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July 15, 2004
T H E
W E E K L Y W R A P
HUMBOLDT BANK NO
MORE: At 11:59 p.m. Friday Humboldt
Bank was officially acquired by Umpqua Bank of Portland, Ore.
Shareholders received one share of Umpqua stock for each share
of Humboldt, giving the transaction a total value of $343 million
based on Friday's closing price of $22.15 per share, according
to a bank press release. Employment at Humboldt Bank Plaza on
the north end of Eureka, former headquarters of Humboldt Bancorp,
has been slowly dwindling from a March high of 105 when the sale
was announced. Seventeen employees left and 12 have transferred
to other positions in the company, including five to Portland,
according to Pat Rusnak, executive vice president. Banking activity
at the Plaza -- processing loan payments, fielding customer service
calls -- will be phased out over the next nine months and the
center closed. Not affected is employment at Humboldt Merchant
Services, a credit card processing center sold by Humboldt Bancorp
in March 2003 to First National Holding Co. of Scottsdale, Ariz.
That company leases 18,000 square feet of the Plaza and has about
MEDICAL MARIJUANA ORDINANCE
PASSED: After months of deliberation by a special task
force, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed
a new medical marijuana ordinance at its regular meeting Tuesday
morning. The ordinance is roughly similar to the guidelines proposed
by District Attorney Paul Gallegos last year -- it would allow
legitimate medical marijuana users to have three pounds of dry
marijuana on hand, as well any number of live plants that take
up no more than 100 square feet of space. Supervisor Jill Geist,
who was not able to attend the vote because she had been summoned
by the Grand Jury, later noted for the record her support of
TRIBES TAKE CASE TO U.K.:
Representatives from four Klamath
River tribes -- the Klamath, Karuk, Hoopa and Yurok -- are gearing
up to take their case for dam decommissioning directly to the
shareholders of ScottishPower. The international energy conglomerate,
which owns five dams on the Klamath through its PacifiCorp subsidiary,
will be holding its annual meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland on
Wednesday, and tribal members will be there to make their case.
"People need to see a real, live Yurok, and other Indians
of the Klamath River, and know that they have a real impact on
our culture and traditions and way of life," said Troy Fletcher,
executive director of the Yurok Tribe. "Removing the dams
isn't just an unachievable concept," he said. "We're
ready to work with ScottishPower in a positive way to get the
job done." In May, the Oregon-based Klamath Tribes -- which
represent Klamath, Modoc and Yahooskin Indians -- filed a $1
billion federal lawsuit against the company, alleging that the
dams have ruined salmon runs on the river.
NOT OVER YET FOR AUGUST: Charging that Judge J. Michael Brown had made
a "major error," Assistant District Attorney Tim Stoen
last week asked the court to reverse its decision to drop three
charges against Fortuna City Councilperson Debi August. Late
last month, at the request of August's attorneys, the court struck
the charges -- which sought to have August removed from office
-- under the belief that Stoen had not filed a critical document
in the case before deadline. In a new motion filed Friday, though,
Stoen said that he had in fact filed the document shortly before
it was due, and offered proof in the form of a court-stamped
copy of the document in question. August's attorney, Greg Rael,
said Tuesday that he would attempt to figure out exactly how
the apparent misunderstanding happened, and to rule out any question
of misconduct by the DA's office. "I'm giving everyone the
benefit of the doubt, but I really have to get to the bottom
of it," he said. The charges stem from an accusation, brought
early last month by the Humboldt County Grand Jury, that August
improperly lobbied the city's Planning Commission on behalf of
FIRE ASSESSMENT BALLOTS: Property owners
served by the Arcata Fire District and Humboldt Fire District
No. 1 should soon be receiving ballots asking them for their
say on proposals to levy "benefit assessments" -- annual
taxes based on the size and value of real estate --to help save
fire service in their communities. The state budget crisis has
required both districts to ask its customers for help. "We
can't raise sales tax, we can't impose a utility tax, we can't
impose an occupancy tax -- none of those," said AFD Chief
Dave White. "The only thing we have open to us is either
a special tax or a benefits assessment." The increase would
bring the assessment in Arcata to $88 for an average single-family
residence; the charge for Humboldt No. 1 customers would rise
to an average of $72 a year. Ballots must be returned to the
Humboldt County Assessor's Office before Aug. 24 (Arcata) or
Aug. 25 (Humboldt). Both agencies will be holding public meetings
on the proposals. For information, call the AFD at 822-2551 or
Humboldt No. 1 at 445-4900.
