North Coast Journal WeeklyIn the News

May 16, 2002

Embezzlement charged

Protecting California's
wild places

CAMP funding passes

Going Solar

Salmon peril

Motorists beware

'Justice for Phoenix'

A peaceful solution

New at the Zoo

Arcata bans park drinking

Bag the car, get a bike

State spelling bee champ

Crabs honor one of their own

HSU commencement activities

Embezzlement charged

Humboldt County employee Denise Clair "Dee Dee" Landry, 39, has been charged with embezzling over $100,000.

Landry, in charge of distributing funds to qualified disabled applicants, is accused of qualifying her grandmother for more than $98,000 in assistance that she was ineligible to receive.

The "special circumstances" fund that that money is alleged to have come from is normally reserved for disabled applicants' needs, such as wheelchair ramp construction or the installation of safety bars in the bathtub.

District Attorney Terry Farmer announced the charges against Landry at a press conference in Eureka Monday.

Landry is also charged with using a computer system for embezzlement purposes and grand theft embezzlement for over $13,000. If convicted she could face four years and eight months in prison.

Landry has not been arrested at this time, but Farmer said her attorney has been advised to make sure she arrives for court appearances. The alleged embezzlement came to light after a clerk pointed out a discrepancy to a supervisor last December.

Protecting California's wild places

Under legislation introduced last week by U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer and Congressman Mike Thompson, northwestern California's wild areas will receive new protections.

Boxer and Thompson are proposing that 2.6 million acres of federal land statewide be added to the federal wilderness system. Environmentalists with the California Wild Heritage Campaign had pushed for inclusion of 7 million acres, but nonetheless praised the legislation.

"These places will now get the protection they deserve," said Ryan Henson, a leader of the campaign. "We're tired of our wilderness areas being threatened by road construction and logging. This act will leave the forests the way they are."

Jonathan Birdsong, a Thompson aide, said that his boss and Boxer, along with staff, worked with county officials, federal land managers and others to select areas for protection.

Additions are being proposed to several existing wilderness areas in northwestern California, including the Marble Mountains, Siskiyou and Trinity Alps Wilderness Areas. An area in east of Eureka called Mad River Buttes would become a designated wilderness under the bill, as would the South Fork of the Eel River near Legget and the Black Butte Wild and Scenic River in the Mendocino National Forest. Additionally, Mt. Lassic in southeastern Humboldt county would receive protection. The King's Range would become the first coastal area in the Federal Wilderness Preservation System under the bill.

CAMP funding passes

Last week the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors quietly approved the annual grant application for participation in the Campaign Against Marijuana Propagation (CAMP.) The grant has traditionally garnered opposition from Supervisors John Woolley and Roger Rodoni, who represent the Arcata area and southern Humboldt, respectively. This year it stayed on the consent calendar and passed unanimously.

In the past, Woolley and Rodoni's votes were intended as symbolic gestures to raise awareness regarding their position. Rodoni stated however, that until a third board member joins their cause, it was useless for the board to continue pulling the item up for a vote.

A swing vote could potentially come from Ben Shepherd and Jill Geist who are in a runoff for the Fifth District seat in November. How would they vote?

"I'm in favor of CAMP," said Shepherd. "One of the greatest needs we have now in the county is law enforcement."

Shepherd said that the CAMP money would go toward paying for four full-time sheriff's positions plus two half-time district attorney positions.

"By law sheriffs have to respond to a felony. Having a marijuana garden is a felony," said Shepherd. "Sheriffs will still have to respond, CAMP or no CAMP. Sheriffs have to stop and respond when they get notification of a felony -- they can't leave one in progress. It's a good idea to get this state and federal money that's available for this program."

"Secondly," said Shepherd, "I support CAMP because I've been an educator for thirty-two years and I believe in restricting access."

Jill Geist had different concerns.

"I understand the purpose of CAMP is to reduce the commercial traffic of marijuana," said Geist. "But I also believe it is the Board of Supervisors' duty to look out for the welfare of our county's residents. It's imperative to protect people who are not involved in commercial growing. There have been illegal transgressions onto private property in southern Humboldt in the past where residents' right to privacy and property rights were violated. I would like to see the supervisors work with the sheriff to address these reputed incidents. There needs to be some sort of tracking mechanism in place."

The county receives approximately $271,000 a year to participate in CAMP. Last year 66,153 plants were seized along with $2.2 million in assets.

Going Solar


OUR ARCATA HIGH STUDENTS ARE LEADING the way toward bringing alternative energy to Humboldt County schools.

In March, juniors Toby Haskett and Rowan Gratz-Weiser, along with freshmen Beth Ricard and Lisa Kim, flew to San Diego to accept a $10,000 grant from the automobile giant, Toyota. Their selection was unusual; the TAPESTRY grant, as it's called, is normally reserved for elementary school science teachers working on innovative educational projects.

"We were the first students to ever write, apply for and receive this type of grant," said Haskett, whose facilitator, Arcata High teacher Louis Armin-Hoiland, suggested, oversaw and edited the grant.

"But the students did it all themselves," attested Armin-Hoiland. "I was just doing what a teacher normally does- just editing and making suggestions."

