It's 75 degrees at the Arcata-Eureka Airport right now. Seventy-freaking-five! That sets a record for April 24, beating out the 68-degree high set exactly 100 years ago, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The record high for all of April is 80 degrees, set on April 9, 1989. Meanwhile, Bridgeville hit 85 degrees at 1 this afternoon; Fortuna reached 78 degrees at 1:46 p.m.; and even Crescent City hit a toasty 72 degrees.
Global warming may spell doom for humanity, but dang if it ain't nice today!
Jean Pichler says the second Humboldt Bay eagle hatched just before dark on Wednesday. "Kyle," the first to hatch, was named after the property owner's nephew, who died in December.
The Humboldt Bay Eagles Facebook group invites local schoolchildren to suggest names for the second baby. The group is accepting suggestions on its Facebook page from any local K-8 classroom, along with a one-paragraph explanation of the class choice. Deadline for suggestions is May 25 -- the winner will be announced June 1.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions about the contest.
Here's another cute video from Priscilla Szabo -- feeding time for the eaglets:
One down, one to go, for anyone who hasn't been glued to our local eaglecam for the past several weeks. Click here for the link.
Jean Pichler -- an admin of the Humboldt Bay Bald Eagles Facebook group -- says the second is expected to hatch anywhere from 24-72 hours.
Eagle-watcher Priscilla Szabo shared this great video of the little fluffball wriggling around:
This seal pup was spotted at the end of the pier at the Arcata Marsh on Sunday, and was reported to folks who monitor stranded wildlife. Marsh visitors were being advised to leave the animal alone and not harass it or try to "rescue" it.
Did you read yesterday's San Francisco Chronicle? Yeah, me neither. But Journal Publisher Judy Hodgson did! And she directed us to this write-up on the local marketing campaign known as Humboldt Made. Here's the key bit:
As part of its effort to let the world know that there's more to Humboldt than weed, the county's economic development division is working with local artisans, food makers, farmers and ranchers to position Humboldt products in the market as upscale, health conscious and earth friendly.
The effort represents the county's first foray into marketing via Facebook and YouTube. (Another series of YouTube vids is now in production.) Since we wrote about it in 2009 and 2010 the campaign has enlisted new businesses (there are more than 60 involved now) and new techniques, including a smartphone app and local-item expenditure tallies on grocery store receipts.
What the Chron story doesn't mention is that the county is currently looking to hand off management of the campaign to another organization. Last month, Humboldt County Economic Development Coordinator Jacqueline Debets announced that "it's time for Humboldt Made to fledge from the County nest to a new host organization that can support it's growth potential."
The deadline to express interest was last Monday.
Humboldt County and Lee Ulansey -- the recently appointed county planning commissioner and former director of the Humboldt Coalition for Property Rights -- will argue a public records case before a judge this week.
With the help of Eureka attorney Allison Jackson, Ulansey has been asking the county for attorney records for more than a year, calling for county transparency.
The records in question detail how much money the county has spent defending and prosecuting several lawsuits -- most prominently the county's suit against Bob McKee and more than 30 others over subdividing the Tooby Ranch property near Garberville. The county has spent more than $3 million on that particular legal battle, alleging that McKee accepted generous tax breaks in exchange for a promise not to develop his land -- then broke that promise. A Humboldt County judge is considering issuing a penalty for McKee's actions in the next few months.
Ulansey first submitted a public records request at the end of 2011, asking the county to turn over the payment information for attorneys hired by the county.
The county said no, arguing that details of an attorney's on-the-clock activities are protected by attorney-client privilege. It resisted until a state appellate court ruled in a similar case that the time and dollar amount spent on an attorney would not reveal that attorney's legal strategy. The state Supreme Court chose not to weigh in on the matter, effectively upholding the appellate court's decision.
Humboldt County relented, producing files that it said fulfilled the original public request HumCPR made back in 2011. But that wasn't the end.
Jackson and Ulansey said the records weren't sufficient -- they wanted how much time the county's in-house attorneys spent working on the lawsuits.
The county countered that those records don't exist, and that besides, Ulansey and Jackson didn't pick up the first batch of records before telling the court they were insufficient.
Since then, Jackson and Ulansey have looked over the files. The county's redactions went too far, they said, removing details about where visiting attorneys stayed and ate. They argued that attorney's time sheets -- some of which bill by the tenth of an hour -- should not have been redacted when they simply said the attorney was writing a letter, for example. The content of such a letter, they said, is the only information that should be protected by attorney-client privilege.
Unable to reach an agreement, the matter continued today in court with freshly hired attorney Bill Bragg helping the county.
The county was looking for a "fresh set of eyes," Bragg said following today's hearing. He said he'll talk with Jackson about a resolution this week, but he expects the two parties will present their arguments before a judge Friday.
Jackson called it "ironic" that the county hired outside counsel in a case about the price of hiring outside counsel. Neither she nor Ulansey would comment further on the case.
Looks like it was a false alarm triggered by a bogus Facebook post. The Humboldt County Sheriff's Office announced this afternoon that a search of CR's main Eureka campus has been completed by a law enforcement super-team that included the FBI, Eureka Police, Humboldt County Drug Task Force, Humboldt State University police, College of Redwoods security, Humboldt Bay Fire District, Cal Fire and CR administrative staff. No bomb.
The threat originated on Facebook. According to CR spokesman Paul DeMark, a bomb threat was posted on a student's Facebook page last night, and when a friend asked the guy about it he responded, "This is not my page."
The student figured that someone had set up a bogus page in his name and then posted the threat, so he immediately called the Sheriff's office, DeMark said. The college's information technology staff is trying to trace the origin of the message with help from the FBI, according to DeMark.