HAF DIRECTOR TO TAKE SABBATICAL: The Humboldt
Area Foundation announced last week that its executive director,
Peter Pennekamp, will take a year-long sabbatical beginning in
September. HAF Chief Administrative Officer Kathleen Moxon will
assume his duties.
LEAD JEWELRY WARNING: The county's
Department of Health and Human Services last week warned parents
about dangers posed by toy jewelry, the type sold in vending
machines. Companies that distribute the jewelry recently initiated
a nationwide recall of all of such products -- rings, necklaces
and bracelets -- sold between January 2002 and the present, after
they were found to contain unsafe concentrations of lead. "We
don't know for a fact that it has been sold in Humboldt County,
but it's pretty safe to assume that it has," said Anne Wade,
DHHS health education specialist. Parents with questions may
call the Safe Jewelry Council at 1-800-441-4234, or visit their
Web site at www.toyjewelryrecall.com.
MURDER VICTIM NAMED: The 28-year-old
man stabbed to death in the 400 block of West Henderson in Eureka
on July 3 was identified by police as Jeremy Joseph Martinez
of Eureka. The suspect, 31-year-old Hector Tripp of Hoopa, was
booked into Humboldt County Jail.
ASSAULT SUSPECT ARRESTED: Police in Chico nabbed a 24-year-old Eureka man
suspected in the sexual assault of a 13-year-old McKinleyville
girl in a Valley West motel room in March. Patrick Daniel Jimenez
was booked into the Butte County Jail.
THEY LIVE HERE, TOO: Residents
of Fortuna and Arcata have reported several wild animal sightings
near their homes in the last week. Fortuna police said that they
received a number of reports of bears in residential neighborhoods,
including the area of 12th Street near the high school. An Arcata
homeowner in the 100 block of California Avenue called police
there to report a mountain lion in his front yard. Police remind
residents that animals are attracted to food, from pet bowls
and barbecue grills to garbage cans and fallen fruit. If you
encounter a mountain lion, do not run, but make yourself look
bigger by waving your arms. Pick up children and keep them with
you. Throw things at the lion if it does not leave.
COUNTY PRESENTS SAMOA
public is invited to a county presentation of the results of
an initial environmental assessment in the town of Samoa from
6 to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 20 at the Manila Community Center's
Community Hall. The study includes information about the potential
presence of hazardous materials. In addition, a representative
from the Samoa Pacific Group, which purchased the town, will
outline the planned layout and future uses for Samoa.
DISABLED HOTLINE: Tri-County
Independent Living, Inc., formerly the Humboldt Access Project,
has created an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) hotline
to keep the public informed of issues involving accessibility
for the disabled. The hotline's number is 445-2668.
CORRECTIONS: A news
item in the July 1 issue of the Journal misstated
the outcome of a case involving illegal off-road driving in the
dunes at Clam Beach. Nathan Stancliff, 27, pleaded no contest
to causing damage to land, wildlife, wildlife habitat or vegetative
resources with his pickup; Stancliff was with a friend when a
sheriff's deputy discovered his truck stuck on the dunes, and
charges that Stancliff was driving the vehicle at the time were
dropped. ... [The online
version reflects the correction.] In
the Journal's July 1 cover
story, "The Return of Indian Island," writer Gregg
McVicar's name was misspelled. The Journal regrets the
errors. [The online version
reflects the correction.]
Last weekend a local youth advocacy
group rafted down a short stretch of the Trinity River, and I
went along for the ride.
The trip started with a good-natured
squabble over which group would have to ride in Annie, the leaky
raft that has to be pumped up periodically even as she floats
down the river.
"The newspaper girl should
take Annie; then she'll write about how bad we need money for
new boats," quipped Scott Malone, a volunteer with Summer
He raised his brows beneath
his worn, brown leather hat and smirked.
Summer LEAP, short for Leadership
Education Adventure Program, is a nonprofit organization based
in Eureka that takes at-risk youth ages 8 to 18 on outdoor trips
-- hiking, rock climbing and rafting -- during the summer months.
The organization concedes that the idiom "at-risk"
is a broad term. Some are young teens on probation, but others
are just having trouble in their classes, or maybe have only
one parent at home. Mainly, they're economically disadvantaged:
More than half of those who attend LEAP activities come from
Humboldt County families living below the poverty line.
