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April 28, 2005

The Weekly Wrap

Buying binge reflects his vision, Arkley says

Kent State shooting victim to speak at HSU

Humboldt People:
Custom designs put tatoo artist in demand


The Weekly Wrap

PALCO TO CLOSE FORTUNA MILL: The Pacific Lumber Co. announced Tuesday that it will close its Fortuna lumber mill on June 30. Dennis Wood, vice president of operations, said the closure will likely result in job changes for about 20 employees and layoffs for 80. "Given the unpredictable nature of the company's log harvest, we do not have enough logs to keep all three mills [Fortuna, Scotia and Arcata's Britt Lumber] operating at efficient levels, and we are forced to announce this additional closure," CEO Robert Manne said in a press release. On Monday, the State Water Resources Control Board declined to hear the company's emergency appeal of an April 6 decision that froze some company timber harvest plans in the Freshwater and Elk River areas. The state board's decision means that Palco cannot make its case for the plans until June, at the earliest. The company did receive some good news last week -- two banks agreed to extend it $65 million in credit, some of which was used to pay off a defaulted short-term line of credit from the Bank of America. But the company is reportedly still struggling to meet an upcoming $27 million payment on its long-term debt of $751 million. Meanwhile, last week, Palco officials met with employees who lease homes in the company-owned town of Scotia and discussed the possibility of the company selling the homes to the residents. Chuck Center, company director of government relations, said that the possible sale of the houses was not part of the company's fund-raising strategy. "It's been Robert Manne's vision to allow people to buy their homes for a while," he said.

HOPE FOR NEW HSU BUILDING: Dr. Bert Swan, a consulting scientist with the California State University Seismic Review Board, gave some welcome news to Humboldt State University last week. Though the board's final report on the geologic "discontinuity" at the future site of HSU's Behavioral and Social Sciences building isn't out yet, Swan said last Wednesday that he was growing increasingly confident that it would pose no problem to the university. "From a purely pragmatic perspective -- if someone wants to say it's a fault, fine," he said. "But it is a very stable fault." Standing at the bottom of the pit intended as the future basement of the building, Swan showed reporters and university officials what he meant. Following the layers of soil around the rim of the pit, he said, one could see that they dipped and sagged very little, given the fact that they had been there at least 90,000 years -- a prime indication of stable ground. As for the "discontinuity" -- an outcropping of rock, surrounded by sandy soil -- Swan said that he was of the opinion that it was not, in fact, a fragment of a tectonic plate but instead a buried sea stack, a Camel Rock-like outcropping left when the Pacific receded from the site ages ago. The building contractors abruptly stopped construction on the Union Street site earlier this month after a fault was suspected.

HOSPITAL EXPANSION UNVEILED: Under the gun to meet new state seismic regulations, St. Joseph Hospital last week unveiled an $80 million plan to build a new three-story, 100,000-square-foot wing at its Eureka campus. The wing, which will be located on part of the hospital's front parking lot, will house a surgical center, an emergency room, an intensive care unit and a radiology center. Most of the medical function currently performed in the old General Hospital building will be moved to the addition, according to St. Joseph CEO Mike Purvis. "The purpose of this is that we will have all the acute care in one spot," he said. Purvis added that the hospital had not yet decided what would become of the General Hospital building, which it acquired in 2000 as part of a buyout of its former competitor. The new building is scheduled to be completed in two phases, with some areas of the wing opening in mid-2009 and the rest in 2012, just as the hospital's deadline to move in-patient care to a more seismically safe building comes into effect. Purvis said that he hoped that at least 10 percent of the cost of the new building could be raised as donations from the community; the remainder will be financed through bonds.

THOMPSON'S WAR ON DEBT: Last week Rep. Mike Thompson made local headlines for being one of 73 Congressional Democrats to vote with the Republican majority to reform bankruptcy laws. On a tour of the Multiple Assistance Center, the county's new homeless services facility in Eureka, Thompson said Monday that he had no problem voting for the bill, given that it did include an income-based "means test" that provided some protections for the truly poor. "There's been too many cases of people who could pay their bills who were escaping that responsibility through bankruptcy," he said. At the same time, Thompson and fellow fiscally conservative Democrats are drawing attention to the country's national debt -- $7.6 trillion dollars and growing -- by mounting "debt clocks" at the entrances to their offices.

