Wednesday, July 15, 2015

UPDATE: Local Palliative Care Outfit Launches Pilot Program

Posted By on Wed, Jul 15, 2015 at 12:54 PM


ResolutionCare has launched its education portion, Project ECHO, in a nine-month pilot program, also in conjunction with Partnership HealthPlan of California. 

Project ECHO uses a hub and spoke model to " demonopolizes the scarce resource of a palliative care team," according to a press release (see the illustration below, and read more about it here.)

ResolutionCare will provide teams with training and discussion at 10 Northern California health centers for 90 minutes, twice a month during the duration of the pilot program. Read the entire press release at the bottom of this post.

Continue reading »

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Racism Behind the Redwood Curtain Part III: Sorry, Not Sorry

Posted By on Tue, Jul 14, 2015 at 3:26 PM

Student's truck in the College of the Redwoods Parking Lot. - SUBMITTED
  • Student's truck in the College of the Redwoods Parking Lot.
Although Confederate flags do appear on the occasional barn wall, truck bumper or window, Humboldt County had no real role in the Southern cause. But the War of the States did have a marked effect on the Redwood Coast, according to Humboldt State University history professor Thomas Mays.

“During the war, Humboldt was like a lot of frontier areas in the United States; the U.S. stopped garrisoning frontier posts, and some of the largest Native American fights took place,” he says.

When the troops left Fort Humboldt, local tribes saw an opportunity to reclaim their indigenous land and began escalating violence against white settlers. This drew a weighty and horrific response from vigilante groups.

“The home guard used it as an opportunity to solve their ‘Indian problem’ once and for all,” says Mays. Attacks against Native Americans by the local militia escalated, prompting the U.S. government to send some “very unhappy” Civil War volunteers to Fort Humboldt. “They didn’t want to be up here, they wanted to be fighting in the war. Locals weren’t thrilled that they weren’t rounding up Indians. And there were frontier attacks on all sides. By 1863, volunteers were pulled out. Then Seth Kinman and others showed up.”

Kinman, who is suspected of participating in the 1860 massacre of Wiyot women and children on Indian Island, was one of many locals who took part in routine massacres and “round ups” of Native Americans during and after the Civil War. Those not killed were pressed into slavery, exposed to infectious disease or marched to reservations far away from their tribal lands. Landmarks in our region bear the names of men who participated in this genocide. Larabee Valley, for example, is named for Henry Larabee, who once boasted of having “killed sixty infants with his own hatchet.” The Kelsey Recreation Trail, in the Marble Mountains, bears the name of Ben Kelsey, who slaughtered Native Americans as part of the Sonoma Gang before becoming a founder of Arcata.

When a society is structured in a way to systematically advantage one group over another, this is known as systemic racism. The philosophy of Manifest Destiny and blunt dehumanization used to justify the genocide of Native Americans on the North Coast are blatant examples of systemic racism, but other forms still exist, in our schools, our jails and public institutions.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California and the National Center for Youth Law recently brought a lawsuit against Eureka City Schools, alleging racial and sexual discrimination against African American and Native American students. An investigation into the allegations and a subsequent study reveal that students of color were disproportionately disciplined for minor infractions and shunted into non-college-track courses.

In March 2014 the City of Eureka retracted a draft letter of apology to the Wiyot tribe for the Indian Island massacre. City officials felt that the original letter, which acknowledged the participation by Eureka citizenry in the massacre and offered a formal apology for a “massacre of unfathomable proportions," might expose the city to litigation, a fear that appears to be unfounded. A second letter, vague in language, was proffered instead.

Although Native Americans make up just 6 percent of Humboldt’s overall population, they account for 17 percent of those suffering housing insecurity, according to a recent draft report from the Humboldt Housing and Homeless Coalition. Both Native American and African American children are disproportionately represented in the child welfare system.

Still, leaders in the African American and Native American communities say that strides are being made.

“Systemic racism is not as much of a problem as running into racism individually,” says A.V. Powell, head of Humboldt County’s chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Powell says when he first moved to Humboldt County in 1965 and began work at the pulp mill, his white coworkers criticized the decision to hire him. “Most of the people who worked at the mill were two or three generations and they felt … that I was stepping into their personal territory. For years I ran into that problem even as I became senior operator, actually basically in charge of training them. They still said I got in because of affirmative action, I said, ‘Well you got in because your daddy worked there.’”

