February 6, 2015
The Newcastle City Council agreed to spend $250,000 on a building it could get for free.
Let us repeat that — $250,000 of taxpayer funds spent on a maintenance operations building that could be had for nothing, well, mostly nothing.
It doesn’t make much sense, does it?
But that’s what the council narrowly agreed to with the recent 4-3 approval of the purchase-sale agreement to acquire a Coal Creek Utility District-owned building.
Sure, on the surface, it looks like a good deal — “I only have to pay $250,000 for a $750,000 building? What a steal!” — but more and more, this agreement is starting to feel like an iceberg. It’s what’s underneath the water that you should be worried about. Read more
January 2, 2015
As the city heads into the coming year, Newcastle continues to grow and flourish. Here are a few of our goals for the city in 2015.
Look to the future — The city has enjoyed a few years of financial stability, but looking at future forecasts, challenges are ahead as development revenues begin to disappear. Begin the discussion now, not later, to make decisions that will ensure the city’s financial future isn’t seeing red.
Keep an eye on Energize Eastside — Puget Sound Energy’s Community Advisory Group just selected its recommended routes, and both include proposed electric transmission lines through Newcastle. The company’s Energize Eastside process, aimed at upgrading power lines to fulfill the growing demand, is far from over, though. Make your voice heard and participate in the coming Environmental Impact Statement process and any other avenues offered to share your concerns. Read more
October 3, 2014
The city celebrated its 20th year of incorporation in September, but locals know, at least they should, that Newcastle’s story goes back much farther than that.
Newcastle’s coal-mining history dates back to the mid 1800s, when the city was second only to Seattle in population.
The Newcastle mining site operated for about 100 years, until the mid-1900s. Workers extracted nearly 11 million tons of coal during that period.
Vestiges of that history remain scattered across the city in the form of landmarks such as the Baima House, a century-old company house that used to house miners and their families, and the Newcastle Cemetery, the final resting place for a number of Newcastle pioneers. Read more
August 29, 2014
On Tuesday, parents across the Issaquah and Renton school districts will walk their children to the school bus or to school for the start of a new school year.
Finally, a bit of free time for a second cup of coffee.
But wait, your school needs you. The volunteer jobs at school are endless. The playground needs monitors, the library can use assistance, the front office might need your organizational skills, teachers almost never have enough helpers and the nurse’s office is often in need of a mother’s touch to watch over a sick child.
But the best volunteer jobs may be working directly with students. Parents, grandparents and other citizens are always welcome to just listen to children read. For a bigger role, ask about becoming a mentor, helping guide a child in his or her social development and studies — or sometimes just to be there to listen. Read more
July 2, 2014
History tells us the weather this time of the year is a trick. Soon enough, the June gloom will give way to sunny skies and warm temperatures.
But if this lovely weather holds (and even if it doesn’t) many Western Washingtonians will head outside, braving the cold waters and muddy hiking trails.
Please, don’t let the sun lull you into contentment. As we learned recently from incidents on Mount Rainier, even experienced outdoor people, and even those with professional guides, can get into trouble.
June 5, 2014
The community will lose an important asset this month, when Public Works Director Mark Rigos leaves for the same position at North Bend.
North Bend’s population is smaller than Newcastle’s, by about 4,000 residents, but it offers greater responsibilities, including managing the city’s water and sewer district.
Rigos was only with Newcastle for three years, but it has certainly felt like much longer than that, given the way he has fully ingratiated himself within the community.
In his time with Newcastle, Rigos redefined what it meant to be a public works director, when he equally prioritized public safety and customer service. Read more
May 1, 2014
The impacts of the state losing its No Child Left Behind waiver are unlikely to be profound locally, but they are still an embarrassment — an embarrassment that could easily have been avoided.
Washington, along with 42 other states, was operating under a waiver that allows the state to essentially ignore some portions of the federal law. But that waiver was revoked last week.
We are in this mess because the state teacher’s union and Democrat members of the Legislature were unwilling to allow test scores to be a factor in teacher evaluations.
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.
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.”
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.