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August 26, 1999

 

Bank withdraws offer

Video slots unconstitutional

A board of a different face

Wildlife watch

More time to comment

Bird soars off list

Near top of the world, ma



Bank withdraws offer

After an exchange of sharply worded letters this summer, Humboldt Bancorp is withdrawing its offer to buy Six Rivers National Bank.

"We hereby notify you that all outstanding offers from our instititution to yours are revoked, effective at 5 p.m., Aug. 31, 1999," wrote Theodore Mason, president and chief executive officer of Humboldt Bancorp, the parent corporation of Humboldt Bank, in a letter to Six Rivers directors Aug. 20.

In its July 8 letter, Humboldt offered 1.2857 shares of Humboldt Bancorp for each share of Six Rivers stock, considerably less than it offered two years ago in a previous hostile takeover attempt, according to one local stockbroker.

Last fall a series of loans made to North Coast Hardwoods Inc. of Arcata, which filed bankruptcy in 1997, forced Six Rivers National Bank to write off $1.1 million in bad debt and caused its stock value to drop. The bank has since tightened lending procedures and the stock price has stabilized.

In a letter of July 28, Six Rivers President Michael Martinez did not directly reject Humboldt's offer but said it was "not an enhanced offer."

"The price of Six Rivers' (stock) still reflects stockholder discontent. It's not a good time to sell a company," said a stockholder who did not wish to be named.

"A few years ago Humboldt offered more than $20 a share. With stock splits and dividends, that would be about $36 today. Humboldt's offer was considerably less than what they turned down before," he said.

The two rival banks were formed in 1989 after the only other locally owned bank, Bank of Loleta, was purchased by U.S. Bank.



Video slots unconstitutional

Federal authorities said Monday they were uncertain whether or when they would move against the popular video slots machines used in 40 Indian casinos throughout the state including several in Humboldt County.

In a 6-1 ruling, the state Supreme Court Monday struck down Proposition 5, approved by 63 percent of the voters last November, which allowed expansion of legalized gambling on Indian reservations.

Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar wrote in the majority opinion that the initiative violates the 1984 state constitutional amendment that established the state lottery. The amendment prohibited Nevada-style casinos in California.

"We're looking at the decision to evaluate what we're going to do next," said Matt Jacobs, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Francisco. Federal authorities have jurisdiction over Indian gambling casinos.

The ruling increased the possibility that voters will again face another ballot measure this time to transform Proposition 5 into a constitutional amendment on the March 2000 ballot.

Despite talk of another costly initiative drive from some Southern California tribes, local tribes appeared unfazed by the court ruling.

"We are confident there will be a constitutional solution in (the) year 2000 that will ensure continued Indian gaming in California," said Carol Ervin, chairwoman for the Trinidad Rancheria, in an issued statement.

Gov. Gray Davis pledged his support Monday to find a common ground that is "constitutionally acceptable," realizing the industry employs about 16,000 Californians, he said in an issued statement.



A board of a different face

A field of five candidates seek to fill two seats left vacant on the McKinleyville Community Services District by long-time board members.

The election is Nov. 2 and the following month the new board members minus Ben Shepherd and Joe Walund will begin service.

Shepherd and Walund, who have served a combined 36 years on the board during a time of explosive growth, did not file for re-election by the Aug. 6 deadline.

"I decided not to run a while ago," Shepherd said. "I came to the decision about six months ago, but I just kept it quiet."

Shepherd is calling it quits after 20 years on the board. "I felt that I had accomplished all the established goals I had set out to fulfill," he said.

Walund's decision mirrors that of Shepherd.

"After 16 years, I feel I've helped and served the community," he said. "(McKinleyville's) been good to me, and (I) just feel that it's time for me to move on."

Among the board's accomplishments during their terms are the development of recreational facilities and programs for the community, as well as the new public library.

"I didn't do it on my own," said Shepherd, who helped organized the advisory committee, Friends of the McKinleyville Library. "A lot of people were involved in making it happen."

While some details remain unresolved, Shepherd said the district has forged an agreement among community sports groups to form a public partnership for the area's next project a community sports field.

Walund said one of the important functions for the new board members will be to maintain what facilities have been implemented so far.

