Whether viewed for its education or entertainment value, the power of television has been besieged with opinions since the inception of the projected melding of images and sound in 1926.
Recently, PBS the Public Broadcasting Service of which local station KEET, Channel 13 is among 349 has became the target of scrutiny.
First, newly elected Gov. Jesse Ventura of Minnesota recommended that his state pull the plug on public television funding government subsidies the entity relies on, said Nancy Neubauer, spokeswoman for the Association of America's Public Television Stations. This group is essentially the national lobbying group for public television based in Washington, D.C.
"At some time or another, they've all faced these (funding) challenges," Neubauer said of the stations. Some get federal or state funds, while others get none or both, she confirmed.
Neubauer cites the most memorable threat as the 1994 Contract with America led by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., in which federal subsidies were questioned or under fire by a Republican-controlled Congress bent on cutting government.
The funding challenges are also accentuated by PBS moving into digitial television, Neubauer said, further adding that technological advancement may double each station's financial needs.
Already the collective annual operating budget for PBS runs around $1.5 billion, PBS spokesman Stu Kantor reported from his Alexandria, Va., office. But the struggle goes with the territory, Kantor stressed.
"Historically, public television has been underfunded," he said, downplaying any pending gloom and doom. That's why Kantor pushes the quality of the programming, amounting to more than 1,900 hours available to network stations.
The general manager of the third smallest station in the network, KEET's St. Clair Adams, says finding the $1 million in funds to operate his station each year amounts to community effort he's grown accustomed to in his 20 years with public television. About 40 percent of the 5,000-member station's revenue comes from Washington, while the rest comes from private donations.
"It does make it a struggle," he said, acknowledging Humboldt County's lower-than-average annual income.. Adams is reminded of a past fundraising symbol a tin cup that originated in Humboldt County and ended up on the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's office wall.
"KEET was the poster child for the corporation," he said, laughing.
The public debate over public television has turned recently from fiscal to social, when religious leader the Rev. Jerry Falwell "outed" the third-highest-rated children's television show on PBS, national reports said.
In Falwell's National Liberty Journal, he warned parents to think twice about allowing their children to watch "Tinky Winky," one of the "Teletubbies" characters, he labeled as gay, the report adds. Falwell based this belief on the fictional character's color purple, after gay pride and an antenna shaped like a triangle, the gay symbol.
But what PBS officials stated they found even more "outrageous" was the inclination that the seemingly male character's "magic bag" is a purse. Newspaper columns across the nation immediately came alive with their own spins on the subject of children's programming on PBS.
But to those locals who work in the trenches with children every day, PBS programming is as apple pie as say, Disney, on a good day minus controversies.
Bruce Fisher, who teaches fifth grade at Fortuna Elementary, uses "Newton's Apple," "Nova" and "Scientific American Frontiers" to get his science lessons across to a generation bombarded with quick images, sex and violence.
Fisher gets pleasure from witnessing his students' new-found revelations, when the subject matter engages them. This happens often since he has the capability to download on the classroom computer curriculum guides and interactive Internet programs that take his students to the far reaches of the world.
"It gives the feeling they're part of the big world beyond the four walls of the classroom," he said, touting the wonders of the cable and computer connection.
This interactive aspect of some lessons is one Hydesville Elementary School teacher Ginny Dexter uses and appreciates. The educator teaches history and science in the rural school and is sometimes able to blend the two by using PBS programming.
When the "Life from the Hubbell" program offered a close-up view of the inner workings of the spacecraft, Dexter's class was there, dealing with real-world and out-of-this-world scenarios, she said.
"Life from Mars" posed new challenges to the students, like how the Mars Pathfinder spacecraft landed without breaking apart. Dexter said her students tested the phenomenon with an egg-drop test that they later put out on the Internet for other classrooms across the United States to see.
More relevant to home, "Life from the Rainforest" took her students in and out of the classroom searching for organisms in the terrain of their own back yard of Hydesville.
by Susan Wood
As part of a week-long-plus search across Northern California, the FBI has issued a hotline 800-435-7883 for anyone who has information regarding the disappearance of a Eureka woman and two teenage girls.
Just a few leads have surfaced piecing together the whereabouts of Carole Sund, 43, her daughter Julie, 15, and Silvina Pelosso, a 16-year-old friend and foreign exchange student whose mother flew to California to join the hunt spanning from Humboldt County to Yosemite National Park.
The three were reported missing last week when they didn't return from their President's Day weekend trip to the park, authorities announced. A $250,000 reward was offered by the family for their safe return with "no questions asked," family friend Deborah Downs confirmed.
Downs and other volunteers have fielded calls from well-wishers. The family friend said she's completely "baffled" by the disappearance of the trio, headed by a woman she characterizes as a protective type who "thinks of kids first."
Sund, a long-time children's advocate, founded Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Humboldt years ago. More recently, she was appointed the guardian of record on behalf of Tony V., a local boy involved in a $5 million civil case filed against Humboldt County.
