City celebrates 15th anniversary

October 7, 2009

By Tim Pfarr

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Prior to 1994, what is now the city of Newcastle was a small community squeezed between Renton and Bellevue.Future City Councilman Sonny Putter moved in 1991 to what would become Newcastle, and he said he remembers being approached by a group of individuals who wanted the city to incorporate.

Originally, the city was to be known as Newport Hills, and it was to include all of Newport Hills and Factoria. But Bellevue annexed both areas, leaving the potential city with a much smaller patch of land than it had planned. The area was known as “the south remainder after Bellevue annexed.”

However, many people continued to push for incorporation. Putter joined, and he said he remembers exactly why.

“I wanted to be able to tell people where I lived,” he said.

In 1993, the city of Newport Hills incorporated, and on the November 1994 ballot, residents were asked to pick a new name for the city. The options were Newcastle, Coal Creek and Deer Creek. The name Newcastle came from the name of a mining settlement in the same location in the 1860s. According to the city’s Web site, by 1872, the Newcastle mine yielded 75 tons to 100 tons of coal each day. By the time mining stopped, more than 13 million tons of coal had been extracted from the area.

“There’s a very real history to this community,” Putter said.

Putter was elected to the intermittent City Council as soon as the city incorporated in 1994, and he was elected to the permanent City Council when it formed. He has remained a member of the City Council ever since.

He said the biggest change he has seen in the city since incorporation is the growth in population and the increase in diversity. He said he likes how the city has blossomed.

“We have truly built a community,” he said. “People feel the sense of belonging to something that is really a special place.”

Councilwoman Jean Garber said she specifically remembers how rural Newcastle was prior to incorporation. In 1989, she moved to what would become Newcastle.

“When we first moved here, there were actually pastures,” Garber said.

She also recalls a farm featuring exotic African animals. Bruce Morgan, one of the city’s first councilmen, owned the farm, and Garber remembers encountering gazelles while jogging through the area.

“Every place has its quirky little tales,” she said.

The first Newcastle Days celebration took place in fall of 1994 to celebrate the city’s incorporation, and it has taken place annually ever since.

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