Letters to the Editor - May 14, 2012

  • Written by Readers


Is the Northshore School District high school start time of 7:10 a.m. too early?  The NSD School Board needs to hear from you!

At 7:10 a.m. NSD currently has the earliest high school bell time of any district in the region.  Research shows that inadequate sleep is associated with poorer academic performance and health, not to mention higher incidents of teen traffic accidents.

Parent Advocates for a Later Start (PALS) was created in response to the very early start times of high schools in NSD.

PALS has submitted several proposals to the school board demonstrating that there are ways of making modest transportation adjustments to achieve a later high school start time, all with very little or no additional cost.

However, at the board meeting on March 27, the NSD school board voted to table discussion of later high school start times indefinitely.

Neighboring school districts, such as Lake Washington and Issaquah, have later high school start times between 7:30 – 8 a.m., and these districts have higher SAT scores than NSD, as well as the extracurricular programs and activities that NSD has and more.

With the current NSD high school start time of 7:10 a.m., our students have to get up at 5:45 or earlier in the morning; much earlier than students in neighboring districts.  Could our NSD students achieve higher SAT scores and more if their high school start time was similar to Lake Washington and Issaquah, instead of the current start of 7:10 a.m.?
Published studies show that they can.

Since the March 27 board meeting, PALS has had discussions with the school board.

PALS feels a high school start time of 7:30 a.m. (20 minutes later than the current 7:10 a.m. start) may be within reach for the 2012-13 school year, with a goal of an 8 a.m. start in the future as things in the district fluctuate.  The junior high start times will also adjust later; however the elementary start times most likely won’t need to adjust at all.
The board needs to see overwhelming support from the NSD community on this change before they proceed with looking into a 20 minute later high school start for next year.
If you have not already signed the PALS petition for a later start and you support a later start, please visit the PALS petition site at: id =kqhGNQKOEM&pe=d2e.

Please sign the petition and where it prompts: “Why are you signing?” Add a reason (optional). Please click on the link and write: “Yes, I support a 7:30 high school start time for the 2012-13 school year, with the goal of an even later start in the future.”  Students over age 13 are encouraged to sign the petition as well.

If you have already signed the above petition, PALS thanks you.  However, the school board is not going to take action unless they hear from you again that you will support this modest change of 20 minutes next year.  PALS is asking you to please email the school board at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. asap and state if you support specifically the 7:30 start next year with a goal of a later start in the future.  For more information, please visit the PALS facebook page:!/groups/112424038826467/

PALS (Parent Advocates for a Later Start)

Parent involvement is key to reducing risk for teens behind the wheel

  • Written by AAA of Washington

Prom/graduation and summer months are deadliest for teen drivers and passengers

A new study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows a strong association between the number and age of passengers present in a vehicle driven by a teen and the risk of a teen driver dying in a traffic crash.

The report, “Teen Driver Risk in Relation to Age and Number of Passengers,” found that the likelihood of a 16- or 17-year-old driver being killed in a crash, per mile driven, increases with each additional young passenger in the vehicle. Compared to driving with no passengers, a 16- or 17-year-old driver’s fatality risk:

• Increases 44 percent when carrying one passenger younger than 21 (and no older passengers)

• Doubles when carrying two passengers younger than 21 (and no older passengers)

• Quadruples when carrying three or more passengers younger than 21 (and no older passengers)

Conversely, carrying at least one passenger aged 35 or older cuts a teen driver’s risk of death by 62 percent, and risk of involvement in any police-reported crash by 46 percent, highlighting the protective influence that parents and other adults have in the car.

“Washington’s Intermediate Drivers Licensing (IDL) law requires that drivers in their first 6 months of driving have no passengers with them who are under age 20, unless immediate family members. This new study supports the importance of having this driving restriction as part of our IDL law,” said Jennifer Cook, spokesperson for AAA Washington. “As we approach prom and graduation season as well as summer, when deaths due to vehicle crashes for teens peak, AAA urges parents of teens to get involved, practice in-vehicle techniques, and set clear rules.

Parent involvement is key to reducing risk for teens behind the wheel.”

