Off the Press

May 15, 2012

Tragedy yields changed perspectives

Warren Kagarise Press reporter

Memories from the afternoon remain fresh months after the last gunshots echoed across the Clark Elementary School campus, even as the incident recedes deeper into the past.

Downtown Issaquah transformed into a crime scene Sept. 24, as a gunman menaced residents and later died in a police shootout.

The incident receded into memory for most people not long afterward. Still, the investigation continued and throughout the process, the events from Sept. 24 remained close to me.

A stack of documents from the King County Sheriff’s Office investigation sits on my desk. Photos from the incident still flicker across my computer screen. I speak to sources about the investigation at least once each week.

The inquest into the incident starts May 21 at the King County Courthouse. I plan to report from the official inquiry into the event, too.

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City reduces concealed pistol license fee

March 20, 2012

The cost of a concealed pistol license from the Issaquah Police Department has dropped by $2.75 due to a federal rule change.

Starting March 19, fingerprint checks cost $16.50 — down from $19.25 — and, therefore, the cost of a concealed pistol license drops from $55.25 to $52.50.

City residents can apply for the license at the Issaquah Police Department, 130 E. Sunset Way. The department processes fingerprints from 9-10 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.

In Issaquah, applicants for a concealed pistol license must be at least 21 years old, a U.S. citizen or possess a valid alien firearms license. The applicant cannot have a pending trial, appeal or sentencing on certain charges.

The applicant cannot have any outstanding warrants for any charge from any court, any court order or injunction against possessing a firearm, or any felony convictions.

The state also prohibits a license for people determined to be mentally defective or incompetent to manage their affairs. The applicant must have never been committed to a mental institution.

Unincorporated King County residents must apply for a concealed pistol license at the King County Courthouse.

Important registration deadline arrives for Issaquah School District election

March 19, 2012

NEW — 6 a.m. March 19, 2012

Issaquah School District voters face a choice about a $219 million school construction bond in a special election next month.

The deadline for people to register online or by mail to vote is Monday. Qualified residents can also register in person at King County Elections in Renton or a registration annex at the King County Administration Building in Seattle.

In order to register as a Washington voter, a person must be a U.S. citizen, a Washington resident, at least 18 by Election Day and not under the authority of the state Department of Corrections.

In Washington, voters do not register by political party or declare political party membership to vote in primary or general elections.

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City reduces concealed pistol license fee

March 19, 2012

NEW — 6 a.m. March 19, 2012

The cost of a concealed pistol license from the Issaquah Police Department has dropped by $2.75 due to a federal rule change.

Starting Monday, fingerprint checks cost $16.50 — down from $19.25 — and, therefore, the cost of a concealed pistol license drops from $55.25 to $52.50.

Issaquah residents can apply for the license at the Issaquah Police Department, 130 E. Sunset Way. The department processes fingerprints on Tuesdays and Thursday from 9-10 a.m.

In Issaquah, applicants for a concealed pistol license must be at least 21 years old, a U.S. citizen or possess a valid alien firearms license. The applicant cannot have a pending trial, appeal or sentencing on certain charges.

Read more

Nisqually earthquake anniversary is reminder to prepare

February 28, 2012

NEW — 8 a.m. Feb. 28, 2012

The ground shook for 45 stomach-churning seconds starting at 10:54 a.m. Feb. 28, 2001, as the last major earthquake to occur in the Puget Sound region rattled buildings and jangled nerves.

The earthquake cracked the Capitol dome in Olympia and caused widespread damage across the region, injured hundreds of people and left billions of dollars in property damage.

Tuesday marks 11 years since the Nisqually earthquake — a magnitude-6.8 temblor credited for changing attitudes about emergency preparedness in Issaquah, King County and statewide.

City leaders credited the temblor for alerting officials and residents to the importance of disaster preparedness and response. The city participates in regular disaster-response exercises, such as the regional Sound Shake drill.

Issaquah School District planners also learned lessons since the earthquake occurred.

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King County Sheriff’s Office deputies receive defibrillators

January 10, 2012

Local public health officials said equipment and training for King County Sheriff’s Office deputies to respond to cardiac arrest could mean the difference between life and death.

