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June 22, 2000


North Coast is 'champion'

Tax auction next week

Time to get tested

Planned Parenthood's 25th

Library gets wired

Public input sought

Drive-thru tree on the ropes

Culture shock, anyone?


North Coast is `champion'

A recent decision by the U.S. Department of Agriculture may help some troubled local businesses to get back on their feet again -- or some new ones to take off.

The department designated a coalition of counties, Native American tribes and cities in northern California a "champion community." That means members of the coalition will receive special consideration when applying for economic and community grants. The coalition includes Humboldt, Trinity and Mendocino counties, the cities of Eureka and Arcata, the Blue Lake Rancheria, and the Hupa and Yurok tribes.

"If we apply for any funding from the department, we're almost guaranteed to get it," said Jack Norton III, executive director of the office of research development for the Hupa tribe. Norton, who led the effort to attain champion status, said that the department grants are to help groups of businesses and sections of the community rather than individuals.

"They won't go out and buy you cows, but they'll set you up for a creamery," he said.

The Arcata Economic Development Corp. has already benefitted from the designation.

"We were awarded a $40,000 grant to deliver the Micro-enterprise Assistance Program," said Jim Kimbrell, AEDC's executive director. The MAP is a program that helps businesses with less than five employees. The program has assisted more than 80 businesses, including the Woodworkers' Guild, artisans and metalsmithers.

And on June 6 the department awarded the AEDC a $600,000 loan. The money is to be lent to local businesses, and then eventually repaid to the AEDC, which repays it to the department. The $600,000 was the total available for lending in nine Northern California counties -- and AEDC, with the help of the champion designation, was the sole recipient.

Norton said he is proud of the championship designation.

"This is the first time in our area or nation that an Indian tribe has partnered with other tribes and cities and counties. The real message is we need to collaborate and work together."

Tax auction next week

Bargain hunters take heed -- Humboldt County Tax Collector Stephen Strawn will be holding the annual auction of tax delinquent properties July 29.

The auction's purpose is "to return these properties to the tax rolls," said Velma Thiel, supervising tax collector. Collecting the delinquent taxes is good for the county, she said, but "it's not fun."

"It's our job but it's not pleasant."

Over 150 parcels were up for bidding as this paper went to press, but Thiel said that she expects some property owners will pay off their taxes at the last minute. "That's the best way for it to happen, through redeeming," she said.

She said people interested in buying the properties should "research what they're interested in bidding on." People who leap before they look may be unpleasantly surprised at the restrictions on land use. A list of properties to be auctioned and some advice to prospective buyers can be found on the tax collector's website at

Time to get tested

It may not be a pleasant thought, but HIV can remain hidden for years before manifesting itself in physical symptoms.

That's why it's so important to get tested, said Cynthia Packard, HIV testing coordinator for the Humboldt County Public Health coordinator.

The department, Public Health Nursing and major testing sites are coordinating this year's HIV Testing Day June 27. Free or low cost testing will be offered at the health department's offices, the Humboldt Open Door Clinic or Six Rivers Planned Parenthood. And

testing no longer requires a blood sample -- new tests use saliva and are just as reliable. Call the health department's AIDS project at 268-2132 for more

Planned Parenthood's 25th

Six Rivers Planned Parenthood is celebrating its 25th anniversary this week with a speech by the grandson of the pioneer of the birth control movement. Alex Sanger, whose grandmother Margaret Sanger was the founder of the first chapter of Planned Parenthood and a staunch supporter of women's rights, will speak on Wednesday, June 28.

Margaret Sanger was active as a feminist between 1915 and 1925, a time when that activity was considered unacceptable. She was once thrown in jail for her activities supporting birth control. She wasn't distributing contraceptives when arrested but rather literature about them.

Her grandson Alexander may not have faced the same obstacles but has been active in the family planning movement. Until six months ago he was the CEO of the New York City chapter of Planned Parenthood. He now works with Planned Parenthood International.

Anyone who has been active in the Six Rivers Chapter's development is welcome to attend the speech and celebration. Call 442-2961 for details.

Library gets wired

Humboldt County library patrons with Internet access have a new resource at their disposal -- and that access just became a lot easier.

