North Coast Journal WeeklyIn the News
COVER STORY  |  IN THE GARDEN  |  CALENDAR

July 25, 2002

Jens Sund speaks

 Restoring a slough -- slowly

Julia Butterfly Hill deported

City drops BSS lawsuit

Bankcard division sold

A regional energy authority

Breaking ground

Joy heads Arts Council

Webcast shutting down

NEC fire remembered



Jens Sund speaks

by GEOFF S. FEIN

JENS SUND IS A PRIVATE MAN. HE SPEAKS IN A SOFT VOICE, he doesn't like talking to large numbers of people, he doesn't want his picture taken.

But Sund's life was dramatically altered by the murder of his wife Carole, his daughter Julie, and her friend, Silvina Pelosso, in February 1999. The husband and father of four was thrust into the public realm.

Sund has been on the talk show circuit; had his picture appear in newspapers throughout the country; learned how to handle throngs of media; dealt with law enforcement; and accepted the condolences of strangers.

"I was told people change once they are in the spotlight, that it could be addicting. I didn't want that," he said. "I didn't do anything great."

Through it all Sund has tried to lead a normal life -- normal, that is, for a man who lost his wife and child.

"I went through the motions of trying to do the best I could," he said last week. It was the first time he had spoken to the press in detail about the tragedy. Sund was reserved throughout the interview, which took place in the Journal's office last Friday. He nervously twisted a piece of paper during the entire conversation.

Sund said he quickly returned to work after the tragedy, but now believes he shouldn't have. He remarried last year, is raising the three children he and Carole adopted, built a new house for his family and shuttles between his daughter's basketball games across northern California and the courtroom in San Jose where the alleged killer is on trial.

He also keeps in close touch with Francis and Carole Carrington, Carole's parents.

Carole and Jens were married for 21 years, and Jens began hanging around the Carrington home when he was 17.

"I was told things would change when I remarried," he said. "But I still see [the Carringtons]. The relationship hasn't changed much."

Sund said he has done a good job moving forward, but there are challenges. Four months after the death of his wife and daughter, his two oldest children were scheduled to take a school trip to Washington, DC.

"My first reaction was `No, you can't go,'" Sund said.

But he soon realized he couldn't stop life from going on.

"It was hard to put them on the bus to the airport," Sund said. "I told the chaperone -- maybe too strongly -- to keep an eye on (them)."

He said his children still face difficulties. "It's not something they'll get through, but they are coping well."

Sund said his 13-year-old son, the youngest, is doing well, but he keeps a close eye on him. His daughter is trying to accomplish all that she can in school and sports. And the older son is globe-trotting as an exchange student, staying with relatives in El Salvador, Guatemala and Thailand. Sund says he encouraged his son to see the world.

The two older teens are brother and sister. The girl was adopted by the Sunds when she was just a year old. About four months later the Sunds adopted her older brother. All the while, the Sunds were also raising their own child, Julie.

"We went from [one to] two to three children in four months," Sund said.

Soon after, the Sunds began the process to adopt a fourth child. But complications arose and they began the paperwork for a different child. It turned out that both adoptions were approved.

"We had five children in our house, all under 6 years old," Sund said. "It was very difficult. One boy needed so much help."

Eventually the Sunds realized they couldn't take the child and he was adopted by another family.

"We had an active family, a big house," he said. "Carole was extremely active in the school system."

Sund was working for Carole's parents at Carrington Co., a development firm that restores shopping centers. While he traveled around the country, Carole took care of about 99 percent of the family's activities.

"We often joked that if something happened to me, things would go on," Sund said. "When (Carole) disappeared, things fell apart. Everything stopped at home."

-- -- --

Carole, Julie and Silvina left home on Feb. 12, 1999. They flew from Eureka to San Francisco, rented a car and drove to Merced for Julie's cheerleading competition the next day. The three were going to spend a day in Yosemite before flying back to San Francisco to meet Jens. They never made it.

Jens continued on to Arizona where the couple's three adopted children were staying with relatives. When Jens hadn't heard from his family he reported them missing.

Along with his in-laws, he began searching Yosemite for Carole, Julie and Silvina.

"We started out very naively," Sund said, unsure of how to proceed.

