North Coast Journal Weekly link to homepageIn the News

Feb. 20, 2003

Peaceniks on the Plaza

Cranes for Iraq

Roger energizes the North Coast

Port plan taking shape

Carlotta goes up on eBay

Arcata Theater on eBay, too

Redwoods United lays off 50

FBI looking for vandals

Going fast

Aid request rebuffed

Conservation grant

Fire in Hoopa

Honoring Bucher

Miliary leave for students

A new parking lot

New website

Rivals unite



Peaceniks on the Plaza

Crowd on Arcata Plaza with signs "We the people say NO to war!"

Under a dark gray sky, hundreds of people came together on the Arcata Plaza last Saturday to protest the looming war in Iraq. The gathering was timed to coincide with the massive protests that took place all over the world that day.

The crowd chanted, clapped, sang, cheered and whooped along with singers and speakers, including State Senator Wes Chesbro (minus his mustache), Humboldt County Supervisor John Woolley (who vowed to present an anti-war resolution at the board's next meeting), and Arcata Mayor Bob Ornelas (who looked overwhelmed that so many people had turned out). Children and veterans, grandmothers and rappers, all took the stage.

There were around 400 people there at any given time over the course of the afternoon, but event organizer Mary Ann Lyons said that between 900 to 1,300 people visited at one time or another.

Enough money was raised by passing the hat on Saturday to pay the price for holding the event -- $500, which came out of Lyons' own pocket. Ornelas said in a phone interview on Monday that he intends to see how the city can help out with similar events in the future.

Cranes for Iraq


Child making cranes and stringing them.On Feb. 13, 1991, during the height of the Gulf War, U.S. warplanes dropped two "smart" bombs on what was believed to be an Iraqi military command center. Turns out the bombs fell on a Baghdad bomb shelter packed with more than 400 women and children. It was the worst civilian loss of life during the entire Gulf War.

Now as the United States is on the verge of bombing Iraq once again, sixth-graders at the South Bay School in Eureka are sending a message of peace to children and families in Iraq. The 20 students in Linda Sorter's class spent three weeks making 1,000 origami cranes and sent them to be displayed at the Amariya bomb shelter memorial.

"It was something the kids responded to that happened 12 years ago," Sorter said.

Students in her class learned about the tragedy from Edilith Eckart, an Arcata activist who has been to Iraq several times. Eckart spoke to the class back in November. From that discussion the students decided they wanted to make the cranes.

"The kids worked day, night and weekends on the cranes," Sorter said. "They suggested the cranes as a way of showing their concern."

Every student in Sorter's classroom participated.

"They just folded and folded and folded," she said.

When Eckart talks about the memorial her eyes turn red and fill up with tears. Her voice wavers as she recalls her visit to the site.

The shelter had concrete walls almost 6 feet thick. The entire neighborhood sent their children to the bomb shelter every night. The shelter was also the only place in Amariya with clean drinking water. Repeated bombing of the neighborhood had destroyed the city's water system, Eckart said.

On the night of Feb. 13, 1991, U.S. bombers dropped two bombs, five minutes apart, through a ventilation shaft in the shelter. The first bomb exploded within the shelter; the second bomb penetrated even farther into the site. To date, Iraq officials say 403 people died in the shelter; just 14 survived. The explosions were so intense that skeletal remains of many of the victims remain embedded in the floor.

Iraqi officials have hung pictures of every person known to have died in the shelter on its walls. Officials have left the shelter as it was found after the bombing -- with a large gaping hole in the ceiling and rebar and wire exposed.

The idea to send the origami cranes to Iraq is not to show support for any political system, but a way for the students to show empathy, Eckart said.

"I'd like to see a national movement where children who want to do something can use a project like this to express themselves," she added.

It may appear odd to have 10-year-olds taking on the role of activists, but not in Sorter's class.

"My kids are activists on lots of issues," she said.

Sorter, who has been teaching for 17 years, starts every school year by introducing kids to the idea of caring about the world they live in. That lesson plan has turned into letter-writing campaigns for Amnesty International; work on behalf of starving children through Save the Children; and addressing environmental and wildlife concerns through organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

In Sorter's 17 years as a teacher only two families have requested their children be removed from her classroom because they were uncomfortable with her activism.