FELONY CHARGES AGAINST ACTIVIST DROPPED: Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Christopher Wilson last week ruled that forest activist Ramsey "Phoenix" Gifford should not face felony assault charges following his confrontation with a Freshwater tree-sitter removal crew hired by Pacific Lumber Co. in the spring of 2003, the District Attorney's Office said. Gifford will still be tried for misdemeanor assault.

ARKLEY BANKROLLS ARNOLD: According to a report in Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle, the Eureka-based Security National Servicing Corp. -- local businessman Rob Arkley's primary company -- is the third-largest donor to Gov. Schwarzenegger, giving a quarter million dollars to the governor's re-election campaign and associated political committees this year.

DEPUTY FROM FORTUNA DIES: Sonoma County Sheriff's Deputy Randy Johnson, 51, of Fortuna, was found lying on the floor in the exercise room of the Sheriff's headquarters on April 19. He was later pronounced dead. "This comes as a huge shock to the department," Lt. Roger Rude said of Johnson's death, adding that the deputy -- who reportedly died of natural causes -- appeared to be in good health and exercised at the station's gym regularly. Johnson worked four days a week in Guerneville, spending four nights in Fortuna and three nights in Sonoma County. Before he was hired as a correctional officer in Santa Rosa in 1990, and then as a deputy sheriff in 1994, Johnson was a reserve officer for the Eureka Police Department. Since 2000 he worked at the substation in Guerneville where Rude said that he was well liked by the community. An arrestee wrote to the station following his release from jail to commend Johnson's work. "I just wanted to drop a line expressing my sincerest appreciation for the way you handled my arrest," the letter said. Rude said that the letter embodies Johnson's character. A service was held April 23 at Fortuna High School. Johnson is survived by his wife and two children of Fortuna.

EUREKA SCHOOLS ON LIST BY MISTAKE: Due to a math error made by the California Department of Education (CDE) the Eureka City School District, along with several other districts in the state, was wrongly added to a list of schools in need of improvement, the state and the district announced. Last week Eureka was erased from the list, which was created to identify California schools that have not met the 95 percent standardized test participation rates required by the federal No Child Left Behind law. But the district's sigh of relief has been brief as more testing troubles are on the horizon. In a press release Superintendent Jim Scott said, "We have immediate concerns with the performance of our English language learners and students with disabilities."

RUSH REBUFFS HUMCO: To the chagrin of local Rush Limbaugh listeners tuned into KINS-AM 980 last week, the right wing talk radio star described his aversion of the North Coast during a show about Democratic partiality toward illegal immigration. "I love California. I don't care where -- except Humboldt County, and even parts of Humboldt County are OK. But everywhere I've been in that state, I absolutely love it. I thought about moving there until I looked at their tax laws." In the past, Limbaugh has also opined on the pepper spray lawsuit brought against area law enforcement by logging protesters.

COASTAL COMMISSION SCORES: The conservation group that tracks the voting records of the California Coastal Commission has placed Humboldt County Supervisor and commission member Bonnie Neely at the bottom of its list of eco-friendly commissioners. Neely was appointed by Gov. Schwarzenegger as the commission's North Coast representative in May 2004, replacing Humboldt County Supervisor John Woolley, who left his post with a 52 percent approval rating from conservationists. Since June of 2004, Neely has voted on 13 issues (12 of which favored coastal land development) and has garnered an 8 percent approval rating from the conservation group. To view the 11-member commission's voting records visit

REGIONAL VISITOR TAKES OVER PALETTE: Regional Visitor Publications has purchased the money-losing The Palette, Humboldt Art Council's annual arts magazine. HAC President Sally Arnot said that the council will still approve the final product, but Regional Visitor Publications -- which has published The Palette for 10 years -- will write and edit all of the content in the magazine starting with the 2006 publication.

DISNEYLAND ANYONE? The first direct flight from Humboldt to Los Angeles -- with a short stopover in Redding -- took off Monday. Horizon Air is now operating two LA flights per day -- one at 6 a.m. and an evening flight at 6:30. Return flights arrive in Humboldt County at 11:40 a.m. and 11:15 p.m.

