Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mudslide Updates

Posted By on Thu, Mar 31, 2011 at 4:32 PM

UPDATE, 5:30 pm: There has been much speculation about the status of AT&T's fiber optic cable -- our spindly underground information link to the outside world, which lies buried along the Hwy. 101 corridor. Moments ago the Journal received an email from an AT&T spokesman. Brace yourself for some Grade A intel:

Our cable is intact and we have not lost any service. We are working closely with Cal Trans to protect our cable as Cal Trans determines what needs to be done.

We'll keep digging, so to speak.

ORIGINAL POST: If you'd planned on taking a bus out of town in the next few days, not to worry: The City of Arcata has you covered. Here's a press release:

The City of Arcata Transportation Division has arranged temporary bus service to redirect passengers whose travel plans are affected by the road closure on Highway 101 north of Garberville.

Temporary bus service has been arranged to take Greyhound and Amtrak passengers from the Arcata Transit Center to Redding if traveling south and to Crescent City if they are traveling north. Passengers can then transfer to buses continuing on to their destinations.

The first special service buses to Crescent City are scheduled to leave Arcata Transit Center on Friday, April 1 and Saturday, April 2 at 7 a.m. The buses to Redding leave the Arcata Transit Center at 8:25 a.m. on Friday, April 1 and Monday, April 4. ...

For temporary bus service transit schedules and pricing, please call the Arcata Transit Center at (707) 822-3775.

Redheaded Blackbelt extraordinaire Kym Kemp has photos, taken by Kim Sallaway, showing Caltrans busy at work today with three excavators furiously scooping up the sodden soil. Kemp earlier reported that Caltrans and building company JF Shea managed to "punch through" a road for emergency vehicles only, a category that evidently includes diesel trucks (to fuel SoHum's economic engine, Kemp says -- nudge, wink).

For the latest information on the Highway 101 closure, please call the Caltrans Information Line at 1-800-427-7623 or go to the Caltrans website at http://www.dot.ca.gov/.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Humboldt, the 45th Most Healthy County in the State

Posted By on Wed, Mar 30, 2011 at 5:23 PM

I don't feel goodIt's counterintuitive, what with our clean ocean air, our outdoorsy fervor and our preponderance of brewer's yeast-eaters, but Humboldt County residents' health ranks in the bottom quarter of the state, according to the second annual County Health Rankings, released today by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

There's a wealth of fascinating data to be found on the project's website, like the fact that our resident-to-primary-care-physician ratio is 800 to one (which is actually better than the state average). And evidently only 41 percent of our population has access to healthy food, compared to 79 percent statewide and a national benchmark of 92 percent.

Here's a press release from the Community Health Alliance of Humboldt-Del Norte, Inc.:

Despite a relatively high rank in access to clinical care and quality of care, Humboldt and Del Norte counties rank in the bottom quarter of healthy counties in the state, according to the annual County Health Rankings released today by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Humboldt County is 45th among 56 California counties ranked for how long residents live and how healthy they are. Del Norte County is 55th, while Alpine and Sierra were not ranked.

Humboldt County ranked 28th and Del Norte 39th in health factors such as behavior, clinical care, physical environment, and other social and economic measures that contribute to the quality and length of life.

The best performance category for Humboldt and Del Norte came in clinical care. Rates of uninsured adults, primary care providers, preventable hospital stays, diabetic screenings and mammography screenings put both in the top half of the state. Del Norte ranked 20th and Humboldt 22nd.

"This is a snapshot of where we are, where we need to go, and how we compare to others," said Laura McEwen, project director for Aligning Forces for Quality. AF4Q is an initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and managed locally by the Community Health Alliance of Humboldt-Del Norte and other partners.

"It shows us that where we live, learn, work and play matters and that we have some challenges around substance abuse and chronic conditions if the snapshot is going to be different five or six years from now."

This is the second year of the County Health Rankings, the most comprehensive report of its kind to rank the overall health of nearly every county in all 50 states by using a standard way to measure how healthy people are and how long they live.

