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October 7, 1999


Redding bank buys Six Rivers

In other bank news...

Judge rules in HAF suit

County budget passes

It's a small world

Not your average BBQ

Big Lagoon Mill closing

Davis signs gay rights bills

Biting the bug

Book 'em, Harry

Padding the fall

Privacy bill signed

Redding bank buys Six Rivers

After turning away three offers in three years from Eureka-headquartered Humboldt Bancorp, Six Rivers National Bank agreed to sell to North Valley Bancorp based in Redding.

Six Rivers' eight bank branches in Humboldt, Del Norte and Mendocino counties will join 12 North Valley branches scattered across Shasta and Trinity counties. Total assets of North Valley after the buyout becomes final are estimated at $500 million.

Mike Martinez, president and chief executive officer of Six Rivers, said Monday that he's pleased with the deal. Six Rivers and North Valley will maintain separate names and identities. He expects few layoffs, none in top management.

"The reaction from the community has been positive," Martinez said. If Six Rivers had agreed to sell to Humboldt Bank, "I estimate we would have lost 60 to 80 jobs."

"North Valley is a solid company. We believe its stock has been undervalued," Martinez said.

The sale is expected to close next July and is subject to regulatory and shareholder approval. Under the terms of the agreement, Six Rivers' shareholders will receive a tax-free swap of North Valley shares. The exchange rate is contingent on the average closing price during a three-week period leading up to the sale.

In the last three months, North Valley has traded between $10 and $12.25 a share. On Oct. 1, it closed the trading day at $11.06. That value would translate to a Six Rivers' share of stock worth $16.05 in exchange.

Humboldt Bank, which has $400 million in assets, outlined a $26 million buyout plan in May in which Six Rivers' shareholders were to have received $17.25 per share. Six Rivers declined the offer and negotiations between the two rival banks ended Aug. 26 when Humboldt Bank withdrew its offer.

"The Humboldt offer set off a chain reaction," Martinez said. "It prompted us to look around more seriously."

Six Rivers National Bank, formed in 1989, has looked for ways to build up its reserves after it was forced to write off a $1.1 million loss last September caused by loan defaults by an Arcata company. North Coast Hardwoods Inc. filed for bankruptcy in 1997.

In other bank news

Humboldt Bancorp plans to kick off the millennium with a new homebase.

By February 2000, the local bank group expects to move its headquarters from Fifth and H streets in downtown Eureka to the Mall 101 location, said Executive Vice President Paul Ziegler.

The banking business bought the 29-acre site with a 90,000-square-foot structure on it in the winter of 1998 for an estimated $2.5 million. It leases part of the property to Rite Aid.

The bank group wants to centralize a large portion of its operations, and that's what the move should accomplish, Ziegler said.

Humboldt County also plans to soon move its Family Support Division run out of the District Attorney's Office to the property. It's now on Second Street in Eureka.

The move for Humboldt Bancorp represents one of several recent changes to the local bank group. Customers of California Federal Bank at the Burre Center and the CalFed branch in Ukiah are now part of Humboldt Bank.

The consolidation brings the total assets to about $400 million for Humboldt Bancorp, which opened in 1989.

Judge rules in HAF suit

Judge J. Michael Brown ruled last week that the heirs of Vera Vietor (see "Legacy of greed" Sept. 30 cover story), have the right to sue the Humboldt Area Foundation and Wells Fargo Bank, trustee of the estate, but he denied that the 1972 Vietor will has been breached.

Vietor's heirs claim HAF is violating the will by building a 4,000-square-foot structure and paving a parking lot on the property she left to the foundation. Vietor specified that the 14-acre parcel off Indianola be left in its natural state. Her former home, located on the property, now houses HAF offices.

"(T)he project appears to be in keeping with the intent of the testator (Vietor), whose first desire was to establish the foundation, and yet maintain the property in its park-like atmosphere," Brown said in his ruling.

The heirs are preparing an appeal.

County budget passes

After months of tweaking, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors passed its final 1999-2000 budget last week.

County employees received a 5 percent raise in the $167 million package, illustrating a better-than-usual outlook of the county's finances. The supervisors will consider their own raises Oct. 19.

In addition to the big tickets items $71.3 million for county salaries with benefits and $1.1 million for the general fund a number of small ticket items were funded.

