Budget cuts nix police storefront, resource officer

November 16, 2010

The austere county budget for the upcoming year closes a police storefront near Issaquah and reassigns a popular resource officer from Liberty High School.

The spending plan also eliminates 28 deputy positions from the King County Sheriff’s Office, reduces police service in rural areas and curtails investigations into burglaries and other property crimes. The budget includes, all told, about 300 staff reductions.

King County Council members approved the lean budget Nov. 15, after a monthslong debate about how to fund police and other criminal justice services. Read more

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Candidates to face off in Eastside forums

October 5, 2010

Hear the candidates in legislative and congressional races discuss the economy, education and other issues at forums in Issaquah and Newcastle.

The candidates in the contests to represent Issaquah in the state House of Representatives plan to attend a forum hosted by the Issaquah Valley Elementary Parent Teacher Association. The discussion is focused on 5th Legislative District education. The district includes most of Issaquah and Sammamish, plus North Bend and Snoqualmie.

The education forum is Oct. 12 at Issaquah Valley Elementary School.

The incumbent Republicans, Glenn Anderson and Jay Rodne, and Democrats David Spring and Gregory Hoover plan to attend.

Though the forum is open to the public, state PTA bylaws prohibit the display of candidate signs, buttons or materials during the discussion.

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County proposes tax hike to stave off cuts

September 21, 2010

Proposed increase to generate $500,000 for Issaquah

Deep cuts to the King County Sheriff’s Office budget could force the agency to shut down police storefronts — a popular crime-prevention tool in rural King County outside of Issaquah.

But the best bet to limit cuts to the sheriff’s office — a proposed sales tax increase dedicated to public safety — rankles Tom Carpenter, a resident and community leader in the Four Creeks Unincorporated Area between Issaquah and Renton.

“Why would you ever trade preventative for reactive?” he said.

The county has asked voters to raise the sales tax rate two-tenths of 1 percent, or 2 cents per $10. The measure on the Nov. 2 ballot aims to raise the sales tax from 9.5 percent to 9.7 percent in order to preserve sheriff’s deputies, county prosecutors, public defenders and court employees.

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Questions arise about booze, guns at parks

August 17, 2010

Alcohol might be factor in Lake Sammamish State Park shootings

The morning after a lethal shootout at Lake Sammamish State Park last month, King County Sheriff Sue Rahr surveyed the scene: paper plates, paper towels, red Dixie cups and beer cans spread across wooden tables, spent cartridges littering the ground.

Empty beer boxes in a recycling container at Lake Sammamish State Park show evidence of alcohol consumption a week after two men were killed at the park. By Greg Farrar

The picnic provisions had been left untouched since gunshots ripped through the summer night. The shootings left a Kent man and a Seattle man dead, and injured three other people.

The sheriff met with state parks officials four days after the July 17 shootings, and raised concerns about the amount of alcohol allowed in the family-friendly setting.

Though a motive has remained elusive in the month since the gun battle, investigators believe alcohol might have been a factor in the shootout. In the meantime, the incident has raised questions about booze and firearms in parks — a cocktail that has the potential for dangerous side effects.

“That’s not a good mix, whether you’re in a park or at home or out hunting or out camping somewhere,” Lake Sammamish Park Manager Rich Benson said.

The shootings also stoked a debate about firearms laws and the presence of guns in parks.

Washington allows firearms in state parks, as long as the owner obeys gun regulations and park rules. Discharging a firearm is prohibited in state parks.

The only person charged in connection to the gun battle, Renton resident David Keowongphet, faces a first-degree unlawful weapons possession charge. Keowongphet — in custody at the King County Jail on $500,000 bail — is due in court Aug. 18 for a case-setting hearing.

“The bottom line is, controls don’t work,” Joe Waldron, chief lobbyist for the Washington State Rifle & Pistol Association and Washington Arms Collectors, said last week. “The bad guys, like the ones at Lake Sammamish State Park, would still have guns.”

Washington CeaseFire Executive Director Michael Wolfe disputes the assessment offered by the gun-rights lobbyist. The organization advocates for stronger gun-control measures.

“As much as the other side says guns don’t kill people and that people kill people, well, guns kill people,” he said. “In this situation at Lake Sammamish, if nobody had had a gun, it would have been a fistfight.”

