Photo courtesy of Michael Sladek
                                The battle to save Providence Heights was a recurring theme throughout 2017.

Photo courtesy of Michael Sladek The battle to save Providence Heights was a recurring theme throughout 2017.

Providence Heights, Reichert protests, other top 2017 news in Issaquah, Sammamish

The biggest headlines of 2017

January

Issaquah, Sammamish mothers and daughters take part in Seattle Women’s March

Newly-formed Sammamish peace and tolerance activist group Plateaupians for Peace organized charter buses for over 950 marchers from Sammamish, Issaquah and Bellevue to go to the Seattle Women’s March. An unprecedented 200,000 people took to the streets of Seattle to demand equal rights for women, minorities and the LGBT community, and to promote the environment, health care and basic human kindness, the last of which many said was missing in the most recent presidential election. Many of the local participants were mother-daughter duos who said they found it very meaningful to share such an eye-opening experience together.

Beaver Lake Park hit-and-run

The gruesome murder of a Seattle police officer’s son at Beaver Lake Park in late January was a shock to the normally peaceful suburb of Sammamish. When Mo Radcliffe, 22, and his girlfriend caught car prowlers breaking into their car in the parking lot, Radcliffe confronted the thieves. The car prowlers then sped toward Radcliffe, who was armed, and fatally ran him over before fleeing the scene. Three days later, 23-year-old Ka’Deidre Rials of Kent was arrested along with a 17-year-old girl and a 16-year-old girl. Rials, who was driving the car, was charged with a felony hit-and-run, one count of second-degree identity theft and two counts of vehicle prowl in the second degree.

February

String of anti-Reichert protests

The months of February and March saw a string of several rallies protesting 8th Congressional District Dave Reichert (R-WA) outside of his Issaquah office. Protesters wanted Reichert to hold a town hall meeting with his constituents and to be honest about how many of President Trump’s policies he would be supporting. Health care and immigration were at the forefront of the issues raised by protesters. Reichert held a televised interview with KCTS in lieu of a town hall.

March

Hantavirus causes scare in Issaquah area

A rare but deadly virus caused a scare in the Issaquah area in early spring. Two Issaquah residents fell ill with Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, a serious respiratory infection spread through exposure to the droppings of deer mice. One of the victims, a man in his 30s, died of the disease. Because the deer mouse tends to live in wooded areas, Issaquah and Sammamish residents were especially advised by the King County Public Health Department to be cautious, especially when cleaning out garages and cabins after the winter.

Lease signed for CWU at Mars Hill campus

The Sammamish City Council made the decision to bring higher education to the Sammamish plateau at its March 21 meeting when it authorized the city to sign a lease with Central Washington University for the property that formerly housed the Mars Hill Church. Classes began at CWU Sammamish in the autumn.

April

Issaquah School District sells Winterbrook Farm to couple who will preserve it

Preservationists were outraged when the Issaquah School District considered selling the Winterbrook Farm property on May Valley Road to a developer who intended to put 16 homes on the land. A group of 200 residents of Issaquah, Sammamish and Renton formed the group Friends of Winterbrook to advocate for preserving the property as farmland for future generations. The preservationists pointed to the many species of wildlife that called the land home, such as elk, deer and salmon, the agricultural and recreational potential for the land and the historic significance o the 87-year-old dairy barn and farmhouse that sit on the property. At its April 7 meeting, the Issaquah School Board approved the sale of the farm to Erik and Jennifer Johnson of Issaquah, who planned to leave the farmland as is rather than develop it.

City of Issaquah issues Determination of Non-Significance to City Church

In April, the city of Issaquah stated that demolishing the Providence Heights campus would have no negative environmental or cultural effects on the area through the issuance of a Determination of Non-Significance to The City Church. The campus, originally built as a campus for the Sisters of Providence in the 1960s, is currently owned by The City Church of Kirkland. The decision caused a major uproar throughout the community, and the city received over 100 letters and over 200 signatures begging city staff to reconsider. Community members argued that the campus was a historic treasure, and highlighted the set of 30-foot stained glass windows created by late, world-renowned French artist Gabriel Loire. Because of the unusually high amount of letters received, the city rescinded the original DNS and instead issued a Mitigated Determination of Non-Significance that stipulated that the windows must be removed and safely preserved before demolition. However, the Sammamish Heritage Society appealed the MDNS, stating that it wanted the entire campus — not just the windows — to be saved.

May

Front Street Market closes

The Issaquah community said goodbye to a staple small business of Olde Town in mid-May. Front Street Market closed after new owners Jimmy and Sandy Kathawa had run the business for just seven months when they decided to close the doors and return to their former home in Michigan. The Kathawas said that running a mom-and-pop grocery store in the modern era of discount chains and even ordering groceries online was just too difficult. They had also found themselves the target of a boycott and rude comments, both online and in person at their store.

