City Council approves new members to parks, planning commissions

May 7, 2010

Through unanimous votes at the April 20 City Council meeting, the council approved a new member to the Parks Commission and three new members to the Planning Commission.

Tony Peacock will take over on the Parks Commission to fill Curtis Gray’s spot, effective immediately, and he will serve through Sept. 1 this year. John Drescher, Allen Dauterman and Thomas Magers will take over on the Planning Commission, also effective immediately.

Drescher, Dauterman and Magers will take over Kim Ellis, Beth Glynn and Kandy Schendel’s spots, respectively. Drescher will serve through Aug. 1, 2012, and Dauterman and Magers will serve through Aug. 1, 2013.

Second public comment period to stay at council meetings

May 7, 2010

Earlier this year, Mayor John Dulcich requested the City Council add a second public comment period to the end of its regular meetings to allow members of the public to comment on action the council took that night.

The additional comment period was added at the Feb. 2 City Council meeting.

“In my mind, you have to present every opportunity to comment, because you never know when somebody wants to say something at the end,” Dulcich said. “I’ve sat out in the audience a couple of times listening, and you want to participate.”

Dulcich said there was a second public comment period several years ago, but it was discontinued when few people stayed until the end of meetings to comment.

Councilwoman Lisa Jensen also spoke in favor of having a second public comment period.

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Liberty struggles in April

May 7, 2010

The Liberty High School boys soccer team struggled in April, going 0-7 and dropping games to Sammamish, Bellevue, Interlake and Mercer Island, and two games to Mount Si.

As of Newcastle News’ May 4 deadline, the team’s record was 4-9.

The team also played Sammamish at home May 4 and Bellevue on the road May 6, but these games were after the News’ deadline.

Despite the winless record in April, head coach Darren Tremblay said the games have been closer than the scoreboard showed. He said the team played well, but made crucial mistakes.

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City to continue contracting with King County for jail space

May 7, 2010

The City Council unanimously decided to extend its contract with King County for jail space through 2016.

The city also has interlocal agreements with Yakima County and Issaquah for jail space, but King County is the only one of the three that accepts inmates with medical or mental health issues.

Had the city not accepted the extension, officials would have needed to find alternative space for inmates with medical or mental health issues. There are currently no other facilities available for housing inmates with medical or mental health issues, Police Chief Melinda Irvine said.

However, Auburn, Burien, Des Moines, Federal Way, Renton, SeaTac and Tukwila are constructing a jail facility, known as South Correctional Entity or SCORE, near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. SCORE will accept a wider range of inmates.

The facility is slated to open at the end of spring 2011; other cites can begin contracting for jail space with SCORE in January 2012. Newcastle may begin contracting with the facility at that time, Irvine said.

In 2001, King County officials announced they would terminate contractual relationships with local cities in 2012, but offered an extension through 2016. The city was given a deadline of May 1 to accept the contract extension.

The city pays for individual inmates with King County, so it may switch to simultaneously contracting with SCORE without incurring unnecessary costs.

Man backs over, kills 5-year-old son with SUV

May 7, 2010

A Newcastle man accidentally ran over his 5-year-old son with his black Acura MDX at about 3 p.m. April 16 while backing out of his driveway in the 8200 block of 118th Avenue Southeast. The boy died at the scene.

“It was an unfortunate, tragic accident,” Police Chief Melinda Irvine said, adding that the lesson to be learned is to be aware of your surroundings at all times.

“Be absolutely certain of where children are when backing out of driveways or anywhere, especially now that we’re heading into summer,” she said. “It’s light out later and there are more kids outside.”

Newcastle Police and King County Sheriff’s officers gather at the scene where Newcastle man Dermot Owens accidentally backed over his 5-year-old son Shea with his SUV. By Tim Pfarr

Neighbors gathered on the street after the accident.

“For a little neighborhood like this, this is devastating,” said Giles Velte, the family’s neighbor.

Pat Tosh, a chaplain with the King County Sheriff’s Office and neighbor of the family, arrived on the scene shortly after the accident and spoke with the father.

“It’s horrible,” she said.

John Urquhart, spokesman for the King County Sheriff’s Office, said it would ultimately be up to the King County Prosecutor’s Office whether to file any charges against the father. However, he said the incident appeared to be a tragic accident, and nothing more.

County official supports program to assess threats against police

May 7, 2010

King County Councilman Reagan Dunn has offered support for efforts by the King County Sheriff’s Office to create a task force to investigate threats against police officers and elected officials.

Dunn — who represents unincorporated King County south of Issaquah, as well as Bellevue and Newcastle — introduced a motion April 1 in support of the program, Risk Assessment, Deterrence and Referral, or RADAR.

The effort aims to help law enforcement personnel identify and track people who exhibit violent tendencies and threaten officers and officials. The plan also aims to develop strategies to be used by officers to help offenders receive mental health treatment.

