The city of Blue Lake has agreed to keep a closer eye on whether any of its treated sewage might be seeping into the Mad River. It will also spiff up its sewage treatment ponds, repairing dikes and adding more aerators to provide oxygen for crud-gobbling microbes.
That's all part of a settlement reached late last month with the environmental group River Watch, which had threatened to sue.
The deal commits Blue Lake to sampling water quality in the Mad River upstream and downstream from its percolation ponds. The city also agreed to study whether it should create special rates for big industrial users, including a casino and a brewery.
Go Fish and Chips Cafe, that long-dead restaurant on Waterfront Drive, has finally bleached into oblivion. That is, it's been painted all over in white. Which means the feverishly bright mural on its face, of fishes and birds and other creatures, painted by Eureka artist Augustus Clark about five years ago, is gone. Gone, also, the debate -- is it good art? Is it appetizing?
Oval signs announce a new identity: Bar-Fly Pub & Grub. Country music lilted from the building Monday afternoon as workers hammered away inside, readying it for an anticipated Jan. 27 opening. Yeah, said one guy, they've heard some comments about the whiting-out of the mural -- quite a few folks saying "whew, it's about time," others saying they missed it.
On the phone from Michigan, the new owner, Sheila Turbett, said she thought the mural was really cool. "But it didn't coincide with our theme, so it had to go. We did take a lot of pictures of it, and I'm going to put pictures of what it used to be like, a little history, in the bar."
The pub's theme will be "down-home," with pool tables, a juke box, antiques and country-western motifs, and will serve cocktails, beer and pub grub.
And the artist, how is he taking it?
"I'm happy to have had it out in the public for a while," said Clark over the phone Monday afternoon, in his ever-easy-going way that brings to mind the lyric never was heard a discouraging word ... . "I'm a little sorry that it's gone. But if it's going to go, let it go quickly. It's gone now. And I'm all right."
We've all heard of the horrors inflicted upon the Arcata Plaza during this past Halloween's bacchanal. McKinley's statue debauched. Grass embedded with broken glass and decorated in human fecal matter. Revelers jabbed with needles. Drunken revelers hauled off to the emergency room or jail. Planters and irrigation systems assaulted and plants killed. Storefront windows busted.
And we know what New Year's Eve on the Plaza was like as a result of those Halloween excesses: tick-tock, tick-tock, nothing but the sound of a few dozen cops' hearts beating in vigilant, calm rhythm as they stood in rank around the temporarily fenced off Plaza as the hour of 2012 approached. That, plus occasional grumblings from would-be Plaza partiers stopping to stare at the empty Plaza and the law enforcement spectacle, a steady festive chatter from the smallish crowd clumped alongside bar row, a drum session nearby and other small pops of elation and frustration.
And the next day? A very clean Arcata Plaza.
Now comes the judgment and second-guessing. Was it worth it to cordon off the Plaza and kill the people's New Year's buzz? How did the two measures measure up -- the cost of cleaning up after the worst property-damaging impromptu party in memory on the Plaza, versus the cost of preventing another such debacle?
No doubt some folks would say that a party with cleanup is better, at any cost, than no party at all. They're likely not the ones doing the cleanup...
Anyway, here are some figures:
Halloween cleanup total cost: At least $8,600, probably more
Arcata Parks Superintendent Dan Diemer says that's $3,600 for the supplies, equipment and 40 hours of straight time it took 10 city staff to pick up and remove 3,000 pounds of garbage, scrub off graffiti, pick glass out of the lawn, remove human excrement, sweep the streets around the Plaza and take out broken landscaping; and another estimated $5,000 or more to repair the Plaza's eight damaged planters and their irrigation systems and replace the plants -- a job that has been postponed until the city has the money.
Not included in the total cost: repairs to damaged storefronts, such as broken windows.
New Year's Eve enforcement total cost: About $7,000
First city parks staff put up a fence. The material was free because they had it already. And it cost the city about $900 for a total of five hours of city staff overtime (at time-and-a-half) to put up and take down the fence, said Diemer.
Then they deployed law enforcement officers. The Arcata Police Department asked for reinforcements from six other jurisdictions, who all obliged at no cost to Arcata in keeping with a mutual aid agreement they've all signed.
The Journal called each agency for figures. Some provided more information than others:
Arcata Police: APD Chief Tom Chapman refused to say how many personnel his department deployed, stating it could pose a safety risk to reveal such info about an investigation. He said the total costs in overtime -- he didn't say what kind of overtime -- for his officers came to about $2,800.
