City staff prepared for a busy 2013 schedule

January 3, 2013

Newcastle city staff members spent the month of December gearing up for what is expected to be a busy new year.

With the passage of its 2013 budget, the City Council tasked staff members with a multitude of projects that should have them working at full capacity throughout the year.

“The City Council has made an aggressive pitch towards lots of projects in 2013, and that’s what we’re here to do,” Public Works Director Mark Rigos said. “So, I’m excited about all of the work that’s going to happen.”

The Public Works Department in particular faces an action-packed 2013, filled with several transportation and stormwater projects.

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Public Works is prepared for next big snowstorm

January 3, 2013

Newcastle was greeted with a dusting of snow Dec. 18, but except for a two-hour delay for Issaquah School District students, the white stuff didn’t cause much havoc.

The relatively quiet debut of winter’s first snowflakes came as a welcome sight for Newcastle Public Works Director Mark Rigos, as memories of last winter’s sprawling snowstorm lingered in the back of his mind.

“We’re hoping to have the El Niño winter, which means warm and wet, which was predicted by a meteorologist,” he said. “So, if that happens, great, I’m happy about that. Hopefully, we’re done with snow.”

Newcastle’s snow-and-ice priority map determines which roads get plowed first, numbered in priorities from one to four, with priority one streets representing major arterials.

Last winter’s snow and ice storm kept city crews working around the clock, and several Public Works employees were forced to sleep at City Hall. Additionally, one of the city’s three snowplows malfunctioned during the storm, putting it out of commission for several hours.

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General fund ends 2012 with surplus

January 3, 2013

The city is expected to end 2012 with a sizable surplus in its general fund, after a year in which sales tax and development revenue came in higher than originally forecasted.

“Simplistically, a surplus is excess revenue over expenditures and so any revenue that came in over what we expended for the year is called a surplus,” Finance Director Chris Olson said.

Olson anticipates the city will have about $200,000 in surplus for the year, barring any major snowstorms, or unforeseen events, before mid-January.

A lot of the surplus can be attributed to increased development revenue, Olson said, but higher-than-expected collections from sales tax revenue also played a part.

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New community development director brings energy, experience

January 3, 2013

The city’s new director of community development, Tim McHarg, spent the month of December settling into his new position and familiarizing himself with the Newcastle community.

McHarg joined the staff Dec. 3 after stints as the assistant planning director in Steamboat Springs, Colo., and Durango, Colo., and most recently, as the planning director in Bozeman, Mont.

McHarg is no stranger to the Northwest, having worked with the Walla Walla Housing Authority straight out of graduate school at Cornell University, where he earned a degree in city and regional planning. He also worked for a development consulting firm that was employed by several cities around the state, including Seattle and Federal Way.

Tim McHarg

After 12 years working in the Rockies, McHarg said he was ready for a new challenge and was intrigued by all that Newcastle had to offer.

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Newcastle Historical Society hopes to increase presence in 2013

January 3, 2013

For the better part of its more than 20 years of existence, the Newcastle Historical Society has been a place where passionate history junkies could get their fix by attending monthly meetings where the legend that is Milt Swanson would talk about the good old days.

Swanson, who has lived in the Newcastle area since he was born in 1918, is indeed a treasure trove filled with memories of Newcastle’s past.

In 2013, though, the historical society hopes to accomplish more than it ever has. The organization plans to expand its presence and visibility in the community.

The hope is that the group can bring the story of Newcastle’s history, of which Swanson is an integral part, into the public consciousness, said Pam Lee, Newcastle Historical Society member.

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5K scholarship applications are now available

January 3, 2013

Three lucky college-bound Newcastle teens will be awarded $1,000 in scholarship funds, thanks to proceeds raised from the 2012 Newcastle Days 5K Run/Walk.

Scholarship applications are now available. Obtain application materials by emailing a request to

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EFR seeks firefighters

January 3, 2013

Eastside Fire & Rescue is looking for male and female volunteer firefighters for the Tiger Mountain, Preston and Maple Hills communities.

The minimum age to apply is 18. Applicants must have good driving records and can now live outside the boundaries of EFR within five miles of the closest response station. The testing process includes written, physical and psychological tests, and an oral interview.

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Hazen weapon rumor ruled not a ‘credible threat’

January 3, 2013

Attendance at Hazen High School was down Dec. 20, after a rumor that there may be a weapon brought to the school came to administrators’ attention.

It was not known if the absences were directly related to the rumor, since it was also the last day before winter break and many students may have left early for holiday vacations.

The chatter was a rumor, not a direct threat, and upon further investigation, it appeared to be unsubstantiated, district spokesman Randy Matheson said.

“The rumor was uncorroborated,” he said. “We talked to a bunch of students and any staff who may have heard something, and what we learned was that somebody heard something that someone else may have heard.”

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Rapid response

January 3, 2013

What is your New Year’s resolution?

Go green in 2013!

— Grace Stiller


My New Year’s resolution is to do whatever I can to help to improve the

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U.S. economy to create jobs in our region and country. I hope my dream is shared by others across the nation.

— Jesse Tam


I’ve taken to not making resolutions; instead I have reframed my intentions for the New Year as “creating” what I want to happen each year. It’s a different energy and much more powerful.

— Jackie Foskett



Notes from Newcastle

January 3, 2013

Newcastleite? Novocastrians? What should city residents call themselves?

People from the United States of America are known as Americans. People from Washington state go by Washingtonians. People from Seattle are Seattleites. But what do people of Newcastle call themselves?

Christina Corrales-Toy

Based on a highly informal survey of Newcastle residents, there doesn’t appear to be a clear consensus when it comes to identifying the people who live in this community.

The exercise is made all the more difficult thanks to the pesky vowel at the end of the city’s name. Sure, Seattle ends with an ‘e’ as well, but Newcastleite just doesn’t roll off of the tongue like Seattleite does. Newcastleans and Newcastleonians don’t sound much better.

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