Today, Powell says that the organization is focused on political action.

“Our goal is to get as many young people as we can to vote and get them interested in their government,” he says. “I try to impress upon them that people of my generation died for that right. If you’re not part of the team, then you can’t play ball.”

Chag Lowry, program manager for the Native Cultures Fund at the Humboldt Area Foundation, says media focus on the problems rather than the solutions is a common, unacknowledged example of systemic racism.

“Who chooses how to portray us is important,” says Lowry. “When we start to go to systemic racism, we don’t focus on the efforts native people are undertaking.”

The relative youth of most tribal governments, the inherited trauma of the boarding school system, the lack of native voices in Humboldt State University’s administration, all of these could be considered examples of systemic racism, according to Lowry.

“Everything goes back to how this place was founded,” he says. “But I tend to look at more contemporary structures that are present.”

The True North Community Organizing Network, which is also under the umbrella of the Humboldt Area Foundation, recently hired a native community organizer. Local tribes are involved in providing social services for their members, care for children and elders, education outreach, language revitalization services, environmental oversight and cultural events. Lowry says these important aspects of contemporary tribal life are often underrepresented by the media.

On July 10, South Carolina lowered the Confederate flag for the final time in the state’s capital, turning the controversial piece of cloth over to a state history museum. The flag had gained national attention after the shooting of Charleston churchgoers Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, Cynthia Hurd, Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Myra Thompson, Ethel Lance, Rev. Daniel Simmons, Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor and Susie Jackson by a self-proclaimed white supremacist. Discussion of the Confederate flag on the Journal’s own website and Facebook page generated a hefty amount of criticism on both sides, with some readers emphasizing heritage and others hatred. The flag, say many, is just a symbol. Yes, say others, but what it symbolizes is worthy of a critical eye. It remains to be seen if that same critical eye will be applied to the our own legacy of slavery, genocide and racism, a legacy that has no stars and bars to point at, no banner to wave nor to lower.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The original post stated that the City of Fortuna does not celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. A city employee emailed to say as of July 1, 2015 this had changed.
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Sunday, July 12, 2015

HumBug: Giddyup!

Posted By on Sun, Jul 12, 2015 at 2:29 PM

Cowgirl ants have a flock of aphids exactly where they want them. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • Cowgirl ants have a flock of aphids exactly where they want them.
Having rained the day before, the sky hung low and menacing over the warm, muggy, quiet clearing. Strangely at that moment there were very few insects in a place I expected to see many. I was reminded of an old jungle movie. The words – “It's quiet. Too quiet!” – ran through my mind. Where were the bugs? It is unusual to not see any.

Just to have something to do I took a shot of a thistle in perfect full bloom and my eye was drawn to a dark spot behind a leaf axil. It moved, so I looked harder. It was a fairly large ant, nearly half an inch long, working diligently herding a flock of aphids. I have read about this behavior. The ants diligently protect and care for their charges. In return, the aphids secrete a sweet substance called honeydew, which the ants eat.

If the aphids are their cows and ant workers are all female, it makes them “Cowgirl ants.” Menace them with your finger and the ants will take a threatening pose, even attacking if you push it.

I took a few photos using the flash as supplemental illumination, finally returning my little camera to my pocket. It occurred to me to take another photo from a different angle. As I was retrieving the camera there was a flash. I thought I might have left it “on” until the flash I saw was followed by a very loud sharp thunder crack. Alone in an open clearing, I decided to let that last shot go and hustled my way out of there only to get drenched by rain on the way.

I guess the rest of those insects knew something I would have been wise to heed, that inclement weather was on its way.   

Ants herding aphids. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • Ants herding aphids.

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Saturday, July 11, 2015

Racism Behind the Redwood Curtain Part II: Stars, Bars and the Backs of Cars

Posted By on Sat, Jul 11, 2015 at 11:20 AM

Truck parked in front of the Yellow Rose in Petrolia, CA. - LINDA STANSBERRY
  • Linda Stansberry
  • Truck parked in front of the Yellow Rose in Petrolia, CA.