Sorter herself is an active member of "Women in Black," the nationwide anti-war protest group that holds silent vigils around Humboldt County every Friday afternoon. Sorter wears black to work on Fridays. Although she doesn't promote her philosophy in the classroom, several of her students also began to wear black on Friday.

What Sorter hopes she is doing is teaching the kids how to be the best human beings they can be.

"There is a lot children can do," Sorter said. "Teaching has nothing to do with test scores, but with human beings."

In the spring, Sorter's class will do a hunger project in Eureka. They will go down to 3rd Street and help feed people who go to St. Vincent De Paul's dining hall.

A few years back, students in Sorter's class wrote letters on behalf of a nursing mother jailed in a Middle Eastern country (Sorter doesn't recall which country it was).

"We all wrote letters to the head of the government," she said.

A month later, the kids received an update from Amnesty International -- the mother had been released.

"The kids were mesmerized. They helped save a mom and child 15,000 miles away," Sorter said. "The kids saw that all they had to do was write a few letters."

[photo shows Alysha Piazza, a sixth grader at South Bay School in Eureka, making origami cranes to be sent to Iraq]

Roger energizes the North Coast


In a West Arcata neighborhood, a large blue panel tilted skyward twinkles in the sunlight. Nearby, a man examines an electric meter. After a moment, he looks up and grins. "They've generated more than they've used for the last six months," he says.

Dressed in a baggy purple sweatshirt, his face framed by a mass of gray hair and beard, Roger looks more like a middle-aged hippie than an innovative energy technician. In fact, he's both.

Roger, 51, has a statewide reputation for his expertise in the new utility-intertie mode of solar power generation. Yet he has no computer, no cell phone, no e-mail and no last name.

He is a true believer in conservation who uses hand tools whenever possible and drives an electric car he built himself. But he's no zealot.

With a soft voice and a gift for speaking clearly, he's done more to promote solar energy on the North Coast than just about anybody. "His ability to educate building departments, homeowners and business people is just phenomenal," said solar energy advocate Jay Peltz of Southern Humboldt.

David Katz of Redway-based wholesaler Alternative Energy Engineering considers Roger "one of the most successful solar installers in the state. He does everything right, and it always works."

"He's innovative, coming up with techniques like a new way of sealing the [holes made in a] roof for electrical conduit," said Katz.

Working through the California Energy Commission, Roger has secured close to $500,000 in renewable-energy subsidies for North Coast residents. And his reputation with manufacturers has enabled him to get support for a trio of demonstration projects here: a trial of new solar-electric roofing material in Eureka; a program at Arcata High School to test how well solar panels work when they're pointed in directions other than south; and an installation at Northcoast Co-op comparing newly developed amorphous thin-film solar panels with traditional crystalline panels.

Roger began developing renewable-energy resources about 30 years ago when he lived on a remote piece of land near Weitchpec, far beyond the reach of utility lines.

Using a small hydropower turbine called a pelton wheel, he turned a nearby stream into a source of electricity. He also built a solar oven and a solar hot-water heater. "Neighbors saw me doing these kinds of things, and they asked me to start working on their places," Roger said.

As his reputation grew, so did his fondness for the familiar form of address. "It was always `Roger does this,' `Roger does that,'" he said. "I liked that, and that's how I thought about other people, too. It just makes it a little more real." He eventually made Roger his legal name.

Through the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, Roger installed dozens of solar water heaters, wood-fired water heaters, pelton wheels, wind generators and other renewable energy devices. In the backcountry, doing it yourself and helping neighbors was a way of life, and he also became skilled at wiring, plumbing and carpentry.

What drew Roger into "the cities," as he refers to towns like Arcata and Eureka, was a set of new state energy policies that made it more economical for urban and suburban homeowners to generate electricity with solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. Roger had installed a few PV systems, but demand was limited because people who weren't hooked up to Pacific Gas & Electric Co.'s grid needed batteries, controls and monitors as well as solar panels. A single system cost as much as $40,000. So most off-grid residents opted for cheaper diesel and propane generator sets.

But in 1999, the state Legislature set up a special account at the California Energy Commission to give rebates to homeowners and businesses who installed solar or wind energy systems and fed their electricity to the local utility.

Needing just an inverter to turn the direct current (DC) from solar panels into utility-grade alternating current (AC), grid-tied systems were much less expensive. And the rebates cut the price tags even further.