KVIQ CHANGES HANDS: Escrow closed Monday on the sale of Clear Channel's KVIQ-TV 6, a CBS affiliate, to Raul Broadcasting Co., owned by Raul Palazuelos. Viewers will notice little difference in the programming, apart from the absence of longtime newsman Dave Silverbrand from the Santa Rosa-based news programs. It will be Palazuelos' second full-power station; the other is KTAS-TV in Santa Maria (Santa Barbara County). The selling price was $2 million, according to the Radio and Television Business Report, an online news service. The original buyers, Sainte Partners, were unable to complete the purchase because the company already owns KBVU-TV stations Fox 29 and Univision in this market. (The right to operate multiple stations in one market is under FCC review.) Sainte has agreed to handle the day-to-day chores for the new owners under a shared services agreement, including sales, promotion, traffic and technical operations. Raul Broadcasting will remain responsible for FCC compliance, programming and advertising rate control, the company said. Raul's has leased temporary office space adjacent to KBVU on Seventh Street in Eureka. The KVIQ building on Broadway, closed last week, was reportedly part of the sale. Sandy Keefer, temporary general manager, said the owners hope to restart a local news broadcast "somewhere down the road," but there was a lot of work to be done on the station itself and a staff to hire. A search is under way for a permanent manager and chief engineer. Clear Channel laid off all nine local employees last Friday.

HSU ELECTIONS: With a typically dismal turnout for student elections at Humboldt State, new student officers were ushered in and fees were adopted and rejected last week. In the race for Associated Students President, Nicole Alvarado bested Diana Campos 544-403. Students approved a $15-per-semester AS fee and struck down a $44-per-semester health fee. Approximately 14 percent of the student body voted.

Buying binge reflects his vision, Arkley says


[Rob Arkley]EUREKA BUSINESSMAN ROB ARKLEY and his company, Security National, are on a real estate buying binge, with Humboldt County purchases in the works totaling hundreds of acres and stretching from Loleta to the Samoa Peninsula, as well as Eureka.

Arkley is in "final negotiations" with Simpson Paper Co. for two properties on the Samoa Peninsula: 250 acres at the former Simpson pulp mill site, and another 200 acres known as "Dog Ranch," a "lovely piece of property" located just west of the Samoa Bridge, where the lumber barons' hunting dogs were kept in bygone years, said Brian Morrissey, senior vice president of acquisitions and development at Security National.

Both purchases are expected to be completed by July.

The pulp mill is "one of the best industrial sites left in the county," Morrissey said, given its large size, its deepwater port and its proximity to Eureka. He would not name the price or what might be developed there, but that a number of potential tenants were interested, possibly for light manufacturing or warehousing.

The other peninsula site -- one that features pristine beach, sand dunes and dune forest -- is attractive to Arkley because it's different, he said.

"It's just a beautiful piece of land that's unique," Arkley said. "I tend to look for things that other people don't."

Up until a few weeks ago, the Friends of the Dunes was working with the harbor district to purchase the property, with financing from the Coastal Conservancy, so that it could be preserved. But the group lost out when Arkley came in.

"They got in second place!" Arkley said, making no effort to conceal his glee. "And it'll never, ever, ever, ever, ever be sold to them. I'm not going to give it to the government agencies. I believe there's far too much government land."

Arkley has no specific plans for the parcel, which also includes a house, he said, but he made it clear the land would be fenced off and not open to the public.

Carol Vander Meer, a board member with Friends of the Dunes, said her group was disappointed that their deal fell through.

"We were just shocked, and actually we had suspected it might have been Arkley," she said. "We felt that we were on a path, but then we don't have quick access to funds, like Arkley perhaps does, so that puts us at a disadvantage."

The controversial millionaire owns Security National Master Holding Co., the Eureka-based parent of Arkley's other companies, including SN Servicing Corp., which services mortgage loans, and Security National Properties, which buys commercial real estate. Security National has offices throughout the country and owns real estate in all 50 states, Arkley said.

The son of former Blue Lake Forest Products owner Robin Arkley Sr. described his motivation for his local projects as strictly philanthropical.

Like his funding of the $3 million renovation of the Eureka zoo, the restoration of the Sweasey Theater (soon to become the Arkley Center for the Performing Arts) and the Vance Hotel project, Arkley's real estate deals are all designed to benefit the community, he said.

"I live here. I love this area," he said. "My family's been here for 100 years. We'll be here for another 100 years."

