Two musicians in the Bellevue Philharmonic Orchestra have taken audience development to a new level. It began about seven years ago when...

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Two musicians in the Bellevue Philharmonic Orchestra have taken audience development to a new level.

It began about seven years ago when principal percussionist Amy Putnam asked Bryce Van Parys for help carrying her drums. Van Parys, a double bass player, happily obliged.

They talked. They dated. They fell in love and married two years ago.

Their 9-pound, 7-ounce daughter, Alexandra Celeste Van Parys, arrived Thursday. No telling what instrument the baby will play. Besides percussion and double bass, she also could pick any string instrument and still be in tune with her family. Dad manages the Hammond Ashley Violin shop in Seattle.

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At the Bell Phil offices, Executive Director Lawrence Fried said, “In a few years Alexandra can come to our Young People’s Concerts.”

On view

Aarene Storms was a skeptic. When several agencies worked together to install cameras to monitor the heron nests near her workplace, Storms couldn’t see the benefit.

Now she’s the project’s biggest cheerleader.

Storms is a librarian at the Kenmore King County Library (18138 73rd Ave. N.E.), which was built near a wetland. Between the library and the wetland is a great heron rookery. To give people a better understanding of the big birds, the library, Seattle Audubon Society, King County Metro Transit, King County Sheriff’s Office, and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife put together the cameras, signs and fliers.

The cameras went live in February. Internet users can peek at the project through the wildlife agency’s Web site at

Storms, however, said the view is better from the library where the monitor provides a continuous live feed, not the every-20-second update online. Recently she told her parents, who are planning a visit from out of town, that the best tourist attraction in the area can be seen from her own library.

She has been enthralled with the baby herons, despite their somewhat homely — she said ugly — appearance.

“They look like fluff from under the bed with a beak,” Storms said.

Building fun

There was no monkeying around when Opstad Elementary PTA parents decided to refurbish the deteriorating playgrounds at the North Bend school.

Even when the school was built in 1988, the playgrounds were underdeveloped. School-district funds weren’t available for playground structures or playfields. Parents and the community donated some equipment.

There wasn’t enough. It wasn’t geared to all ages. And it was old.

So when the PTA and student walk-a-thons raised more than $20,000, parents Susan Livingston and Caroline Loudenback volunteered to get the ball rolling. They applied for grants, appealed to the community and helped organize a survey to figure out what new playgrounds should look like.

The $20,000 in seed money blossomed into a $90,000 project, thanks in part to a $45,000 grant from King County Parks. It will include an obstacle course for older kids, several play structures, climbing walls and a monkey-bar unit. Parents and community volunteers will install part of the equipment today and tomorrow.

Loudenback said the group can afford the bigger and better playground because of the volunteers.

Call the new play area a birthday present: The school is named after Edwin Opstad, the first superintendent of the Fall City School District — a precursor to today’s Snoqualmie Valley School District. Yesterday would have been his 100th birthday.

Sherry Grindeland: 206-515-5633 or