King County Emergency Medical Services, a division of Public Health – Seattle & King County, plans to distribute 53 automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, to deputies interested in the training. Trained deputies can then be dispatched to a cardiac arrest call alongside emergency medical responders.

Equipped deputies arriving first at the scene of a cardiac arrest can start resuscitation and deliver the initial defibrillator shocks and, as soon as emergency medical responders arrive on the scene, they can take over resuscitation duties.

Officials announced the initiative Jan. 4.

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Inquest ordered in Issaquah police shooting

January 3, 2012

Jury is assigned to fact-finding mission in death of gunman

The search for more information about a lethal September shootout on the Clark Elementary School campus is due to deepen soon, as a court inquest into the officer-involved incident opens.

Ronald W. Ficker, 51, died in a firefight against Issaquah police officers on the school campus. The gun battle ended a meandering midday journey across downtown Issaquah after the rifle-toting Ficker brandished guns at passers-by.

In a decision expected since the Sept. 24 shootout, King County Executive Dow Constantine on Dec. 27 ordered the inquest — a standard procedure in officer-involved shootings. The order directs King County District Court Presiding Judge Barbara Linde to assign a judge to set a date and conduct the inquest.

Linde did not set a date before county offices closed for the New Year’s holiday.

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King County Districting Committee reschedules public hearing

October 25, 2011

The panel responsible for redrawing King County Council districts rescheduled a public hearing regarding a proposed map to next month.

King County Districting Committee members planned to meet Oct. 3, but rescheduled the meeting to Nov. 1 to allow residents and city councils more time to review the plan and offer comments.

Citizens can attend the rescheduled hearing at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 1 in the Council Chambers at the King County Courthouse, 516 Third Ave., Seattle.

Residents can also submit comments to the committee at www.kingcounty.gov/operations/districting/testimony until Nov. 1.

In a unanimous decision late last month, committee members agreed to release a final proposal for public comment and review. The plan must be approved by Jan. 15 for the 2012 elections.

The committee’s proposed map keeps Issaquah proper inside Councilwoman Kathy Lambert’s District 3 and rural areas outside city limits in Councilman Reagan Dunn’s District 9.

Issaquah police encountered gunman in days, hours before shooting

September 28, 2011

King County Chief Deputy Steve Strachan points to a picture of the ditch on the east side of Clark Elementary from where Ronald W. Ficker fired at Issaquah police officers Sept. 24. By Greg Farrar

UPDATED — 5:15 p.m. Sept. 28, 2011

Issaquah police officers contacted the Sept. 24 gunman in the days and hours before the lethal shootout at Clark Elementary School, but did not have reason to detain Ronald W. Ficker before the incident.

In the days before the shootout, Ficker told people he had been “communicating with the devil” and said, “Something big is going to happen.”

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County to host budget forum at Pacific Cascade Middle School

September 27, 2011

Citizens can offer input on King County’s 2012 budget next month at a local forum.

County Councilwoman Julia Patterson, leader of the council’s Budget Leadership Team, announced Pacific Cascade Middle School and other sites as locations for budget discussions. The budget team is seeking input on County Executive Dow Constantine’s proposed 2012 budget.

Issaquah’s representative, Councilwoman Kathy Lambert, and Councilwoman Jane Hague and Councilman Joe McDermott also serve on the budget team.

“These public hearings are an opportunity for the residents of King County to make their voices heard on the issues that matter most to them,” Patterson said in a statement.

The budget team is scheduled to collect input from citizens at a series of meetings:

  • 6:30 p.m. Oct. 13 — Pacific Cascade Middle School, 24635 S.E. Issaquah-Fall City Road
  • 6:30 p.m. Oct. 19 — Maleng Regional Justice Center, Courtroom 3F, 401 Fourth Ave. N., Kent
  • 6:30 p.m. Oct. 25 — King County Courthouse, County Council Chambers, 10th Floor, 516 Third Ave., Seattle

The county plans to offer coverage of the meetings on King County TV, channel 22 on Broadstripe and Comcast.

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