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Sept. 23, 2004
T H E
W E E K L Y W R A P
ETHICS, SHMETHICS: At the recommendation of the Grand Jury, the Humboldt
County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday directed county staff
to develop a draft code of ethics that would help guide the conduct
of elected officials. The vote was 4-1, with Supervisor Roger
Rodoni dissenting. "A code of ethics, as far as I'm concerned,
is not worth the paper it's written on," Rodoni said. "We
go by the law. When we get away from that, I think we're wandering
aimlessly." In a short speech, the supervisor spoke disparagingly
of the Grand Jury's treatment of accused Fortuna City Councilmember
Debi August, but did not mention his own role in the drafting
of the Grand Jury's recommendation: His vote last year against
outside legal help for the District Attorney's lawsuit against
the Pacific Lumber Co., which he made despite the fact that he
leases a 9,000-acre ranch from the company for $350 per month,
was cited by the Grand Jury in arguing for the need for ethics
codes. Several local city governments have also responded to
the Grand Jury's recommendation. Eureka has said it will consider
the matter, while Blue Lake and Ferndale have both gone on record
as saying they will not.
SORRY, DEBI: Fortuna City Attorney David Tranberg told the
City Council on Monday that no, the city could not help pay for
Councilmember Debi August's legal costs. The council had asked
Tranberg last week if some public funds might be available. August
was accused by the Grand Jury of conflict of interest for representing
a developer before the city's Planning Commission. Her case is
pending in civil court.
STUDENTS TO PROTEST SINGER: Humboldt State
students are organizing a protest against a reggae singer who
uses homophobic references in his music. Capleton, as he is known,
has been dubbed as a "reggae superstar" by HSU Associated
Students, the sponsors of the concert. The singer has received
heat lately for his lyrics that refer to burning and murdering
gays, and was recently dropped from the lineup of a reggae festival
in San Francisco because of the controversy. (His song, "Bun
Out Di Chi Chi," for instance, translates as "burn
out the queer.") The concert is scheduled to take place
at 9 p.m. in HSU's Kate Buchanan Room, on Friday, Oct. 1.
SHEETS SUES: Gloria Albin Sheets, the former deputy district
attorney who ran as a replacement candidate in the Paul Gallegos
recall attempt last spring, has filed a lawsuit against the DA's
office. In the suit, Albin Sheets alleges that she was a victim
of discrimination -- she said she was laid off from her job shortly
after filing a Workers' Compensation claim on injuries she says
she received on the job. Reached at her home Tuesday, Albin Sheets
declined to comment on the specifics of the case. "I think
it's unprofessional and unethical to try cases in the press,"
she said. "It's something that has gone on way too much
since Gallegos took office." Late last month, DA Investigator
Christine Cook filed a suit against the office alleging racial
and sexual discrimination.
SANTANA CONVICTED: Eureka resident
Abraham Dejesus Santana, 31, pleaded guilty Sept. 15 to the murder
of his wife, Sandra Lynn Santana, in April. Judge Christopher
Wilson gave Santana a sentence of 26 years to life. Sandra Santana,
who was pregnant at the time of her death, was a mother of three
small children, all of whom were left alone with their mother's
lifeless body for several hours before relatives discovered what
had taken place.
NEW CONSERVANCY FORMED:
Activists from local environmental
groups announced last week that they are forming a new nonprofit
-- the Siskiyou Land Conservancy -- to aid in the effort to preserve
land in Humboldt, Del Norte, Siskiyou and Trinity counties. Greg
King, executive director of the Smith River Project and the new
conservancy's president, said that the organization is designed
to complement existing groups, such as the North Coast Regional
Land Trust, by providing a cheaper and more streamlined alternative
for property owners who wish to see their lands protected. "We
hope to raise private and foundation money, and we're going to
rely on volunteers for our workload," he said.
LOG ON, FIND FIDO: The Humboldt County Animal Shelter in McKinleyville
launched a new Web site this week to help speed the process of
reuniting lost pets with owners and finding homes for abandoned
animals. On www.petharbor.com, potential owners can peruse the
photos of adoptable cats and dogs, and owners of missing pets
can look over the found-animal section of the site. If no luck
is had locating either the perfect pooch or a missing pet, the
user can enter the animal's breed, size, color, and age into
the database. When a match is found, an e-mail will be sent to
the owner. Animal Control Officer Steve Knight said that the
new online system has increased the animal adoption and retrieval
rate of other facilities three- to four-fold. The McKinleyville
shelter is the most recent addition to the search site, which
includes facilities from Sacramento, Sonoma County and Mendocino
County. Animals at the McKinleyville site are currently held
in temporary outdoor kennels while the new shelter is under construction.