"There'll always be a need for new upgrades and expansion of existing resources, like water storage and sewage facilities," he said. "They need to always be looking ahead."

The 7,800 registered voters in McKinleyville are eligible to vote for the five hopefuls. They are Jeff Driver, a Northcoast Auto Inc. auto technician; California Lifestyles Realty agent Penny Elsbusch; the Rev. Javan Reid of the Grace Good Shepherd Church; semi-retired real estate broker James Thomas; and J. Paul Trepanier, owner of McKinleyville Office Supply.

Not up for re-election are Jill Geist, Don Harling and Ordell Murphy.


Wildlife watch

One 6-year-old girl who got separated from family members may have learned the lesson of her life before school started.

The unsuspecting hiker surprised an elk during rutting season at Prairie Creek State Park two weeks ago, and the elk charged her off the Brown Creek Trail between the Big Tree Wayside and the Cal Barrel Road turnoff, Redwood National and State Parks officials said. She rolled up into a ball, receiving minor scrapes on her back.

No one was seriously hurt, parks spokeswoman Kelly Cahill confirmed.

"She'll never forget that experience," Cahill said.

The park service is reminding visitors to stay clear of wild animals such as elk and bear, especially in the next two months during elk rutting season. The females and calves tend to wander into commonly used visitor areas, while the males tend to spar with each other. Visitors are advised to avoid getting in the middle of these natural occurrences, the park service warns.

"They are interesting displays visitors want to see, but they don't want to get too close," Cahill said.

A year ago, a Crescent City police officer riding a mountain bike on Davison Road near Gold Bluffs Beach had to make a 360-degree turn for his life when an elk herd charged him.

Visitors are also urged to refrain from feeding bears, as they become habituated to the handouts and return for more. If a bear approaches you, stand up, wave your arms and shout. The bear will most often walk away. If you feel threatened, walk away. Do not run.



More time to comment

Those wishing to express their views regarding public access to the Headwaters Forest Reserve have more time.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management extended the public comment period to Sept. 3 on the environmental assessment report, BLM Arcata Field Manager Lynda Roush said in a statement.

The report highlights the proposed development of the trailhead parking areas and the extent visitors may use the new, high-profile park bought by the federal and state governments from Pacific Lumber Co. in March.

The document is available for review at the BLM Arcata office, 1695 Heindon Road, or call 825-2300 to receive a copy in the mail



Bird soars off list

Seen in Humboldt County snatching pigeons out of the sky, the peregrine falcon was removed from the endangered species list last week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced.

The numbers for the world's fastest bird, capable of traveling 200 mph, have taken off over the last 30 years in a return of survival deemed a remarkable success story of federal protection.

In 1970, the Fish and Wildlife Service listed the peregrine falcon as endangered under the Endangered Species Conservation Act of 1969, the predecessor of the current law.

The federal agency points to pesticides such as DDT as the culprit in the sharp decline. The pesticide caused the raptors to lay thin-shelled eggs, dwindling their numbers to a low of 324 nesting pairs in North America by 1975. They had completely disappeared on the East Coast in the early 1970s.

Once the 1972 ban on DDT and ambitious captive breeding programs caught on, the North American population rebounded to 1,650 breeding pairs 167 in California.

The predatory bird joins the southeastern population of the brown pelican, the American alligator and the gray whale as graduates of the endangered species list. The bald eagle is also due for delisting by the end of the year.

The peregrine will continue to be protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which prohibits the taking, killing, possession, transportation and importation of migratory birds, the federal agency added.

The bird's recovery was the cover story in the Feb. 18 edition of the North Coast Journal.



Near top of the world, ma

Just in time for its first year-round school year, Humboldt State University was ranked by U.S. News and World Report among the nation's top regional universities in the West. This is the sixth such honor since 1993 for HSU.

In the 2000 edition of the "America's Best Colleges" guidebook released Friday, the magazine rated the state college fourth of public institutions, tied with Sonoma State University. California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, took the highest honor for the third straight year.

Overall, HSU rated 21st among all 106 universities that fit the category of regional campuses located in the western U.S.

To complete the ranking, the publisher groups the nation's more than 1,400 four-year accredited colleges and universities by mission and region.

Complete rankings are available from the magazine's Web site at www.usnews.com


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