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Oct. 7, 2004
|H U M B O
L D T P E O P
Local couple raises money for school
T H E
W E E K L Y W R A P
IT IN: Eureka City Council candidate
Rex Bohn took in a few thousand dollars more than his opponent,
incumbent Chris Kerrigan, as of Sept. 30, according to campaign
finance statements filed Tuesday. Bohn's campaign raised $70,000,
including nearly $52,000 in cash, a $4,900 loan to himself and
more than $13,000 in nonmonetary contributions such as raffle
items. Kerrigan, meanwhile, brought in $43,000 in cash and $8,000
in nonmonetary gifts, for a total of about $51,400. Among Bohn's
top givers: developer Steve Strombeck ($1,705), the Mercer-Fraser
Co. ($1,700), Mary Schmidbauer of Schmidbauer Lumber ($1,250),
and Reggie Cross of Redwood Marine, Linda Olson of RAO Construction,
Larry Debeni of Coastal Care Centers, Mad River Lumber, and Ted
Contri of Contri Construction in Carson City, Nev., at $1,000
each. Kerrigan logged $3,900 this year from his father and stepmother,
Michael and Tina Kerrigan of Eureka; $4,000 from Sedgefield Properties,
run by Bill Pierson of Pierson Hardware; $2,250 from Pierson
and his wife; $2,480 from Arlene Banducci of Eureka; $2,000 from
Richard Cogswell of Petrolia; and $1,000 from Elizabeth Harwood
HOW TO REPLACE CONNER? More than 70 residents attended a special meeting
of the Arcata City Council last Thursday, many of them expressing
concern about a proposed solution to replacing Councilmember
Elizabeth Conner, who resigned her seat earlier in the week.
The council has 30 days to either appoint someone to fill out
the remaining two years of Conner's term or call a costly special
election. While most members preferred appointment, a number
of citizens decried that option as the less democratic alternative.
"How much is democracy worth? How much is confidence in
the City Council worth?" asked resident Jeff Knapp, referring
to the $18,000 the city estimated it would cost to hold a special
election. In the end, the council voted 3-1, with Councilmember
Michael Machi dissenting, to accept applications from potential
appointees. But on Monday, the story took a turn, with an anonymous
donor offering $18,000 to the city for it to hold a special election.
City Manager Dan Hauser said that such an election would be unprecedented;
Arcata has opted for appointment on all four other occasions
it has had in the last 40 years to fill a council position. The
council was scheduled to discuss the matter further at its regular
meeting 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 6 (after the Journal went
to press). Meanwhile, the city will take applications from aspiring
nominees through 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 11.
PALCO ORDERED TO PAY $6
MILLION: Judge John Golden of Lake
County last week ruled that the Pacific Lumber Co. owed $6 million
to attorneys for Garberville's Environmental Protection Information
Center (EPIC) and the United Steelworkers of America. The award
follows Golden's July 2003 decision in a suit against the company
brought by the two organizations, which charged that Palco's
Sustained Yield Plan -- the 1999 document meant to direct the
company's logging operations over the next 100 years -- does
not ensure adequate environmental protection. Golden ruled for
the plaintiffs on that occasion, and the $6 million award was
meant to pay for their attorneys' time. Chuck Center, Palco director
of government relations and external communications, said the
company did not need to appeal Golden's decision on attorney's
fees directly. He said the company's appeal of Golden's original
ruling was already working its way through the state's appellate
courts, and expressed confidence that a higher court would throw
out Golden's original ruling -- attorney fees and all. "The
check is not in the mail yet," said EPIC's Cynthia Elkins,
who noted that she expects a favorable ruling from the appellate
court within a year.
