Snowstorm does not disrupt life for Cougar Mountain Zoo denizens

January 24, 2012

Snowstorm, ice and aftermath / Jan. 16-20, 2012

Biff the alpaca stands in the snow as a snowstorm hit Cougar Mountain Zoo on Jan. 18. By Robyn Barfoot/Cougar Mountain Zoo

The macaws retreated inside to toastier temperatures. The tigers tolerated the cold. The reindeer, unsurprisingly, reveled in the snow.

Though most Issaquah residents experienced a snow day Jan. 18, a major snowstorm did not disrupt the routine for the denizens of Cougar Mountain Zoo.

“The animals don’t care that it’s snowing outside and we don’t want to get out of bed,” General Curator Robyn Barfoot said. “They need us and that is our driving force.”

The rare Bengal tigers Almos, Bagheera, Taj and Vitez lounge in heated enclosures if the mercury falls. Some species — such as colorful macaws and other birds from tropical climates — spend cold days inside and off display. Other animals carouse in the cold temperatures and deep snow.

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King County road crews report ‘very treacherous’ conditions

January 19, 2012

NEW — 8:30 a.m. Jan. 19, 2012

King County Road Services Division crews reported “very treacherous” road conditions Thursday morning due to additional snow and freezing rain on local roadways.

Meanwhile, the state Department of Transportation extended the closure of state Route 18 from Interstate 90 to Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast from the interstate to state Route 164 in Auburn — a 22-mile stretch.

City crews reopened Newport Way Northwest from Northwest Oakcrest Drive to state Route 900 by 8:30 a.m. after a downed tree prompted a closure.

Though city, county and state crews continue efforts to keep major arteries clear for motorists, drivers should expect icy conditions on less-traveled roads. County crews reported problems related to downed trees and limbs from heavy ice accumulations.

More rain or freezing rain is in the forecast for the next several hours, s0 motorists should use extreme caution on local roads. If possible, officials urged people to postpone trips until later in the day after temperatures inch upward.

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Downed trees snarl morning commutes in Issaquah area

January 19, 2012

NEW — 7:25 a.m. Jan. 19, 2012

Fallen trees caused road closures and traffic headaches early Thursday, as icy conditions caused fresh problems a day after a major snowstorm.

Newport Way Northwest from Northwest Oakcrest Drive to state Route 900 is closed due to a downed tree. State Route 900 from Northwest Talus Drive to the southern city limits is closed due to a downed tree.

Meanwhile, outside Issaquah city limits, state Route 18 is closed in both directions from Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast to Interstate 90 due to multiple fallen trees blocking the lanes.

Puget Sound Energy reported more than 1,200 without power at 7:45 a.m.

Early Thursday, National Weather Service meteorologists issued a regional ice storm warning through noon. Forecasters said to expect travel impacts related to icy conditions, although temperatures should start to rise by midday.

City road crews continue to focus on high-priority routes, as ice poses a different challenge than the snow from previous days.

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Snowstorm does not disrupt life for Cougar Mountain Zoo denizens

January 18, 2012

A cougar cub at Issaquah's Cougar Mountain Zoo turns skyward as a snowstorm blankets the region Wednesday. By Robyn Barfoot

NEW — 8 p.m. Jan. 18, 2012

The macaws retreat inside to toastier temperatures. The tigers tolerate the cold. The reindeer, unsurprisingly, revel in the snow.

Though most Issaquah residents experienced a snow day Wednesday, a major snowstorm did not disrupt the routine for the denizens of Cougar Mountain Zoo.

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Issaquah power outage impacts 4,300 customers

November 8, 2011

Equipment problems left more than 4,000 local residents without power early Nov. 1.

The outage started after a power disruption at Newport Way Northwest and Issaquah-Renton Road occurred just after 8 a.m. Puget Sound Energy dispatched a service crew to the area to investigate.

In the meantime, homes and businesses — including the Costco corporate headquarters — sat darkened for about an hour. Residents in the Talus urban village and other Cougar Mountain communities reported blackouts.

The disruption also left traffic lights nonfunctional during the busy morning commute. Overall, the outage impacted about 4,300 customers.

PSE crews restored power by 9:15 a.m. PSE spokeswoman Allison Stanford said equipment failed at the substation at about 8:15 a.m. and caused the outage.

Residents reported seeing a flash and hearing a loud pop before the power failed.

Bellevue-based PSE serves Issaquah and more than 1 million customers, mostly in Western Washington.

Puget Sound Energy restores power for 4,300 customers in Issaquah

November 1, 2011

UPDATED — 9:25 a.m. Nov. 1, 2011

Puget Sound Energy restored power to about 4,300 customers in Issaquah by 9:15 a.m. Tuesday.

