Friday, April 21, 2017

Community Gathers to Mourn Slain HSU Student

Posted By on Fri, Apr 21, 2017 at 4:08 PM

Lawson's mother is comforted by one of his friends. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • Lawson's mother is comforted by one of his friends.
Katauri Thompson, a member of Humboldt State University’s Brothers United and close friend of David Josiah Lawson, asked all of the club’s members to join him on stage during a Thursday vigil for the slain 19 year old. Fighting back tears and holding one another, the group made their way up from the second row and stood around Thompson.

As they looked out at Lawson’s mother, there was a brief moment of silence. “You lost one son that night,” Thompson told her. “But you gained 15 more.”

The packed Humboldt State hall made it clear that Lawson was a friend and leader to many. His family sat in the front row, which faced dozens of flowers and a photo of the college sophomore.

The criminology and justice studies major died in the early morning hours of April 15 after being stabbed during an altercation at a house party in Arcata. Five days later, the Humboldt State University bell echoed throughout the campus as his family, friends, fellow students, faculty and community members filled the Kate Buchanan room to celebrate his life.

Sobs seemed to break out across the entire room as Thompson introduced HSU President Lisa Rossbacher. “It's beautiful that you could all come here,” she said.

Rossbacher noted that everybody in the room was standing on Wiyot land as she introduced Vincent Feliz, who led a group of 10 in a traditional healing song. “This is for the family here,” he said.

They sang a song about the willow that Feliz said represents the strength and endurance of the tree. “I sang that at my own mother’s funeral,” he said.

Corliss Bennett-McBride, director of the Cultural Centers for Academic Excellence and the faculty advisor for Brothers United, stopped to embrace Thompson before relating a story about how she ran into Lawson while out shopping one day.

“Stop by my office and say, ‘Hi,’ because I don’t have any friends,” she recalled telling him. Bennett-McBride said Lawson dropped in to see her at least two times a week that semester.

She also acknowledged that students of color often face struggles and culture shock after moving to this remote corner of California to attend HSU. “I am very familiar with the transitional piece students are experiencing,” Bennett-McBride said.

Arcata Police Chief Tom Chapman appeared emotional as he stopped to embrace Lawson’s mother Charmaine Michelle Lawson before taking the stage.

“I want you to know,” Chapman said looking at her. “We will have justice for David, it will happen.”

Charmaine Michelle Lawson was surrounded by her family and members of the Brothers United as she took the microphone at the gathering. “Thank you so much, Humboldt family, for being here and for celebrating my son,” she said fighting back tears. “My baby, my baby.”

Lawson’s childhood pastor, introduced as Pastor Phil, also spoke. He reminded the room that they had gathered together to celebrate a young man’s life.

“It's not about race,” he said. “It’s not about religion. It's about life. This is how I know he [Lawson] got it. I see every mix of race in this room.”
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101 Closed Until at Least Next Week; Rain Forecast to Return

Posted By on Fri, Apr 21, 2017 at 12:27 PM

The slide north of Leggett. - COURTESY OF CALTRANS
  • Courtesy of Caltrans
  • The slide north of Leggett.
Caltrans is estimating a possible reopening of U.S. Highway 101 sometime mid-to-late next week and is warning travelers to expect detours of up to seven hours until the roadway can be safely reopened.

The initial slide that closed down both lanes north of Leggett on April 16 was followed a few days later by another that dumped as much — if not more material — than the first one, according to Caltrans. Special equipment is being airlifted into the area next week.

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service is forecasting another storm system to move into the area on Monday and Tuesday with 1 to 3 inches of rain expected in Del Norte and Humboldt counties and a half-inch to 1 inch of rain in Mendocino County.

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Pitch and Pour

Posted By on Thu, Apr 20, 2017 at 4:15 PM

  • Thinkstock
Meeting a journalist in a dark parking garage is so Nixon era.

Besides, it's far less creepy to meet up with the Journal's editors over a beverage. On Thursday, April 27 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. share your hot leads and a cold beer with news editor Thadeus Greenson and arts and features editor Jennifer Fumiko Cahill at the Eureka Inn's Palm Lounge. It's a chance to tell us what's on your mind regarding local stories, issues and people in the paper and out in the community — no trench coat required.  

