Monday, July 27, 2015

Humboldt's Got Style

Posted By on Mon, Jul 27, 2015 at 2:45 PM

Photo Contest
Photo Contest Photo Contest Photo Contest Photo Contest

Photo Contest

By Thadeus Greenson

Click to View 5 slides

Our county’s residents boast a variety of styles, but when it comes to looking your Humboldt-est, we don’t think anyone does it better than Eureka's Traci and Barney Barnwell, as photographed by Jay Cowden. This year, they put on their Fourth of July best and enlisted their chicken friend Buffy the Bug Slayer to pose with them. Good job Traci and Barney (and Buffy) — you make Humboldt look good!

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Marsh Homeless' Eviction Notice is Today, What's Going to Happen?

Posted By on Mon, Jul 27, 2015 at 9:20 AM

Vandalized bench at the Eureka marsh. - MILES SLATTERY
  • Miles Slattery
  • Vandalized bench at the Eureka marsh.
“The main thing is to get people here so we can connect as a community,” said Roger Pryor as he laid out bowls of taco fillings on Wednesday, July 22. Prior is part of a group of advocates dubbed “Friends of the Marsh,” who have been serving weekly lunches in the Bayshore Mall’s north parking lot in an attempt to engage homeless people camping behind the mall. This week the group was joined by Eureka Police Chief Andy Mills and Ward 3 City Councilmember Kim Bergel, who presented on the previous night’s city council meeting and the projected fate of the settlement, which is believed to be 113-people strong.

On July 15, Eureka police officers posted a notice to vacate on all camps behind the mall, telling residents they had 10 days to leave and take their belongings or “face prosecution.” This created a spirited discussion between homeless advocates, city employees and the Eureka City Council. Many wondered where Eureka’s homeless – whose numbers exceed the amount of shelter/temporary housing beds by a ratio of 3-to-1 – would ultimately go.

At the city council meeting, Parks and Recreation Director Miles Slattery expressed his frustration at having so many illegal camps on city property. He said interpretive signs had been repeatedly vandalized, city employees had removed 32,000 pounds of garbage over a one month period and one employee had been bitten by a dog.

"The campers in the marsh have not only caused blight and environmental concerns, there is also an unruly and negligent part of the population that has caused significant stress to city workers, community members and business owners," said Slattery.

Councilmembers and Chief Mills seemed to agree that a wholesale eviction of marsh campers wouldn’t be effective, although arresting people for camping or other issues wasn’t completely off the table.

“Let’s not kid ourselves,” said Mills. “We’re not going to arrest our way out of this problem, but there must be some sort of social control. If that’s the only leverage we have at this time, then we have to use it.”

The council also discussed a recent lawsuit from a woman who tripped and broke her shoulder while in the area, and cited the need to protect the city from litigation.

“Most the phone calls I get are from business owners and people who want their greenbelt back,” said Ward 4 Councilmember Melinda Ciarabellini. “I totally agree, chasing homeless people from one campsite to another is not a solution. If we don’t enforce camping laws, it’s a liability. If we don’t prosecute people, it’s a liability.”

On the day of the weekly lunch, Mills waited for everyone to get food and find seating before he addressed the crowd. The campers, about 20 in all, sat on makeshift benches and folding chairs. At least five children were present – including a pre-teen girl with a smudged face and dirty shorts, and a toddler in an oversized motorcycle helmet. One older woman with badly shaking hands asked Mills if he would wait a moment, she needed to step away for a minute and get her anxiety under control.

“No problem, Elizabeth,” said Mills as she ducked back into the bushes.

Mills’ message to the campers echoed his words at the city council meeting: A small minority of the marsh residents are responsible for the vast majority of the problems. Mills said his officers had contacted 110 residents on July 15 and had run their criminal histories. According to Mills, 63 had a history of theft, 49 a history of violence. Just 12 people in the encampment had made up 55 percent of arrests.

“As the chief of police, I cannot allow a crime to go unprosecuted," he said. "You have to put pressure on each other. The city is going to continue working and cleaning on a weekly basis.”