Law enforcement officials in the area were slow to get involved, thinking that Carole's disappearance was more a domestic dispute than foul play. Sund was questioned by the FBI and even took a lie-detector test

So Sund and his family in Modesto began posting flyers from the Central Valley to the foot of the Sierras with the missing trio's pictures. His brother-in-law searched the region from a private plane. Eventually police and the FBI became involved, and soon there were more than 120 law enforcement agents combing the mountains.

After the first week, FBI agents told Sund the situation wasn't looking good. There had been no ransom notes, no phone calls.

Three weeks into the search Jens decided to return home. His children had already gone back to school.

Carole's parents offered a $250,000 reward for the safe return of their daughter, granddaughter and Silvina. Additionally, a $50,000 reward was established for Carole's rental car, which was also missing.

"People really began looking for the car," Sund said.

One month after their disappearance, the rental car was discovered off Highway 108 in Tuolumne County. Carole's and Silvina's bodies were found in the burned-out car. Julie's body was found near a remote lake.

Sund said it may sound strange, but he felt relieved. "But it doesn't make it any easier," he said.

-- -- --

Cary Stayner has been charged with murder. But his initial arrest was in July, 1999, for killing naturalist Joie Armstrong, who was found beheaded in Yosemite. Stayner, a handyman at the Cedar Lodge in El Portal, the same lodge where Carole, Julie and Silvina had stayed, eventually admitted to killing them.

Stayner has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. He is already serving a federal life sentence for Armstrong's murder, which occurred five months after the first killings.

Although Stayner has admitted his guilt, Sund is keenly aware that the wheels of justice are very slow. If Stayner is sentenced to death, Sund expects it could take 12 years or more before the man responsible for wreaking havoc on his family is executed.

"Yeah, it's frustrating," Sund said. "If he's willing to voluntarily take his punishment, (we) may see it sooner."

Stayner's trial began July 15. A few days later, Jens Sund testified. It was the first time he had been in the same room with the man responsible for his wife's death. But Sund never looked at Stayner.

Sund said it wasn't difficult to testify; he was ready for it, he wanted to get it done. Still, reliving that fateful day in 1999 was harder than Sund had thought.

"I feel we are in a war down there," he said, referring to the courtroom.

What was difficult was hearing Stayner's taped admission. Although Sund believes it's important to see the trial through to the end, he couldn't listen to the testimony.

"I didn't want to hear the confession," Sund said. "(Stayner) spilled his guts to the FBI."

Sund has also kept the details of the crime from his three children.

Whenever he steps outside the courthouse, he is confronted by the media circus.

"You can't prepare for something like that," he said.

But reporters and news crews have respected his privacy, Sund said.

Early on in the investigation into the disappearance, Sund and his in-laws contacted the media for help.

By the fourth day of the search, Jens Sund made himself fully accessible to the media, granting upwards of 25 interviews a day.

"The media treated us wonderfully," he said.

His first interview, with Diane Sawyer, was one of the toughest.

"(She) asked me if the FBI had questioned me -- what does it feel like to be a suspect," Sund said. "I didn't expect that."

Sund also appeared on ABC's 20/20, Oprah and America's Most Wanted.

Because Carole, Julie and Silvina had last been seen near Modesto, which has a large Hispanic population, Sund also did a Spanish language program that reached 24 million people.

Sund even received a call from Mark Klass, the father of Polly Klass, the Petaluma girl who was taken from her mother's home and murdered in 1993.

He told Sund never to think the worst until you know for certain.

But the interviews and appearances stopped once the remains of Carole and Julie Sund and Silvina Pelosso were found.

"I didn't want to do any more (interviews)," Sund said. "I wanted to go back to being anonymous in Eureka."

Since the arrest of Stayner, two books have been written about the murders.

It wasn't hard for Sund to read either one.

"It wasn't difficult; I've already been through it," he said.


Restoring a slough -- slowly

Brackish ponds, trails, bird blinds, and a huge new saltwater marsh/mudflat are what the public can expect when the city of Arcata finishes improving and restoring the McDaniel Slough, a 240-acre tract directly west of the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary.

"To me it looks like a project that meets a lot of needs that the city has," Arcata Mayor Jim Test said.

While the City Council approved the project last week, getting it off the ground, much less finishing it, will be easier said than done. Multiple permits must be obtained from various state and federal agencies -- which means the project won't be completed anytime soon.

