North Coast Journal WeeklyIn the News

April 5, 2001

'Hem jesti?'

Agencies in accord on RR

Seniors making hard choices

Property tax deadline

Aesthetics of solar panels

More money for salmon?

No wet weather test period

Bye-bye, billboards

Eureka writer wins awards

Butterfly to speak at C/R

New tech site for North Coast

Nuclear expert to speak

Implementing Propositon 36

Open to information

Humboldters go abroad

Callahan lifts to new heights

Training for watershed work

Tourism in county up

BSS building to cost more

101 widening dropped


` Hem jesti? '

"What are we doin' here?" says Luke.

Harry replies, "This is it."

"Hem jesti?"

"The Majestic. Some of the letters are missing."

"We live in a movie theater?"

"No, in the apartment over it. Now come, come..."

[photo of Majestic sign]This bit of dialogue from The Majestic, the film under production in Ferndale, is just a taste of what you'll find at jimcarreyonline.com/movies/upcoming.html --part of a massive website devoted to Jim Carrey, star of director Frank Darabont's film. The site also includes almost daily reports from the set and photos, some shot by KHUM DJ Gary Franklin.

Carrey plays Peter Appleton, a screenwriter from Hollywood who is suffering from amnesia. At the point early in the story when he sees the theater for the first time, he thinks he is Luke, son of Harry Trimble (Martin Landau), owner of the run-down theater.

Shooting for The Majestic is right on schedule, according to publicist Ernie Malik. As the cast and crew prepared for a break over Jazz Fest weekend, there were only three weeks of Ferndale filming left to go and only half of that time will be on Main Street.

Up until this week the weather was ideal for filming, even the brief spring showers did not stop the show. Monday the action moved indoors to Harry's apartment, one of three "back-up" sets built in Hindley Hall at the Ferndale Fairgrounds.

Malik took the Journal on a tour of the makeshift sound stage where the sets have been constructed. They include the office of the town doctor, Doc (David Ogden Stiers) and the dark basement home of Emmett (Gerry Black), the Majestic's aging usher. Harry's apartment has windows looking out on the theater sign and into a painted version of Ferndale and the cemetery on the hill behind it (see photo).

As the Journal goes to press Tuesday, the cast list was not complete. Several area actors, including Joel Agnew and Bob Wells, auditioned for "the Reverend," a coveted speaking part. When we spoke with Malik, he said the casting director was still considering the Humboldt actors along with some from Los Angeles.

A number of Humboldt County school marching bands auditioned for a role in the film's parade scene. The Marching Lumberjacks learned last week that they got the part.

-- reported by Bob Doran


Agencies in accord on RR

At a meeting in Sacramento March 16 the four federal agencies involved in the reopening of the Northwest Pacific Railroad line reached a tentative agreement regarding responsibilities.

"Essentially we established who is doing what, depending on the phases of the project," said Sandro Amaglio, regional environment officer for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, in a telephone interview from San Francisco.

The meeting resulted in a memorandum of understanding. Once that document is approved, FEMA can finalize the environmental assessment for its portion -- phase 1 -- of the project, which is the reopening of the line through to Eureka.

"The Federal Highway Administration will pick up the baton for the next phase," Amaglio said.

Cheryl Willis, deputy director of planning for the California Department of Transportation in Eureka, whose agency works closely with the Federal Highway Administration, said phase 2 is "demonstration portion" of the project once the rail line is open and moving freight.

Willis, who helped arrange the meeting in Sacramento, said part of the delay in reopening the line, which has been closed since 1998, has been due to the myriad of state and federal agencies involved.

"There are numerous state and federal agencies and different funds involved. They all have different roles and responsibilities," she said. "When we get to implemention, it takes a lot of coordination."

Regarding environmental review, FEMA is the lead agency for phase 1.

"For the state environmental processes, NCRA [North Coast Railroad Authority] is the lead agency," Willis said.

Some environmental groups say they are prepared to challenge FEMA's environmental assessment in court if it is found to be inadequate.

Other federal agencies attending the Sacramento meeting were Fish and Wildlife and National Marine Fisheries Service.


Seniors making hard choices

Sharp increases in natural gas and electricity rates may be especially hard on seniors living on fixed incomes.

"I am getting reports that seniors are making choices between medications they need, their dietary intake --keeping themselves warm," said Anthony Antoville, a resource specialist with the Area Agency on Aging's Senior Information and Assistance Program.

Antoville's office provides seniors with advice about how they can help pay for their energy. He said there has been a four-fold increase during the last year in the number of people who have called because of an imminent PG&E shutoff. And those who are managing to pay their bills may be sacrificing their health to do so. Not only do they pull money from their medications and food budgets to pay the bills, Antoville said he also gets calls from seniors who are cold because they "keep their thermostats as low as they can go."