“We’ll help!” said one man, spurring a murmur of agreement.

Mills said that for the time being, the plan was to ticket people who were the biggest problems in the area. The notice to vacate was to give people the “opportunity to move of their own volition,” and to protect the city from future lawsuits.

“We’re not going to force people camping here, but we will use every tool we have to keep people safe,” said Mills. “We understand that some people here are actually the biggest victims.”

Mills and Bergel both encouraged marsh residents to seek out resources for housing at the Rescue Mission or the Multiple Assistance Center.

“Where can you go if you’re a married couple?” asked one man. “At the Rescue Mission they make you sleep separately from your wife, and I’m not going to do that.”

Several other residents chimed in to tell him to go to the MAC. The man said he and his wife hadn’t been living in Humboldt long enough to meet the MAC’s requirements.

“What about our dogs?” asked another woman. “For some of us, our dogs are our babies.”

Bergel addressed the crowd and said that some people may have to make hard choices, such as sleeping separately from their spouses or leaving their dogs with a friend.

“We all have to do some things we don’t want to do sometimes,” said Bergel. “The city council and police are committed to helping, but we need to work together.”

“Some of us just want jobs,” said one woman. “I’m a worker. I’ve been working since I could reach the counters at my grandmother’s restaurant. No one wants to hire us because we can't stay clean.”

“Why can’t you just let us stay?” asked another woman.

“This is not your property,” said Mills. “We’re not going to tolerate crimes being committed here. I’ve had three employees bitten by dogs this year. That’s not acceptable.”

As the Friends of the Marsh began to fold up tables and throw away the paper plates, some residents began to filter back into the marsh. Others surrounded Mills and Bergel, peppering them with questions.

At the city council meeting, Councilmember Natalie Arroyo asked the question she called “the elephant in the room.”

“We told people they had 10 days to leave – that would be July 25 – so, what happens in three days?”

“We will begin to cajole people into leaving,” said Mills.

That cajoling, whichever form it is to take, starts today.
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Sunday, July 26, 2015

HumBug: Tiny and Primitive

Posted By on Sun, Jul 26, 2015 at 3:00 PM

Dont fret: It's just a springtail.
  • Dont fret: It's just a springtail.

If you have sharp eyes or good glasses, pick up a potted plant and you might see a tiny gray thing, not much larger than the period at the end of this sentence, scurry away or even leap. This particular kind of critter has been hiding under rocks for a very long time. These are springtails (Collembola).
They were once considered one of the most primitive orders of insects, but modern taxonomists elevated them to sub-class status along with two other groups which form the class Entognatha. The fact that they are no longer classed with the insects does not seem to bother them at all.

These critters love the damp and the dark. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • These critters love the damp and the dark.

An early Devonian (400 million years ago) fossil from Scotland is said to closely resemble several modern species. According to Wikipedia, it is the earliest known terrestrial arthropod fossil (an excellent article if you enjoy some of the most confusing taxonomy I've encountered). These are creatures of the cool damp places, under things, in leaf litter, and I have even seen them skating on the surface film of water. They breathe through their skin. Due to their tiny size and unobtrusiveness they are often overlooked, yet common species might be some of the most numerous animals on the planet.

They are not a threat to your aunt Polly's prize petunias even though they can become pretty numerous. They are known to be omnivorous and pretty much harmless, carrying no known diseases and with only a few species doing damage to anything humans might be interested in. They seldom need to be “controlled” with cyanide, a 10-pound hammer, or any other “nuclear option.”
Not technically insects, and not just gray and brown.
  • Not technically insects, and not just gray and brown.
They are called Springtails due to a unique anatomical development. A lever projects from the tip of their abdomen and is held underneath pointing toward their head. When threatened, the “furcula” snaps downward propelling the animal violently up and away. It wasn't until I digitally developed several extremely magnified photos that I saw some of them have amazingly intricate patterns and pretty iridescence and are more than tiny gray or brown specks scurrying around the drainboard of my outside sink.
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Friday, July 24, 2015

Bigger Numbers or Just Better Data? Point in Time Count is Out

Posted By on Fri, Jul 24, 2015 at 3:48 PM

A shopping cart sits near the Devil's Playground behind the Bayshore Mall. - LINDA STANSBERRY
  • Linda Stansberry
  • A shopping cart sits near the Devil's Playground behind the Bayshore Mall.

