Topic: Mount Vernon
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December 4, 2013 at 12:13 PM
The Associated Press
A federal judge has ruled that two Washington cities have systematically violated the rights of poor defendants to have legal representation.
The state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union sued Mount Vernon and Burlington two years ago, alleging that public defenders there were so overworked that they amounted to little more than “a warm body with a law degree.”
Following a two-week trial last June, U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik agreed in a ruling Wednesday. He blamed city officials for cutting corners in paying for and monitoring public defenders, and for remaining “willfully blind” to the problems that resulted.
Lasnik also ordered the cities to re-evaluate the way they hire a part-time public-defense supervisor to oversee whether poor defendants are receiving adequate legal counsel.
November 11, 2013 at 11:27 AM
The Associated Press
MOUNT VERNON — The Transportation Department says metal work on the Interstate 5 Skagit River bridge is complete.
The last trusses were reconfigured Friday, giving 18 feet of clearance for all traffic lanes.
The Skagit Valley Herald reports there may be some short closures this week to finish maintenance and painting.
A section of the bridge collapsed May 23 when an arching truss was hit by an oversized truck. Workers installed an emergency span and then replaced it with a permanent span.
New, squared-off trusses should prevent a similar strike.
September 27, 2013 at 9:38 AM
Skagit Valley Herald
MOUNT VERNON — Nathan Vasquez was sentenced Thursday to 12½ years in prison for assaulting two Skagit Valley Food Co-op employees with a knife.
Vasquez, 28, pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree assault as part of a plea deal that dropped one count down from first-degree assault and dropped a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest.
He was arrested Jan. 27 after confronting, yelling at and charging two Co-op employees who were taking out the garbage. A police report described him as “belligerent.”
Vasquez swiped the knife at one of the Co-op employees, scratching his abdomen, according to the report. The other employee fended him off and Vasquez eventually left, but police caught up with him on the Second Street Viaduct, where he threw the knife over the bridge, a Mount Vernon police spokeswoman said at the time.
The Co-op employee who was injured did not need immediate medical attention.
Police used a Taser to subdue Vasquez, who refused to cooperate with police and told them to just shoot him, according to a probable-cause affidavit filed in the case.
“That night, I was looking to die,” he told Judge Michael Rickert in court Thursday.
Vasquez has a long history of methamphetamine-induced psychosis and a variety of mental-health diagnoses, said his defense lawyer, Wes Richards. Vasquez was under the influence at the time of the Co-op incident, Richards said.
“You’re a poster child for what methamphetamine can do,” Rickert told Vasquez, noting his extensive criminal history. “You’re lucky you’re still alive.”
Both Co-op employees were in court Thursday for Vasquez’s sentencing. One addressed the court, saying he was glad it didn’t happen to an older, frailer employee. He also said he has had to explain to his 7-year-old son that “Dad isn’t going to get hurt or stabbed just going to work.”
Vasquez apologized to the victims in court, saying he would not come after them and “that weight’s off your chest.”
Vasquez was convicted in 2004 of second-degree kidnapping, one of 15 prior felony convictions on his record. Prosecutor Erik Pedersen said his conduct has escalated.
This is Vasquez’s second strike under Washington’s “three strikes” law for serious felony offenses. A third strike would mean prison for life.
Vasquez said he is a United States citizen but has family in Mexico and plans to move near them when he is released.
July 18, 2013 at 6:33 AM
Highway 9 in Skagit County will be closed to traffic for a period beginning somewhere between 8:30 and 9 a.m. so that aerial crews can release chemical fire retardant on a brush fire that’s been burning on a hill near the Mount Vernon-area road. WSDOT spokesman Mike Allende said the road will be shut northbound at Big Lake Road and southbound at the Big Rock roundabout. It’s not known how long the road will be closed, he said.
May 29, 2013 at 8:25 AM
UPDATE: 10:15 a.m. | MOUNT VERNON (AP) — Crews are making progress at the collapsed Interstate 5 bridge on the Skagit River that has detoured traffic on the main route between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia, the Washington Transportation Department reported Wednesday.
About three-fourths of the wreckage that fell into the water last Thursday has been removed, agency spokesman Bart Treece said.
“We’ve got a good chunk of all the debris removed. That was the easy stuff for these hydraulic shears,” Treece said. “But the bridge deck is tough. It’s a matter of breaking it up and removing.”
Some places have to be kept intact for the National Transportation Safety Board investigation. Divers are being used.
The next step will be an inspection of the bridge piers for damage. After that, the department will have a better idea whether it can meet the governor’s challenge to install a temporary bridge by mid-June.
Two of 10 truckloads of temporary bridge parts have arrived at Mount Vernon, from Washougal, Wash., and New Jersey, Treece said.
The bridge collapsed after a semi-truck with an oversize load clipped a steel truss on the span, sending a car and pickup truck with a trailer into the river. A couple in the pickup and a man in the car escaped their wrecked vehicles and the frigid water with minor injuries.
On Wednesday, the NTSB planned to interview the driver of the pilot car that was leading the semi-truck to find out why it hit the truss. The truck made it off the span with the driver seeing the collapsing girders in the rear-view mirror.
The bridge carried 71,000 vehicles a day. Now, traffic is backing up a mile or two on the interstate as cars and trucks make their way on alternate routes through Mount Vernon on the south side and Burlington on north side of the river.
“People have to figure out what works for them,” Treece said. “It takes time for people to figure out what the new normal is.”
Mount Vernon is about 40 miles south of the Canadian border and the I-5 crossing is the third-largest border crossing with Canada. The problem at the Skagit River bridge is a major concern for trade and tourism in both directions, officials have said.
