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March 2, 2000


Gas prices jump -- again

Absentee deadline passed

Pesticide-free city

Angela Davis speaks Friday

Gas prices jump -- again

The price of gasoline at Bigfoot Gas Station in McKinleyville had been $1.49 a gallon for unleaded for quite some time. But two weeks ago prices began nudging upward to $1.56 on Feb. 14, $1.59 on Feb. 16 and $1.66 on Feb. 20. As of Tuesday, the price was $1.85 and still climbing.

Many area stations are already selling premium grade gasoline for more than $2 per gallon.

"Prices have been going up every three days," said Monica Huffman, who works at Flying J on Broadway in Eureka. The station was also charging $1.85 per gallon unleaded on Tuesday.

Wildly fluctuating crude oil prices are being blamed for the sharp rise. The price for a barrel of crude this week is $30; it had been as low as $12 within the last six months.

Nationally, gasoline prices jumped 6 cents within the last two weeks of February. California prices are consistently higher that the national average -- $1.47 per gallon -- due to environmental regulations and additives.

Absentee deadline passed

Tuesday marked the deadline for absentee ballots to be received at the Humboldt County Elections Office in order to count in the March 7 primary election. According to Lou Leeper, Humboldt County's assistant registrar, this year the number of absentee voters looks about the same as in years past.

"In the general election you tend to see a larger number of absentee voters," Leeper said. "In the primary election unless there is a measure or a candidate that seems to stir up a lot of votes, the numbers seem to stay the same."

In past elections, it has taken as much as several weeks to count all of the votes because approximately 60 percent of the votes come in just days before the election. All of the ballots must be logged into the computer, sorted and the signatures verified.

"Probably a week and a half after the polls close, the elections office should have gotten through counting the (absentee) ballots," said Lindsey McWilliams, Humboldt County elections official.

Pesticide-free city

An ordinance which would ban the use of all pesticides on city-owned and managed properties was approved unanimously by the Arcata City Council in February.

The ordinance is unique among California cities -- and perhaps in the nation -- because it creates an outright ban on all pesticide use rather than a phased reduction. Pesticides include fungicides, herbicides, insecticides, nematicides, rodenticides, dessicants and defoilants.

The ordinance directs city staff to create a pest control management program which lists all pest-control materials and methods. The program also will educate the public and property owners about nontoxic methods.

Jennifer Hanan, vice mayor, said this ordinance is a first of its kind, and it can be used as a model for other cities.

"This confirms Arcata's longtime commitment to protect our residents from the effects of pesticides. Arcata is proving that pest problems can be solved without harming people or the environment," she said.

Arcata has maintained its parks without the use of pesticides for 15 years since an experimental moratorium was first proposed, and the city has avoided chemical use in a number of other ways.

For example, the Arcata baseball field is managed completely without herbicides or pesticides. Special tarps are used to cover infield dirt to help prevent weed growth between games. Park maintenance crews use the tarps to control rodents and tailor lawn-mowing cycles to fight weeds before they become established.

According to Dan Diemer, Arcata's park superintendent, from a management perspective, it is much easier to not use pesticides.

"The amount of training and paperwork that is required for pesticide use is intense."

He said that timely mowing and irrigation can be just as effective as using pesticides. If pests in and around the building are a problem, barriers and sanitation can be the first line of defense.

Angela Davis speaks Friday

A name out of the activism of the '60s and '70s will be at a Humboldt State University conference Friday.

Angela Davis, now a history professor at UC Santa Cruz, will be the keynote speaker for HSU's Multicultural Center's sixth annual diversity conference at the Arcata Theater. Theme of the conference is "And Justice for All? Challenging Inequality Through Education and Activism."

Davis gained fame in 1969 when her activism and membership in the Communist Party got her fired as an instructor at UC Los Angeles. She later spent 16 months in jail before acquittal on charges of kidnapping, murder and conspiracy.

The conference begins at 5 p.m. Friday with Davis expected to speak about 5:45 p.m. A question-and-answer session will follow.

The student-run conference resumes at 8 a.m. Saturday at HSU with a registration breakfast. Three sessions of concurrent workshops also are scheduled. They are "Multicultural Constituencies in the Classroom," "Human Rights Issues in Humboldt County," "Strategies for Confronting Homophobia in K-12 Schools," "Current Anti-Semitism in America," "Creating a Community Mural," "Jedi Training: Exploration of the `Force' of Social Justice" and "Shadow of Hate: Histories of Intolerance and Strategies for Resistance."

Registration is $15 for students, staff and faculty from HSU, College of the Redwoods and high schools. It is $20 for the general public. Tickets for Davis's talk only are $5 for students, staff and faculty and $10 general.

More information is available at 826-3364.

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