Approaching deadliest time of year for teen drivers and passengers

Deadly traffic crashes increase for teens during the prom/graduation and summer months of May, June, July and August.

Summer is the deadliest time of year for teen drivers and passengers, with five of the top 10 deadliest days of the year for teens occurring between the Memorial Day and Labor Day holidays, according to an analysis of crash data completed by AAA. The 10 deadliest days for teen drivers and passengers are January 21, May 20, May 23, June 10, July 4, July 9, August 8, August 14, September 26 and November 11, with July 4 being the deadliest day of all.

“When school’s out, teens have more opportunities to drive or ride in cars and be out late at night with other teens — a deadly mix,” said Cook. “With the majority of the most dangerous days falling during the traditional summer vacation months, parents must realize that there is no summer break from safety and be vigilant about remaining involved and establishing driving rules with their teens.”

... In Washington state, between 2006 and 2010, a total of 291 teen (13-19 years) motor vehicle drivers and passengers died as a result of crashes.

The most lethal month for teen crash deaths in Washington during this period was August, when 73 (11.4 percent) deaths occurred.

The highest risk time of day for teen traffic deaths was 12 a.m. – 4 a.m., when nearly one quarter of such deaths occurred (24.6 percent). (Statistics provided by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.)

For specific details on Washington’s Intermediate Drivers Licensing restrictions, parent tips for teaching their teen to drive, practical advice, resources and much more, go to  AAA’s website,, is the most comprehensive teen driving website available. It offers information for both teens and parents of teens, including a parent-teen driving contract, state specific information on licensing, sample licensing test questions, tips, insurance FAQ, and much more.

AAA suggests five tips for parents to keep teen drivers safe. More information on all of these tips, including a sample driving contract, can be found at

• Limit the number of teen passengers and time as a passenger.

• Restrict night driving.

• Establish a parent-teen driving

• Become an effective driving coach.

• Restrict driving and eliminate trips without purpose.

Letters to the Editor - May 7, 2012

  • Written by Readers


We, the parents from Cottage Lake Elementary, would like to recognize the teachers and staff of our great school.

Our kids look forward to going to school … most days … because of the positive learning environment at Cottage Lake. The entire staff has created the perfect balance of instruction and fun, which means … most days … our kids come home with smiling faces and fun stories to share.

This year, new programs and teaching techniques were introduced that have only enhanced the learning environment at our school. The entire staff worked very hard to make sure these new programs were in place before the school year began. The kids have responded well to the new classroom situation and it seems to have improved the morale at Cottage Lake.

Making a big change is never easy. But the ease with which the staff made this adjustment is a testament to their work ethic and their love of our school.

Their dedication to our kids, and our kids’ education, is evident in the amount of work that was needed in preparation for these new programs. This was truly a group effort.

One gets the sense that Cottage Lake is one big, happy family. There seems to be a high level of respect and friendship among the staff. There is always a lot of laughter at Cottage Lake and that translates to happier teachers, a warm, friendly environment and happier students.

We want to thank the teachers and staff of Cottage Lake Elementary for creating a wonderful and positive learning atmosphere. We truly appreciate all that you do for our kids each and every day.

Cottage Lake Elementary Parents and PTA


To the church group who cleaned up the Leota Junior High neighborhood on Saturday, April 28:

Thanks for your service. Missing a rake? You left it at my house. Come and get it!


Penny Kjelgaard, Woodinville


Are we ready to close a school in the Woodinville area in order to build more schools in Bothell?

An associate of mine who is involved with the Northshore School District’s Demographics Taskforce has informed me that the school district’s director of capital projects, Daniel Vaught, is proposing to close a school in the Woodinville area in order to build more schools in the Bothell area.   He is pushing to build another high school and possibly another elementary school on the north end of the school district, while proposing to close a school on the east side of the district.   This new high school is slated to be a 4-year high school, which will cause a ripple effect of boundary changes across Northshore.