Humboldt County Public Health Officer Dr. Ann Lindsay attributed the "relatively high performance in access to clinical care and the quality of that care" to "years of work locally to coordinate care, especially for people with chronic diseases like diabetes. The report also shows we have work to do as a community."

The Rankings, available at www.countyhealthrankings.org, include a snapshot of each county in California with a color-coded map comparing each county's overall health ranking. Marin County topped this year's Rankings in health outcomes and health factors. At the bottom: Kern County in health factors and Trinity County in health outcomes.

The 5 with the best outcomes are: Marin, San Benito, Placer, Santa Clara and San Mateo. The 5 worst, starting with least healthy, are: Trinity, Del Norte, Siskiyou, Lake and Yuba.

Additional highlights of what the Rankings show include:

  • Nearly one in five residents of Humboldt County smoke compared to one in every 8.5 in Marin County.

  • Teen birthrates in Humboldt County are nearly 2.3 times higher than in Marin. Del Norte's is almost four times higher at 54 per 1,000 teens.

  • Residents of Humboldt (5.9 percent) and Del Norte (5.1 percent) counties bested Marin (6.1) in rate of low-birthweight babies.

  • One in four Humboldt County adults and three in 10 Del Norte adults is obese compared to one in 6.5 in Marin County.

  • The motor vehicle death rate is 3.5 times higher in Humboldt County and 5 times higher in Del Norte County than Marin County's 6 percent.

  • Only 41 percent of Humboldt County residents and 50 percent of Del Norte's have access to healthy foods compared to 85 percent in Marin County.

  • Nearly a third children living in Del Norte and nearly a quarter of the children living in Humboldt County are at the federal poverty level, compared to 8 percent in Marin County.

  • Almost a quarter of Marin County adults drink excessively, compared to 18 percent in Humboldt County (no report for Del Norte County).

"The Rankings help counties see what is affecting the health of their residents are so they can see where they are doing well, where they need to improve, and what steps they need to take as a community to remove barriers to good health," says Patrick Remington, M.D., M.P.H., Associate Dean for Public Health, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

"When you have your health, quality of life is much better," McEwen said. "We are trying to tackle behavior changes, but it's a big challenge. The good news is we have a strong clinical system and are looking to improve quality of life and health care through a number of initiatives that include consumer engagement."

One such initiative, Our Pathways to Health, is a free, six-week, 15-hour workshop teaching chronic disease management to those at risk of obesity, diabetes and other ailments. The next round of classes at five sites begins April 5-9 (707-445-2806, ext. 4).

Lindsay said Rankings has limitations because it relies heavily on self-reported data and uses seven-year averages for some statistics. "That means the statistics will probably change very little from year to year," she said. "But it is valuable in describing the number of factors that go into our community's health."

Researchers used five measures to assess the level of overall health or "health outcomes" for California by county: the rate of people dying before age 75, the percent of people who report being in fair or poor health, the numbers of days people report being in poor physical and poor mental health, and the rate of low birthweight infants.

The Rankings also looks at factors that affect people's health within four categories: health behavior, clinical care, social and economic factors, and physical environment. Among the many health factors they looked at: rates of adult smoking, adult obesity, excessive drinking among adults, and teenage births; the number of uninsured adults, availability of primary care providers, and preventable hospital stays; rates of high school graduation, adults who have attended college, children in poverty; and community safety; access to healthy foods and air pollution levels.

Social and economic factors contribute 40 percent to health outcome and behavior contributes 30 percent, Lindsay said. "Tobacco use, alcohol use, diet and exercise play an important role in a community's health, but so do education, employment and public safety," she said.

For additional assessment tools of the county's health, public health epidemiologist Ron Largusa from Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services recommends the California Health Interview Survey, California Healthy Kids Survey and an analysis of Humboldt Vital Statistics data by the Public Health Branch of DHSS and other agencies.

