North Coast Journal bannerNEWSBRIEFS

April 22, 1999


April weather extremes

Earthly reminders

Girls day out

Caring for others

The Gap is coming

Saving free rescues

Center of attention

One year and counting

Beware of hungry critters

April weather extremes

North Coast residents saw an extreme shift in the weather in April.

The snow dusted the coastal foothills near sea level with overnight temperatures in the low 30s over Easter weekend, then rose to a record-breaking high of 73 degrees one week later, according to the National Weather Service bureau on Woodley Island in Eureka. By April 15, tax deadline day, the high rose almost 20 degrees and stayed there for three days, beating the 70-degree record set back in 1925.

At the Eureka-Arcata Airport in McKinleyville, the high peaked at 78 degrees and Crescent City turned in a 33-year record of 81 degrees.

"It seems like we blew right through spring and went into summer," said Nancy Dean, NWS meteorologist.

Dean attributes the "unusual (weather pattern) for this time of year" to a high pressure system built up over the coastline, combined with offshore winds that blew warm air from the inland areas to the coast. These offshore flows are reminiscent of the warm Santa Ana winds of Southern California in the fall months.

Fall has traditionally been the season that's the warmest for the North Coast. The record of 87 degrees was set Oct. 26, 1993.

This year, climate experts blame unusual weather conditions on La Niña, the tropical weather phenomenon spurred by a cold water mass in the Pacific Ocean off the shores of South America.

La Niña has pushed the jet stream north, serving as a dividing line between drenching rain and drought.

In Washington, Mount Baker is poised to break the all-time North American snowfall record of 1,122 inches that fell at Mount Rainier during the winter of 1971-72, the Associated Press reported.

By contrast, the Southwest, Southeast and western Gulf region have experienced drought conditions. Wildfires have consumed hundreds of acres in a parched Florida.

Earthly reminders

Welcome to Earth Day today, April 22, a nationally recognized day set aside to take stock in the planet.

Individuals and organizations plan to honor the Earth in a variety of ways during this environmental holiday that started in 1970 as a way of commemorating the birthday of the late John Muir. The renowned naturalist, environmental activist and Sierra Club founder's birthday fell on April 21.

"Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike," Muir once wrote. The club used the passage in a report released this week for Earth Day that views the state of America's wildlands.

The report identifies six critical areas as ecosystems "crying out for protection," Sierra Club Regional Director Barbara Boyle said. They include the frozen tundra of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, the Northern Rockies, the Maine Woods in New England, Utah's redrock canyons, Sequoia National Forest and the Everglades in Florida currently under fire by wildland blazes.

Locally, North Coast residents are invited to get down and get dirty for Earth Day.

Mad River Community Hospital is hosting a planting ceremony at the wellness garden near the back of the hospital grounds off Janes Road in Arcata. From 2-3 p.m. Thursday, planters may put in their own flowers or use the ones furnished by the hospital, which views the garden as a form of alternative therapy, ultrasound technician and event organizer Linda Erickson said.

On Earth Day evening, outdoor enthusiasts will gather at Arcata Veterans Hall at 14th and J streets for River Night, Adventure's Edge's annual slide show celebrating the Earth's rivers, beginning at 7:30. The show features whitewater athlete Johnnie Kern kayaking some of the oldest river canyons in Europe.

On Saturday, volunteers are needed for a cleanup day at the Manila Dunes Community Center from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The fourth annual Earth Day cleanup on the Samoa peninsula is meant to coincide with restoration efforts by the California State Parks Foundation.

In previous years, volunteers have picked up and removed 38 tons of garbage, 500 tires, 40 junk cars, various appliances and several tons of recyclables, according to organizers from the Manila Community Services District.

Participating agencies include Redwood Community Action Agency, AmeriCorps, California Conservation Corps, Friends of the Dunes, California Coastal Conservancy, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Surfriders Foundation, U.S. Coast Guard, Eureka High School, Peninsula Union Elementary School and Humboldt State University.

Also on Saturday, HSU is hosting its first solar home tour as part of the 8th annual Renewable Energy Fair. The tour, visiting solar homes in the community, leaves the Arcata campus from the top of B Street at 11:30 a.m.

Solar power represents a clean, efficient form of energy designed to lessen the reliance on fossil fuels and foreign energy sources.

Girls day out

April 22 holds special meaning for the matriarchs of the family.

It's the national observance of Take Our Daughters to Work Day, a day in which girls across the United States follow their parents into the workplace to evaluate their own career choices.

