Editorial: Summer events continue with renewed city spirit

June 3, 2010

We like the spirit permeating Newcastle. It comes with a renewed sense of community, of everyone rolling up their sleeves, a “can do” attitude — without tax dollars.

Newcastle has always been dependent on sponsors to help fund summer concerts at Lake Boren Park, the July 4 fireworks over the lake, and Newcastle Days, the annual weekend celebration of the city’s founding. But the city of Newcastle has also chipped in a good chunk of change —$30,000 in 2008 — and hired a full-time events coordinator to plan the events and seek sponsors.

This year there are no city funds for the event or for an events coordinator position, but city spirit and leadership is bountiful. Mayor John Dulcich and Interim City Manager Rob Wyman have agreed to find sponsors. A committee of seven including three parks commissioners and three chamber representatives have volunteered to organize Newcastle Days.

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Honda Civic, Accord owners offered free clubs

June 3, 2010

Thanks to Newcastle’s participation in The Preventing Auto Theft Through Regional Operational Links Task Force — known as PATROL — owners of Honda Civics or Accords from 1991-1998 can pick up a free steering wheel club at City Hall.

PATROL gave 12 clubs to Newcastle as part of the promotion, and the city had given away five clubs as of Newcastle News’ deadline May 25.

Owners of Civics or Accords from 1991-1998 need to present their vehicle registrations at City Hall to receive the theft-prevention device. One-fourth of all cars stolen in Newcastle since January 2009 have been 1991-1998 Civics and Accords, Police Chief Melinda Irvine said.

She said the cars have always been prone to theft.

Those who do not own Civics or Accords from 1991-1998 can purchase clubs at City Hall. The city sells small clubs, such as those that fit Accords and Civics, for $10.89, and it sells large clubs that fit trucks for $16.34, tax included.

PATROL consists of many police departments in south King County.

“This club giveaway is another way King County police agencies are working together to combat auto-theft,” Irvine said. “Education, prevention, law enforcement emphasis and stiffer penalties have worked together to reduce auto thefts in King County significantly over the last few years.”

Liberty High School’s drama program rakes in award nominations

June 3, 2010

Liberty High School’s Patriot Players are dancing in the streets — well maybe the aisles.

The school’s drama department was nominated for 10 5th Avenue High School Musical Awards May 19 for their musical production of “Into the Woods.” They were also given two honorable mentions for the production.

Liberty High School’s spring musical ‘Into the Woods’ received 10 nominations for the 5th Avenue High School Musical Awards, to be held June 7. By Jane Estes

“It’s a very gratifying recognition of our hard work and a confirmation of our belief that we had a particularly strong production this year,” Director Katherine Klekas wrote in an e-mail. “The music director, choreographer and I all love the show, but it is very challenging and demanding. This year, we recognized that we had the students and the creative team to do it justice.”

The Tony Awards-style ceremony is sponsored by Wells Fargo and helps provide the same recognition given to high school athletes to student actors, according to the 5th Avenue Theatre’s website. The award ceremony honors the talent and dedication students, parents and faculty devote to their school’s yearly musical productions.

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Washington is friendliest state for bicyclists

June 3, 2010

For the third consecutive year, the League of American Bicyclists ranked Washington as the No. 1 Bicycle Friendly State.

The ranking honors a strong commitment to bicycling through policies and programs. State officials announced the award on Bike to Work Day, May 21.

“For Washington to have a 21st century transportation system, we need to give people transportation choices,” Gov. Chris Gregoire said in a news release. “Bicycling is an important part of this and it’s an honor to be recognized for the third year in a row for our commitment and efforts to make Washington bicycle friendly.”

The league rates states based on their support of bicycling through legislation, policies and programs, education, places to ride and planning. Washington scored consistently high in all ranking evaluation categories.

“Being recognized as a leader for three years in a row reflects the strong partnerships that have been forged over the years, as well as the smart investments that have been made at the local, regional and state level,” state Secretary of Transportation Paula Hammond said in the release. “In Washington, bicycling plays an important role in our overall transportation system, giving people choices for commuting and recreation.”

King County will release data for apps

June 3, 2010

In the near future, King County residents could track crime statistics, find the nearest county park and check bus schedules on their smart phones — due to a measure adopted by the King County Council last week.

The council adopted legislation May 17 requiring the county to publish data sets online. The measure sets up the possibility for people and businesses to disseminate county data to the public through the Web and smart phone apps.

The legislation requires the county to produce by Aug. 1 a list of the data sets being considered for online publication. The county should post the data online by Nov. 1. King County plans to hold a public data workshop as well. Officials will announce the date next month.

Councilman Reagan Dunn — who represents unincorporated King County south of Issaquah, Bellevue and Newcastle — sponsored the ordinance.

