Northwest Digest

Posted: Monday, October 30, 2006

Man sentenced for poaching Dall sheep

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ANCHORAGE - For the next 10 years, Robert McConnell can't own a computer or log on to the Internet. He can't own guns or practice his trade of taxidermy and he can't go off the road system south of Anchorage without consulting his probation officer.

Those are some of the sentencing terms handed down to McConnell, a man the state considers a longtime poacher, after he was convicted of illegally killing two Dall sheep last winter in a popular sheep-viewing area along the Seward Highway.

Superior Court Judge John Suddock also sentenced McConnell on Friday to six months in jail and $25,000 in fines.

McConnell has a long history of game violations. His first was about two decades ago.

Suddock also noted that the sheep were part of a valuable and fragile resource enjoyed by the public.

"Some sentence has to be imposed that ensures this gentleman is not going to hunt again for some time," Suddock said.

The two Dall sheep were killed in mid-February in an area state wildlife biologist Rick Sinnott described to the court as a "world class" sheep viewing area that is easy and inexpensive to reach.

McConnell's accomplice, Douglas Perfetto said that he pulled the trigger most of the time, but the state argued McConnell was the one who was in charge.

Perfetto was sentenced in September to 17 days in jail and fined $7,200.

Report: BP knew plant was at risk

TEXAS CITY, Texas - BP safety experts warned of the potential for a "major site incident" 21/2 years before an explosion at the company's Texas City refinery killed 15 people, according to a broadcast report.

CBS' "60 Minutes" also reported Sunday that the Texas City plant manager, Don Parus, told his bosses that most workers at the refinery felt the plant was unsafe.

According to CBS, one worker wrote, "This place is set up for a catastrophic failure."

"They didn't do much," said Brent Coon, an attorney representing several victims suing BP. "Two months later the plant blew up."

Another 170 people were injured at the plant about 40 miles southeast of Houston.

BP's top refinery executive, John Manzoni, has said under oath he didn't know of serious safety concerns until the explosion.

The explosion occurred when faulty sensors did not warn of gathering vapors near the isomerization unit, which boosts the level of octane in gasoline. The vapors ignited as the unit was starting up.

The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, one of several agencies investigating the blast, concluded the unit had a history of problems and was not hooked up to a flare system that burns off vapor and could have prevented or minimized the accident.

Army plans to recycle World War II buildings

FORT LEWIS, Wash. - Materials from hundreds of dilapidated World War II-era buildings, scattered like shrapnel across this sprawling post, are headed for the salvage yard instead of the landfill in a campaign to cut the military's massive output of solid waste and save some money.

Rather than bulldozing the aging buildings, with peeling white paint and wood-framed windows swollen shut, the Army is considering recycling lead-based paint from the wood siding and offering doors, sinks and windows for reuse as a green alternative to traditional demolition.

With a goal of producing zero net waste by the year 2025, Fort Lewis partnered with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on a pilot project to salvage millions of board feet of old-growth lumber that at one time would have been discarded in landfills. A board foot measures 12- by 12-inches and is 1 inch thick.

"This is part of what we're doing to meet those diversion and sustainability goals," said Ron Norton, solid waste and recycling program manager for Fort Lewis public works.

Fort Lewis has 200 to 300 decades-old structures slated for removal during the next 12 years, Norton said. They contain salvageable materials like framing lumber, windows, doors, hardwood floors and wood siding.

Developer lobbies for estate tax repeal

SEATTLE - Multimillionaire Seattle developer Martin Selig has given nearly $1 million to the campaign to repeal Washington's estate tax, making him the top individual donor to any initiative effort this year.

His contributions totaling $922,000 have accounted for more than two-thirds of the money raised by the Committee to Abolish Washington State Estate Tax, which filed Initiative 920.

Selig, 70, built the 76-floor Columbia Center in downtown Seattle - the Northwest's tallest building. In all, his properties are worth at least $378 million, according to the King County Assessor's Office.

He says he isn't sure how much his estate would owe under the tax, but he's sure he can afford it. He's pushing for its repeal to help small businesses and to put Washington on a level playing field with states that don't have an estate tax, he said.

Washington's tax applies to about 200 estates per year - about one half of 1 percent of all deaths, according to the state Department of Revenue - and raises $100 million annually for public schools.

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