Man robs KeyBank March 18

April 1, 2011

Suspect

A man robbed KeyBank, 6917 Coal Creek Parkway S.E., just before 12:30 p.m. March 18.

The man walked in the store and delivered a hand-written note to the teller explaining that he was robbing the bank, King County Sheriff’s Office spokesman John Urquhart said. The teller did not see a weapon, but he gave the man money from the till and tripped the bank’s alarm.

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Mining past lives in today’s cemetery

April 1, 2011

Just a short distance from the hustle and bustle of Newcastle City Hall, one can be transported back in time. The Newcastle Historic Cemetery offers a window into the town’s mining past.

Newcastle began as a company-owned mining town, explained Pam Lee, who has been involved with the Newcastle Historical Society since its beginning. She said that the land and the mines were originally owned by the Pacific Coast Coal Co.

The Newcastle Historic Cemetery, just northwest of Lake Boren Park, is a moss-coated reminder of the city’s coal mining past. By Kelly Humphreys

During the late 1800s, the 2.2-acre cemetery was created to serve as a final resting place for the immigrant miners, whose ethnicities varied from Welsh to Italian. Also buried there were the families of those in the surrounding town.

No gravestones are apparent as you enter the cemetery; one has to venture up a short hill to truly see the site. A variety of grave markers are spread throughout the moss-covered grounds. Those made of stone are still visible today, casting shadows over the root-bound landscape. Some are shrouded by the many trees that encompass the area.

A paper flyer detailing the history of the cemetery can be viewed on a bulletin-board upon entering. According to this document, there were once wooden grave markers that were swept away in a fire in the early 1900s.

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Council members Lisa Jensen, Steve Buri file for re-election

April 1, 2011

UPDATED — 1:45 p.m. April 4, 2011

Councilwoman Lisa Jensen and Councilman Steve Buri have announced they will seek re-election this November.

Jensen and Buri, whose terms expire at the end of the year, each announced the news in March. Jensen sits in Position 1 and Buri sits in Position 3 on the City Council.

All council positions represent the entire city.

Steve Buri

Lisa Jensen

Councilman Sonny Putter’s and Councilwoman Carol Simpson’s terms also expire at the end of the year, but they said they had not yet decided whether they wanted to run for re-election.

Jensen and Buri were both first elected to the council in 2007.

Jensen said she filed to continue making Newcastle an even better community.

“I believe Newcastle is a great community for a lot of reasons, but it’s the people that make it special,” she said. “I believe that Newcastle has a great future, and I want to do my part.”

She said she also wants to continue encouraging community involvement in events such as Newcastle Days, and maintain communication between city government and residents.

Jensen said she feels the biggest issues facing the city are budgetary. She said the city still has significant challenges ahead when it comes to living within its means.

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Newcastle population passes 10,000

April 1, 2011

Newcastle has finally grown to more than 10,000 people, according to information from the 2010 Census released in February.

Newcastle’s population is now 10,380, marking a 34.2 percent increase from 2000, when the population was 7,737. Also, the number of nonwhite residents has grown 88 percent in the past 10 years.

Caucasian residents continue to make up a majority of the city, with 6,784 residents accounting for 63 percent of the total population. However, in 2000, the city had 5,807 Caucasian residents, accounting for 75 percent of the city’s total population.

Newcastle is now home to almost 2,600 Asian and Pacific Islander residents, who make up about 25 percent of the city’s total population. In 2000, there were 1,431 such residents making up about 18 percent of the total population.

The city is also home to 270 blacks, 435 Latinos, 38 American Indians or Alaskan Natives, and more than 460 residents who describe themselves as being of mixed race.

In 2000, the city had 125 blacks, 223 Latinos, 35 American Indians or Alaskan Natives, and 234 residents who describe themselves as being of mixed race.

The census figures depict Newcastle as a slightly larger city than municipal and state officials had estimated.

The most recent population estimate from the state Office of Financial Management — released in June 2010 — pegged the city population at 9,955 residents.

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Eye surgeon given 20-year sentence for murder-for-hire plot

April 1, 2011

Fear of her family being gunned down by a man who was once part of their daily life has consumed Holly King for the past 16 months.

King, the mother of three and wife of successful laser eye surgeon Dr. Joseph King, said that fear prompted her to take firearms training and obsessively monitor the video-surveillance system in their Newcastle home.

“Each day, when I drive my children to school, I wonder which stranger is going to murder us,” Holly King, 32, said in King County Superior Court on March 17.

Riffkin Dr. Michael Mockovak, Newcastle resident and co-founder of Clearly Lasik eye-surgery centers, was sentenced to 20 years in prison. By Courtney Blethen

Judge Palmer Robinson granted the couple some relief from that fear by sentencing Dr. Michael Mockovak to 20 years in prison for plotting to kill Dr. King, his ex-brother-in-law, longtime friend and fellow co-founder of the Clearly Lasik laser eye-surgery centers.

