Earth Day event promotes water management, eco-friendly habits

April 5, 2012

The third annual Newcastle Earth Day will play host to some highly anticipated and somewhat unusual guests this year — and they’re not even human.

With the help of Rent-a-Ruminant LLC, 15 goats will make their way from Vashon Island to their Newcastle debut to prove that getting rid of invasive plant species need not be harmful to the environment or be backbreaking work.

“People might not realize it, but the goats are a good alternative to herbicides and manual labor,” said Grace Stiller, Newcastle Earth Day event chairwoman. “Instead of having to clear all of that debris of the blackberries, you have to the goats do it for you.”

The city of Newcastle, the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce and the Newcastle Weed Warriors will provide speakers, seminars and activities for Earth Day 2012 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 21 at Lake Boren Park.

This year’s event will focus on responsible storm water management.

“This event celebrates our community’s love for the environment,” Stiller said.

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Council OKs $6,000 raise for city manager

April 5, 2012

After evaluating City Manager Rob Wyman’s performance on the job, the Newcastle City Council has approved a $6,000 raise for the position.

The raise — increasing Wyman’s annual salary from $110,000 to $116,000 — will be retroactive to Jan. 1 and includes two additional days of merit leave for 2012.

Wyman was hired as interim city manager in January 2010, and the council selected him as the permanent city manager that August. This is his first raise since taking the position.

The council also assigned Wyman seven goals to work on this year.

Rob Wyman

The goals include demonstrating efficient use of expenditures while maximizing revenue sources, accomplishing objectives set by the council in the 2012 budget, promoting economic development in town, maintaining a positive staff performance for employees and developing a communication strategy with residents.

Wyman’s performance was evaluated in several executive sessions prior to the resolution amending his contract being placed on the council’s March 20 consent agenda — a series of items bundled and voted upon without discussion.

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Police nab two suspects in home burglaries

April 5, 2012

The Newcastle Police Department and other local law enforcement agencies located two suspects after a home burglary was reported Feb. 29 on Forest Drive in Bellevue, just outside of Newcastle city limits.

The house was occupied during the incident, Police Chief Melinda Irvine said in a statement.

Two male suspects fled into the heavily wooded area toward Newcastle-Golf Club Road. Due to the proximity of the incident to Newcastle, police are looking into possible connections to burglaries in the city.

Newcastle officers, King County Sheriff’s Office deputies and detectives, and K-9 units from Kirkland and Federal Way assisted Bellevue police.

The suspects were hiding under a foot of leaves in a ravine and were located by the K-9 units.

“We will continue a thorough investigation of the burglaries that have occurred in the city to determine if these men are responsible, and work to locate any stolen property,” Irvine said.

The suspects may be responsible for several burglaries in Newcastle over the past few months.

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April 5, 2012

Renton bond invests in students’ future

The Renton School District passed both levies in the Feb. 12 election. However, the bond, which requires a 60 percent yes vote, received only 58.08 percent, falling short of approval by 335 votes out of 17,000.

Because of that narrow margin and the significant value that passing the school bond will have on students in the district, the Renton School Board decided unanimously to seek approval of the bond again, and I agree.

The bond accomplishes two essential components for the district. First, it provides the funding for a new middle school in the district. Why is this important? The average middle school in Washington has 609 students per school. Renton’s three middle schools rank in the state as follows, McKnight: third (1,150 kids, almost double), Nelsen: ninth (1,050) and Dimmitt: 24th (890).

If the bond is passed, it means a fourth middle school, which could open in four years, allowing the school district the ability to lower the average number of children per school down to 891 in 2016 (this number includes adjusting for anticipated growth). As you can see, a fourth middle school really just helps the district hold the line.

In addition, the bond provides capital for improvements, upgrades and modernizations to other schools and the renovation of the Lindbergh pool. These improvements will save the district money by lowering operating costs of these facilities.

The Renton School Board understands the concerns of taxpayers and balances those concerns with the essential needs of the district. This will help balance the concerns about school size for now. Your yes vote goes a long way for the children of the Renton School District.

Newcastle residents in the Renton district would see an increase of $5.83 per month on average if the bond is approved (defined as a home in Newcastle with average assessed value of $388,000). Less than $6 per month for all of that seems like a great investment to me.

Vote yes for the Renton school building improvements bond on April 17!