Hit-and-run kills 21-year-old in Issaquah

Memorial Day weekend came to a sad end when 21-year-old Issaquah High School alumnus Kevin Lozoya was struck and killed in a hit-and-run as he walked home from a party. The Washington State Patrol located the stolen Jeep used in the crime shortly after, and in July caught and arrested the 15-year-old suspect.

June

Drug ring uncovered at Sammamish Papa John’s

Pizza got a few new ingredients besides the usual pepperoni and cheese when police discovered a drug ring at the Sammamish Papa John’s. A group of teenage employees had been selling using and selling cocaine on the premises of the restaurant. King County Sheriff’s Office detectives caught the drug dealers by going undercover, posing as people buying drugs in the parking lot.

Sammamish residents hold traditional Ramadan dinner

2017 was plagued by racism, political disagreements and cruel words on social media, but a group of Muslims in Sammamish found a way to bring the community together, regardless of religious and cultural differences. They organized an Iftardinner, a traditional meal shared by Muslim families during the month of Ramadan when they are allowed to break their fast at nightfall. About 100 people — 50 Muslims and 50 non-Muslims — attended the dinner, making new friends and learning about one another’s practices and beliefs. The Sammamish Muslim community said that the Iftar was such a success, they would like to do it again in 2018.

ISD okays demolition of admin building to build new middle school

To accommodate the growing population of students, the Issaquah School District is in the process of locating sites for and building a new high school, middle school and two elementary schools. Because it has been so difficult to find land big enough for a school at a reasonable price, the district decided to tear down the current Central Administration building and build a new middle school in its place. The board said that the administration has long since been in need of a bigger facility, and noted that it is far easier to find office space than a potential school site.

July

Issaquah holds community meeting to address speeding

For months, residents of the Issaquah Highlands begged city leaders to do something about the problem of people driving 30, 40 and even 50 miles over the speed limit on child- and pet-filled neighborhood streets. In April, the city increased speed patrols in the Highlands and in June installed tube readers to analyze how fast people were driving at different times of day. In mid-July, the city held a public meeting with residents at Blakely Hall to hear their concerns and discuss steps forward.

Providence Heights named an Issaquah landmark

At the July 27 Issaquah Landmarks Commission meeting, the commission unanimously voted that the Providence Heights campus be named a city of Issaquah landmark. At the meeting, 13 people spoke in favor of saving the campus, while two people spoke on The City Church’s behalf. The Sammamish Heritage Society argued that the campus was significant in the history of women’s education and the Catholic Church, as it represented the Church’s decision to make reforms that helped equalize the female and male clergy. The City Church argued that landmarking the campus would infringe upon its First Amendment rights to freely practice religion, which they said includes the decision to demolish a church.

August

Residents pay tribute to Charlottesville victims

Though it was far away, locals were devastated to learn of the violence and hatred in Charlottesville, VA at a white supremacist rally. Out of a negative came a positive, however, as residents of Issaquah and Sammamish quickly organized vigils to honor the victims of Charlottesville, condemn racism and proclaim their wish for peace.

Eastside teachers go to boot camp in San Diego

High school teachers from across the Eastside got a taste of military life when they attended the U.S. Marine Corps’ Educators’ Workshop in San Diego in mid-August. For four days, the teachers stepped out of their classrooms and into boot camp, fighting their way through obstacle courses, running with 30-pound cans of ammo and even shooting M16 rifles. The idea behind the workshop was to give teachers a better idea of what kind of students might be most suited to a career in the Marine Corps so that they could suggest the military as a possible career path.

September

Sammamish Heritage Society wins Providence Heights appeal

Following two days of public hearings in August and September, Issaquah Hearing Examiner Ted Hunter concluded in early September that the demolition permit and MDNS issued to The City Church must be vacated and that the city of Issaquah would have to issue a new threshold determination after further review. Hunter based his findings on the landmark designation, saying that the city did not have the opportunity to consider the ramifications of demolishing a landmarked property, as the property had not yet been named a landmark when the demolition permit was issued.

Dave Reichert announces he won’t run again

After a year full of protests outside of his Issaquah office, Reichert announced that he would not be seeking re-election to Congress in 2018. Reichert said that he had thought long and hard about his decision, and decided that, at age 67, he wanted to retire to spend more time with his wife, children and grandchildren. Several politicians, including Issaquah’s Kim Schrier and Jason Rittereiser, have stated their intention to run as Democrats for the 2018 8th District Congressional race, while 45th Legislative District Sen. Dino Rossi of Sammamish has stated that he will run as a Republican.

