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Prosecutor: Lake Lenore case stands out, but poaching common

FISHING — The recently resolved Lake Lenore poaching case involving 242 fish illegally gillnetted by four Western Washington men, stood out for the jail time and fines handed down by the Grant County District Court.

However, poaching cases at the many scattered fishing lakes in central Washington are not uncommon.

Here are answers to a few followup questions I posed regarding the case to Patrick Schaff, the deputy prosecutor who worked on the case:

Do you know of any other illegal fishing cases of this magnitude occurring in Grant County?

“This seems to be the only Grant County case of this magnitude in the last several years. We see cases of similar character (i.e. late-night net poaching of rare or semi-rare fish) a couple of times a year, usually from Lake Lenore but occasionally from Banks Lake.  But those cases usually involve a couple dozen fish on average.  This case obviously stands out because of the large number of fish taken.”

Is there any information on what the defendants were planning to do with so many fish?

“We don’t know what the defendants intended to do with the fish, but they clearly took more than would be needed for a personal or family supply.” 

What is the citizenship of the four men involved in the Lenore illegal fishing case?

“I don’t know the citizenship status of the four men and I would not feel comfortable speculating.  Our office is prohibited by law from considering citizenship or national origin when choosing how to resolve cases.” 

A Washington Fish and Wildlife Department enforcement captain offered more insight into the case.

Public put spotlight on Lake Lenore fish poachers

FISHING — Media attention and angler outrage may have factored into last week's successful prosecution of four Western Washington men who were caught on April 6 gillnetting 242 prized Lahontan cutthroat trout from Lake Lenore, a prized “quality fishery” south of Coulee City.

Grant County prosecutors, like prosecutors across the state, are chronically overbook with cases.  Fish and wildlife cases often are brushed aside to make time for priority cases in which people are the victims.

“Sportsmen's groups and the press did a great job following up and emphasizing the importance and severity of this case,” said Capt. Chris Anderson, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife enforcement supervisor in Ephrata. “The prosecutor's office responded and did a great job.”

Lake Lenore is managed as a selective fishery geared to catching large cutthroat trout.  Sport anglers at Lenore are limited to keeping no more than one fish a day.

Vitaliy Kachinskiy, 23, of Mount Vernon, Wash., and three Everett men: Sergey Otroda, 32, Igor Bigun, 26, and Oleg Pavlus, 25, pled guilty to gross misdemeanor charges, Grant County Prosecutor D. Angus Lee confirmed on Friday. 

Each man was sentenced to 20 days in jail, 40 days of electronic home monitoring and fines or costs totaling $4,100, he said.

In addition, the pickup being used at the time of their arrest was seized by the two Fish and Wildlife police who staked out the scene and managed to round up the fleeing poachers despite their attempts to escape in the darkness.

“They could appeal the forfeiture in Grant County Superior Court,” Anderson said. “But if the judge ruled that we followed the law in our arrest and seizing the vehicle, it would remain the property of the state.”   No appeal has yet been filed, he said.

WDFW has investigated other instances of illegal gillnetting for sportfish in Eastern Washington lakes involving ethnic groups.

Asked what the men were planning to do with all the fish they illegally netted at Lenore, Anderson said, “We do not have any direct knowledge that these Lenore fish were destined for a market, but we have heard in the past that they do sell the fish within the Russian community only.”

Police continue search for Grant County shooting suspect

Multiple law enforcement agencies continue their search for a shooting suspect who shot a man multiple times in the stomach Friday morning.

Arnoldo Cazares Mendoza, 20, fled a blueberry orchard in a pickup truck after a shooting that occurred around 7:30 this morning, Grant County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Kyle Foreman said. Mendoza’s relationship to the victim is unknown. Multiple field workers witnessed the shooting, Foreman said.

Anyone with information on Mendoza's wherabouts is asked to call 911.

Check out the original story by The Spokesman-Review's Kip Hill here.

2 men wounded in Warden shooting

WARDEN, Wash. (AP) — The Grant County sheriff’s office says two men were wounded in a shooting Sunday night at an apartment complex in Warden.

Two men were arguing when one pulled out a gun and wounded the other man and a bystander. The sheriff’s office says the injuries are not life-threatening.

The suspect fled and police are looking for him.

Amway plans huge production facility in Port of Quincy, adding 30 jobs

The Port of Quincy has sold 12 acres in its industrial park to Amway, the giant direct-sales company that distributes thousands of household products.

The company, based in Grand Rapids, Mich.,  plans to build a  48,000-square-foot extraction and concentration facility to process ingredients for nutritional products sold under the Nutrilite brand.
 
The company has an option to buy an additional 15 acres of property at the same industrial park. 
 
Amway said it hopes to start the  $31.8 million project later this year. It will create 30 manufacturing and quality assurance jobs, as well as 100 or more temporary construction jobs. 
 
