Tuesday, August 19, 2014

PO’d about the Eureka P.O.? There’s a Town Hall for That.

Posted By on Tue, Aug 19, 2014 at 11:57 AM

click to enlarge The blue box awaits you in Old Town Eureka, California. - PHOTO BY HEIDI WALTERS
  • Photo by Heidi Walters
  • The blue box awaits you in Old Town Eureka, California.
Congressman Jared Huffman is hosting a town hall meeting this Friday, Aug. 22, at 4 p.m. at the Wharfinger Building (1 Marina Way) in Eureka to talk about the feds’ plans to close the Eureka Customer Service Mail Processing Center and send our missives instead to Medford, Oregon, to be sorted.

Says the news release from Huffman’s people:

“In July, Huffman wrote a letter to Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe expressing his strong opposition to the plan, citing that it would cause disruption of mail delivery, cause job loss, and damage local economies.”

His letter said the services consolidation, one of many proposed for post office sorting centers across the nation, “will result in the loss of hundreds of postal staff positions, and our constituents will face a 2 to 3 day service standard for First-Class Mail, instead of 1 to 3 days. This change would be especially difficult for seniors, veterans, and our rural communities, who rely on timely delivery of prescriptions and other postal services.”

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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Best Ever? HSU Alum Retires, Takes Football Coaching Job

Posted By on Sun, Aug 17, 2014 at 2:41 PM

click to enlarge Dixon-Release-Pic.jpg
Did you know a Humboldt State University alum recently hung up his cleats a five-time champion regarded as the best quarterback in his league’s history? No? Well, that’s probably because the league in question is the somewhat obscure Indoor Football League.

Chris Dixon, an Oakland native who led the Lumberjacks to an 8-12 record in two years as a starter in 2003 and 2004, announced his retirement from the Indoor Football League last month. About a week later, the IFL’s expansion franchise, the Billings Wolves, tapped Dixon to become their next head coach.

For those unfamiliar with the IFL, Dixon is something of a big deal, having thrown for more than 25,000 yards and 600 touchdowns in his eight-year career, which saw him win five championships and take home three MVP trophies. Word that Dixon was returning to the Sioux Falls Storm earlier this year to finish up his career was met with unabashed revelry, with one story on examiner.com saying it was the football gods’ answer to fans’ prayers and referencing Dixon as “perhaps the most electrifying and prolific quarterback to ever wear a jersey in the IFL.” If you find yourself skeptical of that statement, check out the following highlight reel, which is complete with a host of touchdowns, trash talking and one line dance with cheerleaders.

Despite limited team success, Dixon posted a solid career at HSU, one that earned him all-conference honors in 2004 and a spot in HSU’s record book for most completions in a game (41, against Southern Oregon in 2003). But Dixon went undrafted by the National Football League and failed to catch on with a team, leading him to his storied IFL career.

Dixon’s IFL resume is so impressive, in fact, that it begs the question of whether he’s had the best pro sports career of anyone with Humboldt ties? Sure, Rey Maualuga and John Jaso have reached the pinnacles of their respective sports but neither has been called the most electrifying to don a jersey. If you’re looking at stats and wins as a means of comparison, you might have to drift to another slightly obscure sport to find a parallel to Dixon’s success: professional bowling.

Walter Ray Williams Jr., born in 1959 in Eureka, currently holds the all-time standard Professional Bowlers Association record for career titles (47) and total earnings ($4.4 million!), and remains active on the tour. And, if that doesn’t impress you, consider that Williams is also a nine-time world champion in the game of horseshoes.

If you know a Humboldtian with a more impressive sports resume than either Williams or Dixon, let’s hear it: Post a name in the comments section and let the debate begin.
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Friday, August 15, 2014

The Shortest Distance Between Two Points...

Posted By on Fri, Aug 15, 2014 at 3:31 PM

click to enlarge CITY OF ARCATA
  • City of Arcata
A pair of Arcata streets is slated for improvements over the next several months — a move the city hopes will encourage cyclists to access the city’s busy downtown.