The county earmarked $2,500 for the Orick Chamber of Commerce to support a committee interested in turning the former Prairie Creek Fish Hatchery into the Redwood Creek National Watershed Center.

Committee members include representatives from Humboldt State University, the timber industry and Yurok Tribe as well as many local and state officials.

Consultant Paula Yoon, who has commercially fished, estimates the research laboratory, conference facility and interpretative center would cost $500,000. The committee is looking at a number of sources of grants for the project.

The focus of the complex would be eco-tourism vacationers who spend money to learn and earn respect for biodiversity and want to be engaged. These are people who "vacation with a purpose," Yoon said.

Yoon hopes the center will be operational in about two years, if all goes well.

It's a small world

City officials hope to put Eureka on the international map in two weeks for trade, investment and tourism opportunities. The city is hosting a one-day conference of the same name Oct. 22 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Adorni Center in Eureka.

Representatives from around the world Japan, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico and Korea will meet with state and local tourism officials.

Sen. Wesley Chesbro, D-Arcata, Assemblywoman Virginia Strom-Martin, D-Duncans Mills, Eureka Mayor Nancy Flemming among others will open the all-day conference. The forum will close with the appearance of Nobuo Tanaka, the Japanese minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Affairs.

Tanaka, who is originally from Yokohama, Japan, returned to work in Washington, D.C. last year, following assignments around the world in which he negotiated major trade deals with a variety of industries.

On the local front, businesses are starting to think big, said conference organizer Marie Liscom, Eureka's economic development officer.

"We do have small businesses here that are ready to make that jump into the international trade market," Liscom said. More than anything, she views the conference as a networking tool.

The registration fee of $100 includes the conference, materials, luncheon and wine tasting. Those wanting to sign up who haven't may do so by calling Liscom at 441-4215.

Not your average BBQ

A hat autographed by actress Rosie O'Donnell, a San Francisco Giant bat and singer Amy Grant photographs are a few items going on the auction block Saturday to benefit loved ones of victims of violent crime.

The Boot Scoot'n Barbecue and Silent Auction will be held at the Redwood Acres Fairgrounds in Eureka Oct. 9 from 5 to 10 p.m. Tickets cost $20 a person.

The event will raise funds for the Sund/Carrington Memorial Reward Foundation, which was established by the Carrington family in response to the disappearance and slayings of Carole Sund, her daughter Juli and family friend Silvina Pelosso near Yosemite National Park last February.

Cary Stayner, the hotel handyman who reportedly confessed to their murders, has not been charged in connection with their deaths.

Big Lagoon Mill closing

Simpson Timber Co. is shutting down its Big Lagoon mill Nov. 24 because of a lack of logs, spokeswoman Jackie Deuschle confirmed last week.

The company plans to relocate at least two-thirds of its 48 workers to its Orick mill, where similar operations will allow for consolidation. Mill workers were told they would need to apply for the approximately 36 jobs on two shifts.

The move is expected to prompt some workers into retirement, one employee said last week. Some of the workers have worked for decades on the 75-acre Big Lagoon mill site, which Simpson bought last year from Louisiana-Pacific Corp.

Deuschle said there are no changes planned for the housing units on the property, a wildlife haven for elk and mountain lions.

In the meantime, the timber company has invested in another village that's a first of its kind.

The company gave a $50,000 donation to United Indian Health Services for the Potawot Health Village project, a health care concept with plans to blend traditional forms of health care with modern medicine. The facility will be located adjacent to Mad River Community Hospital and is expected to be completed in January 2001. UIHS is within $500,000 of its $15 million goal for its first phase of construction.

Davis signs gay rights bills

Gov. Gray Davis tipped nearly two decades of a conservative swing in the Legislature by signing into law three measures intended to protect Californians from discrimination based on sexual orientation last Saturday nine days before the gay community's National Coming Out Day.

The legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Carole Migden, D-San Francisco, establishes a statewide registry for domestic partners, provides hospital visitation rights and extends health benefits to the partners of state employees, the governor's office announced.

Besides state workers, domestic partners to local government employees covered by the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) may be eligible for their partners' health benefits, Migden's press officer Alan LoFaso said. Individual city councils or the county Board of Supervisors would need to approve the benefits.