EQUIPMENT PROBLEM AT AIRPORT: HSU's CenterArts had to turn back a sold-out crowd
at the Van Duzer Theatre Sunday night. The problem? The show's
star attraction, comedian and chat-show host Bill Maher, couldn't
fly in to the Eureka-Arcata airport. This wasn't because the
caustic, Bush-bashing comic was on a terrorism watch list, as
some might suspect, but because the airport was experiencing
technical difficulties. Jacquelyn Hulsey, the county's airports
manager, said that the airport recently installed a new glide
slope antenna, a navigational device that helps planes land in
the fog. The Federal Aviation Administration had tested the antenna
last week and everything appeared to be shipshape -- but the
system failed a subsequent test, taking it off line. Then the
fog rolled in, scotching Maher's flight. Hulsey said she wasn't
sure how many flights in to Eureka-Arcata have been canceled,
but noted that her team and the FAA have been working on the
problem and hope to get the antenna back up in the next few days.
WATER LEAK REPAIRED: The Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District announced
Friday that it had found and repaired a 100-gallon-per-minute
leak in one of its main lines. The leak, which was eventually
located near the corner of L. K. Wood Boulevard and Diamond Drive
in Arcata, prompted water-saving measures in Arcata, the Samoa
Peninsula and the unincorporated areas around Eureka.
CRASHES CLAIM STUDENTS: Two Humboldt State
University students died in recent weeks from car accidents.
Freshman Hannah Chastain-Shannon, 18, of Grass Valley was killed
after her car swerved across the U.S. Highway 101 median and
flipped onto its roof on Sept. 28. Chastain-Shannon, known as
Zoe by her friends, was driving her 1994 Honda Civic southbound
from the McKinleyville area with four passengers, all fellow
freshmen, at 12:41 a.m., when she lost control of her vehicle
on the wet pavement. She suffered severe head trauma and died
at the scene, while the passengers escaped with minor injuries,
the California Highway Patrol said. Everyone was wearing safety
belts. The CHP said Chastain-Shannon was likely steering the
car from side-to-side for laughs and lost control of the car.
A memorial service was held at the university and counseling
services were offered to students. Earlier in the month, in another
single-car accident around 8:25 p.m. on Sept. 9, Courtney Barton,
21, of Weed died after her eastbound car crossed over the westbound
U.S. Highway 299 near Whiskeytown in Shasta County, plummeting
over an embankment, CHP said. The car flipped several times and
was partially submerged in Whiskeytown Lake. The CHP said Barton's
accident occurred because she was speeding, and that alcohol
and drugs were not a factor. HSU held a memorial service and
planted a tree in Barton's name on Sept. 14.
MORE FATALITIES: Two southern Humboldt men were killed in separate
traffic accidents just over a mile apart from each other on Highway
101 Saturday, the CHP reported. At 4:30 a.m., Jerry Carter, Sr.,
46, of Rio Dell died when his 1993 Isuzu Rodeo left the highway
and overturned near Metropolitan Road, between Rio Dell and Fortuna.
That evening, at around 6:15 p.m., 26-year-old Donovan Deike
of Scotia was headed southbound on 101, just north of Alton,
in his 1995 Chevy Camaro. Piercy resident Michael Ricklefs and
his family -- his wife Kimberly and their 10-year-old son --
were traveling northbound in their 2002 Toyota Tacoma. As the
two cars neared the Highway 36 exit, Deike turned left, directly
into the path of Ricklefs' vehicle, which was traveling at about
65 miles per hour. Ricklefs and his family flipped over and came
to rest on their roof. Deike was transported to Redwood Memorial
Hospital, where he died. The Ricklefs were treated for minor
to moderate injuries. All were wearing their seat belts.
CHECK SCAM: David Van Helden, a 44-year-old Carlotta resident
wanted locally on numerous counts of financial fraud, was arrested
in Newport, Ore., Monday. According to Eureka Police, Van Helden
stands accused of defrauding local financial institutions of
over $20,000. Eureka police were in Oregon seeking Van Helden's
extradition Tuesday. EPD spokesperson Suzie Owsley said Tuesday
that evidence suggested that Van Helden could have been part
of a large-scale -- possibly international -- counterfeiting
MISSING TEEN FOUND: The Eureka Police
Department announced Monday that Josephine "Josie"
West, a 15-year-old Eureka resident, had been located in Berkeley
over the weekend. West was returned to her family, who had first
reported the child missing on Aug. 27.
