North Coast Journal WeeklyIn the News

May 24, 2001

Eureka teacher nominated

Compromise on the Eel?

Flu vaccine supply OK

Caregiver registry launched

Possible drilling off coast?

Eureka teacher nominated

"I have really high expectations for kids," said Judy George, first grade teacher at Eureka's Grant Elementary School. "I think that's one of the reasons kids follow through."

Somebody -- she said she doesn't know who -- has followed through for George by nominating her for the Disney Teacher of the Year award. Just 30 of the awards are given out every year, each of which carries a monetary prize of $10,000 for the teacher and $5,000 for the school he or she teaches in.

The selection process is just beginning, George said, and she's not counting on receiving the award. But the Humboldt State alumna and 33-year veteran of the Eureka school system said that while the recognition is nice, the real goal is to prepare her students for the future.

"What I strive for is to get them way above grade level so that they're really ready for next year," she said.

Compromise on the Eel?

PG&E and federal and state agencies that have been at loggerheads over Eel River flows may be close to an agreement.

The National Marine Fisheries Service has been conferring with the state Department of Fish and Game for the last three months, and an agreement may have been hammered out, said Pat Rutten, field supervisor with NMFS' protected resource division.

"We have come up with some proposals that would meet some of our concerns and satisfy PG&E and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission," Rutten said.

The agreement would end months of controversy that followed the release by NMFS of a scientific review of plans by PG&E to increase the amount of water in the Eel by 15 percent. NMFS claimed the plan, supported by Fish and Game and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, didn't leave enough water in the river and would jeopardize threatened salmon species in the river.

FERC has the final say over whether PG&E can go forward with the plan but is required under the Endangered Species Act to get NMFS to approve.

Rutten declined to reveal the substance of the potential agreement, noting that NMFS had yet to receive the official version from PG&E, but said that issues discussed included summer flows, water temperatures, the impact of non-native pike minnows and tapering flows in the spring and fall. Sources close to the process said it may involve "adaptive management," in which management practices are changed to reflect data gathered from studies conducted during the project's execution.

Water from the Eel River is diverted to the Russian River by PG&E at the Potter Valley Project for development and agriculture in Sonoma County.

Flu vaccine supply OK

Problems with the supply of flu vaccine last year delayed distribution of the potentially life-saving medication for months, but reports indicate that won't be a problem this year.

"I was told that one of the flu viruses last year was slow-growing, and that set them back a couple of months," said Denise Sobel, flu vaccine coordinator for Sutter Visiting Nurses Association and Hospice. Sobel said this year "everything seems to be going as usual," and that vaccines should start to be available in October.

Sutter offers vaccine clinics at Long's drug stores across the state as a fundraiser for its hospice programs. Businesses interested in arranging a clinic in the workplace may contact her at 542-5045.

Caregiver registry launched

"We have a real shortage of caregivers in the county," said Bella Holmes, manager for the Area Agency on Aging's Caregiver Support Project.

To help fill that shortage, the project has started a caregiver registry, where qualified caregivers can list their names and those in need of care can find help. Caregivers help elders and people with disabilities navigate their lives by providing in-home care.

The Eureka office of the registry started just last week with help of a $412,000 grant from the California Endowment. Holmes said it would be used to pay for equipment, salaries and ongoing training for the people administrating the registry.

Possible drilling off coast?

Congressman Mike Thompson reacted with strong words last week to the proposed opening of oil drilling off the North Coast.

The proposal came as part of President Bush's energy plan, released last Thursday. Part of the plan calls for the a pilot program in offshore oil exploration. The Eel river basin is considered a strong possibility.

"New drilling off our coast and in Alaska is short-sighted and irresponsible," Thompson said in a statement. "An oil spill off the coast of California would be devastating to sport and commercial fishing industries, tourism and our diverse and abundant wildlife."

California has a moratorium on offshore drilling but controls only the area within three miles of shore. Areas beyond the three-mile fringe are in federal jurisdiction. Drilling is currently prohibited under a congressional moratorium and a presidential moratorium signed by George Herbert Walker Bush.


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