Become a friend of the Newcastle Library

May 6, 2011

Excited for the completion of the Newcastle Library at the end of the year? You may consider joining the group Friends of the Newcastle Library, which will raise funds and volunteer to support the new facility.

King County Library System officials will hold a meeting at 9 a.m. May 21 at the Newport Way Library, 14250 S.E. Newport Way in Bellevue, for those interested in joining the group. The meeting will be in the library’s meeting room.

“Library friends groups really play a vital and dynamic role, not just in King County or across the state, but across the country,” KCLS spokeswoman Julie Brand said. “It’s hard to imagine libraries functioning without them.”

Each Friends of the Library group is autonomous, raising funds for and spreading awareness of a given library in its own ways. Some groups hold book sales and attend street fairs and parades.

The library system has 37 Friends of the Library groups across the county, and together they raised nearly $400,000 in 2010, Brand said.

The Newcastle Library will be KCLS’ 47th library, and the Friends of the Newcastle Library will be the system’s 38th friends group. More than 100 people already expressed interest in joining Friends of the Newcastle Library, Brand said.

“That’s definitely a record response,” she said.


Proposed Eastside transit changes include Newcastle bus routes

May 6, 2011

King County Executive Dow Constantine has proposed changes to King County Metro Transit bus routes as part of a plan to offer more and faster transit service on the Eastside.

The proposal includes changes to Route 240, which runs from the Renton Transit Center to Clyde Hill, serving Newcastle.

Under the proposal, Route 240 would be shortened, ending at the Bellevue Transit Center — at the corner of 108th Avenue Northeast and Northeast Sixth Street — instead of Clyde Hill, reducing wait times, according to Metro Transit’s website. It would also stop along 112th Avenue Northeast in Bellevue instead of 108th Avenue Northeast, better serving offices, homes, hotels and the King County courthouse in the area, according to the site.

The revised Route 246 would serve Clyde Hill.

Constantine presented the proposal to the King County Council at a public hearing April 12.

In the proposal announced April 8, Constantine called for additional Eastside transit service through the launch of RapidRide buses between Bellevue and Redmond.

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City revenue on the rise, but still below normal

May 6, 2011

The city’s revenue in the first quarter of this year is better than it was last year, which is indicative of a slow economic recovery, at least in the area of development and sales tax revenue, city Finance Director Christine Olson said.

The city has collected $1.45 million in revenue so far this year, which accounts for 24 percent of the $5.95 million budgeted in the general fund for the year. The city has spent $1.44 million so far, which accounts for 23 percent of the $6.38 million budgeted in the general fund for the year.

Olson said $6.38 million is likely higher than what the city will pay out of the general fund for the year, as other city funds will reimburse some expenses.

Sales tax collections for the year are at 19 percent of what was budgeted for the year, which is about 4 percent below what is typically collected in the first quarter. By the end of the year, that could amount to a $31,000 shortfall in sales tax revenue.

Olson said expenses from the city’s contract with the King County Sheriff’s Office could be higher than expected for 2010. When the city’s officers are sick or on vacation, the city must pay to have an additional officer fill in temporarily, and the exact cost of that can often be hard to predict. The city will pay for the 2010 overtime this year.

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Issaquah changes class requirements to recommendations

May 6, 2011

In the past, high school students have needed to fulfill specific class requirements before taking higher-level courses.

Starting this fall, Issaquah School District administrators are changing those prerequisites to learning recommendations.

“We’re trying to increase access for students,” Executive Director of Secondary Education Patrick Murphy said. “We used to say, ‘You must have at least a B-minus to take this class.’ But what if I have a C-plus?”

Changing the prerequisites to learning recommendations has been a year and a half in the making. Throughout the year, Murphy meets with the principals from Liberty, Issaquah, Tiger Mountain Community and Skyline high schools. The group brainstorms ways it can increase access for students.

The access talks serve as an umbrella for several subjects, including how the district could increase student access to quality teachers, better activities and challenging courses.

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5K is likely to join Newcastle Days lineup

May 6, 2011

The Newcastle 5K, in its third year this year, will likely join the Newcastle Days lineup this summer, according to Newcastle Days committee officials.