DUDE, LOCK YOUR LOCKER: Close to a
pound of marijuana was found in the locker of a 15-year-old student
at McKinleyville High School on Monday, the Sheriff's Department
reported. McKinleyville High's principal, David Lonn, who was
alerted by a custodian that a locker was unlocked, discovered
the pot. Lonn said he opened the locker to make sure nothing
was missing and found six bags of marijuana, weighing a total
of 0.83 pounds. The Humboldt County Sheriff's Department said
that the street value of a pound of marijuana can be worth as
much as $3,500, but that price is dependent upon the quality
of the drug. Lonn said that the student's stash did not appear
to be of good quality, consisting mainly of marijuana leaves
that looked similar to "bags of green tea." The student
was arrested, cited for possession and intent to sell marijuana
and was released to his or her parents. Lonn declined to say
whether or not the student would be expelled.
EXPLOSION WITNESS ARRESTED: A parolee and son
of a former mayor who was wanted for questioning following a
Fortuna motel explosion was on his way to San Quentin Tuesday
after turning himself in to police on Sept. 16. James Nyberg,
33, son of Phil Nyberg -- Fortuna's mayor from 1996-2002 -- was
seen leaving the National 9 Inn immediately after the Sept. 11
blast that killed Charles Douthitt, 41, of Fortuna, police said.
The younger Nyberg, who was a friend of the deceased man, was
arrested on a parole violation. Fortuna police said that he had
not been questioned by law enforcement because he was awaiting
advice of an attorney. Police said that an "explosive device"
was the cause of the blast but declined to release further details.
EUREKA KMART CHANGES HANDS: Eureka's "Big
K" Kmart store has a new landlord. Eureka Mart LLC, an Illinois-based
company, recently sold the large lot on the south end of Eureka
that has been the store's home for the last 15 years to the Sebanc
Family Trust. The price for the land was $3.9 million. The sale
shouldn't affect operations at the site -- Kmart has a lease
on the property that doesn't expire until 2013. Sebanc Family
Trust could not be reached for comment.
MORE DEAD BIRDS: Humboldt County
Vector Officer Brent Whitener reports that two more dead birds
infected by the West Nile virus have been found locally. An infected
blue jay was found in north Arcata Aug. 24; a California towhee,
a relative of the sparrow, was found at South Fork High in Miranda
Aug. 31. While Humboldt has yet to have a horse or a human come
down with the virus, California has the most cases nationally
with 538, and 15 people have died in the state from the virus,
including a Tehama County resident last Tuesday. "It's not
just Los Angeles anymore," said Whitener, noting that culex
mosquitoes, which carry the virus, make up about 10 percent of
the mosquito population. Whitener said the county will continue
pursuing "the wily mosquitoes" through selective eradication.
The county also requests that citizens finding a dead bird call
877-WNV-BIRD (877-968-2473) to file a report.
PROTESTS CONTINUE: Earth First!
activists continue blocking roads and otherwise resisting Pacific
Lumber Co.'s attempts to log in the Mattole and Grizzly Creek
areas, according to activist Naomi Wagner. An "action training
camp" last week brought some 50 activists from places as
far as Israel, Brazil and Belgium, Wagner said. Meanwhile, five
other activists were in Humboldt County Superior Court on charges
stemming from a protest earlier this month in the Fox Camp Gate
area of the Mattole, where protesters reportedly clashed with
Pacific Lumber employees. Two of the five had their charges dismissed,
Wagner said, while two were sentenced to jail time and one is
scheduled to go to trial. Pacific Lumber declined to comment
on the protests.
TRASHY ART: A tiled trash receptacle,
the latest public mosaic by Arcata's "Tile Lady," Laurel
Skye (see Journal story, "The
Tile Lady" Feb. 7, 2002), was put in place last week
by Arcata Parks Superintendent Dan Diemer (right) and Parks Department
worker Fred Lomeli, at the corner of Ninth and H streets on the
Arcata Plaza. Skye, who calls the work "trashy art,"
said, "It will add a touch of brightness and make a good
statement on what is known as kind of a derelict corner."
