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The Issaquah Press
Issaquah, Washington
December 30, 2009     The Issaquah Press
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December 30, 2009
 

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A2 WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 30, 2009 THE ISSAQUAH PRESS By Warren Kagarise Issaquah Press reporter A planned bridge across Interstate 90 carries flaws, but the project will improve safety for bicy- clists and pedestrians, City Council members said last week. able city, and this will help in that effort," Councilwoman Eileen Barber said before the Dec. 21 vote. Although council members raised safety questions about the connector, the council accepted the grant in a 6-1 vote. Councilman David Kappler, a longtime trails The council accepted a $400,000 advocate, voted against the pro- Sound Transit grant to complete a posal. $5 million link from the state Route Plans call for a separate 12-foot- 900 boardwalk at the eastbound I- wide pedestrian bridge across the 90 off-ramp south of the interstate to the Sammamish Trail at the north end. Issaquah would con- tribute $341,000 toward the proj- ect; grant money .will pick up most of the tab. "We claim ourselves to be a walk- westbound 1-90 on-ramps and modifications to the existing state Route 900 overpass to install a 10- foot-wide pedestrian crossing. "The major concern that I have is with safety," Kappler said. "I hope over time I'm proven wrong ons, on this, and that we're going to take care of these issues, but so far I haven't seen anything that does that." Kappler raised questions about the busy Northwest Sammamish Road and state Route 900 intersec- tion, where the connector would route bicyclists and pedestrians. "This intersection is plagued with left-turn and right-turn movements, it's a twisted intersection as it is and it's just a poor place to be putting these regional users," he said. Other council members said the project needed improvements, but voted to accept the Sound Transit grant. If the council had refused the grant, the city would have been required to repay consultant and design costs associated with the connector. The city Capital Improvement Program -- the voluminous roanmap for facilities, parks and transportation improvements -- calls for construction to begin on the connector next year. Former Councilwoman Nancy Davidson urged the council to meet a longstanding goal to improve trails throughout Issaquah. "In my opinion, this is an oppor- tunity to fix something identified five or six years ago by the City Council as a problem," Davidson said. "We have trails on both sides of 1-90, but very few facilities that actually connect those two." Getting Around Issaquah Together member Karen Behm urged the council to accept the grant and complete the bicyclist and pedestrian link. "This is a good project address- ing a significant shortfall in non- motorized mobility in Issaquah," she said. Davidson said the proposed link would improve the quality of life in the city and facilitate "a connection for people that want to visit Lake Sammamish State Park and get to the Issaquah Alps -- Cougar Mountain, Squak Mountain and those other mountains that people seem to enjoy." Kappler and Council President Maureen McCarry also questioned how the connector fit into long- term goals laid out in the Central Issaquah Plan, a document outlin- ing growth and redevelopment in the commercial heart of the city along 1-90. "I think it's a sad statement in terms of our central area plan," McCarry said. "It only really serves a small portion of the central area plan and doesn't really serve the rest of the area in terms of good access." Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www. issaquahpr ess. corn 9 By Warren Kagarise Issaquah Press reporter City Council members cut the municipal water rate and added a utility tax last week -- a move meant to be cost,neutral to cus- tomers. The decision followed a 2008 state Supreme Court ruling relat- ed to how cities pay for municipal fire hydrants. The court ruling -- Lane v. Seattle -- said hydrants are a general government service, and cannot be paid for as a utili- ty. The city collects $129,000 through water rates to pay for municipal fire hydrants. Since the court ruled, municipal offi- cials across the state have searched for ways to remove fire- protection costs from utility rates. City Council members cut water rates 2.28 percent -- worth $129,000 -- and adopted a 2.33 percent utility tax on city water -- to raise the $129,000 lost by the rate decrease. The council voted unanimously for the dual meas- ares. The tax will enable the city to use money from the city general fund to pay for hydrants. "There will be no change in what the customer pays," City Attorney Wayne Tanaka said during the Dec. 21 meeting. "It's how it's catego- rized." Councilman David Kappler decried the added step the court decision required the city to under- take. "I can remember, many years ago, when we were so happy to try to work out ways to get rid of the taxes on our utilities," Kappler said. "It was a big deal and quite an accomplishment." Officials said the rate reduction, coupled with the utility tax, would be the same, dollar-for-dollar, for every customer. The rate cut measures will go into effect dur- ing the first full billing cycle next year. "The tax is on the city, but the cost is going to be passed along to the customers," Tanaka said. Customers will notice a break- down on water bills -- a line with the lower water rate and the new utility tax. City Public Works Engineering Deputy Director Sheldon Lynne said the city plans to negotiate agreements with Bellevue and the Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District. The agencies pro- vide water for customers inside Issaquah. Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www. issaquahpr ess. com. PSAT scores available after Jan. 4 Scores for students who partici- pated in the districtwide Pre Scholastic Assessment Tests this fall will be available Jan. 4. Parents interested in learning what the scores mean for students and additional opportunities avail- able for them having taken the tests can attend a meeting with district officials at 6 p.m. Jan. 6 in the administration building, 565 N.W. Holly St. Parents can review their child's answers and find out how to laceration and bruises. A passen- ger, Elizabeth W. Beuthel, 73, of Mercer Island, received minor cuts and bruises. Both wore seatbelts. The vehicle was destroyed. Source: The Omak-Okanogan Chronicle Judge sentences Issaquah couple in mortgage-fraud case Issaquah real estate agent David Sobol, 40, and his wife, Alla Sobol, 28, were sentenced to two years in improve their skills in areas like prison for involvement in the math, reading and writing, and largest mortgage-fraud case in learn about the National Merit state history, the U.S. Attorney's Scholarship Program. Office announced last week. District officials can also help parents and students create an educational plan to help students reach their goals. City Council endorses school levy measures The Issaquah City Council unan- imously voted Dec. 21 to endorse three Issaquah School District levy measures, which will go before voters Feb. 9. If approved, the measures -- a $172.5 million maintenance and operations levy, a $1.7 transporta- tion levy and a $40.4 million tech- nology and critical repairs levy -- would sustain school funding in those areas through 2013. Agents arrested the Sobols and five others in late March after a wide-ranging investigation into a $47 million mortgage fraud scheme. The leader in the mortgage scheme, Bellevue resident Vladislav Baydovskiy, was sen- tenced last week in U.S. District Court in Seattle to five years in prison and three years of super- vised release for conspiring to commit bank fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud and filing a false tax return. Issaquah woman injured in crash An Issaquah woman was among two injured in a Dec. 27 crash on state Highway 153 about 5 miles north of eateros. Margaret M. Marshall, 77, of Issaquah, was northbound when her SUV skidded across the icy road and hit the southbound guardrail. It rolled over several times, coming to rest on its right side in the southbound lane, the Washington State Patrol said. She was taken to Okanogan- Douglas District Hospital, Brewster, for treatment of a head much money the defendants will be required to pay victims in the scheme. Volunteers clear invasive species, plant native trees Mountains to Sound Greenway volunteers and the city open space steward and volunteer crews have removed invasive plants from a 13.3-acre upland parcel owned by the city. The team removed close to a half-acre of blackberry, and pre- pared the site for planting. About 70 native plants -- includ- ing western red cedar, Douglas fir, western hemlock, western hazel- nut, big leaf maple, vine maple, cottonwood, alder, cascara, Sitka spruce and red twig dogwood -- were planted in the cleared land. A King County grant paid for the project. The case included several other people involved with three Klahanie residents plan meeting about park's future Concerned Citizens of Klahanie, a neighborhood group, and the Klahanie Association will host a meeting Jan. 9 at Challenger Elementary School. Participants will discuss the proposed Klahanie Park transfer from King County to Sammamish. Bellevue companies: Emerald City Organizers will begin the 3 p.m. Escrow, Nationwide Home Lending meeting with a walk through the Issaquah and Sammamish officials about future annexations, and whether Sammamish leaders would be interested in all or some of the potential annexation area -- land bordered by both cities but included in long-term growth plans for Issaquah. King County wants neighboring cities to annex unincorporated urban areas, like Klahanie. City Council adopts 2010 municipal budget City Council members OK'd the 2010 city budget in a swift Dec. 21 vote. After several adjustments and weeks-long deliberations, the City Council adopted the $99 million budget. The budget did not include property tax or rate increases. Mayor Ava Frisinger proposed a leaner budget for next year for a city with fewer employees and capital projects planned. Frisinger unveiled a tight 2010 budget in early October, and council mem- bers tweaked the document between then and Dec. 7, when the council readied the final budg- et