During an 11-day, seven-county district
tour, Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, spoke at Memorial Day services,
met with civic, labor and business leaders and attended several charity
fund-raisers before returning to Washington last weekend.
In Arcata, Thompson toured the headquarters of Internews, a 15-year-old international non-profit organization that works to support independent media in emerging democracies.
Internews, funded by private and public grants, operates in 20 countries including Indonesia, Russia and the Ukraine, Internews President David Hoffman told Thompson.
In Israel, the organization recently established a pilot television program for Russian immigrants and an anti-defamation program in schools, Hoffman said. "Most of our work is in the West Bank area," he added.
In Kosovo, Internews is helping set up small radio projects for refugees.
Thompson, who recently returned from a bipartisan congressional tour of the Balkans, predicted an end to the Kosovo crisis that has displaced nearly a million ethnic Albanian refugees and the three-month bombing campaign aimed at crippling Serbian forces.
"If we hadn't bombed the Chinese embassy, it would have been over by now," he told the group.
Thompson and Hoffman were critical of the media coverage of the war, especially CNN.
"They kept repeating the 75 (civilian) casualties (who were mistakenly killed) when there were 750,000 missing Albanians," Thompson said.
In an interview later with the Journal, Thompson, a Vietnam veteran, said he was moved by his Balkan tour and by two books he had read recently Citizen Soldier by Stephen Ambrose and Tom Brokaw's The Greatest Generation.
"If ever there was a just war, this is the one," he said, repeating a comment made by a priest he knows. Thompson said he agrees with those who say if the United States and the allied forces "can't end the genocide, then we ought to close the Holocaust Museum."
Locally, the crisis in the Balkans has prompted support for the Albanian refugees and the Yugoslavian people left vulnerable in the flight patterns of NATO air strikes.
Eureka High School students and staff have raised $2,300 for the refugees, according to school's community relations Director Sheldon Reber.
Tree sitter Julia Butterfly Hill marked the 18-month anniversary of her crusade to save the ancient redwoods with a week-long show of solidarity for anti-war activists. She hung a giant "target" banner from the tree she has been residing in on land owned by Pacific Lumber Co. near Stafford "to show when NATO bombs bridges, (it bombs) civilians too." Similar banners have been hanging on the Highway 101 freeway overpass in Arcata for several weeks.
On the topic of water diversion on the Eel River, Thompson told the Journal he is sympathetic with those who are fighting for more water to be returned to the river to aid recovery of the fishery but "you can't just turn off the spigot" on farmers and other water users in the southern half of his district.
The congressman also visited the federal courthouse in Eureka, which was recently declared surplus by the U.S. General Services Administration. (The building, the site of the downtown post office, may be purchased for $1 by another government entity.) And he heard from city and county leaders at a forum that afternoon.
Among other officials, Eureka City Councilwoman Connie Miller told Thompson of her concern over transportation issues, including the loss of the air traffic control tower at the county airport, the closure of the Northwestern Pacific Railroad service and a new state law limiting the length of trucks on local roads.
Trucks measuring more than 65 feet long are banned from traveling on U.S. Highway 101 south of Crescent City, where travel recently opened up to the longer rigs north to Humbug Mountain in Southern Oregon.
The cutoff south of the Crescent City Harbor was established because the longer trucks pose a safety hazard on the major thoroughfare in points like Big Lagoon, California Department of Transportation traffic operations Chief Jim Graham said.
Thompson wrapped up his North Coast tour volunteering at the Napa Valley wine auction over the weekend.
Following Rep. Mike Thompson's rounds on the North Coast, two local high school juniors will try their hand at the art of lawmaking during a student leadership conference in the nation's capital this week.
Victoria Chelossi of McKinleyville High and Caleb Gribi of South Fork High will represent Humboldt State University's Educational Talent Search program June 12-17 in Washington, Humboldt State University public affairs specialist Sean Kearns announced.
Among their list of activities, the teens are due to attend workshops on negotiation and conflict resolution. They'll also craft proposals on both sides of a mock Congress in House and Senate subcommittees. Afterward, they'll discuss their efforts with congressional representatives.