In Part I of this series we explored the hidden, often lonely world of Humboldt County’s online white supremacist community. But, of course, not all intolerance lurks online. We put the call out to the community to share their experiences with racism in Humboldt County, and gathered a lot of comments on one aspect in particular: Why would anyone sport a Confederate flag this far north of the Mason-Dixon line?

Humboldt County has no deep ties to the Deep South. Our lone Confederate notable, brigadier general Gabriel J. Rains, both fought and protected Native Americans from his post at Fort Humboldt before leaving to join the secessionist cause. (He also has the dubious distinction of being one of the first inventors of the modern land mine.) It doesn’t appear that there are any public buildings or monuments named after Rains or other Confederate soldiers in Humboldt County, meaning that we will be unaffected by a proposed bill in the California State Senate that would ban public property from having the names of Confederate leaders. Further down the coast, Fort Bragg (named after Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg), may be in for a dramatic change. While there was a Confederate contingent in Southern California, Humboldt remained loyal to the Union cause.

And yet, the Confederate Flag still appears under the redwoods and fog from time to time, like a Joker card flashing to the surface of a well-shuffled deck. The Hawg Wild Bar in Orick no longer flies it, and it has been mostly exterminated from the parking lot of Ferndale High, but as Journal columnist Marcy Burstiner recently pointed out, it is alive and well on the bumpers of some local vehicles, and even on windows in Eureka's Old Town.

Kintay Johnson, assistant director of the Extended Opportunity Programs and Services department at College of the Redwoods, says that many of the students of color who come into his office feel isolated and unwelcome in Humboldt. Johnson, who spoke about his experience as an African American at a recent TedX event, moved to Humboldt from Pensacola, Florida 12 years ago. He said that the racial atmosphere in Humboldt was a welcome change from his hometown, where profiling was a common police practice. He has seen a few examples of overt racism, including an incident in which a stranger who accosted him and his friends on the Arcata Plaza, spewing racial epithets.

“He did look a little intoxicated,” says Johnson. “ Maybe that made him feel like he had the freedom to say these things. I brought it up in class and someone said there are a lot of those people running around here, it’s just not as overt in the South. That’s when I started seeing Confederate flags, and I just thought ‘Whoa, what is this doing here, 3,000 miles away from the South?’”

Johnson says that the Confederate flag, which was much more prominent where he grew up, is “not a symbol of heritage. It’s hate.” His first reaction when he sees it is to avoid whoever is wearing or displaying it, but because he works with the public this can be difficult. So instead he leans into the conflict, trying to change hearts and minds.

“I try to break down any stereotype they may have heard about black people, to help them see that those negative images they see on TV or whatever, they’re not true,” he says, recalling the time he was called to help a student who had a Confederate Flag tattooed onto the back of his neck. “It took me aback, but then I thought, ‘I’m really going to help this guy. I’m going to make this the best experience he’s ever had, and that’s how I’ll help.’ So I did.”

Michael Ross, a local business owner who moved to Humboldt from Chicago, also says that Eureka has been a welcoming environment for him and his family. Ross says he has had experiences in which he felt he was being racially profiled by the police. He said an officer with the Eureka Police Department was discriminatory and rude towards him during a traffic stop, and that the station did not give him a complaint form. But for the most part, Ross’s experience has been in line with national statistics regarding racial attitudes in the United States, which show Humboldt County as one of the country’s most tolerant regions.

Still, both Ross and Johnson say that they feel safer and more welcome in Eureka and Arcata. Johnson says he was racially profiled and stopped by law enforcement in McKinleyville. Neither men feel totally comfortable in Fortuna, Ferndale or McKinleyville, especially after dark. Ross and his wife, who is white, have occasionally received the “mad eye” from people when they go out in public. Ross says that they respond by “playing up the kissy kissy, lovey dovey,” once moving seats in a restaurant to be closer to some intolerant patrons, who eventually left.

In May of this year, a postal worker in Eureka reported being physically and verbally abused while delivering mail. He says that his assailants called him the n-word before they punched him. The case has been referred to the district attorney’s office, who had not returned our call as of press time. The local chapter of the NAACP has also not returned our calls.

