Islanders up for ‘the challenge’

Hurrahs to bootstrapping Islanders who’ve reached new heights:

Janie Stewart, out at dusk whacking at her hillside blackberries, slipped and took a flying leap into the thorny brambles. With her head downhill and her feet in the air, she had no leverage whatsoever.

She chuckled at her possible demise as she lay atop the thicket in approaching darkness. Shouting for help was futile, since the neighbors were gone.

Still clinging to her clippers, Stewart went into her “Edward Scissorhand” mode, shaping a cubby in which to wriggle her feet to the ground. Now upright, she cut her way out —not without scratches, mind you. Fair warning to hillside gardeners.

Joel McHale, MIHS class of 1990, was portrayed as “the class clown” in a recent Seattle Times’ high school album of famous locals. And, the Husky alumnus was even nominated as a possible graduation speaker for the UW, when it searched for a last-minute replacement. The host of the satirical world of “The Soup” now moves on to another wacky world of nerds and high-techies. NBC will begin shooting “The IT Crowd,” in the fall to air by January. McHale will play the part of Roy, immersed in cyberspace and devoid of social grace.

Island Point neighborhood sent 41 checks totaling $5,000 toward a speed-bumped crosswalk at 84th Avenue Southeast and Southeast 80th Street to be installed before school starts in the fall. The neighbors had petitioned the city and helped move the project to the first year of the city’s six-year Transportation Improvement Plan. Hats off to leader Ralph Jorgenson, who spearheaded the public-private partnership, which improves safety near a south-end school.

A medal to those who bravely filed to run for public office last week: For City Council Pos. 1, Steve Litzow; Pos. 3, Jon Friedman; Bob Bersos, Maureen Judge and Mike Cero; Pos. 5, Patti Darling and Bruce Bassett; Pos. 7, El Jahncke. For School District No. 400 directors: Pos. 1, Pat Braman; Pos. 3, Lisa Strauch Eggers; Pos. 5, Janet Frohnmayer.

Secretary of State Sam Reed, speaking to Island Rotarians last week, told of election reforms that will make voting more reliable than ever. A centralized statewide registration system will remove felons who haven’t paid their debts to society, voters who’ve moved or died, and duplications. It moves the primaries forward to August, audits and enacts more security measures, and hand-checks signatures of all write-in ballots.

They live again — the 1950s hydroplanes Miss Bardahl, Miss Thriftway, O’ Boy Oberto and Miss Burien have been refurbished and are running test trials. So many Islanders cheer to see their 100-mph rooster tails fly again in Lake Washington. The lake also is abuzz with the “modern egg-beaters” readying for the Aug. 3 through Aug. 5 Chevrolet Seafair Race.

Since school’s out on June 23, our parks and programs move front and center for our youth. Here are a few improvements in the queue:

Bike racks will be installed in August in memory of Frank Lane, who died last May. Lane was an electrical supplier and avid bicyclist. His memorial money now will go for a cause that would please him. They will be at two Luther Burbank sites, Mercerdale, Deane’s and Groveland Park, says parks operator Curt Brees.

Parks department workers will ready Secret Park, First Hill and I-90 parks for new playgrounds this fall. A longer tube slide is planned for First Hill and a “fortlike” wood playground. In response to public input, Secret Park’s invasive vegetation will be removed between the fort and the igloo, leaving a perimeter buffer from East Mercer Way. This more open and safe space for children is expected to take more than a year to complete.

The drilled well successfully found water at Rotary Park, which will become a source during emergencies. Other summer work there includes repairs to the cement plaza and new gravel paths. Trees atop the raised grass areas have replaced the weakened poplars. A few more plants will go behind the plaza.

Your stair-climb challenge: With an affinity for stair-climbs, having been raised on Queen Anne, I’ve discovered some of the best on the Island. Tops is 108 steps at the 6900 block of Southeast 32nd Street. Others range from 66 to 88 stairs at Southeast 24th Street just beyond The Islander, on Mercerdale Hillside, a portion of the Southeast 53rd Place trail, and in the 9700s of Southeast 40th Street.

Park managers say the trail with the most elevation change is from West Mercer Way to First Hill Park. The Southeast 32nd Street trail gains 240 feet of elevation. Heading east, you lose 200 feet of elevation from Southeast 74th Place to Bicentennial Park.

The steps are frequented by bus commuters, fitness buffs seeking extra cardio-workout, kids, and those who don’t realize what lies ahead. Try one and enjoy the sense of accomplishment once you’re three-quarters of the way up!

Nancy Gould-Hilliard can be reached at

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