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June 17, 1999


St. Joseph CEO, Home Health Chief resign

Suspects behind bars

Calling all diggers

Getting schools wired

Mike Pigg to coack Tri-Kids

Pushing air safety

Bring mom or dad

Fire safety key

Playing the field

"My Dad Saved My Life!"

St. Joseph CEO, Home Health Chief resign

Following a memo circulated Monday, St. Joseph Health System Executive Vice President Paul Viviano told a crowd of medical professionals that evening that Humboldt County's top hospital administrator has resigned.

The meeting at Fortuna City Hall had been called to discuss home health issues.

Neil Martin, chief executive officer of St. Joseph Health System, Humboldt County, has left the hospital for "personal reasons," Board of Trustees Chair Dennis Hider confirmed Tuesday. Neither Hider nor hospital spokeswoman Laurie Watson-Stone would elaborate on the circumstances leading up to the Monday departure of Martin on the job for about 18 months.

Phone calls to Martin were unreturned.

The announcement precedes the departure Tuesday of the hospital's home health director, hospital officials confirmed.

Humboldt Home Health Executive Director Catherine Krause, who began the St. Joseph home health agency nearly 25 years ago, announced her resignation amid news of an upcoming hospital "reorganization" scheduled for Oct. 1 that would affect her position.

Krause, who reportedly turned down a lateral vice president's position, declined to comment on the matter at this time.

Layoffs mainly in administration are expected at the region's largest home health agency, which lost $4 million last year among all its home health agencies systemwide, Watson-Stone confirmed. More than $300,000 of the revenue loss was attributed to Humboldt Home Health, she added, noting a harsh national trend in home health care due to the Medicare reimbursement squeeze.

It's undetermined "exactly what the configuration will look like" in terms of how many of the 155 employees will go where, Watson-Stone said. Still, consolidation between facilities in the Sonoma County basin is expected, she said. Director-level decisions will probably come out of the Santa Rosa facility, while clinical staffers are due to maintain field visits in Humboldt County.

Along with growing uncertainty over job status, there is rising concern among the agency's home health workers that service in the outlying areas of Willow Creek and Garberville will suffer. But Watson-Stone pledged the hospital will do all it can to maintain its patient care and help staffers affected by the cutbacks find new positions.

At this point, it's unknown whether the departures of Martin and Krause are related or coincidental.

Hider is establishing a search committee for Martin's replacement. Gary Fybel, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Mission Hospital Regional Medical Center in Mission Viejo a St. Joseph affiliate will serve as the interim CEO, Hider said in an issued statement.

Fybel, who since 1988 has been with the trauma center located off Interstate 5 in southern Orange County, is a decorated veteran of medical accomplishments. He began his 25-year career after earning his MBA from California State University, Long Beach, the statement added. At age 24, he became one of America's youngest hospital administrators.    -- story by Susan Wood


Suspects behind bars

Entering the investigation's fifth month, FBI officials have confirmed the primary suspects in the case of three sightseers slain near Yosemite National Park are behind bars, but no charges are expected to be filed soon.

FBI spokesman Nick Rossi said it could still take weeks, even months, before formal charges will be filed related to the kidnapping and murders of Eureka residents Carole Sund, 43, her daughter Juli, 15, and family friend Silvina Pelosso, 16, of Argentina.

Rossi went on to say the bureau "will not confirm" recent news reports in which sources, some unnamed, have released "incriminating" statements by some suspects regarding their roles in the women's deaths. In custody on unrelated charges, one suspect with a long history of violence against women and drug convictions is said to have first-hand knowledge of the incident, according to a report last week in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Authorities have still not released the cause of their deaths, although the bodies of Carole Sund and Pelosso were found in the trunk of a burned-out rental car near Long Barn in the Sierra Nevada foothills. More than 30 miles away, Juli's remains were discovered a week later near a vista point between Long Barn and El Portal.

The FBI is using a federal grand jury to obtain witness testimony, but it's a long process to extract information from some of the witnesses, sources have indicated in news accounts.

In the meantime, a compact disc produced to raise money for needy families with missing loved ones is going on sale this week in businesses such as The Works and Humboldt Bank, family friend Deborah Downs said.

The CD single features a song based on a poem written by Regina Sund, Carole's adopted daughter. The proceeds will benefit the non-profit Carole Sund Memorial Reward Foundation, which was established by the Carrington family. The Carringtons, Carole's parents, were also attending a fund-raising dinner at the Del Rio Country Club in Modesto this week for the cause.

