Cheers! Downtown Issaquah wine celebration returns

January 29, 2013

Revelers can sip, snack and shop as the Downtown Issaquah Wine Walk series returns.

The popular winter and springtime event launched last February to attract people to downtown merchants even as the weather turns gray and soggy. Organized by the Downtown Issaquah Association, merchants host musicians, and offer sips from Washington vintners and hors d’oeuvres, during the monthly event that launches Feb. 1.

Though the event is designed to appeal to oenophiles — the 1-ounce wine pours remain limited to the 21-and-older crowd — creativity is showcased in arts-focused downtown, too. Highlights at the opening event include demonstrations by master glass blower Lenoard Whitfield at artbyfire and artEAST’s latest exhibit, “Stitch,” at UP Front Gallery.

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Growth is focus as City Council, Issaquah School Board meet

May 1, 2012

City and Issaquah School District leaders pledged coordination and cooperation as the city outlines a bold plan to add thousands of residences in the decades ahead.

Chad Magendanz

Discussion about the Central Issaquah Plan — a proposal to transform more than 900 acres near Interstate 90 and state Route 900 — and possible changes to the school district, such as redrawing boundaries for schools to accommodate population shifts, dominated the annual joint meeting April 24.

City Council and Issaquah School Board members, plus Mayor Ava Frisinger and Superintendent Steve Rasmussen and other officials, gathered at Mandarin Garden a week after school district voters approved a $219 million bond to fuel a school construction boom. The planned projects include major changes for schools in downtown Issaquah.

The groups, seated beneath red lanterns and arranged around lazy Susans, sipped tea and nibbled on fried rice and roast pork as discussion unfolded about long-term development plans. (The city hosted the meal and spent $311.24 on food and beverages.)

“Both organizations have gone from fast-growing organizations to more stable, mature organizations with different sets of issues,” Council President Tola Marts said. “So, now the challenge is how do we manage the remaining growth that we have?”

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City Council, Issaquah School Board gather for joint meeting

April 17, 2012

City Council and Issaquah School Board members face a substantial docket soon, as the elected groups meet for dinner and a discussion about shared issues.

Officials expect to release discussion topics for the meeting in the days ahead, but the casual get-together between the groups at a Chinese restaurant is meant to build ties and discover common issues among the members.

The council and board plan to meet at 5 p.m. April 24 at Mandarin Garden, 90 E. Sunset Way. The meeting is open to the public; no action is expected to be taken.

The groups last met in May 2011. They discussed a proposed Issaquah School District bond, a planned Bellevue College campus in Issaquah and traffic along Second Avenue Southeast — a corridor bordered by Issaquah High School and other campuses.

The flames of love still burn after 70 years

June 29, 2010

Bill (left) and Ona Bentz reflect and joke on all of the happiness their 70 years of marriage have brought them during their lives in Seattle and Issaquah. By Greg Farrar

Issaquah couple credits strong family ties for keeping them together for seven decades

Over the handlebars of William Bentz’s bicycle, Onadee Steward fell in love.

The pair spent the mid- to late 1930s riding miles together through the Yakima countryside on their way to and from school and town.

“He wasn’t nearly as wild as some of the young men,” Onadee, or Ona as she likes to be called, now 89, recalled. “He was clean cut and didn’t pay much attention to girls.”

“In that day, bicycling was big. I’d pick her up and pump up the hill to school and back. She really outsmarted me,” Bill, 90, said with a chuckle. “You would have thought I would have caught on. I was the one doing all the work and she got to ride with me.”

Seventy years later, their love still burns brightly. Their closest family and friends helped them celebrate their 70th anniversary at a party at Mandarin Garden on May 23. Read more

Music on the Streets returns with variety of acts

June 29, 2010

Issaquah’s best-kept secret is back.

Polly Blomster plays her tambourine while performing ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ June 26 with the Blues Studebakers, at the Front Street and Sunset Way pedestrian park during the first week this summer’s Music on the Streets schedule. By Greg Farrar

Music on the Streets, commonly known as MOTS, is coming to Issaquah for the fourth year in a row.

An offshoot of ArtWalk, a local success for the past eight years, MOTS is a fun, cultural live music event designed to draw people to downtown Issaquah.

This summer it will take over Front Street from Pedestrian Park, between JaK’s Grill and Mandarin Garden restaurant, to Stage 195, 195th Front St. N., in front of Stella and artbyfire.

From June 24 until Sept. 24, nearly 50 live music acts will perform every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening. Every event is free to the public.

The idea was born from the huge popularity of musical acts that performed at ArtWalk. This year, some of the artists performing at MOTS will also perform at ArtWalk.

“It helps keep the area alive,” Events Director Michael Johnson said. “It’s fun and it brings a vibe and atmosphere to Issaquah.”

All of the music is kid friendly, making the mini concerts perfect events to attend as a family.

Unlike other summer concerts, MOTS is ideal for passers-by to come and go as they please. Read more

New design envisioned for downtown park

March 16, 2010

Issaquah landscape architect Dar Webb re-envisioned Pedestrian Park. Downtown boosters hope the proposal launches a discussion about the future of the park. Contributed

Advocates for downtown Issaquah want to transform the space between Jak’s Grill and Mandarin Garden from a blah concrete expanse into a vibrant park for pedestrians, musicians and festival vendors.

Michael Johnson, events director for the DownTown Issaquah Association, asked Dar Webb, a landscape architect and a downtown tenant, to re-envision the space known as Pedestrian Park. Webb presented a park lined with trees, planters and public art.

“That place would be unbelievably packed if we opened it up like this,” Johnson said.

The proposal received a warm reception from the city Arts Commission when Johnson and Webb presented renderings and discussed the idea March 8. However, any proposal to remake the park must go through the public process for all city projects.

The proposal presented last week merely shows how Pedestrian Park could be improved. Any eventual upgrades to the park will look different from the renderings Webb prepared.

Johnson said he hopes the proposal will encourage business owners, city officials and residents to re-envision the space. Read more