Council discusses potential of annexation

October 4, 2012

Most council members feel  the discussion is ‘premature’

The Newcastle City Council decided against taking any exploratory action toward a possible annexation by Bellevue, at least for now, at its Sept. 4 meeting.

In a discussion that lasted more than an hour, the City Council debated whether the issue of annexation was even appropriate to discuss at the current time.

The prevailing sentiment among the council members was that the discussion was premature.

Councilman Bill Erxleben, who made the initial motion to get the discussion on the agenda, started the conversation by arguing that it was important to explore whether annexation by Bellevue was a viable option, given Newcastle’s financial forecast based on numbers from the council’s June budget retreat.

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Pay cut narrowly passes for future council members

October 4, 2012

Current members of the Newcastle City Council will take a pay cut, should they decide to run again after their terms expire, according to an ordinance the council passed at its Sept. 18 meeting.

The ordinance, which passed with a 4-3 vote, will lower councilmember salaries from $700 a month to $500 a month. The mayor’s position will also be reduced from $800 a month to $600 a month.

Under state law, salaries of municipal officers cannot be increased or decreased during an election or during a term of office, so the change will not become effective until the expiration of current councilmembers’ terms.

Councilmen Bill Erxleben, Gordon Bisset, Steve Buri and Mayor Rich Crispo voted in favor of the salary decrease, while Councilwoman Carol Simpson, Councilman John Dulcich and Deputy Mayor Lisa Jensen voted against the ordinance.

Crispo argued that while the council asks city staff members to make sacrifices in terms of merit pay and other considerations, it was important for the council to make sacrifices as well.

“I do believe it’s important to set the message from the top,” he said. “I mean, you can’t ask people that are reporting to you to do something different than you’re willing to do yourself.”

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Newcastle Library will open in December after significant delays

October 4, 2012

The Newcastle Library will officially open Dec. 8 with a full day of activities planned to celebrate the occasion, according to a representative from the King County Library System.

Festivities are expected to begin at 9:30 a.m. the day of the opening, but more details will be available as the date approaches.

Progress on the project picked up significantly after the contractor experienced a multitude of setbacks, according to Greg Smith, the director of Facilities Management Services for KCLS.

“The contractor’s been plagued with lots of problems on this job, lots of delays,” Smith said.

In December and January, the contractor had to scramble after the curtain wall subcontractor, the company who provided the glass for the library, went out of business, Smith said. It caused a significant setback that delayed delivery of the glass.

As of Sept. 19, KCLS said the building was more than 90 percent enclosed, and Smith added that nearly all of the glass was installed.

In addition, workers began installing tile work in the library bathrooms.

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Test your Newcastle history knowledge

October 4, 2012

At this year’s Newcastle Days, the city’s rich history was celebrated with the festival’s theme, Return to Newcastle. One of the components of this year’s celebration was a trivia activity put together by Mayor Rich Crispo.

Crispo compiled a list of 120 questions that highlighted the history of Newcastle. Each vendor booth had a question, and prizes were awarded for correct answers at the end of the day.

Below, we’ve printed 16 of the questions, which bring forth interesting facts about the history of the Newcastle community.

Crispo compiled the list of questions through information taken from “The Coals of Newcastle — A Hundred Years of Hidden History,” by Richard and Lucile McDonald.

Think you know your city’s history? Test yourself.

 

Q: How much coal was removed from the Newcastle coal mines between 1863 and 1963? 

A: About 10.5 million tons of coal was removed during the 100-year period.

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Fire causes $300,000 in damage to Newcastle home

October 4, 2012

The Bellevue Fire Department and Eastside Fire & Rescue crews responded to a house fire in the 14300 block of Southeast 77th Street at about 10 a.m. Sept. 14, according to Lt. Troy Donlin, Bellevue Fire Department spokesman.

Donlin said landscapers in the area found smoke and flames on the side of the house, called 911, and seven minutes later, crews arrived on the scene to find smoke and flames coming from the attic of the two-story house.

There was no one inside at the time, Donlin said; the homeowners arrived about 25 minutes into the incident.

