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April 1, 1999


Grieving Jens Sund seeks closure, justice

Gas prices spiral upward

Toxin report hits streets

Gearing up for AIDS ride

Kline goes to Washington

Kayaker places second

Grieving Jens Sund seeks closure, justice

Jens Sund said he's taken up running on Humboldt County beaches lately, but it's his mind that's been racing with thoughts of his slain wife Carole Sund, 42, and their daughter Juli, 15, of Eureka. The two were slain in the same incident with family friend Silvina Pelosso, 16, of Argentina, the FBI believes.

Sometimes Sund has even thought of their killer or killers, offering to "pull the switch" if given the opportunity to execute them himself.

The gesture isn't one of hatred aimed at those who are responsible for his loss, he explained to a group of reporters during Monday's press conference at the Eureka Inn.

"I just want justice done," he said, adding "within the means of the law."

Sund, who's seeing a counselor for his grief, has developed a variety of ways to cope with his double loss. This includes taking up refuge at a communication-free cabin and trying to focus on being a father to his three other children, he said. But his home is a quieter place.

"I don't think a father should have to write their daughter's obituary," he said, wearing a pullover bearing Julie's cheerleading squad's name.

He's found comfort in supporting Carole's and Juli's causes, holding up his daughter's scrapbook that posts a flier about fellow Eureka High School student Karen Mitchell's disappearance more than a year ago.

The Carrington family, Sund's in-laws, has opened and seeded a trust fund with $200,000 to help low-income families with missing loved ones post reward notices, family friend Deborah Downs confirmed.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Humboldt Area Foundation Carole Sund/Carrington Missing Person Criminal Apprehension Reward Fund, P.O. Box 1328, Eureka 95502. They are also accepted at Adoptions Horizons, 302 4th St., Eureka, 95501; Butler Valley Inc. 3801 12th St., Arcata 95521; Humboldt Council on Adoptable Children, P.O. Box 4767, Arcata 95521; and CASA, 819 7th St., Eureka.

Carole founded the local CASA a court-appointed special advocacy group because of her love of children. She particularly sought care for abused children, agreeing to lend her name as the guardian on the case of a 9-year-old boy allegedly brought up in a cage. (The Tony V. case, a $5 million civil lawsuit charging the county's Child Welfare Service with neglect, was thrown out of court last month but plaintiff attorneys said they plan to file a new motion.)

"We need to not just remember (Carole and Juli) as murder victims but for the lives they led," said CASA Director Valerie Bish, Carole's long-time friend.

As a way of honoring his late wife's work, Jens wanted to lend his support to CASA because the group has been "under fire," he said after the press conference. CASA has faced the prospect of losing its funding in the past, and may face it again come the county's next budget process.

The grieving husband and father finds it ironic that the people likely to commit a crime like this may have been abused themselves, he said.

The two Eureka women who have for two decades captivated his life and the national news media for five weeks since they were reported missing from a sightseeing trip over the President's Day weekend were recently identified as the bodies found murdered in the Sierra Nevada foothills off two different thoroughfares west of Yosemite National Park.

Juli's body was found miles away from her mother's near the Moccasin Vista Point along Lake Don Pedro off Highway 120, a major thoroughfare in and out of the park. Jens sat calmly before the media, as he recalled visiting the overlook when the search team was focused on finding the car.

The car was later found off Highway 108 near Long Barn with Carole's body found in the trunk burned beyond recognition. It's assumed the body of Sund's companion Pelosso was there too.

A trust fund at Bank of America has also been set up in the Pelosso's name to help the family deal with expenses. Contributions can be made to account number 11703-01000, 3401 Dale Road, Suite 600, Modesto, 95356.

Friends have recounted the teenagers carrying on the same kind of friendship as their mothers', which started 25 years ago.

Now, a community including the girls' Eureka High School, mourns the loss of their friends.