"I would like to be involved in the laws that affect me and have some impact and responsibility for my life and for others," said Chelossi, a student council representative at Mack High who plans to study biology or medicine in college.
Gribi, who has held office in South Fork's student government for three years and a North Coast group council, has an interest in politics.
The students were nominated by Humboldt's Talent Search program and selected by the national Council for Opportunity in Education, which is sponsoring the conference. Talent Search, established at HSU since 1991, is a federally funded program that identifies sixth- through 12th-grade youth with the potential for a university education.
Peace Corps Director Mark Gearan is moving to higher education.
Gearan has taken a job as president of Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, N.Y., the Associated Press reported. He's headed the organization since 1995.
The former deputy chief of staff and director of communications and strategic planning at the White House addressed Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences graduates during commencement ceremonies at Humboldt State University last month.
The Arcata campus has delivered about 600 volunteers to the Peace Corps since it was established in the 1960s.
Axel R. Lindgren Jr., Yurok historian and active community member, died Sunday of pneumonia. The Trinidad native was 80 years old.
Lindgren spent much of his life preserving Yurok history and culture.
"In our family, he was very interested in keeping the Indian culture alive," said Lindgren's sister, Willie Gallacci. "If there was anything I didn't know, I'd say, `I'm gonna call Ax.'"
Lindgren was instrumental in gaining statewide protection of Indian burial sites. He told Yurok stories to school children throughout the county.
"He just tried to do his best with what he had today and why worry about tomorrow," Gallacci said. "He was a very caring person."
Services will be held Saturday, June 12, at 1 p.m. at Trinidad Cemetery, followed by a memorial service at 2 p.m. at Sumeg Village in Patrick's Point State Park.
Marking the 30th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York City that started the tradition, Humboldt County is celebrating its seventh annual gay pride parade and festival in Arcata Sunday.
Several celebrations are planned this month across the nation, including San Fran-cisco's set for the Castro district the weekend of June 24-25.
This county's event is intended to "acknowledge the contributions" gay, lesbian and bisexual make to the region and "challenge the oppression and discrimination which diminishes the quality of life for Humboldt County residents," organizers said.
It kicks off with a parade that starts from Stewart Park at noon and ends on the Arcata Plaza, the staging area for an afternoon-long celebration of music, food, crafts and speakers. Last year, Humboldt County Third District Supervisor John Woolley and current Arcata Mayor Bob Ornelas addressed the crowd. This year, Ornelas is one of nearly 3,000 cyclists pedaling the length of the state for the AIDS Ride, a fund-raising event to benefit service organizations that help HIV and AIDS survivors.
This year's pride festival theme "Proud Heritage, Powerful Future" was chosen to recognize the community's stages of growth.
Last week a controversial gay rights bill the governor expressed interest in signing died in the Assembly after an emotional debate.
The Assembly gave a thumbs down to AB 222, which was intended to prohibit harassment and discrimination aimed at gay and lesbian students and teachers. It failed by one vote 36-40, confirmed Jennifer Richard, aide to the bill's author Assemblywoman Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica. Assemblywoman Virginia Strom-Martin, D-Duncans Mills, voted for the bill.
"I've never seen anything like this," Richard said during a phone interview from Sacramento Friday. "The bill died because the religious right bought its death," she said, pointing to a major advertising campaign warning the measure would lead to pedophilia in the schools.
Meanwhile, a bill allowing unmarried couples, including gays and lesbians, to register as domestic partners with the state passed the Senate weeks before by a 23-14 margin. North Coast Sen. Wesley Chesbro, D-Arcata, voted for the proposal, which is headed for the Assembly, his press office confirmed.
Several attempts have been made to pass statewide domestic partner legislation, including one that made it to former Gov. Pete Wilson's desk in 1994.
There are about 500,000 unmarried couples in California, and 93 percent of them are heterosexual, according to a Senate analysis of the pending bill.
