North Coast Journal bannerNEWSBRIEFS

May 20, 1999


They've only just begun

Judge orders brakes on races

Quick exchange of words

Bike vs. car

Still a pain in the pump

Hair care of a different kind

A rabid solution

Watching what we eat


They've only just begun

More than 1,400 Humboldt State University graduates gathered last Saturday to take the ceremonial walk across the stage with bachelor's degrees in hand.

Assemblywoman Virginia Strom-Martin addressed the Professional Studies graduates during the commencement ceremony at the Redwood Bowl and recognized school teachers.

Peace Corps Director Mark Gearan presented the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences grads with a worldly vision and future Peace Corps volunteers with their new assignments the night before.

In the Peace Corp's 38-year history, the Arcata campus has turned out 581 graduates to serve including Arcata Mayor Bob Ornelas (1983-85) who served in West Africa. This year, eight Peace Corps volunteers are heading to such places as Romania, Ukraine and Cameroon.

Closer to home, College of the Redwoods is holding its 34th annual graduation ceremony in the Eureka campus gymnasium Saturday. Ceremonies are scheduled for 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Among the 175 graduates, five students including valedictorian Tricia Platek and salutatorian Jeffrey Rohrbach maintained a 4.0 grade point average.

CR is also hosting commencement ceremonies for 28 police academy graduates 1 p.m. Friday at the CR Forum Theater. The keynote speaker for the 84th annual event is Humboldt County Deputy District Attorney Worth Dikeman.

Judge orders brakes on races

Although a state appeals court judge last week ordered the revocation of a Humboldt County-issued permit to run weekend motocross races along Avenue of the Giants, the show has been given the green light this Sunday by the track operator.

Kenneth Beebe, who has put on the off-road races on the 93-acre parcel north of Phillipsville since 1995, said he's now waiting to hear from "the county" before ending the popular races that bring out hundreds of riders and spectators but have park officials and environmentalists complaining about the noise.

"He won't get any objection from me," said county Supervisor Roger Rodoni, whose district includes the racetrack. The 2nd district supervisor called the judge's ruling in favor of plaintiff Save-the-Redwoods League "the nail in the coffin of local autonomy."

The county granted Beebe a 10-year conditional-use permit in August 1997 without an environmental impact report a step Beebe now says he's willing to take. Prior to gaining a permit, the racetrack was operated illegally for two years.

The 1st Appellate District Court judge in San Francisco determined the county erred in deciding the noise had insignificant impacts on the region so close to a 193-acre old-growth forest Franklin K. Lane Grove, which was donated to the state by the league in 1921.

Officials from the league and the park service emphasized they are not against off-road riding. They simply object to the location and said they hope another more suitable location can be found.

"People come from around the world to visit California's old-growth redwood groves. They expect quiet, serenity and the peace which emanates from these old-growth redwood stands. They do not expect to hear and see a motocross race, with the noise, dust and activity that occurs with these events," said John Kolb, state parks North Coast Redwoods District superintendent. Kolb argued against the permit to the county Board of Supervisors in 1997, and the judge used the argument in the recent ruling.

The visitors are one thing, the species in the forest are another, Kolb added. "The trees aren't bothered (by the noise), but the (marbled) murrelets, yes," he said.

But the noise from local businesses and traffic along the 32-mile scenic highway is just as bad, Rodoni countered. Not to mention, what does one tell the young riders looking for this kind of recreational outlet?

"I'm very disappointed," Beebe said, but conceded the prospects of battling the legal decision in the courts "doesn't sound promising."

Beebe held 18 races last year. The races now attract more than 200 off-road motorcycle and all-terrain vehicle riders and 300-plus spectators. The closest comparable racetracks are located in Marysville and Roseburg, Ore., both hours away from southern Humboldt County, he said.

Quick exchange of words

One bank called it a proposal. Another called it a hostile takeover.

Either way, Humboldt Bancorp's offer to buy Six Rivers National Bank quickly fizzled out last week the second formal offer in two years.