“While King County has been making significant steps to be proactive when it comes to dealing with people engaged in criminal activities by not just incarcerating them but finding other avenues to provide help and counseling, it is time we take a broader regional view of these issues,” Dunn said in a news release. “This is another tool in our arsenal to help protect our law enforcement personnel, elected officials and the public.”

Officers could input information — such as criminal history — into a computer program to help determine whether a person is likely to act on threats.

Both police work and behavioral analysis would be used to identify people who pose a threat. Officers in the program would undergo specialized training.

Sheriff Sue Rahr, a strong supporter of the program, said federal agencies in the United States and Canada use a similar approach to threats.

“Both the Justice Department and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have demonstrated that this approach to crime prevention will work,” she said in the release. “I am grateful for the support we are getting here and in Washington, D.C., for the RADAR project. It is time to look at new ways to save lives and prevent tragedies that were thought to be inevitable, but actually can be preventable.”

Councilman takes a closer look at city contracts, agreements

May 7, 2010

Councilman Rich Crispo, who was sworn into office Jan. 5, spent the first few months of his term examining all of the city’s contracts and interlocal agreements. He said he did so as part of his effort to understand everything going on in the city.

“I’ve done a lot of work with contracts, so I know what to look for,” said Crispo, a retired executive from The Boeing Co. He managed contracts with Boeing and he said the most important things to be noted in contracts are payments, deliverables and schedules.

The city has about 80 contracts for things such as the Coal Creek Parkway project, building plan reviews and street sweeping. It also has interlocal agreements for things such as police and fire services.

Crispo began sifting through contracts and agreements about two weeks after being sworn into office, and he spent three to four days a week for about a month at a vacant desk in City Hall reading the documents.

“I just started going through the cabinet,” he said.

He concluded his reading Feb. 18, and he summarized every contract and agreement in documents. He said some contracts, including contracts for the Coal Creek Parkway and Transit Center projects, were inches thick, and police and fire agreements were lengthy as well.

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Enforcement of dog-leash rules to begin in Lake Boren Park

May 7, 2010

City officials plan to begin enforcing dog-leash regulations in Lake Boren Park in the coming weeks.

Dogs in all city parks must be on leashes at all times, and Interim City Manager Rob Wyman said the city has been receiving complaints that people are not following the rule, specifically in Lake Boren Park.

However, the only location in which the rule is now displayed is on the park rules sign near the parking lot at the south end of the park.

“In fairness to them, they might not see that sign,” Wyman said about park users, especially those who may walk to the park or do not use the main entrance. “It’s entirely possible that people don’t know that’s the rule.”

He said some may see others letting dogs off leash in the park, and that may give them the impression there is no rule regarding leashes. For this reason, Wyman said the city will first place additional notices in the park to ensure users are aware of the rule.

“We want to kindly remind people,” Wyman said.

After placing the signs, Newcastle Police officers will begin patrolling the park on bikes. Police Chief Melinda Irvine said whether officers issue warnings or citations to violators will be circumstantial.

The fine for allowing a dog off leash in a city park is $250.

Keep your deck looking like new this spring and summer

May 7, 2010

As the weather gets warmer, most people search for more outdoor activities in which to take part. Some go to the pool and some head to the mountains, but some just head to the back porch to relax.

No matter what kind of deck you have, there are a few easy steps you can take to keep your deck looking good for the spring and summer. The first thing to do is clean your deck, said Ron Spillers, president of West Coast Decks in Issaquah.

“Probably the easiest way will be using deck detergent, which you can find at any home improvement store,” he said.

Of course, if you have not cleaned your deck in some time, mold or algae may have started to grow, especially given the often-soggy conditions in the Pacific Northwest.

Craig Koelling, an owner of Evergreen Wood Restoration based out of Mercer Island, said that using a light bleach solution is the easiest way to wash away mold and algae.

“Err on the weak side,” Koelling said. “If it’s strong enough to work, it’s strong enough to hurt.”

He said he recommends using a 10-1 ratio of water to bleach in a solution with a little dish soap, and he said about once a year he gets a call from someone who badly damaged his or her deck by applying pure bleach to it.

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Try plants that work hard for the money

May 7, 2010

We work hard for our money, so why shouldn’t the plants we buy? Some plants are annuals that bloom nonstop all summer but must be replanted each year. Others are perennials that may be long lived, but only bloom for a few weeks or sometimes only a few days.

Smaller yards and tighter budgets have created a need for plants that have a longer season of interest. Evergreen foliage, colorful bark in winter, and perennials and shrubs that have long blooming seasons can help stretch our gardening dollars. Some plants may be gorgeous in photos, but turn out to be a big disappointment once planted in a homeowner’s yard.

In short, we want Donna Summers, not prima donnas. Some plants are difficult unless you give them exactly what they want. Good perennials and shrubs prosper without much help from the gardener, thriving without crowding out their neighbors. Read more

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