The Humboldt Housing and Homeless Coalition released a final draft of its Point in Time Count today, which you can find here. While the overall figures seem to indicate a jump in the number of homeless people in Humboldt, (1,319 people in 2015, up from 1,054 in 2013), organizers of the biannual tally say that improved methods, including a shorter form, may have contributed to more complete data.

As the Journal originally reported when the PIT Count's draft went out for review, some volunteers felt the count fell short. The Department of Housing and Urban Development, which sponsors the count, does not include people living in clean and sober housing, those "doubled up" with friends, or give a complete picture of the number of homeless children, which the Humboldt County Office of Education estimates at close to 1,000. At least one attempt to tally volunteers at the Hikshari' Trail was disrupted by police serving notices to campers of an imminent cleanup and rumors of a government 'round up.'

Some advocates in Southern Humboldt say the tally, which was done in late January, gives an inaccurate picture of the impact transients can have during the fall months, when migratory workers flood Garberville and Redway looking for seasonal work on marijuana grows.

One thing that appears to be clear is that the number of those without a bed far exceeds the beds available. In Eureka alone, where more than half of Humboldt County's homeless live, there are three times as many heads as there are emergency shelter beds.

From the Humboldt Housing and Homeless Coalition:

Point in Time count numbers released

The 2015 homeless Point in Time (PIT) count report has been finalized, showing a total of 1,319 homeless, including 32 children—265 more homeless people than were counted during the 2013 PIT.

More than 30 agencies and 100 trained volunteers assisted in this year’s PIT count which showed Eureka having the county’s largest homeless population, followed by Arcata and Southern Humboldt.

The biennial PIT count, conducted by the Humboldt Housing and Homeless Coalition (HHHC), documents the number of sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons. The count takes place in communities across the U.S. on a single night in January. For Humboldt County, this year it was Jan. 27.

Starting the morning after and going through the week, volunteers connected with homeless people throughout the county to administer voluntary surveys with questions about age, physical and mental health status and where they had slept on the designated night.

“This year we had a lot of community interest and more volunteers participating in the count than in previous years,” said Barbara LaHaie, co-chair of the HHHC and assistant director, programs, for the Humboldt County Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS). “These numbers are so beneficial to the HHHC and assist us in determining how best to use our resources.”

The count is a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requirement. Information gathered during this count is used by local planning departments and by county nonprofit agencies in applications for grant funding and planning.

Although there are various definitions of homelessness, HUD’s definition includes the following four categories:

1. Individuals and families who lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence
2. Individuals and families who will imminently lose their primary nighttime residence
3. Unaccompanied youth and families with children and youth who are defined as homeless under other federal statutes who do not otherwise qualify as homeless under this definition
4. Individuals and families who are fleeing, or are attempting to flee, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking or other dangerous or life-threatening conditions that relate to violence against the individual or a family member.

People living with friends or relatives, as well as people staying in motels, are not considered homeless, per HUD’s definition.

The count is not scientific, but provides a picture of the homeless population at a specific point in time.

“It provides a snapshot of our homeless on a specific night,” said Karen “Fox” Olson, executive director at Arcata House Partnership and co-chair of the HHHC.

She said this year’s PIT was a success, which she credits to a few things.

“We simplified the survey, the volunteers were great and the California Center for Rural Policy (CCRP) at Humboldt State University analyzed the data and provided us with a final report. This year is the best data collection the HHHC has ever done.”

