Rapid Response

August 2, 2012

Are you satisfied with the process made on the Newcastle Library this summer? Why/Why not?

It’s starting to move, but still rather slow. Too bad for all the contractor issues. We’re all waiting … maybe a bit impatiently now … smiles!

— Jackie Foskett


Definitely not … I think Synergy should vet their subcontractors more thoroughly. They got what they paid for.

— Dave Martinez

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August 2, 2012

Library’s progress is taking too long

I find it mindboggling that skyscrapers can be erected in less time than it is taking for the Newcastle Library. The contractor should have been fired long ago, and the fact that the contractor has not been replaced shows the library system’s management is at best ill-suited or at worst, incompetent.

Replace both and the library would probably be completed in a few weeks, not months.

How much tax money has been wasted on this project?

Steve Fisher


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Newcastle’s history deserves protection

August 2, 2012

As the city of Newcastle looks to celebrate its 18th anniversary of incorporation at this year’s Newcastle Days with the historically fueled theme “Return to Newcastle,” there’s never been a more apt time to really dig in and explore what it means to live here.

There is arguably no better example of the home-grown Newcastle experience than 94-year-old resident Milt Swanson.

Many people may not know that much of Newcastle’s invaluable history, including photos, materials and maps, has been collected and stored by Swanson in his home.

The collection includes coal-mining equipment and tools, 100-year-old maps of the area, photos of Newcastle’s people, a moonshine still used during Prohibition, desks from the former Newcastle school, and even Newcastle coal itself, the very foundation of the town when the fuel was discovered in the area in 1863.

Other historically significant artifacts and photos are scattered throughout the basements of members of the Newcastle Historical Society.

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Sex offender registers in Newcastle neighborhood

August 2, 2012

Aaron Patrick Pittman, 33, registered as a Level III sex offender after being convicted of aggravated indecent liberties with a child for attempting to meet a 14-year-old girl that he met online for sexual purposes. Police said Level III sex offenders have a high risk of re-offending.

Aaron Pittman

Police said Pittman stands 6 feet tall, weighs 220 pounds, and has brown hair and green eyes. His address is in the 11600 block of Southeast 88th Street.

Residents can search for Pittman and other registered sex offenders at www.kingcounty.gov/safety/sheriff/SOSearch.aspx.

Schools Foundation donates $42,500 for after-school help

August 2, 2012

After-school homework programs got a big boost July 11 when the Issaquah School Board approved a $42,500 gift from the Issaquah Schools Foundation.

The money has been earmarked to support three programs, including $7,500 for Middle School After School Homework; $12,500 for High School After School Homework; and $22,500 for the mentor program Volunteers of Issaquah Changing Education, more commonly known as VOICE.

On the middle school level, the after-school program allows for school libraries to stay open in the afternoon so students can access computers, the Internet and get help with homework. On the high school level, different days of the weeks are reserved for extra help for different subjects like math and foreign languages. The mentor program serves about 300 students from across the district who could use one-on-one assistance.

“It’s an extraordinary program,” foundation Executive Director Robin Callahan said. “I know that the district has really come to rely on the VOICE mentor program as one of their strategies.”

The mentors are all volunteers while the district and the schools foundation partner together to pay for program directors and school coordinators. The latest injection of $22,500 covers about half of the total cost of the program.

“There is nothing that the foundation does alone,” Callahan said. “It involves collaboration with the district, collaboration with volunteers and collaboration with donors. We are a conduit by which members of the community can donate resources and time to have an extraordinary effect on student learning and students’ ability to achieve their full potential.”

The Frugal Olympics

August 2, 2012

It occurred to me the other day — as I methodically scraped peanut butter out of a jar that most people would’ve thrown away several sandwiches ago — that if there was a Frugal Olympics, I could win a gold medal. Except the medal wouldn’t be gold. It would be made from saved tin foil and ribbon from last Christmas.

My mother was my trainer in thrift: Scraps of material could become a braided rag rug. Clothing and socks could be mended. Soap could be used until it was so small that it was in danger of being inadvertently lost in a body cavity. She never tore into a wrapped gift with abandon, because if one was careful, the paper could be used again. And again. And speaking of paper, it has two surfaces, which means that Mother’s recipes have stories from the past on the backs of them: mid-century letters from her mother, church bulletins and school announcements.

As we explained Mother’s child-of-the-Depression prudence at her funeral, my sister Susie held up a rubber band ball that we’d found while clearing out her kitchen drawers. Why buy a rubber band new, Mother believed, when they could be saved and re-used? Susie accidently lost her grip on it, and the ball fell from the podium and bounced across the floor towards the attendees, spewing dust and spent, wimpy rubber strips all the way.

That reminded me of my mother’s mother (the Obi Wan Kenobi of Frugality) who always walked us through the neighborhood cemetery when we visited her. While there, we got the free thrill of viewing the fenced burial sites where hair-raising explanations for group extinction were carved in granite (and really, what child far from home doesn’t want to read about 21 innocent school kids perishing in a roaring classroom fire?) As payment for this thrill, we were forced to collect the rubber bands that careless newsboys had dropped while wrapping their papers.

True to my bloodline, I re-use foil if meats haven’t previously been involved with it, I scrape jars, I take the useless pump out of the lotion and shake out the unreachable balance, I print on the back of my Simon & Schuster Royalty Statements (it’s all parenthetical numbers anyhow), I nuke stale oyster crackers to crisp them, and as I brush my teeth, I mourn the fact that the old toothpaste tubes were stiffer and stronger, making it possible to more efficiently squeeze out the last precious dollop of paste.