T he plan is relatively straightforward, excepting one lopsided detour. The so-called bike boulevard will stretch east-west along the length of 10th Street (including the one block of Q that connects 10th to 11th on the west end) and north-south along the length of I Street. Almost. (Explanation below.)

The construction consists mainly of signage. The city will advertise the bike boulevard with signposts and with striping painted on the ground. The stop signs at some intersections will be changed to allow a more steady flow of traffic along the route, and some minor paving will be done to encourage cycling. For a list of the specific improvements, visit the city website.

The idea is to make it simpler for cyclists to get to and from — and through — town. What’s a tiny bit puzzling is a short detour off of I Street between Eighth and 10th streets. The boulevard will redirect cyclists traveling north or south on I Street a block west — adding two blocks of travel. It’s by no means a mandate — cyclists can ride on any city street — but it seems incongruous with the city’s goal of “free-flow travel for bikes.” It also seems to have the potential to confuse cyclists.

Netra Khatri, Arcata’s deputy director of public works, said the J Street detour was proposed to ease concerns from members of the city council and traffic safety committee about congestion on I Street between eighth and 10th streets. He doubts through-traffic cyclists will take the bike boulevard for that short section. “Most people will go straight.”

Councilwoman Susan Ornelas (a cyclist herself) said there was some difference of opinion about the definition of a bicycle boulevard, and what the city was trying to accomplish. “Some [council]members thought of as a quick get-through to get where you’re going,” she said. “The transportation safety committee — they thought of it as a nice place to access businesses from.” Ornelas said businesses on I Street were in favor of adopting I Street as the bike boulevard.

“[City staff] came with this hybrid thing,” Ornelas said. Despite the “uncomfortable” 90-degree turns that the boulevard is suggesting cyclists take, she agreed to the current design with the rest of the council in July (Councilwoman Alex Stillman was absent), not wanting to send it back to staff for more changes. Because of the relatively light construction required (to the tune of $160,000) Ornelas said the boulevard could potentially be adapted in the future.

“What I appreciated about this effort was we’re going to get this nice bicycle infrastructure,” she said. “We’ll just see what happens.”

Construction is slated to begin in late September or early October and will last 100 days, depending on weather.
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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Pot Regulation Bill Goes up in Smoke

Posted By on Thu, Aug 14, 2014 at 2:48 PM

click to enlarge GRANT SCOTT-GOFORTH
  • Grant Scott-Goforth
A bill seeking to create a regulatory framework for California’s multi-billion dollar medical marijuana industry died quietly in an Assembly committee today, the San Francisco Chronicle is reporting.

Hailed by supporters as an attempt to bring order to the current void of state regulations and vilified by opponents as a brain child of narcotics officers that will severely limit access and put providers at risk of federal prosecution, Senate Bill 1262 sought to create a Bureau of Medical Marijuana that would license the cultivation, transportation and distribution of marijuana — an enterprise that would bring in an estimated $400 million in annual sales tax revenue to the state, according to a legislative analysis.

But the bill was held by the Assembly Appropriations Committee today, relegating it to a silent death of inaction as the legislative session came to a close.

Many in the medical marijuana industry opposed the bill (California NORML, the Drug Policy Alliance, the Marijuana Policy Project and California Cannabis voice all decried it) as did many on the opposite side of the political debate. But others felt the bill, though imperfect, represented a fair compromise on many issues and a solid starting point for regulating an industry many feel has grown out of control since voters passed Proposition 215 almost two decades ago. Julia Carrera of the Small Farmer’s Association told the East Bay Express that any potential legislation on the issue would leave both sides with some heartburn, but that she was impressed with SB 1262, which had received the nod of often divergent groups like the pro medical-marijuana Americans for Safe Access and the California Police Chiefs Association.