The Gale's Reference Center Magazine Database, also called Infotrac, allows library patrons to search for past magazine articles on just about any subject from a wide variety of periodicals. Magazines from gardening to gourmet cooking are available, as well as standards like Time and Newsweek.

Library members should go to, click on the Infotrac button and enter the barcode number from her or his library membership card.

Don't have internet service at home? Just drop by the library -- for free public internet access. Call the reference desk at 269-1905 for more information.

Public input sought

North Coast citizens will have the opportunity to help shape public forests in the area for years to come. On June 28, the U.S. Forest Service will hold a meeting on a proposed rule prohibiting the construction of roads in areas that do not yet have them.

"The main things is that people have a chance to have their voices heard about what they like or dislike about the preferred alternative. If they don't like what they see they need to say what they'd like to see changed," said Jean Hawthorne, recreation officer for Six Rivers National Forest.

There are several different forms the rule could take, ranging from a total prohibition of all road building and timber harvesting in roadless areas to allowing any activities in the areas that are permissible in roaded portions of national forests. The Forest Service is suggesting that road building be prohibited but that timber harvesting be allowed.

A temporary moratorium was placed on road building by the Forest Service in 1998 because of concerns about the impacts of construction. In October President Clinton asked the Forest Service to begin collecting information on a permanent rule. The meeting June 28 from 6 to 9 p.m. in the Redwood Acres Turf Room is one part of that process. Call 441-3543 for details, or visit the Forest Service's website at

[photo of Bill Allman under Drive-Thru Tree]Drive-thru tree on the ropes

"If you look up there, you can see it's still goin'," Bill Allman said, pointing a finger at the scattered leaf-covered branches that crown the top of his tree. It does seem amazing that the towering redwood is alive; it has survived 4,000 years, a fire that hollowed out its center and the constant passage of cars through the resulting passage between its roots.

But the famous drive-thru tree may now be nearing its demise. The cause is neither fire nor ax but a slow, creeping erosion that is eating the earth out from underneath its roots.

Allman, who has owned the tree since acquiring it from his sister in 1996, said that while the tree is still totally safe, it probably only has between one and five more years before it topples into the river. He guessed it would last "until we have some bad weather." Heavy rains cause the river to flood and wash way the supporting soil.

He has put up guy wires and some sandbags to try to forestall the inevitable, but he said a "major overhaul" would be needed to solve the problem -- "and we just can't afford to do that."

That overhaul would most likely come in the form of a load of "riprap," concrete boulders and rocks that form artificial river banks. Visitors to the tree can see exactly what the building material looks like; Caltrans is placing loads of it along the roads next to Allman's property.

The state won't pay to save a private asset, Allman said, and that unwillingness has probably sounded the death knell of this tree.

The effects will be felt by many more people than the employees of the Drive-thru Tree, the adjacent gift shop or the café, said Maria Springer, owner/manager of the nearby Knight's Restaraunt.

"It's gonna hurt business, I'll tell you right now it's gonna hurt it," she said. She said that the tree was the main attraction in Myer's Flat and had a reputation that was "known outside the United States."

Would it pull other businesses down with it? Springer said she had no doubt that it could.

It's all made Allman a bit bitter. "The state has got grants for all sorts of other penny-ante stuff but nothing for the common man," he complained.

But at least he can laugh about it. Patting the massive gnarled trunk of his tree, he manages a smile and jokes: "I guess they think there's too much riff-raff out here anyway."

[photo of HSU nursing students]Culture shock, anyone?

These 10 HSU nursing students left town this week to spend a month living and working as nurses in eastern Russia, as part of the university's Transcultural Nursing Program. It'll hardly be a vacation: They're quartered in a former juvenile detention facility, have been instructed to get shots for typhoid and hepatitis and will earn about a dollar a day for their labor. The reward? "I learn so much from the different people I work with," said Professor Mary Ann Levine, who is leading the program. She said she hopes her students will learn "culturally relevant nursing care" during their stay.


From left: Laura Mojica, Jana Martin, Deborah Loeffler, Lacey Jackson, Professor Levine, Joan Newby, Katie Allen, Cedar Lindsley, Elizabeth Perpetua, Cheryl Thompson and Erica Foss.



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