Nature, or nurture? Genetic or learned? I’m not sure, but I know that when I win that medal in the Frugal Olympics, I’ll proudly fasten it on the workout suit that I’ve worn for the past five years using the straight pin that I kept from the corsage that The Sainted One gave me for my 47th birthday as I play “The Star-Spangled Banner” on our record player.

That’s right. You heard me: record player. I am soooo gonna win this!


You can reach Pat Detmer, who has also won a silver in Lazy Gardening, at patdetmer@aol.com. 

Newcastle sees increase of 50 people in 2012

August 2, 2012

The latest estimated tally from Washington’s Office of Financial Management indicates Newcastle added 50 people last year to reach a population of 10,460 residents.

The office released the information in late June for the period from April 1, 2011, to April 1, 2012.

Newcastle had 10,410 people in 2011 and 10,380 in 2010. The additional residents in 2012 equates to a 0.77 percent increase in population for the city.

Newcastle is the 78th most populous city in the state.

The state used data from the 2010 Census as a baseline, and then estimated population for Newcastle and other cities from school enrollment, housing construction and driver licensing to determine the numbers.

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History takes center

August 2, 2012

The year is 1910.

The place is Newcastle — a bustling little town with about 2,500 residents.

So bustling, in fact, it was the only town with a post office at the time on the Eastside.

People from all around — including residents from Bellevue — had to travel to Newcastle to collect their mail or vote in local elections.

Newcastle Mayor and Newcastle Days volunteer coordinator Rich Crispo said that is just one of the many little known facts he has gathered in preparation of celebrating Newcastle’s 18th birthday as an incorporated town at this year’s Newcastle Days.

The Sept. 8 event’s theme, Return to Newcastle, highlights the city’s rich mining history and offers a chance to learn more about how Newcastle came to be, Crispo said.

He said he has gathered about 100 trivia facts about Newcastle that will be dispersed throughout the 60 booths at Lake Boren Park, with the chance for residents to participate in a trivia challenge with about $250 worth of prizes to the winner.

“To me, this is a way to see why we’re here, how we’re here,” he said. “People can have pride in that, especially people who have lived here for 40 years.”

Crispo said volunteers are needed to help direct traffic (the Lake Boren Park parking lot is reserved for handicapped parking, emergency services, sponsors and others with a parking pass), set up chairs and tables, and help people navigate the park.

New aspects of this year’s Newcastle Days include a lacrosse demonstration, a Cajun band and Cajun food.

The festival will begin at 10 a.m. Emcee Lance Lambert, of “The Vintage Vehicle Show,” will begin the live program followed by a Boy Scout opening ceremony.

Bands and dance troupes will be featured on the main stage. The headliner band is Heartless, a Heart tribute band.

A free classic car show will also be held for Newcastle Days at Lake Boren Park from noon to 4 p.m. Registration opens at 11 a.m. that day; dash plaques will be given to the first 100 participants.

A beer and wine garden run by the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce opens at 11:30 a.m. and will be open throughout the day for people 21 years old and older. Volunteers are also needed to help with set-up and tear-down of the beer garden.

Food vendors will sell a variety of food.

There are special events for the children attending, such as inflatable bouncy toys and pony rides, as well as youth and kids’ bands.

Look for maps, articles and schedule information for this year’s event in the 2012 Newcastle Days guide in the September edition of Newcastle News.


If you go

  •  10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 8
  •  Lake Boren Park
  • Free admission
  • www.newcastledays.com
  •  Email richard.j.crispo@gmail.com to volunteer.

County paves the way for veterans internship program

August 2, 2012

King County Council members have started the process to create a county internship program for veterans.

In March, Councilwoman Kathy Lambert and Councilman Reagan Dunn — Newcastle’s representative on the council — joined Councilman Bob Ferguson to draft the legislation. The measure calls on county government to explore a possible veteran internship program and present the results to the council by Aug. 23.

The council agreed to proceed on the proposal in a unanimous decision.

Officials called on county staffers to evaluate existing county employment policies and practices for veterans, explore potential costs to operate the internship program and identify possible funding sources.

The transition from military to civilian life is often difficult for veterans. Many veterans gain technical and leadership skills in the military — skills useful in the civilian realm, too — but receive little help to put the skills to use after the transition.

“With many military bases located in Washington state, we have a concentration of veterans returning here from overseas and in need of meaningful work and job opportunities,” Lambert said in a statement.

Meeting minutes cause consternation on council

August 2, 2012

Council to add information session on  consolidating with Bellevue to fall agenda

Members of the Newcastle City Council sat down in June for the city’s annual budget retreat to hammer out some long- and short-term ideas about how to tackle the city’s looming financial forecast as it begins to finalize a budget this fall.

The topics included discussion about large-scale changes, including staff reductions, imposing a utility tax for the first time, creating a transportation benefit district for Newcastle and consolidating the city with Bellevue.

But at its July 3 meeting, some on the council were frustrated with the level of detail — or as some council members argued, lack thereof — of the meeting’s minutes provided to the council about the retreat, and consequently, the public. Like regular meetings, state law requires governmental bodies to provide minutes from every special meeting.

To provide more information, the council voted to have the city clerk come back before the council meeting July 17 with expanded minutes.

The retreat’s minutes for the council’s July 3 agenda packet included a three-paragraph summary of the five-hour retreat, stating Finance Director Christine Olson gave a presentation of the city’s six-year forecast, council members spoke for 10 minutes each to provide an assessment of the city’s financial situation, and council members discussed possible solutions and expense reductions and new revenue sources.

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