Darigold manager gets probation for Issaquah Creek spill

December 6, 2011

The engineering manager responsible for a fish-killing ammonia spill from the downtown Darigold dairy has been sentenced to probation and community service for the October 2009 incident.

On Dec. 1, U.S. District Court Judge Mary Alice Theiler sentenced Darigold employee Gerald N. Marsland to two years probation and 70 hours of community service for the Issaquah Creek spill. Theiler also imposed a $2,000 fine on Marsland.

Darigold is required to pay a $10,000 fine and pay $60,000 to protect and restore natural resources in the Issaquah Creek watershed as a part of a plea agreement announced in June.

Prosecutors also said Marsland directed repairs and failed to prevent the spill. Prosecutors charged Marsland for violating the federal Clean Water Act.

Marsland’s attorney asked for his client to be sentenced to one year of probation and 50 hours of community service.

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Off the Press

August 2, 2011

What to remember on a new assignment

Tom Corrigan Press reporter

I was asked by my newest editor to sort of introduce myself to the Issaquah public through this column. The following probably isn’t what she had in mind, but here goes. We will start with a quick list of things to remember should you ever find yourself taking over a new beat for a local newspaper:

When you call the mayor of the town you’ll be working in and ask for comment, keep that person’s name someplace handy, like in your head. That way, when they call you back, you won’t sit there dumbstruck about who in the world is on the other end of the phone.

Make note of the company phone number. If for some reason you ever were curious about this topic, I can tell you the number for the Darigold dairy production facility is just a few digits different from the main number for The Issaquah Press.

If you are moving into a territory you are unfamiliar with, invest in a GPS. Enough said.

In case you haven’t somehow guessed, I am the newest reporter for The Issaquah Press. I last worked for a paper in Bothell, but spent most of my career in my native Cleveland covering big-city politics and big-city schools. Here, I’ll be doing features and covering smaller city schools, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

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Darigold puts the butter in famous butter crunch toffee

July 2, 2011

Confectioner Brown & Haley uses butter from the Darigold dairy in Issaquah for Almond Roca. By Greg Farrar

Inside each pink-and-gold tin, Almond Roca includes a fundamental ingredient: butter from Darigold in downtown Issaquah.

The longtime Tacoma confectioner Brown & Haley obtains butter — about 90 percent — for treats from Pacific Northwest dairies. From the local butter, about 90 percent originates at Darigold in Issaquah.

Brown & Haley CEO Pierson Clair said the arrangement includes benefits such as local job creation, reduced environmental impact and taste, a crucial factor in the confectionary industry.

“The flavor of the Issaquah butter is really, really good,” Clair said. “Almond Roca is all about quality. Darigold Issaquah butter is all about quality, and therefore, it’s just a perfect supplier for us.”

The beloved confection remains unchanged since 1923, when Harry Brown and J.C. Haley dreamed up Almond Roca. Company lore claims a librarian selected “roca” — Spanish for “rock” — for the name as a nod to the crunchy center.

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Darigold pleads guilty in Issaquah Creek spill case

June 21, 2011

Darigold pleaded guilty June 15 to violating the Clean Water Act for a fish-killing ammonia spill into Issaquah Creek.

Under terms of the plea agreement, Darigold plans to work alongside the federal government to develop a corporate environmental compliance plan as part of its sentence.

Including the downtown Issaquah processing facility, Seattle-based Darigold operates 13 processing facilities in five states.

The company must also pay a $10,000 fine and pay $60,000 to protect and restore natural resources in the Issaquah Creek watershed. Darigold also agreed to publicly apologize for the criminal conduct by publishing a statement as a notice or advertisement in The Issaquah Press.

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Darigold pleads guilty in Issaquah Creek spill case

June 15, 2011

NEW — 4 p.m. June 15, 2011

Darigold pleaded guilty Wednesday to violating the Clean Water Act for a fish-killing ammonia spill into Issaquah Creek.

Under terms of the plea agreement, Darigold plans to work alongside the federal government to develop a corporate environmental compliance plan as part of the sentence. Including the downtown Issaquah processing facility, Seattle-based Darigold operates 13 processing facilities in five states.

The company must also pay a $10,000 fine and pay $60,000 to protect and restore natural resources in the Issaquah Creek watershed. Darigold also agreed to publicly apologize for the criminal conduct by publishing a statement in The Issaquah Press.

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Prosecutors file charges against Darigold for Issaquah spill

June 15, 2011

NEW — 6 a.m. June 15, 2011

Federal prosecutors filed misdemeanor charges against Darigold on Tuesday for a fish-killing ammonia spill into Issaquah Creek.