LOCAL DEBATES: Reporters from the Journal are among those
questioning local candidates during this season's League of Women
Voters debates, broadcast over PBS affiliate KEET-TV, Channel
13. Candidates for the state Assembly -- incumbent Democrat Patty
Berg, Republican Ray Tyrone and Libertarian Ken Anton -- will
debate tonight (Oct. 7). Eureka City Council candidates Chris
Kerrigan (incumbent) and Rex Bohn will face off on Wednesday,
Oct. 13. On Friday, Oct. 15, the focus shifts to the national
stage, as Rep. Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena) defends his record
against Republican Lawrence Wiesner and Green Pam Elizondo. Finally,
on Tuesday, Oct. 19, proponents and opponents of the county's
anti-GMO Measure M square off. All debates start at 7 p.m., except
for the Eureka City Council race -- that one will start at 8
p.m., immediately after the third Bush-Kerry debate. Viewers
may call in with questions for the candidates.
BODY IDENTIFIED: The body of a Eureka woman discovered by forest
activists who were hiking near Grizzly Creek State Park in Carlotta
was identified as Lori Ann Jones, 38, after the Humboldt County
Coroner's office obtained a fingerprint match this week. Coroner
Frank Jager said that Jones had been dead for less than a month
when she was discovered on Sept. 28, and appears to have been
murdered, although the official cause of death cannot be released
pending further investigations by the Sheriff's Department. Deputy
District Attorney Worth Dikeman said that Jones was on the witness
list for an upcoming murder trial, though he said there is no
evidence that her death was connected with the trial. Anyone
with information about the case should call the Sheriff's Department
VETS' GARDEN SLATED FOR
PAVING: At least one veteran is
fighting a proposal to pave the small veterans' garden in the
public parking lot at Eighth and F streets in Arcata to make
space for more cars. The proposed changes -- part of the larger
Arcata downtown streetscape plan -- include the addition of four
to six parking spots where the garden and commemorative plaque
for Vietnam and Korean vets now reside. The memorial was dedicated
in 1968. Garden caretaker and Vietnam veteran Robert Hepburn
circulated a petition at Saturday's Farmers' Market to stop the
plan. Arcata City Manager Dan Hauser said Tuesday that the issue
is more complicated than giving up four parking spots: Without
removing part of the garden, the traffic through the new lot
could not enter and exit from F Street, as planned.
|H U M B O
L D T P E O P
Local couple raises
money for school in Laos
by HELEN SANDERSON
The chalkboard is a wooden board
covered with a coat of black paint, and the teacher stands before
it while students sit side-by-side at uneven split-log tables,
reciting their lessons and scraping their feet along the dirt
floor. There is no bathroom, no playground, no crayons, and other
than the children's mismatched clothes, there's no color.
the older children from the younger ones, rain finds its way
through the old thatch roof or pours in from the open windows.
That's the way things have been for a long time in Ban Longya,
a small village in Laos.
John and Souk
Mitchell of Kneeland hope to change that [photo at right] .
For the past
two years, the couple has been raising money to build a better
school in Ban Longya, Souk's hometown, where grade five is currently
the end of the line for education. Students who want to continue
in school, as Souk did, move away to a larger town or the country's
capital, Vientiane, which is three days away by car.
