The good news is that Humboldt County's child support collection rate is well above the state average; the bad news is that almost one-fourth of the county's children lives in poverty.
Those reports are among the many details of a "California Report Card" compiled by an advocacy group, Children Now, founded in 1988. (Full details of the report may be found on the organization's Web site at www.childrennow.org/)
Humboldt County ranks 36 among the state's 58 counties with 24.2 percent (or 8,336 children through age 17) living in poverty. This is based on 1995 figures. The highest rate is in Tulare County with 37.3 percent. Marin County ranks first with 8.6 percent. Poverty is defined as a family of four earning $16,450 or less.
The county ranked No. 4 in child support collection with an average collection rate of $135.
Another plus was the average number of low birthweight infants. Humboldt County ranked No. 4 with 4.6 percent. The state average was 6.1 percent. The ratings are based on 1995-97 reports.
The county ranked near the bottom at No. 52 for child abuse for the years 1994-96.
Permanent home for ballet
Escrow is expected to close later this week on a permanent home for the Redwood Concert Ballet.
Eureka City Councilwoman Cherie Arkley and her husband, Robin Arkley, are donating money to RCB to purchase the old Adventure's Edge building on F Street between 4th and 5th. They are also donating between $150,000-$200,000 for renovation.
"It's a fabulous gift," said Mike McLaughlin, a board member for the ballet company. "It is a gift that will bring a lot of value to the community and to all those who value arts and education."
The ground floor will be converted to two large studios and the mezzanines will house offices and storage. The building is located across the street from the Daly's Building complex which includes the old Richard Sweasey Theater. Humboldt State University and the city of Eureka are working cooperatively to renovate the Sweasey Theater into a 1,200-seat performing arts center.
RCB stages two major performances per year, The Nutcracker, which opens Dec. 17, and a second production in June. Those events are currently being staged at HSU's Van Duzer Theater.
Robin Arkley said there are a number of people who deserve credit for the RCB project.
RCB is purchasing the building from developer Don Murrish. Businessmen Harry and Herman Bistrin will continue as mortgage holders.
"They all have been exceedingly great to work with," Arkley said. He also credits Kurt Kramer who has agreed to do the renovation work.
Kramer and the Arkleys are also partners in the renovation of the historical Vance Hotel in Old Town is in progress.
The Arkleys have two daughters who are dancers, which sparked their interest in the project.
"Yes, we have a couple of ballerinas," Robin Arkley said. "It's a great thing for young girls to do if they don't do soccer! But this is a good project for the whole community. Arts are important. And so is renovating these old buildings."
As North Coast fishermen prepare for the crab season, the fruit of their test harvests is favoring the palates of seniors.
Juanita Larson, secretary at the Humboldt Fisherman's Marketing Association, reported Monday that the association shared 297 pounds of picked crab earlier this month with the senior centers in Eureka, Arcata and Crescent City.
Another test harvest is scheduled for Thursday with the proceeds again going for seniors.
The test harvests are done to see if the crabs are filled out enough to meet state standards. Fishing usually starts about Dec. 1.
The commercial season opened Sunday in the area south of Point Arena. According to a report in The Press Democrat of Santa Rosa, the early results were not very promising.
One fisheries owner forecast a price of $3.75 to $4 a pound because of the smaller catches expected.
Quite a few fishermen sat idle after the opening day because of a new state law which requires fishermen who crab south of Point Arena must wait 30 days before heading north, The Press Democrat said. The idle fishermen want to be able to head north as soon as the season opens.
Unemployment rate lower
The unemployment rate for Humboldt County continued to decline in September, reaching its lowest point in 16 years, according to the ongoing economic study by Humboldt State University Professor Steven Hackett.
The jobless rate of 4.7 percent reflects the national situation, the economics professor reports in the October edition of the Index of Economic Activity for Humboldt County.
Help wanted advertising, another economic indicator, was up 5.89 percent in September. It was up 37.13 percent over the same month in 1998.
Meanwhile, Hackett reported that manufacturing, mainly lumber production, showed an increase in September of 3.55 percent. But it was down 8.77 percent from September 1998. Employment in manufacturing showed no change.
