Monday, August 25, 2014

Local History... Biker Dude Style

Posted By on Mon, Aug 25, 2014 at 5:12 PM

click to enlarge Local historian Ray Hillman (left) speaks with Stan Ellsworth for an upcoming episode of American Ride as a film crew looks on in Old Town Eureka. - THADEUS GREENSON
  • Thadeus Greenson
  • Local historian Ray Hillman (left) speaks with Stan Ellsworth for an upcoming episode of American Ride as a film crew looks on in Old Town Eureka.
A camera crew made its way through Old Town Eureka today, filming American Ride, a television show that showcases local history.

Brooke Redmon, the show's production manager, said the premise of program is basically to follow Stan Ellsworth, "a big, burly, biker dude" who happens to be a former high school history teacher, as he rides his Harley around and talks history with the locals. In Eureka, Ellsworth caught up with local historian Ray Hillman to talk logging and redwoods. Redmon said a new season of the show is slated to air this fall, though the episodes currently being filmed are slated to run next spring. The show airs on BYU TV, an affiliate of Brigham Young University, and past episodes can be found on the station's website.
click to enlarge A film crew huddles at the corner of F and Third streets in Eureka on Monday. - THADEUS GREENSON
  • Thadeus Greenson
  • A film crew huddles at the corner of F and Third streets in Eureka on Monday.

click to enlarge Stan Elsworth, described as his producer as a "big, burly biker dude" with an interest in history, talks with local historian Ray Hillman in Eureka. - THADEUS GREENSON
  • Thadeus Greenson
  • Stan Elsworth, described as his producer as a "big, burly biker dude" with an interest in history, talks with local historian Ray Hillman in Eureka.
click to enlarge An upcoming episode of American Ride is slated to focus on Humboldt County's logging past and feature local historian Ray Hillman. - THADEUS GREENSON
  • Thadeus Greenson
  • An upcoming episode of American Ride is slated to focus on Humboldt County's logging past and feature local historian Ray Hillman.

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Wait a Second... Sunset Magazine's Dubious Geography

Posted By on Sun, Aug 24, 2014 at 6:49 AM

click to enlarge Sunset.JPG
If you saw Tuesday’s edition of the Times-Standard, you couldn’t have missed the splashy, above-the-fold cover feature about Sunset Magazine's most recent issue featuring Humboldt County on it’s own cover.

The hypish piece was “special to the Times-Standard,” and was essentially a story about the Humboldt County Convention and Visitors’ Bureau’s efforts to help the venerable West Coast culture and travel magazine showcase Humboldt. It’s not that far a stretch. Sunset is based out of the Bay Area and Humboldt County destinations have been featured in it a number of times. And this kind of thing is sort of the CVB's job, right? But while the bureau was patting itself on the back in local media, the five-million-reader Sunset committed an egregious faux pas.

A caption embedded on the magazine’s cover shot of a sparkling colorful beach vista reads “Moonstone Beach, near Trinidad, California.” But, after careful examination by the Journal’s panel of experts, it’s very clear that is, in fact, NOT Moonstone Beach. It’s Luffenholtz Beach, located just a few miles north. So getcher facts straight, Sunset, and, Humboldt County Convention and Vistors Bureau — maybe give your next visitors a better map.

If you're into seeing the local sights showcased on a national stage, Sunset also posted a slideshow from its Humboldt tour to its website (with another geographically questionable title: "Top 24 Sites on California's Lost Coast). You might see someone you know.
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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Bay Trail North: Funded

Posted By on Sat, Aug 23, 2014 at 8:05 AM

click to enlarge Bay_Trail.jpg
The California Transportation Commission this week approved $3.1 million in grant funding for the construction of the Humboldt Bay trail between Arcata and Bracut, possibly paving the way for construction to begin next year.

Officials described the grant as a “landmark,” and a major step forward for the long-talked about and debated project. Combined with a $1.5 million grant from Caltrans and some $766,000 in other funding, the CTC grant is expected to help Arcata cover the balance of construction costs for what will likely be a multi-year building effort.

In recommending approval of the grant, CTC staff deemed the project the region’s highest transportation priority. In it’s application, Arcata laid out the the project's purpose.

“The Humboldt Bay Trail is the backbone of Humboldt County’s envisioned regional trail system, linking the cities of Arcata and Eureka,” the application states. “The project will divert bicycle and pedestrian traffic away from Highway 101, State Route 255 and Old Arcata Road onto a regionally-desired multi-modal trail. Arcata’s section is a 4.5 mile-long Class I, ADA-accessible trail that will provide a safe route between Humboldt County’s two largest cities. The proposed trail will allow the community to eliminate over 60,000 motorized vehicle trips annually.”

