commission, the liaison between social service groups and municipal government.

The council appointed Winterstein and 35 other people as members and alternates to city boards and commissions April 18. Terms on the 11 affected boards start May 1. The city does not pay members.

“I am continually amazed at the number of people — and their qualifications — that stepped forward to fill our boards and commissions,” Councilman Fred Butler said before the unanimous decision to appoint the members. “It seems to me in going through the applications and the qualifications of folks, we’ve got an especially strong group of people filling some critical holes on our boards and commissions again this year.”

The city put out a call for board and commission applicants in January. Then, Mayor Ava Frisinger and board officers narrowed the applicant pool, and recommended appointees to the council for approval.

The city is continuing the interview process for alternates to serve on the Sister Cities and Urban Village Development commissions.

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All in the family: Discover Issaquah’s sister cities

February 15, 2011

Issaquah sister-city bond fosters cross-cultural understanding in Morocco — and at home

The dominant color in Chefchaouen, Morocco — Issaquah’s sister city since April 2007 — is a dreamy shade of blue. Contributed

The grand and imposing door, set amid brick buildings and evergreens in downtown Issaquah, offers clues from a far-off place.

The door is as solid as the Rock of Gibraltar and built to endure for ages. The place is ancient.

The door is painted in the same soothing blue as a summer sky over the Mediterranean. The place is exotic.

The door is a gateway. The place is Chefchaouen, Morocco.

The door on the Issaquah City Hall grounds is a gift from Chefchaouen, a sister city almost 6,000 miles from the Cascade foothills.

The relationship is a study in contrasts.

Suburban Issaquah is perched on the outer rim of Greater Seattle. Chefchaouen is isolated in mountainous terrain, 100 miles from the nearest major city, Tangier. Chefchaouen is in Muslim-majority Morocco. Issaquah is in the secular United States.

Issaquah and Chefchaouen inked a sister-city agreement in 2007.

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