"My friends in the cities, from Arcata to Santa Rosa, noticed this and started asking me if they could get solar systems," Roger said.

By his own count, Roger has installed more than 80 grid-tied systems in the last three years. "It was a big shift," he said. "If you'd asked me five years ago if I'd ever do more than two or three a year in the city, I'd have said it was a long shot."

Depending on the size and difficulty of installation, a grid-tied home-solar system typically costs between $15,000 and $21,000, according to Roger. In most cases, people receive half of the cost from the state; and many people also save an additional 15 percent in state tax credits.

The system owners become "customer-generators" of PG&E. They don't receive cash but are credited on their bills for the electricity they generate in a process known as net metering.

Roger says most of his customers produce one-half to two-thirds of the electricity they use, while a few generate as much or more than they use. Those who make out the best financially are people who install time-of-use meters.

"Time-of-use meters were developed to encourage people not to utilize a lot of electricity between noon and six in the summer when it's hot and there's a lot of air-conditioners going in Sacramento and other places," said Roger.

People with time-of-use meters pay triple rates between noon and six weekdays from May to October. Their reward is that they're only charged eight cents a kilowatt hour -- much lower than normal -- the rest of the time and on weekends, according to Roger.

"Somebody with a lot of time and enthusiasm followed through with the state to get the law changed so that if you had a time-of-use meter and a solar-energy system, you'd also be credited at the triple rate," he added.

"With the time-of-use meter, I can rake in extra during the day when the sun is out and we're not home using power," said Jeanne O'Neale, a Eureka homeowner and client of Roger's. "My bills used to come close to $100 per month," said O'Neale, who lives with three of her children. "Since I've put in the solar system, my first full-year bill was $62, although there is also a monthly service charge.

"My original investment was about $16,000, half of which I got back from the energy commission. So I'm in it for about $8,000," said O'Neale.

Saving close to $1,000 per year, O'Neale expects her investment to be paid for within 10 years. "It's the first thing I've ever bought that will actually pay for itself," she said. (The solar panels are warranteed for 20 years but may last longer.)

It should be noted, however, that Roger works for less than most solar installers. In fact, he believes that some are marking up solar panels excessively.

"If you're a carpenter or a plumber and you mark up your supplies 10 to 20 percent, that's reasonable. It covers your shopping time and bookkeeping," he said. "If you mark up solar panels 10 to 20 percent, that pays for your trip to Hawaii."

Instead of adding a percentage, Roger adds an hourly rate for the time it takes to select and order solar panels.

"Some installers are treating this like a gold mine," he said.

Others see Roger's pricing practices as exceptional. "Roger is very much in this business for idealistic reasons," said Michael Winkler, a research engineer at Humboldt State University's Schatz Energy Research Center. "It's not that other installers are excessive, but he's making relatively little money. This is a labor of love for him."

Looking toward the future, Roger hopes that the state rebate program will be extended (its future is in doubt, like everything that costs public dollars in California) and that with greater sales volume solar panels will continue to come down in price.

He also sees potential for more micro-hydropower systems, or waterwheels as he calls them. "Waterwheels are very reliable, when you have water, which we do in this region," he said. With appropriate screens, they can be set up to avoid harming fish.

But Roger is skeptical about wind generators. "They look great. The TV stations love to film them," he said. "But I've never put in a residential-size wind system that produces, year-round, the same or more than a solar system of comparable expense."

His greatest hope lies not in new sources of power generation but in conservation. "The biggest problem now isn't technology and coming up with trick things. It's that people are using too much," he said.

"Since putting in these systems has brought me back into the cities, I'm amazed at how much people are actually using," he said. "That's still the No. 1 way to turn things around. Use less of things that consume so much energy.

"I have noticed that when I install solar photovoltaic systems in homes, then people seem to make a more conscientious effort to conserve. A lot of them talk about putting in solar water heating," he said. "Their energy use becomes more real to them."

(For more information about state rebates, see the CEC website or call 800-555-7794. PG&E offers info at

A former North Coast Journal staff writer, Jim Hight is a free-lancer living in Arcata.

Port plan taking shape


Imagine the bustling Port of Humboldt Bay, home to a marine science center, a liquified natural gas terminal, a place where timber companies load and unload forest products.

Such things could come to pass, albeit years from now, if officials with Humboldt County, the City of Eureka and the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District continue to pursue the long-held goal of turning the bay into an active port.

