Press Editorial

May 31, 2011

City, school cooperation serves everyone

Last week, the Issaquah City Council and Issaquah School Board members took time to meet with each other and chat. The pairing has become an annual event.

The Issaquah School Board also met last week with the Sammamish City Council to discuss issues that matter to their constituents. This kind of interaction is valuable and irreplaceable.

Of course, at the staff level, these interactions happen all of the time, as they should. Most issues and communications are ably handled by the administrators who run the city and schools day to day. There is, however, nothing quite like letting the policy makers sit around a table and get to know each other and share their concerns.

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Issaquah, Sammamish councils will meet with school board

May 17, 2011

Join City Council and Issaquah School Board members as the groups gather for a joint meeting May 26.

The groups plan to meet at 6 p.m. at the Issaquah School District Administration Building, 565 N.W. Holly St.

The meeting is a casual meet-and-greet, and allows members to discuss matters of mutual interest. No action is to be taken at the joint meeting.

Sammamish City Council members meet the school board in the same location at 5:30 p.m. May 25. The meeting precedes a 7 p.m. school board meeting.

The school board and city councils usually meet annually.

Some issues could re-emerge as the Issaquah City Council and school board meet. Sharing facilities and transportation upgrades related to school construction along Second Avenue Southeast often crop up in joint discussions.

Issaquah and school district leaders met in October 2008. The planned Issaquah High School reconstruction dominated the discussion. The state-of-the-art high school campus is now nearing completion.

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Sammamish proposal could hit Issaquah School District

May 15, 2011

NEW — 8 a.m. May 15, 2011

An apparent accounting glitch by King County led to two Issaquah School District schools being charged $115,000 worth of storm water fees from which they were supposed to be exempt.

On Monday, Sammamish City Council members will consider waiving the back charges, which were levied by the county on behalf of the city against Skyline High School and Cascade Ridge Elementary in 2009 and last year.

At a May 10 study session, the council appeared supportive of waiving the old fees. However, they were split on whether or not the city should continue to waive stormwater fees for schools, which contain large amounts of the impervious surface, such as paved areas, that create storm water headaches.

“It appears that a majority of communities in this part of the county are collecting fees (from public schools),” Deputy Mayor Tom Odell, who mentioned that he was not opposed to collecting the outstanding fees, said at the session. “We have identified the need for additional (storm water system development). Schools have a lot of impervious surfaces.”

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Lake Sammamish level concerns homeowners

May 3, 2011

County announces plan to unclog lake-to-river transition

King County environmental managers plan to tackle the high water level in Lake Sammamish, after aquatic weeds and sediment clogged the outlet from the lake to the Sammamish River.

The problem — although centered at county-run Marymoor Park along the lake’s northern shore — reflects a common complaint among lakeside residents in Issaquah and Sammamish about the water level.

“It’s really important that we remove these things. Particularly at the north end up around Marymoor Park is a real problem, and it’s spread to the rest of the lake,” Save Lake Sammamish founder Joanna Buehler said. “For real control, you need everybody around the lake to work on it.”

The effort calls for yanking invasive plants, increased mowing near the transition zone from lake to river and enacting other steps along the lake in order to address levels along the shoreline.

County Executive Dow Constantine said the series of steps is necessary to reduce seasonal flooding along the lake.

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Issaquah Schools Foundation luncheon sets record

May 3, 2011

In spite of the recession, the Issaquah Schools Foundation has never had such a successful fundraiser.

At the 13th annual Nourish Every Mind Benefit Luncheon, the foundation raised the considerable sum of $593,000 April 28. Last year, the luncheon raised $410,000, and organizers had set a goal of $450,000 for 2011.

Still, more money is needed. The Issaquah School District has plans to buy a new elementary science curriculum, but doesn’t have the funds. The money it had earmarked for the curriculum was spent covering the $1.4 million the state retroactively took from its budget this year.

In light of the state’s cuts, the foundation has jumpstarted a campaign to raise $500,000 to buy the elementary science curriculum by June 30.

Thanks to the successful luncheon at the Issaquah Community Center, the foundation has raised $263,000 of the $500,000 needed.

“As public funding shrinks, we will need to do more,” foundation community representative Leigh Stokes said.

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Native kokanee fry released in historic ceremony

April 19, 2011

Seventy-five kokanee fry swam in a small camping cooler by Laughing Jacobs Creek, unaware they were surrounded by federal, state, county and city administrators, as well as concerned citizens — all people intent on helping the native salmon survive in the wild.

The Issaquah Salmon Hatchery teamed up with the Lake Sammamish Kokanee Work Group and dignitaries from the city all the way to the federal level for the second annual kokanee fry release at Hans Jensen Park on April 18.

Last year, the group released the kokanee at Ebright Creek in Sammamish, and next year the release will be celebrated at Lewis Creek in Issaquah.

