Friday, November 30, 2012

Eureka Hires New City Manager

Posted By on Fri, Nov 30, 2012 at 11:37 AM

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The city of Eureka announced today that is has hired William T. Panos, former West Sacramento director of public works, to be its next city manager, replacing David Tyson, who is retiring at the end of the year.

According to the Bill Panos page on brandyourself.com, his previous experience includes working as an engineer at automotive/aerospace company TRW, two jobs in education administration and a stint as city manager in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

Below you'll find the press release from the city:

The Eureka City Council is pleased to announce it has appointed William T. Panos to serve as city manager. Panos brings over three decades experience to the position.

Most recently, he was the director of public works for the City of West Sacramento, responsible for overseeing community infrastructure, engineering, public utilities and the Port of West Sacramento. As a member of the city's executive and budget teams, Panos directed city financial strategies, government relations and regional partnerships.

Panos was previously the school construction executive for the State of Washington where he directed capital finance, land use policy and local school construction throughout the state. He was responsible for creating a $600 million annual capital program and oversaw 2.9 million acres of state trust lands. Panos has also served with local government in Northern Idaho and Los Angeles, as special advisor to the chancellor of the California State University System and as toxics director for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Mr. Panos' public sector experience came after a successful career with the TRW Corporation in its defense, space and automotive business operations in the Americas, Europe and Asia.  He was an advisor to President's Council on Sustainable Development under the Clinton Administration and his work received the TRW Chairman's Award for Innovation and the prestigious Harvard University-Ford Foundation Award for Innovations in American Government.

"After a comprehensive search, I am very pleased that we have found an outstanding candidate to serve as our city manager.  His experience in key positions with industry and public agencies is a strong asset to our city.  I look forward to working with him," said Mayor [Frank] Jäger. 

Mr. Panos is scheduled to start January 1.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

So, Jimmy Kimmel Doesn't Think Humboldt State's New Weed Institute Sounds All That Necessary

Posted By on Wed, Nov 28, 2012 at 9:29 AM

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Our legacy has been secured. Again.

As should have been expected, Humboldt State University's announcement that it was firing up an Interdisciplinary Marijuana Research Institute was picked up by significant news organizations across the web -- CBS News, the Huffington Post, Italian Rolling Stone.

Sure, sure. But none of that coverage will be as remembered as the "report" filed by Jimmy Kimmel Live on Tuesday night's edition.

Kimmel observes: "We already have a college research institute devoted to marijuana. It's called college."

And it goes from there. Enjoy.

More: Jimmy Kimmel Invited to Speak at HSU Graduation

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Floyd Squires Defends Himself

Posted By on Tue, Nov 27, 2012 at 5:06 PM

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Eureka's most notorious slumlord took the stand this morning to testify in his own defense while an attorney for the city of Eureka peppered him with questions about mold, cockroaches, faulty plumbing and overdue repairs at several of his properties. 

Alternately nervous, evasive and defiant, Squires claimed to have completed most of the repairs necessary to get back in compliance with building codes at the 26 properties at issue in the case. He pleaded ignorance and confusion about many of the city's permitting requirements and repair requests.

At his own attorney's advice, Squires last week refused to allow city inspectors on his properties to see whether or not the repairs had actually been completed. Squires said he refused access because he respects his tentants' rights and privacy.

The city's battles with Squires date back more than a decade. (See a selection of previous Journal coverage here, here, here and here.) Last January, the city, along with the county District Attorney's office, sued Squires and his wife, alleging "ongoing and pervasive" code violations. The city is seeking permanent injunctions on properties owned by the couple.

Representing the city of Eureka was attorney Dean Pucci with the Roseville law offices of Jones & Mayer. He asked Squires to specify the repairs he'd completed -- and the permits he'd requested -- at one Eureka property after another: a Victorian at 119 West Sixth St., bungalow apartments at 2927 through 2941 California St., a subdivided house at 1637 Third St. and more.

Squires claimed the city initially denied him permits because six of his properties had been placed in receivership. The order placing those properties in the hands of a third party was stayed following an appeal. He also claimed to have completed many repairs without getting new permits or follow-up inspections.

