Lake Washington Boulevard almost slides again

June 3, 2010

Vehicle traffic drives in the 7200 block of Lake Washington Boulevard Southeast May 27, at the repaired site of a burst pipe that threatened to create a sinkhole. By Greg Farrar

In early May, city maintenance workers discovered that a pipe running under Lake Washington Boulevard just north of Southeast 74th Street had collapsed, causing water to seep into the surrounding soil and erode the underside of the road.

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Budget report reveals encouraging finds

June 3, 2010

City staff released the first-quarter budget report for 2010, which shows an increase in development that may be indicative of a coming economic recovery.

However, sales tax is down, and Director of Finance Christine Olson said some of the first-quarter results are not indicative of a city’s overall financial health, as major expenses, such as public safety, have not been paid, and major revenues have not yet been collected.

Development revenue in the first quarter was almost $113,000, 52 percent of what the city had budgeted for the year. In 2009, the city collected only about $22,000 in development revenue in the first quarter.

Building-permit revenue was also off to a great start this year, with first-quarter revenue at almost $47,000, 72 percent of the amount budgeted for the year.

Also, revenues exceeded expenditures.

“Spending is really controlled right now,” Olson said. “We’re being very cautious.”

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Teens shot at party early Sunday morning

June 3, 2010

Two Renton teenagers, ages 17 and 18, were each shot in the torso at a party in the 11800 block of Southeast 87th Street at about 1:30 a.m. May 2, according to a press release from the King County Sheriff’s Office.

The teens were sent to Overlake Hospital in serious condition. They had not been invited to the party; a 16-year-old Newcastle girl drove them there.

Another 18-year-old partygoer suffered serious cuts to his face, and he was sent to Overlake Hospital as well.

The Renton teens arrived as a fight was taking place outside the house where the party was. After their arrival, words were exchanged, bottles began flying and the teens were shot, according to the press release.

The 16-year-old Newcastle girl drove the wounded teens down the street and parked the car, and neighbors called police. Newcastle Police, Renton Police and King County Sheriff’s deputies arrived to find the scene quiet.

Authorities located the car containing the wounded teens and eventually gained entry into the house to find about 25 people, including the man who suffered cuts to his face.

Detectives from the King County Sheriff’s Major Crimes Unit are investigating the case, but no arrests have been made because “nobody saw anything,” according to the press release.

Off-leash dog park moves forward

June 3, 2010

Newcastle City Council members voted unanimously to investigate possible solutions to the lack of an off-leash dog park in the city at their meeting May 18.

Councilwoman Lisa Jensen was not in attendance, making the vote 6-0.

The direction to the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission to research the issue grew amid resident concerns about leash laws that will begin to be enforced in coming weeks.

Dogs must be on leashes within the city. But to date, city officials and police haven’t enforced those laws.

The announcement came in response to limited incidents of off-leash dogs at Lake Boren Park.

In coming weeks, more signs will be posted about the leash law and police were planning to begin enforcing it June 1. An owner caught with his or her dog off-leash can be fined up to $250.

More than 25 Newcastle residents attended the meeting to show support for a solution to the leash laws and lack of a dog park.

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Goat found in Lake Boren Park restroom

June 3, 2010

During a daily check of the Lake Boren Park men’s restroom Friday May 7, city maintenance workers discovered an abandoned baby goat covered with a blanket in a hay-lined crate.

The workers brought the goat back to City Hall, and city staff members fed it fresh fruit and purchased goat milk and a baby bottle for it from Newcastle Fruit and Produce and QFC.

The goat was euthanized three days after being found after its digestive track plugged. Contributed

Interim City Manager Rob Wyman said the baby goat was very hungry and thirsty, and city staff members looked after it until workers from the rescue and rehabilitation organization Pasado’s Safe Haven took it that day.