Contributed by the Bellevue Fire Department
Smoke and flames billow from the roof of a Newcastle home in the 14300 block of Southeast 77th Street, after a house fire broke out Sept. 13.

Donlin described the fire as “stubborn” because of the cedar roof shingles. It took firefighters about 53 minutes to contain the fire.

“It was a stubborn fire because it’s a cedar shake home,” he said. “So, we had a lot of little individual spot fires throughout the roof.”

On the scene, there was visible damage to the roof, and Donlin said the second story was damaged from water and ceiling material as a result of firefighting activities.

In addition to the water the firefighters aimed at the house, the home also had an indoor sprinkler system that went off, Donlin said.

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Updated financial forecast shows improving finances

October 4, 2012

City staff members presented the Newcastle City Council with an updated six-year financial forecast at the Sept. 18 council meeting.

At the council’s June budget retreat, Finance Director Christine Olson presented a forecast that showed increasing deficits in the city’s general fund, but the new forecast shows a more positive outlook. The difference, she said, is because of more data and information accumulated over the past few months.

“At the budget retreat, I did the same thing I did now, I forecasted, but I only had four months of data,” she said.

The new forecast projects the city will end with a surplus in its general fund at the end of this year after higher-than-expected collections from development revenue.

The city’s general fund for 2013 also seems to be in good shape, according to the forecast, with a projected shortfall of just $60,000, a number that can be easily remedied once the council decides its priorities for the 2013 budget. For comparison, at the retreat the shortfall for 2013 was projected at more than $200,000.

The reason for the improved 2013 outlook is a projected increase in revenue, Olson said. Though, the forecast assumed that the City Council would decide to take an allowable 1 percent increase in property taxes, but that has not been determined yet.

While most of the council members seemed encouraged by the new outlook, Councilmen Bill Erxleben and Gordon Bisset were less satisfied.

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Chamber hosts health and safety fair

October 4, 2012

The Newcastle Chamber of Commerce hosts the first Newcastle Health and Safety Fair from 6-7:30 p.m. Oct. 24 in the commons at Hazelwood Elementary School.

The free event will provide Newcastle residents with information about how to live healthier lifestyles and to help citizens ensure that they are prepared in emergency situations.

Representatives from several local businesses will be on hand to show residents how their services can help improve health and safety.

A representative from Valley Medical Center will be on hand to provide free health screenings, and members of the Newcastle Police Department will be available to meet with local community members. Newcastle Weed Warriors will also be there to warn about noxious weeds that are harmful to people.

There will be healthy snacks, a raffle and several information booths.

Angela Wingate, chairwoman of the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce, said she hopes the event will bring awareness to local health and wellness issues.

“We hope that the community is able to be more aware of what they can do to help improve their lives, and the community as a whole, in being safe and healthy,” she said.

Annual town hall meeting is Oct. 29

October 4, 2012

The city of Newcastle will host its annual town hall meeting from 7-9 p.m. Oct. 29 at The Golf Club at Newcastle.

Residents will be able to provide feedback to city staff and City Council members about issues facing the city for the next year, including the city’s budget.

The event is free and open to the public.

Learn more by calling the city at 649-4444.

City seeks input on community events

October 4, 2012

The city of Newcastle is requesting feedback from residents about its 2012 community events.

In particular, the city is requesting feedback about the city’s Fourth of July celebration, Concerts in the Park and Newcastle Days.

The city asks residents to complete a short, online survey at www.surveymonkey.com/s/PNBH83K.

The survey will run until Oct. 12.

Rapid Response

October 4, 2012

If you could try any profession for a day, what would you choose and why?

 

I think massage therapy. I’m into the healing service professions (hypnotherapist and dental hygienist). Massage supports the mind and body in feeling better and healing.

 

— Jackie Foskett

 

Something like Oprah or Dr. Oz: Presenting helpful, useful, emotionally connecting material to millions in a crowd or TV format! Bring celebrities together to support a worthy cause and get useful information to people who need it!

— Christina Mason

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