Ross, who cuts an imposing figure, says that he isn’t on the receiving end of a lot of racially-motivated behavior because, ultimately, “most racists are cowards.” He is more concerned about his daughter, who will soon be entering the public school system. His wife is an educator, and she and her colleagues can provide a “safety net” during grade school, but the recent ACLU lawsuit against Eureka City Schools has made him nervous about what will happen when she goes to highschool. The couple talked about it before their daughter was “even conceived,” and they continue to talk about it "constantly."

“I'll be teaching her how to handle herself when she's confronted with some of these stupid ideals,” says Ross, who has already begun talking to his daughter about her African heritage and the aspects of her background he says aren’t taught in history class. “She'll be armed with power. When you know background and when you know the truth, you can look someone in the face when they say something stupid. And then we're definitely going to work on self-defense, because I can't live knowing that someone would hurt my little girl without her knowing how to defend herself.”

Ross and his wife are working to change the school system “from the inside,” preparing the way for their daughter to have a safe experience. He says that he will be teaching his little girl as he was taught, to “defend yourself first and talk politics later.”

Ross’s concerns speak to the hidden side of racism on the Redwood Coast. Confederate flags and other symbols can be painted over or taken down, but the systems that support racism are often both hidden in plain sight and a challenge to uproot. In part III of our series we will look into institutional racism in Humboldt County.

Please add your voice by commenting below or emailing

EDITOR'S NOTE: The original post included a reference to a white supremacist symbol on the side of a local truck. The Journal has since spoken to the owner of the truck, who told us we misidentified the symbol. The Journal regrets the error.
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The Reluctant Cyclist, part 3

Posted By on Sat, Jul 11, 2015 at 8:51 AM

click image Alas.
  • Alas.
Look, I was ready, sporting my styley bike pants, pannier packed and motivation high. Unfortunately, my tire was low – and no matter how much I tried to inflate it, the rubber stayed squishy to the squeeze. I ended up lifting the bike into the truck bed – a working tailgate would be nice at times like this – and driving it to Revolution Bicycles, the place from whence it came all those years ago

They are nice people, the people who work at Revolution. They've never made me feel dumb for knowing nothing about bikes. And yet, due to my own awareness of my cluelessness, I walk in wearing embarrassment like it's a T-shirt saying, "Not An Actual Bike Person." 

I wheel my bike over to the repair area and explain that "this" – I point to the tire, apparently unable to identify it by name – "isn't holding air." Also, I continue, "The... chain?... uh... won't shift?" Because that's another thing I noticed a couple days ago – that the front version of the things that shift into different gears isn't working. Usually I just leave that one alone and switch the back one up-and-down – see? I don't even know the parts to explain what is (not) happening. 

When Justin, one of the owners, says hi to me and compliments my bike on being ridden, I tell him I'm writing about bicycling for the Journal. The repair guy asks my name for the form he's filling out, and after I say it, he says, "Oh, I've read a lot of your stuff" in a tone that is neither compliment nor derision, which leaves me unable to determine if reading my stuff has been a good experience for him or a bad. I stand awkwardly until he says, kindly, that he'll have an estimate for me tomorrow. And then I leave.

Now, it's possible to someone not living in my head, that I appeared normal. Or my dorkiness could have been as obvious as it felt. Hard to say. In any case, the bike is in cleverer hands and I hope to have it back soon. 

In the meantime, some thoughts following my last post, on bicycling home over the bridges from Eureka. The morning ride had taken place after 9 a.m., but my return trip was squarely in the midst of rush hour. 

Number of miles ridden (one-way): 4.0
Time traveled: 23:51 minutes
Number of other pedestrians passed: 2
Number of times actively feared for life: 5

Vehicles speeding by are much worse when they come as a relentless onslaught instead of an occasional hazard. The increased traffic also meant that passing cars didn't scoot over nearly as much, which was especially troublesome when I had to go around the people walking over the bridge – not their fault, but room does not exist for a car to go around a cyclist going around a pedestrian. And drivers sure can't seem to just maybe slow down for a minute while we all work this out. 

Finally, because I have upset someone who feels my "attitude about cycling is a real downer," let me first say some things I love about riding my bike: the view, the exercise, the fun of going downhill, the satisfaction of having ridden. 

