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June 24, 1999


Budget on time for a change

New texts for schools

Sherman returns to chair

New drug for diabetics

Meth drug case nets suspects

Symposium replaces Woodfair

Georgia-Pacific sells land

Power to the people

Budget on time for a change

California's financial blueprint for the coming year was passed by the Legislature last week, before the fiscal year begins. The $81 billion document is headed to Gov. Gray Davis' desk for signature.

For the 1998-99 fiscal year, the Legislature didn't approve the $73 billion budget until August before sending it to former Gov. Pete Wilson. The year is ending June 30 with a projected $2 billion reserve.

Total spending for 1999-2000 is being increased by $6 billion including more than $30 billion for public schools, 6 percent more than the previous year, Sen. Wesley Chesbro's office announced. California will now invest more than $6,000 per student.

For higher education, student fees at California State University and University of California campuses will go down by 5 percent, and community colleges will lower fees by $1 a unit.

The budget also lists $500 million in savings to California vehicle owners as a 10 percent cut in car license fees. There's also $220 million allocated for local government relief, including $35 million to allow the state Department of Corrections to reimburse counties for detaining parole violators in jails, the governor's office reported.

Davis also announced the state is allocating $7 million to enforcement of conservation laws on the North Coast, particularly in respect to the Headwaters Forest purchase agreement.

Coastal watersheds will get $2 million to restore salmon and steelhead trout populations, while $80,000 will help the California Coastal Commission process easements for coastal access.


New texts for schools

The laborious process of approving textbooks was expedited in the interest of new math and reading standards passed down from the state Board of Education, the Associated Press reported.

The approved list features 96 sets of textbooks, which will be posted on the Internet so districts can begin buying new math and reading books to use this fall.

Representatives from local districts can access the list at the Humboldt County Office of Education to evaluate the new books with a special emphasis on math and reading, resource center officials said. Most district officials figure they don't have the funds to replace their complete inventories, so they often rotate subjects.

Previously, the state board would approve a list of textbooks for each major subject every year following a 30-month review process. Books were often rejected for failing to meet standards.

Under the stricter guidelines for grades K-12, fifth-graders are supposed to learn mathematics principles related to decimals, fractions and negative numbers. Seventh-graders are expected to use algebra terms.

At the high school level, remediation to prepare students for higher education costs taxpayers $10 million per year, state officials estimate. College preparedness was the subject of the April 29 cover story in the North Coast Journal.

Sherman returns to chair

In his second time around, Duane Sherman Sr., 30, was reelected to the top spot of the Hoopa Valley Tribal Council. The tribal board officially certified the June 15 election outcome Monday.

Sherman was removed from office more than a year ago for allegedly being drunk at the San Francisco International Airport, according to 1997 published reports. He was replaced by the vice chair, Merv George Jr.

Sherman has denied the charges, claiming he was under the influence of cold medicine and under a doctor's care, he said.

Sherman defeated George, capturing 424 votes of the 803 members who voted in this election, the tribal election board office reported. George received 369 votes.

"I feel vindicated. I feel the government has given me the opportunity to come back," Sherman said, looking forward to his new term.

New drug for diabetics

The Food and Drug Administration has approved a long-awaited drug for diabetics to control their disease with less risk, the Associated Press reported.

An option for Type 2 diabetes, Avandia is considered a possible alternative to Rezulin. The drug, which has been linked to liver failure in some patients, now requires a special warning with each prescription, the FDA decided recently.

Studies have shown no signs of liver damage to 4,000 patients taking Avandia, the AP report adds. Most drugs that treat adult-onset diabetes work by increasing insulin production or lowering blood sugar. The disease was featured in the April 1 North Coast Journal.

Meth drug case nets suspects

A five-month undercover operation involving North Coast narcotics investigators from several agencies has ended with the arrests of two Humboldt County residents and the largest methamphetamine seizure in Fortuna's history, a local drug task force officer said Tuesday.

Authorities were looking into a third party but were unable to link the suspect with the trafficking of three pounds of methamphetamine over county lines, he added.