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Not Guilty Plea Entered in Fatal Stabbing of 19-Year-Old HSU Student

Posted By on Wed, Apr 19, 2017 at 5:32 PM

  • Gofundme
  • Lawson
The 23-year-old McKinleyville man accused in the fatal stabbing of Humboldt State University sophomore David Josiah Lawson pleaded not guilty to murder and a related weapons charge at his arraignment today.

A preliminary hearing for Kyle Christopher Zoellner is set for May 1, District Attorney Maggie Fleming stated in an email to the Journal. His bail is set at $1 million.

HSU President Lisa Rossbacher said in a statement released this afternoon that “we remain focused on supporting our students and doing all we can for Josiah's family.”

“Our University Police are continuing to assist the Arcata Police Department, which is leading the investigation,” the statement reads. “Looking ahead, we will insist that everything 
  • Arcata Police Department
  • Kyle Zoellner
possible will be done to pursue justice for Josiah."

The criminology major was apparently stabbed after a fist fight broke out early Saturday morning at a house party, possibly over a missing cell phone. The university and the Arcata Police Department have made repeated appeals asking everyone who was in attendance to come forward.

Yesterday, the APD specifically urged the sender of an anonymous email with details about the crime to talk with investigators. APD Chief Tom Chapman also said he plans to investigate and address concerns about the timeliness of the emergency response when it is appropriate.

A vigil for Lawson is set for Thursday.

From Humboldt State University:
A celebration of life in remembrance of David Josiah Lawson will be held on Thursday, April 20, at 5 p.m. in the Kate Buchanan Room.

The family of David Josiah Lawson and the HSU community will gather to to remember the life of Lawson, who died Saturday.

Lawson was a sophomore studying criminology at Humboldt State University and had recently been elected president of HSU’s Brothers United. He's remembered by his family for his warm smile and his kindness.

For support: Office of the Dean of Students at 707-826-3504. Counseling & Psychological Services at 707-826-3236. Employee Assistance Program at 707-443-7358.

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Share Your Stories About The Two Days That Shook Humboldt

Posted By on Wed, Apr 19, 2017 at 1:14 PM

A brick wall crushes a car in Ferndale. - COURTESY OF REDWOOD COAST TSUNAMI WORKING GROUP
  • Courtesy of Redwood Coast Tsunami Working Group
  • A brick wall crushes a car in Ferndale.
With the 25th anniversary of the Cape Mendocino earthquake coming up next week, the Journal invites our readers to share their memories of those two days in 1992 when it almost felt like the earth would not stop moving.

The magnitude-7.2 temblor followed by a series of strong aftershocks, including a 6.5 and 6.6, caused millions of dollars in damage and brought new attention to the immense power of the Cascadia subduction zone lurking off our coast.

To submit your story or pictures of the aftermath for our April 27 edition, please email by 10 a.m. on Monday, April 24.
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Friday, April 14, 2017

Dinsmore Homesteader's Artwork Featured at deYoung

Posted By on Fri, Apr 14, 2017 at 10:59 AM

Museum-quality trippy '60s art. - DOTTIE SIMMONS
  • Dottie Simmons
  • Museum-quality trippy '60s art.
From Haight Street to a Humboldt County homestead: It's a familiar story for many back-to-the-landers who arrived in our region in the late ’60s and early ’70s, fresh from the 1967 Summer of Love. Dottie Simmons, who settled down in Humboldt County in 1968, made her homestead near Dinsmore, raising kids, canning preserves and starting a successful small business. But this year a small piece of her former life came back to prominence. A poster illustrated by Simmons in 1968, for a four-day show at San Francisco’s Avalon Ballroom, is being featured at the deYoung Museum as part of its Summer of Love exhibit, which runs through August 20.

Simmons, who recently attended the exhibit’s opening, said she was honored to be part of the show. Simmons drew the poster, which features an Alice in Wonderland figures and a frame of bright flowers, in one night using pen and ink. It was so long ago that Simmons says she doesn’t remember exactly where she did it, only that she worked on someone’s floor.