The Amway plant should start production  in 2014.
 
Port officials said the decision is another affirmation of Grant County's and the port district's coordinated efforts to use high-end infrastructure, such as broadband, and transportation advantages to market itself as a world-class industrial site.
 
The port has several other major clients, including Microsoft and Yahoo, both of which have large data centers on land managed through the port.

Chilly opening day had fishing hot spots in Columbia Basin

FISHING — Fishing season opened today in a select group of lakes, mostly in Central Washington. While success rates weren't good everywhere, some lakes — notably Upper Caliche, Martha, Burke and Quincy Lakes — were the best in recently years, said Chad Jackson, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife fish biologist for the Columbia Basin.

The quality waters — Lenice, Nunnally, Lenore and Dusty Lakes saw very low effort and poor catch rates early in the day, he said. 

Although air temperatures were 28-32 degrees, skies were mostly sunny with mild winds and good to excellent harvest rates in many waters.

The cold weather appeared to be the factor in reducing angler effort 50-70 percent from recent years.

Read on for Jackson's detailed report by water.

Banks Lake water level rising toward normal range

BOATING — The water level at Banks Lake is coming up close to normal range this winter after a dramatic maintenance drawdown that reached 30 feet below normal in October.

The lake elevation was up to 1,561 feet this week, about 7 feet below the normal winter operating range.

The summer-fall drawdown was a deterrent to boat launching and fishing at the popular 27-mile-long reservoir between Electric City and Coulee City, Wash.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation plans to have the lake level back up to around 1,565 feet by April.

See the fascinating aerial photos made during the peak of the drawdown.

2 at large after fatal shooting in Quincy

Police have identified three persons of interested in the shooting death of a man in Quincy, Wash., on Friday.

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Gerardo Miguel Valenzuela Navarro, 18, (right) or Erwin Vazquez, 20, (left) is asked to call their local law enforcement agency or the Quincy Police Department at (509) 787-2222. 

Also identified as a person of interest is Eddie Alvarez Hernandez, 21, (right) who is in custody on a Washington Department of Corrections hold.

Police believe the three may be connected to the shooting death Ramiro Muñoz, Jr.

Commerce Dept. gives $3 million wastewater grant to Quincy for growth

Quincy continues using its data-center cluster as a way to increase its economic profile.

The acting U.S. Commerce Secretary, Rebecca Blank, announced on Wednesday that Quincy has been given a $3 million Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant to build a reverse osmosis treatment plant and related infrastructure that will support the region’s data processing industry.
 
The grant will increase the city’s water capacity and allow for continued expansion of nearby tech businesses who have or might in the future build data centers there.

The grant will help the community treat industrial and domestic wastweater to cool the Quincy data centers. The added capacity will also help area food processing and shipping businesses, according to an EDA press release.

Let's recap the companies using Grant County for affordable energy:  Microsoft, Yahoo, Sabey, Intuit and Dell, so far.

Quincy Microsoft server farm lands at No. 9 on largest data center list

Website  datacenterknowledge.com recently listed the 10 largest data centers in the world. Landing at No. 9 is the Microsoft Data Center in Quincy, in the heart of Grant County. Officially, the website made Quincy 9A, with Microsoft’s San Antonio data center 9B.

The photo above shows the Quincy site. Until two years ago, Microsoft planned to build a second adjoining center. For reasons involving state taxes, it stopped and moved more of its data to Texas.

Both San Antonio and Quincy measure about 470,000 square feet.  To view a video showing the inside of the Quincy site, it’s here.

Is Washington’s data center tax break too late?

Washington state leaders feel they’re back in the data center game.

Last week Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a bill that could help data centers expand or set up shop in Washington rural counties. The law allows tax breaks for data centers in any county other than Spokane, King, Pierce, Snohomish, Clark and Thurston.

Though Washington is facing massive budget deficits, state leaders were clearly warned that without a bill that cut sales taxes on new data center equipment, the future of expansion by Yahoo, Microsoft and other tech firms was minimal.

From 2006 until 2008, Microsoft, Intuit and Yahoo all built large data centers in Grant County, using the Port of Quincy’s low power rates and redundant fiber connectivity to justify the investment.

Grant County officer dies…

Good morning, Netizens…

[Picture: KREM-TV]

A Grant County Sheriff’s Department deputy has died.

Around 7:20 p.m. deputy John Bernard of Moses Lake rolled his car while on a routine patrol. He was declared dead at the scene.

Bernard was 52-years-old. He was a four year veteran of the Grant County Sheriff’s Office and had previously served as a Grant County Corrections Officer from 1997 to 2002.

He joined the City of Ephrata Police Department as a patrol officer in 2002 and served until 2006 when he became a Sheriff’s Deputy.

He is survived by two sons, one of which is also a Grant County Sheriff’s Deputy.

Dave