Clearly Lasik co-founder found guilty of murder-for-hire plot

March 4, 2011

The co-founder of Clearly Lasik eye surgery centers was found guilty Feb. 3 of plotting to kill his partner.

The King County jury convicted Dr. Michael Mockovak of one count of criminal solicitation to commit first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree theft and attempted first-degree theft. Jurors found him not guilty of a second count of criminal solicitation involving the company’s former president.

The jury deliberated for less than two days.

Dr. Michael Mockovak, co-founder of Clearly Lasik eye surgery centers, is escorted out of King County Court Feb. 3, after he was found guilty of plotting to kill his partner and the company's former president. By Erika Schultz/The Seattle Times

After the verdict was read, Mockovak, who has been out on bail since shortly after his arrest in November 2009, was taken into custody and led to jail. He will face between 31 and 41 years in prison when he is sentenced March 17.

Mockovak’s former partner and target of the murder-for-hire plot, Dr. Joseph King, issued a statement: “My colleagues, my family and I are relieved to put this sad episode behind us.”

Prosecutors said Mockovak was willing to pay more than $100,000 to have King and former company President Brad Klock killed.

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Police release suspect sketch in possible assault near Hazen

March 4, 2011

NEW — 3:15 p.m. March 4, 2011

Investigators released a sketch Friday of a man suspected in a possible sexual assault near Hazen High School.

Sketch of the man believed to have sexually assaulted a teen on Monday.

Washington State Patrol suspect sketch.

Washington State Patrol detectives seek information and witnesses after a teenage girl reported sexual assault late Monday afternoon.

Police said a man in a truck picked up the Issaquah girl at about 5:30 p.m. as she walked along state Route 900 at 148th Avenue Southeast, assaulted her and preceded to drive around the area. The girl told police he held her against her will and released her after about 30 minutes.

Investigators described the suspect as a Hispanic man between 19 and 25 years old, and about 5-feet 6-inches tall. Police said he had a strong accent, and wore jeans, a dark blue sweatshirt and a hat. Sideburns could be seen from beneath the hat.

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City Hall to relocate by end of the year

March 4, 2011

UPDATED — 4:25 p.m. March 4, 2011

Council turns down offer to use both floors of current building

Newcastle City Hall will move to the second floor of the Newcastle Professional Center, 12835 Newcastle Way, by the end of the year. By Tim Pfarr

So long, 13020 Newcastle Way. The City Council voted to move City Hall to the 7,500-square-foot second floor of the Newcastle Professional Center, 12835 Newcastle Way, by the end of the year.

City staff recommended the move, expected to cost $250,000.

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Author ignites the flame of imagination

March 4, 2011

There was no place he could hide. Around each corner, students greeted him with excitement. Whenever he stopped moving, a line would form with students who wanted to say hello, get autographs and share their own story ideas.

Nevertheless, Seattle-based children’s author Keith Baker enjoyed greeting his biggest fans, and he did so with an unwavering smile for each child who approached him when he visited Newcastle Elementary School Feb. 17.

During his day at the school, he spoke at two assemblies and held workshops with the school’s second and fifth-graders. In between presentations, he signed more than 200 books for students and even a few teachers.

His visit was a precursor to the school’s 2011 Literacy Celebration Feb. 28 to March 4, which features guest readers, literature-themed cake decorating, schoolwide reading time and writing activities.

In the days before Baker’s visit, each grade level completed art projects devoted to one of the 20 books he had written and illustrated. Kindergarteners completed projects based on the book “LMNO Peas,” creating peas with green finger paints. These and the rest of the projects hung inside the school for Baker to see.

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Newcastle Days committee plans 2011 celebration

March 4, 2011

The committee responsible for planning the 2011 Newcastle Days celebration has convened, and this year’s celebration will be Sept. 9 and 10.

The organizing committee is seeking volunteers to help with preparations.

The Friday and Saturday celebration will be similar to that of 2010, with a sidewalk sale in the downtown area the first day followed by festivities in Lake Boren Park the second day.