Last month, a King County jury found Mockovak guilty of criminal solicitation to commit first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree theft and attempted first-degree theft. Jurors acquitted Mockovak of a second count of criminal solicitation involving former company President Brad Klock.

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Keep your car safe at local trailheads

April 1, 2011

Spring is here, which means — in theory – the rain will not fall as often, giving way to sunshine and warmer weather. If you’re looking for something to do outside to enjoy the weather, hiking is a great option.

However, be careful about what you leave in your car when you park at trailheads — even those near Cougar Mountain. Also, be mindful of your conduct before you hit the trails.

Although it may seem obvious, don’t leave valuables sitting in your car where a potential thief could see them. We get many police reports about people leaving purses or even laptop computers on seats at trailheads, and it’s not surprising when somebody smashes a window and easily snatches these items.

To be on the safe side, don’t leave anything visible in your car at trailheads, regardless of the value; you never know what may be appealing to a thief. Also, don’t leave a coat on your seat, as it may look like you are trying to conceal something valuable underneath. Although it may not lead to anything being stolen, it can leave you with a broken window and a several-hundred-dollar repair bill.

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Reserve funds, utility money to pay for City Hall move

April 1, 2011

The City Council voted 6-1 at its March 15 meeting to pay for this year’s $250,000 City Hall move with money from its cumulative reserve fund and surface water management fund.

The reserves will take the biggest hit, funding $225,000, and the surface water management fund will cover the remaining $25,000.

The $250,000 will cover remodeling costs in the new building and all moving expenses.

That was one of two funding structures city staff proposed when the City Council voted in February to move City Hall from the Newport Manufacturing building, 13020 Newcastle Way, to the Newcastle Professional Center, 12835 Newcastle Way.

The city’s cumulative reserve fund has $1.5 million for capital purchases or unforeseen operating costs, although the city has never drawn money from the fund to pay for capital purchases, according to city code. Use of the reserves requires a two-thirds majority vote by the City Council.

The surface water management fund typically pays for maintenance of and repairs to the city’s surface water system, which includes drainage ponds. However, the fund is also used to cover overhead costs and salaries for employees who work on surface water projects.

City Manager Rob Wyman said that is the only fund — other than the general fund — that funds staff salaries and overhead, so it can bear some of the cost of the move.

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Letters to the editor

April 1, 2011

UPDATED — 4:45 p.m. April 1, 2011

Hit-and-run driver needs to admit wrong

My name is Vivian Bae and I have been a resident of the Newcastle/Cougar Mountain area since June 2001. I am writing to ask for your help and I will compensate you for your time.

I was involved in a hit-and-run collision on Tuesday, Feb. 22, on my way home from work. It happened during the beginning of a snowstorm and the snow had just started falling. As I was driving toward Bellevue on Newcastle Golf Club Road — past the YMCA — I came to a stop due to a car stopping in front of me.

While I was waiting for this car to start moving, an oncoming vehicle lost control and slid into me. Given the weather conditions, I didn’t think twice as the driver started to drive away.

I wrote down the license plate number, thinking that we would address the matter once the weather and road conditions improved. When I got home, I contacted the police to file a report. The officer advised me he would get in touch with the other party and try to give him/her the opportunity to resolve the issue without filing a report and I agreed.

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Police Blotter

April 1, 2011

Gun theft

A man reported two guns were stolen from his home, in the 8800 block of 123rd Avenue Southeast, between 10 p.m. Feb. 16 and 10:20 p.m. Feb. 21. He reported the stolen guns to be an EIG Derringer worth $300 and a Ruger Single Six worth $600. He said his son’s friend, who had been at the house, had taken the guns and demanded $140 to give the guns back. The man’s son went to give the friend the money, and the friend allegedly used the guns to rob the man’s son of the $140. The man and his son did not report the alleged robbery, which was in Issaquah, because the man’s son has outstanding warrants.

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Newcastle city staff to see salary, benefits changes

April 1, 2011

The city’s 21 employees will soon see their salary ranges get a little larger, their merit pay changed, vacation time capped and cost-of-living raises scrapped.

Reductions in employees’ healthcare coverage, approved last fall, will also be permanent.

The Salary and Benefits Committee recommended the changes, and the City Council unanimously approved them Jan. 18.

The changes to salary ranges had been overdue, said Councilwoman Lisa Jensen, who chairs the committee. Previous policies dictated that the committee re-examine salary ranges every three years, but it had not done so for about five years.

By Dona Mokin

The committee compared Newcastle salaries to those in similar cities, averaging the high and low salaries elsewhere to make up Newcastle’s new salary ranges.

The new salary ranges — which widened on both the high and low ends — will shift to reflect trends in cost of living, and will take the place of annual cost-of-living adjustments that employees had received each year.

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