[photo at right]
CONFUSION HILL COPTERS: If the whirring of helicopters above your Southern
Humboldt home is making you paranoid, relax. The choppers are
part of a construction effort to bypass the habitually hazardous,
landslide prone stretch of U.S. Highway 101 at Confusion Hill.
Starting Monday and continuing through October, helicopters will
bring Caltrans crews to otherwise inaccessible sites along the
Eel River to scout out locations for two proposed bridges, according
to a Caltrans statement. Confusion Hill has been the source for
ongoing rainy-weather traffic troubles, resulting in 10 road
closures last winter. The Federal Highway Administration approved
$65 million in funding to relocate the 1.5-mile stretch of the
highway, construction of which is slated for completion in 2008.
Health Project responds to growing need
For a health advocacy organization,
growth is good and bad. Take the Humboldt Community Breast Health
Project, for instance. In the seven years since its creation
by a handful of women, the grass roots group has burgeoned to
include 125 volunteers, moved to a spacious new office across
from the Arcata Co-op, hired a part-time director and attained
official nonprofit status.
That's the bad part. Breast
cancer is the No. 1 diagnosed cancer in Humboldt County, and
statistics collected by the state Department of Health Services
show Humboldt ranks No. 1 in the state in breast cancer deaths.
"We wish the Breast Health
Project could go away," said Julie Ohnemus, M.D., a family
practitioner at NorthCountry Clinic in Arcata and breast cancer
survivor, who founded the project. "It would be a dream
to see something like this fold and not be needed anymore. But
we have to deal with reality. It's here, and we need to work
From 2000 through 2002, an average
of 27 Humboldt County women died each year of breast cancer,
according to the state statistics, the most recent available.
Of course, those numbers themselves are low compared to those
of other, larger, counties. But considering the size of the population,
our numbers put Humboldt in the unenviable position of having
the highest age-adjusted mortality rate in the state.
But the situation may not be
as dire as it sounds, said Dr. Ann Lindsay, public health officer
for Humboldt County.
"The problem [statistically]
is that the numbers are small," Lindsay said. A variation
of one or two deaths in either direction could change our ranking
considerably. "It doesn't mean we don't have to pay attention,
but it's not as alarming as it might seem," she said.
The Breast Health Project, and
local health care providers, are paying attention.
Humboldt County's breast cancer
rate could be due to any number of factors, Ohnemus said. The
fact that we live in a rural area may affect the speed at which
women seek care. Smoking may play a role. The environment may
affect women's health. Hispanic women tend to develop breast
cancer earlier in life. And Native Americans may deal differently
with the disease; they tend not to talk about their bodies as
openly, for instance, Ohnemus said.
"There are some Indian
cultures that don't even have a word for cancer," she said.
"They're going to enter late into the system and be further
into the disease."
Ohnemus herself was diagnosed
with breast cancer eight years ago at age 36. While getting part
of her treatment in Palo Alto, she discovered that the city had
a breast cancer support group and information center that she
and others found invaluable. "If I live," she vowed,
"I'm going to create the same thing in Humboldt County."
The Breast Health Project thus
started around Ohnemus' kitchen table in Westhaven. Its free
services now include acting as a clearinghouse for information
on breast cancer and breast health, and providing support and
advocacy for those newly diagnosed and those living with breast
Through a grant from the Dallas-based
Susan G. Komen Foundation, the group will work with United Indian
Health Services at Potawot Village on issues of breast health
among Indian women.
The group also got a grant for
a research project involving the ways in which women talk to
their doctors about breast cancer. In "consultation planning,"
a process developed at the University of California-San Francisco,
trained volunteers meet with patients before a medical appointment
and help them define their concerns and questions. A written
form with the information is sent to the physician so that he
or she can better understand what the patient needs.
And the organization has branched
out to offer services to women with gynecologic cancers -- cancers
of the uterus, cervix, ovaries, etc.
All of this takes money, of
course, and -- since it doesn't charge for services and the demand
is considerable -- the group has launched new fund-raising efforts.
It is selling "Amazon warrior" earrings by Holly Yashi
and, on weekends this month and through October, several local
businesses are donating 10 percent of their proceeds to the project.
The Breast Health Project is
located at 987 Eighth St. in Arcata, 825-8345 or toll-free at
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