Olson said they also set up hubs throughout the county where homeless people could come and be interviewed, including the Arcata House Annex, Betty Kwan Chinn Day Center, North Coast Veterans Resource Center, Fortuna Adventist Community Services, Redwood Teen Challenge, Church of the Joyful Healer and WISH-Women’s Crisis Shelter In Southern Humboldt.
The 2015 PIT Count committee included the North Coast Veterans Resource Center, Arcata House Partnership, DHHS, Redwood Community Action Agency, Redwood Teen Challenge, the Humboldt County Office of Education and two at-large community members. The count was funded in part by First 5 Humboldt County, the North Coast Grant Making Partnership, St. Joseph Health System and the CCRP.
The HHHC is a coalition of housing advocates, businesses, funders, elected officials, service and housing providers, faith-based organizations and other community stakeholders working together to identify and address local housing needs. In Humboldt County, the HCCC is the lead organization for homeless issues and the federally designated Continuum of Care. For more information about the HHHC, visit its website at


Other Statistics Percentage

Arcata   15.9%
Eureka  56.3%
Fortuna         7.4%
Southern Humboldt  13.1%
Other          7.3%
Left unanswered  1.67%

<18          2.6%
18-25       11.1%
26-34      22.0%
35-45      27.1%
46-54      19.5%
55-64       14.6%
65+          3.1%

Sheltered indicates sleeping in a motel, in a trailer or RV, emergency shelter, transitional house or “couch-surfing” on the night of Jan. 27.

Unsheltered indicates sleeping in a car, on the street, outdoors or in an abandoned building on the night of Jan. 27.

Disabling condition  47.9%
Victim of domestic violence       37.4%
Substance use disorder       33.3%
Serious mental illness  30.7%
HIV/AIDS         1.67%

Veteran Status:
Yes          13.4%
No          8.6%
Respondent doesn’t know       0.078%
Respondent declined to state      0.31%
Information wasn’t filled out       3.26%

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Skilled Nursing Facilities Now Taking Patients

Posted By on Fri, Jul 24, 2015 at 10:52 AM

Geoffrey and Queenie Spenceley - CHRISTINE PETER
  • Christine Peter
  • Geoffrey and Queenie Spenceley
Lisa Ciccanti, spokesperson for St. Joseph Hospital, confirmed that local skilled nursing facilities have begun accepting patients from the hospital again. St. Joseph had previously been told by the facilities' management company, Rockport, that they would not accept any of the hospital's patients, forcing those who needed skilled nursing to go out of county. The local Program for All Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) has not had its contract with the five local skilled nursing facilities reinstated, although PACE director Justine Medina reports that the program has only had to place one elder in skilled nursing during the last year.

On Thursday, July 23, Rockport's CEO Brad Gibson gave a presentation to the Fortuna Rotary Club in which he discussed the company's three-and-a-half month refusal to accept patients. The Journal has attempted to contact the company, but repeated emails to its public relations spokesperson, Sallie Hofmeister, have not been returned.

For more information about the shut out, click here to read our our July 9 cover story. The story featured the tale of Geoffrey and Queenie Spencely, detailing Geoffrey's efforts to get his wife into a skilled nursing facility. The Journal has learned that Queenie passed away the morning the story came out.

Linda Stansberry will host an interview with Suzi Fregeau, program manager for the Area 1 Agency on Aging's long-term care ombudsman, and ombudsman volunteer John Heckel on KHSU's Thursday Night Talk Thursday, July 30 at 7 p.m. 

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

That's All, Folklife

Posted By on Tue, Jul 21, 2015 at 2:00 PM

The Humboldt Folklife Festival picked, strummed, hooted and harmonized all the live-long day at the free concert finale at Dell'Arte International on Saturday, July 18. This was the 37th annual event, featuring everything from highland pipes to washboards and banjos. Photographer Mark McKenna caught the shows, the crowds and the music spilling into the streets. 
That's All, Folklife
That's All, Folklife That's All, Folklife That's All, Folklife That's All, Folklife That's All, Folklife That's All, Folklife That's All, Folklife That's All, Folklife

That's All, Folklife

By Jennifer Fumiko Cahill

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Sunday, July 19, 2015

Humbug: Two Different Strategies for Prosperity

Posted By on Sun, Jul 19, 2015 at 2:16 PM

The Buckeye butterfly's eye-like wing spots may serve to intimidate predators. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • The Buckeye butterfly's eye-like wing spots may serve to intimidate predators.
I can be sure it's summer now that I’ve seen two of my favorite butterflies. Considered as a pair, they show two very different survival strategies. One is gaudy, covered by nature with large clown eyes, the other is a very “plain Jane” butterfly. You can see them both on any sunny Summer or Fall day.