The money will go toward the purchase of a 2-kilowatt solar electric system that the students hope will be installed by the end of this school year. Although 2 kilowatts is not a significant amount of energy, Haskett hopes this is just the beginning for Arcata High, and looks forward to the day when the entire school can be run off solar electricity.

"This solar array is a demonstration," said Haskett. "It can be used as an educational resource for other classes and science teachers. We hope other schools take our system as a model."

"We will have students design, install and monitor this solar photovoltaic system," said Armin-Hoiland. "About five-hundred students, or roughly half the school, will be impacted by this project. This is a versatile project with lots of different studies and experiments. The data generated will allow for a broad number of research studies. Physical science classes will conduct energy audits, math classes will help in the design, science classes will monitor the system and autoshop students will help with the installation."

Haskett and his fellow students began working on the grant proposal as part of a lab assignment in the school's Environmental and Spatial Technology (EAST) program. An experimental effort, the program's curriculum allows students the opportunity to work on self-directed and service-oriented projects. Students are encouraged to form their own projects with an eye toward tackling real-world situations. EAST teachers are called facilitators (or "guides on the side" as Armin-Hoiland put it), allowing students the creative freedom in generating their own projects.

"We felt strongly about implementing alternative energy conservation. We're all very concerned about the environment and wanted to research green ways of producing energy with no by-products," said Haskett.

Dylan Wright is following the lead of Haskett et. al. A student in a similar technology program at Eureka High School, Wright is researching the feasibility of using solar panels to heat the school's recently reopened pool.

"Schools are big electricity users," said Wright nodding towards the glowing computer screens in his classroom. "Renewable energy will be necessary in the future. People need to be aware of alternative energy sources. What better place than a school to lead the way?"

Salmon peril

A key document from the National Marine Fisheries Service regarding water flows on the Klamath River is a month late, exacerbating the threat to imperiled coho salmon, two California congressmen said last week.

The NMFS's biological opinion report would outline how much water is needed to flow down from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation's irrigation project near the California-Oregon border to sustain fishery habitat on the Klamath. The coho is a federally protected species.

So far this year, over 300 baby fish, including coho salmon, have been left stranded and dying in shrinking pools near the Klamath Basin. Interior Secretary Gale Norton, who oversees the fisheries service, has been charged with favoring agricultural interests at the expense of wildlife in the basin. Congressman George Miller stated that the service's delay in releasing the report is contributing to the continuing harm to the Klamath's fishery, which has been decimated over the past 20 years by diversions to farmers. Coho salmon populations are now less than 10 percent of what they were 20 years ago, costing the North Coast thousands of jobs and over $80 million per year in lost revenue for the past ten years, Miller and Thompson said in a joint press release.

Motorists beware

The much publicized reduction in the speed limit along the 6-mile corridor between Arcata and Eureka takes effect May 19.

At noon that day, the limit will officially drop from 60 mph to 50 mph. The California Highway Patrol has vowed to be out in force for the entire summer. Fines for motorists caught speeding in the corridor will be doubled.

The new speed limit will remain in effect until Caltrans can figure out a more permanent solution to reduce the accident rate on the congested, poorly designed highway.

A collision at the Indianola Cutoff last January left four people dead, underscoring the need for change.

'Justice for Phoenix'

The Humboldt County Courthouse was packed with animal lovers last week, most sporting somber black stickers on their lapels that read, "Justice For Phoenix."

They were there for the arraignment of Susan Tatro, a Eureka woman facing a felony charge for animal cruelty. Tatro pled not guilty.

On March 24, acting on a tip from a volunteer for a local animal rights organization, Eureka police discovered three starving dogs at Tatro's residence in the Myrtletown area. They were held in a cage filled with mud and feces.

One of the dogs, a female, was taken to the McKinleyville Animal Care Center, where veterinarians battled in vain to save its life. Given the name "Phoenix" by vets hopeful that the animal would make a miraculous recovery, the dog had no blood pressure when she was brought in, was unable to move or stand, and looked like "an emaciated, living skeleton," according to veterinarian Cynthia Macune.

Phoenix died in her sleep.

As for the other two dogs, their whereabouts are unknown. When the police officer returned to get them after assisting Phoenix, they were gone.

During her arraignment, Tatro was asked her source of income.

"None," was her reply.

"Well, how do you eat?" asked the brusque judge.

"I lost my job over this," Tatro responded with bowed head.

A low sarcastic murmur of "ahhhh," arose from the jammed-packed courtroom.

Tatro's preliminary hearing is set for May 23 at 8:30 a.m.

"We hope to have as many supporters as possible at all of the hearings," said Tamara McFarland, founder of Friends For Life. "The county has a history of doing a poor job in prosecuting animal cruelty cases. Our biggest fear is that the felony charge will be dropped to a misdemeanor."

A peaceful solution

A proclamation put before the Arcata City Council earlier this month that drew flak for being "anti-American" has been toned down -- a little bit, at least.