Retail sales appear to be flattening out, he said, while home sales were down 3.4 percent.
Other numbers of interest:
Home sales totaled 113 in September, a decrease of 3.4 percent, but down only 0.59 percent over September 1998. The median price was $126,500, according to data provided by the Board of Realtors.
Seasonally adjusted retail sales were up 4.85 percent. But Hackett said sales appear to be "flattening out after a number of years of strong growth."
Occupancy rates of hotels and motels were up about 3 percent.
Trinity flow hearing Tuesday
Time is running out to comment on whether to increase the flow of water in the Trinity River and, if so, how much. A hearing sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 23, 6-8 p.m. at the Eureka Inn.
Friends of the Trinity River are asking the federal government to decrease the amount of water diverted south for agricultural purposes and return 70 percent of the natural flow to the river to benefit fisheries.
"Originally we were asking for just 20-22 percent of the flow returned about twice what we get now," said Jamie O'Donnell who runs a rafting service and is a member of the Friends. "But we realized that's really inadequate to restore the salmon."
O'Donnell admitted the 70 percent figure may be wishful thinking, especially since farmers and other water users in central and southern California want even more water. But 48 percent may not be an unrealistic figure. That amount is recommended in the preferred alternative backed by the Hupa Tribal government, state and federal agencies.
"They are coupling their recommendation with mechanical restoration getting bulldozers in to shape and remove gravel bars and excess vegetation," said Tina Andolina, a spokesperson for Friends of the River.
The problem with that, she said, is sometimes the funding for the work is cut from the budget.
"We realize mechanical restoration may be necessary, in drought years, for instance," Andolina said. "We would really like to see the higher flows."
Those wishing to comment who cannot attend the hearing may do so by writing to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Attn: Joe Polos, 1125 16th St., Room 209, Arcata 95521. Deadline for comments is Dec. 8.
Chlamydia rates high
A new report from the Public Health Department, "Sexually Transmitted Diseases in Humboldt County," documents a slight drop in the number of reported cases this year compared to last, however statistics show an overall increase in the incidence of chlamydia and gonorrhea here and throughout the United States.
In comparing the rate of reported STD infections with those in the rest of California, Humboldt ranks sixth among 58 counties statewide.
"When we look at STD rates in Humboldt County, especially chlamydia, we notice that our rates are much higher," said Peggy Falk, director of Health Education.
There is particular concern about chlamydia, the most common cause of pelvic inflammatory disease among young women, that often shows no symptoms, Falk warned.
"People don't know they have it, and that makes it even more insidious." Undetected, the disease can spread to the Fallopian tubes causing sterility. According to Falk, the STD problem is most severe among young people.
"In 1998 79 percent of the 590 STD cases reported in Humboldt County were among 13-29 year olds. In 1997 82 percent of the 430 cases were among the same age group. It makes sense since you are looking for those who are most sexually active with different partners, that tends to be teenagers and people in their early 20s.
"Part of our recommendations focus on health care practitioners who deal with young people. We feel that sexually active adolescents should be screened for chlamydia and gonorrhea twice a year.
"We also want to be sure that practitioners talk to their patients about their sexual activity.
"The reality is when you are talking about teenagers, some will not be active, and that's the best way to avoid exposure to STDs. But some teenagers are going to be sexually active. What do we as a community offer them to protect them? We need to offer them the information they need as well as treatment if they need it."
The test and the treatment are relatively simple. The painful urethral swab has been replaced by a urine test. If the results are positive, a single does of antibiotics are prescribed. To help identify and treat as many cases as possible, the Health Department has announced an expansion of its schedule of services for those seeking assessment and treatment.
STD services will now be available from 8:30-11:30 a.m. and 1-4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and 1-4 p.m. on Thursday. Anonymous HIV testing is available Monday through Thursday, 1-4 p.m. The tests are also offered in clinics throughout the county.
Charges for services at the Public Health Department are based on a sliding scale, Medi-Cal is accepted, and no one will be turned away due to an inability to pay. For more information, call 268-2108.