Year in Review 2015: April to June

A new year is upon us Friday, and the Reporter is taking the last four days of 2015 to look back on the past year. Here are the top stories that came out of Issaquah and Sammamish from April to June.

Issaquah School District teachers walked out in May to protest the state Legislature's inaction on basic education funding.

A new year will be upon us Friday, and the Reporter is taking the last four days of 2015 to look back on the past year. Here are the top stories that came out of Issaquah and Sammamish from April to June:

Eastside Catholic School gets new president
Eastside Catholic announced its new president, John T. Kennedy, in April. Kennedy has more than 25 years of school administrative experience and officially began as Eastside Catholic’s new principal July 1. The school’s former president Mary Tracy resigned in January 2014 after the school made headlines for firing former vice principal Mark Zmuda. Zmuda married his longtime, same-sex partner, which allegedly violated his contract with the school.

FISH hire new executive director
After the retirement of Jane Kuechle on April 1, the Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery announced they had hired former education coordinator Karen Kane as the new executive director. FISH oversees the Issaquah State Salmon Hatchery, a spawning location for several species of salmon and the focal point of the city’s annual Salmon Days festival.

Former Skyline wide receiver stabbed
A former Skyline athlete was airlifted more than 700 miles from Havre, Montana, where he was studying at Montana State University-Northern, to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle in early May. Sam Mix suffered from more than 40 3-to-6-inch wounds all over his body after allegedly being stabbed by a 17-year-old who supposedly broke into Mix’s apartment around 4:30 a.m. Mix survived and is recovering from the incident.

Friends of Lake Sammamish State Park gain executive director
The Friends of Lake Sammamish State Park hired former Seattle Times researcher Janet Farness as their executive director in April. The prospects for making the hire initially seemed grim. The Friends had formed as an advocacy group for the park in 2013, but did not receive IRS approval on their 501c3 nonprofit status until late 2014. The Friends requested $25,000 each in 2015 nonprofit grant funding from Issaquah and Sammamish but, in the absence of nonprofit status, were approved for only $10,000 from Sammamish. The Issaquah City Council came through on the $25,000 in full once their status was approved.

Ben Yazici to retire, Lyman Howard to be next city manager
Sammamish City Manager Ben Yazici announced his retirement in April. Yazici, who has been the city manager for more than 10 years, recommended Deputy City Manager Lyman Howard as his replacement. In mid-April, the council voted to keep the search for Yazici’s replacement internal. In May, the City Council unanimously named Howard as its next city manager, to start in February 2016.

More sleep for teens?
Issaquah parents Dea Barnett and Allison May opened an online petition urging the Issaquah School District to start teen students’ school days later in the morning, mirroring conversations in the Bellevue and Mercer Island school districts. Barnett cited the unique sleep needs of teenagers and the positive health effects of proper sleep as benefits of a later school day. The petition collected more than 1,500 signatures by the end of April. But by December, some parents were expressing doubts about a later start day, telling the school board that they were afraid of losing family time with their children.

Pullman man charged with murder of father
Erik Luden, 25, was sentenced in early December to 20 years and 4 months in prison for the slaying of his father in his College Hill apartment in Pullman, Washington, May 30. Luden was found guilty of second-degree murder Dec. 16. His father, Virgil C. Luden, 58, had been a Sammamish business owner of more than 20 years.

Teachers protest inaction on McCleary, walk out
Teachers employed with the Issaquah School District walked out May 19 to protest the state Legislature’s inaction funding basic education. In 2012, the state Supreme Court upheld a lower court decision that current substandard funding of education was a violation of the state constitution. The Legislature has remained in contempt of court since that ruling. The Issaquah teachers walkout was part of a larger campaign of 24 local chapters of the Washington Education Association. Superintendent said in a statement to parents that he could not endorse the walkout, but he did “share some of the frustration that has led the teachers across the state to take this action.”

Sammamish settles public records lawsuit
What began with a Sammamish family’s desire to build on their Beaver Lake property nearly a decade ago led to a lawsuit against the city of Sammamish and eventual settlement of $90,000. Per the settlement agreement, the city must allow residents David and Megan Gee to submit a variance that would allow them to develop in the buffer around a wetland located in the middle of their property. The City Council voted in early December to allow them to do so. The variance remains contingent on the hearing examiner and the Washington State Department of Ecology review. If the plans are not approved, the case will go to trial.

Cougar/Squak Corridor Park opens
In June, the county Department of Natural Resources opened a new trailhead and closed the chapter on a three-year effort to protect a Squak Mountain hillside from logging. The site, formerly the old Issaquah Highlands Recreational Club campground, had been purchased by Erickson Logging Inc. in 2012, sparking a campaign to save the hillside by the Issaquah Alps Trails Club. The Trust for Public Land purchased the land for $5 million in mid-2013 on behalf of King County, which took ownership at the end of 2014 upon repayment of the amount. The 216-acre park included the Margaret Way trail, named for Issaquah City Parks Planner Margaret Macleod.

Issaquah Creek restoration
The city of Issaquah began a three-month $1 million restoration of the east fork of Issaquah Creek in June. Workers, focusing on the portion of the creek that abuts Confluence Park, widened the waterway and installed logs, wooden debris and anti-erosion measures to make the creek more habitable to salmon returning to the hatchery. The city additionally paid $250,000 to relocate the historic Tolle Anderson homestead away from the work site.

Central Issaquah named regional growth center
On June 25, the Puget Sound Regional Council executive board designated the area of the Central Issaquah Plan as the Puget Sound’s 29th “regional growth center.” The growth center designation assigns priority for federal transportation dollars doled out by the Regional Council.


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District Court Judge Peter Nault dies after 25 years on the bench

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Spring Chinook salmon. Photo courtesy Michael Humling, US Fish and Wildlife Service
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Marty Wine and Wally Bobkiewicz are the two finalists for Issaquah’s city administrator. Madeline Coats/staff photo
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