[aerial photo of humboldt bay showing the "Dog Ranch" the Balloon Track and the X Street parcel in Eureka]Another deal he's working on is developing some 30 acres of mostly vacant land off X Street in Eureka that the company bought in the last year. The parcel will have about 100 units of affordable housing, an RV park with a boat launch at the waterfront, a hiking trail, an office/retail complex -- including possibly the Security National headquarters -- and a "fresh, high-end" seafood restaurant, Arkley said.

Why build affordable housing?

"I think we need affordable housing and I don't think that the environmentalists and the radical, extreme left [like Mayor Peter] La Vallee and [City Councilman Chris] Kerrigan are focused on providing it," he said.

"These extreme leftists think they're going to be pounding these issues down our throat and tell us what we're going to do," he continued. And I'll just not do the development and no one will have housing."

Other projects on the drawing board for Arkley include the long-dormant Balloon Track, a 34-acre former rail yard owned by Union Pacific on the western edge of Old Town Eureka, bordering on Broadway and Waterfront Drive.

The deal is "not under contract yet," however, Morrissey cautioned. "We have had substantial and significant conversations with the railroad about purchasing it, I'm hopeful that we will purchase it, but we've come to really no conclusions on the property."

As to speculation that there might be housing there someday, that's unlikely due to environmental contamination there, Arkley said.

His other plans?

With land purchased over the last several years, the company is restoring habitat along the Salmon Creek watershed, which runs from the Headwaters to the Humboldt Bay Wildlife Refuge in Loleta.

"Salmon is so political," Arkley said. "Everyone knows there aren't enough fish, yet everyone sits around and argues. I think we can fix this whole run of fish and it's gonna be cool, it's gonna be good for everybody.

"You do it because it's a good thing to do -- but I don't want to be told I have to do it," he said.

Kent State shooting victim to speak at HSU


In 1970, Jim Russell was 22 years old and a student at an Ohio university. Early one afternoon, as he was leaving an anti-war demonstration at his campus, Russell was shot in the leg and the head by a soldier wearing the uniform of his own state's National Guard. He was about 300 feet away from the man who shot him, and was headed in the other direction.

"I was walking down the sidewalk away from the area," he said. "I didn't even see them turn and fire at me."

Unintentionally, Russell had come to be involved in one of the most historically momentous incidents of the Vietnam War era. On May 4, 1970, Ohio National Guardsmen opened fire on a group of unarmed Kent State University students at an anti-war demonstration. Four students were killed; Russell and eight others were wounded. Most of the injured were bystanders. Russell had stopped to check out the gathering in between classes.

The incident came to be known as the Kent State Massacre.

Russell and his friend Joe Lewis, a fellow Kent State survivor, will be in town this week to participate in a four-day anti-war event at Humboldt State University and other locations around Arcata. Dubbed "No More War: Remembrance and Resistance," the event, which begins Wednesday, April 27, features lectures, panel discussions and a film series centered on the theme of militarism in United States foreign and domestic policy.

Event organizer Becky Luening said that she was excited that Russell and Lewis, who both live in the Portland, Ore., area, would be speaking at Humboldt. She said that Kent State and similar incidents in the late '60s and early '70s are increasingly relevant to peace activists today.

"The pattern we saw then was that as the war escalated, the anti-war movement also escalated," she said. "And then the domestic repression escalated."

Luening added that she believes that Humboldt State students could learn much from the historical perspective that Russell and Lewis bring to campus -- especially if, as she fears, the federal government decides to revive the military recruitment policies of that era.

"Right now, what we've heard from some of the students we're working with is that the student body at HSU is pretty apathetic," she said. "But I don't think it would take much to stir kids up again, especially if the draft was instituted."

Russell, an engineering technician for the city of Beaverton, said that he sees many parallels between the Nixon era and today. It's not just the fact that both are times of war -- "wars that we thrust ourselves into," he said -- but that there exists a cultural divide in the country that threatens to become just as pitched and unforgiving as that of the '60s.

"It turns out that my dad lost his job because of me," after Russell became widely known as one of the students who'd been injured, he said. "He was angry at me for doing things that would provoke him to lose a good job. And my situation is not that rare among us. My friend Joe -- since he lived near Kent, his family had to endure death threats while he was still in the hospital.

"It was really, really crazy. I don't want to see it get that crazy again."