John Galluzzo, chairman

Citizens for Renton Schools

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Controversial bond deserves a yes vote

April 5, 2012

We wish the Issaquah School District had been more conservative in its request to fund the long list of items on the April 17 construction bond, but we get why it was not.

With another school bond ending its 20 years of tax collections, this is a good time to get a lot of catch-up work done on our school facilities, while still giving taxpayers a couple hundred dollars’ reduction in property taxes next year (an estimated $215 drop on a $500,000 assessed valuation home.)

Volunteers for Issaquah Schools, the group pushing a yes vote, say this is the biggest campaign it has ever mounted. It’s no wonder. With so many questions and a $219 million price tag, the proposed bond has raised a lot of eyebrows.

There are a lot of questions voters are asking, as we did. Do the middle schools really need artificial-turf fields? Does it really make sense to tear down Clark Elementary School? Does Tiger Mountain Community High School, population 80, really need to be relocated at a cost of $4 million? Isn’t $75,000 for clocks at Beaver Lake Middle School rather excessive? And so on.

First, recognize that the extensive repairs, remodels, permanent classroom additions for 500 students, rebuilds of the five oldest schools, stadium upgrades, safety and energy-saving additions is so extensive that it will take eight years to get it all done — although taxpayers will pay for the next 20 years.

Equality in school facilities will come closer to reality if these projects are completed. Consider that the slower economy makes it a great time to get the best construction bids.

For many voters, this bond request is a stretch. But just like the committee of volunteers who studied the issues and drafted the bond plan, we believe the facilities bond keeps Issaquah schools in tip-top shape and designed for changing educational needs.

Vote yes.

Newcastle Trails prepares for upcoming projects

April 5, 2012

Newcastle Trails is looking to complete and explore possible projects in coming months.

The East May Creek Trail is walkable from Coal Creek Parkway down to the “picnic site” (logs make ad hoc benches and tables) just down May Creek from the mouth of Boren Creek.

From there, a rough trail exists all the way to the existing May Creek Trail. The section along the creek is being steadily improved by Newcastle Trails volunteers working closely with the city of Newcastle.

The final sections up to the existing trail will be completed as a series of Eagle Scout projects.

Working with officials from Newcastle and Renton, the trails organization has identified a possible route and bridge location for the extension of the May Creek Trail west into the city of Renton.

The group is also examining the prospect of resuming work on the East CrossTown Trail when the Newcastle Vista subdivision goes in later this year.

Many volunteers will be needed to help to get the trails finished quickly.

Email Peggy Price at to volunteer.

Library group to approve bylaws, elect officers

April 5, 2012

An important Friends of the Newcastle Library meeting will take place from 10-11:30 a.m. April 7 at the Newport Way Library, 14250 S.E. Newport Way, Bellevue.

The meeting will lay the groundwork for the library and elected officer positions that will form the Friends group. Members of the public are encouraged to attend.

Topics to be discussed at the meeting will include approving of the group’s official bylaws, electing the group’s officers, viewing updated plans of the Newcastle Library and planning for the Newcastle Library’s opening-day activities.

Learn more at or like the library on Facebook.

Former Seahawk is raising funds for TEAM-WORKS

April 5, 2012

Newcastle residents will have the opportunity to meet Mack and Zoe Strong from 4-6 p.m. April 28 at the Newcastle Professional Center.

A portion of the event’s profits will go toward the TEAM-WORKS Academy, a program of the Washington Chapter of HOPE worldwide.

HOPE worldwide is a faith-based relief and development organization founded in 1991 that is dedicated to serving the poor and needy.

File Former Seattle Seahawk Mack Strong (right), with wife Zoe, are hosting a fundraiser April 28 for TEAM-WORKS Academy.

After 15 years in the NFL as a Seattle Seahawks fullback, Mack and his wife Zoe run the Mack Strong TEAM-WORKS Academy to help disadvantaged and at-risk kids.

The Strongs were named Washingtonians of the Year by Lt. Governor Brad Owen in 2011.

The couple resides in Newcastle with their young children.

The Washington Chapter of HOPE worldwide provides services to at-risk individuals in the Puget Sound region through seasonal days of service and its signature program, the Mack Strong TEAM-WORKS Academy. The program was founded in 2002, growing out of the volunteer work of the Strongs.

