March 7, 2002
The city of Arcata is considering an ordinance regulating logging trucks on one Sunny Brae street.
Sierra Pacific Industries received approval Jan. 18 for a timber harvest plan located in the hills above Sunny Brae. During the approval process, residents fought to limit the hours when logging trucks could use Buttermilk Lane, a narrow street lined with houses and a school. They also requested that trucks be escorted by a pilot car. Although those provisions were considered in an early draft of the plan, they didn't make it into the final version.
That's where the city stepped in, according to Councilmember Connie Stewart. The council met in closed session Feb. 26 to discuss possible litigation against Sierra Pacific. Instead the council directed staff to develop an ordinance to address the concerns along the road.
"Buttermilk Lane is within our purview even if the harvest area is not," Stewart said.
Connie Rux, editor of the Times-Standard for the past two years, will be leaving for another position in the MediaNews newspaper chain.
Rux said she wasn't sure of her departure date, but confirmed that she has accepted a promotion to deputy regional editor with the Alameda Newspaper Group. ANG is owned by the Denver-based MediaNews Group, which owns 46 daily newspapers, including the Times-Standard, in 10 states.
Recruitment is underway for Rux's replacement.
Faculty and management in the California State University system reached a tentative agreement March 2 that -- if ratified by faculty -- would resolve almost a year of contract disputes.
The new contract's terms include a series of raises for faculty as well as health coverage for lecturers and a promise to speed up recruitment campaigns for professors.
Among the specifics are a 7 percent pay hike for department chairs and a plan to look at how merit-based raises are given. For campuses in year-round operation, faculty would receive year-round pay. And a general agreement was reached that more tenure-track professors, rather than lecturers, would be a good thing.
The accord comes at the last minute. Faculty representatives at Humboldt State were gearing up for a possible strike vote March 11.
Now faculty members will be voting to ratify the new contract. Alice Sunshine, spokesperson for the California Faculty Association, said she thought the contract stood a good chance of being ratified by faculty at CSU's 23 campuses.
"We think our members will see a lot of good things in this contract," she said. "It doesn't have everything that we wanted, but it's a good contract, especially in this budget year."
A long-standing disagreement between Pacific Lumber Co. and the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board took on gentler tones last week when the board suggested several gradual measures to repair damage in five Humboldt County watersheds. Those measures include monitoring sediment and a process that sets specific limits on the total maximum daily load of sediment in the river systems.
The water board and the timber company have been at odds for two years over the five watersheds, all of which are majority-owned by PL. The board considers the watersheds -- Elk River and Bear, Stitz, Jordan and Freshwater Creeks -- damaged by sediment pollution. Residents of the drainages, especially Freshwater and Elk, claim that silt from landslides on PL property is causing the waterways to fill in, increasing flooding and degrading fish habitat.
In November 2000 the board was set to hold a hearing on a range of possible regulations, including severely curtailing the amount of timber PL could harvest. That hearing was postponed several times and informally dropped late last year. In January the Water Resources Control Board in Sacramento ordered the North Coast regional board to address the problems in the five watersheds.
A TMDL (total maximum daily load) process is already in the works for almost 500 bodies of water in California, but it has only been completed for one -- the Garcia River in Mendocino County. That has some residents here worried that regulation will come too late to do them any good.
"TMDLs are fine, we support them. But that has no bearing on the short term," said Alan Cook of the Freshwater Working Group. Cook said that he expected a TMDL would take 10 years to develop. "The entire stock of timber will be gone by the time a TMDL takes effect," he said.
The board responded by ordering its staff to accelerate the process. A TMDL for Freshwater could be ready in 12 to 18 months.
PL welcomed that prospect. Jim Branham, director of government relations for the company, said the company supports the expedited TMDL process. He said PL is doing such a good job of managing its timber harvests that a TMDL would not result in any additional regulations.
A second board order, for more monitoring of water quality, met much the same mixed reception from residents and PL.
"Monitoring is part of the long-term solution [but] I don't see it as a substitute for short-term action," Cook said.
Residents looking for short-term action were afforded one glimmer of hope at the meeting Feb. 28. The board scheduled a meeting for May to discuss waste discharge reports. Such reports would be a first step toward waste discharge requirements, a much stricter way to regulate water quality on PL's land than the current system.
Branham said his company was not happy with that board action. "We're disappointed they chose to open the door to waste discharge reports."
Cook said he won't believe the board is serious about the waste discharge reports until they are actually being required. "Until it translates into on-the-ground relief, it's not satisfying."
When Eureka physician Kim Bauriedel visited Siberia last year as part of a medical exchange, he did more than satisfy his own curiosity about the Russian health care system. He aroused some as well.
"This one particular Russian radiologist approached us about coming to the U.S.," said Bauriedel.
That radiologist was Oleg Babenko, a 36-year-old internist with a specialization in radiology and ultrasound. Starting March 18, he'll be shadowing radiologists at Mad River Hospital to learn about American medical techniques and equipment.
He may also have some ideas for his American counterparts. Bauriedel said that while the Siberian hospitals he saw were often lacking modern equipment, they were innovative with the technology they had. Russian radiologists have converted almost entirely to digital x-rays, for example. The result, Bauriedel said, was "no developing the film, less storage space, fewer chemicals."
The visit is being sponsored by Rotary International, who sent Bauriedel to Russia. "Part of these trips is that the Rotarians are to do things to help the country they visited," he said. "They'll get a better educated radiologist."
Monty Delk, convicted in Texas of the murder of Gene Olan Allen II, was executed there Feb. 28. That night Barbara Brimlow was at the Grace Good Shepherd Church in McKinleyville ringing the church bell for him. She's there every time there's an execution, tolling the bells both in memory of the victim and for the life of the convicted murderer.
Brimlow is part of For Whom the Bell Tolls, a religious campaign against the death penalty. The movement was started by Dorothy Briggs, a 78-year-old nun in Massachusetts. More than 60 religious groups across the country already participate, including Hindus, Muslims and Jews. Their goal is a moratorium on executions, as was adopted by Illinois in 2000. That state had seen 13 condemned men proved innocent.
For Brimlow, it's natural to express her opposition to the death penalty at church; her religious conviction is the root of her beliefs on the matter. "Other people may have other reasons, but for me it's faith-based. I believe in how Christ lived his life."
That doesn't mean her feelings are shared by everyone in her church. "There are people in our church that think the death penalty is a great idea," she said.
Most important to Brimlow is that people realize when an execution is happening. It's more frequent than one would think, she said.
"We've had weeks where we are going Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday," she said. "I was shocked to find out there were so many people executed in the U.S."
For more information, call 839-3726.
Want to learn more about the North Coast's Native American tribes?
An all-day guided bus tour through the Indian country in Humboldt County is scheduled for March 14. Included will be cultural education and tribal history by presentors from a number of local tribes. Registration will be 8-8:30 a.m. at the Northcoast Inn in Arcata.
For reservations, call 839-1933.
The results below are as of 9 a.m. Wednesday, March 6, 2002, with 100 percent of the precints reporting.
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