Prosecutors at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle contend Darigold violated the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act because the October 2009 spill impacted Puget Sound chinook salmon, a species protected under the Endangered Species Act.

The spill occurred during maintenance and repair to the refrigeration system at the downtown Issaquah dairy. State investigators said a crew draining part of the refrigeration system allowed a toxic ammonia solution to flow onto the roof of the creekside building and down a storm drain.

In charging documents, federal prosecutors said Seattle-based Darigold acted “negligently” in discharging the pollutant.

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Press Editorial

May 10, 2011

Local History Month should mean something

May is Local History Month in Issaquah, as proclaimed by the mayor.

The month will come and go without many residents taking note, but the mayor is right in helping publicize the importance of Issaquah’s history.

We are often amazed at how many people know little of the early days here in Issaquah. Snoqualmie Tribe members were among the early settlers. Farming came to town and brought us the dairy cooperative now known as Darigold. The coal mines brought prosperity and the railroad to Issaquah, and our historic depot reminds of that. Logging was also king as hikers on our mountain trails are aware.

The town began in the Front Street and Sunset Way area, still the heart of the historic downtown. The Issaquah History Museums keeps an office in the original Gilman Town Hall. Out back is an early cement block jail. Pictures and mementos inside tell the story of a town with its mud streets and wooden sidewalks becoming the prosperous center of commerce along the interstate that it is today.

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Native kokanee fry released in historic ceremony

April 19, 2011

Seventy-five kokanee fry swam in a small camping cooler by Laughing Jacobs Creek, unaware they were surrounded by federal, state, county and city administrators, as well as concerned citizens — all people intent on helping the native salmon survive in the wild.

The Issaquah Salmon Hatchery teamed up with the Lake Sammamish Kokanee Work Group and dignitaries from the city all the way to the federal level for the second annual kokanee fry release at Hans Jensen Park on April 18.

Last year, the group released the kokanee at Ebright Creek in Sammamish, and next year the release will be celebrated at Lewis Creek in Issaquah.

Jessica Leguizamon, 10, watches kokanee salmon fry swim away from her Dixie cup into Laughing Jacobs Creek as her sister Sabrina, 5, waits her turn and their grandfather, Gary Smith, looks on. County environmental scientist Hans Berge makes sure the release is done properly. By Greg Farrar

“This fry release is a critical part of our kokanee recovery and restoration efforts,” David St. John, Department of Natural Resources government relations administrator, said.

He outlined the group’s goals: preventing kokanee extinction and restoring a diverse and native habitat for the salmon.

“In our last run there was probably 100 fish, so we’re at low numbers, extremely low numbers,” St. John said.

A normal run for kokanee usually extends into the hundreds or thousands, he said in a later phone interview.

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Off the Press

February 8, 2011

Greg Farrar Press photographer

A recent photo assignment for our Issaquah Living magazine coming in next week’s Press has shed some insight into what can only be described as our little local miracle, Issaquah Creek.

We all have seen the creek as it moves past the hatchery, or under the vehicle bridges on Gilman Boulevard, Newport Way or Front Street. We definitely get a good look when it floods. But that leaves more than 99 percent of the creek unseen by most people as it comes down from Tiger Mountain and north through the valley.

I’ve been wading knee-deep in water, pushing through hummocks of blackberry vines, hiking and climbing down hillsides of forest to find the headwaters, trickles, waterfalls, and brooks that give birth to our creek.

There are four main branches — Holder Creek, which starts on the southeast slope of Tiger Mountain; Carey Creek, which begins in Hobart and comes together with Holder Creek at the Bonomi Farm by Highway 18 to create Issaquah Creek; Fifteenmile Creek, which starts on Tiger’s southwest slope and meets Issaquah Creek at Southeast May Valley Road; and the East Fork, which starts at High Point and joins Issaquah Creek west of Darigold.

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Department of Ecology turns to Twitter to alert residents to hazards

December 28, 2010

NEW — 6 a.m. Dec. 28, 2010

Evergreen State residents can turn to Twitter for up-to-date information about oil and hazardous material spills.

The state Department of Ecology has enlisted the micro-blogging service to disseminate accurate, credible and timely information to the media and public about spill response, preparedness and prevention issues and activities including.

The effort also includes a spill-specific website, a presence on Facebook and the agency’s EcoConnect blog.

“In the past year alone, Ecology responded to more than 3,600 reported spills and conducted about 1,200 field responses,” Spill Prevention, Preparedness and Response Program Manager Dale Jensen said. “The breadth of what we do to protect our environment, our economy and our cultural resources is immense.”

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