Shorter school year wouldn’t be all bad

December 1, 2011

Gov. Christine Gregoire has floated a couple of ideas to deal with the state’s budget crisis. One of those is a half-penny-per-dollar increase to the sales tax, to go before voters in March. First, legislators would have to approve the ballot measure. The new revenue would be targeted for education.

Another idea to help local school districts deal with looming budget cuts would be for the state to reduce the required number of school days per year. We like the idea, although we acknowledge that it could be a burden for working parents who have to pay for more childcare.

State law currently requires students to have no less than 180 separate school days.

But take a closer look. Another state law requires districts to provide at least 1,000 hours of instruction time for students in grades one through 12 and at least 450 hours for kindergarteners.

Gregoire’s proposal to drop the 180 days per year down to 176 days would not reduce the average total hour requirement.

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Resident input wanted for online survey

December 1, 2011

The first in a series of surveys conducted by the city’s Parks Commission is available online for public input on parks and recreational opportunities in Newcastle at s/KJ329WT.

The city aims to update its 20-year, city-wide Comprehensive Plan with resident input gathered from the surveys.

One major element of the Comprehensive Plan is the Park, Trail, Recreation and Open Space Plan, which serves as the city’s guide to develop its parks, recreation and open space facilities and programs. Information provided in this and future surveys will be used to help update the Newcastle PRO Plan.

Learn more by calling Michael Holly, parks program manager, at 649-4444, ext. 142, or email


DUI patrols will increase for holidays

December 1, 2011

Thanksgiving was the launch date for a statewide campaign to nab drunken drivers throughout the holiday season.

The effort will continue through Jan. 2. The campaign means beefed-up DUI enforcement on Newcastle and King County roads, as the Newcastle Police Department, Washington State Patrol and other law enforcement agencies join the crackdown.

Washington law enforcement officers advise all holiday partygoers to designate a sober driver, call a cab or choose not to drink alcohol.

Officers in King County on routine and extra patrols arrested 876 people for DUI during the same period last year.

In addition to Newcastle police, officers in nearby Issaquah, Bellevue, North Bend, Renton, Sammamish and Snoqualmie plan to participate in the extra DUI enforcement.

The anti-DUI effort is organized under the King County Target Zero Task Force, a regional effort to crack down on unsafe driving practices. Target Zero managers coordinate the extra patrols. In addition, the Washington Traffic Safety Commission provides support.

Target Zero’s goal is to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries statewide by 2030.

Nativity display includes Newcastle contributions

December 1, 2011

The annual Festival of the Nativities event, sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will host a display of more than 500 nativity sets from around the world.

The display will feature contributions by residents of Newcastle, Issaquah, North Bend, Snoqualmie and Bellevue. Special choral performances will be provided by the Seattle Bell Choir and offer family activities for children of all ages.

The event is from 6-9 p.m. Dec. 1, noon to 9 p.m. Dec. 2 and 3, and 12:30-6:30 p.m. Dec 4. It’s free and open to the public.

The display is located off of Interstate 90, across from Bellevue College and behind the LDS temple, 15205 S.E. 28th St.

Local moving business is honored by Mayflower

December 1, 2011

Rainier Moving Systems, an agent of the nationwide household goods carrier Mayflower, was recently honored for exceptional professional performance.

The Newcastle company’s recognition was awarded during Mayflower’s 2011 Convention, held in Orlando, Fla., with more than 400 Mayflower representatives in attendance.

Mayflower CEO Richard H. McClure made the announcement of the recognition as a part of the van line’s annual awards program.

Rainier Moving Systems received the Million Dollar Club Award at the $2 million level, recognizing top Mayflower revenue producers, for achievements during the calendar year 2010.

Newcastle teacher is recognized for demanding the most of her students

December 1, 2011

Newcastle Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Liza Rickey leaves no doubt that part of her teaching philosophy is to challenge her students as much as possible.