Calling all diggers

Budding archaeologists wanting to get down and dirty in California's mining history are urged to sign up with the Six Rivers National Forest within a week.

"A filthier, dirtier, nastier, noisier place I have not struck in the state," state geologist William Brewer said to describe Altaville in 1863.

For a second year, the Forest Service is hosting a week-long excavation starting June 24 of the historic townsite that was once a thriving copper-mining district east of Smith River off Low Divide Road.

The Forest Service will furnish the tools, knowledge, food, water, ice and stove. Volunteers need only bring camping gear (if spending the night), personal items and a desire to uncover the past. Day trips are welcome.

Last year, diggers from as far away as Berkeley received a crash course in archaeology and uncovered remnants of the town's general store and blacksmith's home. Even the Six Rivers' superintendent came out to work at the site last summer.

This year California's 150th anniversary of statehood the Passport in Time (PIT) project will focus on where historians believe the local hotel and one of the saloons were situated.

The project is cosponsored by the North Coast Forest Service district, Del Norte County Historical Society, Cal-Nickel Corp. which owns the property, PAR Environmental Services, California Conservation Corps and Americorps.

For more information, call Six Rivers National Forest Archaeologist Ken Wilson at 441-3529.

Getting schools wired

A third go-around for a proposal requiring all new or remodeled classrooms to get telephone jacks installed after January 2000 passed the state Assembly and is now in the Senate's hands, Assemblywoman Virginia Strom-Martin's office announced.

Strom-Martin, the author of the bill, introduced the measure after the recent school shootings prompted debate over whether the tragedy could have been minimized with phones in the classrooms. The bill also allows school districts the option of using wireless telephones.

"Given the recent school shootings, no one can deny the need for stronger safety measures," Strom-Martin said in an issued statement. The lawmaker said she received more than 200 letters from teachers sharing their tragedies, near misses and beliefs telephones in the classroom may avert potentially dangerous situations.

If the proposal passes, eight schools in four districts from Arcata to Ferndale would need to comply, Humboldt County Superintendent of Schools Louis Bucher figured. Some county special education teachers already have telephones for health reasons, he added, but how many classrooms are currently equipped is not known.

"Overall, I think it's a good idea," Bucher said. The classroom telephones may pose as nuisances if they ring, but they don't represent a major budget squeeze.

The cost for adding a phone jack in a classroom ranges from $40 to $60 a room, Strom-Martin's office estimated.

Less than half of California's classrooms already have telephones, state Department of Education officials said.

Mike Pigg to coach Tri-Kids

Some say it's hard enough for adults to complete a triathlon, much less children. But that's just what many plan to do next month for the ninth annual Humboldt Tri-Kids Triathlon, an athletic event in which competitors swim, bike and run.

It will be held at College of the Redwoods 10 a.m. July 10. Early registration ends on July 3.

A week prior, children aged 7-14 with the will and stamina to do it will have some professional help. World-class triathlete Mike Pigg of Arcata will show competitors the ins and outs of a triathlon, along with all the transitions in between, at a free clinic tri organizers are putting on at the Eureka campus.

Triathlons took off in the 1980s, after the event's ultra-endurance version, the Ironman Hawaii, attracted athletes from all over the world. The aerobic challenge was born out of a bar-stool debate on the island of Oahu between U.S. Navy men arguing about who was the fittest of them all swimmers, cyclists or runners? So the swimmers from the Waikiki Rough Water Swim, cyclists from the Ride Around Oahu and runners from the Honolulu Marathon combined the three events as one in February 1978. Twelve of the 15 challengers finished the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run.

Every year in October more than 20,000 try to qualify, but it's limited to 1,500 contestants.

Tri-Kids organizers hope this kind of spirit and sportsmanship will foster interest in health and fitness at early ages, as it takes training to build endurance and an aerobic threshold to complete a triathlon.

Then again, one doesn't have to be a Mike Pigg to complete this one, organizer Larry Buwalda stressed, adding one year a youngster raced on a bicycle with training wheels.

There are two race courses with varying distances for ages 7-10 and those 11-14. The junior group will swim 100 yards in the campus pool, ride a bicycle for three miles and run half a mile. The three "leg" distances are doubled for the older group. Children are divided into heats by age and gender, and relay teams may be entered.

