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Friday, May 22, 1992 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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The Times' North Creek Presses Debut In A Smooth Run

BOTHELL

The presses are rolling at The Seattle Times North Creek printing facility.

Since Monday, 33,000 daily copies of The Seattle Times have been printed on the first of three printing presses at the plant, which had been under construction since July 1990..

Next week the number of copies will be boosted to about 51,000, encompassing all of the Snohomish County edition and some readers of the night final edition, said Karen Slattery, North Creek plant manager.

By year-end, about 230 employees will be working out of the Bothell building, Slattery said.

The first week of publication went smoothly, she said. "We had some small learning-curve problems, but the equipment is running precisely as it should (be running)."

Snohomish County readers will probably notice sharper, crisper photographs and graphics in editions printed on the new presses.

In July, the 350,000-square-foot printing facility's second press will begin printing papers for Eastside readers and some downtown readers. The third and final press will start up in September, producing papers to some downtown and Southend readers, Slattery says. The Times will continue to operate presses at its downtown plant, as well.

The foundation for a fourth press is in place at the Bothell facility, but The Times has no specific plans for its installation, says H. Mason Sizemore, The Seattle Times Co. president.

The building site is designed to accommodate as many as eight presses. The additional space required for expansion would be gained by pushing out the front wall of the building, Sizemore says.

Other expansion options being considered by The Times are building a second printing plant on property it owns in Renton or a smaller plant on downtown Seattle land just north of the current Seattle printing plant, he says.

Traffic shouldn't be a problem for now, Sizemore says. Delivery falls between the morning and the evening rush hour, he says. But additional traffic in the region could eventually cause delivery problems. "One of the reasons we bought the Renton property is a hedge against further traffic congestion," he says.

The Bothell printing facility was the subject of a bit of neighborhood controversy, when the company turned on the outside lighting late last year. Some citizens complained to the city of Bothell about the brightness, Slattery says. In response, The Times eliminated some of the lighting and cut the wattage of all of the bulbs from 400 watts to 100 watts, Slattery says.

Residents surrounding The Times' printing plant were also concerned that the presses would be noisy. But since the press started on Monday, no one has complained about noise, lighting or any other issues, says Betty George, chairman of the board for the Holly Hill neighborhood association, which is located near the plant.

Copyright (c) 1992 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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