WHS senior nominated for scholarship award

  • Written by Woodinville Weekly Staff

Nate Billett
Courtesy photo.

Woodinville High School senior Nate Billett, son of Kurt and Julie Billett, is one of four WHS students nominated for the Washington State Scholars Award, the highest scholarship award given by the state.The winners from each Legislative district have yet to be named. In addition, Nate has been chosen to represent the Northlake region in the state solo oboe performance competition. Nate is in his fifth year as a member of the Seattle Youth Symphony.

February Student of the Month

  • Written by Woodinville Weekly Staff

Feb 2013 SOM
Courtesy Photo Left to right: Chamber Executive Director Dave Witt, Career Specialist Barbara Tatum, student Katarina Swinney, Lake Washington Institute of Technology Education Committee Chair and Chamber Board Member Bert Mills of Edward Jones.
Katarina Swinney, a sophomore at Lake Washington Institute of Technology, has been named the Woodinville Chamber of Commerce Student of the Month for February.

Swinney has big plans. She’ll be transferring to the UW Bothell to finish up her biology degree and pre-med requirements. She then plans on becoming a medical doctor and working for “Doctors Without Borders.” When not in school, she is a nanny for three children and volunteers for the Adventure Church in Duvall, enjoys Bikram yoga, hiking, cliff jumping, and her cat, Spot, and loves expressing life through painting.

Bothell landscape designer wins again at Northwest Flower & Garden Show

  • Written by Woodinville Weekly Staff

Fancy Plants
Courtesy Photo James Sprague of Bothell-based Fancy Plants Gardens won a silver medal for “Backyard Box Office” at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show.
James Sprague of Bothell-based Fancy Plants Gardens turned in another award-winning performance at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show, winning a silver medal for his playful display garden “Backyard Box Office.” The garden was one of nearly two dozen on display as “Gardens Go Hollywood” at the Washington State Convention Center Feb. 20-24.

It’s the fourth year running on the garden show’s medal platform for Sprague, a certified professional horticulturist. This is his second year as lead designer, and his 840-square-foot L-shaped garden has nearly 2,000 flowers, bushes and trees wrapped around a patio movie-viewing area.

“I wanted to capture that feeling of a cozy and intimate garden space, yet with the splashes of bright color and subtle lighting of a movie theater,” Sprague said.

His favorite features are crowd-pleasers: A fountain with a 10-foot-tall flower made of welded steel movie reels.

Nearby, low-voltage LED lighting is tucked into retaining walls to mimic the soft lights that guide moviegoers to their seats.

Judges awarded Sprague’s display garden a silver medal Tuesday, Feb. 19. Sprague also won a silver medal at the 2012 show for “Peter and the Wolf.”

Sprague said it’s thrilling to be part of such a massive and unique event year after year, among the biggest in the country and attended by thousands of garden lovers.


“Every day I transform people’s yards into their dreams, but the garden show is my chance to shine and express my own artistic vision,” said Sprague, 36. “Winning a medal on this stage is a huge honor, and makes all of the hard work worth it.”

Sprague is a seasoned pro with two decades in the landscaping and design business.

He comes from a family of gardeners who team up with friends at show time to help build his display garden.

He also collaborated with carpenter Anders Hagen of Bothell-based Home Restorations, Inc.; outdoor furniture was provided by Mukilteo Cedar Products, and Bedrock Industries provided the recycled glass mosaic movie screen and a rainbow of super-sized, glass lollipops.

Sprague’s Fancy Plants Gardens designs and installs landscaping, walkways, fences, garden structures and lighting.

Learn more online through the company’s Facebook page.

Railway advocates gather in Woodinville

  • Written by Don Mann
Photo courtesy of Cascadia Center An artist’s rendering of what Woodinville’s new train station might look like.
About two dozen people, including a handful of local elected officials, gathered Thursday at Woodinville’s Columbia Winery for an Eastside TRailway Regional Alliance update on the progress of resurrection of the rail line through eastern King and Snohomish counties, also known as the Eastside Rail Corridor.

The event was sponsored the Cascadia Center for Regional Development, a Seattle-based transportation study and rail advocacy group and a member of the Alliance, and co-chaired by city of Snohomish Mayor Karen Guzak and Woodinville Councilmember Les Rubstello.

The Alliance also includes the King County Regional Advisory Council, as well as the city councils of Bellevue, Kirkland, Snohomish and Woodinville — all with dogs in the hunt to varying degrees.

Further, it includes the county councils of King County and Snohomish County, and the Port of Seattle.

After brief introductions, Bruce Agnew, Cascadia Center director, began with some background: The Port of Seattle acquired the 44-mile rail corridor from Burlington Northern Santa Fe in 2009.

While most of the King County portion has been sold to public entities, the Snohomish portion is still owned by the Port of Seattle. A new company called Eastside Community Rail already runs freight from Snohomish to Woodinville via Everett and hopes to run a weekend excursion train at least to the wineries of Woodinville and to Kirkland.

Kirkland, however, bought part of the line for $5 million and is planning to pull up the track, said to be in disrepair, and replace it with a bicycle trail.