Issaquah, Sammamish make different decisions in injection site debate

With King County considering the use of safe injection sites to fight the opioid crisis, cities across the county were quick to ban the injection sites within their limits. Sammamish voted in early September to ban the injection sites within its borders, with council members stating that an injection site did not belong in a community like Sammamish. Issaquah took a different stance; after hearing from grieving parents who had lost children to heroin overdoses and swore that injection sites could have saved their children’s lives, the issaquah City Council voted to declare a six-month moratorium on injection sites. The council said that the city could use the six months to research injection sites and see if they could be a helpful addition to the city.

October

Sammamish enacts emergency six-month moratorium

Following in its neighbor Issaquah’s footsteps, the Sammamish City Council enacted an emergency moratorium on development at its Oct. 3 meeting. Council members stated that they wanted to finish developing a revised traffic concurrency policy and traffic modeling program. Certain projects are exempt from the moratorium, such as public facilities, developments that are entirely comprised of affordable housing, emergency repairs or construction by the city and projects that are already in the pipeline.

Betsy DeVos visits the Eastside

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos visited the Eastside to speak at the Washington Policy Center’s annual dinner at Bellevue’s Hyatt Regency Inn. DeVos’ visit drew hundreds of protesters in the street outside, including Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, King County Executive Dow Constantine and Bellevue Mayor John Stokes.

Issaquah settles with Churchome, dooms Providence Heights

Although Providence Heights had been declared a landmark and although the Sammamish Heritage Society had won its appeal of the demolition permit, the city of Issaquah effectively signed the campus’ death warrant in late October to avoid the expense of a legal battle with Churchome that city attorneys believed would be a lost cause. The city’s lawsuit settlement with Churchome allowed the church to demolish the property at its earliest convenience. The Sammamish Heritage Society announced that it was reforming as Preserve Providence Heights and would fight the settlement in court.

Residents work to save Bergsma property

The group Save Cougar Mountain worked to preserve a piece of land above Newport Way Northwest known as the Bergsma property. Windward Real Estate Services in October submitted a land-use application to the city of Issaquah to put a 57-home housing development on the land. Residents said they were concerned about destroying a wetland and wildlife habitat, as well as about the stability of the slopes. They lamented the loss of a mountainous panorama above the city and said that the land would be better used as a park for residents to hike and enjoy the natural scenery.

November

Election brings new mayor, council candidates

The Nov. 7 election saw a new mayor, Mary Lou Pauly, elected to serve Issaquah, along with one new council member, Chris Reh. Sammamish gained four new council members: Jason Ritchie, Karen Moran, Chris Ross and Pam Stuart. Council members Tom Odell, Kathy Huckabay, Don Gerend and Mayor Bob Keller are all leaving the Sammamish City Council.

Issaquah School District lowers levy ask

After deciding to go for the maximum amount on the Educational and Operations Levy that would have graced the February 2018 Special Election ballot ($1.58 per $1,000 of assessed property value in 2019 or $47.25 million, going up to $1.65 per $1,000 or $58 million by 2022), the Issaquah School District received backlash from the community. Legislators pointed out that the McCleary compromise in the Legislature had gained the district a $58 million increase in funding. The Issaquah School Board voted at its Nov. 29 meeting to go for only a two-year levy of $1.13 per $1,000 or $36.3 million in 2016 and $1.33 per $1,000 or $44.9 million in 2020.

December

Issaquah Senior Center celebrates year under new leadership

What is the difference between the Reporter’s 2017 Year in Review and the 2016 Year in Review? There were nearly no Issaquah Senior Center headlines in 2017. After a drama-filled year under its former leadership, Issaquah Valley Seniors, the Issaquah Senior Center came under the leadership of the city of Issaquah’s Parks and Recreation Department at the beginning of January. The new leadership meant a whole host of new activities, such as weekly movie matinees, and Senior Center staff said that even more activities would be coming in 2018. In a celebration of the first year under city leadership in early December, seniors said that they were very happy with the changes and that the center now had a much cheerier environment.

Nicole Jennings/staff photo
                                Residents of Issaquah, Sammamish and beyond congregated many times in 2017 to protest 8th Congressional District Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA) for what they saw as his lack of transparency with constituents.

Nicole Jennings/staff photo Residents of Issaquah, Sammamish and beyond congregated many times in 2017 to protest 8th Congressional District Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA) for what they saw as his lack of transparency with constituents.

A story of hope in a politically tumultuous year — residents of all faith gathered in Sammamish to make new friends through celebrating a traditional Ramadan dinner. Nicole Jennings/staff photo

A story of hope in a politically tumultuous year — residents of all faith gathered in Sammamish to make new friends through celebrating a traditional Ramadan dinner. Nicole Jennings/staff photo

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