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Friday, July 10, 2015

UPDATE: Names of Firefighters Killed in Crash Released

Posted By on Fri, Jul 10, 2015 at 1:12 PM

From the California Highway Patrol:

UPDATE: The two U.S. Forest Service firefighters that died in this traffic collision have been identified as 29 year old Dale Alexander Mendes of Willow Creek (Driver) and 19 year old Jason Fritz Price, Jr. of Weitchpec (Right front passenger).


The firefighters ¬— whose names haven’t been released — were reporting missing earlier in the day after they reportedly left work in the Salyer area Wednesday night and failed to return Thursday morning, according to a CHP press release. Investigators believe the SUV drove off Seeley McIntosh Road and went into the water some time between Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon, but it’s unclear when.

See the full CHP press release copied below:


WILLOW CREEK, Calif. – On the afternoon of Thursday, July 9, a citizen reported to a California Highway Patrol (CHP) Willow Creek unit of an overturned vehicle in the Trinity River near Kimtu Beach. The CHP and other emergency personnel responded to the scene and located an overturned black Toyota SUV submerged in the Trinity River with two deceased occupants. A preliminary investigation indicates the vehicle drove off Seeley McIntosh Road sometime between Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon.

It was previously reported to the CHP Redding Communications Center that two U.S. Forest Service firefighters left work in Salyer Wednesday night and never showed up for work Thursday morning. CHP and Humboldt County Sheriff Department units searched possible travel routes and were initially unable to locate the missing firefighters or their vehicle.

The two deceased occupants are confirmed to be that of the two missing firefighters. The identification of the two victims are being withheld until their families are notified.

The California Highway Patrol Humboldt Area office is investigating this traffic collision. Our thoughts are with the U.S. Forest Service and the community of Willow Creek in the loss of two firefighters dedicated to serving their community.


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Racism Behind the Redwood Curtain, Part I: The Lonely World of Humboldt’s White Supremacists

Posted By on Fri, Jul 10, 2015 at 10:37 AM

User FragHag's profile picture. - FROM STORMFRONT
  • From Stormfront
  • User FragHag's profile picture.

She is a dental hygienist, a vegetarian, an animal rights advocate, a mother, a beer drinker and a self-proclaimed white nationalist. Thus reads the profile of one Eureka resident, whose user name is “Fenria.” Fenria is one of the handful of Humboldt residents who posts on Stormfront, a white supremacist website. According to a 2014 report by the Southern Poverty Law Center, almost 100 people were murdered by Stormfront users in the last five years. The SPLC says that Stormfront forums “nurture budding killers” and allow them to connect with like-minded people.

In light of the recent Charleston shooting and the renewed conversation about racism in America, we wanted to know if members of this white supremacist cyber community walk among us. So we dived in, trawling the site’s forums using the keyword search “Humboldt.” (“Humbolt” also came up with some hits.) Here’s what we found out:

1. Humboldt County is a lonely place for some racists. This according to user “White dragyn,” whose posts resemble the saddest Craigslist singles ad ever. “I’m on the North Coast of California….very lonely up here,” he says, later reporting that he is homeless and looking for work as a writer. “I can write propaganda,” he says, drawing no replies. While bigots in the Sacramento and Los Angeles area seem to have regular white pride potlucks, Humboldt folks either have little follow through or are too canny to advertise their plans. A few shout outs to the ether asking for a get-together are met with no response. A sympathetic Oregonian did chime in, saying, “I just want to say I feel so bad for you guys living in California. It must be hell for you out there, stay strong.”

2. Not every secessionist is a white supremacist, but almost every white supremacist appears to be a secessionist. The leading location of most posters on the Humboldt-related forums appears to be “State of Jefferson” or “Would-Be State of Jefferson.” There’s a Venn diagram begging to be drawn. Most Stormfront members decry the increased racial diversity of California and solicit input on where they should move to be in a “racially pure” community. Humboldt’s relative lack of racial diversity seems to be a draw for some, although it’s far from an extremist’s paradise. A former philosophy student at HSU, for example, says he’s “trying to stay sane in the midst of all these self-hating whites and communist wannabes.” Fenria, whose husband is Norwegian, celebrates that they could move back to Norway when Humboldt is no longer white enough to suit them, and says, “It’s still relatively nice up here, but for how long is anyone's guess.”