In the last several years Northshore has completed the remodel of two of its existing high schools. Why weren’t those schools remodeled with an eye to future growth?   The building of a new high school could cost taxpayers over 100 million dollars, and that is in addition to the $2 million already spent to purchase the property for the proposed high school. In addition to the recently acquired piece of land purchased for the proposed high school, the school district purchased property on Maltby Road just two years ago, allegedly for a future elementary school.

Is this the best use of taxpayer money? We are still in a recession, yet Vaught wants Northshore residents to foot the bill to build new schools, while closing existing schools.

The last time the school district tried to close a school it met with strong opposition from the community.

Will this time be any different?  If it were a school in Bothell or Kenmore, would the outcry be less? What if it were Maywood or Moorlands elementary schools?  Would those communities quietly accept the closure of their beloved schools in order to finance a new school?  I would hope not.

Mark Tapley, Woodinville


I am writing to make sure the entire Hollywood Hill community is fully informed about the proposed zip line thrill rides in our Gold Creek Park. This commercial business will effectively change Gold Creek’s status from a rural recreational park to an expensive amusement park.The current hiking, equestrian and nature appreciation uses of the park will be ruined if King County grants Gravity Works permission to install 14 zip lines throughout the entire park. Who would choose to hike in our local park when hundreds of people per day are zipping overhead and screaming as they descend.  And don’t forget the ever present hum of the “scenic chairlift” further destroying the peace and quiet of the park.  Horse riders won’t even have the option to continue riding the established trails because zip lines and horses are absolutely incompatible.  The bobcat family, eagles, owls and other wildlife currently in the park will also be driven out. The only people who would enjoy Gold Creek Park under Gravity Work’s business plan would be $100 -a-head users from the Seattle area and beyond.  Our local community would be stuck with thousands of cars, with no adequate parking in the plan. I urge everyone in Woodinville to oppose zip lines in Gold Creek Park and to support the preservation of Gold Creek Park by signing the online petition at and by attending the public meeting at Northshore Junior High on June 6.

After all: “Don’t [sic.] it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till its gone.”

Sandy Sivinski, Woodinville

It seems to me you have the answer to the zip line problem on the front page of the April 30th Woodinville Weekly front page. The Wellington Hills Golf Course would be a better fit for that activity than Gold Creek Park.

Heather Hawley, Woodinville

Ziplines and horses are not compatible and it is absolutely dangerous to mix the two!

Although Gravity Works claims that horses will get used to the zip lines, I contacted some of the places advertised on the web that claim they have zip lines and horse trails.  The zip line trails are NOT near the horse trails. I doubt very much that Gravityworks has done a thorough investigation.  Request that they provide the names and telephone numbers of those they’ve contacted and allow those in the horse community to contact those horse facilities.

Horses are animals of flight.  Something low flying over them will cause them to run like the wind. Add screaming people and horses will run all the faster. Add inexperienced riders who may have also been imbibing at the local wineries and it is a recipe for disaster.

King County Parks should consider what they will need to do to warn horseback riders of the dangers of riding horses underneath zip lines. What education will the county need to do to educate novice horseback riders on what to do if their horses bolt? What arrangements will the county make if the horses bolt and their riders are bucked off or fall off?  Has the county consulted its insurance company?

Ziplines in the Northwest would probably only be used for the three months of summer. Be generous and say maybe five months.  Gravityworks claims that it will attract 40,000 visitors.  First of all, what data can they produce that supports their claim? Then look at that data: 40,000 claimed visitors divided by five months of use = 8,000 people/month supposedly! 8,000 divided by 30 days/month = 267 people/day supposedly, day in, day out for 150 days.  Highly unlikely! What happens when the thrill of ziplines wears off?  Will the community then be left with the ugly ziplines and no money to take them down?  The claimed $160,000 Gravity Works hopes the county will make really isn’t that much money. And it certainly won’t be enough to remove the ziplines, particularly because the county will have already spent the money.

Even if the contract provides that Gravity Works would have to remove the zip lines if they aren’t generating $160,000/year for the county, what if Gravity Works files for bankruptcy? The county needs to decide where it stands: Is it willing to ruin the quality of life that the Gold Creek area has provided to many homeowners, horseback riders and wildlife over many, many years so it can support two guys who want to make money and give a little to the county.