Pucci challenged him. "You and your handymen are not certified building inspectors, right?" he asked. "You testified to remedying literally hundreds of violations since the beginning of this case, yes?" Squires confirmed that he had. "How can you say those [repairs] comply with state and local law?"

Squires replied, "I have years of experience and a little common sense." If a faucet needed to be repaired because it didn't have cold water, for example, he could simply turn it on and check it to see if it worked, he said.

In a surreal exchange, Pucci asked Squires to look at one of several binders filled with pictures taken at his properties. He directed Squires to look at pictures taken recently at the Blue Heron Lodge on Broadway, where the city had previously identified mold and water damage. He asked Squires to look at a picture of a wall and shower tiles and say whether or not he saw water damage.

"I don't see water damage," Squires replied. "I see filth."

Pucci also asked Squires about evidence of cockroaches at the Blue Heron Lodge. Squires admitted that there have been cockroaches in some of the units, but he said the presence of the insects "depends on the cleanliness of the tenants."

During a break in the proceedings, Squires told the Journal that some tenants make complaints as "an attention getter ... to try to get free rent." And he said that the city's case against him is based on retaliation for his own suit against the city alleging harrassment. 

Back in court, Pucci suggested it's the other way around. "Isn't it true that every time the city initiates legal action against you, you turn around and file a complaint against the city?"

After some back and forth, Squires responded, "There were some legal proceedings, yes."

Puccie also asked Squires why he hasn't completed repairs he promised 19 months ago at a preliminary injunction hearing. Squires said they're almost done.

Pucci completed his cross-examination of Squires before the hearing ended at noon.

Both Pucci and Squires' attorney, Bradford Floyd, said they expect the trial to wrap up by Thursday.

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Friday, November 23, 2012

Lighthouse Water Tower Deconstruction

Posted By on Fri, Nov 23, 2012 at 12:00 PM

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A Song for Bill

Posted By on Fri, Nov 23, 2012 at 10:53 AM

Every once in a while someone reads a story in the Journal and is inspired. We like it when that happens. An example is this song by former Humboldter Melody Walker, an "Americali" singer/songwriter who now lives in Richmond. (Walker was among those profiled in Herb Childress' cover story from 2011, "Leaving.") 

She explained, "My newest song 'Billy the Champ' was inspired by the great piece "Saga of an Ape" by Daniel Mintz in the North Coast Journal about Bill the Chimp at the Sequoia Park Zoo. I used to go to the zoo a lot when I first moved to Humboldt and was especially fond of Bill and his curmudgeonly sass. When he died in 2007 this NCJ article told his life story so well and literally brought me to tears by the end, and I decided he definitely deserved a song."

Melody Walker & Jacob Groopman - Billy the Champ

"It took me five years to write it, i guess, but here it is! We just recorded it for the first time, live at the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley, and it will be on our upcoming live CD to be released in early 2013." 

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Scare Crow

Posted By on Wed, Nov 21, 2012 at 12:36 PM

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Freaked-out opposition and stern eyebrow-raising amongst the citizenry has caused the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to drop its plan to poison crows and ravens on Clam Beach as a means to protect the threatened Western snowy plover.

The plan -- called an experiment by the Fish and Wildlife Service -- was to plant avicide-laced chicken eggs on the beach where plover-egg plundering corvids are wont to roam. The Fish and Wildlife Service's news release announcing its dropping of the plan states quite pointedly why it was considering such a severe measure:

"Humboldt County's Clam Beach has one of the most aggressive predation rates by crows and ravens on snowy plovers within the bird's range. In the last 11 years, more than 70 percent of Pacific Coast snowy plover eggs along the northern-most California coast have been lost due to crow and raven predation."

You can see the motivation.

At public gatherings to discuss the plan, the service said it had tried less extreme methods of corvid control, with limited success, including putting in better garbage receptacles at the beach, enclosing snowy plover nests in a way that only the plovers can get in and out of their nest areas, hazing ravens and crows with slingshots, and -- in a brief experiment by a graduate student -- staging a crow-killing in front of other crows then hanging the "slaughtered" (stuffed roadkill) bird from a pole. That scared some birds, but only in a small range.

