Gary Chittim, KING 5 News
EVERETT, Wash. – People fishing without a license or other minor fishing violations are not being prosecuted in Snohomish County.
The Snohomish County Prosecutor’s Office has told wildlife officers it will no longer prosecute second degree recreational fishing crimes.
That includes violations such as fishing in closed areas, violating limits, illegally hooking, failure to record catches, etc…
Everett Fishing Store owner John Martinis reviewed dozens of cases rejected by the Prosecutor’s Office and said it’s a decision that can lead to serious problems for salmon and crab.
He said the word is out that you don’t need a license to fish in Snohomish County and that will eventually force the end of some fishing seasons.
“We don’t have any fish to waste,” said Martinis, who owns John’s Sporting Goods.
Prosecutors said the decision was made because the State legislature decriminalized minor fishing violations. They said instead of prosecuting misdemeanor crimes, they requested Fish & Wildlife officers write infractions that carry fines but no criminal prosecution.
They also point out their office prosecutes 90 percent of wildlife crimes other than second degree fishing.
State Fish & Wildlife officers report they investigate dozens on second degree fishing crimes during busy fishing days.
By Jerry Cornfield, Herald Writer
EVERETT — A surge in coal and oil trains through Snohomish County is a “coming crisis” which threatens to irreparably damage the quality of life in several communities unless addressed, the mayor of Edmonds warned Friday.
Drivers already face long backups at railroad crossings more often because freight rail traffic is increasing, and the situation will only worsen if plans for new oil refineries and a coal export terminal proceed, Mayor Dave Earling said.
“We all need to acknowledge it is a serious problem,” Earling said in opening comments at an event focused on coal and oil trains in the county. “I view it as a coming crisis and one we need to start taking care of today.”
The forum on the county campus began with supporters and opponents of the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal politely sparring over the economic good and the ecological bad of building it.
Seattle-based SSA Marine’s proposal for the terminal at Cherry Point is undergoing extensive environmental review now and, if approved, could be operating at full capacity in 2019.
By then, the terminal could be handling about 54 million metric tons of dry bulk commodities per year, most of it coal from the Powder River Basin in Montana.
That would add nine loaded trains per day heading to the terminal and nine empties coming from it. The trains are expected each to be about 1.6 miles long.
Ross Macfarlane, a program manager for Climate Solutions, and Eric de Place, a policy director for Sightline Institute, argued against the terminal, saying it runs counter to efforts by the state to pursue alternative sources of energy.
“It locks us into a dirty energy cycle that is extremely destructive,” de Place said.
But Terry Finn, a consultant with Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, and Joseph Ritzman, a vice president of SSA International, countered that rejecting the terminal ignores the market reality that the potential purchaser of the coal, China, will buy coal elsewhere and burn it nonetheless.
“I don’t think it makes one iota of difference” in the world of energy, but it will mean a loss of jobs and economic development for Washington, Finn said.
The duos also disagreed about the threat of coal dust and the risk of derailments.
But it was the potential of more coal and oil trains tying up even more traffic on city streets that seemed foremost on the minds of elected leaders and residents in attendance.
A report issued by the Puget Sound Regional Council in July found that freight rail traffic in Washington is expected to grow 130 percent by 2035 — without the new coal terminal. That would amount to 27 to 31 more trains per day between Seattle and Spokane and up to 10 more per day between Everett and Vancouver, British Columbia.
The report amplified Earling’s concern. The city has two at-grade railroad crossings leading to the waterfront. When trains come through town and the crossing arms go down, access to the waterfront is cut off.
He said a 2005 report done for the city of Edmonds predicted the number of trains passing through the city each day could rise from roughly 35 to 70 by 2020 and 104 by 2030. That study didn’t factor in added rail shipments of coal and crude oil.
Edmonds isn’t the only city with concerns.
The mayors of Marysville, Mukilteo and Snohomish and an Everett city councilman attended Friday. So did Snohomish County Executive John Lovick.
“It is really a complex issue that impacts cities dramatically,” Snohomish Mayor Karen Guzak said.
