The southern gateway to Eureka will be the site of an 82-room Victorian-style Inn. Country Inn Corp. is scheduled to begin construction of the $7 million project this summer, expecting completion by next summer.
"Bayshore Inn" will offer upscale lodging, including Jacuzzi suites and business room with computers and modems.
Why would the board of supervisors vote to pursue a "sole-source" contract for garbage disposal with a company whose prices might be higher than the competition?
After visiting regional landfills throughout the west, the board members felt strongly that the Rabanco landfill in arid eastern Washington (shown above) and the company's rail-haul capabilities were the best available. "In years of research, we determined that a sole-source agreement with Rabanco was appropriate because no one else has capacity or the ideal set of circumstances (that they offer)," said Julie Fulkerson, board chair.
The supervisors also favored Rabanco because its rail-transport methods would boost the North Coast Railroad's business and create a small "intermodal" terminal on the waterfront, where a giant forklift will transfer sealed trash containers arriving from City Garbage's Transfer Station onto train cars. When the railroad is down due to flooding or landslides, the containers would be shipped by barge or truck to another rail terminal.
After a unanimous vote in March to pursue a contract with Rabanco, the supervisors voted May 28, with Bonnie Neely dissenting, to hire consultants to study the complex financial, legal and environmental questions involved in closing City Garbage's Cummings Road landfill and setting up a new long-term franchise with Rabanco. The study should be done by the end of August.
Neely favored a broader study looking at other waste haulers and landfillers in the hope that a cheaper alternative could be found. Her opinion was echoed by the solid waste coordinator for Fortuna. "Fortuna would like it to go out to bid because that way we would get the best price," said Gerald Kindsfather.
The large structure going up in the front of St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka is not the cardiac surgery unit that supporters have been raising money for since 1994. That's the new patient tower, but the cardiac unit (a smaller building) is under construction in the rear, where the Rose Garden used to be, according to spokesman Mike Goldsby.
The new St. Joseph Heart Institute will offer both open heart and the non-invasive catheterization surgery not currently available locally. Approximately $1.45 million of the $1.7 million budget has been raised. A recent gift of $250,000 was made by Melvin McLean of Fortuna in memory of his wife, Grace.
In other medical news, Mad River Community Hospital in Arcata and the Redding Medical Center announced last month a joint venture to offer heart catheterization surgery locally. Redding Medical currently performs 2,200 catheterization and 700 open heart surgeries per year.
"Our community will benefit from this service by importing years of experience," said Mad River Administrator Doug Shaw. He noted that the new lab officials note that 35 percent of patients admitted to the hospital from the emergency room have heart trouble.
Cabin owners near the Big Lagoon Casino project have asked the Bureau of Indian Affairs to rescind "trust" status on 11 acres of land where the casino is being constructed.
According to the owners' attorney, internal BIA documents acquired under the Freedom of Information Act show that the Big Lagoon Rancheria was granted trust status -- removing it from local nontribal jurisdiction -- to develop housing on the land. "Statements made before trust status was granted clearly show that the applicants planned to build a casino," said Dan Frost.
Virgil Moorehead, tribal chairperson, was not available for comment at press time.
A "health village" serving American Indians has been proposed by United Indian Health Services for a 40-acre parcel of pasture land in Arcata. The facility will be located between Mad River Hospital and Highway 101, if UIHS succeeds in having the parcels rezoned and securing a development permit from the city.
The process could get sticky, however. Many Arcatans value pastoral land in and around the city for providing quiet, open space and natural vistas. Indeed, "save the ag lands" is a rallying cry for residents who oppose annexation of more land in the Arcata Bottoms.
The UIHS development proposal, however, may alleviate these concerns. It would place a conservation easement on half of the land, and the agency says it will restore most of the parcel to its pre-agricultural state of forests and wetlands.
District Attorney Terry Farmer announced on June 17 that First District Supervisor Stan Dixon had been charged with shoplifting a $15 cosmetic item from Long's Drugs on Myrtle Ave. in Eureka.
