City celebrates Downtown Transit Improvements completion

July 1, 2010

From left, State Rep. Marcie Maxwell, Deputy Mayor Steve Buri, Sound Transit Board Chair Aaron Reardon and council members Sonny Putter, Lisa Jensen, Carol Simpson and Rich Crispo smile as Buri and Reardon cut the ribbon for the Downtown Transit Improvement project June 16. By Tim Pfarr

The Downtown Transit Improvements project, formerly known as the Transit Center project, is complete, and a crowd of about 30 people was on hand for the project’s official ribbon-cutting ceremony June 16.

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‘Full meal deal’ selected for city manager search

July 1, 2010

Interim manager Rob Wyman will apply for job

The city entered into a contract with the recruiting firm Prothman and Associates to find its next city manager. The process will conclude in mid-August or early September. Interim City Manager Rob Wyman said he plans to apply for the position.

Prothman and Associates offered three different levels of involvement in the recruitment process, and the City Council chose the most extensive option — which it referred to as the “full meal deal” — at its June 1 meeting with a 5-1 vote. Councilman Rich Crispo dissented; Councilman Sonny Putter was absent.

The city will work directly with the firm’s president, Greg Prothman, during the hiring process. In choosing the most extensive recruitment option, Prothman will work with the city from candidate identification to final interviews.

Along the way, Prothman will also screen candidates at various levels, hold candidate workshops, perform background checks and coordinate candidates’ travel plans during the interview process. However, the council agreed that it preferred candidates from Washington.

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Council adds dog park to work plan

July 1, 2010

Reduced fines for off-leash dogs planned

At its June 15 meeting, the City Council unanimously voted to have the Parks Commission investigate possibilities for an off-leash dog park in the city and return to the City Council with a recommendation.

The commission may consider creating a fenced off-leash area, or establishing times of day when dogs may be allowed off their leashes in city parks.

Also, the council will likely vote to reduce the fine for leash law violations — $250 per violation — at one of its July meetings.

The commission will begin discussing options for off-leash dogs at its June 15 meeting. The council suggested the commission keep the cost of a potential dog park at less than $25,000.

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Great Clips staff gathers, donates hair clippings to soak oil in Gulf disaster

July 1, 2010

Hair. It grows. It gets long and unruly. It gets chopped off. It gets thrown in the trash.

However, the staff at Great Clips in Newcastle is collecting hair cut off during haircuts, rounding it up and shipping it to the Gulf of Mexico to help soak up oil from the recent oil spill.

“We want to help out in any way we can,” said Heather Allen, manager of Newcastle Great Clips, in the Coal Creek Shopping Center.

Great Clips employees are collecting hair clippings in their breakroom to send to the Gulf of Mexico to help soak up oil from the recent spill. These are the third and fourth boxes, and both will weigh more than 10 pounds by the time they are shipped. By Tim Pfarr

The idea of sending hair came about in the beginning of May, when employee Blanca Carrillo left a flyer for the nonprofit organization Matter of Trust in Allen’s office. Matter of Trust, which helps reallocate manmade and natural surpluses, was embarking on a campaign to collect hair clippings, fur clippings, fleece, feathers and nylons that would otherwise go to waste to help soak up oil from the spill.

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Mark Greene to run for state House as write-in

July 1, 2010

Newcastle resident Mark Greene is running for the House of Representatives to represent Newcastle in the 41st District, Position 2.

However, he will be embarking on a write-in campaign, as 217 of the 574 signatures he submitted to King County Elections were rejected.

Mark Greene

Those who wish to file for candidacy must either collect signatures or pay a filing fee. The fee is 1 percent of the annual salary of position for which the candidate is running, but candidates who instead wish to collect signatures must collect one signature for each dollar of the filing fee.

Greene was required to submit 471 signatures, and of the 217 that were rejected, 98 were rejected because the signers were not registered voters, 82 were rejected because the signers were not from the 41st District and 37 were rejected because the signatures did not match those on voting registrations.

Greene kicked off his campaign June 20. He said he will focus his campaign on jobs and the environment. He is also in the process of creating a campaign website.

Visit his current website at

City Council signs contract with county for animal control

July 1, 2010

Pet licenses to increase from $7 to $30 per year

At its June 15 regular meeting, the City Council unanimously voted to enter into an interlocal agreement with King County in which the county will provide animal control and licensing services through 2012.

The County Council approved the new system June 21, and it went into effect July 1.

