Reporter Staff

This owl sits on a chair in the Ralphs’ living room on Mercer Island.

Owl in the house

After hearing a scratching noise for a couple of days in their chimney, Michael and Melissa Ralph, who live near Ellis Pond, opened the flue expecting a small animal to fall out. Used to a good deal of animal life in their neighborhood, the couple was surprised to be faced with two large dark eyes and a shower of gray feathers in the chimney. Even after phone calls to the zoo, wildlife agencies and the Audubon Society, the couple did not have a clear idea of what to do. Melissa Ralph, a seventh-grade teacher at Islander Middle School, asked her students what they should do. The students had many suggestions (some involving guns), but the Ralphs opted to wait and see if the owl would leave on its own. After five days, they became worried that the bird would starve and hatched a plan to coax it out. They bought a white mouse at Petco and took the flue apart. The bird then came into the house on his own and perched on nearly every piece of furniture in two rooms. It eventually glided out the front door, tempted by the mouse in the jar. The decoy was returned to Petco the next day, unharmed.

This owl sits on a chair in the Ralphs’ living room on Mercer Island.

Girls basketball takes on Bellevue tonight

The Mercer Island girls basketball team will host Bellevue tonight at 7:30 p.m.

Washington state economic recovery depends on health of small businesses

Washington’s economic recovery will depend on small businesses. That message is driven home in the newly updated Washington Small Business Profile released today by the Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration. The most recent data shows that the state has 147,948 small employers, and they employ 98.2 percent of the state’s workforce.

Islander named ‘Trial Lawyer of the Year’ by U.S. Homeland Security

Special Assistant United States Attorney Donald M. Reno Jr. was recently honored as the “Trial Attorney of the Year” by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The award was presented at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., hosted by DHS General Counsel Gus Coldebella.

Mercer Island Eagle Scouts in 2009

A dozen Islanders reach Eagle rank, projects benefit city

A total of 12 scouts from Mercer Island earned the rank of Eagle Scout in 2009. The scouts donated approximately 1,700 hours to the community doing projects such as: removing garbage from a campsite at Mt. Rainier, initiating a boating safety information card, moving an exhibit at Woodland Park Zoo, a basic First Aid to Teens video, park clean-up after winter storms, and a health effects of sugar presentation at Garfield Community Center. Mercer Island Parks benefited with trailhead plantings, new landscaping at the Community Center, erosion control measures at Parkwood Ridge Trail, new sand play area at Clark Beach Park, stairs at Groveland Park and dog poo pick-up bags at Luther Burbank Park. At $10/hour, this saved the community $17,000 in 2009.

Mercer Island Eagle Scouts in 2009

More chances to hear about Sound Transit East Link EIS

Islanders who were unable to attend the Sound Transit open house on Jan. 27 on Mercer Island have a couple more chances to find out more about the project.

IMS wrestling takes titles | Completes season undefeated, eight individual champs

The IMS Gators completed a perfect season at 7-0 by defeating Maywood, 81-18, on Jan. 9, and Beaver Lake, 54-39, on Jan. 7. The wins gave Islander Middle School the 2009 Foothills League Title. The team went on to take the Foothills tournament title, with eight individual champions.

How to get help with heating bills

Puget Sound Energy is reminding customers having trouble paying their heating bills that almost $29 million in monetary assistance is available this year from two low-income programs administered by community service agencies. PSE customers can also apply to The Salvation Army Warm Home Fund for emergency, short-term utility bill assistance.

The replacement of the SR-520 bridge

Tolls could begin on SR-520 next year

If people have their way, tolls will be put on the 520 bridge as soon as next year.

The replacement of the SR-520 bridge

Sound Transit Light Rail Draft EIS out for review

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the East Link project is an analysis of the potential effects of the construction and operation of one of the most ambitious projects undertaken by the region since the clean up of Lake Washington.

Lindell files lawsuit against city | Former deputy mayor seeks damages for firing

Former Deputy City Manager and City Attorney Londi Lindell has filed a lawsuit against the City of Mercer Island and four top city officials for damages resulting from her dismissal as the assistant city manager last year.

This Sound Transit train made its maiden run last fall.

East Link light rail project draft EIS published

Light rail is coming to Mercer Island, and Sound Transit encourages interested people to comment on a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) released on Dec. 12, 2008. The review and comment period for this Draft EIS has been expanded to 75 days, ending on Feb. 25. This Draft EIS provides information on the light rail route, station and maintenance facility alternatives. The Draft EIS informs the public and decision-makers about the project’s benefits and effects prior to identifying a preferred alternative.

This Sound Transit train made its maiden run last fall.

MI Real estate in 2008: More for sale at slightly lower prices

It goes without saying that it has been a wild ride for 2008 real estate values. The inventory went up, asking prices fell and uncertainty ruled the day.

MIHS grads’ film on Ethiopian millennium airs in African nation

A 20-minute documentary on Ethiopia’s 2007 millennium celebration, created by Mercer Island High School graduates Ross Laing and Alex Baron, aired on Ethiopian Television (ETV) this past fall. Laing and Baron produced and shot the documentary, “Generation to Generation,” while visiting the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, during the country’s millennium celebration in September 2007 (Ethiopia follows the ancient Coptic calendar, which marks the year 2000 in our 2007).

Frohnmayer elected as School Board president

The Mercer Island School Board reshuffled its leadership last month, electing Janet Frohnmayer as president, Adair Dingle as vice president, and Pat Braman as legislative representative. All three nominated members were elected unanimously on Dec. 11. Before turning over responsibilities, the board took a few moments to recognize outgoing president Pat Braman, who has lead the team for the past year.

PSE sale to investors is approved

In a 2-1 vote, state regulators today approved the sale of Puget Sound Energy to the New York-based, multinational Puget Holdings LLC, a transaction with an estimated value of $7.4 billion. The sale is subject to 78 conditions to protect customers and preserve the public interest.

A female bald eagle returns to freedom as Stephanie Trussell

Diary 2008: A sampler of Island memories

PEAK, Tent City, Merrimount, I-90 and transportation issues filled the news pages of the Reporter this year. But it is often the smaller, seemingly insignificant events that best capture life on Mercer Island.

A female bald eagle returns to freedom as Stephanie Trussell

Upcoming parent education events

Author Dr. Ned Hallowell will discuss important matters on raising children in a talk about his book: “The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness: Five Steps to Help Kids Create and Sustain Lifelong Joy” at 7 p.m., Jan. 12, at the MIHS Performing Arts Center. Hallowell’s message is how connections with children can provide the essential ingredients of happiness: resilience, optimism, playfulness, connectedness and a can-do attitude. Hallowell is an instructor at Harvard Medical School and the founder of the Hallowell Center for Cognitive and Emotional Health. He speaks on ADD, handling a fast-paced life and family issues. He has been featured on television and in national news media.

New minimum wage takes effect Jan. 1

Washington’s minimum wage increases 48 cents to $8.55 an hour beginning Jan. 1, 2009.

Myra Rothenburg (left)

New product combines function and fashion

Myra Rothenberg and Islander Tami Rudnick Rabin have coined a catchy motto: “If you have a surface, we have a solution.”

Myra Rothenburg (left)