Of course, a lot remains to be done before cargo ships sail here from locales as far flung as Asia.

Numerous sites around Humboldt Bay would have to be renovated; environmental studies would have to be completed; a marketing plan would need to be devised; public-private partnerships would need to be created.

And of course there is the ongoing problem of transportation. Some say an active port can't happen without an operating railroad and unless Highway 299 at Buckhorn Pass is widened to improve truck access to and from Interstate 5.

In addition, issues such as port security and air pollution from increased diesel truck traffic would have to be addressed.

An encouraging study

But the first steps were taken last week when county, city and harbor officials received the long-awaited Humboldt Bay Revitalization Plan.

Dennis Hunter, Humboldt Bay Harbor District commissioner, said the report -- done by PB Ports & Marine, a transportation consulting firm in Portland, Ore. -- was encouraging.

The report's authors could have said Humboldt Bay is too small and isolated, Hunter said.

"But they didn't. They gave us a shot of reality," he said.

The study identified the following industries as best suited for Humboldt Bay: Aquaculture (the cultivation of fish and shellfish), the forest products trade, the cruise liner industry, tourism (possible attractions include a naval museum and an aquarium) and the export of dry bulk goods such as rock.

With increased housing construction along the West Coast there will be a need for rock and gravel, said Donald Grigg of PB Ports & Marine.

The consulting firm looked at 80 waterfront properties and grouped them into 16 key sites with the potential for different uses. The study area runs from Samoa Bridge to the end of Fields Landing and from the bridge to the channel entrance on Samoa Peninsula.

Because of its location on the shipping channel, the Eureka Airport in Fairhaven is considered a key site. Other important spots include the Simpson property because of its potential for multiple berths; the Simpson-Samoa Redwood Dock site; Fields Landing; and the Balloon Tract.

"If we follow the implementation steps we can do this," Hunter said. "This gives us a battle plan."

Although Hunter was pleased with the report's findings, he didn't like hearing that some things can't be done in Humboldt Bay.

"You're hoping you can do everything you want to do, but the report said we can't," Hunter said.

Grigg said there are solid opportunities for developing a port but not in the traditional sense. Because Humboldt Bay sits halfway between the Port of Oakland and the Port of Coos Bay, Ore., larger ships would naturally go to those ports.

Humboldt Bay, which is shallow and needs frequent dredging, would also not be able to handle automobile shipments, a container barge, rail-on-barges, or fruit shipments, according to the report. (On Tuesday, the House and Senate approved a $1 million increase to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers $3.4 million dredging program for the bay.)

The report pointed out that Humboldt Bay offers things other West Coast ports don't: large waterfront industrial sites; an attractive downtown waterfront; and liveability.

The transportation problem

The goal of creating a port in Humboldt Bay has been in the works since 1988, when "phase one" of the plan called for digging new channels between 38 and 48 feet deep to improve navigation. Dredging was completed in April 2000.

However, before any further talk of creating a port continues, officials are going to have to confront one significant obstacle: the difficulty of moving cargo in and out of Humboldt County.

As the study put it: "Humboldt's limited inland rail and truck access is a significant disadvantage."

Some county residents want to see the railroad reactivated; however, not everyone is sure a port would fail without a railroad.

Primarily because the Eel River Bridge is closed, there is no railroad service to the San Francisco Bay Area. Grigg said a new port could operate without a rail line across the Eel River. Even if the bridge were to be repaired (the costs are said to be in the millions), the cost to ship freight by rail would increase dramatically.

That's because the number of railroad cars leaving Humboldt County would be too small to make daily service financially feasible. Initial plans call for operating the rail line only three days a week, said David Hull, chief executive officer and project manager for the Harbor District.

Although daily rail service would cut the travel time to the Bay Area in half, operating costs would increase and revenues would drop, Grigg said.

"It's a fairly long haul," Grigg said.

A three-day rail trip south would also add more time onto shipping schedules, Grigg said.

It takes a cargo ship almost 13 days to make the 4,535-mile trip from Asia to Humboldt Bay. Although a ship would save up to two days by avoiding San Francisco Bay and more if it avoids the Port of Los Angeles, limited rail service out of Humboldt County would add more time to get cargo to its destination, according to the study.