“Political leaders like to talk about what a smart region we live in and how we are going to harness their knowledge to improve government,” he said in a news release. “This legislation will allow developers and the media to use King County data in new and innovative ways. In the process, our citizens get access to more information and our government becomes more transparent.”

King County Executive Dow Constantine praised the measure.

“This effort will help King County expand the work we’re doing on regional open government initiatives,” he said in the release. “By collaborating with local developers to find new uses and platforms for county data, we hope to help create applications that provide richer information and better service for all county residents.”

Liberty student to play with Evergreen Philharmonic

June 3, 2010

Marika Tindall-Ralph, a Newcastle resident and junior at Liberty High School, will play the first movement of the “Prokofiev Violin Concerto No.1” with the Evergreen Philharmonic Symphony June 10 at Skyline High School, 122 228th Ave. S.E., Sammamish.

Purchase tickets at the door for $7 for adults, or $5 for students and seniors.

Tindall-Ralph frequently plays for residents at the Regency Newcastle retirement home. She also plays at the Issaquah Farmers Market, collecting donations in her violin case.

Issaquah’s new attendance policy will affect special-needs students the most

June 3, 2010

Issaquah School District officials have made changes to the attendance policy relating to excused and unexcused absences that will impact families who plan tutoring or regularly scheduled appointments for their children during the school day.

“We want our kids at school,” said Marilyn Holm, director of special education. “We are pleased to have our parents work with us. If there are special circumstances, we will consider those on an individual basis.”

School officials sent a letter to parents of children registered in the district’s special-needs programs May 21 explaining the changes, since it will predominately affect them.

The changes will be in place at the beginning of the school year to allow families to make alternate arrangements or get additional prescriptions before then.

Children with special needs often have many prescribed medical appointments that are covered by the excused absences category, Holm said.

But in recent years, district officials said they have noticed an increase in appointments during the school day that aren’t medically necessary or prescribed.

“We’ve always had many but there just seems to be more and more, mainly in special education, but in other areas as well,” Holm said. “Parents are pulling their children out of school for occupational therapy or physical therapy, vision therapy, counseling and even tutoring.”

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Laughing all the way: Lessons of the 20-year garden

June 3, 2010

It’s that time of year when gardeners all over Newcastle go to war. They are pulling on their leather gauntlets and arming themselves with topsoil, bone meal and Japanese tools that could gut an elk.

Twenty years ago when we bought our new Olympus house, the yard was as naked as a highway median. We were excited. We had the space to plant everything that we ever wanted to plant! And so we did. And we planted everything really, really close together.

Fast forward to 2010. I am now older and wiser and need a machete to go out and get the mail. I would like to share my hard-won knowledge with you. To wit:

Lesson: No matter how empty your new yard looks, do not plant anything that has the word “weed” as part of its common name. I had fond memories of the bishop’s weed in my grandfather’s yard, where it filled the area between the driveway and the house.

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Graduation coverage comes to Newcastle News in July

June 3, 2010

Congratulations class of 2010! Photo coverage of graduation day will be presented in the July edition of Newcastle News.

Graduation is just around the corner

Congratulations to the 545 graduates of the class of 2010. Liberty and Hazen high schools will be having commencement celebrations this month.

Purchase tickets to Liberty’s graduation in advance through the bookkeeper. However, tickets will also be sold the day of graduation at Safeco Field, where the ceremony will be held.

Only students may purchase tickets to Hazen’s graduation.

Liberty High School

  • 285 graduates
  • 2 p.m. June 11
  • Safeco Field
  • Valedictorian: Ashley Turnidge
  • Senior Alexis Court and teacher Jann Longman will speak.
  • Issaquah School District Board member Chad Magendanz will accept the class.

Hazen High School

  • 260 graduates
  • 7:30 p.m. June 15
  • ShoWare Events Center in Kent
  • Seniors Thunderstorm Vue, Brian Palma and Grace Bradford will speak.
  • Renton School District Board member Al Talley will accept the class.

Issaquah school officials meet with state legislators

June 3, 2010

Issaquah School District officials met with state legislators to discuss the 2009 session at a meeting May 12.

The meeting was held before the evening’s regular school board meeting.

State Sens. Rodney Tom and Randy Gordon, and state Reps. Glenn Anderson, Deborah Eddy and Marcie Maxwell met with Issaquah School Board members to address education initiatives from the legislative session.

They also talked about reconciling the state’s budget this year and the expected budget gap coming next session that could greatly impact services to districts. Legislators said school districts, unions and parents would need to work together with one voice and agenda to help secure critical funding.

In addition, the officials and legislators spoke about the state’s Race to the Top application and legislative work around education reform through House Bill 2261.

Legislators also addressed rumblings of a potential initiative to go before voters for a state income tax. However, legislators said they have yet to see the initiative, nor have they heard of anyone who has signed onto it.

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