Lakeside Center for Autism uses technology as treatment tool

March 20, 2012

Dan Stachelski, CEO, director and a speech-language pathologist at Lakeside Center for Autism, stands at a mosaic of jigsaw puzzle pieces made by some of the youngsters in art class who attend the school. By Greg Farrar

The hustle and bustle at Lakeside Center for Autism is intentional.

Tucked in rooms outfitted in technology both tried-and-true and cutting-edge, children and therapists spend hours each day to overcome the obstacles put in place by autism. The commotion and laughter emanating from behind the closed doors come as signs of success.

Lakeside Center for Autism uses the popular Microsoft Kinect system and other tools to treat the complicated neural development disorder.

“It’s all about participation,” company CEO, president and founder Dan Stachelski said. “Technology can do that.”

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City, Issaquah Chamber of Commerce honor innovators

February 28, 2012

The most innovative businesses in Issaquah manufacture fasteners for airliners, use technology to treat autism, and rely on a tiny-but-talented staff to create slick productions.

Issaquah Chamber of Commerce announced the Innovation in Issaquah honorees — Marketing Masters, Lakeside Center for Autism and Impact Studio Pro — at a Feb. 22 ceremony and luncheon.

The carbon-neutral community zHome also received a nod as the most innovative public-private partnership. The city spearheaded the 10-unit townhouse development from concept to completion.

Leaders from the chamber and City Hall recognized the entrepreneurs’ accomplishments through the Innovation in Issaquah contest, a showcase for local businesses offering unique services. Honorees demonstrate innovation in product development, services, systems or strategies.

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Issaquah balloons from small town to boomtown

February 21, 2012

Most citizens did not need a decennial update from the U.S. Census Bureau to recognize Issaquah as a boomtown.

The dramatic increase in population is a recent phenomenon.

Issaquah started as a pinpoint on maps, a remote hamlet in the rough-and-tumble Washington Territory.

Even as Seattle boomed amid World War II and into the postwar era, Issaquah did not crest 4,000 people until the late 1960s.

The population growth continued at a deliberate pace until a Microsoft-powered population explosion caused Issaquah and other Eastside cities to expand as the last century barreled to a close.

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Together Center receives $35,420 grant for renovation

February 7, 2012

The Together Center in Redmond, which helps local residents, has received a grant of $35,420 from the Employees Community Fund of Boeing Puget Sound to support renovation of recently vacated space for use by nonprofit, direct-service agencies.

Previously, the center was the recipient of two $5,000 grants from the Microsoft Corp. and the Norman Archibald Charitable Foundation, while the Rotary Club of Redmond pitched in an additional $1,500.

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Challenger Elementary’s Festival of Cultures celebrates diversity

February 7, 2012

Nuoyan Zhang, 6, plays the Chinese instrument known in English as the koto during the Festival of Cultures held recently at Challenger Elementary School Photo by Tom Corrigan

The American table had a bag of food from McDonald’s and a Dorothy doll straight out of the movie version of “The Wizard of Oz.”

A Mexican table featured ethnic toys, including a Spanish Monopoly game. The Japanese table had a lot of visitors, perhaps all wanting to try what turned out to be some surprisingly tasty Spam sushi.

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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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Calendar fundraiser celebrates felines

January 10, 2012

Susan Bunch, an employee at Microsoft’s Issaquah campus, loves animals. Her current family includes two rescued cats, a horse and a dog. But Bunch admits there’s a soft spot in her heart for cats.

“Pets bring so much to our lives, and cats in particular are unfortunately overlooked sometimes as an almost disposable pet,” she said. “They deserve so much more.”

In 2009, Bunch along with fellow Microsoft employees Karen Easterbrook and Kristi Minietta began the yearly creation of the Cats of Microsoft calendar benefiting the Forget Me Not Animal Shelter.

Every year, Microsoft employees are encouraged to donate to the shelter located on the eastern side of the state in Ferry County. In return for their contributions, Bunch puts together a calendar featuring cats that belong to the many generous donors.

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Issaquah School Board member Brian Deagle sees ‘more work to do’ ahead

October 18, 2011

“I still think we have more work to do,” said Issaquah School Board member Brian Deagle regarding why he decided to seek re-election to the board seat he has held since late 2006.

Brian Deagle

On the November ballot, Deagle faces a challenge for his District 3 board seat from fellow Sammamish resident Patrick Sansing.

District 3 covers the north end of the school district including parts of Klahanie and parts of the portion of Sammamish included in the Issaquah School District. Although candidates run for a specific geographic seat, voters district wide cast ballots for all Issaquah school board members. Members are elected to four-year terms.

Deagle said his main goal is to give Issaquah school graduates assurances that they are prepared to enter the world, ready for whatever comes after high school.

“We have fallen short of that in a number of ways because of we are limited by our resources,” Deagle said.

He added finances dictate teacher availability, which in turn dictates and limits what classes the schools can offer.

In order to offer additional educational opportunities, Deagle proposed such measures as online learning which can “put more hours into the day” and isn’t as teacher intensive.

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South Cove couple make tired kitchen a keeper

October 18, 2011

Mark and Leslie Gilbert, with son Trey, 4, now enjoy more family time in their ‘great room,’ created by opening up their kitchen space into the little-used living room. By Greg Farrar

With a growing family, Mark and Leslie Gilbert had a tough decision facing them and their two boys (ages 7 and 4) — abandon the home they love for a larger one or upgrade their current house?

“For me, it came down to the question, ‘Do we upgrade within the neighborhood to something with more square feet?” Mark said. “Or do we upgrade our home and reuse the square feet in a different way?”

Leslie looked at the problem from a different angle — what could they do if they stayed?

“We had a lot of floor space that was unused,” she said, adding she thought they could do something better with the flow through the kitchen to the unused formal dining and living room.

After weighing all of their options, they chose to stay in their home and upgrade the kitchen.

The renovation entailed knocking out an L-shaped wall and creating a “great room.” It would feature a central island in the opened-up kitchen that would face a more defined living and dining space, rather than separate rooms.

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Council allows Issaquah Highlands gas station despite concerns

October 11, 2011

Opponents raise questions about groundwater contamination

City Council members, eager to attract more retail options to the Issaquah Highlands, decided a gas station can open in the neighborhood, but only if groceries accompany the fill-ups.

The council agreed in a 7-0 decision Oct. 3 to change the agreement between the city and highlands developer Port Blakely Communities to allow a gas station in the community. Concerns about possible groundwater contamination led city officials to ban gas stations in the highlands before construction on the neighborhood started in the mid-1990s.

Safeway outlined plans for a gas station to accompany a proposed highlands store, and city officials and gas station proponents said the rule change is a crucial step to attract the grocery chain. The gas station is proposed for a funnel-shaped lot between Ninth Avenue Northeast and Highlands Drive Northeast, next to a future Safeway.

The debate before the council decision exposed a split among highlands residents eager for more amenities in the community, and residents from elsewhere concerned about potential groundwater contamination from gas station leaks.

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