Rubstello and mayor
Staff Photo/ Don Mann Woodinville Councilmember Les Rubstello and Snohomish Mayor Karen Guzak
Kirkland officials are currently seeking bids for the railway’s removal and the work could begin as early as April, they said.

To that end ETRA organizers issued a petition which was signed by many officials and circulated: “We support the retention of the Eastside Rail Corridor track and thus support a moratorium on all removal of track in the entire Eastside Rail Corridor, specifically Kirkland’s 5.75 portion.”

“We just want them to wait,” Gruzak said. “We believe we can have both rails and trails.”

Agnew said the tracks are currently usable for freight but need upgrades to carry passengers, which would amount to about $6 million for the 15.6 miles from Snohomish to Woodinville.

Funding is being sought through federal, state and Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) sources, he added.

The PSRC is responsible for distributing federal highway and transit funds under the Surface Transportation Program (STP) and Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) program.

“We just want Kirkland to pause and wait for the King County trail way process to play out in 2013 to determine the regional impacts,” he said.

Rubstello said the main goal of the Alliance was to try to acquire federal and state funds to upgrade the infrastructure, and that Woodinville’s interest was in the resurrection of “some kind of a dinner train.”

The Spirit of Washington dinner train operated for 15 years out of Renton with trips to Woodinville and back.

In October 2007 the operators announced it would be shutting down because of low ridership.

City council does its business

  • Written by Don Mann
At its Feb. 19 meeting, the Woodinville City Council put its collective heads together to discuss the Eastside Rail Corridor, receive its crime report for the year 2012, and talk about its pending “retreat,” scheduled for March 2.

Regarding rails, the question was whether or not to endorse membership with the Eastside TRailway Regional Alliance, a group which had two members speak once again during public comment.

And whether or not to send a letter to the Kirkland City Council regarding their proposed plans to remove the existing trails to construct a bike trail, which would foul up the works — if it happens — to run railway through Woodinville, as the track runs from Renton to Snohomish.

The vote to endorse membership into the organization passed 5-1, with Mayor Bernie Talmas dissenting, and Councilmember Art Pregler absent.

The vote to send the letter also passed 5-1, with Talmas opposed.

Next up was the annual crime report, delivered by Woodinville Police Chief Sydney Jackson: In 2012 there were 748 total crimes in the city, she reported, down from the 782 reported last year.

Part 1 crimes, major felonies including homicide, forcible rape and robbery were up at 412. Part 2 crimes, including simple assault, forgery and fraud were down at 336.

Overall, crime is down 5 percent, she said, though Part 1 crimes are up 7 percent. Most alarming, she said, is that residential burglary has increased by 73 percent — 52 last year as opposed to 30 the year before.

The council then went on to talk about its annual retreat, scheduled for March 2 from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the Snoqualmie Ridge Golf Course.

Mayor Talmas, who made the plans in conjunction with Deputy Mayor Liz Aspen, then said he was not in favor of a retreat so far away, apparently not wanting to appear insensitive to citizens who may be interested in attending, and was concerned about full disclosure.

Deputy Mayor Aspen suggested providing an audio recording of the meeting on the city’s Web site.

Councilmember Susan Boundy-Sanders then said she may be unavailable due to family health issues, and Councilmember Paulette Bauman reiterated she was not available on that date, adding she had “difficulty” in the retreat’s location and lack of transparency to the citizens. A motion was made and a vote was taken and the retreat was nixed, 4-1, with Bauman abstaining and only Aspen in favor.

“I’m hugely disappointed,” the deputy mayor said, citing the work that she and the mayor did under previous instruction. “We spent a lot of time, reserved the room … It’s not unheard of (for a city council) to go out of town.”

In any case, there’s no retreat for council scheduled as of now.

After that, there was a discussion on the potential tolling of the I-90 bridge, and whether or not to support a letter written and signed by the mayors of Bothell, Kenmore, Kirkland, Lake Forest Park and Woodinville to be sent to Washington Governor Jay Inslee, looking for traffic mitigation funds.

The letter cites that tolling of the bridge will result in additional traffic on SR 522, already stressed by the tolling of the SR 520 bridge across Lake Washington.

The deputy mayor said she didn’t see any significant impact to the citizens of Woodinville and questioned why it was an issue.

Woodinville City Manager Richard Leahy, who was involved with the process of drafting the letter, acknowledged Woodinville’s lesser impact of I-90 tolling, but believed its neighboring cities would feel a benefit from the joint letter, possibly including mitigation money for all. Then Councilmember Les Rubstello, after stating he would abstain from the vote “for family reasons,” spoke up: “I think this letter is a joke. It’s organized whining, saying we’re a bunch of cities and we want more money … There’s no identification that any (traffic) impacts exist. This letter is worthless and just says you’ve made a change and because you made a change we think we should get money. Woodinville shouldn’t put their name on this unless we can substantiate there are (traffic) impacts … This is just government gone bad…and I think it’s inappropriate.”

A vote was then taken: 4-1 to approve, including Rubstello’s abstention.