In Ban Longya,
a small town cradled in a valley of the mountainous northwest
corner of Laos -- a landlocked country the size of Utah with
Vietnam, Thailand and China as neighbors -- there are 200 children,
four teachers and two classrooms. Chalk is rationed by the government,
and the teachers use it sparingly because when it runs out, they
don't get more until the next month. [photos below]
here [in the United States] are concerned about not having enough
computers," John Mitchell said. "Try to get by when
you're worrying about having enough chalk, or if the roof is
going to leak, or if you're going to get paid.
over there I realize how spoiled we are here. We just have no
idea how everybody else is living."
of Laotians live in poverty, according to the CIA World Factbook.
Only 52 percent of the country is literate. Education, John hopes,
will help eventually lift the village out of economic despair.
John, 56, is
a retired PG&E employee and longtime Kneeland resident. He
and Souk, 29, met on a bus trip through Laos, and married five
years ago in Ban Longya, then later in a second ceremony in
Kneeland. Before moving here, Souk worked in the
duty-free shop at the airport in Laos, a job she landed for her
English-speaking skills. It paid $100 a month -- big money compared
to teachers, who receive $30 monthly. The Mitchells have gone
back to the village on a few occasions, spending close to a year
of their married life there.
During a visit
two years ago, village elders asked the couple if they could
earn enough money in America to build a new school for the children.
"So I said,
`Yeah, we can do that,' even though I really didn't know what
it was going to take," John said.
for a much-improved but still modest schoolhouse -- plans include
five classrooms, a bathroom, and a multipurpose room -- the Mitchells
calculated that they would need $10,000 to build the school.
So far they have raised $7,500 from donations and sales of Laotian
goods and cuisine and are banking on additional donations to
rake in the remainder before they leave for Laos in January.
venture began by getting development support from the Ink People
Center for the Arts in Eureka.
it's kind of different for us," said Libby Maynard, executive
director of the Ink People. "We've done international artist
exchanges before, but never something quite like this."
a special interest in the Mitchells' project in Laos; she lived
and went to school there for a year as a teenager.
is just amazing, the people are genuine, open, joyful. They make
you feel very welcome," Maynard said. "They're poor,
but they can do a lot with very little."
The Ink People
has helped the Mitchells get the project off the ground with
publicity and fund-raising, and are currently helping the couple
edit video footage that they shot in Laos to create a half-hour
documentary about Ban Longya. The project was taken under the
Ink People's wing in part, Maynard says, because the Mitchells
want to maintain the cultural traditions of the village rather
than imposing American values upon the people, something she
has seen even well-intended aid groups do before.
sometimes goes in [to a foreign country] and tries to Americanize
the people, but they have their own culture and beliefs. It's
important we don't undermine them," Maynard said. "We
want to support their culture and give them the benefits of the
rest of the world."
with the artistic mission of the Ink People and to raise money
for the school, Souk collects Laotian textiles and displays and
sells them here. The tapestries often go for more than $100 a
piece. Currently in Laos, the same fabrics are sold for $2 to
$3 a scarf to Vientiane merchants, who then sell them to Japanese
buyers for about $100 each, John said.
are losing their culture because it doesn't pay the bills,"
he said. "The world is changing very quickly and these children
need the skills to deal with that, but without better schools
they will be barely literate, they won't know much about money:
People will continue to take advantage of them because they know
the Mitchells hope, will be able to stem the tide of the cultural
drift. In addition to language and mathematics, a focus on traditional
art, music and storytelling will be part of the curriculum at
the new school.
not looking too far ahead. Right now, they just need the basics,"
John said. "We gave each child a pencil and notebook last
time we were there and they were so thankful."
John went on
to talk about the slow but rewarding process of raising the funds
for the school.
a rich person, but I could refinance my house and get the money
without anyone's help, but I want my friends and my family, and
people around me to be a part of this with Souk and I.
good to give something back."
the Ban Longya Project can be made in care of The Ink People,
411 12th St., Eureka.
Children in Ban Longya, Laos (above) currently attend classes
in a dilapidated two-room schoolhouse (below).
of a new school modeled after one recently built in Oudomsay
Province is scheduled to begin in January. (photo below)
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