The basic problem is that these people lack the flexibility in their budgets to accommodate the higher costs, Antoville said. "They are Social Security recipients, they live in subsidized housing, and they are having to make some very serious decisions."

The Salvation Army and the Redwood Community Action Agency both offer financial assistance for energy costs. But they are short-term solutions at best, Antoville said.

"We are definitely seeing a problem right now with no apparent end in sight."



Property tax deadline

Do you own property in Humboldt County?

The second installment on your 2000-2001 property tax is due Tuesday, April 10. Payments by mail must be postmarked by that day to avoid a late charge.

The tax collector's office suggests mailing early. Those paying taxes in person at the County Courthouse may experience delays waiting in line.


Aesthetics of solar panels

"If it looks ugly on my roof here, it's gonna look real ugly somewhere else, because this is the ugliest part of town," said Norm Ehrlich, owner of Eureka's Six Rivers Solar Co.

Ehrlich was talking about his plan to put solar panels on the roof of his building on south Broadway -- a plan nixed last week by Eureka's Architectural Design Review Committee.

The committee found the panels would be "ugly and inharmonious" with the surrounding neighborhood's ambience. Sid Hughes, a planner with the city's Community Development Department, said, "There has been slow improvement in the appearance of Broadway [and] the overall appearance of the proposed project ... was not in keeping with that."

Ehrlich and the city have agreed that he can install his project; he plans to move the panels further back on his roof to conceal them. But he still plans on appealing the committee's decision, because it will affect him as a purveyor of solar panels.

"If I want to sell energy equipment to anybody in Eureka, I can't have it be contingent on how ugly it looks," Ehrlich said.

Besides, "I think solar panels are beautiful," he said. "My opinion is that opening up a $500 PG&E bill is ugly."

"I can move my panels back on my roof where they are out of sight. But the bigger issue is that not everybody is going to be able to hide their panels."



More money for salmon?

A bill that would funnel $750 million into salmon restoration efforts in five western states has been introduced by Rep. Mike Thompson. The money would fund habitat restoration in Oregon, California, Washington, Idaho and Alaska.

"The No. 1 cause of drastic decline in salmon and steelhead along California's North Coast is habitat loss," Thompson stated. "Once they are gone, nothing we can do will bring them back."



No wet weather test period

The dry winter has forced the Humboldt County Department of Environmental Health to cancel wet-weather testing for on-site sewage disposal systems for this year.

The test determines whether sewage systems will contaminate groundwater. It is a requirement for those wanting to develop land in Fieldbrook, Hydesville and Trinidad, parts of Freshwater, Jacoby Creek and Old Arcata Road, and some other portions of the county. This year, there was not enough rainfall to assure an accurate test.

Call the department for more information at 445-6215.



Bye-bye, billboards

Opponents of billboards on Highway 101, take heart: It looks like four of the outdoor advertising structures are about to lose their leases.

The billboards are on property owned by the city of Eureka and the leases end this week. The City Council decided this week whether to renew their leases. While the meeting was after press time, the city's staff has recommended the leases be terminated and the signs removed.

Three of the billboards sit on the west of 101 at the Elk River interchange and one is located at the intersection of Broadway and Henderson. All are owned by Infinity Outdoor.



Eureka writer wins awards

Amy Stewart, a Eureka resident and writer, has won the Jodi Stutz Award for poetry from Humboldt State University. This is a good time for Stewart, who just completed From the Ground Up, a memoir of starting a garden in Santa Cruz. She is on a 14-city tour to promote her book. A paperback edition is due out in early 2002.

Stewart writes for OrganicGardening.com, Bird Watcher's Digest and has published in Family Circle's Easy Gardening and Victoria.



Butterfly to speak at C/R

[Butterfly book cover]Since Julia Butterfly Hill descended from her redwood perch 16 months ago, her life has been a whirlwind of travel. This week she's back on the North Coast, and while she's here she will do what she's been doing around the country and around the world, she will speak to large crowds.

In February Hill served as part of the Religious Delegation for Forest Conservation in Washington, D.C., then returned to California for a performance of Luna Tree, a family version of her story that was accompanied by the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra.

March found the activist/author on 12 college campuses in 11 states and in Italy where she met with the country's minister of agriculture and participated in a forum with Pannello Ecologico, an organization that manufactures furniture and other wood products using an innovative process recycling wood.

In April she hits the campus circuit again including two events close to home. April 5 Hill gives a talk at the Crescent City campus of College of the Redwoods and April 6 she speaks at the CR's Forum Theater as part of the school's Visiting Writers series. She will read from Legacy of Luna, a personal account of her transformation while spending two years living in a redwood tree.