In underscoring the need for the project, the application essentially cries poor, noting that the median household income in Arcata is $32,097, compared to $61,400 throughout the state and $53,046 nationally. “The North Coast also has some of the highest gas prices in the country,” the application states. “Furthermore, the Center for Neighborhood Technology, which urges families to spend no more than 45 percent of a household budget on housing and transportation costs, measures Arcata at a staggering 61.5 percent on its Housing + Transportation Affordability Index. The construction of the multi-modal trail will provide disadvantaged families and individuals with increased transportation choice, and allow households to live without a vehicle.”

Humboldt County Deputy Public Works Director Hank Seemann said the trail’s first segment, which is set to begin near the Arcata Marsh, will end at a natural area near Bracut, making it an attractive there-and-back trail until it is ultimately connected to the Eureka segment.

Now clear of the funding hurdle, the Arcata segment now needs to secure some permits and one right-of-way acquisition, according to the application, all of which city staff hopes to have in place by March 2015.
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Friday, August 22, 2014

Save Our Post Office, Mail Fans Demand

Posted By on Fri, Aug 22, 2014 at 9:39 PM

click to enlarge Congressman Huffman, right.
  • Congressman Huffman, right.
When Congressman Jared Huffman called a town hall meeting about the post office, who knew so many people would show up? But show up they did, well over 100 Humboldt County residents. From Humboldt Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich to Etsy users, the overwhelming sense among constituents was, "No." Attendees do not want their mail routed through Medford, Ore. 

Crnich pointed out the issues inherent in absentee ballots, eloquently equating the RFK, Jr. quote, "Justice delayed is democracy denied," to the inequality inherent in mail delivery delays. 

click to enlarge Third District Humboldt County Supervisor Mark Lovelace
  • Third District Humboldt County Supervisor Mark Lovelace

A common thread emerged regarding road conditions. Say a person wanted to mail a letter across town. That letter would have to travel a minimum of 380 miles if the local post offices close. 

Government efficiency was also a theme. Huffman discussed his advocacy for an updated fleet of postal delivery vehicles. Bookkeeper Ann Preston noted that her IRS-related mail arrives via UPS. "They're slitting the throats of the post office," she said. 

click to enlarge Ideas, gathered, to be brought back to Washington, D.C.
  • Ideas, gathered, to be brought back to Washington, D.C.
Arcata Mayor Mark Wheetley noted that with recent changes to the Golden Gate Bridge toll methods, Humboldt residents traveling to San Francisco would be at a disadvantage should the mail take longer. A toll invoice could arrive halfway to being late, he said. "It's the little things" among the greater repercussions, he said. 

Huffman emphasized his commitment to solving the problem in response to John Fesler's remark that, "I fear today will be a great gripe session, but what's our action item?" 

click to enlarge Arcata Mayor Mark Wheetley
  • Arcata Mayor Mark Wheetley
"This is an incredible turnout," Huffman said. "When I go back to Washington, I'll push this forward in every way possible." He defined three key points: jobs, service to the community and the broader issue of what the demise of postal service means. His constituents include wine makers to the south, he said – Humboldt County also has great wine, he was quick to add – but currently wine can't be shipped through the USPS. That's the sort of thing that needs to change, Huffman finished. 
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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Protesters: 'Fish Need Water'

Posted By on Wed, Aug 20, 2014 at 9:01 PM

click to enlarge AMBER SHELTON
  • Amber Shelton
More than 100 people gathered in front of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation's Sacramento office Tuesday to demand that the bureau release additional water into the Trinity River, and by turn the Klamath, to prevent what they see as an imminent large-scale fish kill similar to that of 2002, when more than 50,000 salmon died of gill rot in the Klamath River.