There has been no significant railroad service along the 300-mile route since 1997. Back in 1992, the North Coast Railroad Authority acquired the bankrupt Eureka Southern Railroad. It then acquired a portion of the Northwestern Pacific Railroad route between Willits and Healdsburg in 1996.

The remaining portion of the southern route (south of Healdsburg) is now owned by the Northwestern Pacific Railroad Authority (NCRA), which includes the NCRA, the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District and the County of Marin.

Local officials want to continue analyzing the study and say they will hold community workshops on the port plan in the near future.

Hunter said the revitalization plan will remain on the Harbor Commission's agenda for now.

"We should be discussing this at every meeting," he said.

The report is available for viewing at the County Library as well as Humboldt State University and College of the Redwoods libraries. It can be purchased from Kinko's on 5th Street in Eureka. It can also be viewed on the harbor district's website:

Carlotta goes up on eBay


It's not easy owning a town. As Angelo Batini will tell you, it takes time and attention. But then again, it's not always easy to sell one, either.

Batini, owner of the township of Carlotta, has turned to the Internet to market his 33 acres, and almost everything on it, following the lead of neighboring Bridgeville, whose offering on eBay in December generated a flurry of bids.

"I'm 70 years old and I just don't have the ambition to work like I used to," said Batini, who made his living as a general contractor. "What it needs is younger blood to buy the town and build a hardware store," or some other development, "and make something of it," he said.

Located on Highway 36 just five miles from 101, Carlotta is on the eBay auction block for nearly $1.07 million. Included in the price are a post office, a combination restaurant and bar, four houses, an old fire house, a four-stall horse stable, riverfront property, a backhoe, two loaders and a dump truck.

Like many of its neighbors in rural Humboldt, Carlotta has seen better days. Batini and his wife, Sharon, bought their land in 1995 from the now-defunct Carlotta Lumber Company, the remains of which lie scattered on the property in heaps of concrete and metal. The other buildings are aging and need paint, at the very least. The same year he bought the land, Batini also watched the historic Carlotta Hotel -- which he bought in 1977 -- go up in flames.

Most of the 900 residents who call Carlotta home -- all but a handful of whom live on private land outside the township that Batini owns -- travel to Eureka or Fortuna for basic supplies. There is no hardware store and no feed store for the ranch-heavy area. The Pacific Lumber Co. still operates its sawmill here, but few of the region's smaller lumber companies remain.

Still, the place has its appeal -- in physical beauty, if nothing else.

In late December, newspaper headlines regarding the sale of Bridgeville, 15 miles east of here, drove auction prices to $1.77 million, from an asking price of $775,000. Escrow on that sale is expected to close Friday.

"Those are the first two examples of towns going on the (eBay) block," and more and more real estate is showing up there, said eBay spokesman Kevin Pursglove. In fact, another town along Highway 36 -- little Platina, 42 miles west of Redding in Shasta County -- is also up for sale on eBay.

"We're getting about a thousand hits a day," said Batini's real estate agent, Sandra Spalding. "It's just amazing." As yet, there are no formal bids, though there have been about a half-dozen serious inquiries. Bidders are required to go through a screening process first, she said. The auction ends March 9.

People in these parts had a hard time believing the Bridgeville sale, which included 82 acres, a number of broken-down buildings and a cemetery. "I took a ride out there the other day just to see if there was something I'd missed," Batini said.

He believes Carlotta -- named for the daughter of railroad and timber magnate John Vance, who founded the town in 1902 -- is a far better deal. "It's probably twice the value because we're all industrial land," he said. "We could do a trailer park, we could build the hotel back up, it's all zoned for that."

But he doesn't have the heart for it anymore, Batini said, lounging in a green recliner in his living room. "After I lost the kind of takes the wind out of your sails," he said. Now, it's an effort to keep things going. "With a town, you're tied up. You're responsible for the sewer system, the water system -- you don't dare leave."

On the other hand, it's hard to let go. Life is slow here. Batini himself has never been on the Internet and had second thoughts after they decided to post the town on eBay. "You ever do anything where you get regrets after it?"

Liz Fuhrman said she wouldn't mind if the town doesn't sell. "I would hate to see somebody come in here and develop us," said the 55-year-old, who lives in the nearby mountains and collects her mail at the Carlotta post office. "We like being out here in the boondocks."

A few new houses recently appeared on a nearby river, she said. "I can't wait for a flood, though. We'll get rid of them!"