The city of Arcata has in place its own domestic partnership ordinance. The county has stopped short of passing one but made a historical step in recognizing the region's gay pride festival held in Arcata last summer. Supervisor John Woolley read the resolution declaring June 13 as Gay Pride Day.

The state law goes into affect Jan. 1. Those who sign an affidavit with the county clerk's office claiming they co-habitate and share household expenses together may be listed.

Another bill signed into law includes a measure that makes housing and employment discrimination against gays illegal. Clearly the most controversial, the governor also signed a gay rights bill that bans harrassment of students and faculty based on sexual orientation. The current education code lists discrimination based on race, color, religion, gender, disability and national origin.

Jody Mulligan, chairwoman of Humboldt State University's gay and lesbian club, said she's optimistic by the passing of anti-discrimination measures, but she's "still worried about the Knight Initiative." The referendum due to go on the state ballot March 7 would outlaw marriage between gay and lesbian couples. Critics contend the initiative, which has received widespread support from the Mormon church, is mean-spirited and counterproductive because no such marriage exists.

Biting the bug

With flu season upon us, the Humboldt County Public Health Department reminds residents to get their flu shots. Seniors are especially vulnerable to becoming seriously ill from the virus, which can weaken the body and lead to fatal complications. Symptoms include fever, sore throat, coughing, body aches and headache, county registered nurse Susan Wardrip said.

The flu vaccine, which takes two to three weeks to take effect, has no impact on the stomach flu, which is often characterized by vomiting.

The 1999-2000 flu vaccine contains antigens that provide protection against the three strains expected to infect the North Coast this winter: A/Sydney, A/Beijing and B/Beijing.

To fight the infection, low-cost shots are available at several locations around the county through October. In the next week, one may go to the following locations at the designated times: Kmart parking lot in McKinleyville Oct. 7 from 9 a.m. to noon; Orleans Elementary School parking lot Oct. 8 from 10 a.m. to noon; Orick Community Center on Oct. 12 from 10 a.m. to noon; Trinidad Town Hall Oct. 12 from 2 to 4 p.m.; Garberville Public Health Department Oct. 13 from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 to 4 p.m.; Rohner Park parking lot in Fortuna on Oct. 13 from 9 a.m. to noon.; Weott Faith Chapel Oct. 14 from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Book 'em, Harry

The third time's a charm for Harry Potter.

The new release of J.K. Rowling's outrageously popular narrative marks book No. 3 in a projected series of seven. The third tale, "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," made the top of the San Francisco Chronicle bestseller list. It was trailed by the other two "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" and "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets."

Rowling's latest book hit the stores Sept. 8, and since then, children and adults alike have quickly bought out the inventory. More than 50,000 copies were sold on the day it was released.

"We've had a hard time keeping them in stock. Apparently adults like them too. The demand has not died down. It's increasing, if anything," Tom Clapp of Rookery Books in Arcata said of the books written by a woman who was on welfare just five years ago.

Originally published in Britain in 1997, the stories of 11-year-old orphan Harry Potter spread among school-age readers in the United States as well. The first two books have been on The New York Times best-seller list for 40 weeks.

"There has been quite a demand, a lot of interest. We've done a brisk business with people buying all three books. We're already re-ordering and we just stocked them last week. It is still selling strong," Ken Klima, manager of Waldenbooks in Eureka, said.

Directors Steven Spielberg, Jonathan Demme and Rob Reiner have expressed interest in putting Harry on the big screen, broadcast reports have indicated. According to Time magazine, Steven Kloves director of "The Fabulous Baker Boys," plans to have a script ready by next year.

For Humboldt County bookworms, a children's author festival runs through Oct. 16. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, 26 authors and illustrators will sign books at the Humboldt County Library in Eureka.

Padding the fall

The North Coast Clinics Network is giving away free skateboard safety equipment.

A rider may order a helmet, knee and elbow pads by sending a postcard with name, age, size, phone number and address to the network at P.O. Box 2849; McKinleyville 95519.

Privacy bill signed

Gov. Gray Davis signed a privacy bill last week that makes it illegal for supermarkets and other businesses that provide customer discount cards to give or sell personal information from those cards to other businesses.

The measure, sponsored by Sen. Jackie Speier, D-Daly City, would also prohibit merchants from requiring applicants to provide a driver's license or Social Security number to obtain a "club card." The bill takes effect July 1.

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