Newcastle Year-in-Review
Posted on 12/26/2018

As 2018 ends, the City of Newcastle is reflecting on a year that saw the community grow to more than 12,000 residents. We welcomed new restaurants, businesses and a new police chief, too! Before we step into 2019 — a year in which the city will celebrate its 25th anniversary! — let’s take a look back at 2018.

DOWNTOWN

— The Newcastle Commons area continued to grow, welcoming new businesses such as fitness studio VERDE Organic Body and Bishops hair salon. A drive thru Starbucks opened, followed by BECU and MOD Pizza. AJI Sushi & Grill and an Overlake Medical Center Clinic are also coming soon.

— The city added green bicycle lanes to the intersection of Coal Creek Parkway and Newcastle Way. Green-colored pavement for bike lanes raises awareness of bicycling zones in the downtown area.

—  Aegis Gardens officially opened its doors, bringing a unique, Asian-inspired facility to the shores of Lake Boren. Aegis Gardens is a distinctive senior assisted living and memory care community designed to celebrate Chinese culture and traditions.  It’s also home to a cultural center open to the community and a bilingual preschool.

PUBLIC SAFETY 

— The website safewise.com named Newcastle one of the state’s safest cities in 2018. The city came in at No. 4. This honor came in a year in which the Newcastle PD can count arresting a prolific burglar and taking down illegal marijuana grows among its many accomplishments.

— The Newcastle Police Department saw some key departures in 2018, along with a few new arrivals. Police Chief Melinda Irvine retired after 12 years at the helm, while Deputies Steve Kajihiro and Scott Yamamoto were each promoted and reassigned. Kajihiro and Yamamoto had both served here for nearly two decades and left a lasting impact. The duo from Hawaii even inspired a Newcastle teen to become an officer himself!

— The city welcomed Jason Houck as the new police chief.  He has hit the ground running, displaying the human side of policing, hosting the department’s first Coffee with a Cop and keeping the community informed through the department’s new social media channels. Follow Newcastle PD on Twitter (@pdnewcastle) and Facebook (fb.com/newcastlewapd). An eighth patrol officer, Graeme Glasgow, was added this year bringing the department to 10 employees.

EVENTS AND ENGAGEMENT

— The Newcastle Library hosted a three-week Citizens Academy giving citizens a chance to learn about civics and government from members of  city staff. Click here to view some of the staff presentations.

— The city’s Newcastle Youth for Community Engagement board held its first Teen Film Contest. Winners were shown on the big screen during the city’s Summer Movie Night.

Newcastle Days was bigger and better than ever! The celebration extended beyond the typical festival weekend and included new activities and events such as an art show, special superhero appearances and more. View photos and our video recap here.

— The Newcastle City Council held its first informal Community Conversation, a new forum that offered a casual and convenient way for residents to ask their elected officials questions and learn what’s happening in the community.

— The City of Newcastle partnered with Sound Publishing to produce a resident’s guide. The guide was mailed to all residents.

CITY GOVERNMENT

— The City Council welcomed three new members and elected a new mayor and deputy mayor. New Councilmembers Tamra Kammin, Tom Magers and Dave Mitchell took the Oath of Office, while Mayor Allen Dauterman and Deputy Mayor Linda Newing will each serve two-year terms in their offices.

— In May, the Department of Natural Resources approved an application to clear-cut 28 acres of trees on private property located in the southeast corner of the city. The City of Newcastle is concerned about potential visual and environmental impacts of logging the property where a geologic feature known as the DeLeo Wall is located. The city continues to appeal the decision and explore options to protect the parcel.

— The city lost an icon in August, when longtime community volunteer Jim Price passed away. He cared deeply about the Newcastle community and never hesitated to get involved through his work with the Community Activities Commission, Newcastle Trails, the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce or the Newcastle Arts Council.

— The City Council approved a new 10-year solid waste collection contract with Waste Management. Under the contract, the majority of customers will see a decrease in rates, while all residents and businesses will receive an improved level of service. Learn more here.

— An independent audit of the city’s 2017 finances and an accountability audit covering 2017 identified no findings or concerns. Additionally, for the 10th consecutive year, and 12th time overall, the Government Finance Officers Association honored the Newcastle Finance Department with the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award.

— The Newcastle City Council officially adopted a 2019 budget that puts a priority on public safety, includes funding for a project to address traffic concerns by Newcastle Elementary School, and prepares the city for the future with funds budgeted for the creation of a long-range financial plan. 

Want to know what else happened in 2018? Explore the 2018 archives, where we store all of the year’s community news posts, here.            

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