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Massive Mudslide Envelops Hwy. 101

Posted By on Wed, Mar 30, 2011 at 2:06 PM

click to enlarge slidechp.jpg

UPDATE, 3:55 p.m.: Several SoHum schools are cancelling classes for the remainder of the week. South Fork High School, Redway Elementary School and the Osprey Learning Center will be closed Thursday and Friday due to transportation and food delivery concerns, Southern Humboldt Unified School District Superintendent Michael McAllister told the Times-Standard.

UPDATE, 2:25 p.m.: Caltrans spokesperson Julie East says Hwy. 101 will remain closed for at least two to three days -- barring more rain -- after which it may be opened to one-way controlled traffic. Here's the tale of the tape: The mudslide is 600 feet wide, extends 1,500 feet above the roadway is still moving. The suggested alternate route is Interstate 5, which means using Routes 299 or 36 from the north or Route 20 from the south -- inconvenient, to say the least.

Lots more photos from the CHP can be seen here.

UPDATE, 2:07 p.m.: The situation ain't pretty. Our relative isolation has grown more severe, and a shudder of loneliness sweeps across the land. Here's a release from the county's Public Works department:

Hwy 101 between the Avenue of the Giants exit at Silvendale and the Redway exit at Dean Creek has been closed due to a slide. The local roads around this area are not an option for travelers. The roads to the west, Briceland/Thorne Road, Wilder Ridge, and Mattole Road, have all experienced damage in the recent storms. To the East, the Alderpoint Road has also had storm damage. The Dyerville Road has experienced heavy snow fall; it has been plowed but there is still snow on the road and it [is] one lane in many places. These rural roads cannot handle a large volume of traffic or use by heavy vehicles. For the public's safety Humboldt County Public Works Department is recommending Highways 299, 5, and 20.

Weeks of relentless downpours conspired with gravity this morning to trigger a massive mudslide that completely swallowed a four-lane expanse of Hwy. 101, five miles north of Garberville. Caltrans officials told KSLG's John Matthews that the highway will remained closed for "at least a couple of days." Caltrans District 1 spokesperson Julie East said there are many people on site, and they expect to have an updated status report around 2 p.m.

The photo below came from KMUD's Flickr stream.

click to enlarge mudslide2.jpg

Earlier, the California Highway Patrol stunned more than a few folks by suggesting the route would be closed for two weeks. The slide buckled the asphalt and displaced an entire hillside -- trees and all. Here's another aerial shot, provided by County Supervisor Mark Lovelace CHP Luitenant Adam Jager:

click to enlarge mudaerial.jpg

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Farewell, Chris Crawford

Posted By on Tue, Mar 29, 2011 at 2:27 PM

Chris CrawfordThe local blogosphere continues to reverberate with shock and sadness over the death of Chris Crawford, a passionate political figure, respected businessman and accomplished technology expert who died last weekend after a brief battle with liver cancer.

Crawford was a vibrant and active member of the local political scene. A proud "lifelong Republican," he worked tirelessly to further campaigns he believed in -- for example, chairing the local Measure N campaign to make way for the Marina Center -- and to thwart those he opposed, such as Measure T, a 2006 countywide campaign finance reform initiative. He ran for county supervisor in 2000, offering a seven-point plan for "more jobs and better county government."

J Warren Hockaday, executive director of the Greater Eureka Chamber of Commerce, remembered his friend in today's Times-Standard as "one of the most passionate and one of the brightest persons I've ever known... . Instead of just having opinions, he really put his horsepower behind the issues he believed in."

Through his activity with the Redwood Technology Consortium Crawford was instrumental in efforts to establish redundant fiber-optic connectivity to the county -- an ever-more-important communications lifeline. On the Talking Tech blog, his friend and fellow consortium member Bob Morse called him "one of the most eloquent off-the-cuff speakers I knew" and said, "Chris was gregarious, poured [a] good drink, and laughed loudly."

I met him when I was a fresh-faced business reporter for the Times-Standard. I'd gone to the Fortuna River Lodge to cover one of the first Broadband Forums held in the county. Once he learned who I was he made a point of sitting next to me, and throughout the day he kept whispering informative footnotes to the day's various speeches -- filling me in on the meaning of complicated techno-jargon and sharing bio information on the attending movers and shakers. It was a kind and selfless gesture.

