North Coast Journal

NEWS BRIEFS - October 1995



PROJECT MOVES FORWARD

Woodley Island, in Humboldt Bay across from the Eureka waterfront, may get a three-story hotel/restaurant yet.

Project developers Neil and Janet Prince received a zoning amendment last month that allows for construction of the complex.

Several segments of Eureka's business community and fishermen groups oppose the plan. They delivered a 500-signature petition to the Eureka City Council prior to its vote, but the majority favored the project anyway.

Councilman Frank Jager cast the only dissent saying, "I think it'll have a detrimental effect on development on this side of the bay. There's also traffic and sewer problems that haven't been addressed."

Now that it has city approval, the hotel project will go before the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District and the California Coastal Commission.

The plan calls for development adjacent to the island's wildlife preserve area, but proponents say the area was already designated for development. This new proposal would create a building of about 40,000 square feet, as opposed to the original permit that allowed for a building about half that size.

"Since 1979 that property has been open and available and there have been no takers," said Kevin Hamblin, Eureka's director of community development.

"We've had opposition from the beginning," said Neil Prince, county auditor-controller. "There's no question about it, there's going to be more people on the island. At least, we certainly hope so."


COUNTY FINDS MONEY

Neil Prince, county auditor-controller, was involved in another controversy last month, this time involving his day job.

His office "discovered" a $1.6 million accounting error in the county budget that left egg on the face of Humboldt County leaders who had been predicting famine for the coming year.

The good news is the county has enough money in its 1995-1996 budget. The bad news is the public is left wondering how this much money could get "lost" -- even temporarily.

"In this case the County Administrative Office has the responsibility to input numbers," Prince said. Apparently, some of those numbers were put into the wrong account.

Prince's office rechecked its books and found the mistake. County programs to train unemployed workers had been separated from the general fund and put into a single account. That money was overlooked by both the Auditor-Controller's office and the County Administrative Office.

"It's an unfortunate thing," Supervisor Stan Dixon said. "It damages the credibility of county government."

Labor leaders and the Taxpayers League accused county leaders of playing games.

"It's not very productive to blame each other," Prince said. However, "Early stories seem to imply the data came from our office and it came from their (the CAO's) office."


MORE AIDS WORRIES

Local drug users are infected with high rates of hepatitis, which has health officials worried about a possible jump in AIDS cases. AIDS is spread much the same way as hepatitis.

Methamphetamine, the drug of choice in this area, is often injected, and the drug users are also often sexually active. The combination of the two risk factors for AIDS could lead to a "mushrooming" of the disease, officials said.

Health care providers urge county leaders to support a needle exchange program, one that a national study recently found to reduce the spread of AIDS.


LOTTO WINNERS REJOICE

They've worked hard all their lives and they deserve it, so don't be jealous.

Warren and Carole Haase, both 50, of Garberville are having the time of their lives, thinking of ways to spend the $15 million they won last month in the California lottery.

At press time, the Haases continued to run their restaurant, the House of Burgesses, in downtown Garberville. Friends said the couple had been working six- and seven-day weeks for 20 years.

The next 20 years might be a little different. The couple will receive $540,000 a year.


ULTIMATE LOSS

Gerry Harris, featured in the September edition of The North Coast Journal, didn't make it to the finals in the Ultimate Fighting Championship last month in New York. In fact, he lost in the first round.

But Harris stuck to his promise and donated $200, or 10 percent, of his winnings, to a battered women and children's service group in Eureka. The Eureka Inn, where Harris works, kicked in a matching grant.

Harris said he is still in training and plans to jump back into battle next summer.


HEADWATERS HEADLINES

More than 1,000 protesters descended upon a Pacific Lumber Co. job site near Carlotta one day last month in a symbolic gesture of "repossessing" the company's old-growth forest. More than 200 were arrested.

The Headwaters Forest has been in the headlines for several years, ever since PL began proposals to log the last old-growth forest in private ownership. A few months ago PL announced it would soon be doing salvage logging operations in the forest.

PL has said it must either sell the land or log it. Plans for public purchase of the forest have fallen through, but a temporary restraining order was issued late last month. At press time, there were several days to go. If not approved a second time, the order will expire, and PL managers have said they will begin removing dead, dying and diseased timber from the forest.

Gov. Pete Wilson's office announced plans to sit with PL officials sometime this month to discuss state purchase of the forest, which is home to a number of endangered wildlife.


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