(Video) Newcastle Town Hall Meeting — June 16, 2015

July 2, 2015

Newcastle City Council roundup — May 6

May 7, 2014

NEW — 4:05 p.m. May 7, 2014

The Newcastle City Council held its first meeting of the month May 6. Here is the Cliffs Notes version of what happened at City Hall. View the full meeting agenda online here.

Marijuana moratorium coming?

The Newcastle City Council directed city staff to prepare an ordinance placing a moratorium on marijuana-related business in the city. It represents one of the body’s first significant actions on the subject since the drug’s legalization.

Councilman Gordon Bisset made the motion, which passed 4-3. Read more

Newcastle City Council roundup — March 18

March 19, 2014

NEW — 2:05 p.m. March 19, 2014

The Newcastle City Council held its second meeting of the month March 18. Here is the Cliffs Notes version of what happened at City Hall. View the full meeting agenda online here.

Put up a parking lot

The City Council approved a zoning code amendment allowing offsite parking for nonresidential uses in residential areas.

Residents won’t likely see a proliferation of parking lots in their neighborhoods though, since there are some specific criteria that must be met to allow the parking lot. Read more

Council approves purchase of maintenance equipment, before state grant expires

May 2, 2013

With just a few months before a state Department of Ecology grant expires, the Newcastle City Council authorized the Public Works Department to use the funds to purchase a $100,000 piece of equipment that will benefit the city’s storm water management.

The trailer-mounted hydro-excavator will be used for quick response to spills and storm pipe cleaning, though Public Works Director Mark Rigos admitted he was not sure how often the city would use it.

“Honestly, I look at this as kind of a nice-to-have, not a requirement,” he said. “I do have some concerns on how much, honestly, we’re going to use this equipment. If this was solely coming out of Newcastle coffers, I would not bring this to you.” Read more

More than 100 attend annual town hall meeting

November 2, 2012

NEW — 10:40 a.m. Nov. 2, 2012

About 115 residents armed with electronic voting clickers responded to real-time poll questions at the annual town hall meeting held Oct. 29 at The Golf Club at Newcastle.

City Manager Rob Wyman presented information about the 2013 preliminary budget and future development in the city, while Newcastle Police Chief Melinda Irvine offered information on community safety, crime prevention and Newcastle police staffing levels.

With the electronic voting devices, residents had the opportunity to offer their feedback about the city’s performance. Read more

Newcastle to receive statewide recycling award

April 17, 2012

NEW — 11 a.m. April 17, 2012

The city of Newcastle and Waste Management will receive a Washington State Recycling Association Recyclers of the Year award May 1 for their competitive project to increase neighborhood recycling last year.

Recipients are selected by a panel of WSRA members representing several aspects of the recycling industry, including collectors and processors, government agencies, businesses and nonprofits.

“Through innovative programs like the recycling challenge, cities and other organizations can assist in reducing environmental impacts,” Newcastle City Manager Rob Wyman said in a statement. “Newcastle is proud of the award and of its citizens who rose to the challenge.”

Read more

Council OKs $6,000 raise for city manager

April 5, 2012

After evaluating City Manager Rob Wyman’s performance on the job, the Newcastle City Council has approved a $6,000 raise for the position.

The raise — increasing Wyman’s annual salary from $110,000 to $116,000 — will be retroactive to Jan. 1 and includes two additional days of merit leave for 2012.

Wyman was hired as interim city manager in January 2010, and the council selected him as the permanent city manager that August. This is his first raise since taking the position.

The council also assigned Wyman seven goals to work on this year.

Rob Wyman

The goals include demonstrating efficient use of expenditures while maximizing revenue sources, accomplishing objectives set by the council in the 2012 budget, promoting economic development in town, maintaining a positive staff performance for employees and developing a communication strategy with residents.

Wyman’s performance was evaluated in several executive sessions prior to the resolution amending his contract being placed on the council’s March 20 consent agenda — a series of items bundled and voted upon without discussion.

Read more

Mutual Materials eyes potential redevelopment

February 3, 2012

Nestled back from a short, paved driveway off of Newcastle’s Coal Creek Parkway, the now defunct Mutual Materials brick plant still looms large.

Covered awnings still protect masonry products and other materials, stacked more than 10 feet high on pallets, from the rain.

A small stream meanders by the closed chain link fence gating its entrance and a quiet has essentially blanketed the plant since it shut down its day-to-day operations last spring.