Sweet Decadence owner Sandra Wixon has offered to donate 10 percent of sales during the two-hour period to TEAM-WORKS Academy.

“You can support a local business, support a local charity and meet an NFL Allstar Fullback all in one afternoon,” event organizer John Jensen said. “Mack and Zoe are an inspiration to children through TEAM-WORKS Academy, and they are role models for those who want to give back to their community. They are a treasure right here in Newcastle.”

RSVP for the event by emailing Jensen at or going to the TEAM-WORKS Academy Mack Strong “Meet and Greet” Facebook page.

Words escape me

April 5, 2012

I consider myself a wordsmith, and yet when speaking, appropriate words leave me as often as a brainless Twitter post leaves a Kardashian. In my gray matter — and I’ll admit to periodic synapse misfires up there — if an object name does not fit the thing that it refers to, then the word simply does not exist in my world.

This might explain why I’ve called flashlights “fire hammers” for the past 20 years, although I’m not sure why I decided that “fire hammer” made more sense.

It’s possible that this propensity is genetic, because my mother fumbled for words as well. She didn’t create new words like I do; she just used “doomaflidger” for anything that she couldn’t remember, from safety pins to car batteries.

She also called slippers “pusskins,” claiming that it was a word derived in part from our German heritage. As a result, we all use “pusskins” to this day, even though a trip to the Internet underbelly on a definition search has convinced me that it’s a good time to look for a substitute.

It also used to make me crazy when Mother would tell a story and find it necessary to verbally scroll through the name of every acquaintance she’d had since 1947 to get to the right person, i.e., “So then Carol said … I think it was Carol. No. Deborah. Anne. Barb? Sue? Christa?”

Listening to her in my 30s, I would feign drooling and rolling my eyes back in my head while promising myself that I would jump off the nearest cliff if I ever got that bad.

Well, guess what? I am now 61 and should probably avoid any hikes up DeLeo Wall.

These thoughts occur to me because when we had the family over for dinner the other day, something was spilled on the floor and I said that I had to go to the garage and retrieve the “swipinta.” What’s a “swipinta?”

Well, for some reason, the words “dust” and “pan” together have just never worked for me. Rarely is it dust that you’re sweeping up, and the thing never looked like a “pan” to me, so it became the “sweep-into,” and then shortened and morphed into “swipinta.”

And if that’s not bad enough, I often forget the name for the broom (it was, briefly, the “indoor rake”) so the broom periodically becomes the “swipinta with.”

When I started writing this column, I thought these slips were pretty funny. But re-reading it, I’m feeling a little uneasy and wonder if it’s time for me to make an appointment for a trip through a people silver tube radar thing.

You know what I mean … that patient tube scanner X-ray doohickey? The one that takes indoor pictures of your skull?

You know: The doomaflidger.

Reach Pat Detmer — whose husband The Sainted One claims to understand every verbal aberration that she’s ever come up with — at

Select chamber chorale celebrates sacred music

April 5, 2012

After graduating from the Juilliard School of Music and making a more than 40-year career out of conducting, playing and composing, music has given Bob Ingalls a way to live.

Now the longtime Newcastle resident says he’s at a stage in life where he’s compelled to give something back.

“The ability to help people is an important thing,” Ingalls said. “The ability to create concerts — not just good concerts, but fabulous concerts — is an important thing to me.”

Contributed Bob Ingalls (center), Newcastle resident and Musica Sacra Chamber Chorale Artistic Director, kneels before the chorale’s full ensemble in December.

Ingalls incorporated the Musica Sacra Chamber Chorale in January 2011. The select choir with 12 core members formed to celebrate sacred music as well as serve as an avenue to benefit the people and environment around us.

Through the performance of traditional music, Ingalls said he hopes the chorale will connect with people on a musical and spiritual level while its performances serve as benefit concerts for various volunteer or nonprofit groups.

“The goal was to put together a very small, very elite group and establish an audience,” Ingalls said, “and then use that audience as a source to be able to do benefits when the timing was right … It ended up far surpassing my own thoughts about what this was going to be. It’s sensational.”

Ingalls has spent his career performing as a clarinetist for the New York State Opera, the Seattle Symphony, the Seattle Opera, the San Francisco Opera and the Pacific Northwest Ballet, and conducting for the St. Madeleine Sophie Catholic Church Choir in Bellevue and the Holy Rosary Catholic Church Choir in West Seattle.

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