Arcata Theater on eBay, too


Following the lead of the phenomenally successful sale of Bridgeville via an online auction, the owner of the Arcata Theater is offering the property on eBay. The historic theater has been for sale since last spring when its new owner, Robert White, gave up on plans to turn the movie theater into a music venue.

"We saw [eBay] as another venue where we could reach a bigger market," said Bob Morse of Bindel Inc., The Realty Co., the concern handling the sale. "We'll see if we can attract some people with some money -- and a vision."

Morse conceded that inspiration came from the sale of Bridgeville on eBay, where a property that was originally offered at $770,000 sold for $1.77 million after a storm of media attention during the Christmas holidays.

"We obviously don't assume that we're going to get the same sort of press coverage," said Morse. "That was national news. It was ridiculous."

That doesn't mean they aren't trying to generate a buzz. A press release has been sent out, and the San Francisco Chronicle has run an article. When the Journal spoke with Morse on Monday he was about to leave his office to meet newsman Dave Silverbrand from Channel 6 News; a piece aired that same night.

The theater will be up for bid on eBay for one month: The sale closes just after 2 p.m. March 7. As of press time Tuesday there had only been three bids. The highest, $200,200, was less than half the asking price. The eBay sale has an unrevealed minimum bid called a "reserve." Morse wouldn't say what it is, but conceded that it is close to White's $455,000 asking price.

Morse figures even if the online sale does not bring in a buyer it will be worthwhile.

"It's a gamble I suppose; you put the money up front, but it's not very expensive," he said. "I think it's just $100 for a 30-day auction, and you don't pay a commission like you do on other things sold on eBay.

"We'll see what happens," he added. "We've had quite a few inquiries."

Redwoods United lays off 50

Redwoods United Inc. closed its doors last Friday, laying off nearly 50 developmentally disabled employees. The non-profit had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and could no longer afford to keep its work services program going.

Other services, such as the child care center and better living services will remain unaffected.

Speaking by phone on Tuesday, Executive Director Rochelle Parkinson said the organization is negotiating with the state's Department of Rehabilitation for more reimbursements and hopes to have the program up and running again in a matter of months.

RUI has been in dire financial straights for quite some time, but had hoped to recover with Parkinson at the helm (see "Redwoods United Rebounds," March 14, 2002).

Unfortunately, with the state in the midst of a budget crisis, the outlook is not rosy.

FBI looking for vandals

The FBI is teaming up with the Humboldt County Sheriff's Department to find the person or persons responsible for damaging a Pacific Lumber Co. log loader in Freshwater on Feb. 10.

The loader, which was parked off of Kneeland Road within a few miles of the Three Corners Market on Old Arcata Road, had rocks and dirt poured into its crankcase.

The FBI is looking for any possible links between those who damaged the truck and other activities.

A PL spokeswoman said vandals knew how to get at the engine, damage it, and close it back up without drawing any attention.

Earth First! representatives have said they had nothing to do with the vandalism.

The estimated cost to repair the damage is $22,000.

Going fast

Hoping to camp out at a state park in Humboldt County this summer? Better hurry.

With booking now available 7 months in advance by phone and over the Internet, many campsites in Humboldt County are spoken for from the beginning of May until Labor Day.

"A lot of people called here [beginning] January 1," said Manuel Sanchez, a booking agent for Reserve American, a company based in New York that has exclusive booking rights for California State Parks.

Standish Hickey, Patrick's Point, and Prairie Creek are already full.

Grizzly Creek and Benbow Lake still have a few sites available in May and June, but not many.

Richardson Grove, a favorite campsite for Reggae on the River revelers, has nothing left on the first weekend of August -- the time for the festival -- but still has openings at other times during the summer.

Humboldt Redwoods State Park has by far the most sites still available -- and on a variety of dates throughout the summer.

Sanchez said that some people, especially the elderly, have been cancelling reservations over war fears.

"People are afraid of going to state-anything," he said, but added that for choice sites, people don't care if an atom bomb is coming their way, they're going to camp there.

For more information on campground availability, visit or call 1-800-444-7275 .

Aid request rebuffed

While Humboldt County could still receive up to $5 million in state disaster relief funds to repair roads damaged in last December's storms, home and business owners are being left out in the cold.