PSE spokeswoman Allison Stanford said equipment failed at a substation occurred at about 8:15 a.m. and caused the outage.

The outage started after a power disruption at Newport Way Northwest and Issaquah-Renton Road. PSE dispatched a service crew to the area to investigate.

Residents reported seeing a flash and hearing a loud pop before the power failed.

In the meantime, homes and businesses — including the Costco corporate headquarters — sat darkened for about one hour. Residents in the Talus urban village and other Cougar Mountain communities reported outages.

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Joshua Schaer is not afraid to disagree

October 11, 2011

On a City Council often united in 7-0 decisions, Joshua Schaer is the occasional outlier.

The councilman opposed a hike in cable rates, a redo along Newport Way Northwest and proposed changes to the same street near Issaquah Valley Elementary School. The opposition earned Schaer a grudging respect from council members — and a reputation for outspokenness.

“I’m not trying to be contrarian, and I’m not trying to be difficult, but you can’t have 7-0 votes on every issue,” he said.

Joshua Schaer

Now, as a candidate for a second term on the council, Schaer highlights the no votes just as much as accomplishments.

The councilman, 33, spearheaded a food-packaging ordinance to require restaurateurs and other food sellers to use compostable and recycle takeout containers and utensils.

The legislation is a signature issue as Schaer heads from door to door to greet potential supporters. Newcomer TJ Filley is the other candidate in the race for the Position 4 seat.

“I can’t take credit for the original idea, because it started in a lot of cities. Portland has been doing it for 20 years. Cities in California have been doing it for many years. Seattle was really the model that I looked at,” Schaer said. “If it can work in Seattle with the size of that city, then certainly it can work in Issaquah, where we are leaders in environmental preservation and sustainability. To be the first city on the Eastside to do this, I think, is a tremendous accomplishment.”

The measure caused some heartburn among business leaders, and the rollout continues to face difficulties almost a year after the ordinance took effect. Still, Schaer said the ordinance is a milestone for a city focused on sustainability.

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Mayor Ava Frisinger unveils 2012 city budget

October 4, 2011

Construction could start on a long-planned park along Issaquah Creek, North Issaquah landowners and the city could partner to tackle transportation problems, and police could step up traffic enforcement if the City Council approves the 2012 municipal budget Mayor Ava Frisinger unveiled Oct. 3.

Frisinger offered a $32 million general fund budget — dollars used to fund police and fire services, community development and planning, parks and recreation, and municipal government.

The proposal is not as austere as the budgets Frisinger proposed in recent years. The council adopted a $30.4 million general fund budget in 2011. The increase stems in part from increased debt payments on council-issued bonds for city construction projects.

The proposal does not call for a property tax or rate increases. The council last raised the property tax rate in 2007. Under state law, council members could increase the rate 1 percent per year.

Frisinger’s announcement launched at least a month of deliberations between council members and city staffers to craft a complete budget. The council is required to adopt the budget before Dec. 31.

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City Council, school board meet to discuss shared safety issues

May 31, 2011

School-zone construction, illegal skate-park activities are top concerns

With communication in mind, the Issaquah City Council and Issaquah School Board met May 26 to talk about issues that concern them both, including road construction near schools, illegal activities at the Issaquah skate park and whether the school board could televise its public meetings.

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Council approves transportation plan

May 24, 2011

Proposal outlines repairs to weakened retaining wall

City Council members laid out a roadmap for Issaquah transportation projects May 2.

The council adopted the Transportation Improvement Program, or TIP, a guide to short- and long-term planning for road, transit and pedestrian projects. The document outlines possible transportation projects for 2012-17.

“Having a project on the TIP makes it eligible for certain types of funding, but more broadly, it signals to the community what improvements we’re considering for the future,” Councilman Joshua Schaer said before the unanimous decision.

The city Public Works Engineering Department lists transportation projects in the TIP, and then prioritizes the projects through a separate process to fund capital improvements.

Transportation planners outlined possible improvements to the timber retaining wall along Southeast Black Nugget Road behind Fred Meyer and The Home Depot.

Some timbers started to dislodge, rot is prevalent, pressure distorted some pilings and the fence atop the wall is failing. The city attributes the problems to shoddy construction. The timber was cut too short and too thin for the area. In addition, the structure was not properly treated.

King County could provide some funding to offset the estimated $496,000 repair cost.

“We’ve been talking with King County for a couple of years now, and we’re very close to reaching an agreement with them whereby we can receive some funds fairly quickly, with the possibility of additional funds over an undetermined period of time,” Public Works Engineering Director Bob Brock told the council.

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