for adoption. The council delayed several big- ticket items -- everything from expanded bus service to roadwork -- to save money. The budget delays a planned Route 200 Metro Transit service and Kobay Financial Corp. 64-acre park and then continue the extension to Talus and the Authorities said Nationwide and meeting at the school, 25200 S.E. Issaquah Highlands, although the Kobay employees prepared and Klahanie Blvd. council will revisit the issue in submitted falsified loan appllca- The transfer agreement would early 2010. The route was sched- tions and verification documents to lenders. Employees concealed information about buyers who were unqualified for loans. Lenders extended loans based on the falsified documents. Authorities said the loans exceed- ed the value of the property and the ability of borrowers to repay. Emerald City employees then disbursed excess loan proceeds from the escrow accounts to them- selves and their associates. The court will hold a restitution hearing Jan. 29 to determine how carve the park and adjacent school district property from the potential annexation area. Before the trans- fer, the deal between Sammamish and the county will prompt Sammamish, Issaquah and county officials to redraw planning maps to remove Klahanie Park and the school district land from the Klahanie Potential Annexation Area about 1,200 acres spread across several subdivisions and home to about 11,000 residents. The park discussion also reopened a dialogue between uled to begin service to Talus and the highlands next September. The city will save $135,000 because the budget cuts money for improvements to the Intelligent Transportation System, a series of traffic signals interconnected to smooth traffic flow. www, imqut cem. Volunteers needed forphonebanks, sign waving registe fi [ By Chantelle Lusebrink You must a iegai resi n of 1 saq=ah Press reporter Volunteers for Issaquah iSy a dt,y bg to Schools is ramping up efforts to secure your vote for each of the Issaquah School Districts three ;; levies on the Feb. 9 ballot. They need at least 9,908 votes to pass the district's levy package, which includes a $172.5 million maintenance and operations levy, a $1.7 transportation levy and a $40.4 million technology and critical repairs levy. If approved, the three meas- ures would supplement the dis- trict's strapped budget with more than $212 million through 2014. By law, school districts can't campaign to pass school bonds or levies, because they use public funds from the state and federal government. "The district can put together levy measures and spread factual information, but we must remain neutral in terms of influencing anyone's voting decision," Superintendent Steve Rasmussen wrote in an e-mail. That's why the nonprofit organization Volunteers for Issaquah Schools was created. VIS is organized "specifically so that it can advocate to pass our school levies," Rasmussen wrote. "It is all volunteer run and relies on community donations to do its work." Donations come from local res- idents, PTSAs and even from teachers, Volunteers for Issaquah Schools co-chair Kelly Mnnn said. The organization and the cam- paign is led by a steering com- mittee made up of the district's unions, PTA leaders, school board members (Suzanne Weaver serves as its treasurer) and other community groups. "VIS is an all-volunteer organi- zation comprised of people who are passionate about education and providing our students with the resources to be successful in school and life," Alison Meryweather, co-chair for the organization, wrote in an e-mail. All labor is done outside dis- trict business hours, Mann said. The steering committee is responsible for developing cam- paign messages, giving presenta- tions to residents and city groups, developing newsletters and pub- licity, sending mailings, raising WEB RESOURCES Levies In depth www.issaquah.wednet.edu/ district/levy Volunteers for Issaquah Schools www.visvote.org funds, helping people register to vote and recruiting volunteers. VIS is in good shape monetar- ily, but they do need extra hands to get the message out, she said. "To ensure success, we need about 10,000 ballots with yes votes on all three levy requests," Meryweather wrote. "We esti- mate that only 35 percent of the district has a student in K through 12, so we need comma- nitywide support. "VIS welcomes all volunteers," she added. "The more the merri- eL" Organizers need residents to help with a calling bank from 5-8 p.m. Jan. 13 and 14. They also need people to stand at street corners of busy intersec- tions with signs, and people will- ing to talk to neighbors, friends and family about why the levies are crucial to district funding. Volunteers are needed Jan. 22 and Feb. 8. "To get involved, all one needs to do is contact one of the co- chairs or the VIS representative at their school," Meryweather wrote. You can also go online. People need to vote, Munn said. "It is an easy way for the com- munity to be involved and an easy way for individuals to take part in their local community," she said. "Even if it is a no vote, we believe that is important, tOO." Chantelle Lusebrink: 392-6434, ext. 241, or clusebrink@isspress.com. 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