Hazen vs. Liberty, Girls and Boys Basketball/Dec. 22, 2011

January 6, 2012

Newcastle woman wins IKEA Stuff the Bug contest

January 6, 2012

Donna Buck (left), president of Ladies Auxiliary for Post 1 of American Veteransin Tacoma, and George Hight of Marine Corps League Pierce County Detachment 504, tell Newcastle Resident Angela Weber how the IKEA soft toys will be used by Pierce County Sheriff Department deputies. Photo contributed.

NEW — 11:55 a.m. Jan. 6, 2011

286.

That’s how many stuffed animals Newcastle resident Angela Weber thought were packed inside of a bright yellow IKEA Volkswagen Bug as a part of the world’s largest furniture retailer’s annual Toys for Education campaign. The program has been raising money to educate children around the world since 2003.

As it turns out, Weber was spot on.

After winning IKEA Seattle’s Stuff the Bug contest by guessing the correct number of soft toys packed into the vehicle, Weber helped IKEA donate four shopping carts of soft toys to a good cause.

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Creating a sense of community

January 6, 2012

After 17 years, longtime Newcastle resident Sonny Putter steps down from City Council

Sonny Putter, longtime Newcastle city councilman, cuts into a cake celebrating his 17 consecutive years of service at his last City Council meeting Dec. 6. By John Jensen

As you flip through the pages of longtime Newcastle City Councilman Sonny Putter’s date book, you start to notice a trend.

For the month of October, nearly every date is bursting with small writing filling each box.

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Council passes 2012’s $5.8 million budget

January 6, 2012

After a six-month process from its July budget retreat to final adoption, the Newcastle City Council voted to unanimously pass its 2012 budget Dec. 6.

But many members of the council said they won’t start patting themselves on the back anytime soon.

“I still encourage the Finance Committee and council to look to the long-term solution of how we’re going to be a viable city,” Councilwoman Carol Simpson said. “This was a good Band-Aid again … I still think we still have a lot of work cut out for ourselves in the next four years to put ourselves on track.”

The budget includes funding for several projects at Lake Boren Park and maintains the parks manager position held by Michael Holly, who faced an uncertain future after the council directed city staff to suggest positions and/or services that could be reduced.

“It’s a good budget. It’s a responsible budget,” Deputy Mayor Steve Buri said. “We have done an awful lot of cutting over the last three years, and I think most of the residents are pleased that those cuts have come without serious reductions in service.”

The city’s projected revenue for 2012 sits at about $5.8 million — an increase of about $147,700 from the preliminary budget released in October. Some of that increase includes money from the council’s Nov. 15 decision to cover the city’s anticipated $61,000 shortfall between revenue and expenditures for 2012 in part by taking an allowable 1 percent increase in property tax.

Residents can expect the city’s portion of their property taxes to increase an additional $11 next year for a $516,000 home — the typical home price in Newcastle as assessed by King County.

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Newcastle residents’ tips lead to burglary arrests

January 6, 2012

Newcastle Police Officer Ryan Olmsted arrested two suspects at about 2 p.m. Dec. 8 in connection with recent burglaries reported in Bellevue, Newcastle, Renton and unincorporated King County.

Newcastle Police Chief Melinda Irvine said two other suspects fled the scene, but one was later arrested after a King County deputy located the suspect.

The fourth suspect remains at large, Irvine said.

Two Newcastle residents provided tips, including the suspects’ license plate number, to the Newcastle Police Department via its anonymous email and nonemergency phone lines that lead to the arrests, Irvine said.

The group had burglarized homes in the area and had broken into at least one residence just prior to being arrested, Irvine said.

The number of burglaries the group may be responsible for is still under investigation, and charges against the suspects for at least one burglary are expected in early January, she said.

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Suspicious activity reported by residents

January 6, 2012

Men seek access to homes by claiming they work nearby

CenturyLink employees working in the Newcastle area were briefly pulled from the streets until they could go through the process to receive proper door-to-door sales permits after residents reported two men acting suspiciously in the areas of Southeast 75th and Southeast 76th streets and 120th and 121st avenues Southeast on Dec. 12.

Newcastle Police Chief Melinda Irvine said in a statement that residents reported two males approached Newcastle homes saying they were CenturyLink employees or contractors making contact about pipe work being done in the area and they needed to enter the homes. The males could not offer an explanation as to why they needed to be in the home, stood away from the house rather than at a conversational distance and did not carry any brochures, Irvine said.

Officers were unable to locate the males, and there were no door-to-door sales permits issued by the city at the time.

Residents reported their behavior as inconsistent with typical legitimate door-to-door salespeople.

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New chamber board members announced

January 6, 2012

Valley Medical Center manager Christina Mason, Waste Management public sector manager Katie Salinas and Fortescue Financial Services financial planner Steve Fortescue are new Newcastle Chamber of Commerce board members for the 2012-14 term.

They will be made official board members at the chamber’s first board meeting in 2012.

Provide feedback by going to the chamber’s website at www.newcastlecc.com and click the “Board of Directors” link under the “About the Chamber” tab to contact members of the board.

State Route 520 bridge tolls could divert traffic

January 6, 2012

As the state Department of Transportation plans to start tolls on the state Route 520 bridge, motorists could experience additional traffic on Interstate 90 as commuters avoid the toll.

The state estimates tolls should cause thousands of motorists to use the Interstate 90 bridges or drive around Lake Washington instead.

Meanwhile, the state is encouraging motorists to set up a Good To Go! pass account.

Purchase a pass at www.wsdot.wa.gov/goodtogo or a $5 sticker pass at participating stores, including Safeway and QFC. Find a list of retail locations at www.wsdot.wa.gov/ goodtogo/retail.

The state extended call center hours and hired extra customer service staffers to prepare for the anticipated high volumes of customers registering and activating accounts. Customers can purchase the sticker passes at stores and activate them online.

“Tolling is helping Washington move forward with critical transportation investments and will finance ongoing and future work to replace the vulnerable SR 520 floating bridge and corridor,” state Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond said in a statement.

Coal Creek Utility District appoints manager

January 6, 2012

The Coal Creek Utility District’s Board of Commissioners has appointed Robert Russell to serve as the district’s new general manager.

Russell was named interim general manager at the board’s Dec. 14 meeting and he took the position Jan. 1.

He has worked for the district since 1995 and served as operations manager for four years after working as CCUD’s systems administrator.

With more than 28 years in the water and sewer industry, Russell is also a member of the American Water Works Association. He holds a Water Distribution Manager Level 3, a Water Distribution Specialist Level 2 and a Cross Connection Specialist Level 1 certification with the Washington State Department of Health.

He is the district’s representative for the Sno-King Water District Coalition and a member of the Technology Interest Group and Retrospective Rating Program for the Washington Association of Water and Sewer Districts.

CCUD operates a water and sewer service area covering the city of Newcastle and surrounding areas.

City to honor volunteers at event

January 6, 2012

The city of Newcastle will recognize people who have donated their time and service in various projects and events over the past year at a volunteer appreciation event at 6 p.m. Jan. 25 in the City Hall Council Chambers.

Those recognized will include Grace Stiller for her work to coordinate Newcastle Days; Angela Wingate for her work to garner support from local businesses for Newcastle Days; and the city’s Public Works Department for its work coordinating events and projects throughout the year.

The event is free and open to the public and includes treats and a gift for volunteers.

Call Parks Program Manager Michael Holly at 649-4444, ext. 142, or email him at michaelh@ci.newcastle.wa.us for more information.

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