The city previously handled its own licensing, and through the new agreement, pet licenses will increase from $7 to $30 per year. However, pets with lifetime licenses will not be subject to the new fees, and old licenses valid past July 1 will still be honored by the city.

Residents can now purchase pet licenses on King County’s Animal Care and Control website or at City Hall. The county will now enforce pet licenses, and the city will no longer send out reminder notices for pet license renewal.

The city previously paid $2,500 per year for the county’s animal control services, but the county passed an ordinance in November 2009 that stated the county would no longer operate an animal shelter, and that cities wishing to continue utilizing the county’s services would need to pay all of their own expenses.

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Rapid response

July 1, 2010

At its June 15 meeting, the City Council voted to have the Parks Commission explore options for allowing dogs off leashes in city parks. This could involve creating a fenced dog park or designating times of day when dogs are allowed off their leashes in parks. If you were on the Parks Commission, what would you suggest the city do to give dogs an opportunity to get off their leashes?

I think that the dog park is a great idea. I don’t like the idea of having it at only certain times of the day, though. It should be open at all hours for off-leash dogs if we’re going to do it at all.

— Steve Hegenderfer, Newcastle

Several years ago, a resident had their dog off the leash at Lake Boren Park. The dog ran up and bit my then-6-year-old daughter on the face. In all fairness, that could happen whether they are on or off a leash, but animals can be very unpredictable, even to their owners. For me, it would come down to whether the rules are “fenced in” well enough!

— Kandy Schendel, Newcastle

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Letters to the editor

July 1, 2010

Drivers need to be more aware of pedestrians near onramp

This is an open letter to the speeding drivers coming down the hill to enter Interstate 405 northbound from Bellevue and Newcastle. Please respect pedestrians crossing this entrance ramp trying to catch a bus or getting to the park & ride lot. Must we take our lives in our or your hands every day?

Jerry Milstein


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Keep it safe on the Fourth

July 1, 2010

Everybody loves fireworks. Seeing the cascading lights flicker through the night sky just makes people ooh and ah, whether this is the first display they’ve seen or the 50th.

Besides the big fireworks shows going on around the region, including, of course, the Old-Fashioned 4th of July at Lake Boren Park, many people also like to set off their own smaller displays — allowing for the other American activity of ignoring a law you don’t like.

Yes, indeed, fireworks are illegal within the city limits of Newcastle. King County has no such restrictions, which is why you can still purchase the contraband just a few steps outside the city.

Don’t confuse being allowed to buy it with being allowed to set it off. Within Newcastle, there are fines for the possession and discharge of fireworks. There is no exception to the law just because it’s the Fourth of July.

That being said, if you or your children want to set off fireworks, at least have some common sense about it. In 2009, 200 firework-related injuries were reported to the Washington State Patrol. There are certainly others that went unreported. Don’t be a statistic in next year’s count.

Fire department officials who will have to deal with the aftermath of irresponsible firework use have a host of tips for staying safe.

Make sure that a sober adult is in charge of the fireworks, and don’t let children light them no matter what. Light them away from trees, buildings and other things that can burn. Keep a hose nearby to douse any that start to spark and a bucket of water for the used fireworks. Keep pets inside; a spooked animal can cause all sorts of other problems. Never relight a dud. And never tamper with or alter a firework after you buy it.

Instead of trying to remember all of that, why not just go to Newcastle’s Old Fashioned Fourth and have a good time with your neighbors. The fireworks will be spectacular (and safe) and the live music by Shelly and the Curves is the best. The music begins at 8 p.m. followed by fireworks at 10.

Council gives preliminary approval to new residential plat

July 1, 2010

The City Council unanimously approved the preliminary plat of the Northwind Subdivision, southeast of the 118th Avenue Southeast and Southeast 88th Street intersection.

The new 2.69-acre subdivision is slated to be split into five single-family lots that range between 7,566 square feet and 16,175 square feet in size. The new subdivision would also contain two critical area tracts, a storm water retention pond and two joint-use driveways.

A critical area tract is an area that cannot be built upon because of natural features, such as wetlands, streams or steep slopes.

The site also contains a future development tract, a location on which another home could be built in the future. However, any construction on the future development tract would need to go through the city’s formal approval process.

Next, the permit applicants have to obtain engineering review permits for the site, and they have five years to do so, although they can request a two-year extension to the timeline.

After receiving engineering review permits, the site can be cleared, utilities can be put in place and roads can be constructed.

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