According to the reports in the Chronicle and the Express, it seems the bill's chances at passage were plagued by infighting among supporters, disorganization and last-minute amendments. With the appropriations committee having declined to take action on the bill, proponents will have to start from scratch in January, writing up a new bill with new sponsors.
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Chesbro Explains Lonely 'No' Vote

Posted By on Thu, Aug 14, 2014 at 11:55 AM

click to enlarge chesbro.JPG
North Coast Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro was one of only two California lawmakers to vote against putting a $7.5 billion water bond before state voters in November that is being hailed as an historic, bi-partisan plan to rescue the drought-parched state from a future of water uncertainty in an era of climate change.

Specifically, the plan would invest heavily in the state's water infrastructure by building reservoirs, promoting water-saving technologies and cleaning up contaminated ground water. The bill got 114 of 116 votes in the Legislature and nabbed Gov. Jerry Brown's signature almost immediately upon passage. But the bill didn't get Chesbro's support, and today the Arcata Democrat issued a lengthy statement explaining his opposition. The short version: At a time when drought-parched rivers are perilously low on the North Coast, Chesbro wouldn't support a bill that would essentially make it easier for local water to be diverted to population and agricultural centers elsewhere. Chesbro tried to work protections into the legislation, especially for Trinity River flows, but was unsuccessful. Without those in place, he couldn't support the bill.

Read the long version below:


August 14, 2014

Chesbro statement: Water bond measure is a bad deal for the North Coast

SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Wesley Chesbro (D-North Coast) released the following statement today explaining his vote against water bond legislation that the Legislature passed and the governor signed yesterday:

“The water bond passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor yesterday has many attractive elements, but at the end of the day this bond measure is bad news for the North Coast. It includes $2.7 billion for water storage projects – dams and reservoirs – increasing pressure for diversion of more Northern California river water. The Trinity River – and ultimately the Klamath – is at greatest risk, because of existing plumbing that already diverts water from the Trinity to the Sacramento River. Increasing reservoir capacity will lead to greater demand for water from the Trinity at a time when severe and prolonged drought has significantly reduced existing snow packs.

As the drought deepens, the impact to the people and fisheries on the North Coast will increase. The rivers of the North Coast are some of the last remaining refuge for endangered salmon species that are on the brink of extinction. Additionally, our rivers provide important spawning habitat for fish that are important to the entire state, up and down the West Coast.

I had hoped to secure funding for protection of Trinity River flows through legislation this year. When that did not happen I worked to place language in the water bond legislation. I was disappointed it was not included, and that reducing risks to our North Coast rivers and to our way of life, our fish and our economy was not much of a priority in the measure that will be placed on the November ballot. I believe the water bond short-changes the people of the North Coast, and as their representative in the Legislature I felt compelled to vote against it.”

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Boost for the Bay Trail?

Posted By on Tue, Aug 12, 2014 at 2:59 PM

click to enlarge Bay_Trail.jpg
The Humboldt Bay Trail seems poised to take a great leap forward this month.

California Transportation Commission staff is recommending approval of a $3.1 million grant application from the city of Arcata at the commission’s Aug. 20 meeting. “We’re pleased about that,” said Arcata Environmental Services Director Mark Andre. “Very pleased.” If given the final nod, the funds will go toward construction of the section of trail from the Arcata Marsh down to Bracut, according to Andre, who added that the grant — combined with another from Caltrans for $1 million — is hoped to cover the full cost of constructing the trail segment.

In recommending approval of Arcata’s application, a commission staff report notes the trail has been dubbed “the region’s highest transportation priority” and that it would benefit a “disadvantaged community.” Andre said the grant’s approval would be a “landmark” for the project, and even sounded a bit giddy on the phone. “It’s great news, and I’m really proud of the community effort and my staff,” he said.

Andre later added via email that the project will likely be a mutli-year construction effort, but that he's hopeful it may get underway next year.
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Monday, August 11, 2014

Human Remains Found In Humboldt Redwoods State Park

Posted By on Mon, Aug 11, 2014 at 11:34 AM

click to enlarge coroner.gif
A camper made a grisly discovery on Sunday during her morning walk: a human jawbone. 

