City Council approves $217,000 for City Hall construction

September 2, 2011

With construction in full swing, the future home of Newcastle’s City Hall is starting to take shape.

Improvements to the second floor of the Newcastle Professional Center are on schedule, and city staff should be able to move into the new location by mid-October, City Manager Rob Wyman said.

“It’s framed out, so you can really start to get a feel for what it’s going to look like in there,” he said.

Express Construction Inc. was awarded the City Hall tenant improvements contract to install new walls and other framing, City Council chambers, electrical wiring, a fire suppression system, conference rooms and office space for city staff.

Express Construction is the same company that completed construction on the building in 2007, which will help streamline the new improvements, Wyman said.

The city has been at its 13020 Newcastle Way location for 15 years. Its new location at 12835 Newcastle Way is just two-tenths of a mile away.

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Larcenies, burglaries are most common crimes in Newcastle

September 2, 2011

While incidents of crime have been relatively minimal in town for the first six months of 2011, the police department is stepping up its efforts to combat the more prevalent crimes of larceny and burglaries.

There were 28 residential burglaries reported in the city in the first six months of 2011, according to Newcastle Police Chief Melinda Irvine.

Larceny includes various crimes, such as when items are taken from cars or buildings and bicycle thefts.

“Larceny has continued to be our highest problem in the city,” she said.

Such reports are still comparatively lower than other adjacent communities, Irvine said.

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Newcastle man enters Alford plea in child molestation case

September 2, 2011

Newcastle resident Gil Furman entered an Alford plea in King County Superior Court Aug. 9 to two counts of communication with a minor for immoral purposes.

The maximum sentence Furman, 39, could face for each misdemeanor count is 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine.

One count of third-degree child molestation will be dismissed at Furman’s sentencing before Judge Mariane C. Spearman at 1 p.m. Sept. 16 in King County Superior Court.

Furman denied the allegations against him, but pleaded guilty “to the two gross misdemeanor counts in order to avoid going to trial on the charges and risk conviction of one or more felony counts,” according to a statement attached to his plea.

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Letters to the editor

September 2, 2011

Safety audit proves it’s safe to walk to school

Hazelwood Elementary School has been part of the Safe Routes to Schools grant to encourage and support “active commuting” on the part of school children and families.

The goals are to identify safe and unsafe areas for biking and walking, design safety improvements, educate students about safe walking and biking practices, and launch events to encourage children to walk and bike. Through new and improved systems that encourage more students to walk and bike, we can also help combat childhood obesity.

To date, we have completed a walking audit with the support of Feet First and more than 30 student and community volunteers, and taught all fourth- and fifth-graders bicycle safety with the support of Bicycle Alliance of Washington.

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Newcastle Days will celebrate best of city!

September 2, 2011

Imagine that! Newcastle is the 18th best place to live in the nation, according to CNN’s Money Magazine.

Distinction for Newcastle is nothing new. Two years ago, Newsweek ranked the city No. 17.

Someone at City Hall or the chamber of commerce did a good job supplying the information that helped Money Magazine determine Newcastle’s ranking.

“The volunteer spirit is alive and well in this former coal-mining town…,” writes the magazine. “Despite serious budget cuts that threatened the city’s summer 2011 events, local businesses and citizens offered time and cash to keep the community’s concerts and fireworks afloat.

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Police blotter

September 2, 2011

Car break-in

A woman reported her front passenger window was damaged and Camel Pak backpack stolen from her vehicle at the Cougar Mountain Country Park trailhead lot Aug. 2. About $250 worth of damage was done to the car, and about $150 worth of items were taken. The backpack held several articles of identification and a bankcard.

 Vandalism at Liberty

Between 2:30 p.m. Aug. 4 and 6 a.m. Aug 5, the stadium manager for Liberty High School reported about $500 worth of damage to one of the school’s field goal posts. Vandalism is the presumed cause of the damage.

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HOA proposes exchange for security camera

September 2, 2011

In a time when most municipalities are strapped for cash, the Reserve at Newcastle Home Owners Association has a proposition for the city to ease maintenance costs for one of its public parks.

In exchange for an easement to place a security camera atop a 15-foot pole in the northeast corner of Tralee Park along 155th Avenue Southeast, the association is proposing to take over the city-owned park’s annual landscaping work and other maintenance.

A small box to house the camera’s DVR and router equipment to capture images will also be added to the property.

The camera is one of three cameras the association proposes to add to give a greater sense of security to those living in the community, said Aaron Burnstein, a member of the HOA’s board of directors.

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Laughing all the way: Zombieland: Newcastle

September 2, 2011

I’ve always been missing a few vital brain synapses. My friends and family are well aware of this, most especially The Sainted One, who is forced to bail me out on a regular basis. This would be a whole lot funnier if there weren’t unsubstantiated rumors of Alzheimer’s in my bloodline. But when I do something brainless and ask The Sainted One if he’s worried about me, his response is always the same: “How could I tell if you have a problem? You’ve always been this way.”

For years I’ve pretended that my fogginess is just a sign of a certain kind of genius — something like Einstein not being able to dress himself — but now I’m starting to wonder. Am I, in fact, a zombie in search of a total brain replacement? Witness a recent trip to town:

I was proudly carrying my new organizational over-the-shoulder bag, a bag made specifically for folks like me, or so my girlfriend told me when she gifted me with it: a pouch for your phone, a pocket for your money or credit cards, a special place for your keys. Thus armed, how could I go wrong? Let me count the ways …

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Aerobics class leads resurgence of pool

September 2, 2011

At first, it sounds simple: fitness classes in a pool.

But the plot thickens once the pool’s site, Hazen High School, appears.

Budget cuts threatened Hazen’s pool until late June. Only a fundraiser could save it from closing.

“The Renton School District wanted the community to raise $60,000 to keep it open,” said Jen Ben, the pool’s manager. “They raised $78,000.”

Ben is a former Hazen High swimmer, and a 13-year employee of the pool.

“It was definitely personal,” she said, “This is a great asset for the community.”

Besides swimming lessons, Seamount League championships and district championships, two year-round teams and three high school teams call the Hazen pool home.

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Newcastle Days is taking passport applications

September 2, 2011

Two passport acceptance agents will be available at Newcastle Days to assist with the application process for U.S. passports.

The Newcastle Passport Acceptance Booth will be open from noon to 3 p.m. Sept. 10 at Lake Boren Park.

Residents must call for an appointment and learn what they’ll need to bring by calling city staff at 649-4444.

For application forms — and information about necessary documentation, fees, and international travel information — go to city_clerk.htm and click on the “Passports” tab.

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