Trinidad ex-mayor arrested
Floyd "Jim" Sharum, former Trinidad City councilman and mayor, was arrested Friday and charged with forgery and grand theft. He was released that evening on a promise to appear.
A press release from the Blue Lake Police Department lists 11 charges against the suspect including forgery, grand theft, possession of methamphetamine, marijuana and hashish, and possession of explosives, firearms and body armor.
"When we showed up to arrest him he had a bag of marijuana and meth and a loaded .45 caliber handgun in a shoulder harness," said Dave Gundersen, Blue Lake police chief.
Blue Lake is under contract to provide police services to the city of Trinidad where the alleged crimes occurred.
"A victim reported that some checks were mailed to her ex-bookkeeper, Phyllis Sharum's post office box in Trinidad. Two checks were forged and deposited into Jim Sharum's personal bank account totaling $3,200. A third check, for $2,000, was stopped by Humboldt Bank," the release stated.
The Sharum name has been in the news numerous times over the last two decades. Sharum was campaign manager for District Attorney Terry Farmer's initial bid for office in 1982 and again in 1986. In 1983, Sharum was hired by Farmer as administrative services manager for the district attorney, a position he held until 1987. His duties included media relations.
He served as councilman from 1982 to 1990 and mayor from 1986-90.
More recently Sharum owned and operated a commercial fishing vessel and until last year was owner of N & S Liquors in Eureka. At the time of his arrest he was employed as a tow truck driver.
Sharum's former wife, Phyllis Sharum, was sent to prison in 1986 for six years for embezzling tens of thousands of dollars from the city of Trinidad as well as from clients of her private bookkeeping business. She is on parole in Orange County but Gundersen said that mail addressed to both Jim and Phyllis Sharum continues to arrive at their joint Trinidad post office box.
Arcata gets more ink
Four years ago, it was the Utne Reader. This week it was the San Francisco Examiner and Time magazine.
The city of Arcata seems to be on the top of everyone's list as a cool place to live.
"Nice places to visit, great places to live," read the Time headline. "These six cities make wonderful vacation destinations -- and even better hometowns."
Lewes, Del., made the list. ("A quiet Dutch seaport with pristine beaches, elegant Victorian homes and a nearby state park.") So did Bend, Ore. Each of the six cities had its own story. Arcata's was titled, "Eccentricity is O.K. in Arcata."
"The unique character of Arcata is evident in the town's square on any Saturday morning, when college students and business folks, aging hippies and retirees mingle at the farmer's market."
The on-line version of the San Francisco Examiner Forum section (eXaminer.com) is carrying a lengthy essay by reporter Emily Gurnon as to why she and her young family are moving to Arcata ("No longer `our town'").
"The first three months of this year, the median price for a home in San Francisco was $418,000. In Humboldt County, where we have decided to move, the median price was $109,000. Arcata, the town of 16,000 where we hope to live, is a bit higher: $125,000, the chamber of commerce there says. My husband will take a $20,000-a-year pay cut in his new social work job, but the money will go further."
"We've been getting quite a response from the Time article," said Arcata Chamber manager Jody Hansen.
Arcata Mayor Connie Stewart said Arcata was also recently listed among the nation's "top 10 walkable cities" in an article in the Chicago Tribune.
"I'm waiting for a friend to send a copy of it. I haven't seen it yet," Stewart said.
The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors will hold a special session Friday at noon to meet with Assemblymember Virginia Strom-Martin.
"Different (county) department heads have been invited to talk about what their needs are and how the state affects their departments," said Barbara Ellis, Strom-Martin's Eureka field representative.
The legislator also asked supervisors for a status report on how the county is using $12 million in mitigation funds that the state paid the county following the purchase of the Headwaters Forest. The money -- along with $10 million from the federal government -- is in an interest-bearing account.
Strom-Martin will also meet with some constituents regarding the need for more office space for state employees working in Humboldt County.
Because of the Headwaters agreement and the requirement to monitor Pacific Lumber Co.'s habitat conservation plan, a number of state departments have seen jumps in employment with more on the horizon.
"CDF (California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection) is up six people, Fish and Game has seven more. The Department of Mines and Geology and the (North Coast Region) Water Quality Control Board need more space, too," said Ellis.
"Lots of people are coming. If they do need the space, this may be a good time to consolidate and cluster these agencies," said Larry Henderson, a Eureka planning consultant. "One obvious location would be Arcata. They have the room."
Arcata Mayor Connie Stewart agreed. "We already have the Bureau of land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, the Park Service, National Marine Fisheries and (Humboldt State) University," Stewart said. "I'd love (Arcata) to be known as the scientific center of Humboldt County."