County officials learned earlier this month that the Small Business Administration (SBA) had rejected its request for financial relief for property owners.

According to a Feb. 3 letter from Dallas Jones, director of the Governor's Office of Emergency Services, to Humboldt County Supervisor Bonnie Neely, the estimated damage to private property did not meet the agency's minimum requirement.

"Unfortunately, the amount of damage that has occurred to date does not meet the SBA minimum requirement for a physical disaster event (i.e., 25 homes and/or businesses each having suffered uninsured losses of at least 40 percent of their estimated replacement value)," Jones said in his letter

The storms caused about $7 million in damage throughout Humboldt County; approximately $2 million in damage to private property and another $5 million in damage to public roads and bridges.

Conservation grant

The City of Arcata has received a $660,000 grant from the state Wildlife Conservation Board to buy up 61 acres of land adjacent to Jacoby Creek. The city has received $3.2 million in state funds since November to obtain land along the creek.

Last November the trust acquired 435 acres thanks to a $2.6 million grant from the Wildlife Conservation Board -- the largest grant the city has ever received.

State and federal grants will also allow the Jacoby Creek Land Trust to hire Susan Ornelas as executive director. Ornelas is the wife of Arcata Mayor Bob Ornelas. She will be responsible for working on a management plan for the trust's lands.

Fire in Hoopa

Lisa An Day, 28 was arrested Monday on suspicion of arson and burglary and Kori Ann Apodaca, 28, was arrested on suspicion of burglary resulting from a Feb. 9 fire that destroyed a mobile home in Hoopa.

Humboldt County Sheriff's Department said no one was injured in the fire on Rice Lane, which burned everything inside the home.

Sheriff's deputies are continuing their investigation.

Honoring Bucher

The Humboldt Educational Resource Center is getting a name change. The two-year-old facility, which stores books and materials for teachers, will now be known as the Louis D. Bucher Resource Center.

Bucher was the Superintendent of the Humboldt County Office of Education for 20 years until his retirement last month.

Bucher was responsible for seeing the decades-old project through to its completion. Plans for the resource center date back to the 1980s. However, lack of funding and other delays kept the center from being built. The center finally opened in April 2001.

Bucher began his teaching career in Arcata in 1961. He worked in both the Fortuna and Eureka school districts before he became superintendent in 1983.

Military leave for students

Humboldt State University is hoping to make life easier for students and staff called up for military duty.

Students who are sent to serve in the armed forces can withdraw from their classes throughout the term without any penalty and they will be given a refund on tuition -- as long as they can provide the university with a copy of their military orders when requesting a withdrawal.

They are also guaranteed registration rights for upcoming terms, without having to reapply for admission.

HSU faculty and staff are being asked to assist students called up for service in finishing their course work. One proposal is to allow students to complete their courses via e-mail. If that is not possible, HSU officials are asking faculty to give the student an incomplete grade.

Questions should be directed to 826-4321.

A new parking lot

The City of Arcata has authorized City Manager Dan Hauser to spend up to $220,000 to buy the old Humboldt Machine Works property for a future parking lot.

The 10th street property could provide parking for up to 35 vehicles.

The city expects the new parking lot to open this summer.

New website

The City of Eureka is now offering an expanded website with more information about the City Council, boards and commissions.

The site also includes City Council agendas dating back to 2000 as well as agendas for other city boards and commissions.

Council agendas can be searched by year or a keyword.

The new and improved website is:

Rivals unite

Longtime rivals Danco Builders and Resco Construction have merged to form the largest construction company in Humboldt County. The move means that Danco Builders will now have a combined workforce of 90 employees.

Jeff Smith, formerly of Resco Construction, will become president of Danco Builders. Smith joined his father, Roger Smith, at Resco Construction in 1986.

The elder Smith, who founded Resco Construction in 1959, plans to retire at the end of the month. He has worked on a variety of buildings, including the Wharfinger Building and the county library in Eureka and the U.S. Bank building in Ferndale.

He will be honored at a retirement party from 5 to 7 p.m. on Feb. 27, at Baywood Golf and Country Club.


In a first-person piece in last week's Journal, Emily Gurnon described a fire that started at a house she and her husband recently bought in Eureka. She wishes to clarify one point: "In no way do I place any blame for that incident on our wonderful painter, our terrific contractors or anyone else. The fire was an accident for which only I am to blame."


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