The jawbone was in the middle of a trail on the west side of the Cuneo Creek Horse Camp, an equestrian site in Humboldt Redwoods State Park just off of Bull Creek Road. The camper, who requested anonymity, immediately returned to camp and alerted family members, who went back with her and discovered a human skull in the bushes just off the side of the trail. 

The campers called law enforcement and were joined by several park rangers, Deputy Coroner Roy Horton and Sheriff’s detective Todd Fulton. Horton confirmed that the remains were human and that the skull appeared to have been dragged, possibly by an animal such as a bear, a distance from the rest of the corpse. He indicated that foul play was a possibility and said that while there were "several environmental factors to consider such as exposure to the elements" the remains appeared fairly recent.

Horton said that the next steps would involve finding the rest of the corpse, possibly through the use of a cadaver dog, having an anthropologist analyze the remains to determine age, gender and ethnicity and comparing the anthropologist's findings against missing persons reports. 

The campers who found the jawbone and skull remarked that the teeth were remarkably straight and white, with no visible dental work. Because of this they surmised that the remains could be of a child or young person, a theory that the coroner would not confirm.

See the full press release from the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office below, and a photo taken at the scene. WARNING: The photo is a depiction of human remains, and may be offensive to some viewers.

Press Release:
On 08-10-2014, at approximately 7:30 a.m., California State Parks was notified of possible human remains, which were located by a hiker on a trail in Cuneo Creek Campground, Humboldt Redwoods State Park. A Park Ranger responded and confirmed the remains were human. The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office and Humboldt County Coroner’s Office were notified and responded to the scene. The skeletal remains were collected by a Deputy Coroner and will be examined by a Forensic Anthropologist to determine identity, age, sex and possible cause of death, which are all unknown at this time.

Anyone with information for the Sheriff’s Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.

click to enlarge Campers found a human jaw bone Sunday morning in Humboldt Redwoods State Park. - LINDA STANSBERRY
  • Linda Stansberry
  • Campers found a human jaw bone Sunday morning in Humboldt Redwoods State Park.
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Sunday, August 10, 2014

UPDATE: Coroner Releases Names of Four Dead in State Route 36 crash

Posted By on Sun, Aug 10, 2014 at 10:00 PM

click to enlarge CHP.jpg

The four occupants that received fatal injuries are 40 year old Daniel Lentz Ole Morris (restrained in the driver seat), 33 year old Alisha Marie Summerfield (seated unrestrained in the right front passenger seat), 13 year old Judith Maxine Martin (seated unrestrained in the rear truck bed), and 20 year old Savanna Nicole Line Ramirez (seated unrestrained in the rear truck bed). Each of the fatal victims recently resided in the Fortuna area.

The four occupants that sustained injuries are 15 year old Thomas M. Wheeler of Fortuna, 15 year old Miss Taylor M. Wheeler of Fortuna, 15 year old Faith Nadine Anderson of Scotia, and 21 year old Christopher Douglas Spencer of Fortuna. Each of these injured occupants are listed as in critical, but stable condition. After initially being transported to Redwood Memorial Hospital in Fortuna, Thomas and Taylor Wheeler, twin siblings, were transported by air ambulance to UD Davis Medical Center. Faith Anderson and Christopher Spencer were transported by air ambulance to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.

Summerfield was the mother of Judith Martin, and Thomas and Taylor Wheeler.

DUI as a collision factor remains under investigation pending a toxicology report from the Humboldt County Coroner’s office.

The Hospice of Humboldt Grief Support Services is offering grief counseling to any friends, family, or community members effected by this tragic incident. The Grief Support Services hotline is (707) 445-8443.

Police are investigating the deadliest car crash in Humboldt County in more than a decade after a pickup truck veered off State Route 36 and collided with a tree this afternoon, killing four people and sending four others to the hospital with major injuries.

