April 3, 2014

Vote yes on roads and transit funds

The state failed, once again, to find a way to fund transportation. So, once again, the county is on the hook to do so. It’s unfortunate that it has come to this, but it has. Voters should approve King County’s Proposition 1, to fund roads and transit.

It’s not cheap, ($60 on car tabs per year and a 0.1 percent sales tax increase for the next 10 years) but neither is the transportation network needed to keep one of the fastest growing counties in the nation moving.

It’s important to note a bus fare increase is part of the package, so riders, even those without cars, are paying directly for the system as well.

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March 5, 2014

Be the 12th man while doing some good

Congratulations, Seahawks and Seahawks fans. The 43-8 Super Bowl win against Denver makes us proud to be Northwest residents. And kudos to the Seahawks organization for the way it has embraced the 12th man concept — saying we fans are part of the team.

Online sports columnist Art Thiel (www.sportspressnw.com) said the number 12 seems to have significance for the Seahawks.

“If you’re into sports numerology, Seattle scored 12 seconds into the first half, and 12 seconds into the second half,” he wrote. “For the long-suffering 12s, the symbolism goes beyond coincidence.”

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Vote yes for all three school levies

February 6, 2014

There is no doubt that voters should approve the three Issaquah School District levy requests on the Feb. 11 ballot.

There are questions every voter should ask:

1) Is it essential?

The most important funding request is for the four-year M&O levy, paying 21 percent of classroom costs, including 485 teacher salaries. It replaces the current M&O levy. A transportation levy would only be collected for one year, to buy 71 more fuel-efficient school buses with higher safety standards. And the four-year capital levy seeks technology funds and building repairs. Computer replacement and upgrades are a way of life in today’s world, and maintenance of our school buildings is not an option.

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Our 2014 goals for a better Newcastle

January 2, 2014

As the city heads into the coming year, Newcastle continues to grow and flourish. Here are our goals for 2014 as the city embarks on its 20th year of incorporation.

Middle school construction — As early as this summer, the Renton Academy on 116th Avenue Southeast will become a construction zone when the Renton School District begins to build its fourth middle school, set to open in 2016. Community open houses about the project have been sparsely attended, but sooner than later, shovels will be in the ground and the chance to comment on the plans will have passed. Get involved in the details of Newcastle’s newest educational institution in the New Year.

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December 4, 2013

Shop Small, Shop Local in Newcastle

A sticker at the entrance of Sweet Decadence Chocolates reads, “I shop Newcastle. It’s home.”

Even though the popular chocolate shop is set to relocate to Renton shortly, the phrase never rang truer as the nation celebrated Small Business Saturday Nov. 30.

The annual promotion, initiated by American Express in 2010, encourages holiday shoppers to patronize the storefronts right in their own hometown.

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October 31, 2013

Lisa Callan for school board seat

Issaquah School District voters are fortunate to have two excellent choices for school board director seat 4. Both Alison Meryweather and Lisa Callan applied for the vacancy last spring when Chad Magendanz resigned to serve in the state Legislature.

The school board members struggled with the appointment, first split evenly between the two women. Eventually, Meryweather got the appointment.

Meryweather does have more lobbying experience and her confidence and knowledge makes her a leader in that arena. But community comes first.

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October 4, 2013

John Drescher for Newcastle City Council

John Drescher is our preferred candidate for the City Council position.

Drescher has shown strong leadership skills in his year as the chairman of the Planning Commission, guiding the volunteer board as the city works to update its Comprehensive Plan.

It’s a daunting process — updating a document that will play a crucial role in the development of the city through the next 20 years — but under Drescher’s leadership, the process has been organized and productive.

It is a natural step for Drescher to continue this work, with the ability to have a more tangible effect on the city’s future via the City Council.

An active member of the community who has served as president of his homeowners’ association and coached local youth sports teams, Drescher understands what’s important to Newcastle residents. Public safety, maintaining and improving infrastructure, and nurturing the parks, trails and bike paths that make Newcastle a livable city are all facets he plans to champion. Drescher articulates a realistic vision for the future, one that focuses on what the city can do to better itself.

Greene dwells too often on the issue of Newcastle’s annexation by a larger city, a topic that is not immediately relevant given the city’s current financial stability. Greene’s dedication to local government is admirable — he attends nearly every City Council meeting — but Drescher is the best choice.


City manages parkway delays well

The first day of the Coal Creek Parkway overlay project was not pretty. Residents’ complaints flooded City Hall, and locals shared their pain on Newcastle News social media platforms.

The headaches were short-lived, though, as better signage and communication made for an easier commute. City staff mobilized admirably to provide detailed detour maps and hand-deliver notices to some neighborhoods affected by the closures.

Public Works Director Mark Rigos and Newcastle City Councilmember Carol Simpson should be commended for their diligent work to answer resident questions and provide maps to a frustrated public.


August 30, 2013

Activities commission comes a long way

Newcastle Days will look a bit different this year, adding a pay-for-play area and doing away with the car show, but at its heart, it is still the same annual festival that celebrates the best of the city.

While you’re at Lake Boren Park listening to Alan White rock out on the drums, or relaxing in the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce’s beer and wine garden, take a moment to recognize the people that made this event come together.

Through the tireless work of event co-chairs Mayor Rich Crispo and Diane Lewis, along with the steady help of members of the Community Activities Commission, the 2013 Newcastle Days will likely be the best yet.

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August 1, 2013

CNN Money Magazine selected Newcastle as the 18th best place to live in the nation in 2011, highlighting, in particular, the city’s culture of volunteerism.

“The volunteer spirit is alive and well in this former coal-mining town,” wrote the magazine. “Despite serious budget cuts that threatened the city’s summer 2011 events, local businesses and citizens offered time and cash to keep the community’s concerts and fireworks afloat.”

Fast-forward two years and the picture is a bit different. Sure, Concerts in the Park is still going strong, and Newcastle Days will continue as usual, but it is getting harder and harder for organizers to attract volunteers.

“Last year, we did have about 125 volunteers that worked within the city of Newcastle,” Mayor Rich Crispo said at an April council meeting. “But it has been difficult at the beginning of this year to find volunteers for events.”

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July 5, 2013

Full-time detective is good for Newcastle

At the June 4 City Council meeting, City Manager Rob Wyman announced that Newcastle’s preliminary 2013 population was up to 10,640.

Just a short time later, the council took a significant step toward improving the public safety of those residents by directing Wyman to bump the city’s half-time detective to full time next year.

Given that Newcastle is the only King County partner city without its own full-time detective, this move was long overdue, and quite welcome.

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