Now the service will go back to the arsenal to try to come with a new, non-lethal plan -- with the public's help -- for protecting plovers. Those who want to help develop a new plan -- and we're figuring that's every one of you who squawked about the poison one -- might want to go to the meetings the service has set up: 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Nov.29 at the Humboldt County Agriculture Center, 5630 South Broadway in Eureka; and during the Dec. 12 McKinleyville Community Services District Board meeting, which starts at 7 p.m., at Azalea Hall, 1620 Pickett Road in McKinleyville.

In the meantime, we've heard a few ideas from wildlife professor John M. Marzluff at the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle. We featured Marzluff in our story about smart corvids -- Steller's jays, in particular, and ravens and crows -- called Bright Bird, back in June.

He was incensed to hear about the poison plan. He said the service did not try hard enough to make a non-lethal approach work. And killing ravens and crows, he added, is not sustainable:

"Some corvids will die. Other corvids will move in and take their place, likely right away. Plovers will still be eaten by corvids. Plovers will be eaten by other predators also."

He suggested a number of alternatives: taste-aversion conditioning of ravens and crows by planting fake plover eggs injected with vomit-inducing substances to turn the birds off -- like Humboldt State researchers have been doing to stop jays from eating marbled murrelet eggs; human scarecrows -- rangers who patrol the beach during plover season; more scary crow-death re-enactments to frighten the predators out of wanting to be on the beach; and even better garbage pick-up from the beach. Said Marzluff:

"They probably haven't tried dogs running the beach who are trained to chase corvids, either. Again, they need to be creative, not just reactive."

Marzluff scoffed at the service's calling the poison plan an "experiment."

"No, that is not an experiment. Where are the controls? Where is the replication? What is the design? It sounds to me like it is an attempt to see if poisoning would have an effect, but the only real way to do that is to have replicates in various areas and compare the plover success in areas with and without poison eggs."

So, let the creativity begin.

 

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Jason Warren Murdered Dorothy Ulrich, Sheriff's Office Says

Posted By on Tue, Nov 20, 2012 at 12:25 PM

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After an investigation that lasted nearly eight weeks, the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office has concluded that 28-year-old transient Jason Anthony Warren murdered 47-year-old Hoopa woman Dorothy Evelyn Ulrich on the morning of Sep. 27.

The Sheriff's Office has submitted its findings to the District Attorney and is requesting that charges of homicide and auto theft be filed against Warren.

Warren has also been identified as a "person of interest" in a hit-and-run incident that occurred later the same day, leaving 40-year-old Suzie Seemann dead and two other women badly injured.

The investigation into that incident is being handled by the California Highway Patrol.

[Addendum: The Times-Standard published a short piece on Ulrich last month, with remembrances from her sister-in-law. The Two Rivers Tribune published an obituary.]

The Sheriff's Office press release is below.

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On 11-20-2012, the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office concluded a majority of the Death Investigation of Dorothy Evelyn Ulrich, 47 years old of Hoopa. Investigators determined that Ulrich was the victim of a Homicide, and suspect Jason Anthony Warren, 28 years old, a transient, is responsible for her Homicide. Based upon their investigation, Sheriff's Detectives believe Ulrich was killed during the early morning hours of September 27, 2012. A silver Kia Spectra was stolen from Hoopa shortly after Ulrich's death. Subsequently, the Silver Kia Spectra was recovered by the Eureka Police Department in the City of Eureka on September 27th, 2012. The Sheriff's Office has submitted its case to the Humboldt County District Attorneys Office today, along with a Declaration in Support of an Arrest Warrant, requesting charges of homicide and auto theft be filed against Warren.

Jason Warren is currently in custody at San Quentin State Prison on an unrelated charge. 

PREVIOUS

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On 09-27-2012, approximately 10:30 a.m., a California Highway Patrol Officer conducting a follow up investigation discovered a deceased female in a residence on Little Moon Lane, Hoopa. The Humboldt County Sheriff's Office and Hoopa Tribal Police responded to and took custody of the scene. Sheriff's detectives were notified and also responded to the residence. At 2:50 p.m. a search warrant was issued by the Humboldt County Superior Court and detectives entered the residence. Further news releases will be made as the investigation continues.

