San Juan County The historic 74-acre Rosario Resort in the San Juan Islands was sold at auction Tuesday, but the previous owner won't discuss...

Share story

Orcas Island, San Juan County

The historic 74-acre Rosario Resort in the San Juan Islands was sold at auction Tuesday, but the previous owner won’t discuss the buyer or the purchase price.

The buyer, who lives in the Puget Sound region but not in the San Juans, beat out 10 other bidders in a live auction that lasted about 40 minutes, said Laurie Cameron, managing director of Olympus Real Estate Partners of Dallas. Olympus has owned the resort since 1998.

Cameron said the buyer has asked that details of the sale not be released yet.

“He loves the San Juans,” auctioneer Bill Vipond said of the buyer. Vipond also declined to release details. “We think he’s going to be a good steward of the land.”

Cameron said Olympus wasn’t “nuts about the pricing, but we think it’s fair considering what’s happened in the last 10 days.”

The property’s main attraction is the 25,000-square-foot Moran Mansion, built in 1909 by former Seattle Mayor Robert Moran.

The mansion features Tiffany fixtures, a 1913 Aeolian pipe organ and a Steinway grand piano. The property also includes a 34-slip marina and 28 offshore moorings, plus a conference center, restaurants, a museum and a spa.

It includes 10 buildings with 131 rooms and comes with a plan already approved by San Juan County that will allow the new owner to build 134 luxury vacation condos.


Prisoners sent back to Washington

More than 100 inmates are being transferred back to Washington, after serving time at private prisons in Arizona.

The state Department of Corrections says the return of 110 inmates from Arizona is the largest single-day transfer of out-of-state inmates this year.

They were sent to Arizona because of crowding in Washington prisons. But an expansion in the state prison system has freed up space.

Seventy-six of the inmates will be sent to the Washington Corrections Center in Mason County, and 34 will be sent to the Monroe Correctional Complex in Snohomish County.


Fishing boat ordered in for inspection

A Seattle-based catcher-processor was ordered to Alaska’s Dutch Harbor for inspection and repairs, after a propeller mishap that was not reported to the Coast Guard for days.

The U.S. Liberator docked safely on Sunday. The Coast Guard reported that the fishing vessel lost one of two propellers Sept. 20 in Adak Harbor. No injuries were reported and the vessel took on no water.

But the mishap caused the vessel to tilt slightly when using the single engine and it had no reserve propulsion system for the operating engine. The vessel returned to fishing after the mishap, and crew waited for several days after the incident to notify the Coast Guard.

A new propeller and shaft located on the East Coast by the vessel’s Seattle owner will be used for repairs to be made in Dutch Harbor.


Minimum wage goes up next year

Washington’s minimum wage will increase 48 cents to $8.55 per hour in 2009.

The wage increase, which takes effect Jan. 1, is the result of a voter initiative 10 years ago requiring the Department of Labor and Industries to adjust the minimum wage each year according to change in a national cost-of-living index.

The department recalculates the minimum wage every September and announced the 48-cent increase Tuesday.

The Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers increased 5.9 percent, compared to last year’s 1.8 percent, which led to a 14-cent increase.

The new $8.55 minimum wage applies to workers in both agricultural and nonagricultural jobs, the department said. Workers ages 14 to 15 may be paid 85 percent of the adult minimum wage, which works out to $7.27 in 2009.

Employers and workers can call 360-902-5316 or 866-219-7321, or visit for more information.

Missoula, Mont.

Impersonator pleads guilty

A Seattle man who impersonated the son of country-music legend Merle Haggard has pleaded guilty to fraud and identity theft.

Federal prosecutors say Mark G. Sams, while impersonating Noel Haggard, chartered a private jet to Mexico and then charged the $61,000 bill to a Whitefish, Mont., acquaintance’s credit card.

Sams told the victim he needed to go to Mexico to check out an opportunity to manage a small resort near Puerto Vallarta.

Sams along with his roommate, the victim and the victim’s mother went on the June 2007 trip, which included stops in Arizona, Las Vegas and Los Cabos, Mexico, before arriving in Puerto Vallarta.

When the Whitefish man’s credit-card bill arrived at the end of the month, it included a $61,000 charge for the jet.

Sams was arrested in July 2007 in Ronan, Mont., for impersonating Noel Haggard and signing autographs and charging people to take pictures with him. Sams denied charging people for pictures.

On Sept. 25, Sams, 50, pleaded guilty in Missoula to federal charges of access device fraud and aggravated identity theft.

U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy scheduled Sams’ sentencing for Jan. 9. He faces up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.

Lacey, Thurston County

Ex-trucker charged in St. Martin’s rape

A former truck driver already jailed in Nevada has been charged in Olympia with the rape last April of a St. Martin’s University student.

Police say the arrest of 50-year-old Richard Duane Bunch in the sexual assault of a girl in Sparks, Nev., led them to investigate him in the Lacey rape. Investigators found a link in DNA evidence.

Bunch was charged Monday in Thurston County Superior Court. He’s being held in the Washoe County, Nev., jail cell, accused in the July assault on a 13-year-old developmentally disabled girl. He was arrested in August in Pacific, where he worked as a trucker.

Lacey police Detective Steve Brooks noticed that Bunch’s photograph resembled a police sketch in the Lacey rape. Investigators obtained a DNA sample that led to the charge.


Firefighters to install smoke alarms

Seattle firefighters will go door to door installing smoke alarms in the South Park neighborhood Saturday morning.

Fire Chief Gregory Dean will install the first alarm on South Sullivan Street at 10 a.m. Saturday to help kick off National Fire Prevention Week. Firefighters also will replace smoke-alarm batteries.

Senior citizens, low-income residents and disabled people in owner-occupied Seattle homes qualify for the free alarms. A limited supply of alarms for the deaf or hard-of-hearing are available.

Most fire-caused deaths happen in homes without working smoke alarms, and thousands of Seattle homes don’t have them, Seattle Fire Department spokeswoman Dana Vander Houwen said in a news release. Seattle homeowners who don’t get a visit from firefighters can call 206-386-1337 to arrange smoke-alarm installation.

Snohomish County

CT fare increases take effect today

Fare increases for bus, van-pool and dial-a-ride (DART) services in Snohomish County take effect today. Community Transit (CT) is increasing fares to offset higher fuel costs and lower sales-tax revenues, according to a news release from the transit authority.

Community Transit hasn’t raised its commuter fares since 2000. Van-pool fares were adjusted in 2001, and DART fares were increased in 2005.

Local bus tickets will cost 25 cents more, up to $1.50 for adults and $1 for youth ages 6 to 18. DART fares are also up 25 cents to $1.50. Van-pool fares will increase based on trip mileage and vehicle size.

Commuter services originating south of the Snohomish and Snoqualmie rivers will cost 50 cents more, up to $3.50 for adults and $2.75 for youth. Commuter fares from north or east of the rivers will cost 75 cents more, up to $4.50 for adults and $3.75 for youth.

Fares for seniors and people with disabilities won’t change.

More information on fare changes can be found at

Times staff and news services