Humboldt Bank outlined a $26 million merger plan in which Six Rivers' shareholders would receive $17.25 per share in the stock exchange.

But Six Rivers Chairman William T. Kay quickly declined, characterizing the proposal as a "hostile takeover bid." At the shareholders' annual meeting, Kay described a reinvented financial institution on the climb back from its largest loss $1.1 million reported in September. In the first quarter of 1999, the Eureka-based bank reported assets of more than $200 million.

"The bank is in a much better position than we were a few months ago, and that is a trend we expect to continue," Kay told the investors.

He went on to clarify that "now is not the right time to sell Six Rivers," leaving the door open for a different offer without saying so. Humboldt Bancorp President Theodore S. Mason has declined to comment to Kay's response to the offer.

When Humboldt Bank made an offer in 1997 to merge the two North Coast banks, formed a decade ago, Six Rivers Bank's president at the time, John Burger, also called it a hostile takeover. Mason denied the allegation. Other merger attempts were made in 1994 and 1996 informal and formal and Six Rivers rejected both.

At the time of the proposed stock-to-stock swap in 1997, the market value of Humboldt Bank stock was $21.75 while Six Rivers Bank was $15.50.

Among others changes in management, the Six Rivers' board of directors looked internally for top leadership. Just weeks ago, it tapped Michael Martinez, the bank's former chief financial officer and interim chief executive officer, to manage the operation.

Bike vs. car

Some commuters will put a whole different spin on their rides to work and school next Wednesday. That's when the Humboldt Bay Bicycle Commuters Association sponsors its version of the state's annual Bike-to-Work Day.

The event comes on the heels of a one-day fuel protest three weeks ago, in which motorists across the state were urged to refrain from buying gasoline. For a variety of reasons, Californians have endured the highest gasoline prices at the pumps in years.

"If you really want to make an impact (on the gasoline price crunch), ride (a bicycle) to work," said Brian Cox, cyclist and county environmental health director.

Cox not only rides his bicycle every year on this recognized day, he coaxes his coworkers to do the same. He said nine bicycles filled a filing room at the Humboldt County Public Health Department office on H Street in Eureka last year.

County mental health worker Jet Kruse commutes every day on her bicycle rain or shine to train for the California AIDS Ride, a statewide fund-raising event for AIDS service organizations. The ride down the coast is scheduled for June 3.

A recent survey conducted by the Redwood Community Action Agency indicated that on the average weekday in fall 32 cyclists commute to and from work in the peak hours. RCAA took measurements at two sites off U.S. Highway 101 between Arcata and Eureka.

Touring cyclists make up about 14 percent of the cyclists traveling through the county, RCAA's survey also showed.

For bike commuters who end up in Eureka for this year's Bike-to-Work Day, a rally is slated for noon at the Gazebo in Old Town at Second and F streets. Raffle prizes will be awarded and refreshments served.

And like most years, Cox and Kruse will be joined by another cyclist who makes transportation his business. Rick Knapp, California Department of Transportation district director, rides his bike into his Eureka office almost every day.

Before setting off on the day of recognition for cyclists last year, Knapp recalled telling one of his Caltrans crews to redo a section of resurfaced road that wasn't completed. The asphalt did not extend into the bike lane where it was supposed to.

Knapp, vice-president of the local bike commuters group, urges cyclists to ride defensively. The group has a safety training program, called BikeSmart, designed for riders between the ages of 7 and 17 that includes a free helmet. Helmets are bought through donations and grants from the California Bicycle Safety Network.

California law requires that any person under the age of 18 wear a proper helmet whenever operating a bicycle on a street or roadway. According to RCAA's bicycle-use study, only 51 percent of cyclists under the age of 16 were in compliance.

Those wanting to sign up for the weekend classes are asked to call Knapp at 445-1097 in the evenings.

Still a pain in the pump

Gas prices have come down slightly, but not "nearly as fast as they should," American Automobile Association spokesman Paul Moreno said Friday from his San Francisco office.

Northern California prices average $1.59 a gallon for self-serve regular unleaded, down 9 cents in three weeks, according to AAA's monthly gas survey.