There will be a memorial service at the Arkley Center on April 11 from 5 to 7 p.m., the T-S reports.

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Monday, March 28, 2011

Bomb Threat at HSU (0ver)

Posted By on Mon, Mar 28, 2011 at 4:04 PM

Update as of 4 p.m. 

Humboldt State University’s Founders Hall and Van Matre Hall have been reopened after a bomb threat prompted the evacuation and closure of the two buildings. The area is now safe to occupy.

The University Police Department completed a sweep of the two buildings at approximately 3 p.m. and discovered no items believed to be a bomb. An on-going investigation is underway and people in the area should remain on alert. Any items out of ordinary can be reported immediately to University Police at (707) 826-5555.

Information regarding class cancellations and rescheduling is forthcoming. More information will be posted on their website and on 826-INFO  as it becomes available.

 

 

Monday, March 28, 2011 - 11:54 a.m. via HSU Police and the campus website:

Founders Hall, Van Matre Building Closed

Founders Hall and the Van Matre Building are CLOSED to all persons until further notice due to a bomb threat. All classes and activities in this area have been cancelled.

The University Police Department is investigating a bomb threat in that area. The University has closed this area as a precaution.

Persons in this area of the campus should be cautious of anyone or anything suspicious. Anyone in the area should evacuate if it appears safe to do so.

 

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Friday, March 25, 2011

It Rained

Posted By on Fri, Mar 25, 2011 at 4:22 PM

click to enlarge img_0648.JPG

When Mielke's right, he's right.

But just how right he was could be seen on 11th St. in Arcata today where Journal reader Dan Davis shot these pics of some dude Arcata resident John Hunter taking advantage of the abundence of wet.

 

click to enlarge img_0646.JPG

Note: Life jackets, while recommended, are not legally required by kayakers on streets within Arcata's city limits.

click to enlarge img_0647.JPG

 

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Charlie's Early Review of Cedar Rapids

Posted By on Fri, Mar 25, 2011 at 3:19 PM

Cedar Rapids

Journal film critic Charlie Myers has been on vacation in Portland, Ore., the city that steals Humboldt County's youth. One of the perks of the place is that movies there often get released on their actual release date. So while Cedar Rapids starts today in local theaters, it's been up there for weeks.

Through the magic of fiber-optic techno-hoses (or something) Charlie sent along his review, which we bring to you now in its entirety, four-and-a-half days before it will show up in our print edition. Enjoy:

Having attended graduate school at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, I was vaguely aware that Cedar Rapids was not far away. But back then, there was no ready reason for ever going to Cedar Rapids, a moderate-sized city with no apparent distinction, at least for this out-of-state, Iowa-ignorant graduate theatre major who was attending school in the "Athens of the Midwest".

Subsequently, my closest friend at the university got a job teaching at a community college in Cedar Rapids so I did actually visit there a few times, but I confess to having no memory whatsoever of the place. No matter. As it turns out, the film was actually shot in Ann Arbor because of a tax break provided by Michigan not available in Iowa, so I wouldn't have recognized anything anyway.

Like my old image of the city, Cedar Rapids is a pleasantly entertaining comedy without any real distinction. Even as I was enjoying the film I realized that in six months it would barely register. But I am happy to take my pleasure where I can.

The story centers on Tim Lippe (Ed Helms, "The Office"; The Hangover), an idealistic insurance agent who learns a few of the facts of life when he is sent to a conference in Cedar Rapids, which may give you an idea of how sheltered he was before in Wisconsin. Tim actually believes that insurance agents are a force for good, but when he meets his fellow agents at the conference, he discovers that his views are not widely shared.

You might have thought that his unpleasant boss Bill (Stephen Root) or his paramour Macy (a wonderful Sigourney Weaver), who also was his seventh grade teacher, might have wised him up.

As it turns out, though, his education comes from the help of three conferees who guide him through the turmoil and cynicism of the "real" world: his roommate Ronald (Isiah Whitlock Jr), outwardly crass salesman Dean (John C. Reilly) and, particularly, straying married saleswoman Joan (an excellent Anne Heche who embodies her character to perfection).