Russell will speak on the HSU Quad at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 28; in Goodwin Forum at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, April 29; and at other "No More War" events throughout the week. For more information and a list of other invited speakers and topics, visit or call 826-9197.

Custom designs put tatto artist in demand


"Ars longa, vita brevis." (Art is long, life is short) -- Seneca Philosophus

Otto [photo below] is an artist whose canvas is living flesh. Tattoos have connotations of permanence, designs worn for a lifetime. Yet for an artist they are the essence of impermanence. However glorious the artwork, it walks out the door with its wearer, lasting only as long as the lifespan of the skin it decorates, then passing into eternity.Photo of tatoo artist Otto

Otto gets beyond this issue by seeing his customers return again and again, captivated by his skill and craft. After 15 years in the business, the artist, who goes by his first name only, has built a reputation that brings people from as far away as Europe.

"I'm pretty much a custom artist," says the 35-year-old Orange County native who opened Ink Addiction Tattoo in Eureka a year ago. "Most people come to me with an idea and I do what they want.

"I opened my own shop so I didn't have to do all the flash," he continues, referring to the standard artwork generally associated with tattoos -- skulls, Celtic knots, Chinese characters, etc. He specializes in custom designs that cover large portions of the body.

Whether custom or flash, a small tattoo costs about $40 and takes about a half hour to complete. Likewise, a body covered in artwork is a lifelong process and represents an investment of tens of thousands of dollars.

Otto himself is a striking figure, aloof and strongly built, with a shaven head and tattoos curling up his neck and across his head. But this imposing figure is a family man with a special soft spot for his 5-year-old daughter, whose name, Bonnie Paige, is his most prominent tattoo. For her sake, he moved here from Las Vegas. "Vegas is really fast-paced. It's not the place for a kid," he says. "I moved here to settle down."

By cultivating a friendly, small-town atmosphere inside the shop, Otto hopes to put customers at ease. The four other artists who work with him are also very approachable. "You come into my shop and people greet you and we'll talk to you," he says.Photo of tatooed back

"People are scared when they come in anyway, they're nervous, they're intimidated," he says. "Come on in and enjoy yourself whether you want to get tattooed or not. I just want you to look, see what I can do."

Inside the shop, music plays. A pool table dominates the center of the room, and hundreds of flash designs cover the walls alongside brilliant photos of original art. Next to Otto's workstation are the areas where fellow tattoo artist, Greg Johnson, and body piercer, Ben Ragains, do their work.

Otto also has two apprentices, James Kerr and Matt Henderson. Apprenticeship is the road every aspiring tattoo artist must travel. He can show them the technical side, but "making it" requires a special something. "Whether they have it in their hand and in their head is up to them. It's not like a plumber's apprenticeship where you show them how to fix a pipe. You know what I mean? It's just something you gotta have inside you."

Success lies in having a "feel" for the manifold differences of skin. "The skin is so not like paper or canvas or anything else because no part's flat, everything's curved. Every area of the body's different. Every part has a different curve, a different bump, a different groove. Everybody's skin is different. Some people have moles, some have scars. Some skin's tight, some skin's not. You could go on for 10 hours about skin."

The word tattoo comes from the Tahitian "tatau," a warrior's mark of courage. Sailors brought tattooing to the West, where it has gone in and out of vogue several times over the last two centuries.

The once-rebel art of tattooing has seen its social status go from marginal to mainstream. Women now make up more than half the U.S. customers, according to a 1998 survey by Scripps-Howard. Here in Humboldt County, that percentage is even higher, according to anecdotal evidence of local tattoo artists.

Whatever the changes in cultural implication, tattooing remains an embodiment of freedom of expression. People with visible tattoos seem to enjoy the attention they get as moveable art galleries. Most will happily pull up pant legs or lift shirts to display the artwork. "Who is the artist?" is usually a welcome question, but "Why would you do that?" is not.

Otto says. "I don't tell you what sweater to wear. This is my life. If you don't want it, don't get it, but don't hate me because I decide to do it. I'm still the same person whether I have this on me or not."

Ink Addiction Tattoo is located at 1672 Myrtle Avenue in Eureka and is open seven days a week. l

Karol Wilcox is a student at Humboldt State University, majoring in English literature, and the former editor of the Independent in Garberville.



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