At Pasado’s Safe Haven, the goat was taken to see a veterinarian, and it was found that the goat was paralyzed from the waist down due to an injury it had suffered. All weekend, the goat was placed in a cart and wheeled around in the sunshine, never left unattended. However, on Monday, the goat’s digestive track plugged, leaving its abdomen rock hard, tremendously painful for the goat.

As the condition would repeat itself, workers at Pasado’s Safe Haven decided the best option for the goat was euthanasia.

“We all were very sad about it,” Wyman said. “It was a cute little goat, too, very friendly. We were hoping it was going to have a happy ending somewhere.”

He said there were no leads as to who abandoned the goat.

“We can only speculate at this point,” he said.

Bellevue man pleads guilty to ’08 robberies

June 3, 2010

James Estep, of Bellevue, recently pleaded guilty to the 2008 robberies of Papa Murphy’s Pizza and Baskin-Robbins in Newcastle.

He was charged with second-degree robbery and was sentenced to one year and eight months in prison.

Level-three sex offender moves to Newcastle

June 3, 2010

Level 3 sex offender Joseph Pershing Hemmert has moved to the 7000 block of 122nd Avenue Southeast, about four blocks east of Renton Academy off Newcastle Way, according to the King County Sheriff’s Office. Level 3 sex offender offenders are considered most likely to re-offend.

An open house was held May 20 at City Hall to notify the community about Hemmert.

Joseph Hmmert

Hemmert, now under 24-hour supervision, was convicted of indecent liberties in 1965 after molesting an 8-year-boy at a roller skating rink, and he was convicted of indecent liberties once again in 1970 after luring two female minors away from a store and molesting them.

For these offenses, Hemmert served sentences of three years and two years in prison, respectively.

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County confirms John Starbard as permitting agency chief

June 3, 2010

King County Council members confirmed former Newcastle City Manager John Starbard to lead the county agency responsible for building and land-use permits.

Officials said they hope Starbard can change the Department of Development and Environmental Services — a department Councilman Reagan Dunn described as “the worst-run agency in county government” until now.

The agency issues building and land-use permits for properties in unincorporated King County, enforces county building and land-use codes, issues business licenses and staffs the King County Fire Marshal Division.

John Starbard

County Executive Dow Constantine appointed Starbard to the post March 1, the same day Starbard started at the agency. The appointment required confirmation from the council.

The council discussed the appointment and questioned Starbard at a committee meeting last week, and then sent the confirmation to the full council for approval. The council OK’d the appointment May 3.

“I’m honored by the trust placed in me by the council and executive,” Starbard said in a statement. “Confirmation in my new role enables me to continue our important work to make our permit processing more efficient and customer-focused, and to prepare for our future as a rural service agency.”

Newcastle City Council members fired Starbard in January. The council attributed the decision to tense relationships between Starbard, elected officials and city residents.

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SR 900 crash injures Newcastle man

June 3, 2010

A late-night crash left a Newcastle man with serious injuries May 22 after a speeding car hit his pickup from behind.

Washington State Patrol investigators said the accident occurred at about 11:30 p.m. on state Route 900 near 172nd Place Southeast, southwest of Issaquah. Troopers said a 25-year-old Issaquah woman driving a Ford Focus headed eastbound on SR 900 struck the Ford pickup driven by the 35-year-old Newcastle man.

The crash sent the truck into a ditch. The vehicle flipped and landed on its roof. Troopers said the Focus came to rest in the front yard of a nearby residence.

Medics transported the man to Harborview Medical Center for treatment. He had not been wearing a seatbelt. Troopers released the woman after she received medical treatment at the scene.

Troopers continue to investigate the accident.

Talks with the Teamsters continue

June 3, 2010

City staff members have received a draft of a contract proposal from the Teamsters, the union representing Newcastle’s maintenance staff.

City staff members are now reviewing the contract draft, and as of Newcastle News’ deadline May 25, Interim City Manager Rob Wyman said the city planned to respond to the draft by the end of May.

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