North Coast Journal bannerNEWSBRIEFS

June 3, 1999



Home sales down, jobs up

Keen and sober

Talking about walking

Every picture tells a story

No biting the sinker

Signed, sealed, delivered

Authorities suspect arson

Crime down again


Coming and going with a blast, a full-scale replica of one of the world's most renowned coal-carting ships will dock in Eureka in time to celebrate Independence Day.

The H.M. Bark Endeavour named after famed British navigator Capt. James Cook's 18th century ship embarked on a four-year tour circumnavigating the globe under the command of Capt. Chris Blake of Australia, home base for the ship.

The vessel has logged more than 35,000 nautical miles, including the retracing of Cook's South Pacific tour 200 years ago.

These days the 550-ton, square-rigged sailing ship is making a 15-port West Coast voyage as a floating maritime museum from San Diego to Vancouver, British Columbia.

In between, a simulated cannonball bang is due to mark the tall ship's ceremonial arrival into Humboldt Bay 11 a.m. June 25, as it approaches its home away from home until July 4. This is when more blasts involving other Humboldt Bay ships will kick off the national holiday's fireworks display in Eureka, said Dalene Hills of the ship's host the Humboldt Bay Maritime Museum.

In the week it's here, the Endeavour will stage daily tours from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and overnight outings for youth groups at the Bonnie Gool Memorial Guest Dock at the foot of L Street. The ship will accommodate up to eight teens over 16 years old and two supervisors, as 28 of the 31-member crew leave the boat to free up space.

Children under age 4 can receive free tours of the triple-decker, flat-bottomed ship. Otherwise, tours cost $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and $5 for children ages 5-18.

Passing through guides on the ship, visitors may experience first hand the dim, "somewhat claustrophobic" conditions Cook's crew endured for three years after the once-named the Earl of Pembroke set sail from an England port in August 1768 with 94 people on board. With a diet high in Vitamin C, much of Cook's crew was noted to have outsurvived many on scurvy-plagued journeys of the time.

While in port 20th century equipment is covered or removed on the modern-day Endeavour, adorned with 18th century artifacts like imported crockery and cabin stove to provide the appearance of the period.

"We're trying to live the 18th century in the 20th," Blake said from the Monterey port. "Bloody funny" is what the commander called the area dignitaries climbing aboard the ship days ago from a Russian rowboat. Some were in suits.

Blake is especially looking forward to his next stop June 12. This is when the majestic ship sails under the Golden Gate Bridge in the San Francisco Bay, turns northeast, snakes its way through the grassy plains of the delta in the Sacramento River Valley and comes to port in the capital city. The ship was supposed to make the landing in San Francisco.

Though he's learned to adjust accordingly, it's the "routine" the salty captain has come to appreciate about sailing, a livelihood he took up at age 15.

He's not alone. Serious or minor sailors through time have experienced concessions of every kind, but some things don't change.

Like the 18th century crew, Endeavour's sailors sleep in hammocks slung on the lower deck while the ship cruises at about 12 knots (15 mph), Hills said. Officers have their own tiny cabins.

At 7 a.m., hammocks are stowed, breakfast is served and lectures addressing ship cleaning and sail handling are given during a typical morning on the Endeavour. The afternoon is often dedicated to ship maintenance duties such as rigging, sanding and painting.

Construction of the $10.5 million vessel was funded by corporate, government and private donations. It's operated by its namesake foundation that's registered as a charity in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Later sold and renamed in 1790, the original Endea-vour eventually sank after hitting a rock off the shores of Newport, R.I., as popular belief has it.

Home sales down, jobs up

At first glance, Humboldt County residents appear to have the means to buy homes, if they want to.

April's economic index, released recently by Humboldt State University Professor Steven Hackett and assistant Deborah Keeth, shows emerging concerns over inflation have put upward pressure on interest rates.

Therefore, borrowing has been stagnant down a seasonally adjusted average of 25 percent in April from the month before (78 residential homes sold), according to information provided by the county Board of Realtors. This year's April figure also shows an 18 percent decrease from the year before.