Oscar Mata, 27, of Fortuna, and Rudy Gonzalez, 21, of Eureka, were booked on charges of selling and transporting large amounts of methamphetamine into Sonoma County. They are being held in lieu of $200,000 bail each. Mata is in custody at the Humboldt County Correctional Facility, and Gonzalez is being held at the Sonoma County Adult Detention Facility in Santa Rosa.

Gonzalez sold two pounds of the chemically made stimulant to an undercover agent in the Carl's Jr. parking lot in Healdsburg, the drug task force officer confirmed.

After arresting Gonzalez, investigators went to the Fortuna home of Gonzalez' cousin, Mata, and found another pound of the substance, added the officer who asked to not be identified.

The street value of the methamphetamine, which sells for about $500 an ounce, was reported at $145,000.

Aside from the local drug task force, the case involved investigators from the Mendocino County Major Crimes Task Force, the Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement in San Francisco and the Healdsburg police.

Symposium replaces Woodfair

The College of the Redwoods is planning a different event this year rather than the Woodfair, a summer event over the past 10 years. Instead, the college is presenting a symposium titled "Art and Nature: The Heart of the Matter."

From Aug. 1-6, visitors are expected to come from all over the world to participate in a symposium of authors, speakers and performers.

Organized by longtime music Professor Jerry Moore, the event will focus on how the arts link humans to the rest of the natural world.

Keynote speakers will talk each morning. Matthew Fox, JoAnna Macy, Chungling Al Huang and Bernie Krause are on the schedule. And participants may also attend workshops, discussion groups, nature tours and performances.

The Woodfair might be resumed again next year, CR Public Information Officer Paul DeMark said in a phone interview.

"With an event of this size, we couldn't do both (the symposium and Woodfair)," DeMark said.

Georgia-Pacific sells land

Some of southern Humboldt County's redwood groves will be sold in the coming months, Georgia-Pacific announced last week.

The Atlanta-based corporation intends to sell 196,000 acres of redwood and Douglas fir forests in Mendocino and Humboldt counties. One thousand acres lie in Humboldt County.

Scotia's Pacific Lumber Co. is a potential buyer and plans to look at it, company officials confirmed Monday.

Georgia-Pacific is restructuring its holdings to increase profits. The company has mostly pines growing in the southern United States and views its redwoods on the West Coast as a specialty product.

Power to the people

An Arcata man wants to push alternative energy that will give cyclists or wannabes a push.

Shane Keller started an Arcata business months ago building and distributing electric bicycles locally. Now, he's arranging to rent and sell the bikes powered with 12-volt batteries as a distributor for ZAP Electric Vehicles of Sebastopol. ZAP stands for zero air pollution.

Keller, who didn't get a driver's license until age 22, has remained an avid cyclist and got out of the food service business to make a living from one of his passions.

These bicycles come with an aluminum frame and a two-speed electric motor that allows the rider to go between 18 and 20 mph, he said. The bikes come in four types: an electric beach cruiser and a power board scooter shown in the photograph above as well as recumbent and mountain bike models.

Those interested in taking any one of these models for a test drive can do so at his Hum Zap! office at 549 G St. A few models will be on display across the street at the Hole in the Wall sandwich shop, Keller said. One can also rent the beach cruiser or scooter at Salty's in Trinidad.

The bikes may run buyers between $800 and $1,400, Keller said.

Mary "Madhavi" Riley, 78, spent $1,000 on her electric tricycle last month. The Sunnybrae woman turned to Keller for "ecology" reasons.

"I figured I didn't want to be driving a car as much any more," she said. Riley tries to do her grocery shopping with the tricycle. She hopes to get around to riding into Arcata.

Keller hopes to line up "electron" stations around Humboldt County.

Electric bicycles cost about 4 cents on the electric bill to charge for the average 12- to 15-mile ride. The bikes require some human power pedaling to get over hills and endure long-distance rides.

Two Humboldt State University students left Arcata in the saddles of two electric bicycles last week on a six-week journey to create awareness for alternate forms of transportation. Matt Rhodes and Andrew Freeman are expected to cover about 2,000 miles down the spine of the state and back.

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