North Coast Journal WeeklyIn the News

January 4, 2001

HGTV coming to town

Hospice census doubles

Town-gown tiff grows in Arcata

Cloverdale mayor announces

Gingerbread Mansion award

Leadership training set

Scenic Drive Reopens


HGTV coming to town

Home and Garden Television (Channel 29) is coming to Eureka in January to film three area homes -- a Queen Anne Victorian, Mayor Nancy Flemming's residence on Indian Island and a former bordello in Old Town.

"They can't use the word `bordello,' so they're going to call it a `former rooming house,'" said Mary Beth Wolford, president of the Eureka Heritage Society and owner of the former bordello, which is now her apartment/home.

Wolford was instrumental in convincing the producer of the Washington D.C-based show, called "Old Homes Restored," to film an entire segment in Eureka.

"I'm a friend of his mother," Wolford said. "She called and asked if I had any ideas for the show."

At first the producers were interested just in Wolford's home, a second-story apartment across from Restoration Hardware near Second and F streets.

"Mine is not an authentic restoration. It's called an adaptive restoration," which she decorated in the "shabby chic" French apartment style. But since it was so expensive to come to the West Coast just for one home, the producers began looking in San Francisco for two more.

"I said, `San Francisco? We have plenty of homes here to choose from,'" she said, and began pitching possibilities.

One home the producers choose was a classic Queen Anne, located at 16th and G streets, which is undergoing extensive renovation by owners Melanie and Ron Kuhnel.

"It's a true restoration with period wallpaper and carpeting," Wolford said. The large garden restoration, designed by Sue Natzler, will also be filmed for the feature.

"It's an enormous project, a great work in progress," said Wolford.

The island home of Mayor Flemming and her husband, Mark Staniland, also caught the interest of the show's producers.

"It's a former fisherman cottage renovated into a wonderful home," Wolford said.

Each home will be featured in a 10-minute segment. The show will be shown on national television 10 times during 2001.



Hospice census doubles

The number of patients treated by Hospice of Humboldt, which provides home-based health care to the terminally ill and their families, has doubled since mid 2000. Does that mean more people are dying?

Not exactly, said Raeann Bossarte, Hospice marketing director.

"It really means more people are aware of our services," she said.

One big factors was a special PBS television series on death and dying by journalist Bill Moyers shown on KEET-TV in September, Bossarte said.

"We do a lot of personal marketing to physicians and to community groups, but that show had a big impact," she said. "It was amazing how the public responded. It's easier for people to come in now."

In June the average number of patients receiving care from Hospice on any given day was 22. By September that number jumped to 53 and has held steady ever since.

"That is about the right number of patients for a population this size," Bossarte said, and she doesn't see demand for hospice services dropping off. "We are gearing up. We are hiring another social worker and an additional part-time chaplain, and more home health aides and nursing staff to accommodate the demand," she said.

There was also a change in 2000 in Medicare reimbursements which resulted in a shift from home health to hospice care.


Town-gown tiff grows in Arcata

Disagreements over traffic, parking and land use issues are always part of the natural friction in a city-university relationship. But there's something going on in Arcata that transcends mere disagreement: Two potential lawsuits and some very harsh words point to a breakdown in cooperation between the city of Arcata and Humboldt State University.

One big issue is the construction of a five-story, 87,222-square-foot building on Union Street between 15th and 16th streets to house the future home of the Behavioral and Social Sciences College. Mayor Connie Stewart says the city is prepared to stop the project "by any means necessary," including a lawsuit.

Even though it's officially not within city limits, the building site is adjacent to a residential neighborhood and residents worry about traffic.

"Aesthetically we're not too crazy about it either," said Damon Maguire of the Union Street Association, a group formed to represent the neighborhood's concerns. As planned the building is 95 feet tall, which will make it the highest structure in Arcata.

"We've already told them that the trees surrounding the project site are higher now than the project will be, and those trees will grow," said Ken Combs, HSU director of physical services. Combs maintains that in addition to mitigating the visual impact, the university has softened the congestion impacts with a traffic plan that will keep cars off Union Street.

But Maguire remains unconvinced.

"I'm having a hard time believing what the university says. I don't know if they're entirely credible." He cites a controversial traffic study as a case in point.

As part of an environmental review undertaken in the early '90s when the building was being planned, a traffic study found there were 600 vehicles a day on Union Street. A later study by the city found there are more than 2,000.

The university initially offered to do a new traffic study, but withdrew the proposal after City Attorney Nancy Diamond reminded HSU officials that partial reopening of an environmental review was illegal.

"One reason we decided not to go forward with the study was because of a threat of city litigation," Combs said matter-of-factly.

Another issue is the university's refusal to provide the neighborhood association with three-dimensional images of what the building would look like once constructed. Combs said that the university is afraid "to lose more time and spend more money," he said. "And it's not going to satisfy the neighbors because this is an emotional thing. We're now at the point where it doesn't matter what we do, we'll still get sued by the city."

Ironically, no one disputes that the building is important to the university's plans for the future.

"We are absolutely in favor of the building. Nobody is arguing that this building does not need to be built," Stewart said.

Maguire agreed, saying Union Street residents "are not anti-college, not opposed to them having good facilities. We just want them to move it."

But Don Christensen, vice president for development administration, said HSU has little choice but to put the building on the proposed site.

"We just don't have the option. People say `move it,' but we have a tremendous shortage of field space," Christensen said, noting that HSU already rents field space from the city. And even if another site were available, there isn't enough time to redo the plans. The building's financing is part of a bond issue authorized by the passage of Proposition 1A, passed in 1998.