The show itself featured Iron Butterfly (“In-A-Gadda-De-Vida”) and a trio of other psychedelic rock bands. Simmons, then a teenager, said she was a “puppy” at the Avalon, a short-lived music venue in San Francisco’s Polk Gulch that managed to cram most of the era’s headliners onto its stage between 1966 and 1969, including The Doors, Janis Joplin and the Grateful Dead. (The Dead played there 29 times). Against this backdrop, Simmons ran messages, cleaned up after shows and worked the coat check.

“That era, poster included, pops into my consciousness now and then,” she told the Journal. “Usually when I’m reminiscing with friends or going through my art stuff.”

If you want to reminisce yourself, or get an idea of what turned Simmons’ generation on 50 years ago, more information about The Summer of Love Experience: Art, Fashion, and Rock & Roll, can be found on the deYoung’s website.

Simmons, a master preserver, was a staff pick for "Best of Humboldt" in 2016. - FILE
  • FILE
  • Simmons, a master preserver, was a staff pick for "Best of Humboldt" in 2016.

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Saturday, April 8, 2017

Huffman to Town Hall Set for Monday in Crescent City

Posted By on Sat, Apr 8, 2017 at 8:13 AM

Huffman shares a laugh with his constituents during a town hall in Arcata. - BEAU SAUNDERS
  • Beau Saunders
  • Huffman shares a laugh with his constituents during a town hall in Arcata.
Congressman Jared Huffman will host another stop in his town hall series on Monday, this time in Crescent City, where he will take questions and talk about his priorities for representing the North Coast region in Congress.

According to his office, interested constituents are being asked to RSVP by visiting this Eventbrite website. A similar Arcata event held in February was moved to a larger venue when a resounding number of residents signed up over a 48-hour period.

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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Large-Scale Drug Treatment Coming to the MAC?

Posted By on Tue, Apr 4, 2017 at 3:11 PM

A sign welcoming visitors to the MAC. - LINDA STANSBERRY
  • Linda Stansberry
  • A sign welcoming visitors to the MAC.
At long last, a large-scale alcohol and drug treatment facility complete with medical detox services may be coming to Humboldt County.

The Eureka City Council is slated tonight to receive a report on a proposal to add drug and alcohol treatment services to its Multiple Assistance Center, which currently serves as a homeless intake center for single adults through a program run by the Redwood Community Action Agency with funding from the county Department of Health and Human Services.

The proposal is in its infancy, but tonight city staff will brief the council on plans to transition part of the center into a Substance Use Disorder Treatment Program. “The facility is proposed to contain approximately 10 individuals in detox and up to 40 individuals in the treatment program who could transition into the existing transitional housing component for a maximum of two years,” the staff report states.

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Saturday, April 1, 2017

Almost 50 Guns Surrendered in Eureka Buy Back

Posted By on Sat, Apr 1, 2017 at 10:42 AM

Firearms seized at the scene of a methamphetamine bust last year. - COURTESY OF EPD
  • Courtesy of EPD
  • Firearms seized at the scene of a methamphetamine bust last year.
The Eureka Police Department took almost 50 guns off the streets last weekend in a two-day buy back program that gave people a chance to surrender their firearms, no questions asked.

Capt. Steve Watson said a total of 48 guns — 26 handguns, 12 shotguns and 10 rifles — were turned in during the event, which EPD is thinking about replicating in the future. Watson said he’ll be briefing the Eureka City Council on the program at Tuesday’s meeting.

The proactive approach to getting guns off Eureka’s streets comes as EPD is encountering firearms at a staggering rate. As a Journal cover story last year revealed, EPD was seizing about six guns per 1,000 city residents, a rate dwarfing those of more violent cities like Chicago, Oakland or Baltimore.

Last weekend’s buy-back program — which saw the department hand out more than $1,500 in gift cards to a couple of dozen people in exchange for their firearms — was designed to combat that, and help get guns off the street. No public funds were spent in the buy back, Watson said, as the gift cards were made possible by a $1,000 donation from Redwood Capital Bank, $500 from the Southwest Rotary of Eureka and a few hundred dollars from the Eureka Neighborhood Watch group.