There are no great revelations here, just a solid film expertly helmed by Miguel Arteta (The Good Girl). And, for a change, the ending is an entirely appropriate and satisfying comic resolution. Rated R for language, drugs and a little sex. 87m. At the Broadway

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HumCo in the New York Times

Posted By on Fri, Mar 25, 2011 at 2:52 PM

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They say the best movies about American culture are made by foreigners, the logic being that it takes an outsider's eye to really see things objectively.

I'm not sure if I buy that, but I will say that this piece on Humboldt County from today's New York Times (by Canadian-born, North Carolina-raised author Wells Tower) really captures some of the distinct particulars that make this place special -- from our gorgeous landscapes and Victorian houses to the bigfoot enthusiasts, reclusive pot growers and noodle-dancing free spirits. 

An excerpt: 

In my touristic career, I've grown numb to the presence of hammerhead sharks, giant tortoises, grizzly bears, blue-footed boobies and pilot whales, but in the awe department, coast redwoods seemed to have no point of diminishing returns. Each tree revealed some astounding new characteristic of girth, bark tone, branch anatomy or moss couture. The forest's crisp, misty air made breathing a thrilling novelty. It seemed to inhale itself.

On top of his writing chops, Wells is a good guy to share a couple beers with. He stopped by the Journal offices during his visit and gathered some local wisdom from former editor Hank Sims (and bar suggestions from the rest of us).

The piece is not receiving universal acclaim from locals, however. Check the post and comments over on Kym Kemp's blog.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Burns Named Acting Editor

Posted By on Wed, Mar 23, 2011 at 11:46 AM

Veteran staff writer Ryan Burns has been named acting editor of the North Coast Journal as of Wednesday, March 23. Burns has been with the Journal since 2008 and has won numerous writing awards for the paper.

Tom Abate, who served as editor for the past six weeks, is no longer with the company. His last day was Tuesday.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Emad Resigns From Planning Commission

Posted By on Tue, Mar 22, 2011 at 11:58 AM

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Long-time Planning Commissioner Bruce Emad submitted a letter of resignation effective April 30th, citing both personal and professional reasons, the county announced in a press release today. A call to Emad was not immediately returned.

His sudden resignation leaves an at-large vacancy on the commission, which is (still) in the midst of the county's General Plan Update. Here's the rest of the press release:

In his letter to the Board Commissioner Emad stated "Events beyond my control, in my personal as well as professional life, have made it impossible for me to devote the required time to my duties as a planning commissioner. This has been an extremely difficult decision for me, however, after much contemplation and consideration, unavoidable."

Commissioner Emad has served in an `at-large' position on the Humboldt County Planning Commission for 12 years, having first been appointed in 1999. He had recently been reappointed to another 4-year term in January. Emad expressed his great regret at his need to resign, and his appreciation for those that supported his recent reappointment.

Board of Supervisors Chair Mark Lovelace said "I'm very sorry to hear of Bruce's decision, but I understand that his reasons are entirely personal and it's beyond our ability to convince him to stay. I greatly appreciate his years of service to the people of Humboldt County, and I wish him all the best."

Emad's resignation creates a vacancy for an at-large position on the Planning Commission. The vacancy must be posted for a minimum of 10 days before a new appointment can be made.

Following some confusion with the previous appointment in January, the Board had directed staff to develop recommended protocols to help clarify the process. The Board is expected to receive a report from staff at its April 5th meeting, and may approve new protocols at that time. The Board is not expected to make a new appointment to the Planning Commission until after those protocols are in place.

The Clerk of the Board's office has a number of applications already on file. Persons wishing to apply may pick up applications at the Clerk's office in Room 111 of the County Courthouse, 825 5th Street in Eureka, or may call 476-2390 to have an application mailed to them. Applications must be filed with the Clerk of the Board Persons appointed to the Planning Commission are required to file an oath of office and a statement of economic interest as required by the Fair Political Practices Commission.

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