3. They feel oppressed everywhere, all the time, and that’s kind of the scary part. The Southern Poverty Law Center profiles a potential committer of hate crimes as a frustrated, impoverished young white male who “instead of building his resume, seeking employment or further education projects his grievances on society and searches the Internet for an excuse or an explanation unrelated to his behavior or the choices he has made in life.” We found at least one Stormfront user that met this description, a young man naïve enough to include his real name and his parents’ names on his profile. He likes Slipknot and Korn and Jesus. He works as a dishwasher at a local restaurant. He would like to donate to Stormfront he says, but the financial situation with his fiancé right now makes it impossible. He feels embattled everywhere, even at work, where his “managers are a mexi who is a member of the NAACP, so are the managers at other restaurant….there’s only two white male waiters, and the rest of us are dishwashers who do the majority of the work for less pay than the cooks. We white workers band together in our own group, it's safer that way.”

4. They have strong opinions about Humboldt State University. The afore-mentioned philosophy student tells a story of confronting his professor when the professor dared say something negative about Nazis. Another user says “Humboldt State has a heavy Judeo Marxist agenda going, and the University is a big part of the darkening of the area.” Some unrepeatable things were posted on the forum about the 2014 bus crash that killed five students on their way to the university. “Who are these sick-minded liberal losers, who want to bring Blacks into a beautiful White part of the country?” asks one concerned citizen.

5.  Our local white supremacists are just like the rest of us, except, you know, racist and crazy. Meet local jackboots-wearer and nature-lover FragHag. FragHag spends a lot of time on Stormfront talking about ceramics and exchanging recipes. She’s one of a large number of white supremacists who use the site to discuss genealogy and other relatively benign topics. Of course, one could probably find pleasant conversations about all of one’s interests on websites that don’t promote hatred, bigotry and violence, but apparently it’s important for FragHag to talk about lemon meringue pie in a place where she can truly be herself. Consider the following gem from a thread devoted to photography, where she posted black and white photos of Arcata’s Community Forest.
“California is a very beautiful state, a demographic shame but beautiful nonetheless. Redwoods are impressive. LOOK AROUND YOU, FEEL YOUR STRENGTH! YOU ARE PART OF A TIDAL WAVE OF PRIDE THAT IS SWEEPING THE WORLD AT AN UNCONTROLLABLE RATE! WE WILL NOT BE HELD DOWN! WE WILL NOT SURRENDER!”

Of course, these are only random samplings from the digital Wild West. On the next installment of our three-part series on Racism Behind the Redwood Curtain we’ll be going offline, and exploring why so many Confederate Flags have found their way here, many miles away from Gettysburg and Antietam. Please add your experience and voice to this topic by emailing or commenting below.

Editor's Note: This post was updated from a previous version to correct the number of prospective Humboldt State University students killed in a bus crash near Orland in 2014.

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THREE DAYS LEFT: Photo Contest! Style, Humboldt Style

Posted By on Fri, Jul 10, 2015 at 10:13 AM

Hey readers — every year we ask you to whip out your smart phone, pack up your DSLR or dust off that old 35mm camera to frame and snap some photos that scream “Humboldt.”

That time has come again, and this year we’re asking you to go out (or in) and capture Humboldt’s best styles. That means the people, rides, pets or designs that exemplify that certain North Coast je ne sais quoi. Wetsuits, Carhartts, dreadlocks, skinny jeans, sequins, plaid — we want to see Humboldt chic, whether or not it’s really, you know, chic.

Whether it’s you spending hours putting together an ensemble, or that friend we each have that always looks effortlessly cool, grab a camera, pose somewhere pretty and do your best Annie Leibovitz. Street fashion’s cool too — but we need names for the models, so no snickering submissions.

Submit your high-resolution JPEGs, along with your name, phone number, and the name of your model (if applicable), to Your pictures have to be fresh, meaning taken since the contest began on June 16, so include the date and time the photo shoot took place. Also, no Photoshop, Instagram-y filters or other tampering. You have until 11:59 p.m. on July 13, so don’t dilly dally.

Journal favorites have a chance at being published in a future issue and claiming more than $200 in gift certificates to local stores and restaurants, so get out there and find the people that make Humboldt look good, or, at least, look Humboldt. 