Mark Andre, deputy director of the city's Environmental Services Department, said permits will be required from "every single agency I've ever dealt with in my entire life, probably." That comment led Councilmember Bob Ornelas to wonder "if I'll be alive at least to walk the project when its done."

The $1.5 million project is being funded, in part, by a grant from the California Coastal Conservancy.

Hiking trails planned for the new land would increase the existing marsh trail network by one-third and possibly even more as time goes on. Some have criticized the plan for not providing enough public access. Officials cautioned, however, that the impact to the environment will increase with increased use.

"Between all the user groups and the wildlife we'll have to work out a compromise," said Melissa Bukosky of the California Department of Fish and Game, which actually owns a majority of the land. Seasonal bird hunting will be allowed on the state's portion of the property.

The project would restore a variety of habitats, including the riparian zone around Janes Creek, mud flats and salt marshes (which typically harbor a large diversity of plant and animal species).

Habitats would be created by lining McDaniel Slough with new dikes, deepening existing tidal channels, and piercing three small gaps in an existing dike that would allow for some tidal action.

Other proposed improvements would expand and streamline wastewater treatment at the marsh. The plan proposes three additional treatment ponds, including a "true brackish pond," complete with roosting islands, which would discharge into McDaniel Slough.

The additional ponds, beyond providing "a lot more bang for habitat," as the report put it, would reduce the city's chlorine use by around 50,000 gallons a year. They would also reduce the need for pumping, which consumes money and energy.

"I think that it's a very good design for making the waste treatment in Arcata more efficient and natural," Bukosky said.

-- by Andrew Edwards


Julia Butterfly Hill deported

Environmental activist Julia Butterfly Hill was deported from Ecuador last week after her arrest there for protesting a planned oil pipeline that would cut through an Andean forest.

Hill, along with seven other activists from South America, was arrested July 16 outside the offices of Occidental Petroleum in Quito, Ecuador. Charges against the seven other activists were dropped.

Hill returned to Los Angeles where she participated in a protest at Occidental Petroleum's offices.

Occidental is part of OCP Ecuador, an oil association building a 300-mile pipeline that will run from oil fields in the Amazon Basin to Esmeraldas, a Pacific Coast port.

The pipeline will cut through the Mindo-Nambillo Reserve rainforest. The area supports about 500 species of birds and is a tourist destination.

Once completed, the pipeline is anticipated to carry 400,000 to 850,000 barrels of crude oil per day.

Occidental's $1 billion project will cause irreparable harm to the rainforest, South American environmentalists said.

Environmentalists fear that the project could follow the path of a state-owned crude oil pipeline that has leaked upwards of 150,000 barrels of oil into the jungle.

In March, OCP lost its environmental license after causing damage near Mindo-Nambillo. The company's license was reinstated in May after Ecuador's environment ministry said damage near the forest and bird sanctuary had been mitigated.

Ecuadoran leaders say the new pipeline will lift the country out of its economic slump, provide 50,000 jobs and as much as $2.5 billion in foreign investments within a few years.

Ecuador produces about 400,000 barrels of crude oil per day, making oil the nation's largest export.

OCP is a consortium made up of Alberta Energy Co. Ltd., Agip Petroleum, Kerr-McGee, Occidental Petroleum, Spain's Repsol-YPF and Argentina's Perez Companc.

-- by Geoff S. Fein


City drops BSS lawsuit

The city of Arcata announced last Friday that it is abandoning its legal effort to force Humboldt State University to study in more detail the potential environmental effects of the planned Behavioral and Social Sciences Building.

In a closed session the previous week, the city council unanimously voted to drop its appeal of a court ruling in April that rejected the city's lawsuit over the structure. That ruling allowed construction of the 95-foot-tall building, dubbed BSS, to go forward.

The council made its decision after lengthy personal meetings with new HSU President Rollin Richmond, who met individually with council and community members.

Richmond gave assurances that he would look for ways to address community concerns, but did not offer any compromises regarding changes to the building's location or size.



Bankcard division sold

Humboldt Bankcorp is selling its merchant credit card services operation to a Tennessee-based company for $34 million. The 81 jobs in that division will remain in Eureka, according to both the buyer and seller.

The transaction involves transferring 13,000 Humboldt Bancorp merchant-clients to the buyer, iPayment Holdings Inc., which currently serves 60,000 similar clients.

The money from the sale will be used to purchase back more stock, a move that lowers the number of shares in circulation and increases earnings per share.