Please do NOT allow our wonderful natural Gold Creek area to be ruined!

Rebecca Kenison, Seattle


The Bona Fide American Mission (B.A.M.) is happy to announce the official dates of the 2012 Sammamish Valley Festival. This year on August 16,17 and 18, B.A.M. will produce the 2nd annual Sammamish Valley Festival event with help from our friends in the community.

To make this festival even better, we invite you to be a part of it. Anyone and everyone can be involved.  If you have a trade or apprentice style trait or cultured skill that you would like to showcase, and/or teach to the younger generation, this festival is the place for you. It’s also a place for community face- to-face networking where you will find the “art” in communicating face to face.

Here’s a list of possible ideas for the festival: traditional skills and crafts, traditional farming methods, sewing and knitting, hat making, glass blowing, bicycle repair, masonry, painting, wine making, clerical administration, canning, boat building, black smith, hunting, fishing, baking printing, carpentry, music, barbers, historical tractors and cars, shoe making, wood carving, watch and clock repair, foraging, weaving, iron work, analog sound, dancing, old school kids play. This year’s festival will be held on the same site as last year on Woodinville Redmond Road, south of Woodinville.  To participate and showcase your talents, call us at (425) 394-3397.

Bona Fide American Mission, Woodinville

Letters to the Editor - April 30, 2012

  • Written by Readers


Gold Creek Park trees are not objects to zip through for a momentary adrenalin rush. All trees are sacred beings, have rights and deserve our respect.

I invite you to hike through our Woodinville park and observe edible stinging nettle and fern fiddleheads, medicinal bleeding heart and trillium, purifying fir and cedar trees and the largest huckleberry bush I’ve ever seen.

Trees hold space in earth and sky to sustain vital ecosystems locally and globally.

And yet humans ignore the signs and warnings — for what purpose?

In honor of Earth Day we offered a ceremony at the Heritage Garden in Sammamish Valley.

I invite those of you who value trees and nature as much as I do to go to Gold Creek Park and offer thanks to our trees for their life supporting substance and system.

It is the nature of trees to give.

And what is our nature as humans — to destroy that which supports us?

Where’s the respect?  Where’s the intelligence that includes both mind and heart?

Trish Knox,                                                                                                                                             Sammamish Valley, Woodinville


When I heard about the zip line proposal in Gold Creek Park, one of my first reactions was how exciting it would be to have a zip line park in the neighborhood.

I have two teen/pre-teen boys who would love it!

However, I do have some concerns about such a major undertaking.

I would like to see more discussion and perhaps some modifications to the scale of the plan.

First, I just want to say that I would much rather have an outdoorsy, active use of Gold Creek Park than a new housing development.

I love the beautiful mature forest, but I know it is naïve to think it can stay unspoiled forever.

“Progress” happens, and open spaces are closing up. I can think of a lot worse uses for this land than a healthy recreational activity.

As a neighbor of this park, I am saddened to think of the loss of use for hikers and equestrians.

Although the developers claim that use can be maintained, obviously horses will no longer be able to use any trails under the zip lines, only those at the far borders.

I can’t imagine that liability regulations would allow hikers who are non-employees and non-users near or under their equipment, so their trail use will also be limited.

I hope bypass trails can be maintained so equestrians and hikers can still use some portion of this park and connect to other local trails.

I also hope that some areas of old growth will be maintained and preserved.

My biggest concern regarding this project is its viability.

It is going to require a huge financial investment and running expenses. If people are going to be 40 feet up in the trees and in the air, liability insurance will also be sky-high.

Numerous employees will be required to ensure the safety of the guests.

Income is sure to be seasonally sporadic.

Do the income projections adequately account for weather-induced slowing and closures that could occur even in peak summer months?

And what about equipment? I see there is a chairlift in the design.


What demographic are we looking at?

I can’t imagine that anyone who is going to be zipping through the forest canopy is going to be unable or unwilling to walk a few hundred yards through the (previously) beautiful forest and climbing a ladder to begin their adventure.