"It is impossible to account for the feelings of loss and grief that everyone in Eureka City Schools is feeling," Superintendent James Scott said in an issued statement. The school district brought in a crisis response team to talk with the students.

Meanwhile, the FBI on a multi-agency task force aimed at cracking the major murder investigation is continuing this week to follow leads and question suspects. The federal agency's special agent James Maddock has pledged to bring "all available resources to bear to solve this horrible crime."


Gas prices spiral upward

Rex Bohn of Renner Petroleum is about ready to change his license plate. It says "fuel guy," an occupational hazard these days.

High gasoline prices have taken the biggest price surge since the Gulf War in one week to almost $2 a gallon at some North Coast service stations. And this harsh reality has caused some people Bohn has encountered in his daily life to blame, complain and even hiss at him, he said.

To make matters worse, Bohn learned on Monday that diesel prices are also rising by at least a nickel a gallon.

"Everything that could go wrong has," he said, pointing to several reasons for the leap.

First, Bohn cited that 40 percent of the production volume is down in California, which runs the cleanest formula of any state. The crisis has sparked an emergency shipment from Denmark, which runs its vehicles on the same formula, but this will take time to arrive, he said.

Closer to home, Humboldt County's remoteness has never helped bring gasoline prices to a level consistent with other areas, Bohn said, acknowledging regular unleaded at $1.85 a gallon at some places. But he denied it's an issue of competition among suppliers, rattling off five serving the area.

Farther south to refinery land, those companies that process the crude were running a low inventory to begin with to make way for "summer gas," a different temperature-sensitive formula than the winter variety, he said.

Then, two major fires at the Tosco and Chevron refineries in recent weeks cut into that low state supply.

The oil companies have endured a dramatic financial hit in profits, following a two-year decline that brought gasoline prices to their lowest since the first oil price shock in the 1970s, experts say.

Prices are expected to slightly fall this week as high gasoline prices prompt the refineries to expand production to make up for a 300,000-barrel-per-day shortage in California, according to one New York trader.

It remains to be seen in the volatile commodities game whether prices at the pump are a reflection of events or reaction to news of the event.

"That's a good question for oil, gas and commodity traders," AAA spokesman Paul Moreno said from his San Francisco office. The state auto club has been keeping a close eye on the price hike.

Moreno echoed the factors Bohn cited as reasons for the hike but admits to being somewhat baffled by gasoline prices in Humboldt County running higher than most areas in the state, even in the San Francisco Bay Area where incomes are in line with a high cost of living.

"Eureka prices are much higher than Northern California (overall)," he said, citing a sore subject in the county's past.

For example, a gallon of regular unleaded self-serve averaged $1.20 in Northern California, the club reported in a March 11 survey, Moreno said. In the Eureka area, prices averaged $1.27.

Three weeks later, Moreno reported a 31-cent rise in San Francisco to $1.61. In other cities outside the state, gasoline prices in Las Vegas, Nev., rose 21 cents to $1.32 and 17 cents to $1.16 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

California's inventory has added pressure of meeting demand as it also supplies Arizona, west Nevada, Oregon, southern Washington and Hawaii, he said.

When inventories are reduced, other states cannot easily import gasoline into California, since much of it needs to travel from the Gulf of Mexico through the Panama Canel, he pointed out.

Moreno said the inventory void could be filled if the fires had happened in any other area of the nation, but the West Coast is geographically isolated, he said.

"Unfortunately, we're more prone to price fluctuations," Moreno said, adding consumers should hang tight because prices are supposed to ease a bit as early as this week.

Bohn's answer is simple. "The best thing to do is not use much (for now)," he said.

Toxin report hits streets

Two years in the making, a local report released statewide last week rated Humboldt County as one of the cleanest in terms of herbicides used to kill roadside brush.

It's called "The Poisoning of Public Thoroughfares: How Herbicides Blight California's Roads."