Over the last few weeks, the 30-year mortgage rate has hovered above 7 percent in the highest jumps in two years.

The April 1999 median home price for the county was $113,250. The loan slump may continue, as the Federal Reserve Bank hinted it may raise rates further.

Still, one who's looking for shelter is more apt to have a job to pay for a home.

In the state Employment Development Department's preliminary report for this April, 1,200 more county residents 57,400 people were employed in April versus March. The service sector filled at least 300 more jobs, while the manufacturing industry put 200 more people to work.

Keen and sober

While graduation conjures up images of future prospects and bygones to old friends, it also comes with an ugly message from the past.

Drinking and driving can kill those prospects quickly, the California Highway Patrol warned.

"The future looks bright and goals seem attainable when you have just donned a cap and gown. But it is also a time when the combination of alcohol and driving can change the future or blot it out entirely," Humboldt Area CHP Cmdr. Mike Vertar said in an issued statement.

As with every year, the CHP will beef up its patrols and launch its Sober Graduation program. It was started 14 years ago because of the number of alcohol-related crashes occurring at this time.

The program urges students and friends going to all-night parties, in particular, to sign pledges to stay put and to refrain from drinking alcohol and taking drugs. Parents, educators and other participants arrange for food, dancing and entertainment, including breakfast in the morning.

Of the state's more than 460,000 traffic collisions reported in 1997, one Californian was killed every 2 hours and 23 minutes 3,252, according to a traffic safety report released recently from the CHP in Sacramento.

And of the same year's 971 alcohol-related fatalities, 97 of those occurred in May and 95 in June, the report indicated. Two of those happened in Humboldt County one each month. Twenty-eight injuries caused by these types of crashes were reported in this county during the same months.

In the last five years, alcohol-related fatal crashes have dropped 30 percent, the report added.

Talking about walking

A consultant who makes communities more walker-friendly is traveling into Humboldt County this week to try to do the same here.

Dan Burden, the bicycle and pedestrian coordinator for the Florida Department of Transportation for six years, has traveled the nation since 1996 under the auspices of a nonprofit organization called Walkable Communities Inc.

"Everyone's become so specialized, we don't build anything that works together anymore," he said, generalizing transportation systems.

A pedestrian's advocate, Burden touts collective brainstorming sessions between agencies and residents to make communities more livable. The former National Geographic photographer describes walkable communities in five ways those that are secure, adding that car crashes involving pedestrians are especially deadly in rural areas because the vehicles travel at high speeds.

Walkable communities are also convenient, he mentioned, urging "smart-growth" policies, opposed to leap-frog development. They're also efficient, because transit services, for instance, are coordinated. And they're comfortable, setting aside benches and places where pedestrians can have shade along the walking route. Lastly, these communities also give a walker a sense of welcome.

SHN Consulting Engineers and Geologists, working with the Humboldt County Association of Governments, welcomed Burden's input as part of its pedestrian project's fact-finding mission. The cooperative wants to "design new neighborhoods or to retrofit existing ones to be more interactive, walkable, enjoyable and livable," the literature states.

Community workshops are scheduled for 7-9 p.m. Friday at Azalea Hall in McKinleyville; Saturday 9-11 a.m. at SHN Consulting Engineers' offices in Eureka and 2-4 p.m. at the South Fork High School cafeteria in Miranda; and 1-3 p.m. Sunday at the Willow Creek Community Services District office.

The Eureka-based engineering firm recently sent out a survey to schools, senior centers and community service districts. Completed surveys were due to be mailed back by June 1, SHN Project Manager Dave Morrow said. The survey specifically asks residents about their walking needs. Comments will go into a final report funded by the California Department of Transportation, which SHN will complete by June 30.


Every picture tells a story

One of 12 regions in the state to do so, Humboldt County took its first step toward creating a public photo archive of county people and places last week by hosting its first "Shades of Humboldt" project at the library's main branch in Eureka. The photo day was modeled after a similar project in Los Angeles.