"Some of these kids have
lived here their whole lives and have never been to Patrick's
Point," said Mary Ann Perry, 23, also a volunteer for Summer
LEAP. "They're usually from rougher neighborhoods, so the
trips are a chance for them to get out of that element."
The summertime trips are popular
with local youth organizations, and LEAP schedules three to five
outings each week. Each rafter pays between $15 to $20 for the
Before leaving the dusty parking
lot at Hayden Flat, our "put-in" point, a winding 25
miles east of Willow Creek, Audrey Sweet, 24, the co-director
of Summer LEAP, gathered the group into a large circle. The nine
young rafters and their chaperones from Big Brothers Big Sisters
and North Coast Mentors played a getting-to-know-you name game
with the LEAP volunteers, followed by a river safety talk led
The seven-mile section of the
Trinity from Hayden to Cedar Flat is an easy run, with a few
class I and II rapids. Nevertheless, Sweet covered every worst-case
scenario with the group, from how to feel your way out from beneath
an overturned raft, to freeing yourself if caught in a debris
snag in the river. Once briefed, we buckled ourselves into the
somewhat moldy-smelling orange lifejackets and lined up in front
of one of the four rafts parked on the shore.
Instead of riding in the perpetually
deflating Annie, I was assigned to Alvin, a somewhat hardier
craft. Perry was in charge of guiding Alvin and five sometimes-clumsy
oarsmen down the Trinity.
Riding in the boat with me were
Camille, a bold, funny 13-year-old, her Big Sister of five years,
Miriam, a quiet, freckled eighth-grader from Eureka named Paul
and his mentor of just a few months, Vic.
As we set out Camille commanded
most of the conversation. She told us that she did not like answering
questions. I asked her why not.
"I don't like answering
questions," she repeated.
Mainly she spent time trying
to coax Miriam to jump into the river, plotting water fights
against the other rafts and developing a marked vendetta against
the crew of Annie.
We talked about the names of
the boats: Katie, Annie, Baloo and Alvin. Vic and Perry reminisced
about Alvin and the Chipmunks, while Paul chimed in that "alevin"
is the third stage in the life of a salmon. The adults onboard
were impressed and maybe a little embarrassed for their less-academic
After getting splashed by a
few small waves and surviving the largest rapid on the route,
a class II called Growler, the group beached for a tuna fish
After we finished, the kids
played water games with the volunteers, and I talked with Jess
Odom, co-owner of Planet Chai, a local chai tea company, and
Big Brother to Jimmy.
Odom, 33, of Blue Lake, stopped
short of classifying Jimmy as "at-risk" but said that
since his mother is a single parent, having a male figure in
his life is a benefit. He became involved in Big Brothers Big
Sisters, he said, because when he was young, a mentor changed
his life. As a teen in Southern California, when disputes between
his parents forced him to leave home, an older man found him
on the streets and took him in.
"We're still close,"
Odom said. "He still calls me one of his sons, and I know
that I'm always welcomed at his home."
While Camille played in the
water hole with the other kids, Miriam and I spoke about their
Big Sister-Little Sister relationship while she got ready to
join them for a swim.
"We're a good match, we
have a lot in common," Miriam said. "But we haven't
spent as much time together this year; we've both had some big
transitions. Her grandparents split; she used to live with them
so now she's back and forth between their houses. Earlier this
year I was homeless for a little while. So, it's good to have
time like this together. We've actually done this trip before."
Back on the boat, the water
fights began and we shivered as the wind picked up. Camille was
determined to pull Annie's volunteer guide, Avram "Lucky"
Pearlman, out of his boat: It never happened. In the meantime,
however, both parties were drenched, and Annie was sagging a
bit as the boat filled with water.
Perry called a truce but Camille
was not satisfied.
"No, we'll never surrender!"
she said to a collective groan from the adults onboard.
When we got to shore, the kids
helped clean the boats out and carry them back up to the road.
Then we gathered in a circle once again and talked about the
highlights. Most of the kids named the rapids or the water fights
as their favorite part of the day. Camille, of course, most enjoyed
poking fun at the crew of Annie as it lost air.
Next week LEAP will take a group
of adults down the same stretch of the river and treat them to
a gourmet lunch to raise funds for the program (call 707-443-8019
to reserve a space). If enough people sign up, organizers said,
perhaps Annie will replaced. Chances are however, that she'll
remain in the memory of one young girl with a buoyant desire
for water fights and laughter.
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