The Arcata-based Californians for Alternatives to Toxics also lumped Mendocino, Trinity and Alpine counties in the high-rated class. The worst have two of the largest population bases in the state Los Angeles and Orange counties.

Humboldt stopped using the herbicides on county roads in 1989. Eight years later, the California Department of Transportation ceased spraying state highways when the county supervisors asked them to stop.

The absence of the use of the chemicals hasn't stopped the anti-toxin group's vigilance at keeping it that way, said Patty Clary, the report's author.

She contends that, if given the opportunity, Caltrans would try to return to spraying. Furthermore, the state agency has failed to put up enough money, $79,000, to study alternatives to the chemical poisons used to kill plants, she said. Some of those used on roadsides to kill the brush have been linked to a rash of human health disorders, the report says.

But Caltrans will continue to evaluate its options, District 1 Director Rick Knapp said. Knapp has chaired a state roadside management committee for Caltrans to study the issue.

So far, the agency hasn't found an alternative that has the same success as herbicide spraying, he admits with frustration. "Nevertheless, we're continuing our endeavor to come up with an alternative."

Currently, Caltrans is trying out a corn by-product, with about the same success as a special mower it was experimenting with. But the vegetation is still growing and weaving over guardrails and sneaking up through the pavement cracks, he said.

"We can't keep up with all the vegetation," Knapp said.

Sometimes, the overgrowth turns into a safety hazard, as it reduces a motorist's sight distance, he argued. Then there's the hazard of the work crews out on the roads.

"We don't like putting employees in the roadways cutting brush," he said. The California Conservation Corps has helped the effort, but Caltrans can't book them enough to handle the load, he said.

Along with Caltrans, the quandary has plagued the agriculture industry and U.S. Forest Service too, Knapp said.

But it's a necessary component to the public's health, Clary contends, especially when it comes to exposure to roadside walkers, berry pickers or even law enforcement working on the roads.

Gearing up for AIDS ride

Arcata Mayor Bob Ornelas is going the distance all 525 miles.

Ornelas will join 2,600 other bicyclists from around the state for the sixth annual California AIDS ride. The ride, which takes place June 6-12, will begin in San Francisco and end in Los Angeles.

Ornelas will be joined by teammates Melanie Williams, a political science professor at Humboldt State University, and Mike Callaghan.

The team plans to raise a minimum of $7,500 each for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center, the beneficiaries of the ride. Ornelas said he's participating in the ride because AIDS has affected him personally.

"Who hasn't lost a friend, a family member or a loved one to this deadly disease?" he said.

Last year, the ride raised $9.5 million, most of which went toward funding educational programs and services for AIDS and HIV-positive individuals and their families. Services include a hotline (1-800-367-AIDS), which receives 130,000 calls annually.

Kline goes to Washington

Phil Kline, Humbolt County fisherman and fisheries lobbyist, is heading for Washington, D.C. next month.

The 47-year-old Eureka resident, the subject of the Journal's Jan. 7 cover story, will be working for the American Oceans Campaign as a fisheries policy analyst and advocate.

"I'll be trying to eliminate destructive fishing practices and trying to develop sustainable fisheries all the things that are dear to my heart," Kline said.

The fisherman worked as an environmental activist in the Humboldt region, the area he said he'll always call his home.

As a fishing policy wonk, his goal will focus on reversing destructive practices that threaten the fishing habitat.

"Then when I retire," he said, "I can go fishing again.

Kayaker places second

Surf kayak rider and maker Dick Wold braved the big waves and took second place in the international class team trials at the Santa Cruz Kayak Festival over the weekend of March 13, 14.

It's Wold's 10th year making the U.S. team that heads to the world finals. This year, the global championship will be held in Brazil in September.

Wold, a 41-year-old McKinleyville man who was featured on the North Coast Journal cover story Feb. 11, made the 10-person U.S. team with five other men, two women and two juniors.

"I'm in my 40s and still beating these kids," Wold said, elated by his ability to keep the youthful energy required for the sport.

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