Anyone with information for the Sheriffs Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriffs Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriffs Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.

Previously:

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Logger Reborn

Posted By on Thu, Nov 15, 2012 at 8:26 AM

We've been hearing rumblings about what's going on at the historic Logger Bar out in Blue Lake. The venerable establishment kitty-corner from Dell'Arte changed hands and new owner Kate Martin (below) has been hard at work refurbishing with a crew of volunteers including Bad Bob Ornelas.

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Official announcement of a ribbon-cutting and re-opening scheduled for this Saturday:

Blue Lake's Logger Bar, first opened in 1899, will reopen under new management with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 17. New owner Kate Martin has transformed the local watering hole with new paint, new fixtures, and more seating to give it the feel of a cozy neighborhood bar. She'll be open seven days a week.

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Martin says she is keeping on display the historic logging memorabilia installed by previous owner Eugene Supko. Dozens of logging photographs from many decades will be back on the walls. Saws, hardhats, and logging gear donated by Logger Bar clientele over the years will be on display again, and the newly polished steam donkey will continue to heat the bar. In a uniquely creative move, Martin has inlaid giant round saw blades into the newly stripped and finished wood floors.

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Close to 100 volunteers have put in countless hours to get the Logger cleaned, painted and refurbished in time for the Nov. 17, grand re-opening. Martin says, "Without the help of neighbors and friends I'd be up shit creek."

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At one time there were three bars within two blocks of each other in Blue Lake -- The Logger, Walt's Friendly Tavern and the Mad River Rose. In the '70s this "terrible triangle" drew HSU students to Blue Lake on the weekends and bands like the Robert Cray Band made music. Walt's closed in the '80s and is now the Chumayo Spa. The Mad River Rose has been shuttered for years. But for more than 100 years the Logger has never closed.

Supko bought the bar from Sid Madjarac in 1994. For many years The Logger was a hangout for locals working in the timber industry, but the decline of logging in the region brought about a gradual changeover in the bar's patrons. Audiences, artists and students from the neighboring Dell'Arte International made it a favorite spot to relax after rehearsals and performance nights. A group of women musicians and songwriters even named themselves "The Brendas" after long-term Logger bartender Brenda.

Martin hopes that her bar will attract a cross-section of the local population. The bar will feature a variety of beers, a full bar, a piano, ping pong and a quarter pool table right where it's always been. She'll be open daily, with longer hours on weekends.

The Logger Bar at 510 Railroad Avenue in Blue Lake will be open Thursday through Saturday, noon until 2 a.m. and Sunday through Wednesday, noon to midnight. Call them at 707-668-5000. Friend them on Facebook.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Camera. Action. $5 Million?

Posted on Tue, Nov 13, 2012 at 10:28 AM

"In a small town in Northern California on the coast. Crew has invaded the town like roaches. We're everywhere. People here are friendly."

-- M. Night Shyamalan on Twitter, April 22

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They came. They scouted the land. They returned and created a bustling Hollywood set in Humboldt Redwoods State Park. And reportedly, they left behind $5 million. But we don't know yet just where.

For a later location shoot, in Moab, Utah, the makers of the sci-fi flick After Earth spent $400,000 for five days of shooting, reported Jeff Richards of the Moab Times-Independent. That included lodging and food during six weeks of preparations and five days spent shooting.

Here in Humboldt, for roughly twice as long -- nine days of shooting plus pre-shoot scouting trips -- the filmmakers reportedly spent nearly 10 times that much.

Humboldt County Film Commissioner Cassandra Hesseltine says she was given the $5 million figure by a Sony representative. An official detailed expenditure breakdown will be filed on a form required by the California Film Commission. That form is expected shortly after Thanksgiving.

"I won't be getting details on breakdown of spending for a while," Hesseltine says. "There is a long process."

It's possible to reconstruct some of the expenses. About a half million for accommodations for a crew of 400-plus people and another half million for gasoline, for all those hour-long trips from Eureka to the shooting site near Weott. In Humboldt, much of the crew stayed at the Red Lion in Eureka, which also hosted the movie's temp production office. Will and Jaden Smith stayed at Bear River Casino's hotel. Trucks and heavy equipment were rented from United Rentals. Supplies were purchased at other area businesses, from Valley Lumber to Staples. Cars were rented.

