Rapid Response

March 8, 2012

What are you most looking forward to for this year’s Newcastle Earth Day event?

My Daisy Girl Scout troop will be on hand, girl-manning the community recycled art activity! Come see the adorableness and create your best upcycled art!

— Trina Sooy

I’m looking forward to good weather to enjoy it!

— Jackie Foskett

Where are sidewalks/pedestrian friendly trails most needed in Newcastle?

I would like to see 116th Avenue Southeast have wide, continuous sidewalks on both sides of the street between Southeast 68th Street and Southeast 88th Street. Both Southeast 68th Street and Southeast 88th Street need continuous sidewalks connecting 116th Avenue Southeast to Coal Creek Parkway. This would establish the “primary” pedestrian grid needed to provide access to Lake Boren Park and our “micro” city center. “Secondary” spurs could be added as needed to connect smaller neighborhoods to this Main Street walkway.

— Jeff Skocelas

Southeast 89th off of Coal Creek Parkway to 116th Avenue Southeast — it would create a perfect running/walking loop.

— Trina Sooy

Finish linking the sidewalks on the east side of 116th Avenue and then run sidewalks down the north side of Southeast 88th/89th until they reach Coal Creek Parkway. That will offer sidewalks that circumnavigate nearly all of Newcastle.

— Lee Strom

What do you think of the Lake Boren Townhomes project on the north shore of Lake Boren?

Great use of the space/area.

— Trina Sooy

I like the idea of the Lake Boren Townhomes, but am concerned about what the final product will look like. Will it emphasize the waterfront? Will it include a public walkway like downtown Kirkland has in front of its newer lakefront condos? Will it look like dense apartment living with sparse vegetation or like a beautiful lakefront condo with thoughtful and beautiful landscape? I sure hope these were the questions asked during the permitting process.

— Maury Miller

I think they are fine. A bit small for my taste, what I’ve seen of the insides so far, but I know they will be great for some people. Nice location!

— Jackie Foskett

Join the conversation! Sign up to receive Rapid Response questions by emailing newcastle@isspress.com.

Hazen drill team to host showcase night March 16

March 8, 2012

NEW — 10:30 a.m. March 8, 2012

The Hazen High School drill team will host “Just Dance”at 6 p.m.  March 16 to raise money to cover a portion of the team’s state competition expenses.

“Our large competition in January was cancelled due to the snow storm, and we are trying hard to earn enough money to get to state later this month,” said coach Kristin Sargent.

The showcase night  will take place at the school located at 1101 Hoquiam Ave. N.E. in Renton.

General admission is $5. Students can get in for $3 with an ASB card and children younger than 5 are free.

The event will feature performances by local dance, military, pom and hip hop groups.

Renton School Board opts to rerun middle school building improvement bond

March 2, 2012

NEW — 11:50 a.m. March 1, 2012

The Renton School Board voted Feb. 29 to rerun a $97 million building improvement bond that would fund a new middle school in Newcastle, among other projects.

The bond, which originally came up two points shy of the 60 percent needed to pass in the Feb. 14 special election, will run again April 17.

Citizens for Renton Schools Chair John Galluzzo said a major setback to gathering enough support for the bond the first time was giving residents a clear picture of what the bond would mean to them financially.

The election was about 335 votes short of the ballots needed to approve the bond, he said.

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House fire causes $500,000 in damage

March 2, 2012

Contributed by the Bellevue Fire Department This Newcastle home, in the 6400 block of Lake Washington Boulevard Southeast, caught fire Feb. 3 after a stack of cardboard boxes were ignited by radiant heat from the home’s fireplace.

A residential fire in Newcastle destroyed a home the afternoon of Feb. 3 and sent one of the occupants to the hospital with minor burns.

The home is located in the 6400 block of Lake Washington Boulevard Southeast.

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Redevelopment stressed in State of the City address

March 2, 2012

Newcastle Mayor Rich Crispo stressed financial responsibility and smart economic development — and redevelopment — during the city’s 2012 State of the City address.

The address, given before residents and the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce at its monthly luncheon Feb. 8 at Tapatio Mexican Grill, laid out big-picture goals for the city for the upcoming year and beyond.

The city must find a balance of opening its doors to new growth and redevelopment without losing its sense of identity, he said.

Rich Crispo

“The first thing we have to do is let people know Newcastle is open for business,” he said. “That may sound kind of trite, but when you think about the 17 years of this city and how many new buildings have been put up here in a commercial sense … you have Valley Medical Center, you have the library that is in construction right now and you have the professional building. That’s it.”

Crispo cited the City Council’s work to revamp Newcastle’s downtown business code last year as ways the city has tried to entice new developers to town.

Few major developable properties are left within city limits, he said. Instead, larger opportunities loom with a chance for redevelopment of existing properties, such as the Mutual Materials brick plant site off of Coal Creek Parkway.

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Renton School District voters defeat middle school bond

March 2, 2012

Operations, technology levies are supported

A Renton School District bond that would have provided funding for a new middle school in Newcastle came up 2 percent short of the votes needed to pass, but residents did support the district’s maintenance and operations and technology levies.

The Renton School Board  examined whether the district should run the bond again in an upcoming election this year, district spokesman Randy Matheson said.