The stock of Humboldt Bancorp, which trades on the NASDAQ, fluctuated from a low of around $7 following the post-Sept. 11 market plunge to a high of $17.25. Tuesday the stock was trading at $16.20 per share.

In addition, proceeds from the sale will be used to strengthen the ability of Humboldt Bancorp to purchase additional banks in the future.

"We've made no secret that we intend to continue to grow through acquisition," said Humboldt Bank President Paul Ziegler.

Ziegler said that in addition to the 81 local workers, about 150 other employees remain at the Highway 101 facility in north Eureka. Ziegler and about 20 employees in the lending department have returned to Humboldt Bank's downtown branch at 5th and H streets.


A regional energy authority

Something new is coming to Humboldt County, and California for that matter: a "regional energy authority" that will coordinate local conservation measures aimed at improving energy efficiency.

The authority, one of the first of its kind in the country, will be a completely new county agency, funded initially by a $450,000 grant from the state Public Utilities Commission. The source of the money is a surcharge on utility bills for efficiency projects and low-income assistance.

"There is much to do" to put the authority together, said 3rd District Supervisor John Woolley, the county representative to the Humboldt Energy Task Force, a coalition of local government officials which is facilitating the formation of the authority. "We are just getting ready to deal with the money; it came through so unexpectedly."

The nuts and bolts of the authority have yet to be worked out, but the structure will probably be a joint-powers agreement between the county and whatever cities choose to sign on, with each governing body appointing a representative to the board of directors. The membership would likely be the same as the already existing Humboldt Energy Task Force, composed of governmental officials.

The authority, scheduled to be fully established this year and begin work early next year, was made possible by legislation from 1984 authorizing regional and local agencies to work on energy issues locally.

It was a "synergistic vision of local government, but [it] never happened," said Lindsey McWilliams, a county staffer involved with the task force. "It's just taken 18 years for it to come back around again."

The first step towards the authority was taken in 1999 when Arcata established a Community Energy Authority to deal with local energy issues, with authority from the same 1984 legislation.

"Very quickly we realized that a lot of people wanted this, and not just in Arcata," said Arcata City Council member Connie Stewart, who was mayor of Arcata at the time and has been instrumental in the creation of the new authority.

This realization led the county and the cities of Eureka, Arcata, Rio Dell, Ferndale and Blue Lake to establish the task force.

Then came the rolling blackouts and record utility price spikes of the summer of 2001. While the state concentrated on reducing use, mainly in large metropolitan areas like the Bay Area, Los Angeles and the sweltering cities of the Central Valley, rural businesses in some areas were driven out of business by the massive increase in energy costs.

Along with those costs came increased energy tax revenues, and the task force decided to apply to the PUC for a grant to start an office of energy efficiency. The aim was to get a little return on the energy efficiency surcharges that are charged statewide but whose benefits had never been felt locally.

"A lot of this money goes to bigger cities and bigger counties," said Patrick Stoner of the Local Government Commission, a Sacramento nonprofit that is facilitating the funding of the authority. "One of the goals was to reach people who haven't been reached in the past."

-- by Andrew Edwards


Joyce Plath standing next to construction equipmentBreaking ground

At right, Architect Joyce Plath in front of the proposed site of the Stillman building, on the long-vacant northwest corner of Arcata Plaza. The new building will house retail and office space. It was acquired by Alex Stillman, a local property developer, in December 2000, and ground was finally broken last week. The building would replace the lot that has been there since the Croghan building burned in 1979.

 

 



Joy heads Arts Council

Guy Joy has been named executive director of the Humboldt Arts Council and the Morris Graves Museum of Art.

Following a national search and interviews with a series of candidates, the head of the Humboldt Arts Council Board, Sally Arnot, announced Joy's hiring last week. He had served as interim director of the council since April, when former director Debbie Goodwin left to work for Humboldt State University's Department of Advancement. Joy had previously served as the council's operations manager.

With his jaunty French beret, Guy Joy looks like what he is -- an artist.

"It's a dream come true for me," said Joy, the walls of whose office display a number of his paintings. "I'm excited to be able to bring my perspective as an artist and business professional, to provide strong advocacy for all arts disciplines. We are entering a new era, where the arts will increasingly be viewed as an important, integral part of the quality of everyone's life."

