North Coast Journal WeeklyIn the News

October 25, 2001

Speak softly, or buy a big sign

Post-attack economics

Anthrax scare for staffer

Search for HSU president on

PL must monitor, board says

Big money for small towns

Redwood NP center in Orick

Junk art needs name

2001 WRAP winners

Foster care for dogs

Renovation plan approved

Sutsal in Samoa

$1 million health care grant


Speak softly, or buy a big sign

[photo of sign: "EUREKA-ARCATA CORRIDOR IS DANGEROUS - 52 COLLISIONS - 26 INJURIES - 2 DEATHS - DON'T BE A 2002 STATISTIC! PLEASE DRIVE SAFELY!]That billboard message alleging dangerous driving conditions along the Highway 101 corridor between Arcata and Eureka is there courtesy of Sandy Deo, who has decided to put her money where her mouth is.

Deo wants Caltrans to make improvements along the corridor, including extending the acceleration and deceleration lanes and closing the medians to cross traffic. With the permission of the owners of the Bracut Lumber Co., Deo had previously posted signs on company property to promote her positions. But Caltrans, citing state law, had removed the signs.

Now Deo has spent almost $5,000 of her own money, she says, for a billboard to get her point across.

"They need to fix the road," says Deo. "You have to hold your breath every time you cross the road."

Deo, a retired real estate agent who lives near Blue Lake, says her son was in an accident on the highway a couple of years ago. While he was not injured, she says, the other person involved was hurt.

The Humboldt County Associations of Governments is studying the road. The next meeting is Thursday, Oct. 25 at 7 p.m. at Eureka City Hall.

Post-attack economics

Humboldt County's economy appeared to be rebounding from a poor summer performance -- before the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, that is.

"We got the data back for the month of August and it really wasn't too bad. Now it's almost irrelevant," said Steve Hackett, who compiles the monthly Index of Economic Activity at Humboldt State University.

While Humboldt County is not directly involved in financial services, aircraft manufacturing or other businesses directly involved in the attacks, the economy is still affected. The temporary closure of Arcata/Eureka Airport, for example, was a setback for business people who rely on air travel to access this remote area.

"And it's not just passengers," Hackett said. Organizations like the Sun Valley Floral Farm or Federal Express use airplanes to transport goods as well.

The airport wasn't the only shipping bottleneck.

"Humboldt Bay had to be closed the day of the attack," Hackett said. That caused an undetermined amount of interruption in shipping.

Tourism, which continues as a growth industry in Humboldt, faces an uncertain future. In addition to the immediate threat from the temporary restrictions in air travel, a deeper and more permanent effect of the attacks has been an erosion of consumer confidence, meaning fewer vacations.

"People now just want to cocoon and not spend money on things they don't need," Hackett said. However, some in the industry say tourism may increase as families vacation closer to home and travel by car.

Hackett said the most important thing was to remember the true losses suffered.

"When discussing the fallout, the human suffering far outweighs the economics."

Anthrax scare for staffer

The fallout from the Sept. 11 attacks has hit close to home last week. A staff member in Rep. Mike Thompson's office was tested for anthrax after concerns arose over possible exposure. The test results, which came back Oct. 22, were negative.

Thompson's district representative, Elizabeth Murquia, told the Journal that the staff member had attended a meeting in the Senate's Hart Office Building with staff from the office of majority leader Tom Daschle,D-S.D., on the day when those staffers were exposed to the disease. Some of Daschle's staff later tested positive.

Murquia said the Thompson staffer, who has asked to remain anonymous, was put on the antibiotic, Cipro, as a precaution.

Search for HSU president on

The California State University Board of Trustees has begun the selection process to choose a successor to retiring Humboldt State University President Alistair McCrone.

"The individual will have to display strong leadership qualities, a familiarity with and a vision for higher education," said Milton Boyd, professor of biological sciences and faculty member of the 15-member advisory committee, which will help select the new president.

Chief among the desired leadership qualities are "accessibility and the capacity to articulate our mission as one of the 23 CSU campuses, but at the same time appreciate our unique qualities," Boyd said.

The search will likely conclude an the announcement in March of McCrone's replacement. Faculty and staff are invited to participate to an open forum Thursday at noon in Goodwin Forum at a session of the Academic Senate. And Friday at 8:30 a.m., the presidential search committee will meet to introduce the selection process. That meeting will be held in the Jolly Giant Commons.

McCrone, who turns 70 this month and is the longest-serving president in the CSU system, announced in August his intention to retire in June 2002. And at a staff meeting Oct. 12, Vice President Don Christensen said that he, too, will retire effective March 1.