“I set high standards,” she said. “I expect a lot out of my students.”

Rickey’s philosophy recently has gotten her some attention. At a ceremony in November, Rickey was named the Museum of History and Industry’s 2011 Teacher of the Year.

Newcastle Elementary School teacher Liza Rickey, recently named the MOHAI Teacher of the Year for 2011, leads her fourth-grade class through a math lesson. By Tom Corrigan

“Rickey was being honored for her innovative hands-on strategies that make social studies come alive for her students,” said Tara McCauley, MOHAI’s manager for education programs.

Rickey’s award carried with it a $1,000 honorarium. By pure coincidence, Rickey had taken her class on a “Cracking the History Code” field trip at MOHAI the day she learned she had won the MOHAI award. Such field trips have students searching for clues in the museum in order to gain the code that unlocks a mystery box given to visiting classes.

Newcastle school volunteer Liz Tupou said she was at first “flabbergasted” at the amount and depth of the homework Rickey regularly assigns her students, including Tupou’s grandchild. Tupou also said Rickey encourages parents not to help kids too much with their homework.

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Police Blotter

December 1, 2011

Rock smashes home window

A woman living in the 12500 block of Southeast 70th Street reported a rock had been thrown through a large window of her living room after she left her home for about 45 minutes to go shopping. The Oct. 12 incident caused $400 worth of damage and is thought to be an attempted burglary. Nothing was stolen from the home.

Car stolen from apartment complex

A Newcastle man reported his 2000 green Acura Integra was stolen from his apartment Oct. 14. The man told police his car had been broken into about a month prior, and it appeared the suspect had tried to steal the vehicle then but was unsuccessful.

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Newcastle police seek car break-in information

December 1, 2011

The Newcastle Police Department is seeking information after three cars were broken into between the evening hours of Nov. 16 and the morning of Nov. 17 in the Madison Lane and Asbury Crest neighborhoods, near Southeast 69th Street and 115th Place.

The culprit or culprits entered the vehicles by breaking windows. Some of the stolen items of value were left in plain sight.

Report car prowls by calling 206-296-3311 or online at

If you have any information that may assist in this investigation, call 649-4444, email or file an anonymous tip at

Call 911 for officer response if you observe suspicious activity around vehicles.

  • To help prevent car break-ins:
  •  Close all windows and lock your car.
  •  Do not leave keys in the vehicle.
  • Remove all loose items, especially items of value, such as laptop computers, GPS units, purses and wallets.
  •  Park your vehicle in a well-lit area.

I got the music in me

December 1, 2011

When I was 5 years old, I took tap-dancing lessons, and at 12 I sang Gregorian chants in the Catholic church choir. At 14, I taught myself how to play guitar, and at 17 I used that guitar with my singing group — The She Bops — when we were on stage in high school or on TV trying to win the Davenport, Iowa, version of Ted Mack’s Amateur Hour.

I once called in sick and went to the Seattle Center, location of a national barbershop quartet conference, just in the hopes that some spontaneous singing might break out. My mother and two sisters and I could produce some pretty decent four-part harmony ourselves, and my step-daughter (brave child) has asked the Detmer sisters and Newcastle niece to sing “Going to the Chapel” at her wedding in April.

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Community group seeks donations to keep Hazen, Lindbergh pools open

December 1, 2011

The organization known as Renton Pools Community has again begun work to raise funds to keep Renton School District swimming pools open for another school year.

In June, the group exceeded their fundraising goal to keep the pools at Hazen and Lindbergh high schools open for this school year.

High school swimmers prepare for a meet at the Hazen High School pool. Contributed

And while the additional funds raised have been carried over for next year’s pool operations, now the organization will begin work to raise the remaining $40,000 to reach the $60,000 goal to keep the pools open for the 2012-13 school year.

Because of continued state budget cuts to education, it is increasingly difficult for the district to continue to fund two pools while making cuts to programs, according to the Renton School District.

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