Assemblywoman Virginia Strom-Martin has invited girls from Humboldt and Del Norte counties to her Eureka office for the nationally recognized day launched by the Ms. Foundation for Women.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, women consist of 46 percent of the workforce. By the year 2005, at least 60 percent of the new employees entering the U.S. workforce will be women.

This year's theme is "The Future is Me."

Strom-Martin called the open-door celebration an important time to help girls "develop self-esteem" and become aware of their countless opportunities, "if they just hold onto their dreams and enthusiasm."

North Coast Six Rivers Planned Parenthood clinic assistant Ann Ludtke is bringing her 16-year-old daughter Stephanie to work, then over to Strom-Martin's office.

"I think it's important for all children to volunteer for non-profit agencies," Ludtke said. It's a work ethic the working mom values greatly, she said.

Stephanie is quite familiar with mom's working world. Ludtke first brought the teenager into the office six years ago. By 1995, she quickly advanced from the occasional stapling of pamphlets and odds-and-ends jobs around the office to a regular volunteer on the staff. This is how mom started out in 1980.

"The older she gets, the more she does," Ludtke said.

Caring for others

Welfare-to-work recipients in the Hoopa area are learning what it's like to care for the well-being of others.

Humboldt County's Social Services Department has launched a program designed to get people off the dole by providing in-home health care. The county has identified a number of Hoopa Valley seniors, in particular, who don't want to leave their homes to get the care they need.

The program is a perfect fit for Tonea Aubrey, 30, a Hoopa native of the area who wants to use her training to help her fellow citizens.

"I love (the program). I feel I can make a difference," said Aubrey, who also noticed a need for the service in the area.

Aubrey wanted to become a registered nurse years ago but got sidetracked and went into clerical work. She's been on public assistance for 22 months and can't wait to get off, she said. She sees the program as a "second chance" she's putting her "heart, body, soul and mind into."

Social Services is coordinating the effort with the Hoopa Tribal Employment Rights Office, St. Joseph Health System and Humboldt Home Health Services.

The in-home caregiver training course started April 12 and ends June 11 for about 20 program participants. Other areas of the county may benefit from the innovative health care service eventually, if a need is identified.

The program was established in response to a 1996 federal welfare law that requires states to reduce the welfare rolls by 25 percent. The goal for 2002 is for half of all adults on welfare to work.

The law reversed 60 years of social welfare policy, eliminating federal guarantees of cash assistance for poor children and giving states the authority to run their own welfare programs with federal money.

More than two years later, statistics show most states meeting the goal of one quarter of their welfare recipients holding down jobs or job training activities, the Associated Press reported.

By the end of February, the number of people on welfare fell to its lowest level in 30 years nearly 8 million U.S. citizens, AP added.

The county caseload tops off at 2,002, CalWorks Program Manager Pat Quinn said, with an estimated1,500 working or in job-related training.

Also, the Humboldt Child Care Council is working with Social Services on a pilot project aimed at training welfare-to-work recipients to be child-care providers. The 8-week training course started April 5.

The Gap is coming

By fall, North Coast residents may enter the Gap.

The San Francisco-based contemporary clothing retailer is planning to open a combined Gap and Gap for Kids store in the Bayshore Mall in Eureka sometime in late fall, mall officials announced.

The clothing retailer will join a variety of stores moving in and shifting around in the southern Eureka mall.

Other new stores opening this month include Lady Footlocker, located in the old Kinney's Shoe location off Center Court, and Candy Tyme, adjacent to the playland area near JC Penney.

Moving and expanding stores include Waldenbooks, a national chain bookstore, and two locally owned stores: Baa Baa Sheepskin, with its inventory of novelty gifts, furniture, home accessories and sheepskin products, is moving into the Mervyn's wing. Kokopilau, featuring gifts, jewelry and women's apparel, will have a temporary location before its new store, also in the Mervyn's wing, will be ready in June.

Other new stores scheduled for opening are Spencer's Gifts, featuring adult gifts and blacklight items (June), Mrs. Field's Cookies (August), Samuel Jewelers (July), Pacific Sunwear, unisex surfwear (August).

The Bayshore Mall is owned by General Growth Properties, Inc., which has 120 regional malls in 39 states.

Saving free rescues

'Tis the season for outdoor seekers. And with that, millions of dollars are spent by the federal government plucking stranded boaters, hikers and injured campers out of danger, a trend that has lawmakers toying with the idea of charging for rescues.