Marysville could endure the most disproportionate impact of the surge in rail traffic because of its numerous at-grade rail crossings. Wait times could increase by as much as 147 percent per day within the city, the regional council study found.
A possible solution is to eliminate at-grade crossings by building overpasses or underpasses, known as “grade-separation” projects. But the regional council report estimates they would cost anywhere from $50 million to $200 million, paid for mostly with public money.
According to federal law, railroads only can be required to contribute up to 5 percent of that cost.
During a question-and-answer period, Reid Shockey of Everett, a member of the Snohomish County Committee for Improved Transportation, pressed Finn on whether BNSF Railway might put up a greater percentage of the cost of grade separation.
Finn said he couldn’t commit BNSF to any figure.
“I think it’s something that is negotiable,” he said.
By: Jessica Robinson, NW News Network
Public health officials in the Northwest say they’re seeing gonorrhea infections at levels they haven’t seen in years. Three counties in Washington state are now in the midst of an outbreak. Parts of Oregon and Idaho are set to top even last year’s high numbers.
And health departments are seeing some unusual trends in the data.
Washington public health officials say King County often drives statewide trends, just through the sheer heft of Seattle’s urban population. But the 31 percent increase in gonorrhea cases over last year has largely been from spikes in Snohomish, Spokane and Yakima counties.
Oregon is seeing increases in unexpected places too.
“We’ve seen during the last year and a half increases in counties that are more rural than our metropolitan area of Portland,” the Oregon Health Authority’s Dr. Sean Schafer said.
That includes places like Jackson, Douglas and Lane counties. Schafer said he hasn’t seen such a high overall gonorrhea in Oregon since the early ’90s.
Idaho’s usually low gonorrhea numbers have risen dramatically as well. The infection rate around the Boise area has more than doubled since just two years ago.
North Idaho, far southwest Idaho and the Magic Valley have also sharp increases. The cause remains a mystery. One theory is the cyclical nature of the disease, another points to the higher rate of meth use in some rural areas.
Health departments are working with doctors to increase screening for the disease and are encouraging people to practice safe sex.
The Northwest’s rates – at around 20-50 cases per 100,000 people – are still better than the rest of the country, which hovers around 100 per 100,000 people. But health officials say the increase comes at a time when there are signs gonorrhea bacteria could become resistant to the last remaining oral antibiotic treatment.
People who get gonorrhea — and women in particular — may have few symptoms. If left unchecked, it can cause pelvic inflammatory disease in women and increase the risk of tubal pregnancy. In both men and women, it has lead to infertility in rare cases.
by KIRK BOXLEITNER, Marysville Globe
TULALIP — Nearly 600 walkers started and ended their course at the Tulalip Amphitheatre for this year’s Walk MS in Tulalip on Saturday, April 12, and while this represented a slightly smaller turnout than last year’s local event, event organizers still considered it a healthy show of support given the other worthy causes close to home that are calling for people’s time and commitment.
“We understand the community is splitting its attention, with the recent tragedy in Oso,” said Sarah Chromy, communications manager for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Greater Northwest Chapter. “It’s still an impressive number for Snohomish County.”
As of Tuesday, April 15, Chromy estimated that the Walk MS in Tulalip had generated nearly $90,000 for the National MS Society in Snohomish County, out of the $1.6 million in funds raised through this year’s Walk MS events throughout the Greater Northwest Chapter. These numbers are actually up from last year’s.
“The Lumpy Bruisers, with team captain Mitzi Ahles, did an amazing job of recruiting and fundraising this year,” Chromy said. “The Snohomish Goat Farmers, with team captain Ray Emery, led the way as our highest local fundraising team, with more than $16,000. Plus, they always bring out at least two goats to Walk MS, which is a sure crowd-pleaser for the children.”
The Mel Walkers team, with joint captains Bruce and Melissa Groenewegen, ranked second in fundraising, with more than $15,000, while Elaine’s Power Walkers, with team captain Jeff Ponton, came in third with more than $4,000.
“Elaine’s Power Walkers also brought tons of team spirit and balloons,” Chromy said. “The face painter was a big hit as well, painting everything from birds to tigers, and everything in between.”