Strom-Martin is scheduled to attend a fund-raising dinner at the Samoa Cookhouse Friday evening and to ride in the Rhododendron Parade on Saturday.
Local activist recognized
Arcata resident Edilith Eckart knows too well how dangerous radiation can be. When the power plant at Chernobyl started leaking in April 1986 she was in the Soviet Union leading a citizen-to-citizen peace mission and was exposed to fallout from the faulty nuclear powerplant.
Eckart was already well aware of the dangers of nuclear fission. She graduated from Cornell University in 1940 in biology and physics and served in the Naval Reserve in World War II. She has been an anti-nuclear activist for most of her life.
Eckart will be recognized for her activism in Washington May 5 when the Physicians for Social Responsibility presents her with its "Broad Street Pump" award, named after an incident in England in the 19th century.
Eckart credits former PSR President Helen Caldicott with inspiring her activism. Eckart often led and participated in "friendship tours" to the Soviet Union.
She will receive the award May 5 and be toasted at a gala in the nation's capital the following night. The award is given to individuals who combine their medical knowledge with a social conscience and sense of responsibility.
Future Farming Flap at AHS
Members of the Arcata High Chapter of the Future Farmers of America have a bone to pick with their school's administration. They claim their program, which teaches leadership and agricultural skills both in and out of the classroom, isn't receiving the support it deserves.
They allege they've been neglected, had funding cut, and now they're about to lose a popular teacher and FFA adviser. Three FFA members sent out letters to the media outlining their complaints. Their efforts landed them in the principal's office.
Brian Stephens, principal of Arcata High, said it is all a misunderstanding. The students were called into the office to try to explain the situation, he said, and that the program has his full support.
"And the thing is, it always has," he said.
Stephens said the FFA had some funds taken away and given to a booster club because the booster club "serves a much broader range of students." He said the teacher, Scott Hansford, was let go because policy requires either tenure or firing after two years and Hansford didn't receive tenure.
The students remain unsatisfied. They said they see the firing and shift of funding as a lack of support for the FFA.
The program's benefit to students is not to be underestimated, said Sarah Warvi, FFA chapter president and one of the authors of the letter.
"FFA is what I wake up for in the morning," she said.
Billboard policy passed
Another chapter was added to the continuing saga of billboard regulation in Humboldt County last week.
The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors passed a measure that would require a permit to build a billboard even on land zoned for commercial or industrial use.
The new regulation "closes a perceived loophole," said Kirk Girard, county planning director. Previously, billboards in the coastal zone needed a permit but those located inland were often able to be built without one.
Girard said he wasn't sure what the effect is going to be because the recent billboard debate has centered on Highway 101 and "most of 101 is in the coastal zone."
Citizens concerned with billboard policy should make their voices heard during the general plan update, a four-year process that has just begun.
Mussel quarantine in effect
The Humboldt County Health Department has instated its annual mussel quarantine, effective May 1 through Oct. 31. The mussels contain high concentrations of a naturally occurring substance highly toxic to humans. For information, call the Humboldt County Health Department at 445-6215.
Back to the future
As the debate over the Northwestern Pacific Railroad continues, one area resident has a novel idea about how to revive the troubled line: Take an obsolete engine that spews black smoke and run it at very slow speeds between Samoa and Eureka.
No, Anderson Adams isn't crazy. He's a steam engine buff who is proposing a Humboldt Bay Scenic Railroad to draw tourists and showcase the county's timber heritage. The coal-powered train would run from Eureka north through the outskirts of Arcata and south along the peninsula toward Samoa.
"We're looking at bringing as many as 100,000 additional tourists to spend the night in the area," Adams said.
Max Bridges, executive director for the North Coast Railroad Authority, said that the proposal wouldn't bring much revenue into his organization, which administers the currently inoperable rail line. But the NCRA is giving the proposal "serious consideration" because it could increase attention on trains in the area.
"The longer [the line] sits without operating, the easier it is to say, `Why do we need it?'" Bridges said. "Having something operating is important."
Volunteers interested in donating time and labor to the proposed project may call 826-2657 for information.
Humboldt lags in census
Shawn Adkins isn't happy with Humboldt County.
Adkins, the manager of the local Census Office, said that at 62 percent, the response rate for turning in completed census forms lags seriously behind the target rate of 70 percent.
He said that the response rate may be low because the census has to compete with junk mail, or because people may not want to be "involved in government-type stuff."
For whatever reason, the rates are too low. Adkins said. His office is sending about 160 census workers into the field to contact citizens who have not responded.
-- reported by Arno Holschuh and Judy Hodgson