The buy-back also came on the heels of EPD’s Project Safe Eureka Expo, a two-day event designed to promote gun safety and security at the Bayshore Mall. As also reported on our “Strapped” cover story last year, Eureka sees a very high rate of firearm thefts, which EPD Chief Andy Mills believes contributes greatly to the high rates at which his officers encounter guns in the hands of people who can’t legally possess them.

For more on the buy back, tune in to Tuesday’s Eureka City Council meeting, which will conclude with Watson’s presentation.

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Eureka Rotary, Volunteers Go Rogue, Clean up Problem House

Posted By on Wed, Mar 22, 2017 at 10:39 AM

Before the cleanup. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • Before the cleanup.
After a day's work. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • After a day's work.

What a difference a day, a backhoe and 10 volunteers can make.

A couple of weekends ago, the Rotary Club of Eureka organized a cleanup of a long troublesome property on the corner of Summer and Del Norte streets. The place was a mess. A junk car sat in the driveway, almost consumed by piles of trash and debris, including an old stove, furniture, clothes and even a few hypodermic syringes.

The place has been vacant, save for one tenant is in the process of being evicted and some squatters, and some neighbors have reportedly taken to dumping trash in its front and back yards. The property itself is a foreclosure owned by Nationstar Mortgage, a Texas company with a portfolio of more than $400 billion in properties.

The city of Eureka is currently fining Nationstar $1,000 a day for code violations on the property. The tab is up to almost $100,000, according to Deputy Public Works Director Brian Issa.

“We started fining them as soon as the bank took over (ownership),” Issa said. “It’s very difficult to get these big banks to do something and I don’t like to spend taxpayer money cleaning up their messes. That being the case, I prefer just to fine them to the hilt … I have to admit, I get a little bit of a warm fuzzy out of it.”

Issa said the place on Summer and Del Norte is emblematic of a larger issue, which is that at any given time, there seems to be some property in Eureka owned by a national bank that is left unattended and winds up being a magnet for squatters and illegal dumpers. The city can procure a warrant and send in a crew to clean these properties up, Issa said, but it’s an expensive process (around $10,000) that demands a lot of staff time.

And, generally, Issa said that because the properties are vacant and unattended, they don’t stay clean for very long. Plus, Issa said he has a philosophical problem with spending taxpayer dollars to clean up a bank’s mess. Instead, the city opts for the $1,000 per day fines, which add up quickly.

“If they’re not going to take care of problems that they have all the resources in the world to do,
we’re going to soak them a little bit,” Issa said. “We’re going to make it hurt.”

Ultimately, Issa said the money collected from these fines — typically more than $100,000 a year — goes to other targeted enforcement actions by the department that it believes will have a more lasting impact.

But Issa said he realizes these properties have an immediate impact on those who live around them, which he said makes the recent Rotary volunteer day so welcome. The volunteers were able to do something that would have been much more difficult — and expensive — for the city to take on.

“Technically, what they did is not legal,” Issa said. “Technically, they trespassed. We can’t do that. But kudos to them. They took on a neighborhood problem and addressed it.”

Rotary Club of Eureka President Matthew Owen said about 10 people turned out for the cleanup event, including his wife and Fourth District Supervisor Virginia Bass. He said the local McDonalds provided breakfast for the volunteers, Pierson Company donated a backhoe and operator for the effort, and Humboldt Recology donated a large Dumpster to haul away the trash.

When people stopped by while the crew was working to ask what they were doing or thank them, Owen said he tried to stress that this is something any neighborhood group can do. He also said he spent some time later that week knocking on doors in the area and encouraging people to take ownership of their neighborhoods and get involved.

He said he was disappointed to drive by a few days later only to see trash again accumulating on the property. For his part, Issa urged anyone with a problem house in their neighborhood to call the building department at 441-4155 or its inspection request line at 441-4043. And he said people shouldn’t delay, as these houses can “spiral out of control quickly.”

Other folks looking to get involved with cleaning up Eureka can participate in a citywide cleanup from noon to 1:30 p.m. on March 25. The group will be gathering in the McDonalds/Park City parking lot near the Bayshore Mall and dispersing from there. McDonalds will provide free lunch to those who participate.

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