Lifestyle

The Ins and Outs of 2007

Reporter Staff

Mercer Island City Council

IN: Feel-good road signs

OUT: Televised council meetings

Even though Comcast donated most of the required funds, the City Council opted not to pay the $10,000 in annual operating costs it would need to broadcast Council meetings on cable television. Those who’d like to see meetings broadcasted say many local governments have already adopted this important measure to give access to families with young children, seniors and people with disabilities. The Council shelved it for what it said was lack of public interest.

The Council did decide, however, to spend $4,000 on “share the road” signs that remind drivers to... share the road. What that means exactly and what the traffic laws say pertaining to cars and bicycles are left unsaid on the signs. I don’t know because I couldn’t make the meeting. I was home sick with a cold, watching Burien’s city council on TV.

- Cody Ellerd

Town Center

IN: Wine & dine

OUT: Mom & pop

Sure, we’re all about family fun here. But 2006 saw the departure of two of the Island’s best-loved family restaurants, Haruko’s and Ana’s Mexican Restaurant, from the Town Center. (Haruko’s is now down the road in the Rite-Aid complex, and let’s hope it doesn’t budge another inch.)

The biggest buzz has been around Bennett’s Pure Food Bistro, now considered a destination Seattle foodies should cross the bridge for. In addition to commandeering the enduring trend toward wholesome consumption of food from Northwest lands, Bennett’s has seized the reins on the bandwagon of communal restaurant seating -- a trend that has just begun to pick up steam despite Seattleites’ inherent fears of getting too friendly with their neighbors.

The New Year will also see the arrival of Cellar 46, a wine bar that bills itself as the perfect place for a drink before dinner at Bennett’s. No problem with neighborly love there.

- CE

Mercer Island High School

IN: Wellness policy

OUT: Junk food

Carrot sticks have always tasted better than French fries anyway, right? Broccoli, anyone? How about some skim milk and whole wheat pizza, followed perhaps with a banana for dessert?

Students will continue to dine on healthier fare as the district phases in the federally mandated Wellness Policy designed to fight childhood obesity.

While students have seen some changes this year, next year drinks like Pepsi will also be eliminated and replaced with low-sugar options like sparkling flavored water or plain old bottled water.

So pack those baked potato chips into your new quilted Gucci handbag, and if you’re feeling frisky toss in a bag of celery sticks and some whole-grain, stevia-sweetened cookies.

- Sadie Craig

Technology

IN: Free WiFi

OUT: Pay WiFi

The only people I’ve met who actually pay for wireless Internet access at Starbucks are those whose companies are picking up the bill. For everyone else, there’s Tully’s. And Noah’s. And the Phoenix Palace, the incoming Cellar 46 and the library.

The list of the Island’s free hotspot locations continues to grow, and chances are, the coming year will bring even more network signals for your laptop to pick up, from doctor’s office waiting rooms to bars. If you don’t already have Internet access on your phone, in 2007 you’ll be more wired than ever before.

- CE

Real Estate

IN: Using Zillow

OUT: Trusting Zillow

Since its launch nearly a year ago, Zillow.com, one of a handful of automated home valuation sites on the Web today, has become one of the most intriguing developments in consumer real estate. The Seattle-based site founded by former Expedia executives has grown from one that allows you to get an estimate on a house with one mouse click (even from your mobile phone), to an all-in-one juggernaut, a virtual realtor that seems to have everything its human counterpart does except for a smart-looking skirt and cookies baking in the oven. Low-altitude aerial views of homes, user-contributed remodel information and a marketplace for sale postings are now all among Zillow’s repertoire of functions.

What most savvy consumers have discovered, however, is that while Zillow is a fun toy, its reliance on a hodgepodge of county assessor’s data, user input and speculation make accurate information a long shot. Said Island real estate appraiser, Richard Hagar, “I can rip them apart in an instant.”

- CE

Sports

IN: Husky Men’s Basketball

OUT: Seattle Supersonics

Bellevue, Renton and Oklahoma City are all about the same distance away in the minds of Island fans of UW basketball. But Islanders take pride in the Husky basketball team as senior guard Brandon Burmeister continues to get more court time. Burmeister played and graduated from Mercer Island High School, leading the team to four consecutive trips to the state tournament.

Burmeister, whose family still lives on the Island, has played a big part in the recent Husky resurgence that includes three trips to the NCAA championship tournament in the past four years. The senior started his Husky career as a walk-on.

The Huskies also have another former Islander who got his start under Mercer Island head coach Ed Pepple. Men’s basketball head manager Brandon Miller may not be an on-court sensation, but he has had a hand in the Huskies’ success during his eight years as a team manager. No matter where the Sonics end up, Island basketball fans have a 2007 to look forward to.

- Matt Phelps

Mercer Island Reporter

IN: Black Press

OUT: Horvitz Newspapers

The newspaper industry has been in flux ever since Al Gore says he invented the Internet. The latest casualty is the King County Journal. The Eastside daily is being closed by its new owner, Canada’s Black Press, which bought it from Peter Horvitz in late November along with the Mercer Island Reporter, Snoqualmie Valley Record, and seven other King County papers.

What that means for 40 full-time KCJ employees is that they’ll start out the New Year with severance packages and sympathetic sentiments from the rest of our family fortunate enough to have jobs. For Reporter staff, about the only thing different in our little office is the brand of coffee we drink. For you, our readers, we offer a redesigned Web site (initiated before the sale) with easier access to the latest Island news and photographs.

We’ll be seeing a lot of you on our pages in 2007, in what will definitely be an interesting year to come.

- CE

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