It will be back on the ballot April 17.

“While there is great need for another middle school, board members are interested in hearing if there is consensus among parents and citizens about running the bond measure again so quickly, and if the community is willing to assist in the shortened campaign to communicate the measure,” he said.

The district’s building improvements bond required a 60 percent yes vote and a minimum turnout of 10,582 people. About 30 percent of registered voters cast their vote — or about 16,900 ballots — in the Feb. 14 election.

About 9,900 voters approved the bond, while about 7,160 rejected it.

The $97 million bond would have funded the new middle school at the former Hazelwood Elementary School site, now home to the Renton Academy.

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Before disaster strikes

March 2, 2012

Newcastle resident encourages emergency preparedness in homes, neighborhoods

For Newcastle resident Paula Spence, there is no such thing as too prepared.

Spence compiles and sells emergency preparedness kits as a home-based business. Taking the time to ensure you have the necessary supplies to endure something as small as a brief power outage or as big as long-term damage from an earthquake can mean all the difference for a family’s safety during a disaster, she said.

“I know some people don’t like to think about it, but I just feel a peace of mind is important to know that you have the supplies on hand that will ensure your safety,” she said.

Contributed Paula Spence, a Newcastle resident and American Red Cross volunteer, compiles materials for emergency kits as a home-based business and promotes emergency preparedness in her neighborhood.

After her now-grown sons began to attend St. Monica Catholic School on Mercer Island, Spence said she quickly began to realize how important emergency preparedness was. About 40 percent of the students lived off the island, and if a natural disaster were to occur, she said she wanted the school to be prepared in case parents were unable to pick up their kids due to an emergency.

“Paula’s passion for emergency preparedness grew out of her love for her children,” said Pam Raleigh of Mercer Island. “Our children went to a school on an island. In an emergency, Paula knew it might take some time before she would be able to reunite with her children. She wanted to insure her children had a plan for safety.”

She began to take emergency preparedness and first aid classes, and worked with the school to have the necessary supplies on hand to be prepared. She also took on a volunteer position with the Seattle-based Red Cross, where she responded to emergencies first hand.

That’s when she started to compile the Emergency-Pac, a red backpack with a three-day supply of food and materials that could help a person respond and get through any emergency.

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Eastside Select hosts fundraiser for tourney

March 2, 2012

Eastside Select Sports is hosting several fundraisers to get players on four of its teams, including Torey Anderson of Newcastle and Justin Tucker of Renton, to the 2012 Latin American Baseball Classic in August in the Dominican Republic.

The first is a jazz dinner March 31 at Carpenter’s Hall, in Renton, featuring live music by pianist Deems & Co., a barbecue chicken dinner, silent auction, raffle and other activities. Tickets are $30 for adults, $15 for ages 5-12 and children under age four are free.

Learn more at www.eastsideselect.com.

Property taxes due in to assessor April 30

March 2, 2012

King County residents started to receive property tax bills in February and, although property tax collection in the county is up 1.71 percent from last year, property owners should see a drop in bills and a decline in property valuation.

The total value of property in the county continued to decline for the 2012 tax roll, but the drop is slightly less than 2011. Officials said property values declined in almost every area in King County last year.

The median assessed value in rural Southeast King County, for instance, declined from $304,000 for the 2011 tax roll to $259,000 for 2012 — or a decrease in the tax bill of $470.

“Bank foreclosures and other distressed sales continue to be a drag on property values overall in King County,” King County Assessor Lloyd Hara said in a statement. “This is driving property values down through most of King County, and is resulting in property tax reductions for some.”

Washington operates under a budget-based property tax system, meaning local taxing districts — including fire, library and school districts — submit annual adopted budgets to the county assessor. The county assessor then has the responsibility to determine the necessary taxing route to meet the adopted budgets.

Hara and other county assessors statewide establish property values.

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The Ant that could

March 2, 2012

First steam engine made the Newcastle-to-Seattle coal run more efficient

The successful export of coal and the early success of this town called Newcastle are, quite simply, inexorably linked.

But exactly how the coal was extracted from deep within the coal seams of Newcastle and transported to the awaiting economic lifeline of Seattle’s shores — especially as full mine operations started in Newcastle in September 1871— was far from easy. The loads were transferred a whopping 11 times from start to finish.

Photo courtesy of the Renton Historical Society and Museum The Ant, the first steam engine in the Puget Sound area and second in the state of Washington, was shipped from San Francisco to the Seattle area in the winter of 1871 to enable the transfer of Newcastle coal from Lake Union to the Elliot Bay area.

The coal from Newcastle was generally San Francisco bound after being loaded onto ships in Seattle, but the Puget Sound area would get something in return from the Bay area — its first steam railroad system.

The Ant, brought up from San Francisco in the winter of 1871 to enable the transfer of coal from Lake Union to the Elliot Bay area, would be a major improvement to further Newcastle’s ability to export coal, local train expert Russ Segner said.

Until the addition of the first edition, coal was transported by a series of various modes of transportation, including hauls by mules, horses, trams and flatboats.

“Mules were the sole motive power underground,” writes Richard K. McDonald and Lucile McDonald in “The Coals of Newcastle: A Hundred Years of Hidden History.”

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