Chromy explained that more than 77 cents of every dollar raised through Walk MS goes directly to improve the lives of people living with MS. Through its donors and fundraisers, the National MS Society is able to:
- Fund cutting-edge research to stop MS, restore lost functions and end MS forever.
- Drive change through advocacy.
- Facilitate professional education.
- Collaborate with MS organizations around the world.
- Provide programs and services that help people with MS and their families move forward with their lives.
“Last year, it was pouring rain out here, so everyone was happy to hang around after this year’s Walk MS to catch up with one another, have some lunch and soak up some sunshine,” Chromy said. “Walk MS connects those in our local communities to one another, as we rally together to raise funds and celebrate hope for a future free of multiple sclerosis. It’s an opportunity for everyone affected by MS to meet others who may be going through similar life experiences, and to take action to end MS forever. There’s an incredible network of support, information and resources available, and Walk MS is the rallying point that makes it all possible.”
For more information, log onto www.nationalmssociety.org/Chapters/WAS.
By Kirk Boxleitner, Marysville Globe
MARYSVILLE — A recently released opinion from the Washington State Attorney General’s Office ties into the city of Marysville’s pending decision on how to address the potential establishment of marijuana businesses within the city’s limits.
In response to a request from Sharon Foster, chair of the Washington State Liquor Control Board, the office of Attorney General Bob Ferguson released a formal opinion on Thursday, Jan. 16, regarding local ordinances affecting new marijuana businesses in Washington.
The opinion states, “Under Washington law, there is a strong presumption against finding that state law preempts local ordinances. Although Initiative 502 establishes a licensing and regulatory system for marijuana producers, processors and retailers in Washington state, it includes no clear indication that it was intended to preempt local authority to regulate such businesses. We therefore conclude that I-502 left in place the normal powers of local governments to regulate within their jurisdictions.”
Grant Weed, who serves as the city attorney for the city of Marysville, sounded a qualified note of optimism, even as he sought to clarify what this development actually means for the city.
“The Attorney General’s opinion is just that — an opinion,” Weed said. “It’s not legally binding, and while the courts tend to give deference to the Attorney General’s opinions, neither the courts nor the cities of the state are bound to them. That being said, the Attorney General’s Office has very skilled lawyers whom I don’t doubt answered many questions that were posed to them about this issue, so I’m not questioning this outcome, which gives the cities of Marysville and Arlington guidance on the options that are available to them.”
While Weed emphasized that no final decision has been made regarding the production, processing or sales of marijuana in the city of Marysville, he did acknowledge that the city’s Planning Commission voted by a 4-to-2 margin on Tuesday, Jan. 14, to recommend to the Marysville City Council that they prohibit all three within the city limits.
Marysville City Council member Steve Muller brings with him a certain measure of experience in such affairs, since he previously served as a member of the Planning Commission, but he was not inclined to either second-guess the Planning Commission’s judgement or even offer a definitive opinion of his own yet.
“There’s still a lot of gray areas here, and I wouldn’t want to see them worked out in Marysville’s backyard,” Muller said. “I don’t know how this all will fall out. I do question some of the assumptions about the tax revenues that this will generate, because if the product winds up costing more, it could become less competitive with what’s sold on the streets. This is a new industry, so we’re still seeing how this will play out. My position is, if we’re going to do something, let’s take the time to do it right the first time.”
Kamille Norton is the newest Marysville City Council member, having been appointed in February and elected in November of last year, and she sounded an even more deliberately neutral note than Muller.
“I’m waiting to review the Planning Commission’s recommendation for myself, and until then, I’m staying open-minded,” Norton said. “I do think the interim moratorium was the correct course of action to allow us time to study and explore this issue.”
Norton reported having spoken to a number of citizens and business owners on this subject, and regardless of their opinions, she described them as passionate about the matter.
While no set date has been released yet for the Marysville City Council to decide on this issue, Weed predicted it would be scheduled within the next several weeks, in February or March at the latest.