"That money is not available to us indefinitely. We lose the opportunity, we lose the building," Christensen said.

Maguire said he and Stewart have met with Sen. Wesley Chesbro to try and freeze the funding until another site is chosen, but the university is planning to put the project out to bid in January. Once a building project is out to bid, the bond financing cannot revert back to the state.

Simmering in the background is a second issue -- the installation of metered parking on L.K. Wood Boulevard along HSU's western edge.

"Four years ago the city staff came to us with a request for us to put meters on L.K. Wood," Mayor Stewart said. "At the time HSU [officials] came down and said, `We'll be dealing with parking and we really don't like this idea.'"

Stewart said the council agreed at the time, but said the proposal is "a message [to HSU]: `You need to deal with parking.'"

Regarding parking, Christensen said the university's hands are tied. There are plans to build a parking structure, but unlike the BSS building, parking structures don't quality for state funding.

Ironically, the university's concerns about parking on L.K. Wood are similar to those expressed by city officials and neighbors regarding the new BSS building -- aesthetics and traffic congestion.

Combs said metered parking would increase danger to bicyclists and that L. K. Wood Boulevard is the "front door" to the university.

"The last thing we want is to have cars parked out by the front door," he said.

The solution of last resort may also be litigation.

"It is a legal question," Combs said, whether or not the city could install meters. While the city has an easement, the road actually belongs to HSU.

The city and university have several successful cooperative programs, including a bus service for students and a mutual assistance agreement for police aid. But Maguire says he sees some "real animosity between the city and HSU" lately.

"The overall philosophical problem is that you have two conflicting government agencies, HSU and the city of Arcata," Stewart said. "We have spheres of influence that impact each other, and we have feelings about how we wish each entity operated in their own sphere." But she said that the university isn't being responsive while the city has been "extremely patient" with the university.

"That patience is at an end," however, she warned.

Combs said the friction may not be as great as some think.

"A small group of citizens is causing great turmoil for the university and city, but the large body of Arcata residents is not concerned," he told the Journal. "I think what we are talking about here is the silent majority of 15,000 Arcata citizens who are not expressing themselves."

-- reported by Arno Holschuh



Cloverdale mayor announces

Bob Jehn, mayor of Cloverdale and chairman of the North Coast Railroad Authority, announced last week that he will run in 2002 for the Assembly seat held by Virginia Strom-Martin.

Strom-Martin, who was reelected in November, is serving her third and final term under the state's term-limit restrictions. Both are Democrats.

Jehn, 56, has served on the Cloverdale City Council since 1994 and has been active in Sonoma County senior programs. He also serves as vice chairman of the Sonoma County Transportation Authority and president of the League of California Cities' Redwood Empire Division.

The 1st Assembly District includes Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake and Mendocino counties, and part of Sonoma County.



Gingerbread Mansion award

Ferndale's Gingerbread Mansion Inn has been selected as the "Most Excellent Inn in North America" for 2001 by Johansen's, an international publisher of guides to hotels, country houses and traditional inns.

Gingerbread Mansion owner Ken Torbert was in London in November to accept the award.

"This is the first major international acclaim the inn has received," Torbert said, although certainly not its first recognition.

"The Gingerbread Mansion was the second bed and breakfast inn in a historic building in California to be given a Four Diamond rating by AAA," Torbert said.

And in 1998 it was chosen by the editors of America's Favorite Inns, Bed & Breakfasts and Small Hotels. "These accolades got the attention of Johansen's," said Torbert, and the publisher began a lengthy and rigorous selection process.

The Gingerbread edged out three other finalist for the award -- The Willows in Palm Springs, Castle Hill & Resort in Newport, Rhode Island and Eliza Thompson House in Savannah, Georgia.



Leadership training set

The third Cascadia leadership training program will begin Feb. 12-13 and will include five monthly two-day seminars. Application deadline is Jan. 17.

Cascadia, sponsored by the Humboldt Area Foundation, trains leaders from the business community, government, education, nonprofit organizations and neighborhood groups. Workshops and activities include leadership skills, community needs and resources, economic trends, team-building, problem-solving and conflict resolution.

This third series will be facilitated by Dr. Robert Mauer, recently featured on ABC's 20/20, and Mary Gelinas and Roger James, trainers; Mitch Glanz, facilitator/coach; and Gayle Abramson, drama therapist.

"We hope Cascadia participants will ultimately take on our toughest community issues," said program director Julie Fulkerson.

Fees are $1,075 and include all meals, materials and tuition. Some scholarships are available.

For a brochure, application or more information, call the Humboldt Area Foundation, 442-2993 or e-mail.



Scenic Drive reopens

Scenic Drive one mile south of the town of Trinidad and north of the Trinidad Rancheria reopened last month after completion of $400,000 in repairs. The road was damaged during heavy rains in 1995.

The repair consists of a wall nearly 280 feet long and up to 20 feet high with a new guard rail along the outside lane and a paved drainage ditch.

The project was primarily funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), but not before it denied the project four times.

Steve McHaney of Winzler & Kelly Consulting Engineers worked on Trinidad's behalf preparing appeals and documentation to demonstrate the stability of the site and the importance of the road to the regional area.

The state Office of Emergency Services funded an engineering study, final design and construction of the project and the Trinidad Rancheria contributed $30,000 to $50,000 of the local share.

Repair work was completed by Clemens Construction of Redding using a welded wire wall patented by Eureka-based Hilfiker Co. in the 1970s. A Hilfiker spokesperson said the material has been used in more than 6,000 projects throughout the U.S., Canada, Africa, Indonesia, Siberia and South America.


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