Humboldt State University Police: Lt. Kris Mechals said the department assigned one on-duty officer to the Plaza for five hours and sent an on-duty supervisor there for one hour. Total cost for both: $365 in straight time.
Eureka Police: Project Manager Lisa Pulver didn't have the total costs yet, because payroll hadn't been done, so she aimed high: the cost to send two sergeants and one officer to the Plaza for six-and-a-half hours, assuming they were being paid time-and-a-half overtime at the highest rate, could be come to $1,077.
Humboldt County District Attorney's Office: We know the DA's office sent a chief investigator and an investigator to the Plaza, but despite leaving numerous phone messages we still haven't heard back on what it cost the department to send them. Cost: unknown.
Fortuna Police: Office Supervisor Robin Paul said her department sent a detective and a sergeant, who were there from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. She estimated their deployment, calculated in straight time, cost the department $664 ($352 for the sergeant and $312 for the detective).
Ferndale Police: Officer Heath Bohacik said his department sent one officer to the Plaza. He didn't know for how long nor at what rate of pay, and the department's computer system was down because of renovations. Cost: unknown.
Rio Dell: Chief Graham Hill sent one officer for eight hours on regular duty salary -- between $328 and $340 (he wouldn't say exactly). So we'll call it $334.
The known costs add up to $6,140. We figured in another roughly $300 each for the two DA investigators and one Ferndale officer, assuming they were there eight hours, to reach the estimated total cost.
No, it did not snow last night. But it did snow on this day in history 105 years ago.
Local postcard collector Steve Lazar dug out this photographic postcard record of the unusual weather event, although it took some history detective sleuthing to figure out exactly when and where the photo was taken. (View from the Eureka Court House, Jan. 6, 1907.)
Apparently the snow was shortlived. A newspaper account at the time noted, "The day was raw and cold and the white carpet remained longer than usual but by noon it had nearly all disappeared," and goes on to describe "snowballing pranks" that caused property damage around town.
Mr. Lazar's account of his snow postcard research project follows:
Almost two years ago, I acquired one of my first old/rare "Real Photo Postcards" (often abbreviated on eBay as RPPC's). It was a shot of Eureka, in the snow - but without any immediately familiar notable buildings that would help determine where the shot had been taken and exactly when it was showing. Fairly early on in my postcard collecting, this was part of a two-card auction and represented my most expensive purchase to date ($26 for the pair). I like to think that I outbid my local postcard rival Leon (the rather high price is the most solid clue) but I cannot remember for sure (see Postcard Kings 2/17/11 NCJ for more on my subsequent encounters with Leon).
After arriving in my possession I paraded the card around at work to the usual cast of characters I had begun sharing my growing bounty with. [Steve works in the HumCo Planning Dept.] Many were native Eurekans and Humboldters, but all scratched their heads when asked to place the location. In subsequent weeks, I quizzed such local notables as Scott Brown (deltiologist and proprietor of our local antiquarian bookstore Eureka Books) and Ray Hillman (local historian and regular docent at the ‘Humboldt Room' the historic books and documents archive at the HumCo Library in Eureka) but had no luck. Both Ray and Scott complimented me on the find, but were unable to precisely place the view. I began to wonder what it would take to solve this mystery and when the clues might come...
I subsequently ran into an acquaintance and colleague, Bob Libershal, at the Humboldt Room. I had my rather new collection of postcards in hand and shared them with Bob. While looking through my nascent collection, the "Eureka in Snow" shot by Meiser caught his eye. With a bizarre tenacity that I would one day come to treasure and awe, I watched Mr. Libershal zero in on the truth and clarity I had been craving. He walked me over to the wall of the Humboldt Room where hung a copy of a 1902 lithograph, a "bird's-eye-view" of Eureka (these illustrated "birds-eye views" were common and provide a remarkably faithful snapshot in time of the various areas they depict). Bob scanned the framed image and with an "Ah-ha!" or the equivalent, pointed to an illustration of a white Italianate two-story home with a corner-tower, hipped roof and ‘widows walk.' Under the illustration was the caption "G.R. Georgeson Residence, Cor. 6th & J Sts."