But now a different kind of work is going on here — work that might lead to redevelopment of the site that would impact the city of Newcastle for years to come, a fact not lost on Mutual Materials executives and shareholders, Mutual Materials President Joe Bowen said.

“Given the sense of pride that we’ve had about what we’ve done there, we just want to make sure whatever the result of that property is … that we’ll be able to look back at what goes in there and still have that sense of pride,” he said. “The community of Newcastle has been very, very gracious to us for years. It’s important that we give this the consideration that this community deserves.”

Looking back to the beginning

The day was unseasonably dry for June in Seattle.

Little rain had been recorded. Temperatures were hovering steady in the 70s.

John Back was at work heating glue over a gasoline fire at Victor Clairmont’s downtown Seattle woodworking shop the afternoon of June 6, 1889.

But as the glue boiled over and caught fire, eventually spreading and burning about 25 city blocks in the Great Seattle Fire, Back would have more of an impact on Seattle history than he could have ever known.

The next day, nearly 600 businessmen in the Seattle area came together to determine how to rebuild.

It was mandated by the mayor that the downtown business core would be rebuilt with brick.

Residents receive a grand opening tour of the Newcastle brick plant in 1959.

With only brick.

Experienced bricklayer Daniel Houlahan traveled from California to help pave the city’s roads and sidewalks — a journey that would help rebuild Seattle’s infrastructure and eventually impact the city of Newcastle for years to come.

Houlahan located a clay deposit to use for a brick plant and found an ideal site at the base of Beacon Hill and went on to found the Builders Brick Co. — Mutual Materials’ predecessor — in 1890.

After Builders Brick went on to supply much of the brick that rebuilt and continues to build Seattle, the company purchased Mutual Materials, a local distributor that opened its doors in 1959.

After expanding its operations into the marketing and distribution business, Builders Brick officially changed its name to Mutual Materials Co. in 1966.

In 2003, the plant was boasting an output of about 25 million bricks per year.

Today, Mutual Materials is the largest producer and distributor of masonry and hardscape products for household and commercial uses in the Pacific Northwest.
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Council passes 2012’s $5.8 million budget

January 6, 2012

After a six-month process from its July budget retreat to final adoption, the Newcastle City Council voted to unanimously pass its 2012 budget Dec. 6.

But many members of the council said they won’t start patting themselves on the back anytime soon.

“I still encourage the Finance Committee and council to look to the long-term solution of how we’re going to be a viable city,” Councilwoman Carol Simpson said. “This was a good Band-Aid again … I still think we still have a lot of work cut out for ourselves in the next four years to put ourselves on track.”

The budget includes funding for several projects at Lake Boren Park and maintains the parks manager position held by Michael Holly, who faced an uncertain future after the council directed city staff to suggest positions and/or services that could be reduced.

“It’s a good budget. It’s a responsible budget,” Deputy Mayor Steve Buri said. “We have done an awful lot of cutting over the last three years, and I think most of the residents are pleased that those cuts have come without serious reductions in service.”

The city’s projected revenue for 2012 sits at about $5.8 million — an increase of about $147,700 from the preliminary budget released in October. Some of that increase includes money from the council’s Nov. 15 decision to cover the city’s anticipated $61,000 shortfall between revenue and expenditures for 2012 in part by taking an allowable 1 percent increase in property tax.

Residents can expect the city’s portion of their property taxes to increase an additional $11 next year for a $516,000 home — the typical home price in Newcastle as assessed by King County.

Read more

City revenue on the rise, but still below normal

May 6, 2011

The city’s revenue in the first quarter of this year is better than it was last year, which is indicative of a slow economic recovery, at least in the area of development and sales tax revenue, city Finance Director Christine Olson said.

The city has collected $1.45 million in revenue so far this year, which accounts for 24 percent of the $5.95 million budgeted in the general fund for the year. The city has spent $1.44 million so far, which accounts for 23 percent of the $6.38 million budgeted in the general fund for the year.

Olson said $6.38 million is likely higher than what the city will pay out of the general fund for the year, as other city funds will reimburse some expenses.

Sales tax collections for the year are at 19 percent of what was budgeted for the year, which is about 4 percent below what is typically collected in the first quarter. By the end of the year, that could amount to a $31,000 shortfall in sales tax revenue.

Olson said expenses from the city’s contract with the King County Sheriff’s Office could be higher than expected for 2010. When the city’s officers are sick or on vacation, the city must pay to have an additional officer fill in temporarily, and the exact cost of that can often be hard to predict. The city will pay for the 2010 overtime this year.

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