While Dixon, on advice of his attorney, had made no statement at press time, many of his friends, colleagues and constituents expressed surprise.
"He's a stand-up guy who has represented the area extremely well," said Stuart Titus, former mayor of Ferndale. "He absolutely has a lot of integrity."
Dixon was re-elected in March to his third term. Prior to becoming a supervisor, he was director of Veterans Services for the county. He's also served as mayor, city councilman and high school board member in Ferndale.
Six families living just east of Carlotta have been living without road access to their homes since the late-December rains pushed a landslide across Cummings Creek Road and into the creek below.
A case of lagging county road repairs?
No. The dirt road belongs to private landowners, the largest being Pacific Lumber Co. and Eel River Sawmills. Neither company has made fixing the road a priority: They don't need it anymore, and since it's an old road that closely follows the stream channel, maintaining it would be a costly, long-term battle against washouts and failing log bridges. "If it were elsewhere on our property, we would abandon it," said Tom Herman, PL resource manager.
Residents have considered pooling their money and doing the work themselves. "But even after we invested all the time and money ourselves, we would not have a legal right of way because we have prescriptive rights rather than deeded access," said Ken Jorgensen, a Cummings Creek homeowner since 1977.
"Prescriptive rights" are developed by simply using a road over a period of time. But unlike a deeded "ingress and egress easement," these informal rights have shaky legal standing until adjudicated in court.
With heavy equipment provided by a small timber property owner, residents repaired some washed out sections downstream from the slide. But a bigger fix that would let them park their cars closer than one-half mile from home doesn't appear to be coming soon.
A PL spokesman said that the company would be interested in relocating the road higher up the ridge. "We've volunteered to cooperate with them in get the road back in," said Herman. "But the road crosses a number of different parcels, not just ours, and relocation is going to take coordinated effort of all the landowners."
Eureka School District officials are waiting to hear a "second opinion" from local engineering firm Winzler & Kelly about the quake-worthiness of the city's high school. A seismic safety report submitted by another company in May predicted that the 70-year-old building would not stand up well in a severe earthquake.
Two Humboldt County entrepreneurs hope to start up what could be the largest chicken ranch ever to operate locally.
Sunrise Eggs is the creation of Michael Lovato and John Dias of Arcata. So far, it's just a name, a business plan and an undisclosed amount of personal and investment capital. But the owners believe that demand for local, organically raised eggs and chickens will entice enough investors to finance the $3.2 million automated facility, which will house some 200,000 birds.
Dias operated the last local egg farm, Farmer John's Eggs, on the Samoa Peninsula. It closed in the mid-'80s.
Sunrise is looking for a 15- to 20-acre parcel of agriculturally zoned land. They've identified one possible site on Murray Road between Fieldbrook and McKinleyville, but objections from neighbors have dampened their interest. "We take those concerns to heart," said Lovato, adding that the odds are "10 to 1" against the company choosing the Fieldbrook site. Instead, they're looking at areas near Fortuna, Loleta and Stone Lagoon.
The fledgling McKinleyville Land Trust celebrated two milestones recently: the creation of a 9 1/2-acre preserve next to the K-Mart development and a conservation easement on a 20-acre parcel in the hills east of town.
A Native American blessing ceremony was held April 27 to dedicate the preserve. Axel Lindgren (above) told stories of his grandmother's visits to the sacred falls in Mill Creek, just below the preserve site; then he sprinkled participants one by one with creek water, saying "I bless you in the way of my grandmother."
The conservation easement was recorded May 31 on a 20-acre parcel being purchased by Benjamin and Ritva Garlick of Fieldbrook.
"The owner wanted to sell his property under the condition that it not be subject to the standard practice of logging all the trees off and subdividing," said Larry Margler, president of the all-volunteer trust group.
"The conservation easement allows for a home to be built on five acres, timber harvest on a long-term rotation on 10 acres, and a five-acre creek zone that's protected from any timber harvest or development."
While the easement diminishes the future market value of the property, it provides some tax benefits and ensures that development will be barred in perpetuity.