The 135-or-so students who live on campus were evacuated on buses supplied by Humboldt Transit Authority and taken to an undisclosed Eureka City Schools gymnasium. HSU is supplying the students with food today, DeMark said.
"We are anticipating having classes tomorrow," he added.
UPDATE 9:20 a.m.:
It was a threat posted online. Sheriff's Office press release:
On 4-18-2013, approximately 12:15 a.m. the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office was notified by College of the Redwoods (C.R.) students of an internet posting of a bomb threat directed at the C.R. campus. The internet posting stated the bomb would detonate today, 04-18-2013. The Sheriff's Office immediately notified College of the Redwoods Security. The college administration decided to close campus for the day as a precaution all classes were canceled for the day. All C.R. residence hall students were evacuated for the day as a precaution to an offsite locate. The Sheriff's Office and multiple Humboldt County allied agencies are responding to the campus to conduct a search of the campus today with College of the Redwoods staff. Sheriff's Detectives are working with the internet provider to determine who posted the threat. The Federal Bureau of Investigation was also notified. False reporting of a bomb is a crime and subject to state prison and fines.
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.
College of the Redwoods' main Eureka campus has been closed today due to a bomb scare. All students, staff and faculty are being told to stay away. The school's public information officer, Paul DeMark, posted the following message on CR's Facebook page this morning:
College of the Redwoods' main Eureka campus will be closed for classes, day and evening, on Thursday, April 18 due to a threat to campus security. All residence hall students have been relocated to a safe location. College personnel are working with the Humboldt County Sheriff''s Department to ensure a safe campus. Students and staff will not be allowed on campus today. An upate will follow as soon as possible.
Bill Hole, a construction technology instructor (and husband of a Journal employee), learned in an email this morning that the threat was a bomb scare.
More information to follow.
Canned foods can opener pot to
Still ain't ready.
Come on, readers, you know you can do better than that tripe, up top. Here's the gig: It's National Poetry Month. In a lot of states, including California, it's Earthquake Preparedness Month. It's also Wednesday afternoon and there's been news, yes, but it's time for a break -- a rhythmic brain quake -- so combine these dutiful celebratory themes and write yourself an earthquake poem. Or an earthquake preparedness poem. Maybe it's sad. Maybe silly. Doesn't have to rhyme but if it does that's dilly.
(What do you win? Jeers and accolades! Perhaps, even, smugness.)
Suddenlink reports, once again, a vandal cut off Internet, phone and cable service for 10,000 customers in Arcata, McKinleyville, Trinidad and Big Lagoon overnight.
The company recently doubled a reward -- to $10,0000 -- for information leading to an arrest and conviction of the serial cable-cutter, and hired the private investigation services of Eureka's Cook & Associates.
Repairs are expected by this evening.
Click "more" to read the Sheriff's Office press release:
On 4-17-2013, approximately 4:15 a.m. the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office was notified of another vandalism to Suddenlink's Fiber Optic Cable that had occurred in the area of Lorenz Lane and Old Arcata Road, Bayside. The damaged cable was cut.
The unknown suspect(s) used a culvert pipe to stand on to allow them access to the elevated cable. The suspect(s) are believed to have used a cutting instrument to cut the line. Suddenlink is estimating the damage to the line costing at least $25,000 and the line will not be repaired for a minimum of eight to ten hours.
To date there have been five vandalisms to Suddenlinks Fiber Optic Cables. Total estimated damage by Suddenlink to repair the lines is now estimated to be at least $75,000.
This is an on-going investigation and the Sheriff's Office is actively working to identify a suspect or suspects in these crimes and to stop further vandalisms and interruptions to Suddenlink's services. Detectives have interviewed several people regarding this crime.
Anyone with information for the Sheriff's Office regarding this case is encouraged to call Detective Kirkpatrick of the Sheriff's Criminal Investigations Division at 707-268-3640 or the Sheriff's Tip Line at 707-268-2539.
Eureka Police Chief Murl Harpham gathered the media in a brief press conference this afternoon to announce Laird's arrest, which followed a joint investigation between his department and the DA's office.
"We will not tolerate misconduct by any of our officers," Harpham said.
In 2011, Laird was found liable for damages for using unreasonable/excessive force in the death of Martin Cotton, who died in his jail cell following an altercation with EPD in 2007. Laird -- an officer at the time of the Cotton incident -- was ordered to pay Cotton's family $30,000. The jury also found the city of Eureka liable for $4.5 million.
Neither DA Investigator Mike Hislop nor Harpham offered details of the event -- or a date, though Harpham said it occurred more than a month ago -- that led to Laird's arrest today. There are no other officers being investigated, according to the chief. The 30-year-old sergeant is on paid leave until the department finishes its internal investigation.
Laird posted $50,000 bail and was out of custody by this afternoon. He is scheduled to be arraigned in May.
How did Humboldt County get beat to the punch on this one? (Insert lazy stoner joke here, if you must.)
According to a story from the quarterly magazine Modern Farmer, Northern California's first marijuana farmers' market is being run from a big purple warehouse outside the City of Sonoma. And the venue is helping to spark "a new demand for pot grown locally, sustainably, in small batches, outdoors, and rather cheaply," the story says.
Such markets are legal in the state (with proper documentation) but still verboten by the feds, whose ostrich stance on the issue is looking sillier by the day.
Reporter David Downs describes the Sonoma scene, which includes such familiar Humboldt tropes as old school reggae, "plaid-clad stoners" and "an elderly hippie couple" selling pot-laced hard candy.
On the day that Downs visited the market, the star vendor was a man in his late 50s offering potent buds "as thick as a child's arm." And wouldn't you know it?
"The grower won't give his name, but says he works outdoors in the Humboldt hills ... ."
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