The cause of the single-vehicle crash that occurred at about 4:30 this afternoon east of Hydesville remains under investigation, and the names of the deceased — one male and three females — are being withheld, pending notification of their families.

See the full press release from the California HIghway Patrol below:


HUMBOLDT, Calif. – On the evening of Sunday, August 10th, a single vehicle collided head-on into a tree on State Route 36, east of Hydesville, resulting in multiple fatalities and major injuries.

At approximately 4:30 pm, a 2002 Dodge Dakota pickup truck was traveling westbound on State Route 36, just east of Fisher Road, when it veered to the right off the roadway edge and collided head-on into a tree. Four of the vehicle’s eight occupants including the driver, one male and three females, were pronounced deceased at the scene. The remaining four occupants were transported to Redwood Memorial Hospital with major injuries. The male driver was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the collision and seatbelt usage among the remaining occupants is still under investigation. Several of the occupants were in the rear of the pickup truck when it collided into the tree. Two dogs were rescued from the vehicle, one having sustained major injuries. The occupants’ names are being withheld pending family notification.

DUI as a factor in this traffic collision is being investigated, but has not yet been confirmed or ruled out. The California Highway Patrol is investigating this traffic collision.

The CHP would like to acknowledge the quick response and outstanding efforts by Caltrans, Calfire, Fortuna Volunteer Fire Department, Carlotta Volunteer Fire Department, Humboldt County Coroner’s Office, Humboldt County Sheriff Animal Control Unit, and Buddy’s Towing.

This collision is the deadliest traffic collision investigated by the CHP in Humboldt County in nearly 14 years.

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UPDATED: Challenger Looms in Shadows of Eureka Council Race

Posted By on Sun, Aug 10, 2014 at 7:59 AM

click to enlarge eureka.png
The City of Eureka has determined that an unnamed would-be challenger to 1st Ward Councilwoman Marian Brady has failed to qualify for the ballot.

In a press release, the city cited section 301 of the city charter as the reason the would-be candidate did not qualify. That section reads: "No person shall be eligible for the office of council member unless such person is at the time of assuming such office an elector of the city and was a registered voter and a resident of the city and of the ward from which such person is seeking election at the time nomination papers are issued to such person..." So, I guess that settles that.


As Friday’s deadline closed to qualify to run for seats on the Eureka City Council, the city sent out a press release confirming that there will be challenged races in the 5th and 3rd wards. No surprises there, as Natalie Arroyo and Kim Bergel have both long since announced their intentions to take on incumbents Chet Albin and Mike Newman, respectively.

The surprise comes in the city’s 1st ward, where a number of candidates have been rumored but haven’t made any official announcements. The city’s release includes the following, “We have received signatures for another candidate but are awaiting verification of qualification.” Who could be attempting to challenge incumbent Marian Brady? A Journal request to City Clerk Pam Powell to release the name has so far gone unanswered, so we’re left guessing.

In qualify to run for a council seat in Eureka, you must be a registered voter whose primary residence is within the ward you are seeking to represent. Additionally you must secure 15 to 20 valid signatures from registered city voters to nominate you as a candidate. The mystery candidate's pending "verification of qualification" seems likely to hinge on either confirming that he or she lives within the 1st ward or validating his or her nominating signatures.

The release also notes that Mayor Frank Jager will be running unopposed, squashing any persistent rumors out there that former councilman and supervisorial candidate Chris Kerrigan would resume his candidacy for the post.

We’ll update this post as we get more information. In the meantime, see the city’s full press release below:

City of Eureka
Office of the City Clerk


Date: August 8, 2014

The following nominees have qualified for the ballot for offices of the City of Eureka, at the General Municipal Election to be held November 4, 2014:

Office of Mayor

Frank J. Jäger
3815 G Street
Eureka, CA 95503
(707) 443-2051
Email: frankjager499@yahoo.com

Office of City Council – Ward 1:

Marian Brady
803 Pine Street
Eureka, CA 95501
(707) 443-8282
Email: mbdesign@suddenlink.net

We have received signatures for another candidate but are awaiting for verification of qualification.