From Assemblywoman Virginia Strom-Martin's freight rail plan and Hammond Trail extension to Sen. Wesley Chesbro's recycling fights and new shelter sites, the Legislature is due to wrap up a flurry of bill activity with the passing of the budget within the week, the governor's fiscal adviser said.
Nearly $38 billion of the $80.8 billion budget is earmarked for education including an additional $1.2 billion pledged to school programs when state officials discovered a $4.3 billion surplus in May.
The Tallest Tree Club has crowned a redwood growing in a remote section of the Montgomery Redwoods State Reserve near Ukiah as the world's tallest tree, the group's Web Site indicated.
The tree, measuring 367.5 feet high, has formally dethroned the "Tall Tree" in Redwood National Park off Redwood Creek east of Big Lagoon. The tree once stood 367.8 feet, before it lost 10 feet off the top. Some say a winter storm was the cause. But the Humboldt State University botany professor that for 11 years has climbed these trees as a hobby, including the Mendocino Tree in March, believes 30 years of overvisitation at the tree's base was the culprit.
Steve Sillett uses a safety harness and rope to climb up to a tree's branches. From there, he climbs limb from limb until he reaches the top, dropping a measuring tape to gauge its height. Some use a laser survey instrument.
Sillett figured 16 redwood trees on the North Coast stand more than 360 feet high, eight of them in the Rockefeller Forest in the Humboldt Redwoods State Park of southern Humboldt County more than any other forest.
In June, outdoor enthusiasts who are physically challenged may find it easier to get around the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park's namesake trail from Big Tree to Brown Creek.
Work to improve access to a 1-1/2-mile section of Prairie Creek Trail will be complete June 23, state parks Trail and Road Maintenance Supervisor Don Beers said. Work on the same length of the park's Foothill Trail is due to be completed in September.
These improvements are the result of a trail design program that received input last year from a San Francisco-based nonprofit group that works to make parks and natural experiences more accessible to everyone.
Whole Access recently honored the California State Parks ranger with the 1999 Harry Dean Jr. Memorial Award for his 20-year efforts in preserving natural resources, 17 of those years working to create better trail opportunities for people with disabilities.
Forty-three artists will open their studios Saturday in the first North Coast Open Studios Tour. From Trinidad to Ferndale, artists of many specialties will show their work Saturday, June 12, from 6-9 p.m.
Ramone's Bakery and Café in Old Town Eureka has an exhibit with examples of each artist's work, along with directions to each studio. Maps are also available at the Humboldt Arts Council and the Art Center, both in Eureka, and at Plaza Design in Arcata and McKinleyville.
Organized by artists Susan Fox and Sasha Pepper, the Open Studios Tour is fashioned after the annual event of the same name in the San Francisco Bay Area.
"I had been involved in the Open Studio Tour in San Francisco for many years," Pepper said. "It gives artists a chance to show their work and people a chance to see it." Looking at art in the artists' studios gives people a sense of the creative process that went into it, she added.
A U.S. Supreme Court decision two months ago regarding the 2000 Census may turn into a costly but necessary one to complete the monumental task by next year, U.S. Census Bureau officials say.
The Census Bureau will open a Eureka office by next month as one in 520 it plans to have open across the nation by September, Bureau officials confirmed. Already in place are 130 offices, including a Santa Rosa office.
Collectively, these offices will employ 860,000 numerators assigned to count the nation's population.
The Census Bureau needs an additional $1.7 billion on top of the $2.8 billion already requested to conduct the traditional headcount, Commerce Department officials confirmed.
The traditional headcount method was prescribed by the high court as a determinant to proper representation for congressional districts. The President Clinton-endorsed statistical sampling version may serve as the benchmark for allocating $200 billion to the states.
At stake for California is more than $2 billion in federal funds the state may have lost during the 1990s because of a census undercount, according to a congressional report released last year.
That's why the Census Bureau developed the statistical method, said spokesman Steve Jost from his Suitland, Md. bureau office. The $4.5 billion requests serves as "proof" the more conventional method would have been cheaper to carry out. The funds are expected to go through congressional channels before approval by September.
The census count is due to be completed by July 2000.