Check out our past photo contest spreads here and here.
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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Reported Drowning in Willow Creek would be Eighth of 2015

Posted By on Tue, Jul 7, 2015 at 4:30 PM

The grim toll of this year's drowning deaths may rise, according to the Humboldt County Coroner's office, which announced in a press release that a 33-year-old Oregon man, Justin Russell Lawrence Bennich, was pulled from the water at Willow Creek's Kimtu swimming hole after becoming unresponsive on July 4.

Chief Deputy Coroner Ernie Stewart said his office could not confirm Bennich's death was due to drowning, and that another medical problem may be responsible. Criminal activity is not suspected. More information should be available in a few weeks, after lab analysis.

If Bennich's cause of death is confirmed as a drowning, it would be the eighth such incident in 2015,

From the County Sheriff's Office:

July 7, 2015

On July 4, 2015 at about 3:40 PM the Hoopa Ambulance responded to the Kimtu area for a reported drowning. Upon arrival they were informed that a subject had become unresponsive in the water and had been brought to shore by witnesses at the location.

Resuscitation efforts were immediately started and the subject was transported to Mad River Community Hospital. Prior to arriving at the hospital, the subject was declared deceased.

Due to conflicting witness statements, an autopsy was scheduled for July 7, 2015 to confirm the exact cause of death. The autopsy was completed but the results were inconclusive. Tissue and blood samples were taken for further analysis. It will be several weeks before the results of the additional analysis are known.

The deceased person has been positively identified as Justin Russell Lawrence Bennich, age 33, from Gladstone, Oregon.

Though the exact cause of death is pending, the Coroner's Office does not suspect any criminal activity relating to this incident.

Ernie Stewart
Chief Deputy Coroner
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Cops for Hire?

Posted By on Tue, Jul 7, 2015 at 4:22 PM

Do shoplifters have you wanting an added police presence at your local business? Does that rash of car break-ins have you and your neighbors wishing for a dedicated officer that could spend nights circling your block? Maybe you just don’t like the look of your daughter’s friends and want a little extra security to fend off trouble at the bounce house you rented for her birthday?

Well, you may be in luck. Tonight, the Eureka City Council is slated to consider a proposed ordinance governing the hiring out of additional police services, or the practice of providing additional policing to a “person, corporation, firm or organization” that desires it and is willing to foot the bill.

The ordinance would formalize a practice the Eureka Police Department kicked off in March, when the city agreed to provide the Bayshore Mall — which was dealing with a spate of unsavory activity — with an officer to walk the mall in four- to five-hour shifts, seven days a week for about a month. Under the agreement, the mall paid Eureka $50 an hour for the service. While such arrangements are commonplace in other parts of the state and the country, it was the first of its kind in Eureka and apparently spurred Eureka City Attorney Cyndy Day-Wilson to put together a formal policy.

As the Bayshore Mall contract wound to a close, City Manager Greg Sparks said he was open to repeating the practice elsewhere if the need arose and the city could get its costs covered. Mills agreed, but said he was leery of spreading officers too thin in a small department (the contract work is done voluntarily as overtime but could still have a cumulative effect). Mills also said back in April that there was a need to proceed cautiously, especially around the prospect of providing additional services to residential areas. “I want to be careful that we’re not, you know, providing special police services for those with the finances to pay,” Mills said. “I think it’s important for us to police equally in all parts of the city.”

Under the proposed ordinance, the police chief would have discretion as to whether to enter into such agreements on a case-by-case basis, but it makes clear the opportunity to request such a contract would be open to individuals and organizations, as well as businesses. The proposed ordinance also requires that any contracting entity hold the city harmless from all liability, and specifies that it does not create any “special relationship” between the contracting entity and the department.

A staff report on the proposed ordinance states that officers staffing the contracted shifts will remain under the control and direction of the chief and will not be considered employees of whoever is paying for their services, but that is not explicitly stated anywhere in the draft ordinance. The staff report makes clear the proposed ordinance is not intended to be a cash cow for the city. “The purpose of the proposed ordinance is not to generate revenue for the city, rather it is to allow the city to provide additional police services, thus improving public safety, without incurring greater costs,” it states.

For more information, view the city’s staff report here or past Journal coverage of the Bayshore Mall agreement here.
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