The most extensive conservation easements in Humboldt County are in the headwaters of the Mattole River, where Sanctuary Forest Inc. and the state Wildlife Conservation Board have acquired easements on approximately 2300 acres since 1987.
Reconstruction of a section of Highway 101 south of Arcata will create congestion for commuters beginning this fall. The southbound Gannon Slough bridge, just beyond the G Street on-ramp, will be rebuilt over six months as part of a program of earthquake-readiness improvements.
Caltrans officials say they will encourage Arcata residents in particular to travel south via Highway 255.
Local Caltrans staff will also be making a decision soon whether to increase the speed limit on 101 between Eureka and Arcata to 60 mph. Proponents say that the increase is needed because most drivers travel above the limit anyway. Opponents say that more speed would make that section of the highway -- with many difficult street crossings and bicycle use -- more dangerous.
Pacific Lumber Co.'s battle to log its ancient redwood groves moved to the floor of the House of Representatives June 19. After heated debate, legislators voted down an amendment to the Interior Department budget by Rep. Frank Riggs, R-Windsor, that would have removed all private land in California from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's designation of "critical habitat" for the marbled murrelet.
While a few small rural landowners saw their acreage included, the bulk of the forests designated as essential nesting habitat for the endangered sea bird are owned by PL. The critical habitat designation is the latest in what PL considers a series of unreasonable federal restrictions on its right to use its property.
The bony squawfish is once again the target of fishers who want to help the salmon -- and perhaps win a prize in the Eel River Squawfish Derby.
The non-native squawfish is proliferating in the Eel River, in part because it faces few natural predators. The silt-filled river has also grown wider, shallower and warmer over the years, forcing young salmon to congregate in the remaining deep, cool pools, which makes them an easy meal for the squawfish.
In its fourth year, the derby offers prizes ranging from a free pizza to a half-day drift-boat trip. Contestants receive a lottery ticket for every one they bring in. "We've had people bring in 200 to 300 at a time," said Ron Jones, ranger at Humboldt Redwoods State Park. "Some of the kids have gotten real good at it and won a lot of prizes." The bony, barely edible fish are composted by the Fortuna Parks and Recreation Department.
To enter the derby, bring the squawfish to Brown's Sporting Goods, Garberville; Coast-to-Coast Hardware, Fortuna; Grundman's, Rio Dell; J.E. Johnson, Weott; or the State Park Visitor Center near Weott.
Cases against the Rev. Gary Timmons in Humboldt, Mendocino and Sonoma counties are proceeding.
The former St. Bernard Parish priest will have a preliminary hearing July 10 in Humboldt Municipal Court on charges of molesting one child between February and October 1992. And on Aug. 19, his jury trial on charges of lewd and lascivious conduct with three Sonoma County minors will begin. (The Sonoma County cases are being tried in Marin County because one of the alleged victim's father is a Sonoma judge.)
The bulk of the cases against Timmons are in limbo while prosecutors in the three counties await a state Supreme Court opinion on whether the accusations are too dated for prosecution.
Timmons is free on bail. He denies the allegations against him.
A new public Transit Center linking Redwood Transit, Greyhound and city buses in downtown Eureka may become a reality in a few years. But some already are asking if we really need it or can afford to pay for it.
The Humboldt Transit Authority officials and Rep. Frank Riggs, who got $1 million for the project in Congress' proposed budget, say the center will funnel tourists into the downtown and encourage more people to ride the bus. It will include parking, a lot for RVs and a child care center. It will also be a starting point for cruise ship passengers to explore Eureka and a depot for passenger railroad service when and if that materializes. Best of all, the center will be "self-supporting" through income from office and retail space leased to businesses.
In a June 11 editorial reflecting public distrust of government promises, the Times-Standard called the proposed center "a good dream" of "dubious" practicality, and one that may well end up costing the county more than it can afford in "future operating costs."
But HTA General Manager Roger Murphy said the agency and its consultants have done market research showing there's a demand for the space they'll be offering. "We've got a good handle on this, and it will be successful. We've done a feasibility study and we've been extremely conservative in our pro forma estimates (of lease income)."