Joy is a graduate of California College of Arts and Crafts. Prior to moving to Humboldt he held several administrative positions, including director of marketing and public relations for the University of California at Berkeley, tourism executive for the Lake Tahoe Visitors Bureau and head of marketing and creative services for Sunset magazine.



Webcast shutting down

When it first started in 1996, KHUM (104.3 FM and 104.7 FM) was one of the first stations in the country to broadcast simultaneously on the air and the Internet. It was also one of the most successful (Broadcast America, a now defunct web-radio clearinghouse, named KHUM its most popular station with over 10,000 people listening simultaneously). But after nearly seven years on the Internet, the webcast is being shut down, driven out by new copyright regulations.

"We provided the stream to the world as a public service," said Cliff Berkowitz, KHUM's vice-president for programming, in a press release. "We don't earn a dime from the webcast; in fact it costs us around $500 a month to stream the audio."

The change is a result of a decision by the U.S. Copyright Office last week to impose a royalty fee of $.0007 per song per listener -- something the record industry had been lobbying for.

While the fee might not sound like much, it could add up to an expense to KHUM of thousands of dollars a month. The fee is retroactive to 1998, a nearly unenforceable clause -- but enough to scare people off the Internet.

"If we just had to pay for our streams now it would be tight," said Berkowitz, "but with it retroactive to `98 its impossible."

He went on to say the ruling was mainly a control issue on the part of the record companies, represented by the Recording Industry Association of America, which is lumping Internet radio with filesharing services like Napster.

"We are confused by the RIAA's determination to get the Copyright Office to impose fees for webcasts. It has always been our understanding that these webcasts are also good for recording artists by exposing their music to new people around the world," Berkowitz said. The decision, he added, means "there is nothing more we can do but pull the plug."

KHUM's final day of Internet broadcast will be July 31st. The National Association of Broadcasters and several large radio groups have filed an appeal.



NEC fire remembered

A year ago this Thursday, July 25, a fire gutted the offices of the Northcoast Environmental Center, along with the bar and paint store that stood on either side. In commemoration, the NEC is holding a ceremony at 5 p.m. on the spot where the building once stood, the corner of I and 9th streets in Arcata.

"We're just going to commemorate and be there with some punch and some goodies, and a minimal amount of speechifying," said executive director Tim McKay.

The group is in the process for raising funds for a new structure to be built on the same site. The new building would be two stories tall, with apartments on top. It would expand the organization's current floor space by about 10,000 square-feet, and cost about $1 million -- about a third of which has already been raised.

"It's basically a larger rebuild, with the addition of some income rental property," said McKay, "So we don't anticipate any huge problems from the city."



In action before the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors Tuesday, July 23:

  • About 20 protesters asked county supervisors to use Proposition 40 funds to purchase old-growth forest in the Mattole River watershed. The area, which contains tracts of virgin Douglas fir, is owned by the Pacific Lumber Co. and is currently being logged. Proposition 40 funds can be used to purchase wilderness and open space areas and wildlife habitats.
  • The county Department of Health and Human Services is seeking $66,000 in federal funding to strengthen emergency response services in the event of a local bioterrrorism attack.
  • County health officials are also trying to obtain $370,000 in federal funds to modernize the county's public health lab. The lab is slated to be one of eight labs in the state designed to combat bioterrorism.
  • The county has received a $40,000 state grant to decrease incidences of family violence and expand prevention efforts.


The Eureka City Council saw the following activity last week:

  • The city has received a California Coastal Conservancy Grant of $1.5 million for construction of phase two of the Boardwalk project between C and B streets. Eureka has received about $2 million in grants for the waterfront project (The total cost is double that). Design work should be completed by the end of the year.
  • The council has directed city staff to implement what is known as the Palco Marsh project, near the Bayshore Mall. The project is part of a larger effort aimed at enhancing marsh environments in the city. Construction is anticipated to begin next summer and should be completed by the fall.
  • The city will soon be taking bids for construction of a 20,000-square-foot skateboard park at Cooper Gulch. Although cost estimates are more than anticipated, city officials hope to award a construction contract by September.
  • Wahlund Construction, Inc. of Eureka was awarded a $553,622 contract to relocate and replace sewer mains on N Street from 5th to 14th streets; on 18th Street between Dean Street and Harrison Avenue; and on K Street between 7th and 8th streets.

 


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