Snoqualmie police crack down on car prowls

October 29, 2010

NEW — 11:07 a.m. Oct. 29, 2010

Snoqualmie police have been busy in recent weeks, investigating approximately 30 car prowls. Most of the incidents took place on Snoqualmie Ridge.

In every incident, the car had been left unlocked with valuable personal property left in plain view inside the vehicle, according to a news release from the city of Snoqualmie.

The crimes are ones of opportunity and can easily be prevented by locking unattended vehicles.

Responding to the calls takes police officers away from other duties, notes the release.

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Dino Rossi closes Patty Murray’s lead in U.S. Senate race

October 29, 2010

NEW — 10:30 a.m. Oct. 29, 2010

Republican Dino Rossi and Democrat Patty Murray are virtually neck and neck in their race for a U.S. Senate seat. Murray, the incumbent, had held a healthy lead as recently as a few weeks ago, but several recent polls show the two are running nearly even. 

The latest KCTS 9/KPLU/Washington Poll shows Murray with 49 percent of the vote to Rossi’s 45 percent. The margin of error is 4.3 percent percent.

However, Murray pulls slightly ahead among people most likely to vote, according to Matt Barreto, a political science professor and pollster at the University of Washington. 

Among people who voted in the last two elections, Murray leads with 51 percent of the vote to Rossi’s 45 percent.

A statewide poll by Rasmussen Reports conducted Oct. 27 found Rossi had 48 percent to Murray’s 47 percent. The margin of error is 4 percent.

Snoqualmie Valley expected to dodge major storm

October 29, 2010

NEW — 10:25 a.m. Oct. 29, 2010

A major storm could hit the Puget Sound region next week, dumping heavy rain on the area. The Snoqualmie River Basin is expected to miss the worst of it, according to forecasts by the National Weather Service.

The heaviest rain is expected to hit the Olympic and North Cascade mountains, said Dennis D’Amico, a Seattle-based meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

A massive, moist low-pressure front is headed for the area from Asia following the traditional Pineapple Express path.

The source is a typhoon in Asia, according to Cliff Mass, a University of Washington meteorologist.

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Mountains to Sound Greenway seeks volunteers to help restore North Bend park

October 28, 2010

NEW — 12:45 p.m. Oct. 28, 2010

The Mountains to Sound Greenway is looking for Snoqualmie Valley volunteers to help plant trees at Riverside Park in North Bend.

The effort is part of a campaign to plant more than 25,000 native trees and shrubs in several natural areas throughout the greenway.

Volunteers have worked in the past two years to remove English ivy, an invasive species, from Riverside Park, a 3.8-acre natural area along the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River near downtown North Bend. Before the work, the non-native ivy had overrun the area, covering 95 percent of trees and 75 percent of the forest floor.

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New middle school endures ‘turf battle’

October 27, 2010

$56 million bond proposal authorized despite opposition

It was that kind of night.

School board members would give long-winded opinions and finish with “that was a lot of words with really no answer.”

Frustration was evident on the faces of members of the Snoqualmie Valley School District board of directors by the time the Oct. 21 meeting ended.

Nevertheless, a resolution authorizing a $56 million bond proposal for a new middle school on Snoqualmie Ridge passed unanimously.

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Independent streak defines Eastside voters

October 27, 2010

NEW — 6:28 p.m. Oct. 27, 2010

State races could defy national political tide

The sprint — or slog — to Election Day has a familiar storyline: The angry electorate is poised to rebuke Democrats for a far-reaching agenda and choose a roster of penny-pinching Republicans to slash spending.

The reality is more nuanced — and more complicated.

“There’s always talk about the angry voter and how everybody’s really mad and they’ve got their torches and pitchforks out,” Seattle independent pollster Stuart Elway said. “We’re really not seeing that here, at least statewide.”

Eastside residents from Newcastle to North Bend exhibited different shades of the national mood — in the form of fired-up Republicans and dispirited Democrats — but experts said the local electorate could not be pigeonholed.

Reed Davis, chairman of the political science department at Seattle Pacific University and a former King County GOP chief, said although Democrats might be resigned to defeat on a national scale, the party has not faded in the Evergreen State.

