Notes from Newcastle: The Prices of city trail maintenance

July 2, 2014

As the pleasant summer months approach, there is no better time to explore the city’s vast trail network under blue skies and warm temperatures.

You can find longtime Newcastle residents Jim and Peggy Price on the trails in rain or shine, though.

The husband-and-wife team is very active when it comes to preserving and expanding Newcastle’s walking trails. They were among the founders of the Newcastle Trails organization and continue to remain deeply involved in the nonprofit.

Peggy had a direct hand in designing, routing and building the Terrace Trail and the eastern portion of the May Creek Trail. She now spends a large portion of her weeks working on the CrossTown Trail, which will span from Coal Creek Parkway to Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park. Read more

Editorial – Be cautious as weather warms up

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.

Read more


July 2, 2014

Mark Rigos and his positive impact will truly be missed

Thanks for your first-rate coverage of the departure of Mark Rigos, Newcastle’s Public Works director. Mark is an extraordinary individual who made a huge positive impact on the city and its residents, especially in expanding and improving Newcastle’s trail system, as members of Newcastle Trails can attest.

Projects that had been deferred for years were completed during Mark’s three-year tenure, often on his initiative (without prodding from Newcastle Trails). These included easements for the Horse Trail, drainage on the Highlands Trail, and surveys that helped prevent encroachment on our parks and trails.

Read more

City has big shoes to fill in public works

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

Get involved in PSE ‘Energize Eastside’ decision

June 5, 2014

Guest column

After having lived in Newcastle for the past 10 years next to the Puget Sound Energy power lines and the Olympic gas pipelines, my wife and I first gave little thought to PSE’s proposed “Energize Eastside” project that contemplates Olympus as part of one of two pre-selected routes an upgrade in PSE’s equipment might take. After all, these “H” poles date back to the 1960s and need to be replaced or removed at some point, we figured.

But then we learned things. The proposed new poles would be twice the height of the current ones, as high as 12-story buildings, and the increase in voltage from 115,000 volts to 230,000 volts would quadruple the power flowing through the lines and add to dangerous EMFs (electromagnetic fields). In addition, the new poles would require much bigger cement foundations that would require heavy equipment and massive vibrations to settle them into the soil, all within narrow 100-foot easements and over and near gas pipelines that are 50-plus years old. Read more

Letters — June 6

June 5, 2014

PSE power lines will lower property values

Puget Sound Energy plans to more than double the power lines in height and in voltage will not only increase the potential ills effects on our health in Olympus, but will destroy the natural beauty of our area.

Our skyline will be blocked by these ugly structures, and the property values will impact not only the homes by the power lines, but for the entire area. Keep in mind that property values are not isolated, but reflect the demand for housing and the prices that future homeowners will be willing to pay. Read more

Notes from Newcastle

May 1, 2014

For once, I’m not the only one at meeting

I’m used to being the only one at Newcastle City Council meetings.

I sit there, alone, as the council conducts its business in front of an audience of one.

Christina Corrales-Toy

Christina Corrales-Toy

It can get lonely, I’ll admit, watching council members deliberate as I sit surrounded by a sea of empty chairs.

Read more


May 1, 2014

New power line is bad for the community

Puget Sound Energy’s proposal to replace the current 115 kV overhead power line with 230 kV lines on taller poles does not consider the negative impact on our community. Overhead power lines do not belong in residential areas for the following reasons:

  •  Exposure to electromagnetic fields has been linked to increased rates of certain cancers, such as leukemia in children and cancers of the lymph and diseases of central nervous systems in adults.
  • Inhaling charged particles/pollutants around power lines has been linked to an increase in free radicals and many adverse health effects, such as cancer.
  •  interference with implanted pacemakers and defibrillators.
  •  power line noise. Read more

Editorial: Teachers, Dems are at fault for waiver loss

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.

Read more

Connect with Renton Technical College

April 8, 2014

Nearly every week, I meet someone whose sibling, parent, neighbor or co-worker attended Renton Technical College. Many locals are, or have been, students at RTC. Many are program graduates, working in vital Washington sectors like aerospace, information technology or health care. Many people have taken a cooking class, upgraded their credentials and improved their English skills at RTC.

The key word here is “many.” Many people have a connection to this college. And if you are one of these many people, we want to invite you back. There are many ways, as an alumni or general supporter of the college, you can share your expertise or continue your relationship with us.

Heather Winfrey

Heather Winfrey

First and foremost, come to our events. If you don’t know about the profound work we accomplish at Renton Technical College, here are just a few upcoming activities you can attend:

  • Weekly tours on Tuesdays and Thursdays, beginning at 11 a.m., Building I, Room 216;
  • Free Speakers Series lectures with Dr. Rita Schenck/Institute for Environmental Research & Education (April 17 at 4 p.m.);
  • The annual RTC Dinner & Silent Auction, featuring Pat Cashman and Events on the Edge, on Friday, June 6 (tickets available at

If you are a graduate, then you know RTC produces top-notch candidates for in-demand careers in the Puget Sound area. In fact, RTC has the highest completion and placement rates of all two-year post-secondary options in Washington state. We’re working now on the introduction of Applied Baccalaureates in Computer Applications and Applied Management by 2015. We offer more than 65 workforce programs as unique as Band Instrument Repair Technology, as creative as Culinary Arts and as exclusive as Anesthesia Technician, which is one of only five such programs nationally. Our industry connections are superlative, and graduates who pursue work in their chosen professions are getting great jobs.

So, please, share your success with RTC and encourage students of all ages to take a look at our college.  We are a viable, affordable and competitive option. I’m proud to say that when my teenager graduates from Hazen High School in 2015, he will attend college at RTC.

Finally, you can stay connected to RTC by joining our mailing list or becoming a member of the RTC Circle of Friends by contacting us at or 235-7867. The RTC Circle of Friends offers tailored benefits and activities and donor recognition.

Heather Winfrey is the director of the Renton Technical College Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the needs of RTC’s students and programs. She lives in Newcastle.

Interested in writing a Newcastle-specific column for the paper? Email

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