As I volleyed back and forth between card and illustration, the similarity soon became clear, and I experienced an early dose of a now familiar enchantment and surprise as I crossed the divide of 100 years. This would be the limit of my newfound knowledge until recent months when Bob (now a regular historic confidante and compatriot) shared a discovery he had made while performing research on another project. I'm going to let Bob L take it from here:
I recognized the view from past historical research. The lower right side of the photo shows the rear of the large, grand house built for A.W. Randall in 1886 (later occupied by his daughter and son-in-law G.R. Georgeson). It was demolished in 1958 and sat at the northeast corner of Sixth and J streets. It's a view of residential Eureka towards the southeast from high in the County Courthouse. The key to determining the specific date was learning about a house being constructed, and apparently nearing completion then. This is the large house seen near mid photo, on the southwest corner of Sixth and K streets -- the site where College of the Redwoods downtown campus now is, across Sixth Street from Eureka's present City Hall. An article from a 1964 Humboldt County Historical Society newsletter written shortly after the demolition of that house was a serendipitous find and described the house as being "built about 1907." The article also mentions an earlier house that was moved from that corner site to make way for the new residence. Research of city moving permits shows one issued in August 1906 (moved only 1 1/2 blocks east on Sixth; it can be seen in the postcard).
With a focus on the winter of 1906-07, I read local newspapers of the time for the news of snow in Eureka. Beginning with December - no snow that month - and on to January... initially overlooking a snow news story on Jan. 7, eventually I found it somewhat buried on page 8. This postcard photograph by J.A. Meiser was taken on Sunday, Jan. 6, 1907 after an early morning snowfall. Monday's edition of the Daily Humboldt Standard newspaper told the story:
‘TWAS REAL SNOW FELL IN EUREKA
And Young and Old Indulged in a Snowball Frolic - Windows Broken
"The light snow-fall which occasionally finds its way down into Eureka of a winter, came along rather earlier than usual this year and Sunday morning the people of the city were somewhat surprised to find nearly an inch of "the beautiful" on roofs and streets. The day was raw and cold and the white carpet remained longer than usual but by noon it had nearly all disappeared. As usual young and old indulged in old-fashioned snowballing pranks, and as a result a number of windows about town were broken as also were several in the street cars which became the especial target for the youngsters"
Serendipity again when I shared my Eureka! moment with researcher (and veteran post card collector) Anne Hunt, who was also reading newspapers on microfiche at the library that day. She told me of a photo card she has of a snow man at the court house...
Karen Brooks has yet to officially kick off her campaign for the Third District seat on the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors. (That'll happen with pancakes Saturday morning at Arcata's D Street Community Center.) But she has already demonstrated a refreshing boldness. For one thing, she's a member (or perhaps former member) of the Humboldt Tea Party Patriots campaigning in Humboldt County's most liberal/progressive district. That's bold.
Even bolder? Her campaign website, which has been painstakingly designed to burn itself permanentaly onto viewers' retinas.
Set on a backdrop of fever-blister pink, Brooks logo appears in a flower-adorned font that's fondly reminiscent of Austin Powers and The Partridge Family.
Her portrait, superimposed over the road to Hobbiton, is framed by yet more flowers, which come in hues that reveal nature to be either lazy or unimaginative:
And under the link for "ideas" you'll find a vision for Humboldt County that truly embraces the Tea Party ethos of limited government:
Plus, she's already saved Seven-O-Heaven!
UPDATE (1:22 p.m.): The website's banner has already been changed:
UPDATE #2 (4:48 p.m.): The website has been taken down.
The much hyped Arcata Plaza edition of New Year's Eve has come and gone. For those keeping score: no Presidents were scaled. No bottles went airborne. Grass still looks good. From the City of Arcata's standpoint: mission accomplished. But to many others, the New Year's buzz was killed.
Much in the same way that a show of force by law enforcement was able to snuff out the unofficial annual 4/20 proceedings at Redwood Park, the thick blue line that protected the Plaza's Mckinley-adorned inner sanctum proved a more-than-adequate deterrent to any reveler that might have wanted to scale the 25th President. Destruction averted.
Law enforcement presence increased, as the night wore on. Adding to a heavy APD presence, officers from -- deep breath -- Eureka Police, Ferndale Police, Fortuna Police, Humboldt County District Attorney's Office, Humboldt State University Police and Rio Dell Police -- whew -- stationed themselves inside the fence and at the corners of the Plaza while also patrolling the perimeter. Woot!
So. That's that. As reported by the Arcata Eye, a "Plaza Study Group" was formed at a Nov. 30 meeting held in response to the eye-opening Plaza Halloween debacle. That group and those interested in discussing how future holidays are handled are invited to gather Jan. 24 at 8 a.m. at City Hall.
Oh, and happy new year!
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To the family....peace ..