Look for the Buckeye (Junonia coenia ) on Shasta daisies or almost any patch of blooming Himalaya Berries. Their vivid eye spots may serve to protect them from predators, especially birds, by startling them. The size of those eyes is that of a much larger creature, and there are a lot of them! Fortunately, most birds can't count. So, when it comes to eyes, I guess bigger and more is better. This species does not hide, but patrols and displays its vivid markings wherever it lands. It is common throughout North America.

At the other end of the spectrum is the least obtrusive butterfly I know, the California Ringlet, Coenonympha tullia california. The upper side is a cream or sand color, which matches the tall dry grass where it usually hides. Every live photo I've seen of this small butterfly has its wings closed, showing their pale gray brown underside. Unlike the buckeye, its survival strategy seems to be camouflage rather than intimidation.

The species Coenonympha tullia is a widespread species throughout the northern hemisphere. The california appellation indicates our local subspecies. When I posted a photo from my back yard of the Ringlet on an entomological Facebook page, a fellow from Scotland posted one from there, which was indistinguishable from our locals.

Both are members of the family Nymphalidae so presumably had a common ancestor not too far back on the evolutionary tree. But they have obviously taken very different paths to success.

Camouflage is the California Ringlet's primary defense. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • Camouflage is the California Ringlet's primary defense.

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Chile vs. Chile: The Arcata Standoff

Posted By on Sun, Jul 19, 2015 at 10:29 AM

As discussed last week, chile relleno appears to come in a spectrum. We've been treated to both the traditional Poblano pepper wrapped in batter and the equally sabroso omelet-style yumminess. Our readers, however, took exception this week to our inclusion of the eggy offering from Arcata's Fiesta Grill and Cantina (3525 Janes Rd).

So, first, in our defense, we did call and ask for both kinds, but were told only the egg version was available. The very nice (and very busy) lady on the phone broke down their chile relleno-making process, which she said involved folding the pepper into the batter right on the grill. Mmmm! We were pretty delighted with the spiciness and nice, even batter with the oozy Monterey Jack cheese inside. Yes, we know, Monterey Jack is not exactly traditional, but it's the taste that matters, okay? 

Carmela's in Arcata serves up a more traditional fare. - GRANT SCOTT GOFORTH
  • Grant Scott Goforth
  • Carmela's in Arcata serves up a more traditional fare.
Across town, Carmelas (1288 G St) handed us a hefty package of cilantro-sprinkled goodness. That deep brown batter, that gooey traditional cheese...we could see why people have their platonic ideal of the perfect chile relleno. But...were we comparing apples to oranges? Was the egg version not a worthy contender to the traditional masa version? We decided to withhold judgement. Next week we'll pit Fiesta Grill and Cantina's more traditional version against Carmela's and toss in the much-nominated Valley Azteca to boot. Three chile rellenos in one week? Yeah, we can handle it. Heck, why not nominate yet another Arcata favorite into the ring. The ultimate winner will go up against Fortuna and Eureka's favorites in our ongoing quest to find #humboldtsbestchilerelleno.
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Friday, July 17, 2015

Controversial Place Names in Humboldt County

Posted By on Fri, Jul 17, 2015 at 3:52 PM

Seth Kinman, mountain man, furniture builder, killer of Native Americans, has a pond named after him. - ONLINE ARCHIVE OF CALIFORNIA
  • Seth Kinman, mountain man, furniture builder, killer of Native Americans, has a pond named after him.