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King County exec heads east Monday to listen to rural residents

July 23, 2010

NEW — 10 a.m. July 23, 2010

County Executive Dow Constantine and other leaders head to the Eastside on Monday night to listen to concerns from some rural King County residents.

The public forum includes representatives from the Four Creeks Unincorporated Area Council — a volunteer group set up to foster ties between county leaders and residents in the area surrounded by Issaquah, Maple Valley, Newcastle and Renton.

Join Constantine, Sheriff Sue Rahr and other county department chiefs at Hobart Community Church, 27524 S.E. 200th St., Maple Valley. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. Participants can arrive at 6:30 p.m. to review maps and brochures about county services.

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‘All hell broke loose’ during state park shootings

July 20, 2010

Lake Sammamish State Park shootings leave two men dead

The King County Sheriff’s Office’s Guardian One helicopter lands the morning of July 18 at Lake Sammamish State Park during the investigation of the previous night’s shootings. By Greg Farrar

In the fading summer light, some picnickers and parkgoers thought the pops echoing through Lake Sammamish State Park on July 17 sounded like fireworks.

But seconds later, the crowd unwinding at the packed Issaquah park recognized the noise as something else: gunfire.

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Police officers honored for anti-DUI program

June 8, 2010

King County honored four Issaquah police officers last week for efforts to make local and county roads safer.

County Executive Dow Constantine and Sheriff Sue Rahr honored Issaquah officers Andy Rohrbach, Ryan Raulerson, Brian Horn and Tom Griffith, as well as officers, deputies and troopers from 27 other local law enforcement agencies.

Issaquah Police officers Tom Griffith (left, in front row), Andrew Rohrbach (center) and Brian Horn (second from right in front row) join other law enforcement officers and King County Executive Dow Constantine (right, in front row) at a ceremony promoting road safety. Contributed

The honorees received plaudits for efforts to reduce drunken driving through the X-52 patrols — enhanced DUI enforcement. Rohrbach coordinates the DUI patrol emphasis for the Issaquah Police Department.

The number of deaths from crashes dropped to 94, on average, in 2007 and 2008 from the average of 118 deaths from 2002 to 2006. Preliminary data shows the number of fatalities dropped to 76 last year. King County has the lowest traffic fatality rate in Washington.

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Issaquah officers honored for anti-drunken driving patrols

June 5, 2010

NEW — 6 a.m. June 5, 2010

Four Issaquah police officers received special recognition Tuesday for efforts to make local and county roads safer.

King County leaders honored Issaquah officers Andy Rohrbach, Ryan Raulerson, Brian Horn and Tom Griffith, as well as other officers, deputies and troopers for efforts to reduce fatal traffic accidents.

The officers from the Issaquah Police Department and 27 other local law enforcement agencies received plaudits for efforts to reduce drunken driving through X-52 patrols — enhanced DUI enforcement. Rohrbach coordinates the DUI patrol emphasis for the Issaquah Police Department.

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County Council asks for opinions about proposed tax increase

May 16, 2010

NEW — 8 a.m. May 16, 2010

King County Council members want residents’ input about a proposed sales tax hike.

County Executive Dow Constantine proposed increasing the sales tax to two-tenths of a percent in order to stem future cuts to public safety, public health services and the county court system.

The council will hold a public hearing on the measure at 1:30 p.m. Monday in the 10th-floor Council Chambers at the King County Courthouse, 516 Third Ave., Seattle. The hearing will be carried live on King County TV, Comcast and Broadstripe Cable channel 22. Watch the hearing live online here.

The proposal aims to raise the tax on retail purchases to 9.7 cents for $1 spent. For restaurant and bar purchases, the county proposed 10.2 cents per dollar.

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Go wet and wild — and stay safe — on the water this weekend

May 14, 2010

NEW — 11:50 a.m. May 14, 2010

Springtime sunshine will lure residents in Issaquah and across King County to lakes, streams and rivers in the days ahead.

King County Sheriff’s Office leaders reminded people to practice water safety. Most King County drownings — 56 percent — occur in April, May and July.

“While the weather will be great, the rivers and lakes of King County are still very cold,” Sheriff Sue Rahr said in a news release. “And the rivers are fast-moving, and extremely dangerous.”

Furthermore, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers started releasing water from the Howard Hanson Dam on Wednesday. The added water means flows on the Green River will be high through at least Saturday night.

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