The book has been translated into five languages. On April 3 it was released in paperback by Harper Collins' HarperSanFrancisco division.

Unless you already have ticket for Hill's talk at CR, you are out of luck. More than 300 free tickets were snapped up as soon as the event was announced last fall.



New tech site for North Coast

The Redwood Technology Consortium has given the high tech industry on the North Coast a push by launching a website dedicated to the development of that business sector. The consortium, a trade organization that seeks to provide the necessary conditions for high-tech growth, has opened the doors at www.redwoodtech.com.

As a trading center for high-tech talent, the site is still young. There were just four jobs posted and three people seeking work in the "Talent Center." But with a growing high-tech business community in Humboldt County, there's room to grow.



Nuclear expert to speak

When Andreas Toupadakis talks about the dangers of nuclear weapons, he speaks from experience. Toupadakis, who worked for the federal government at nuclear weapons labs until he felt compelled to resign, will be speaking in Arcata Saturday, Sunday and Monday at on the dangers such weapons present.

"I have seen how easy it is for nuclear contamination to occur and how hard it is to clean it up," Toupadakis stated.

See this week's Calendar for details.


Implementing Proposition 36

Tom Antoon, senior program manager for Humboldt County's mental health, alcohol and drug treatment system, calls Proposition 36 "a thoughtful solution" to the serious problems of drugs and crime. [See "A county awash in drugs and alcohol," March 22.]

"Don't stick them in jail. Get them off the merry-go-round, get them into treatment and make them more productive members of society," he said. On that, everyone can agree -- from law enforcement officers to treatment counselors.

Unfortunately, the new law, which mandates that nonviolent drug offenders be placed in treatment rather than jail, is so vague that most of the people and agencies responsible for making it work are still in the dark -- and the launch date for the program is just months way.

Antoon has the task of putting together an implementation plan for state approval and has invited members of the law enforcement and treatment community to help him. But as they try and put together the puzzle, there are still a lot of pieces missing.

Will the existing network of treatment providers be adequate? Will people forced into therapy by law be willing to change their lives?

Funds are already in short supply at county government and Proposition 36 won't help, said Karen Suiker, Humboldt County's assistant administrative officer. The law provides some funding for treatment -- Humboldt County will get $246,000 to plan and launch the program and $492,000 annually to run it. But Suiker is sure that won't cover the program's costs.

Funding for construction of new treatment facilities and drug testing were specifically excluded from Proposition 36 and no one is sure where that money will come from.

"Over time Proposition 36 may save us money," Suiker said, because fewer people will need to be incarcerated. "But it cannot help us in the short term."

Even if the money was readily available, the treatment community would still anticipate difficulties.

"For us, there will be challenges around increased volume," said Mike Goldsby, program director for Family Recovery Services, the drug treatment program administered by the St. Joseph Health System.

Antoon estimates that the law will put around 300 new patients into Humboldt County's drug treatment system, but said that number, like much else, is still just a guess.

"We don't have any answers, we just have needs and questions," said Helen Gale, administrator of the Mobile Medical Office, an RV outfitted as a clinic that travels to remote areas of the county. Gale said the office, now starting drug treatment programs, is interested in providing treatment through Proposition 36 but doesn't know how it will play out.

"I think that Proposition 36 might help us sustain a program by referring additional patients to us," she said, but she's not willing to build a treatment program on the foundation of a still-ambiguous law.

The good news is that Humboldt County faces these problems from a position of strength, Goldsby said. He said the entire anti-drug community here, from law enforcement to the judges to the staff at rehab centers, believes treatment works.

"This is a neat time to reflect that we have good relationships here in Humboldt County. We have a responsive drug court, aware probation officers and treatment programs that are open to referrals from criminal justice. Our law enforcement community has been very explicit about the need for more treatment," he said. "I think this is a very different situation than what many communities have."

That cooperation and trust will be important, Goldsby said, because the law has the potential to cause infighting. "There could be money fights, fights between providers and arguments between the need for increased treatment beds.

"And there are going to be philosophical issues," he added. "Criminal justice hasn't always believed in treatment. Some thought it was the easy way out." And many treatment programs have been suspicious of mandated referrals because they perceived that people forced into therapy wouldn't accept its teachings.

Those hostile attitudes don't exist in Humboldt County, Goldsby said. "No one comes into treatment 100 percent happy about it," he said. "But by day four or five, you can't tell the difference" between people who checked themselves in and those that were forced into treatment.