The race, which typically takes place in late August, will be held the morning of Sept. 10 as part of the festivities in Lake Boren Park.

The race typically begins and ends in Lake Boren Park. It follows a 3.1-mile path, circles the park and follows city trails to the south.

Valley Medical Center has again committed to sponsoring Newcastle Days with $10,000.

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You can grow edibles and ornamentals in containers

May 6, 2011

The grow-your-own-food revolution is in full swing for small space gardeners. Blend that with the desire for pretty container designs and you have a remarkable variety of combinations at your fingertips.

Apartments, condominiums, balconies or small-scale patios are all viable locations for growing many edibles in containers. As long as you can find a small spot of sun for the bulk of the day, you can grow quite a harvest. Choosing plants that are nutritious, delicious and beautiful is the very best way to maximize your limited space, whether it’s in a window box or several large containers.

Herbs like lemon thyme and chamomile add interesting foliage interest and texture. Contributed

A number of edibles that are highly ornamental also create horticultural drama. By adding some of your favorite ornamental annuals or perennials to your container designs, you can have the best of all worlds in one square-footage-challenged garden.

If you decide you want to grow tomatoes in containers this season, try under planting your tomato with trailing million bells or calibrichoa and sweet potato vine. The only limit to what you can grow with edibles is your imagination.

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A seismic retrofit can help protect homes during earthquakes

May 6, 2011

Strengthening a residence through a home earthquake retrofit is as simple as ABC: anchor, brace and connect.

Most homes built in the past 30 years or so do not need a retrofit to hold steady in earthquakes, but older homes may need some foundation tune-ups. If the foundation is not secured to the rest of the structure, major damage can result from the ground shaking.

The earthquake in Japan — plus major temblors in New Zealand, Chile and Haiti in the past year — has renewed the focus on seismic safety at home.

“When the earth starts shaking sideways, the foundation moves with the earth,” Sound Seismic co-owner Leif Jackson said. “This big, massive object is not going to immediately move with the foundation. It’s going to kind of lag behind, and it’s going to lag behind when that foundation oscillates back in the opposite direction. So, the house and the foundation get out of synch, and it can get jolted off of the foundation.”

Though most homeowners can take some small steps to reduce earthquake risks, older homes make for the likeliest candidates for a seismic retrofit, due to the adoption of modern building codes from the mid-1970s onward.

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Easy solutions to the most common garden problems

May 6, 2011

Do you have a problem? Do you find it difficult to grow the plants you love because of hungry beasts that ravage your roses down to stubs?

Perhaps the endless rainy winters have left an unexpected pond in your backyard where you wanted a cactus. Or maybe it is your neighbor’s small forest of evergreen conifers casting deep, dry shade on your side of the fence.

Let’s take a look at a few solutions for some of our area’s most common gardening challenges.


There are a lot of hungry deer in Newcastle. They will eat practically any plant, or at least try it once. And if you plant any of their favorites, such as hostas, roses or tulips, you might as well put out a neon “All You Can Eat Buffet” sign.

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Newcastle man helps win debate championship

May 6, 2011

Newcastle man Samuel Pizelo helped lead Bellevue College to a national championship in the Novice National Parliamentary Debate Association competition in Gresham, Ore., in March.

The team — now in its second year — also earned superior marks in speaking.

Pizelo, the team’s president, thanked the Bellevue College faculty for its support, as its last-minute, out-of-pocket donations funded the team’s trip. The donations came in just 24 hours before the competition.

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Presidential performer brings toddler rock to the masses

May 6, 2011

After almost 15 years of rock ‘n’ roll, Grammy-nominated Seattle musician Chris Ballew decided to turn down the gain on his amplifier. In 2009, The Presidents of the United States of America front man formed the children’s band Caspar Babypants, playing shows for parents and toddlers across Western Washington.

By Tim Pfarr Chris Ballew, The Presidents of the United States of America lead singer, rocks out with Caspar Babypants in Sammamish in March.

The group will make a stop in Bellevue May 24 for a 10:30 a.m. performance at Aldersgate United Methodist Church.

The band’s songs — written by Ballew — are folkie and touch on topics such as centipedes, elephants and frogs. Although the tunes are directed at children younger than 6 or 7, adults might find themselves just as entertained.

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