Penned by David Meserve, founder of the Redwood Peace and Justice Center, the proclamation was blasted by councilmembers Michael Machi and Robert Noble, who found it too critical of the U.S. government's war on terrorism. There was also concern that the proclamation would not speak for all citizens of Arcata, and would cause needless friction.

At the instruction of the council, Meserve and Machi revised and reworded the proclamation.

"We didn't cut the guts out of it," said Meserve, founder of the Redwood Peace and Justice Center. "We just added a few words and rearranged some. It now includes a more clarified scope addressing all forms of violent threat to civilians."

He also stated that one of Machi's biggest concerns was that the proclamation in its original form did not support U.S. soldiers.

"We all support our soldiers coming home safely 100 percent," said Meserve. "We want to bring them home now, so they don't wind up victims of violent policies."

Hoping that Arcata's adoption of the proclamation will inspire other cities to follow suit, Meserve said, "There is a strong consensus against our anti-terrorist policy. There are many doubts about this war. We hope if we represent our feelings at the city level, this will grow to encompass the whole nation. It`s the closest you can get to rebuilding democracy."

New at the Zoo

State Sen. Wesley Chesbro and Eureka Mayor Nancy Flemming will speak at a groundbreaking event at the Sequoia Park Zoo on May 19th at 1 p.m.

The event will be a kick-off for the construction of a new educational facility, as well as a children's program area and new petting zoo barn. Live African drum music, educational exhibits and all the free cake, ice cream and cookies you can eat will be available.

Arcata bans park drinking

Drinking and smoking will no longer be allowed in Arcata parks with playground equipment or outdoor recreation facilities, the city council decided last week.

The ordinances are planned to be in place by June 15, just in time for children's summer programs. Last summer, concerned parents withdrew their children from recreation programs because of smoking and drinking in the parks.

Alcohol will be restricted to designated picnic areas and will be banned altogether from the Arcata Community Forest and Redwood Park. Tobacco will be prohibited at the Arcata Skateboard Park, and the smoking ban will allow for a 100-foot perimeter around outdoor sports areas. Undeveloped parks with no play areas will not be affected by the ordinance.

Bag the car, get a bike

Students at Humboldt State University who do without a car for the duration of the school year will be entitled to the free use of a bicycle provided by the Arcata Bike Library.

With grant funding from the North Coast Air Quality Management District, "Library Bikes," as the program is called, is hoping to provide over 300 bikes to the Arcata community next year. Bill Burton, Library Bikes director, said about a third of those will go toward HSU students. It is not clear how the program will verify that the students are not driving cars.

Mountain bikes, as well as European road bikes and vintage British bikes, will be available.

Contact 822-1122 or visit

State spelling bee champ

Nicholas Elsbree, a fifth-grader at Jacoby Creek School, won the 22nd Annual California State Elementary Spelling Championship when he correctly spelled "galantine" and then "surrogate."

Elsbree placed third in the event last year. The May 4 competition was held at Sonoma State University. It pitted 4th, 5th and 6th graders from 31 counties against one another. The contest went 14 rounds before Elsbree triumphed. The youth received a trophy, a certificate signed by Gov. Gray Davis, and a $1,000 U.S. Savings Bond.

Crabs honor one of their own

The Humboldt Crabs, the oldest continuously operating semi-professional baseball team in the country, have dedicated the upcoming season to Ned Barsuglia.

Working with the Crabs for almost 50 years, Barsuglia has served the team in a number of off-field capacities. He will be honored throughout the upcoming season, beginning with the annual season opening dinner on May 31.

A native of Arcata, Barsuglia became involved with the Crabs in 1954 when he helped raise money for the team as a member of their board. From 1967 to 1994 Barsuglia was board president and Crabs general manager. Today, he continues his involvement as chief scout and advisor."

He basically ran the program single-handedly since the 1960s," stated board president Carl Pellatz. "Ned did for all those years what now takes about 22 of us to do to get the Crabs on the field every summer."

For tickets to the season opening dinner, call 822-7251 or 826-7116.

HSU commencement activities

Once again it's time for relieved college students and proud parents to attend graduation celebrations.

Humboldt State University will hold three commencement ceremonies on May 18, beginning with the College of Natural Resources and Sciences at 8:30 a.m. The College of Professional Studies' commencement will begin at noon, and the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences will start at 3 p.m. Graduates will walk to the sounds of the University Brass Choir's rendition of the traditional processional, Elgar's "Pomp and Circumstance."

May 18 will also mark the graduation finale for retiring University President Alistair W. McCrone, who began his term at the university in 1975. That same year McCrone implemented separate, smaller graduation ceremonies for each college on campus. As he retires McCrone will have a good 140 graduation ceremonies under his belt, and he will have shaken hands with more than 37,000 graduates.

"Not many institutions can still be personal," stated McCrone in a news release. "I want to shake hands with the people I work for and serve. I enjoy being with the graduates and wishing them all the best."

The day will also be important to Fortuna resident Gwynna M. Morris, who will receive an "honorary doctor of humane letters" at the College of Professional Studies ceremony. Morris is a 1973 Humboldt State business graduate. She is being honored for her support of Humboldt alumni interests throughout the California State University system. She is also the first to serve two terms as president of the system's alumni association.



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