"Carole is a sharp individual who knows how to handle herself," Downs said of the mother of four and fourth-generation member of the Carrington family of Santa Rosa. Sund and her husband, Jens Sund, run a Eureka real estate investment firm.
Sund's money-less wallet was found with identification and credit cards by a 15-year-old Modesto student crossing a busy intersection in town Feb. 19, Modesto police Officer Steve Glen said. One of the credit cards was traced to a camping gear purchase at the Costco of Merced on Feb. 13, Glen added.
The wallet may be "evidence of foul play, unfortunately," FBI spokesman Nick Rossi said. A command post was set up at the Holiday Inn in Modesto to field leads and post notices.
On Feb. 12, the three flew from the Eureka-Arcata Airport to San Francisco, where Sund rented a red 1999 Pontiac Grand Prix license plate 4BMV025 and headed to the University of the Pacific in Stockton for a cheerleading contest, the officials have surmised.
They spent Saturday night in Merced and the next two nights just west of the park at the Cedar Lodge in El Portal, Downs said. They were last seen here that Monday night.
Sund's husband of 20-plus years sensed something was wrong when his more-than-responsible wife didn't call in as planned, Downs said. She was scheduled to meet him at the San Francisco International Airport Feb. 16. He reported her missing to the authorities Feb. 17.
Since then, air and ground crews have combed the highways searching for the three, also due to return to the Stockton university on their way back. Sund's daughter was considering going to school there to further her violin study, Downs said.
"At that time, we figured there was a traffic accident, and they were stuck in the snow," she said, pointing out the foul weather. "Now, it's looking more like foul play."
A watershed in a decade-long struggle, the private-to-public transfer of 10,000 acres of ancient redwood groves in Humboldt County should climax this week.
As of press time Tuesday, two major uncertainties remain in the government's $490 million Headwaters Forest purchase deal proposed to property owner Pacific Lumber Co. The deadline is Feb. 28, when the federal government is due to release its $250 million portion, or all bets are off.
Will the state fund it? And, will PL run by Texas financier Charles Hurwitz's Maxxam Corp. agree on the adjoining habitat conservation plan in time?
The former requires the state Wildlife Conservation Board's blessing to free the remainder $240 million in state funds provisions included.
PL notified the California Department of Forestry that the conditional plan's logging restrictions are "not feasible or practicable," PL President John Campbell said in a letter last week. The company estimates an annual net harvest of 210 million board feet to meet its financial obligations. This is more than the cap set by the government in the sustained-yield plan.
So in the latest maneuver to seal the deal, environmentalists are upset by last-minute logging concessions during the watershed assessment period, which are being explored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein who brokered the deal in September 1996.
Come April 4, the skies to Portland, Ore., will see a little friendly competition northbound from Eureka-Arcata Airport.
The United Express-SkyWest airline cooperative announced last week new service by way of three daily roundtrip fares from McKinleyville to Portland International Airport. Departure times include 6 a.m., 1:50 a.m. and 5:10 p.m. Flights will depart the Portland area at 12:10 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 8:45 p.m.
The other carrier, Horizon Air, offers the same number of daily flights on the same route.
The added United-SkyWest shuttle flights are intended to relieve congestion at San Francisco International Airport, SkyWest Airlines stated in its release.
The science mall, that is.
Humboldt State University is hosting its 12th conference designed to encourage sixth- through eighth-grade girls from Humboldt, Del Norte and Trinity counties to pursue science and mathematics in high school. The workshop is called "Expanding Your Horizons."
The girls can choose sessions that range in subjects from the world's ancient landscapes to chemistry solutions. Other sessions will cover computing, geometry, architecture, geometry, botany, physics, anatomy and engineering.
In 1975, the National Science Foundation reported that one in 40 engineering college graduates were women. The figure rose to one in six 18 years later.
One science teacher at Pacific Union School in Arcata believes the gender gap lies in the different learning styles between the sexes. Girls at that age tend to be more "reflective," while boys are more "impulsive," John McGuire said of his experience in the classroom.
For 11 years, HSU has tried to level the playing field by putting on these workshops. Two years ago, nearly 500 girls attended. Since 1976, more than 300,000 girls have participated. For more information, call (707) 826-5826.
Local and regional colleges are also sending parents to school in early March.
Humboldt State University and College of the Redwoods, in cooperation with University of California, Santa Cruz and Davis, will teach parents of students attending schools in Eureka, Fortuna and McKinleyville how to get their children into higher education. Parents will learn tips, including seizing scholarship opportunities, supporting a child's educational progress and covering the costs of college.
The program begins at 6 p.m. each session at Fortuna Elementary School Auditorium March 2; Zane Junior High Multipurpose Room in Eureka March 3; and McKinleyville Middle School March 4.
Also next month, a bill aimed at teacher peer assistance and review is headed to the desk of Gov. Gray Davis, who has recently said he's making education a top priority in the state.
The proposed legislation was recently approved by the Assembly Education Committee by a 12-2 vote. The plan involves earmarking $100 million to fund methods by which beginning teachers can hone their skills and $17 million to train senior teachers how to become mentors.
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