Just removing the chairlift and shortening the runs to create a buffer zone could make this project much more acceptable to the neighboring residents.

If this project does begin, I want it to succeed.

I feel the worst possible outcome would be to have the construction and undergrowth deforestation proceed, and then have the neighborhood and King County stuck with a bankrupt project to clean up in the ruined forest.

Carolyn Houser, Woodinville resident and park neighbor


If King County Parks is willing to hand over the entire 35 acres of Gold Creek Park to a private company, it does not bode well for all the other parks that are under their stewardship.

Is there a natural area that you enjoy within the county system?

How about if King County Parks replaced the dog park at Marymoor with a miniature golf course? Or they decided to let a helicopter tour company install some landing pads on the acreage they own on Tiger Mountain? Would that be a problem for anyone?

The citizens of Woodinville are the first to get the full force of the “business development” side of King County Parks.

If this proposal goes through, it will set a precedent that puts every one of our county parks in danger of takeover by businesses eager to exploit public land.

Patty Martin, Redmond


For the last 40 years Gold Creek Park has been enjoyed by families and equestrians.

It is also home to many animals.

If a zip line is put in, do you really think it will still be operating 40 years from now?

Gold Creek Park is our ONLY community park.  Please leave it intact.

It is absolutely reprehensible to me that King County Parks would even consider a proposal like the one Gravity Works is suggesting.

This is a residential area where families live and in no way conducive to zip lines!

The trail system and wooded area in Gold Creek Park are the only untouched and unspoiled places of natural beauty in the area.

The environmental impact that this would have should be enough of a reason not to do it.

It completely sickens me that someone wants to destroy what has been a beautiful trail system and forestry along with the animals and natural habitats that reside there.

It is also beloved by the equestrian community and used daily year round.

It is obvious that in no way could that continue with screaming zip liners racing through overhead.

It doesn’t matter how “quiet” the zip line equipment is when the people on it are screaming.

I would also point out that anyone living in close proximity to this will also be subject to the noise this will create.

To say it will bring property values down is an understatement.

There is also an elementary school down the road to consider when bringing tourists into the area.

I also sincerely question the revenue that this would supposedly be bringing into the city and/or county.

The weather the majority of the year here is not something that I can imagine most people would flock in droves to zip line in.

I find it hard to believe that this is a sound business proposal to begin with.

In any case Gold Creek Park is not meant to be turned into an amusement park with screaming tourists.

The costs in dealing with the traffic increase and other variables would surely offset any potential revenue for the city anyway.

I travel that road daily and it is already an issue (in rush hour it’s a mess).

This is a small residential area that is not meant to deal with this kind of increase in traffic.

I feel sorry for any of the families who live in the vicinity if this allowed to proceed.

I feel sorry for ALL of us if we lose what we should protect the most.

Angela Cox

“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,

There is a rapture on the lonely shore,

There is society, where none intrudes,

By the deep sea, and music in its roar:

I love not man the less, but Nature more.”- Lord Byron

Letters to the Editor - April 23, 2012

  • Written by Readers


I have worked on our acre-plus parcel of land for over 30 years making it a safe haven for wildlife. Recently I spotted what I thought might be a nutria.

The thing is about 20 pounds and has a rat-like tail that looks to be about the length of its long slender body.  The hair/fur is darkish brown or possibly black.

On two occasions it dove into the water as if coming off a spring board and it moves so fast that I have yet to capture it on film.

It looks somewhat like a river otter only bigger and it swims rather snake-like.

My concern is for the health of our creek and environment.  Over the years I have involved many neighbors up and downstream from me to plant native vegetation and I am concerned for that, too.

I would appreciate hearing from someone regarding this concern and what I can do to keep it from becoming a problem.

Jeanne Hannah, Woodinville


[This is my] first letter to the Woodinville Weekly  regarding a public service in the 16 years I have lived here.

We have waited a very long time for Woodinville Water to enable electronic payment.

While the staff who have accepted the occasional phone payment have been most gracious, dealing with the district has remained a very sub-par experience.

Have the commissioners tried to locate a secure mail drop recently?

