HEADWATERS MONEY MATTERS
"Don't feel bad," an aide to Rep. Frank Riggs said over the phone from Washington. "Every daily newspaper in California got that wrong."
"That" was an incorrect report by the Journal (June 1997) and other media that the federal share of Maxxam's millions was passed by both houses of Congress in late May.
All Congress had passed at that point was an agreement in principle to support the bipartisan compromise budget, which included $250 million for Headwaters. But then the $250 million line item was left out of the House Appropriations Committee budget.
Since then, the Senate Appropriations Committee authorized the money in its spending package. And as federal legislators prepared to vacate Washington for August, the Headwaters money issue was headed for a House-Senate conference committee.
How much Humboldt County will receive as economic compensation for the loss of Headwaters' timber is also a question. The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors asked for $112.5 million in July, but "there are many figures out there," said Riggs' aide Beau Phillips. "Congressman Riggs and the chair of the House Natural Resources Committee have requested that the General Accounting Office do a study as well."
Former Humboldt State University Professor Lawrence Angelel was convicted on June 24 of killing his wife Lonna Rae Angelel in December 1995.
The first-degree murder conviction did not include any "special circumstances" that would subject Angelel to the death penalty. At press-time Angelel's sentencing was set for July 28. "We anticipate a sentence of 25 years to life, as prescribed by law," said District Attorney Terry Farmer.
ARCATA WELCOMES INDIAN CLINIC
After months of debate among citizens, the Arcata City Council voted 4-0 to approve construction of a United Indian Health Service clinic behind Mad River Community Hospital.
Some Arcatans opposed the project because it involved the conversion of agricultural land. "There are only 225 acres of prime agricultural land left in Arcata," wrote Dana Quillman in the Arcata Eye. "The site in question is 40 acres in the middle of about 120 acres (and) the integrity of the entire piece will be affected negatively for future agricultural purposes."
But noting the community benefits of the project, the Planning Commission and City Council approved the health center and a general plan amendment to allow its siting in an ag zone. The council also mandated that 20 acres of the health center's grounds be dedicated to organic agriculture in perpetuity through a conservation easement.
THE BLUE BADGES HAVE IT
On one side of the aisle were members of the Humboldt County Human Rights Commission with a report that took two years to prepare. They were joined by members of the Commission on the Status of Women, a professor from Humboldt State University with an armload of statistics, and a number of gays and lesbians -- all backing a county ordinance to establish a domestic partner registry.
On the other side, wearing bright blue badges, were a dozen or so members of a two-week old committee called Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility.
The blue badges won.
On July 22 county supervisors voted 3-2 to table an ordinance they voted in favor of just a month before.
The registry would have allowed domestic partners to register their union at the county recorder's office for a fee of $17. Any potential fiscal impact on the county, such as benefits for partners of county employees, had been stripped from the proposed language.
"The fiscal impact would have been zero," said Supervisor John Woolley, who supported the ordinance along with Supervisor Stan Dixon.
"This ordinance is a small step to recognize the diversity in this county ... to encourage inclusiveness and discourage discrimination," Woolley said.
With a motion and a second, however, he was unable to call for a final vote. Supervisor Roger Rodoni stepped in and made a pre-emptive motion to table the controversial item. He was joined by Supervisor Paul Kirk, the only one who voted no the first time around, and Board Chair Bonnie Neely.
Rodoni said he was overwhelmed with the volume of information on the topic, noting that there are seven bills now before the Legislature. "In the long run I wonder if this is the right forum," he added.
Neely said while some board members may be sufficiently informed for a vote, there was considerable confusion in the community. "People who live here ... are not fully informed."
Between the supervisors' first vote to prepare the ordinance and the second one to table it, they received a barrage of advice and some threats. Constituents phoned, wrote and e-mailed information. And both the Eureka and Fortuna city councils voted against the county ordinance after hearing impassioned pleas that it would be an assault on family values.
But at the supervisors' hearing, opponents focused primarily on potential financial impacts.
The ordinance was unnecessary, potentially expensive and "very unpopular among your constituents," Eurekan John Fullerton told the Board.
But Supervisor Dixon called the fiscal impacts argument "a red herring. ... This issue is not that complex. It's an issue of civil rights."
San Francisco is the only county in the state to date to establish a domestic partner registry.
LOCAL GREEN AND GOLD
Six Rivers National Bank hopes to put its green-and-gold signs up soon on Bank of America branches in Ferndale, Garberville, Weaverville and Willits.
"What we are seeking to buy are the deposits of these branches and the physical facilities," said Six Rivers President John Burger. "We will not be buying any loans. (The purchase) will approximately double the size of our deposits. ... It's quite a big deal for our shareholders and for the communities we serve."
Six Rivers bid successfully for the four branches and now waits for federal bank regulators to approve the purchase. "They'll be looking at the financial consequence of such a purchase and our ability to absorb it within our organization," said Burger. "They'll also be also looking at the competition elements of (the deal) and how it impacts the four communities."
SKATE OF THE ART
Arcata is soon to become home to a $95,000 state-of-the-art outdoor skateboarding facility that backers say will delight local skateboarders and be a draw for visiting competitors.
After two years of grassroots fundraising, the effort is still short about $30,000. So in order to open later this summer, the sponsors are marketing personalized tiles to potential donors.
"They're glazed inlay tiles, personalized as you like," said Carol Heaslip, director of Tiffany's Garden youth center. Costs range from $25 to $100.
Why does it cost so much to build a skatepark? "Our landscape architect alone was $11,000, concrete is about $30,000, rebar, grading, all that," said Heaslip. "It's a huge amount of money but it's going to be a Class A facility, worthy of the best competitors."
On July 16 Louisiana-Pacific made its promised donation of 10 acres on the eastern edge of Cutten to the Redwood Fields project.
A project of youth-sports supporters, Redwood Fields will include baseball and soccer fields, a tot lot, horseshoe pits and a picnic area. In addition to the property donation, the Field Committee has raised some $220,000 in cash and in-kind donations, according to a report in the Times-Standard.
What will happen to the rest of the 80-acre North McKay Tract is a mystery. Located in a prime area for new subdivisions, the land was rezoned from timber production to residential in 1995. At that time L-P presented a "planned unit development" proposal envisioning 320 homes. But nothing has been formally proposed, and L-P's property manager in Redding wasn't available for comment.
MAD MACK GROWTH
The 1996-1997 Humboldt County Grand Jury criticized the McKinleyville Community Services District for letting developers run rampant in the fast-growing community north of Mad River.
The Grand Jury aimed its blame at the wrong target, however. It wrongly assumed that the MCSD had control over land use and planning. But in unincorporated McKinleyville, that's handled by the county. There is a citizens advisory committee updating the community's general plan, but land-use decisions are made by the county Planning Department, Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors.
But even if the volunteer jury members aimed their investigative zeal at the wrong target, they shed a spotlight on McKinleyville's rapid growth and raised some ominous questions about who's running the town. Among its "findings":
The county issued 349 building permits in McKinleyville since January 1996, and the town is growing by 4 percent a year, compared with a county-wide growth rate of less than 1 percent. And according to county projections, the town's population of approximately 14,000 will grow to 35,000.
The jury concluded that "Developers have undue influence at all levels of planning for growth in the community"; and "The (MCSD's) policy of extending sewer service inevitably brings development."