More than 20 volunteers representing the Eureka Heritage Society, the Historic Site Society of Arcata, the Humboldt County Historical Society, the Clark Museum, Eureka High School, Humboldt County and Humboldt State University libraries sorted through more than 1,000 photographs brought in by donors from all reaches of the county.

Volunteers heard the stories behind the historical pieces, as they pared the thousand down to 400. Selection was based on the quality of the photographs and their historical impact. Special attention was given to photos of former landmarks, household and office interiors, people at work and play, and families gathered to commemorate special events.

At least 50 photographs from this collection of 400 will be selected for exhibit at the main library in September. Afterward, the entire collection will be housed in the Humboldt Room where it will be available for genealogical and historical researchers.

No biting the sinker

Lead poisoning represents a real threat during fishing season, the Humboldt County Public Health Department cautioned, referring to the sinkers used for fishing. Many are made out of lead.

The county Health Department is urging fishing enthusiasts to refrain from biting the fishing sinkers and to wash hands after handling lead products. The department cited one case in Butte County in which a child received lead poisoning from sinkers.

Signed, sealed, delivered

Ending a 15-month contract dispute with all the twists and turns of a drama, the California Board of Trustees gave the final nod to its agreement with the California Faculty Association Tuesday.

The trustees' vote followed the results announced last week that the CSU faculty union on 22 state university campuses ratified the contract.

Humboldt State University's faculty overwhelming approved the revised tentative agreement by a 95 percent yes vote, former local CFA chapter President Ken Fulgham said, adding that 73 percent of the eligible union membership voted.

Fulgham stepped down from his post June 1 to make room for new President Susan Meisenhelder, who was considered instrumental in securing the three-year compromise deal in a whirlwind of negotiations weeks ago between the two entities.

Picketing, threats of a strike and a vote of no confidence for CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed culminated in a stalemate as both sides argued over issues which included performance-based salary structures.

The result is a combined bargaining arrangement, including 3 percent general salary retroactive to the 1998-99 contract year, 2.5 service salary step and faculty merit hikes once a major sticking point. Under the revised agreement, annual faculty academic reports and department-level faculty review committees would be used to make merit pay decisions. Service salary increases for 1999-2000 would be part of the merit pay process and awarded on the basis of "satisfactory performance."

"This agreement enables faculty to continue to be a vital and significant part of the campus community. We're hopeful that it will lay the basis for a new cooperative relationship between the faculty and CSU administration," Meisenhelder said.

Authorities suspect arson

"Suspicious nature."

That's what the California Department of Forestry is calling a fire that caused $1 million in damage to Humboldt Redwoods State Park maintenance buildings near Weott last week, CDF Division Chief Mike Howe said Tuesday.

One of the factors that has led investigators to believe the blaze was started at 1 a.m. Monday by an arsonist is the speed in which the storage shed and auto shop "went up," Howe said. Whether flammables were used to torch the buildings remains to be seen, as the equipment in the buildings was already fueled up for the start of the work week.

The fire has turned into more than a financial loss, North Coast Redwoods District state parks spokesman Alan Wilkenson said Tuesday. It's a terrible inconvenience for the park service to try to get its maintenance jobs done with borrowed equipment right at the beginning of the tourist season.

"We're scrambling," Wilkenson said.

The park service has issued a tip line &nbsp(707) 726-1221 and is offering a $10,000 reward for anyone with information that leads to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the fire.

Crime down again

The FBI reports that crime numbers have dropped nationwide for the seventh year. Overall, violent crime dropped 9 percent in the West, where murders in particular dropped 11 percent.

Eureka, the county's largest city with 27,750 inhabitants, experienced drops in violent crime last year, with the exception of robbery and assaults not involving guns.

"We've had some increases and some decreases," said Eureka police Capt. Murl Harpham. Murders were down to two in 1998 from three the previous year; rape, 28 incidents reported vs. 35; robbery up 20 percent, from 65 to 78; and assaults with a weapon down to one from four the previous year.

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