Office of City Council – Ward 3:

Mike L. Newman
1624 E Street, Apt. D
Eureka, CA 95501
(707) 443-0403
Email: insmike1313@yahoo.com

Kim Bergel
1312 K Street
Eureka, CA 95501
(707) 616-2178
Email: kswalford@sbcglobal.net

Office of City Council – Ward 5:

Chet Albin
1124 Thomas Street, Apt. D
Eureka, CA 95503
(707) 498-3896
Email: chetweott@yahoo.com

Natalie C. Arroyo
2127 C Street
Eureka, CA 95501
(707) 442-6664
Email: nataliec_arroyo@yahoo.com

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Saturday, August 9, 2014

Prosecutor: Murder Conviction Thanks to Bravery of Witnesses

Posted By on Sat, Aug 9, 2014 at 5:36 PM

click to enlarge Bodhi Tree
  • Bodhi Tree
The day after a Humboldt County jury convicted 28-year-old Bodhi Tree of double murder, the prosecutor on the case said the result would not have been possible if not for the courage of several citizens.

“There were some civilian witnesses that put their individual safety on the line to testify, and without their testimony we wouldn’t have gotten this verdict,” said Deputy District Attorney Elan Firpo. “It came down to regular people being very brave.”

The trial, which culminated with the jury convicting Tree Friday of second degree murder for the killings of 18-year-old Christina Schwartz and 27-year-old Allan “Sunshine” Marcet at an Arcata house party on May 18, 2013 and the attempted murder of a Eureka man two days earlier, turned into a trial by attrition. With the trial initially slated to span two months, attorneys walked 900 potential jurors through hardship questionnaires before finding 16 — 12 jurors and four alternates — willing and able to serve. But the trial dragged on, with new evidence coming to light that stretched it to almost three months. Three jurors had been excused by the time the case was submitted to the jury Tuesday afternoon. Then, Wednesday afternoon, after a day of deliberations, a fourth juror was excused after experiencing what Firpo called an “emotional crisis.”

With the final alternate joining them, the balance of the jury began deliberations anew Thursday, reaching the guilty verdicts by the close of their second day discussing evidence in the case. In settling on second-degree murder, the jurors found Tree acted with malice aforethought — meaning the killings were committed intentionally — but without premeditation. He faces a total prison sentence of more than 100 years to life, once special enhancements are factored in.
click to enlarge Elan Firpo
  • Elan Firpo
Tree, who experienced a traumatic childhood and has a long criminal history according to court records, was released from state prison just weeks before he shot and wounded Rhett August, and then turned the same gun on Marcet and Schwartz at a home on Arcata’s Eye Street. His prosecution was far from a slam dunk, as police never found the murder weapon nor an eye-witness to the Arcata shootings, or even anyone who could place Tree at the residence at the time shots were fired. Many of the witnesses who did come forward in the case did so with credibility issues, including transient lifestyles, drug addictions and criminal records.

“It was a very tough case," Firpo said, noting that she ultimately called 73 witnesses to testify, attempting to weave together a largely circumstantial case that left no reasonable doubt.

The prosecutor caught a break in June, when with the trial well underway, a number of witnesses — including inmates and jail staff — came forward to say they’d over heard Tree bragging about how he was going to beat the case. Firpo said these witnesses’ testimony could have been the difference in the case.

Tree, who screamed out, “This is Bullshit,” and pledged to appeal the verdict as it was being read, is due to be sentenced Aug. 22, though Firpo said that date is likely to be pushed back into September to allow Schwartz’s family to be present.

While Firpo said she is pleased and relieved to put the Tree trial behind her, there appears to be little rest in her future as she’s prosecuting Gary Lee Bullock, who stands accused of the Jan. 1 slaying of St. Bernard’s Parish pastor Father Eric Freed. His trial is slated to begin in November.

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