The rally was organized by the Klamath Justice Coalition, members of the Hoopa, Yurok and Karuk tribes, as well as environmental and fisheries organizations. Amber Shelton, a conservation advocate with the Environmental Protection INformation Center, was there and shared these following photos. The video was produced by the Seventh Generation Fund, an advocacy group dedicated to promoting and maintaining native people and their cultures.

click to enlarge AMBER SHELTON
  • Amber Shelton

click to enlarge AMBER SHELTON
  • Amber Shelton
click to enlarge AMBER SHELTON
  • Amber Shelton

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Algae Toxins in the Trinity

Posted By on Wed, Aug 20, 2014 at 4:59 PM

click to enlarge Keith Bouma-Gregson is one of many scientists and citizen scientists trying to learn more about toxic blue-green algae. Here he examines an algae-coated rock at the south fork of the Eel River. - PHOTO BY JACOB SHAFER
  • Photo by Jacob Shafer
  • Keith Bouma-Gregson is one of many scientists and citizen scientists trying to learn more about toxic blue-green algae. Here he examines an algae-coated rock at the south fork of the Eel River.

These may be the dog days of summer, but ol' Rex and Rusty better be careful about what rivers and lagoons they go jumping in to celebrate: The poor dogs don't want to encounter toxic blue-green algae, which can thrive in the low flows and warm water conditions we're seeing now on local rivers including the South Fork Eel, Van Duzen, Mad, Klamath and Trinity. In fact, a news release from the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) warns that toxins associated with blue-green algae have recently been detected in the Trinity River. 

"Blue-green algae can be present in any fresh water body," says the release. "It looks like green, blue-green, white or brown scum, foam or mats floating on the water. Usually it does not affect animals or people. However, warm water and abundant nutrients can cause blue-green algae to grow more rapidly than usual. These floating algal masses or 'blooms' can produce natural toxins that are very potent. Dogs and children are most likely to be affected because of their smaller body size and tendency to stay in the water for longer periods of time."

The DHHS says it knows at least 11 cases since 2001 in which dogs died possibly because of exposure to the toxin after swimming in Big Lagoon, the South Fork Eel River and the Van Duzen River. 

Kids, other pets, livestock and adults also should avoid swimming in or drinking from water bodies containing the tell-tale algal scum mats. Not all algae is toxic, such as green algae, notes the DHHS, but it says to play it safe.

Blue-green algae that produce liver toxins have been documented in Klamath River reservoirs and the Klamath River this year and in past years. You can look up the status of such reports at the Klamath Basin Monitoring Program website:

You can learn more about other efforts to understand blue-green algae in North Coast Journal freelancer Jacob Shafer's Sept. 19, 2013 piece, "Slime Questions." 

Here's more on the possible symptoms of blue-green algae toxin exposure, and on the things that you — you people — can do to help reduce the growth of toxic algae, from the news release:

Potential symptoms in dogs following exposure to blue-green algae toxins can include lethargy, difficulty breathing, salivation, vomiting, urination, diarrhea, or convulsions. People can experience eye irritation, skin rash, mouth ulcers, vomiting, diarrhea, and cold or flu-like symptoms. While there is no antidote for exposures, persons should see their physician and those with pets which may have been exposed should go to their veterinarian for supportive care.

DHHS officials recommend the following guidelines for recreational users of all freshwater areas in Humboldt County: 

Keep children, pets and livestock from swimming in or drinking water containing algal scums or mats.

Adults should also avoid wading and swimming in water containing algal blooms. Try not to swallow or inhale water spray in an algal bloom area.

If no algal scums or mats are visible, you should still carefully watch young children and warn them not to swallow any water.

Fish should be consumed only after removing the guts and liver and rinsing fillets in tap water.

Never drink, cook with or wash dishes with water from rivers, streams or lakes.

Get medical attention immediately if you think that you, your pet, or livestock might have been poisoned by blue-green algae toxins. Be sure to tell the doctor about possible contact with blue-green algae.

Human activities can have a big effect on nutrient and water flows in rivers, streams or lakes. Phosphorous and nitrogen found in fertilizers, animal waste, and human waste can stimulate blooms. Excessive water diversions can increase water temperatures and reduce flows. People can take the following measures to prevent algal blooms in our waters:

Be very conservative with the use of water, fertilizers and pesticides on your lawn, garden or agricultural operation.

Recycle any “spent” soil that has been used for intensive growing by tilling it back into gardens. Or protect it from rainfall to avoid nutrient runoff.

Plant or maintain native plants around banks. These plants help filter water and don’t require fertilizers.

Pump and maintain your septic system every three to four years.

Prevent surface water runoff from agricultural and livestock areas.

Prevent erosion around construction and logging operations.

Join or support one of the many watershed and river organizations.

Contact the Humboldt County DHHS Division of Environmental Health at 445-6215 or 1-800-963-9241 for more information. People may report unusual blooms or conditions, including pictures, to Environmental Health by emailing For more details, visit the California Department of Public Health’s website:

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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 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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