North Coast Journal

NEWS BRIEFS - DECEMBER 1995


Priest found dead

The Rev. John Rogers, who taught religious studies at Humboldt State University for 10 years and was chaplain for HSU's Newman Center, was found dead of an apparent suicide Nov. 13 in Belgium.

A recent accusation that Rogers had molested a teen-age boy in 1976 was made public one week before the priest apparently walked into a forest and slashed his wrists.

A memorial mass for Rogers was held at St. Bernard's Church Nov. 22. Another service was scheduled for Nov. 30 in Arcata for students and faculty of Humboldt State University returning from Thanksgiving recess.

Patrick McBride of Sonoma County had accused Rogers of molesting him 19 years ago in the rectory of the St. Bernard Church in Eureka. The two had just returned from a church camp in Leggett that the Rev. Gary Timmons also had attended.

Timmons, a former priest at St. Bernard Parish in Eureka, has been arrested on 17 felony counts of child molestation and reportedly kept a diary that detailed some of the alleged events.

Rogers' suicide note indicated he'd never met McBride and that the pain of the accusation drove him to kill himself.

In an interview with the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, McBride said Rogers had known about his charge since 1988. McBride also expressed sorrow that Rogers had taken his own life.

 

Let the race begin

Assemblyman Dan Hauser is vacating only one seat in the Legislature, but a lot of people are hoping to sit in it.

Fourth District Supervisor Bonnie Neely announced her candidacy Nov. 16, setting up a face-off between at least three Republicans in the March 26 primary. Other candidates are Steve Henrickson of Windsor and Margie Handley, a Willits businesswoman.

Candidates from Hauser's own Democratic Party include John Cumming, a Eureka attorney who declared his intentions Oct. 20, Virginia Strom-Martin, Richard Marks and Karen Scott.

Hauser has held the 1st District seat since 1982; term limits preclude another run.

 

New juries for 2

Nearly two years after Amber Slaughter, 14, was shot to death on the road to the South Jetty, judgments were made on the remaining two defendants in the case.

On Oct. 25 jurors convicted Thomas J. Dunaway, 18, of first-degree murder. The day before, the court announced that the jury for Thomas Winger, also 18, had voted to acquit him on first-degree murder but deadlocked on the lesser charge of second-degree murder.

Even with the one conviction, both teen-agers will face new juries: Since Dunaway's panel could not agree on special circumstances, a new jury must be empaneled to consider those issues. Winger will be retried on the charge of second-degree murder.

In the meantime, Winger has been moved from the juvenile detention center to the county jail.

 

Little city, big woes

The tiny city of Trinidad -- population 432 -- has had more than its share of tragedies lately.

One of its most beloved citizens, Dr. Herman Iverson, 78, was murdered in late 1994. In December of that year, then-City Treasurer Phyllis Sharum resigned after an audit, and she has been charged with numerous counts of grand theft, misappropriation of funds and falsifying records. And last month Trinidad Police Chief Don L. Rivas was arrested and charged with child molestation.

A jury took only a half-day of deliberations to convict Jason S. Baker, 21, of killing Iverson on Frontage Road . The Oct. 27 verdict makes Baker eligible for a life sentence without parole.

Sharum made her first court appearance last month in Municipal Court. Public Defender Jim Steinberg was assigned to her case after Sharum said she could not afford a private attorney.

Only a week after Rivas was arrested, Trinidad City Attorney David Tranberg said that the police chief's contract with the city had expired. Tranberg did not say that Rivas was out of a job, and he did not return phone calls inquiring about the city's plans for its top law enforcement position.

 

Newspapers to cease

It's been publishing the news since 1886, but on Nov. 30, 1995, The Union newspaper was preparing to put out its last edition.

The Arcata weekly and its Southern Humboldt sister newspaper, the Redwood Record, were shut down by owner Patrick O'Dell because of dwindling revenues and rising cost of newsprint. O'Dell, who also owns the Humboldt Beacon newspaper in Fortuna, in 1988.

Monica Hadley, whose family owned The Union for more than 50 years, expressed shock at the action and said O'Dell had vowed he would keep the Arcata newspaper running, she said. The Hadleys also had owned the Redwood Record.

Although O'Dell said he would expand the Beacon to a county-wide newspaper, most of the workers at The Union and Redwood Record received lay-off notices. The expansion was set to begin Dec. 7.

There is, however, a brand-new weekly in Humboldt County: The News, published every Friday by Kay Brown. The News costs 75 cents per copy and can be found on sale throughout the county.

"We are a noncommercial newspaper," said Ann Condon, features editor at The News.

That includes local news, plus the work of local columnists. The News also features a page in Spanish every issue and a page for youths.

 

Khum humming

There will soon be a new station on your radio dial: KHUM, 104.3 (or 104.7, depending on your location) FM, was set to hit the airwaves the first week in December.

Broadcasting from Ferndale, KHUM's owners plan a format of diverse rock & roll, according to Cliff Berkowitz, co-owner with Jacqueline Debets.

"We want to bring in people with strong personalities and strong musical tastes and give them a lot of freedom to express that on the airwaves," he said.

Two of those people are Sharon Fennell, aka "Sista Soul" on KHSU-FM, and Gary Franklin, formerly of KXGO and well-known for his affinity for the Grateful Dead.

Berkowitz, who is from Los Angeles, said KHUM will offer R&B, blues, jazz and a wide variety of rock, all coming from a library of CDs, vinyl, "mini-discs" and tapes. Fennell said listeners of her KHSU show -- which she will continue -- can expect more of the same from her KHUM, Monday-through-Friday, 10-2 slot.

 

Renner investigation

Allegations made in a grand jury report earlier this year against former Sheriff Dave Renner are being investigated by a special prosecutor now. District Attorney Terry Farmer announced that a former Eureka police officer and investigator has taken over the case of the "snitch fund" monies.

Bob Hickock, who returned to Humboldt after serving as a prosecutor in the Mendocino County D.A.'s office, will look into charges that Renner took money from a special fund and used it for personal expenses. Hickock also will investigate whether Renner destroyed the fund's records before Sheriff Dennis Lewis took office. Lewis defeated Renner in the last election.

Farmer, who supported Renner's re-election bid, said he tried to hand the investigation over the state Attorney General's office but was denied that request. He said that appointing Hickock as special deputy district attorney should quell public fears that Renner would not get a fair shake from Lewis' office or that Farmer's office would "whitewash" the investigation.

 

 

Property tax D-Day

The first installment on Humboldt County property taxes is due by 5 p.m. Monday, Dec. 11. (The usual Dec. 10 deadline falls on a Sunday, so everyone gets an extra day to scrape up the cash.) The more than 64,000 bills sent out are expected to net more than $52.5 million.

All that money stays in Humboldt County, with the majority of it going to schools (elementary and high schools, and College of the Redwoods).

 


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