Both McCrone and Christensen have said their retirements were long planned and unrelated to the embezzlement scandal that rocked the university earlier this year. John Sterns, a university administrator in charge of fund-raising, alumni and public relations and ancillary university programs, was fired in March. Sterns was the subject of a criminal investigation that resulted in embezzlement charges, which are pending.

The University Chancellor's Office also conducted an independent financial audit that found significant wrongdoing by Sterns and criticized the university administration for lack of oversight. Christensen was Sterns' immediate supervisor. (See "The case against John Sterns and HSU," Aug. 16.)

PL must monitor, board says

The state Water Board redefined its relationship to timber harvesting last week when it ordered Pacific Lumber to monitor water quality in a timber harvest plan on the South Fork of the Elk River.

The company was ordered to monitor the stream to check that harvest activities on THP 520, popularly known as the "Hole in the Headwaters," does not contribute to silt levels. Excessive silt can harm threatened fish species and contribute to flooding.

The unanimous decision established the authority of the water board to order monitoring on timber harvest plans. Traditionally, ensuring water quality on timber harvest plans has been the responsibility of the Board of Forestry.

But it was also important because of the controversial nature of the land being logged. While neither old-growth nor part of the Headwaters reserve, THP 520 is surrounded by protected land. Environmental groups have said they will protest the harvest.

The order does not take effect until Dec. 1, meaning PL can harvest prior to monitoring. At press time, PL had just begun falling trees.

The issue of monitoring is likely to rise again. Sue Warner, executive officer of the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, said the agency "won't require a monitoring and reporting plan on every timber harvest, but we will issue some of them."

Warner, who spoke in Eureka at a meeting with business and environmental leaders Oct. 22, said "instream monitoring of water quality in relation to timber harvest plans is a good thing."

Big money for small towns

A bond measure authored by 2nd District State Sen. Wesley Chesbro and signed by Gov. Gray Davis Oct. 15 would provide $2.6 billion for parks and historic preservation.

It isn't California's first big park bond; California passed a $2.1 billion park bond in 2000. But this bond would be different because it contains more money for rural areas.

"We managed to include a minimum funding level for cities," said Chesbro in a telephone interview from Sacramento. "That means that every one, including small cities like Blue Lake and Trinidad, will get $200,000. Every county will get $1.2 million."

Much of the money from the previous park bond was allocated on a per-capita basis. In many cases, that meant small towns and rural counties received little funding. This bond would provide "enough money for these little entities to do something with," he said.

The bond measure will appear on the March 5 ballot.

Redwood NP center in Orick

"It's been a long time since we've had any construction in Orick," said Donna Hufford, president of the town's Chamber of Commerce.

Redwood National Park's new South Operations Center is being constructed downtown. The building will house the approximately 75 park employees, some of whom had been working out of trailers.

"They desperately needed a new place," said Carol McCall, a public affairs officer with the park.

The building will be good for Orick's ailing economy, Hufford said, because it "consolidates [park staff] right downtown where they can shop, buy a cup of coffee and use our grocery stores."

Even local businessowner Ed Salsedo, an often outspoken critic of the park, said it could be a good thing.

"If there is a willing effort by the park to assimilate people into our community, it could be very beneficial," he said.

Junk art needs name

Entries are now being accepted for the art show formerly known as the Junk Art Competition and Exhibition.

The Humboldt Arts Council's annual salute to reuse in the arts is looking for both entries and a new name. Both art and title submissions are due Nov. 5; winners in both contests will be announced at the show's opening in the Morris Graves Museum Nov. 9.

The Junk Art Exhibition, now in its seventh year, has only one criteria for entries: They can't be made of new materials. People interested in naming the show, being exhibited or both can get more information at 442-0278.

2001 WRAP winners

The winners of this year's Waste Reduction Award Program are no surprise.

The California Integrated Waste Management Board offers the awards each year to businesses who have gone out of their way to reduce waste at work. This year six Humboldt County businesses won -- and five of them are repeat award recipients.

The Mad River Brewing Co. in Blue Lake and Pacific Lumber Co. have both now won seven awards. The North Coast Co-Op has won four, Safeway has garnered three. and the Calgon Carbon Corp. of Blue Lake, two.

The only newcomer is St. Vincent De Paul, which won the award for diverting 70 tons of appliances, clothing and other goods from the landfill and into its thrift stores.