Those interested in joining the action may get more information at a bike shop.

Pushing air safety

Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, wants the Federal Aviation Administration to find out if passenger safety is compromised at smaller airports like the Eureka-Arcata Airport.

In a sweeping transportation bill that passed the House Tuesday, the North Coast congressman wrote an amendment that would require the FAA to study the reliability of automated weather systems like that of the McKinleyville airport and add a human observer if needed, aides in his Washington D.C office announced.

The airport includes a human weather observer on a temporary basis pending the final approval of its newly installed automated system. Unless the new study finds this system inadequate, the observer will be removed.

The action comes on the heels of Thompson's recent visit in which civic leaders expressed dismay over transportation in Humboldt County, including the loss of the county airport's traffic control tower. Eureka Mayor Nancy Flemming asked Thompson to pressure the FAA into reevaluating the airport weather system.

Bring mom or dad

If you're under 17 and want to see an R-rated movie, forget it unless you bring mom or dad.

In response to the school shooting in Colorado, President Clinton has called upon theater owners to limit the number of underage children who slip into R-rated movies.

In response, the National Association of Theater Owners, consisting of 65 percent of the nation's theater owners, said theaters may require identification to verify age from patrons buying a ticket for an R-rated movie.

Theaters in Eureka and Arcata are instituting more stringent enforcement of the restrictions. Moviegoers to R-rated flicks will be carded when they buy tickets if they appear younger than 25, said Craig Hoerman, chief of staff at The Movies in Eureka. The theater also has placed monitors at each theater door.

"We have people that are checking tickets by the door," he said, "So if someone comes to the door without a parent and appears to be under 17, we will be carding them."

David Phillips, co-owner of the Broadway Cinema and Minor Theater Corp., said his theaters, too, are following the NATO's suggested guidelines.

"We will do our part in being responsible, committed citizens," Phillips said. Although he thinks trying to solve the problem of teen violence by "carding" children at theaters is an oversimplification of the issue.

"It is far more complex than this and requires intelligent discussion between parents and politicians," he said.

Fire safety key

The 1999 fire season begins this month and, with that, comes a warning for campers to be careful with fire, Six Rivers National Forest Service officials announced.

Fires caused by humans, the second most common cause of wildland fires, are preventable. The first cause of forest fires is lightning, Forest Service officials said, adding its annual caution for visitors to the forests and parklands.

"The more people you have (visiting the park), the higher the fire risk," said Bill Pidanick, Six Rivers National Forest public affairs officer. " particularly with people who aren't aware how the regulations are and how to be safe with fire."

But the public is now more aware of what causes fires the biggest component to preventing wildland fires.

Visitors to Forest Service wilderness and parklands are required to get campfire permits for open campfires, stoves and barbecues outside of developed campgrounds. Permits are free from any Forest Service, U.S. Bureau of Land Management or California Department of Forestry office.

Playing the field

A Humboldt County ballplayer's field of dreams is opening Saturday with the opening pitch of the Little League's Tournament of Champions, field committee Chairman Rex Bohn said.

Redwood Fields, an 11-acre parcel located on Fern Street in Cutten, includes three baseball fields and four soccer fields. The land, which is dedicated to children's activities, was donated by the Louisiana-Pacific Corp.

Five years in the making, Bohn galvanized interest and received $600,000 worth of materials and donated time from several local businesses.

The following essay was written in response to the Father's Day contest sponsored by Renner Petroleum and Fox 29, asking children under 16 "Why my Dad is the best." The winning essay will be announced during Channel 2's major league baseball game June 25. The deadline for sending essays to Fox 29 is June 20. The winner will receive a family trip to see a San Francisco Giants game and other prizes.


"My Dad Saved My Life!"

by Joseph Long, 11, of Eureka

One day, when I was 8 (years old), I was eating some ham in the kitchen. I took a big bite, but the ham got caught in my throat. I started choking, (and) my face turned blue! I couldn't breathe. Mom yelled for Dad to help me. He hit me on my back, but the ham didn't come out. I was getting bluer! Dad used the Heimlech maneuver on me. It worked. I started breathing again! An ambulance came and took me to the hospital. Dad came along too. He didn't want me to be alone, so he stayed all night. In the morning, we went home together. I was alright! I guess you can tell why I think my dad is the best!

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