Even so, the U.S. Coast Guard and National Park Service think the money losses are better than the alternative a possible loss in lives. The Coast Guard rescued almost 4,000 persons in 1997.

"If they think they're going to be charged, then they might not call, and we're talking about a (potential) loss of life," said Brant Weaver, Humboldt Bay Group station commander. The way he looks at it, his agency, with its resources and personnel, is "paid for by tax dollars" anyway.

Center of attention

It has taken 20 years and $4.4 million, but the Arcata Community Center will finally open to the public the weekend of April 30.

Karen Diemer, Arcata's recreation supervisor, said the celebration begins Friday with a dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony from 5:30-6 p.m., followed by an open house with a "Taste of Local Caterers" reception. Other Friday night festivities include kids art activities, 6-7 p.m., Melody Makers Senior Choir, 6:30-7:30 p.m. and swing era music by the Titanic Big Band, 8-11 p.m.

Sports, music, theater performances, and children and senior activities continue throughout the weekend. For a complete schedule, call 826-7091.

The 20,000-square-foot Community Center, at 321 Community Park Way near HealthSport, will be home to most of the recreation division's programs, including gymnastics, sport camps and drop-in sport programs, as well as various youth, teen, adult and senior classes.

Some programs, such as drop-in sports, will begin May 3, and the Humboldt Senior Resource Center's senior lunch program will begin in the middle of May. Diemer said all programs should be in full swing by the end of June.

One year and counting

The U.S. Census Bureau has a monumental task before it how to count an estimated U.S. population of 275 million that has never been so mobile, multicultural and mistrustful of government by the time the census starts April 1, 2000.

And that's only half of it.

"It's going to be hard to inform people (of many languages) of the count and to persuade them to participate in it," Humboldt State University political science Professor Jay Emenhiser said of residents "on the margin."

And as canvassers take to the streets to find these people, Congress is expected to continue its bipartisan fight over the purpose for which the bureau makes its every-10-year count.

At issue are two methods. The traditional method of street-by-street head counting will still rule legislative representation, as in how many congressional seats are allotted to each state, the U.S. Supreme Court recently decided.

But the high court left open the possibility the Census Bureau could use the statistical sampling method to determine how more than $200 billion in federal funds is allocated to each state.

It's this uncertainty that has U.S. Congressman Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, paying attention.

Thompson pledged to work with the California delegation to "make sure we use sampling" to determine these funds. The Representative was referring to a recent Congressional report that shows the state may have lost more than $2 billion in federal funds during the 1990s because of a census undercount.

Thompson believes the statistical sampling method is more accurate because hard-to-count immigrant residents have been missed in California in the past.

"(California has) been underfunded and undercounted," Emenhiser said, agreeing with Thompson.

The junior Congressman may have an uphill battle. Congressional Republicans have criticized President Clinton's endorsement of the statistical method as a way of fixing the census in the Democrats favor.

Minority immigrants tend to vote the Democrat ticket, Emenhiser said.

Beware of hungry critters

Those hungry for spring to arrive should be aware of the little blood-sucking creepy-crawlies that come with the season of rebirth.

The ticks are out, but so is a shot in the arm for those fearing the disease the insects can pass on with their bites.

The world's first Lyme vaccine, SmithKline Beecham's LYMErix, is available for doctors to offer their patients ages 15 to 70. Last December, the Food and Drug Administration approved the three-shot vaccine, which touts an 85 percent success rate, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Lyme disease gets its name from Lyme, Conn., where it was discovered in 1975. It starts with a tell-tale bull's-eye rash and culminates in fatigue, chills, fevers and chest pain that can persist for weeks, the National Institutes of Health reports. As ominous as the disease sounds, antibiotics can cure Lyme disease, which strikes hardest in the Northeast. It's not so prevalent on the West Coast.

Brent Whitener of Humboldt County's environmental health department said that at least 90 percent of those bitten by ticks will not get Lyme disease on the West Coast. But don't let those numbers allow you to let your guard down, Whitener cautioned. In particular, hikers and woodcutters out in grassy and wooded areas should check themselves for ticks. Some are so small, their bites are barely felt, Whitener said.

Those who are bitten by a tick should remove it with fine-point tweezers. Contrary to popular belief, one cannot suffocate a tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly.

The county department's laboratory on 7th and I streets in Eureka can test ticks for Lyme disease.

The best advice falls in the prevention arena. Beyond checking regularly, people are advised to wear long sleeves and pants tucked into socks or boots.

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