The strongest asset Humboldt County carries into the Proposition 36 implementation is its drug court. The court already diverts a lot of people from jail into treatment.

And the ambiguities and funding gaps in the law might be cleaned up by additional legislation. California Senate Majority Leader John Burton has planned legislation that would fund drug testing. And Sen. Wesley Chesbro will be holding a town hall meeting in Eureka this week to find out what people in Humboldt think about the law and what he can do to help.

Antoon said the law's ambiguity may be a blessing in disguise, as it will give Humboldt the flexibility to fit the program to local needs.

"Of course it leads to some complications but it also provides for customization on a local level. I don't think any of the obstacles caused by the ambiguity are impossible to overcome."

Chesbro's town hall meeting, "The Implementation of Prop. 36, Issues, Challenges and Opportunities," will be April 9 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. in the Board of Supervisors Chambers in the County Courthouse.

-- reported by Arno Holschuh


Open to information

The North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board has put out a call for information on the condition of streams and rivers. The agency needs to collect information on fish populations, pollution, timber harvest-related damage and water temperature to fulfill its obligations under the Clean Water Act.

If you have any information on the health of a waterway on the North Coast, call the board at 570-3762.



Humboldters go abroad

Two separate exchange programs are sending Humboldt County residents to other countries to learn about lives and cultures.

Dr. Kim Bauriedel, who has been active in organizing several other exchange programs, has been selected to lead a Rotary medical excursion to Russia. He and four other medical professionals will be touring the cities of Novosibirsk, Tomsk, Krasnoyarsk and Bamaul.

While Bauriedel and his colleagues are learning about Russia's medical system, Eureka High student Sarah Leal will be going to Germany as part of a government exchange program.

Leal has been awarded the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Scholarship, which includes language instruction, admission to a German high school, excursions to cities within Germany and meetings with both German and American officials.



Callahan lifts to new heights

Eureka resident and national female bench-press champion Tammi Callahan returned triumphant from the 2001 California State Power Lifting meet last week, where she broke records and held onto her title.

Callahan, competing with women who weigh between 132.75 and 148.75 pounds, bench pressed 225.5 pounds, dead lifted 330.5 pounds and 308.75 pounds. The effort was enough to win not only the meet but also the title of Best Female Lifter.

The next challenge for Callahan will be to defend her title as National Bench Press Champion in September. A win at the national meet would earn her a trip to the world championships in New Zealand in December.



Training for watershed work

Landowners who have creeks and streams flowing through their land and want to improve their condition may be interested in a new course being offered by the Mattole Restoration Council.

The class, to be held April 16-20, will focus on identifying where erosion is occurring and how to stop it. Special attention will be given to restoring and strengthening roads, seen as a major source of the silt which clogs streams and degrades salmon habitat. The class is funded by the Department of Fish and Game and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Those who want to learn the basics of salmon habitat restoration should call the council at 629-3514.



Tourism in county up

The 2001 Humboldt County tourist season is shaping up to be the best ever, according to statistics gathered by the Humboldt County Visitors and Convention Bureau.

The bureau gives out information every winter in the hopes that travelers will make the drive or flight north. Staffers have talked to 114 percent more people this year than last year -- and last year was already a record-breaker.

The increases "are not a fluke," said Tony Smithers, marketing director for the bureau. They are a trend caused by increased advertising and a renewed interest in Humboldt's main symbol, the redwood.



BSS building to cost more

Bids were received March 22 for the construction of Humboldt State University's planned new Behavioral and Social Sciences Building, and the news was not good: The lowest bid, from Intertex General Contractors of Valencia, was $4 million more than the anticipated cost.

The news comes as lines are being drawn in the fight between HSU and the city of Arcata over the building. The city maintains that the educational facility would be oppressive to the surrounding neighborhood and has filed suit against the university. State Sen. Wesley Chesbro wrote a letter to the California State University Board of Trustees on the city's account. In March Chancellor Charles Reed responded with a letter of his own defending the building.

The building is slated for completion in the fall of 2003.



101 widening dropped

The plan to build a bypass around Richardson's Grove State Park in southern Humboldt, which has been on the books since 1959 but never begun due to cost and environmental considerations, has been dropped.

"Every few years someone would say, `We should do something about this project,' and then they'd see it wouldn't work and put it back on the shelf," said Friday Ululani, a project manager with Caltrans.

J Warren Hockaday, executive director of the Eureka Chamber of Commerce and a supporter of Highway 101 widening, said the narrow road "results in a higher cost of doing business for anyone who has to ship products in or out and affects the competitive ability of local business." Caltrans dropping the project means the business community has to concentrate on other transportation improvements like further port development, supporting a revitalized rail system and increasing the airport's capacity.


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