In April, prices in the state on the average soared to an all-time high of $1.68 following turmoil at California refineries caused by market speculation and a rapid increase in wholesale gas prices, the auto association stated.

The price for a gallon of regular unleaded at the self-service pumps in Eureka costs $1.67, a mere 2 cents cheaper than the pumps in San Francisco the highest in the nation. In comparison, the national average is $1.16.

Moreno attributes continuing high prices to crude oil costs going up and the summer "driving" season approaching. Despite hovering prices across the state, AAA expects record travel this summer because of a strong economy, he said.

Beyond using alternative methods of transportation like a bicycle, the Auto Club of Northern California recommends the following tips to conserve fuel:

Don't overpack your vehicle. Overloading reduces mileage.

Shop around for where to buy gas.

Check tire pressure and keep the engine in tip-top shape. An out-of-tune vehicle has to work harder.

Plan driving errands into a single trip.

Avoid "jackrabbit" sudden acceleration starts.

Don't speed. It also uses excess gas.

Refrain from using the air conditioner.

Hair care of a different kind

While most teenagers primp for their proms, one 17-year-old Arcata teen has been focusing her attention on the appearances of others.

Taylor Priestley, a senior at Arcata High School, is working to organize a hair drive to benefit those who have lost theirs. It will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at A Cut Above in Arcata.

Long, flowing manes are what the group is looking for. It takes a dozen 10-inch ponytails to make one hair piece, Priestley said she discovered.

Ten stylists will be on hand with sheers to take away those Locks for Love, an organization that accepts hair in chunks to make hair pieces, she said.

Many who receive the hair pieces have permanently lost their hair from the effects of chemotherapy. The program is set up to benefit those 9 to 18 years old. Children under 9 receive synthetic hair pieces.

"These are the critical years when (appearances are) a big part of their self-esteem," Priestley said. The teen thinks many who undergo chemotherapy are too consumed with their health to worry about appearances, she said.

She need only look to one middle-aged family friend who had to go through it, she said.

A rabid solution

Skunks can emit more than a lethal smell, as one North Coast teenager experienced firsthand last summer, the Humboldt County Public Health Department warned.

The unnamed youth was on a hunting trip near the King Range Conservation Area in Southern Humboldt, when a rabid skunk crawled into his sleeping bag and bit him, environmental health division Director Brian Cox noted. The boy, who's OK, shot the skunk dead, Cox said. The boy received treatment, and the animal later tested positive for rabies.

Skunks make up the majority of the 300 animals that have tested positive at the public health department laboratory since 1954, according to environmental health. Dogs, cats, horses, cows, bats, foxes and even one bobcat have also made the list.

Also last summer, a woman who cares for wild cats was bit by a rabid one, Cox mentioned. She also recovered.

Though possible, it's rare for humans to catch rabies. But the disease touches wild and domestic animals, both able to carry it and infect each other.

That's why environmental health urges pet owners to vaccinate their animals June 12, when veterinary hospitals countywide will open vaccination clinics. The cost is $4 per shot.

If a pet isn't vaccinated and comes into contact with a rabid animal, the owner has two options euthanasia or keeping the pet isolated in an enclosure for six months.

Those wanting their pets vaccinated are advised to call a veterinarian to schedule an appointment. Distemper/parvo, coronavirus, feline leukemia and feline distemper shots are also available.

Watching what we eat

With the exception of state-certified commercial harvests, the California Department of Health Services has issued a mussel quarantine on all species found along the state's coastline until Oct. 31.

During this period, the small shellfish may carry an algae-based toxic substance that's unfit for humans to eat. Symptoms of the dinoflagellate include a tingling of the fingers and can lead to paralysis or even death, the Humboldt County Public Health Department warned.

Its environmental health division also advises those who eat clams and scallops this summer to refrain from eating the dark parts of the shellfish meat. The toxins have a tendency to concentrate there.

As with all shellfish, clams and scallops should be taken from areas free of sewage contamination and cleaned thoroughly.


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