The temporary bridge being assembled by New Jersey-based Acro Bridge will be 160 feet long with two sections, each 24 feet wide. Treece described it as an “industry size erector set.” That will be enough for two lanes in each direction. It will be a little narrower than the bridge it replaced, so the speed limit will be lowered from 60 mph.
A longer-range bridge replacement will depend on several factors, including the NTSB investigation, Treece said.
May 23, 2013 at 7:26 PM
A full story is now available here.
Seattle Times staff
An Interstate 5 bridge collapsed into the Skagit River at around 7 p.m. Thursday, dumping at least two vehicles in the water north of Mount Vernon.
There were no fatalities reported.
A law-enforcement source said investigators believe a truck with an over-sized load heading south struck the bridge, which started bouncing, then fell.
The source said that 150 feet of the interstate dropped, sending a car, a truck and a travel trailer into the water.
“It’s a hell of a ride,” the source said.
All three people in those vehicles were rescued. They suffered minor injuries and were taken to the hospital. Two of them got out of their vehicles on their own and the third person had to be taken out on a litter.
Photographs showed a wide gap in the northern side of the bridge, with significant debris in the water.
As it grew dark, dozens of people were lining the river, holding candles in plastic cups in a vigil for anyone who might have been hurt or killed in the bridge’s collapse
Two of them were Jose Escobedo, 31, and Fernando Ramirez, 37, both of Mount Vernon.
They said they had a choir practice scheduled for 7 p.m. that was canceled because too few people could make it. Otherwise, choir members would have been crossing the bridge at the time of the collapse.
“I pass that bridge every day,” Ramirez said.
The bridge, built in 1955, has a sufficiency rating of 57.4 out of 100, according to federal records. That is well below the statewide average rating of 80, according to an Associated Press analysis of federal data, but 759 bridges in the state have a lower sufficiency score.
The bridge is classified as “fracture critical,” meaning it lacks redundancy and one big structural failure can bring the whole thing down, according to the Federal National Bridge Inventory.
According to a 2012 Skagit County Public Works Department, 42 of the county’s 108 bridges that are 50 years or older. The document says eight of the bridges are more than 70 years old and two are over 80.
Washington state was given a C in the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2013 infrastructure report card and a C- when it came to the state’s bridges. The group said more than a quarter of Washington’s 7,840 bridges are considered structurally deficient of functionally obsolete.
Seattle Times staff reporters Brian Rosenthal, Jennifer Sullivan, Steve Miletich, Alexa Vaughn and Rick Lund contributed to this report.
February 13, 2013 at 10:48 AM
MOUNT VERNON (AP) — The Mount Vernon City Council may change its rules for adult entertainment to drop cross-dressing as restricted activity.
The council is taking another look at rules that were written in 1978 to keep adult businesses at least 1,000 feet away from parks, churches and schools. The code lists “male and female impersonators” among the restrictions.
City planner Rebecca Lowell told the Skagit Valley Herald cross-dressing should not be considered adult content unless there’s some sexually explicit behavior.
The council considers the change at its Wednesday night meeting.
January 25, 2013 at 10:04 AM
MOUNT VERNON (AP) — A man who threatened to shoot up schools if his gun rights were taken away because of the Connecticut school shooting was sentenced Thursday in Mount Vernon to three months in jail.
The Skagit Valley Herald reports 19-year-old Korry Martinson of Sedro-Woolley pleaded guilty to felony harassment in an unusual plea agreement with prosecutors.
If a mental health evaluation indicates he could pose a danger to the community, the plea will remain. But, if the evaluation yields no concerns for future behavior, he could withdraw his felony plea and plead guilty to gross misdemeanor harassment instead.
Martinson made the threat on Facebook Dec. 14, the same day as the mass school shooting in Newtown, Conn.
January 4, 2013 at 7:02 PM
A technician for a Sammamish consulting and construction company fell to his death from a cellular tower in Mount Vernon Friday morning, according to Mount Vernon police.
Medics tried to save the 32-year-old man after he fell just before noon at Mount Vernon Fire Station 2, 1901 N. LaVenture Road. He was taken to Skagit Valley Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The cellular tower he was working on is on city property that is leased to commercial cellular providers.
The Skagit County Coroner’s Office, State Department of Labor and Industries, and Mount Vernon Police Department are investigating his death. Detectives have not released his name, his employer’s name or any details about what may have led up to his fall.
Working on radio, television and cellular towers is about ten times as deadly as the average construction job, according to a Frontline episode about cellular tower deaths that aired in May 2012.
December 27, 2012 at 7:24 PM
Authorities in Phoenix still are trying to determine the events that led to the death of a former yo-yo champion originally from Mount Vernon.
Phoenix police say 23-year-old Nathan DeWitt died early Wednesday after being taken to a hospital.
Police and Phoenix Fire Department crews responded to a rollover crash shortly after midnight and found an SUV on its side.
They say DeWitt crawled out of the vehicle and had been shot. Police say it’s still unclear if DeWitt died from the shooting wound, injuries from the crash or both.
Detectives say DeWitt possibly was at Christmas party before the shooting.
The Arizona Republic reported Thursday that DeWitt was the 2005 Pacific Northwest yo-yo champion and placed eighth in the 2008 competition and 18th last year.
Below is a video of DeWitt doing a “360 ear spin.”
About The Today File
The Today File is a general news blog featuring real-time coverage of Seattle and the Northwest. It is reported by the news staff of The Seattle Times and edited by Assistant Metro Editor Nick Provenza.
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