This year’s celebration in the park will feature a beer garden sponsored by the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce, live bands, vendor booths, main stage entertainment and food. This year’s celebration will likely include a car show as well, which has historically been a staple of Newcastle Days, although it was not part of last year’s celebration.

“We were so pleased with how it went last year,” Parks Commissioner Diane Lewis, who will work on the organizing committee again this year, said of the two-day event. “We’re looking to do it as well or better this year.”

Once again, this year’s organizing committee is mostly volunteer-driven with Parks Commission Vice Chair Koleen Morris at the helm.

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Mayor ensures city is OK in the state of the city address

March 4, 2011

Mayor John Dulcich delivered the annual state of the city address at the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce’s Feb. 9 luncheon.

During the speech, Dulcich also outlined the biggest achievements of 2010 — including the success of Newcastle Days — as well as the state of the city’s finances, major projects and outlook.

Financially, he said the city will be all right as long as the governing body is alert and responsible.

Mayor John Dulcich gives a state of the city address at the February meeting of the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce. By Tim Pfarr

“We’re OK,” he said about the city’s finances. “The reality is, there’s a little water in the bilge, but we’re moving forward, and we’re not sinking, and we’re not on fire.

“I think that’s important,” he said.

Dulcich also gave an overview of the largest construction projects planned for the city this year.

In addition to the library — which is now being built — a traffic signal will be installed at the intersection of Newcastle Way and 129th Avenue Southeast.

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County council appoints citizens to redraw districts

March 4, 2011

King County Council members appointed a team of community leaders in January to update the map for representation in county government.

The council appointed four members Jan. 18 to the King County Districting Committee, the citizen committee responsible for redrawing council districts based on 2010 Census data. The county is carved into nine districts, each represented by a single council member.

John Jensen

“Redistricting is a challenging, time-consuming process that is vital to ensuring our residents are fairly represented,” Councilman Reagan Dunn said in a statement.

Dunn represents District 9 on the nine-member council. The district encompasses Newcastle, the rural area near Issaquah, Maple Valley and areas inside Bellevue and Renton. Districts could be shifted as the citizen committee starts to sift through population data.

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Local dentist charged with child molestation

March 4, 2011

Newcastle resident and dentist Gil Furman was charged in January with one count of second-degree child molestation and two counts of third-degree child molestation.

Furman allegedly molested a teenage girl for two and a half years beginning when the girl was 13 and ending when she was 15, according to charging documents.

Furman — who is married with children — was 35 when the alleged molestation began.

Furman was arrested and arraigned Jan. 25, and he pleaded not guilty. He was given conditional release and a no-contact order with the girl.

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City Hall move risky but understandable

March 4, 2011

Moving City Hall from the Newport Manufacturing building, 13020 Newcastle Way, to the Newcastle Professional Center, 12835 Newcastle Way, is understandable but risky. The City Council needs to be sure it protects residents as it takes this risk.

The Newport Manufacturing building is run-down, an embarrassing place for City Hall. There is little the city could do to change the image of this building. The move to a nearly new building may improve employee morale, attract better job candidates and reduce employee turnover.

More importantly, the Newcastle Professional Center is the only office space available in the city of Newcastle. It may be the only opportunity for many years for the city to get out of the Newport Manufacturing building.

The big concern is the cost. It will cost the city $250,000 to move into the new building, and the city will pay an average of $15,000 more per year in rent and utilities in the new building.

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Rapid Response

March 4, 2011

What do you think of the City Council’s decision to move City Hall to the Newcastle Professional Center?

OK, as long as we can develop where City Hall currently is into a good tax resource (i.e. a great bistro-type restaurant. No fast food allowed!) for the city.

— Jackie Foskett, Newcastle

I think larger space was sacrificed for nicer space when funds are low. Rent could go up substantially before improvements are amortized. Maintenance and storage spaces are still needed.

— Peggy Price, Newcastle

Great move and better accessibility for all.

— Trina Sooy, Newcastle

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