Jessica Leguizamon, 10, watches kokanee salmon fry swim away from her Dixie cup into Laughing Jacobs Creek as her sister Sabrina, 5, waits her turn and their grandfather, Gary Smith, looks on. County environmental scientist Hans Berge makes sure the release is done properly. By Greg Farrar

“This fry release is a critical part of our kokanee recovery and restoration efforts,” David St. John, Department of Natural Resources government relations administrator, said.

He outlined the group’s goals: preventing kokanee extinction and restoring a diverse and native habitat for the salmon.

“In our last run there was probably 100 fish, so we’re at low numbers, extremely low numbers,” St. John said.

A normal run for kokanee usually extends into the hundreds or thousands, he said in a later phone interview.

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EFR, firefighters union start contract talks

April 12, 2011

As Eastside Fire & Rescue union representatives and board members sit down to hammer out a new labor deal, firefighters point to the numerous concessions they’ve made in recent years in response to the economic recession.

Board members, beholden to their own city and fire district budgets and wary of the increasing costs of fire service, say their agencies are still feeling the effect of the recession.

Neither side will comment publicly on the specifics of ongoing negotiations, but the talks are sure to be important to both sides in an agency that has seen contentious budget battles in the past.

“I’m hopeful that we can get a contract that is satisfactory (to firefighters) but still recognizes that economic conditions haven’t really improved,” said Sammamish Mayor Don Gerend, a representative to the EFR board. “Everyone is cinching up their belts across the board and public safety is a major expense at the city level.”

EFR Deputy Chief Wes Collins said the union and board hope to decide this month whether they’ll extend the current labor contract, renegotiate certain parts of the current contract or start from scratch on a new agreement.

A full-scale renegotiation would likely start in June or July and could last through the end of the year, he said, possibly leaving the board responsible for setting up 2012’s budget without knowing what they’ll have to spend on wages.

Craig Hooper, president of IAFF 2878, the union that represents EFR firefighters, said union members have gone out of their way to help the board balance the agency’s budget when revenues fell in recent years.

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Proposed fire authority receives cool reception from cities

March 15, 2011

Issaquah, Sammamish leaders also raise concerns about pools at joint meeting

The potential regional fire authority for Eastside communities received a lukewarm reception from Issaquah and Sammamish leaders March 10, as city councils from both cities discussed planning for emergency services and other issues at a joint meeting.

Officials from Issaquah and rural fire districts formed a planning group in late 2009 to consider a regional fire authority in the Eastside Fire & Rescue service area. The authority could tax residents to fund emergency services, unlike EFR. Contributions from member cities and fire districts fund EFR.

“It’s really hard to see a scenario where you can provide fire service to the citizens of Issaquah with an RFA,” Issaquah Councilman Mark Mullet said as leaders from both cities met at Tibbetts Creek Manor.

Participation in the planning process does not commit Issaquah or the fire districts to joining a regional fire authority.

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Issaquah, Sammamish councils face planning issues at meeting

March 8, 2011

Issaquah and Sammamish leaders meet March 10 at Tibbetts Creek Manor. The agenda includes dinner — and a packed docket of regional issues.

Members from the Issaquah and Sammamish city councils, plus Issaquah Mayor Ava Frisinger, plan to discuss long-term planning efforts in both cities — the push to create a Town Center in Sammamish and the decadeslong goal to reshape the Issaquah business district — and other issues.

The annual meeting offers a chance for leaders to confer about issues face to face. The confab helps to cut out the chatter from municipal staffers and residents.

“One way to do that is to once a year to get together and talk about what is important to each city,” Issaquah Councilman Mark Mullet said.

In recent years, talks focused on shared transportation concerns, Eastside Fire & Rescue operations and, in the meeting last year, nascent discussions about a regional fire authority and changes to King County animal control.

Officials from both cities also said the meeting could result in ideas for long-term planning efforts in Issaquah and Sammamish.

Sprawling Sammamish is in the midst of a yearslong effort to create a Town Center. Issaquah embarked on a plan last year to guide redevelopment in the 915-acre business district.

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Washington Trust for Historic Preservation seeks endangered historic sites

February 13, 2011

NEW — 10 a.m. Feb. 13, 2011

Threatened historic sites could receive a boost from the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation.

The trust is seeking nominations for the 2011 Most Endangered Historic Properties List. Nominations must be submitted by March 21.

The trust encourages communities to take action to preserve the historic fabric of neighborhoods, main streets and rural landscapes.

Inclusion on the list can be a crucial step in advocacy campaigns designed to attract attention to historic resources.

Properties selected for inclusion on the list receive advocacy and technical assistance from the trust. By joining local organizations and concerned citizens, the most endangered list program has resulted in many high-profile success stories since 1992.

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