And what do we get after this wait? A user experience that will burden customers with a $3.75 charge per payment, and which does not bear the imprimatur on the integrated site of any of the major security firms, to wit, VeriSign and/or Truste.

And this is a utility which has the benefit of being located in one of the greatest concentrations of competent developers and system integrators in the world.

There is no excuse for such a poor experience.

The second sentence at the Woodinville Water District’s home page is: “This site was created for you, the ratepayers of the District and the public at-large.”

I beg to differ.

The job of commissioners and staff includes an obligation to rate payers to provide a reasonable payment process and experience on a timely basis, in my opinion.

Even for a captive customer population, this solution provides none of the above.

And we have waited until the second decade of this century for this — totally unreasonable.

Despite years of drama at the fire district (never dull!), this is the first time ever  that I have commented publicly or privately on the provision of public goods or the public sector.  Blows me away.

Makes me want to dig a well.

Jennifer N. Curtis, Woodinville


As my neighbors ponder the Gravity Works zip line proposal to King County Park’s officials, it appears that the decision of the park system will represent a choice between continuing to support the community’s 40-year use of Gold Creek Park as a place of nature, horse trails, hikers and bird watchers or approve the effective annexation of the park by a commercial profit making venture.

The choices are mutually exclusive as birds, horses and hikers will not coexist within the constant noise level of the thrill ride of zip line riders who will be generally shrieking like passengers on a roller-coaster as they hurl down the hill.

We must ask the decision makers if turning Gold Creek Park over to a profit-seeking commercial venture provides the King County Park system with sufficient return to warrant the destruction of this very rare habitat for the current population of nature’s creatures, as well as the elimination of its current use for the community as a place for public horse trails, hikers and most of all: solitude.

It will also be worth evaluating the cost of claims that will likely accrue to both the county and Gravity Works for the property value destruction of the homes such as ours who unfortunately have property that adjoins the park’s boundary.

Ask yourself if the placement of a chair lift in your backyard feels like an appealing opportunity.

Preliminary estimates from real estate experts advise us to expect value declines of $100,000 for each property impacted by the noise, traffic and commotion of being located near an adventure theme park.

We also wonder if the decision makers appreciate the risks related to a zip line operation where operating/engineering standards have not been established.

Staff associated with a Maui zip line operation resulted in the 2011 fatality of a Washington state man when the tower supporting a 2,300-foot span collapsed.

So, do we, the community choose preservation or the ultimate disruption of our quiet lives on Hollywood Hill?

Dennis and Alyse DeKraker

David and Kari Drobesh

Mark and Valentina Giovannetti

Eric and Dottie Greenwood


Illegal portable signs, banners and A-boards left out overnight were confiscated by the City of Woodinville late on Friday, April 13. The “theft” was not the work of burglars, vandals or neighborhood kids.

This time, it was city officials.

It was bad luck for many local businesses that depend on drive-by and walk-in customers, but the city has a sign code and permit system to assure that all merchants have fair and equal access to such signage.

It pays to know the rules of the road inside the city limits.

Every business is entitled to one portable sign, displayed during business hours, that is no more than 36 inches in height and six square feet per side.

Companies in the industrial zones may use two A-boards. Banners are limited to 32 square feet and can be displayed for a limited time only.

Handmade signs of any kind are prohibited.

All portable signs require a “temporary” sign permit from the city with fees ranging from a $27 annual renewal to an initial $183.

The only signs seized by the city were illegal in number, location and/or size, or those left out overnight.

Merchants impacted may retrieve their signs from city hall after application and issuance of a temporary sign permit.

Most local sign professionals keep the local code, zone map, forms and fee schedule on-hand for guests.

A complete explanation and Woodinville municipal code is online:

Jeff Thomas, Crossroad Sign, Woodinville


Many thanks for the articles by Deborah Stone. She is an excellent writer.

I especially appreciated her article about Nepal and the recent article about the “Environmental Class Focuses on Sustainable Design.”

Her articles are informative, educational and very interesting.

She often inspires the reader to think beyond the routine daily news.

Wendy Walsh, Woodinville