Last week we ran a story which dipped briefly into the history of Larabee Creek — named for a participant in the Indian Island massacre. Local historian, author and Journal contributor Jerry Rohde was inspired to send us a list of other places in Humboldt County with ignominious eponymy. Below are the results of his search.

(This list contains only names currently recognized by U. S. Geographical Survey. Several other offensive names that were in earlier use have been omitted.)

Larabee, Larabee Creek, Larabee Valley:

All named for Henry Larabee, a rancher who lived in Larabee Valley. He participated in the Indian Island Massacre, boasted of having murdered 60 infants at various killing grounds, and shot and killed an elderly Indian who did nothing more than pay Larabee a visit.

Brown’s Gulch:

This tributary to Elk River, located near the Boy Scout Camp, was named for James D. Henry Brown, who local historian Martha Roscoe determined was a leader of the massacre party at Indian Island.

Digger Creek:

This tributary to Yager Creek is south of the Iaqua Buttes. The term “digger” was frequently applied to local Indians and should be considered as offensive as the term “n—” as used in reference to blacks.

Squaw Creek:

Squaw Creek #1 is a tributary to Bull Creek, in the heart of the Rockefeller Forest. A group of white vigilantes massacred local Indians there in the 1850s. Squaw Creek #2 is a tributary of the Mattole River and was the site, in 1863, of another Indian massacre. Squaw Creek #3 is a tributary of the East Branch South Fork River. The term squaw has long been held to be offensive by numerous Indian tribes.

Negro Joe Ridge:

This location lies just below the scenic overlook on Highway 299 west of Berry Summit. It was earlier called N— Joe Ridge. Even if it became “African-American Joe Ridge” it would still be insulting because it perpetuates the use of the name “Joe” as a catchall for male blacks regardless of their true name. In this case, the ridge was named for Leroy Watkins, who was probably the first black in Humboldt County. He was ambushed by two Whilkut Indians in the vicinity and killed both of them.

Kinman Pond:

This body of water is located on Bear River Ridge, southwest of Rio Dell. Seth Kinman had a ranch here in the 1850s. Kinman reportedly would kill Indians on sight.

Felt Springs:

This former hot springs is northeast of Fortuna near the southern edge of Headwaters Forest. It was owned by Dr. Theodore Dwight Felt, who, in 1852, cosigned a letter asking residents from Humboldt Bay to help Eel River area residents massacre Indians. Several Wiyot villages were attacked as a result.

Patrick's Point:

Named for "Old Patrick" Reagan (or Beegan), who live in the area in the 1850s. In July 1854 he shot and killed an Indian boy near Trinidad. He was arrested but escaped while witnesses were being examined. Patrick later lived above Redwood Creek. He discovered an Indian camp nearby and led soldiers to it; he was subsequently killed by the Indians.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

#Arcata24HR: A Day in the Life

Posted By on Wed, Jul 15, 2015 at 4:53 PM

Local photographer Leon Villagomez recently pulled an all nighter in his Arcata home. As he sat in front of his computer processing photos, the sounds of the night trickled in: a crack of a bat and cheers from the ballpark; a police siren; bits of animated conversation; hoots from plaza revelers.

That night's sounds inspired an ambitious project Villagomez is launching tonight, when, beginning at 12:01 a.m., he will spend 24 straight hours traversing Arcata and capturing its sights. There's no plan, he says, other than exploring, wandering and documenting. "That's kind of the beauty of this," says Villagomez. "I have no idea what it's going to be."

Villagomez, a native of Guadalajara, Mexico, who has lived in Humboldt County for almost five years, will be documenting his 24-hour journey on Instagram, using the hashtag #Arcata24HR. You can follow him there. We'll also be curating his posts on this page (, where readers will be able to see #Arcata24HR unfold in real time. Just be sure to check back often, as Villagomez is planning on posting a handful of pictures an hour, until his likely collapse from exhaustion at 11:59 p.m. tomorrow.
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