In 2012, I-502 passed statewide with 55.7 percent “Yes” votes. Locally it received 178,669 “Yes” votes out of 327,303 votes cast, or 54.59 percent of the vote in Snohomish County, and Marysville voters approved it by a slightly narrower margin, with 13,037 “Yes” votes out of 25,523 votes cast, or 51.07 percent of the vote.
By Janelle Kohnert, Marysville Globe
SMOKEY POINT — Arlington Police Officer Erik Moon has taken part in three of the annual “Night of 1,000 Stars” impaired driving emphasis patrols in Snohomish County over the course of the past seven years. When he headed out to cover the south Arlington, Smokey Point and north Marysville areas on the evening of Dec. 13, he already had a pretty good idea of what he could expect to find, although he acknowledged that this year would offer a few new wrinkles.
“The holidays can be depressing for some people, so they drink a bit too much,” Moon said. “What’s different now is that people can smoke marijuana in their homes, but then they might decide to go for a drive to the store. It’s not alcohol, but it’s still driving under the influence. We have to administer a blood draw to test for that, since you can be high on marijuana and blow all zeros on the breathalyzer, so that does no good as a test. Still, it’s like the adjustments we went through when they lowered the blood alcohol limit a while back. It’s just another learning curve.”
According to Moon, those who drive under the influence tend to be in their 20s and 30s, although he recalled one intoxicated driver who was 87 years old.
“It caught me off guard a little bit, but I processed her the same as I would any other DUI,” Moon said. “We can’t be choosy when it comes to protecting the public.”
Moon was one of 10 police officers and sheriff’s deputies in Snohomish County, working an average of eight hours of overtime each, who made contact with 167 drivers on Friday, Dec. 13, the first night of Washington state’s 23rd annual “Night of 1,000 Stars,” which ran through Sunday, Dec. 15.
“Five suspected impaired drivers were arrested,” Snohomish County DUI and Target Zero Task Force Manager Tracy McMillan said. “Most were booked into the Snohomish County Jail. Two of the suspected drivers reported drinking at a north Marysville alcohol establishment, which Washington State Liquor Control Board officers are investigating, while 24 other drivers were cited for no insurance, and four individuals were arrested for outstanding warrants. Washington State Liquor Enforcement officers visited 14 alcohol establishments that Friday night, and 20 alcohol establishments and retailers that Saturday night. Unfortunately, two stores sold alcohol to minors and were cited.”
Indeed, in his first hour on patrol that Friday night, Moon hadn’t caught any intoxicated drivers, but he had pulled over two drivers whose headlights were out within minutes of each other.
“Intoxicated drivers like to drive without their lights on,” Moon said. “I look at a lot of things for possible indicators of a DUI. Some intoxicated drivers will sit at green lights because they’re nearly passed out, while others will make wide turns or slow turns. They could be intoxicated, or they could be distracted by things like texting, but either way, they’re unsafe. Intoxicated drivers’ cognitive functions are not all there, and if they do get into collisions, they’re actually the least likely to be injured by them, because their muscles are already relaxed.”
Even after the “Night of 1,000 Stars,” extra patrols are planned to continue through the New Year.
“Officers, deputies and troopers will also be on the lookout for people who speed, drive aggressively, aren’t wearing seat-belts or are violating other traffic laws,” McMillan said. “Wintertime driving can be hazardous, but it can be deadly when it’s mixed with alcohol or drugs.”
“Impaired driving as the result of drugs or alcohol is the number one cause of vehicle collision deaths in our county,” Snohomish County Sheriff Ty Trenary said. “We want to everyone to make it home safely this holiday season.”
An average of 49 people lose their lives in traffic collisions between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day in Washington state, but in November of this year, not a single person lost their life in a motor vehicle collision in Snohomish County.
“That’s a tremendous accomplishment, but we need to remain vigilant,” Snohomish County Executive John Lovick said. “We want drivers to be safe throughout the holidays.”
These special overtime DUI and Target Zero emphasis patrols are paid for by a special grant from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission to reduce traffic deaths and disabling injuries to zero by the year 2030. The “Night of 1,000 Stars” is a cooperative effort with law enforcement, liquor enforcement and traffic safety task forces throughout Washington state.