Newcastle bus routes to change Saturday

February 4, 2011

NEW — 3:15 p.m. Feb. 4, 2011

Some King County Metro Transit bus routes in Newcastle change Feb. 5.

Riders throughout the Metro Transit service area should check winter schedules for the routes they use most often to see what has changed. Riders can prepare by picking up a blue timetable and the Special Rider Alert brochure. The information is also posted at Metro Online.

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Soprano soars to stardom

February 4, 2011

UPDATED — 5 p.m. Feb. 17, 2011

Local opera singer cast in leading roles internationally

Petra Sovcovova stars as the Widow Corney in ‘Oliver!’ alongside Kevin Benedict, who plays Mr. Bumble. By Nicolase Mallat*

Although she claims she’s never shattered glass using only her disciplined soprano pitches, few other things appear unattainable for local, up-and-coming opera star Petra Sovcovova.

Born in Redmond and now a resident of Newcastle, Sovcovova said she has been in six productions so far in her young career and has travelled to the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Italy to perform in operatic productions.

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City council gives green light to dog park

February 4, 2011

Funding to be discussed this summer during budgeting process

The City Council voted 6-1 at its Feb. 1 meeting to move forward with building a dog park at the future sports park site on Southeast 95th Way.

The city will add the park to its capital projects and discuss funding when it begins work on the 2012 budget this summer.

The Parks Commission recommended to the council at its Jan. 12 meeting that an off-leash dog park be built at the future sports park site. It also noted that the council’s recommended budget of $25,000 would not be enough to build and maintain an off-leash park.

A park constructed at the future sports park site would likely be one or two acres, temporary and atop the grassy mound at the center of the site. It would need to be moved when construction begins on the sports park. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2016.

The future sports park’s design calls for a one-third-acre, off-leash dog park on the east end of the property.

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Eye surgeon murder-plot trial begins

February 4, 2011

Read the latest on the case here.

His laser-eye-surgery business and personal life were crumbling, so an angry Dr. Michael Mockovak wasn’t beyond inappropriate outbursts, according to his lawyer.

It was one such outburst, an “immature joke” about hiring the Russian mafia to kill his business partner, that has landed the Newcastle resident and Clearly Lasik co-founder in court, accused of hatching a murder-for-hire plot against his one-time partner, lawyer Colette Tvedt said Jan. 18.

During the first day of testimony in Mockovak’s trial, jurors heard the frustration and anger from Mockovak himself — in taped recordings between him and a former Clearly Lasik employee. But his comments were viewed in entirely different lights by Tvedt and King County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Mary Barbosa.

Dr. Michael Mockovak (center) appears in the courtroom of Judge Palmer Robinson on Jan. 18. Mockovak is accused of a murder-for-hire plot.

In the scratchy recordings, Mockovak can be heard telling the employee about a life-insurance policy he had on his business partner, Dr. Joseph King. Mockovak can also be heard telling the man about King’s future travel plans to Australia, as well as the times an assassin would likely find King alone during his vacation.

Barbosa, in her opening statement, said that Mockovak and King each had a $4 million life-insurance policy on each other as part of their business.

She also said Mockovak believed the employee could put him in touch with a hit man for the Russian mafia.

But Tvedt insisted the employee, a man who was apparently eager to work with the FBI, entrapped Mockovak, pushing him to move forward with the scheme.

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Newcastle woman sentenced for Preston crash

February 4, 2011

The driver responsible for a devastating crash near Preston in December 2009 has been sentenced to six months in a work-release facility on a vehicular assault charge stemming from the incident.

Meanwhile, the other driver in the Interstate 90 crash continues a long recovery from life-threatening injuries.

Washington State Patrol The remains of a Honda Civic rest alongside Interstate 90 after a December 2009 crash. The driver suffered life-threatening injuries.

Police said the intoxicated driver, 54-year-old Newcastle resident Janet Bumgardner, had a cocktail of drugs — oxycodone, morphine, a prescription sleeping aid and over-the-counter allergy medication — in her system at the time of the crash. Washington State Patrol investigators also discovered red wine in a travel mug inside her silver Acura.

King County Superior Court Judge Richard Eadie handed down the sentence Jan. 7. Bumgardner, who pleaded guilty to vehicular assault in late November, has a long history of drunken driving convictions, plus convictions for disorderly conduct, malicious mischief and telephone harassment, court documents state.

The state Department of Corrections said she is scheduled to serve the sentence at the Helen B. Ratcliff Work Release house in Seattle. Bumgardner must also pay $2,612 in court costs and fees. The sentence prohibits her from contacting the other driver for 10 years and requires her to be under community custody for a year after the work-release term ends.