The figure doesn't include the salaries of actors and film execs.

Hesseltine says she believes $5 million's in the right ballpark. Her office reports past Hollywood productions also dropped big money in Humboldt: $8.8 million spent here for The Majestic (2001) and $2.2 million for Outbreak (1995).

If this movie's a huge hit, Hesseltine says, the shooting site could become a tourist destination. That's what happened to the town of Forks, Wash., a holy site for fans of the Twilight kiddie vampire series. Closer to home, the Ewok village used for Return of the Jedi filming in Del Norte County attracted tourists until the set was vandalized and removed. A new cinematic tour of the area, however, could reprise Hollywood history for visitors. A marker could be placed in the woods -- "Jaden Smith's character stood here." Tourists could take photos at the site, experience the legacy.

That project's in the works, Hesseltine says.

After Earth stars legendary Jaden Smith (Karate Kid) and his dad Will (Fresh Prince in Black). It's directed by M. Night Shyamalan (1999's Sixth Sense was good).

The film is set 1,000 years in the future. Earth's been abandoned long ago by forward-thinking humans. The Smiths of the new millennium crash land on the pristine planet once called home. Think Disney's Wall-E meets History.com's Life After People.

The movie's stars and its post-apocalyptic production crew blasted into town after shoots in Pennsylvania and Costa Rica (and before the shoot in Moab).

Armed with Sony's new $65,000 F65 digital camera, spiffy gear that captures images in dizzyingly high resolution, movie makers recorded NorCal Nature in pixels four times denser than the industry standard.

Even if Sony's big-budget blockbuster fails to achieve escape velocity when it comes out in June, it'll look fabulous. And it will likely make money.

Shyamalan's 2010 movie The Last Airbender was created on a production budget of $150 million. Critics panned it. "Stilted dialogue, wooden acting, glacial pacing, cheesy special effects, tacky-looking sets, ugly costumes, poorly staged and edited action sequences, all shown in murky, cut-rate 3-D," wrote a NY Post critic. The movie lost money domestically -- bringing in only $131 million. Not to worry, though. The Last Airbender grossed another $188 million in foreign markets.

Back in Humboldt, whatever economic boost After Earth has provided wasn't limited to Sony's official spending, Hesseltine notes. Crew members ate and drank at local establishments. They bought groceries at the North Coast Co-op. Hesseltine relates a story of Jaden Smith running into Target to buy Nerf toys for downtime entertainment.

Local governments put up the money to run the Humboldt Film Commission, hoping to encourage visits like these, with whatever glam, tourism and dollars they may bring. Humboldt County contributes the lion's share, with smaller contributions from Del Norte County, the cities of Eureka and Arcata and the Fortuna Chamber of Commerce. From all those sources combined, Hesseltine's budget ends up around $75,000, which covers office rent, salaries and two trips a year to Los Angeles.

Hesseltine worked closely with makers of After Earth from the time they arrived here more than a year ago to look for the best location. She spent a week driving scouts around Del Norte and Humboldt as they auditioned redwood forests for a role in the movie.

The filmmakers chose Humboldt Redwoods State Park. In April, a small city bloomed off Dyerville Loop Road. Security guards ensured the safety of the stars. A well-stocked kitchen fed the crew. Heavy equipment was obtained. So were trailers, traffic cones, a travelin' school for the child actors and portable toilets.

By May 3, the After Earth team was packing bags and returning the forest to its natural, port-a-potty-free state. Shyamalan posted: "N. California is wrapped. Thanks to the people of Eureka for tolerating us and giving us such warmth."

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Friday, November 9, 2012

VIDEO: Newman Says Some Things About Business

Posted By on Fri, Nov 9, 2012 at 1:03 PM

Check out this awesome YouTube video someone just sent us. It's from KIEM's live coverage of election night two years ago, when Mike Newman won the third ward seat on Eureka's city council. The clip shows him in a, um, jubilant mood as he attempts to articulate his plans for the city. It has something to do with business, we think.

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