North Coast Journal WeeklyIn the News

January 3, 2002

Notables take a plunge

Enforcing for the family

New price for Parcel B

Crossing the digital divide

New digs for HSU crew

Eco-lodge for Arcata?

Booze ban in Arcata parks?

Notables take a plunge

It may not be the traditional way to celebrate an achievement, but it'll do: Almost 30 of Humboldt County's movers and shakers will jump from the newly constructed Eureka Boardwalk into the bay just before it opens Jan. 5. (See cover story)

Among those taking part in the "Perilous Plunge" are many who helped make the launch platform possible including Eureka City Manager Dave Tyson, who guided the city's efforts to rehabilitate the waterfront and Rob Arkley, the financier whose $2 million donation helped make the boardwalk possible. Other plungers who were less directly involved in the boardwalk include 3rd District County Supervisor John Woolley and J Warren Hockaday, executive director of the Eureka Chamber of Commerce.

The event is more than a celebration. It's also a fund-raiser for the Discovery Museum with each jumper soliciting sponsors. They have collected as much as $600 a head, money that will aid in construction of boardwalk exhibits for children including a lighthouse and a mock-up deep-sea fishing rod.

The project is "a great way for us to tie in with the boardwalk," said Discovery Museum office manager Sharie Thomason.

Enforcing for the family

It's a nasty job, but someone's got to do it -- and the College of the Redwoods will show you how. The college announced last week it is offering a certificate program next spring to train individuals for a career tracking down deadbeat parents.

The divorce rate in California is above 50 percent. After the split, parents do not always live up to their financial obligations.

That's where family support officers come in. Currently employed in the District Attorney's office, they serve as a combined collection agency and social worker. Tracking down bad checks, establishing paternity and calculating how much a child support payment should be all fit in the job description.

It's the fastest-growing civil service position in the state, said Paul DeMark, spokesman for CR. "We're only the second community college in the state to offer the curriculum."

And the classes aren't just for people who want to be family support officer, DeMark said. "It's for defense attorneys as well. The DA's office welcomes it when defense attorneys understand what the state's requirements are."

For more information, call 476-4209.

New price for Parcel B

A piece of land adjacent to Eureka City Schools went on sale last week at a rock-bottom clearance price.

Parcel B, a 6.2-acre plot on Walford Avenue near the Eureka City Schools office, has been for sale since October. The original asking price was $975,000, but when the bids came in Dec. 4, none came close. The school board voted Dec. 20 to reduce the price by almost a third to $680,000.

The school district, which had a budget deficit last year, hopes to flesh out its coffers with the sale. Bids are due Jan. 22.

Crossing the digital divide

Computers can help students learn how to write more clearly, manage their finances or put on a public presentation -- but none of that helps if you don't have access to one, and many low-income families do not. Project PC, a new Eureka High program, is building bridges across the digital divide by providing loaner computers to students in need.

"Anyone who comes to us and says they don't have a computer can get one," said 16-year-old Trevor Sundquist, who is spearheading Project PC.

He and fellow students in Eureka High's Environmental and Spatial Technology class will assemble the computers from donated parts and loan them out free of charge. The goal is to have five computers in circulation by this spring.

Right now, what Project PC needs is computers. Donations can be made to Sundquist directly. Call 445-1023 for more information.

New digs for HSU crew

The Humboldt State University crew team has had a nomadic existence on the Eureka waterfront over the years.

"In the 27 years that crew has been around they have never had a permanent home," said Jerry Simone of the Humboldt Bay Rowing Association, a community group of paddling enthusiasts who help guide and support the HSU sports team.

The crew's most recent eviction -- from the foot of C Street -- came in the fall when work began on the city's new boardwalk. Since then the team has been storing its equipment on campus, meaning rowers had to trailer equipment back and forth to events, said Dan Collen, HSU interim athletic director .

The crew's homeless situation will be cured at the end of the month when they move into new temporary digs on city property by the Samoa Bridge just in time to train for the spring season. The private non-profit Humboldt Bay Rowing Association is overseeing construction of a 3,000-square-foot wooden boathouse near the city boat ramp on Waterfront Drive, which will be leased to the crew team at no charge.

The project is made possible by labor and material donations from Scott Penfold Engineering, architect David Pierce, Arcata Readimix, Thomas Industries and A & I Roofing and others, and cash donations from from two Eureka families, the Schmidbauers and the Arkleys.

The project "wouldn't have happened without them -- period," said project manager Chris Martinek.

Eventually the rowers will move into a permanent home within a state-funded $4.5 million 17,000-square-foot aquatic center -- which should be built and ready in 2004. The facility, called a Boating Safety and Instruction Center, is a cooperative effort between HSU, the city of Eureka and the state Department of Boating and Waterways. It will be staffed and operated by the university but open to the public. The project is the fourth in a succession of similar structures built throughout California by the Department of Boating and Waterways and the California State University system.

The center will serve as more than a home for crew. Once complete, the building will house aquatic instructional and certification courses covering everything from sea kayaks and small craft to CPR and lifesaving. Collen said it will be a "state-of-the-art aquatic facility" and will serve as an architectural model nationwide.

Boating and Waterways funded the initial plans and environmental review last July with $245,000. An additional $300,000 will follow next July for the working drawings and finally $3.5 million in 2003 will cover construction. The city donated the land and improvements. The facility will be located beside the Adorni Center and in addition to the main structure will include a fenced storage area of 9,000 square feet and a parking lot.

Eco-lodge for Arcata?

The Arcata City Council has started the process of establishing an eco-lodge in the city. At its Dec. 19 meeting the council voted to seek grant funding for a feasibility study looking into the potential for a lodge combining a convention center with a hostel.

Arcata is already a center for "ecotourism," drawing travellers who come for the area's natural beauty and the progressive, environmentally-friendly attitude. The city's wetlands-based sewage treatment system and sustainably managed community forest are prime attractions.

The proposed lodge's location, size, ownership and potential for economic viability are all being examined as part of the study.

Booze ban in Arcata parks?

A ban on drinking in all of Arcata's parks is coming in response to concern that rowdy behavior is pushing residents away.

Arcata already has drinking prohibitions in effect at Vinum Park and the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary. Rather than outlaw drinking at each of the city's parks one by one, the council voted Dec. 19 to take a more comprehensive approach. The proposed ordinance would also outlaw parking at Redwood Park for more than four hours at a time.

The council is responding to allegations that Arcata's parks have become havens for bad behavior. There have been complaints that vandalism, public urination and aggressive behavior have made the parks hostile to families. The city's parks and recreations department has also felt the bite: It had to pay $3,000 to repair a restroom at Redwood Park this October.



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