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Parks Commission welcomes new member

February 4, 2011

City Clerk Bob Baker swore in new Parks Commissioner Jesse Tam at the Jan. 12 Parks Commission meeting.

Tam will serve until Sept. 1, 2014.

Mayor John Dulcich appointed Tam to the position.

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Chiropractic office will offer community classes

February 4, 2011

Newcastle-based chiropractor Dr. Melinda Maxwell has spent the past 26 years practicing medicine, helping her patients as well as taking a leading role in community education.

She began pro bono work with The Rotary Boys & Girls club in Seattle, and she then began offering a slew of courses and seminars at businesses, community colleges, high schools and her clinic.

This month, that clinic — Chiropractic Wellness Center — will begin free monthly workshops and activities in Newcastle.

Beginning Feb. 19, the clinic will host Super Saturdays, in which members of the community will be treated to a free breakfast at Chiropractic Wellness Center and a walk on a local trail. Super Saturdays will be from 9 a.m. to noon the third Saturday of each month.

Beginning Feb. 23, the clinic will hold Wellness Workshops at Tapatio Mexican Grill, 6920 Coal Creek Parkway S.E., which will include meet and greets, health discussions, and question-and-answer sessions. The workshops will be from noon to 1:30 p.m. the fourth Wednesday of every month.

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Rapid Response

February 4, 2011

What do you think of the Parks Commission’s recommendation to build a dog park at the site of the future sports park on Southeast 95th Way?

Can we just build it somewhere — anywhere — and move on to other things, like safe sidewalks on all major roads around Newcastle?

— Trina Sooy, Newcastle

I’m still waiting for the library and athletic fields Sonny Putter and the rest of the City Council promised 10 years ago when I first moved into the community. Nothing against dogs or dog owners, but I am curious how the city of Newcastle manages its priorities. If the Parks Commission has recommended a dog park as a priority over a park kids can use, I’d recommend they become outwardly mobile.

— Troy Anderson, Newcastle

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Letter to the editor:

February 4, 2011

Thank you to all who helped F.E.T.C.H. make a local dog park a reality

Lake Boren Park is centered in our community, our commons for community and recreational activities, a central hub linking our trails system to our community. A popular destination for many that walk our trails with dogs, Lake Boren Park has seen supervised dogs run off leash for decades. With off-leash activity growing, it has become evident that Newcastle should consider designating a central off-leash area. With the history and growing demand at this central location, an off-leash area at Lake Boren Park appears most logical.

Recently, the Parks Commission chose to restrict an off-leash area to the future sports park, ignoring the needs of many residents with a message to stop using trails and drive to a remote location completely disconnected from our trail system. A message that Newcastle families with children and dogs who wish to spend an afternoon in the park with their dog off leash must to go to a barren and isolated location without playground equipment, and fails to meet recreational needs for families with children. The choice is a retreat from the challenge to find a quality solution designed to enhance Lake Boren Park.

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State budget ideas are just starting

February 4, 2011

Gov. Chris Gregoire has presented a long list of possible cuts for Washington to balance a $37 billion, two-year budget. Legislators convened this week to begin sorting the ideas and adding their own.

All of the governor’s ideas have merit, some more than others:

  • Gregoire and the state employees’ unions have agreed to take a five-hour-per-month furlough, reducing pay by 3 percent. It’s not enough. The goal should be 5 percent.
  • The idea of creating a new ferry district may get the tax-supported transportation monkey off the state’s back, but it only creates another level of government and taxation. We can’t imagine the voters supporting this one.
  • Combining all of the many authorities that oversee education from early childhood through universities is an idea worth pursuing for the sake of a better education system, but it isn’t likely to be done this year. Can the idea receive further study without an added expense?
  • Other department combinations have been suggested for efficiency and reduced overhead. We like it, but we hope the Legislature will still budget by existing departments to give direction as to its preferences in spending.
  • We’ve come to expect the new state Route 520 bridge to be tolled. We’re glad the federal government has agreed for the state to toll the Interstate 90 bridge as well. The state should, in turn, create a lesser toll for both I-90 and state Route 520 — only until the new bridge is paid for. We fear the congestion on interstates 90 and 405 that will result from commuters seeking to avoid the toll on one.
  • Eliminating state support for programs for children, the disabled and mental-health patients is not acceptable. Those most vulnerable will only cause added costs in other areas if they are not cared for. Pay now or pay later? That is the question.
  • It may take a tax increase to make things better. The voters pulled back the tax on candy and bottled water, and the governor is committed to no new taxes. But let’s get real, people: We need to pay taxes if we want services. The biggest stumbling block will be whether the two parties are willing to combine forces for the two-thirds majority vote needed to approve any tax increase.

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