Foster care for dogs

Each year, over 1,300 dogs are killed in Humboldt County in animal shelters. Without the space to board them or a good home in which to place them, shelter systems have little choice -- but Tamara McFarland wants to change that.

"There are a lot of counties and cities out there that have been able to bring the number of adoptable dogs killed to zero," said McFarland, co-founder of Friends for Life Canine Rescue. "That is our goal as well."

McFarland has an innovative approach: foster care. Instead of trying to increase Humboldt County's brick-and-mortar shelter capacity, McFarland wants to create a network of homes where dogs can be cared for until new owners can be found.

In addition to costing less than building a shelter, McFarland said the foster care approach made the dogs better adoption candidates.

"I've had some experience working in shelters," she said. "I noticed that some dogs do not thrive in the shelter environment; they need more one-on-one care to become that adoptable dog you want to take home."

Right now, what McFarland needs is participants. The fledgling group has only two homes in its network right now, but said several others she had talked to were interested.

"We need people with a love for dogs and a willingness to adjust their life around the needs of the dog, at least temporarily," she said.

The first training session for foster families is Nov. 3. Call 442-5999 for more information.

Renovation plan approved

Vance Hotel developer Kurt Kramer easily cleared the latest hurdle in his plan to demolish the back half of an historic Second Street building at last week's Eureka City Council meeting.

The council voted 4-0 to approve the plan, which will provide additional parking spaces for Vance tenants. (Councilmember Cherie Arkley abstained since she and her husband, Rob, are Kramer's partners in the Vance project.)

Kramer had already partially demolished two adjacent buildings that were damaged by a mysterious fire. He intends to renovate the facades of the three buildings providing shop space and several apartments.

Speaking against the proposal was Mary Ann McCullough, president of the Eureka Heritage Society, who warned against removal of further historic structures to make room for parking.

McCullough said she would like to see the city come up with a parking plan that takes historic preservation into account. Kramer agreed that better long-range planning would be helpful. (See Journal cover story, "Historic or just plain old," Sept. 13.)

Eureka attorney Jan Turner also weighed in with a letter saying the project would reduce available low-income housing. (See Journal story, "Then there was Blanche," Oct. 12, 2000.)

Kramer's plan had already been approved by Eureka's Historic Preservation Commission. The Design Review Committee must approve it before he can proceed.

Futsal in Samoa

Athletes chased indoors by the rains this winter will have a new avenue for exercise: The Samoa gym will be available for futsal.

And what is futsal? A game similar to indoor soccer, but played with a special low-bounce ball within the boundaries of a U.S. basketball court.

If you are unfamiliar with the sport, you are not alone.

"The word futsal is new to most people," said Tom Rector, president of the nonprofit group Inside Sports, which is administering the fledgling league.

Rector said the league would provide both youth and adults a good way to stay active and healthy in the winter.

"I like to play soccer, my kids like to play soccer, and it's hard to play soccer in the winter," he said.

Registration will be Oct. 27-28 at the Samoa gym, across from the cookhouse, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call 839-6554 for more information.

$1 million health care grant

"We work very closely with the public health people here and clearly substance abuse is one of the bigger health issues we face in the community and workplace," said Dr. George Crosthwaite, executive director of the Community Health Alliance.

A $1 million grant CHA received from the Health Resources and Services Administration in September will be used to open access to health care, Crosthwaite said, "But we will be looking indirectly at substance abuse."

By opening up access to health care for at-risk populations, CHA officials hope to work toward both goals at once. Enrolling children in the state's Healthy Families public health insurance program, for instance, brings parents into contact with health care providers. That's important because it is likely that the parents will become eligible for coverage through the program later this year.

"We are looking at a waiver from the federal government" that would allow Healthy Families to serve enrolled children's parents, Crosthwaite said.

Another component will be an Employee Assistance Program that would allow small businesses to enroll workers in a treatment program. Many larger employers have already done so because it makes financial sense, Crosthwaite said.

"There's a lot of strong statistical information that supports the cost-effectiveness of these programs: There are fewer injuries, fewer days missed and there is more production."

Smaller businesses also need such programs have but insufficient capital to invest in it. Ninety percent of Humboldt County's companies are small businesses, he added.


There was a mistake in the Oct. 18 story "Watershed analysis may replace THPs." The new watershed analysis process would alter, but not replace, the current timber harvest plan approval process.

The listing of flu vaccine clinics in the story "Flu vaccines -- on time this year?" did not include Lima's Pharmacy. Both locations, in McKinleyville and Eureka, are offering the vaccine for $15 a dose from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday while supplies last. Call 839-8500 for more information.


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