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Bad economy catches up with local cities’ budgets

October 27, 2010

NEW — 6:27 p.m. Oct. 27, 2010

Despite careful budgeting in recent years, the recession and subsequent lackluster recovery are catching up with North Bend and Snoqualmie, and forcing the two cities to make tough decisions in their 2011 budgets.

Officials in both cities find themselves in the same predicament: Expenses are rising, and revenue is flat or falling.

“Our situation is very tenuous,” North Bend City Administrator Duncan Wilson said.

Snoqualmie’s Interim Financial Director Robert Orton echoed that sentiment in an interview with the Star.

Rising expenses

Snoqualmie and North Bend have seen their costs rise even while revenues remain flat or have fallen.

The rise in expenses has largely been driven by increases to wages and benefits, especially for North Bend.

The cost of North Bend’s contract for police services with the King County Sheriff’s Office is rising 14 percent.

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Tight King County budget prompts fight for critical services

October 27, 2010

NEW — 6:26 p.m. Oct. 27, 2010

As the Metropolitan King County Council deliberates over next year’s budget, human services providers affected by proposed cuts are making sure their voices are heard.

County Executive Dow Constantine’s budget proposal cuts the last of the county’s once healthy general-fund monies for human services as part of austerity measures to close an impending $60 million shortfall.

Providers of services to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, and other services have broadcast the need for their services to the budget committee at three public hearings in October.

Amara Oden, Sno-Valley Senior Center executive director, asks members of the Metropolitan King County Council to preserve money for human services in the county budget, which is $60 million short. By Simon Ferretta


One woman, a survivor of domestic violence, bluntly told council members at a public hearing, “I would be dead without these services.”

Formerly trapped in a violent relationship, the woman is now a public school teacher.

“They’re making a compelling case for us to reprioritize the executive’s budget,” Councilwoman Julia Patterson said after a public hearing at Mount Si High School in Snoqualmie.

Constantine’s office doesn’t defend the cuts, except to say that the executive is legally obligated to deliver a balanced budget proposal to County Council.

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North Bend seeks Citizen of the Year nominees

October 27, 2010

North Bend is seeking nominations for its 2010 Citizen of the Year Award.

The award is meant to honor an individual or business that has gone above and beyond to make North Bend a better place to live.

Their participation can come from professional or volunteer efforts, or by some extraordinary contribution to the community.

“This is a prestigious award that the city of North Bend wishes to bestow upon a special person or business whose hard work, spirit and dedication make our community great,” Mayor Ken Hearing said in a news release.

This year’s winner will be announced at the Dec. 7 City Council meeting.

Nominate someone by writing a letter detailing what the person or business has done for the community and why he, she or it deserves the award by Nov. 10. Include daytime telephone numbers for yourself and the nominee.

Nominations also can be sent via e-mail to or mailed to the attention of City Administrator, Duncan Wilson, City of North Bend, P.O. Box 896, 211 Main Ave. N., North Bend, WA 98045. Nominations can also be dropped off in person at City Hall, 211 Main Ave. N.

The ballad of the ballot

October 27, 2010

In the lifecycle of a ballot, voting is the easy part.

Before, during and after the election, a behind-the-scenes effort unfolds to assemble, count and store ballots.

King County Elections mailed more than 1 million ballots in mid-October. Ballots must be postmarked or slipped into a drop box by 8 p.m. Election Day, Nov. 2.

The process starts about three weeks before Election Day, as elections staffers assemble ballots at the printer in Everett. The packet includes a precinct-specific ballot, security and signature envelope, plus any election-specific inserts.

Then, the elections office sends the ballots to voters.

Days later, as the initial ballots start to return to the elections office in Tukwila, teams sort ballots and verify voter signatures. The elections office opens ballots after the signature is verified.

Inside elections headquarters, ballots remain secured in locked cages behind cyclone fencing. Only approved staffers can gain access to the ballots, but the process requires biometric access.

Some damaged ballots need to be duplicated in order to run through tabulation equipment.

Finally, the office scans ballots and tabulates results to be released at 8 p.m. Election Day. Tabulation continues until the office counts all eligible votes.

The county Canvassing Board is scheduled to meet Nov. 23 to certify the election results.

For the upcoming election, the county is required to store the ballots for 22 months at the King County Records Center.

Then, the office shreds the old ballots.

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