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Islander in New York City recounts the night Sandy hit.
Joyce Celms has always been a helper. As a teacher of the deaf and, later, a special education paraprofessional for the Mercer Island School District, Celms has devoted much of her career to helping children overcome various personal struggles.
Dale Sewall has long been the heart of Mercer Island Presbyterian Church. The Islander has led the MIPC congregation for 23 years. He has watched children grow up, marry and have children of their own; all under the roof of MIPC. His congregation is like family to him. And on June 27, he will say goodbye. This summer, Sewall and his wife, Jinny, will both enter retirement.
As the incumbent, state Sen. Randy Gordon is already comfortable in his 41st District seat. The interim position has given him the confidence and determination to fight for November’s election. Yet, like his GOP competitor, Steve Litzow, Gordon still has to put in the campaign hours to retain his seat. So far, he has done an impressive job.
Mary Wayte Pool has been an integral part of Mercer Island High School athletics for generations. High school swimmers and divers have been practicing and competing at the Olympic-sized pool since it opened in 1969. Mary Wayte Pool, named after the 1984 Olympic gold medalist in the women’s 200m freestyle who hailed from Mercer Island, is also open to the community, with scores of swimmers trickling through every day. So what happens if this aging facility is shut down? It is a question that has suddenly come to the Island’s attention.
Mercer Island Councilmember Steve Litzow is walking his way toward the 41st Legislative District Senate seat. The candidate has already visited 3,000 houses in his campaign for the November election. “It’s all about door-belling. I hope to hit 20,000 doors by Nov. 2,” Litzow said.
Councilman apologizes | Talks with elementary students about angry confrontation with bus driver on May 11
City Councilmember Mike Grady has apologized for erupting in anger at West Mercer bus driver John Lamont on May 11 after the latter allegedly passed him unsafely and cut him off while biking along West Mercer Way. According to Grady, he was heading southbound on West Mercer Way when three buses that “appeared to be in a hurry” passed him on their way to pick up children at West Mercer Elementary. The last of the three buses, driven by Lamont, passed Grady dangerously close, the Councilmember said, and then cut him off abruptly to turn into West Mercer Elementary.
The first thing that struck me, coming back to the Island, was its familiar sounds. The suburban quiet of a summer’s evening, children racing past on their bikes, the chhh-chhhh-chhh of a garden sprinkler, the distant hum of a plane descending toward Boeing Field. They were the sounds of the Mercer Island I grew up with and remembered. It hadn’t changed in eight years. Leaving an international newspaper in the Baltic states to report for my hometown weekly was not the transition that one might expect. It was more familiar, slightly slower in pace, yet surprisingly analogous at the core.
Islander hair is going toward a noble cause this week. Au Courant and Studio 904 hair salons are collecting clipped, chopped and buzzed hair to donate to the Mexican Gulf oil spill cleanup project. The hair is stuffed into recycled nylons and covered in mesh to make booms or, when possible, woven into hair mats that soak up the oil. The organization coordinating the national donation project is called Matter of Trust. Both Studio 904 and Au Courant are registered members.
Choosing which classes to place the Island’s 1,700 elementary students into is no easy task. Indeed, dozens of hours, stacks of reports and a team of Mercer Island School District minds go into placing each and every one of the Island’s young students. It is about finding a fine balance of classroom diversity — both socially and academically.
City Councilmembers put off approving an updated version of the Mercer Island Pedestrian and Bicycle Facilities (PBF) Plan — originally adopted in 1996 — at their May 17 meeting. According to mayor Jim Pearman, the draft was tabled so that staff could rewrite specific language more aligned with City Council intentions. “Some of the changes from the last Council meeting weren’t incorporated in the document. We sent it back to get the proper language,” Pearman said, specifying “the Mercers” and bike and pedestrian “signage” as two areas in need of editing.
Clampitts Dry Cleaners, a familiar name on Mercer Island for 40 years, is now Blue Sky Cleaners, a completely toxin-free service. The essence of the company, however, has not changed. According to Blue Sky customer service manager Jessica Neu, Clampitt’s has been sending its clothes to the non-toxic cleaning facility in Seattle for nearly a year.
With opening day nearly a month behind us, Lake Washington boaters are flocking to the waters at every sunny chance they get. The Mercer Island boat launch, a popular place to enter the lake for Islanders and non-residents alike, is growing in use. Island residents and non-residents must pay $9 a day to use the boat launch, which is located at 3600 E. Mercer Way under the East Channel Bridge. This equal fee was introduced on Jan. 1 in adherence to a new agreement between the city and Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT).
The preschools that inhabit North Mercer campus have had one step out of the proverbial door for more than a year now. Ever since the administrators of Children’s Institute for Learning Differences (CHILD), Country Village, Pixie Hill and Little Acorn day care received a lease termination warning in January 2009 from the Mercer Island School District — which was later negotiated into postponement — they have been counting their days at North Mercer. “I’m not feeling that we were not warned. All the tenants have been on a shortened lease for the last year or so,” said Children’s Institute Director Trina Westerlund, referring to a notice of lease termination that MISD superintendent Gary Plano sent to North Mercer residents in January 2009.
A crowd of Island residents showed up at the school district’s “21st Century Facilities Plan” public meeting on May 1 — nearly twice as many as showed the week prior for the North Mercer block residents’ meeting. The majority of people, attending to hear Mercer Island School District Superintendent Gary Plano go over the district’s “master plan” for the North Mercer campus, were Islanders. Some of the attendees, however, were non-residents with a stake in the North Mercer campus.
The city of Mercer Island is on board with Bellevue in supporting either a King County or sub-regional animal control program once King County stops offering services on July 1. Last month, the City Council voiced support for a joint, sub-regional animal control services program with Bellevue. However, the Eastside city has since opted for the joint cities-county model, and Mercer Island plans to follow suit.
It drives as smooth as silk. Its looks turn heads. It sounds like a spaceship and it’s completely emissions free. Today’s Tesla Roadster, the first electric car to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds, is quickly catching up to yesterday’s Ferrari. And it has a price to match: $109,000.
Islanders Brooke, center, and Blake Sloan, right, dig through a compost bin to find worms at the third annual Leap for Green festival held last Saturday, April 24. Scores of families visited the CCMV for Mercer Island’s very own Earth Day celebration. The city’s next green event is the ‘You Powered South-end Block Party’ on June 5.
Nic Peterson, David Jennings and Neil Chasan all have one thing in common: they’re not afraid to take the entrepreneurial leap. All three tech-savvy Islanders have launched new, electronic-based ventures. Chasan has developed an iPhone app for back pain, while partners Jennings and Peterson founded the online company eVenues, which helps people find fast and affordable meeting spaces in the region. The office for www.eVenues.com, which went live last summer, is located in the Mercer Island business district. According to co-founder Jennings, eVenues “is just like Expedia, but it’s for any space — board rooms, training rooms, smaller event space or even desk space.”
If all goes as planned, Islanders will be working with the city of Bellevue when it comes to animal control. During its April 19 meeting, the City Council voiced support for a joint, sub-regional animal control services program with Bellevue. This comes in the wake of King County’s decision to discontinue its animal control services as of June 30 due to budget constraints. In the past, King County has subsidized this service to contracted cities at an annual cost of approximately $1.9 million. Yet once June 30 rolls around, cities will be forced to implement their own programs.