October 11, 2001
The Ackerley Group, a media and entertainment conglomerate that purchased KVIQ-TV Channel 6 in 1999, has itself been sold.
In an agreement announced Monday, Clear Channel Communications Inc. will acquire Ackerley in an all-stock transaction valued at $800 million at the close of business Oct. 5. The figure includes the assumption of approximately $294 million of debt.
What that means for KVIQ's local news department is unclear. In a cover story June 29, 2000 ("More news, more often"), then-General Manager Jeanne Buheit told the Journal that the Ackerley Group had invested more than $1 million in the news department. The number of shows grew from five hours per week to 22, including a live morning show. The news department employed 20 reporters and technicians at the time.
Today, the entire KVIQ staff consists of one on-air reporter, Dave Silverbrand. Weather and other reports are fed to the station from its sister station in Santa Rosa.
Since the Journal report last year, KAEF-TV Channel 7, with north state news coverage originating from Redding, has dropped all reporting from Humboldt County. KIEM-TV in Eureka, the industry leader according to Nielsen Reports, reports that its staffing level is unchanged.
"We have 15 in the news department, same as last year," said Bob Browning, KIEM station manager. "It's our intention to maintain our news coverage at its current level."
Humboldt County is one of the smallest television markets in the United States, ranking 189 out of 210 Nielsen markets nationwide.
Twice as many security violations were detected by the Federal Aviation Administration at Arcata-Eureka Airport as at other similar airports in Northern California, according to a report in the Oct. 3 Santa Rosa Press Democrat.
Fifty security violations were noted over the last decade, compared to an average of about 24 at other Northern California airports. In one instance, a plainclothes FAA employee was able to sneak weapons past the security checkpoint.
Airport officials say that the figures are somewhat misleading. The Arcata-Eureka airport handles several times as many flights as other small municipal airports.
Since 1974 the Redwood Concert Ballet has presented an annual holiday production of The Nutcracker, but this year's production is in doubt.
The Nutcracker's fall event, "Tea and Ballet," scheduled for Oct. 14, has already been cancelled.
A contentious meeting of the non-profit ballet's board of directors Sept. 24 resulted in the dismissal of Virginia Niekrasz-Laurent, RCB's artistic director and founder. She had been the main force behind The Nutcracker performances in past years.
Since the meeting the RCB board has seen two of its long-term directors resign. The board, which had recently added four new members, made the decision to dismiss Niekrasz-Laurent in closed session. Since it is a personnel issue, no one will say exactly why the decision was made. Board Chair Mary Glavich would only say that the decision had "a financial basis."
"The bottom line was nonprofit versus profit," said Glavich, who added that she feels the end result of the controversy will be positive for RCB.
Niekrasz-Laurent still runs the Dancer's Studio in Eureka, a for-profit business that has been the source of most dancers in the Redwood Concert Ballet.
The Redwood Concert Ballet has suffered from growing pains in recent years, particularly since May of last year when the company took possession of a newly remodeled 6,000-square-foot building on F Street in Eureka, a gift from Eureka businessman Rob Arkley and his wife, Cherie Arkley, who sits on the Eureka City Council.
A final decision on the fate of the holiday show will be made at the next board of directors meeting Monday.
"It's up to the board and the new artistic director," Glavich said.
At the meeting the board will also officially offer the empty artistic director slot to Danny Furlong, a dancer from the San Francisco Opera Ballet who has been working with Niekrasz-Laurent as ballet master, Glavich said.
Arcata's most famous historic building, Jacoby's Storehouse, was sold earlier this month by the family that had owned it for four generations.
A group of four investors purchased the building Oct. 1. Two of those investors, Chris Smith and Bill Chino, know the building very well. They own and operate the two restaurants inside, Abruzzi and the Plaza Grill.
"I think the building is the jewel of the Plaza and we are appreciative of the opportunity to carry on that stewardship," Smith told the Journal. The two additional investors have chosen to remain anonymous.
Originally built by Augustus Jacoby in 1857 as a store for miners in the Trinity Alps, the building was taken over in 1880 by the Brizard family. The Brizards saw the building through two major restorations and more than 120 years.
"We just want to continue that storied tradition," Smith said.
Rio Dell City Manager Loretta Nickolaus was chosen as Humboldt County's new administrative officer Oct. 5.
In a unanimous vote, the Board of Supervisors decided in closed session to appoint Nickolaus to the post, ending a six-month search.
Like retiring CAO John Murray, Nickolaus has experience in county government. Before becoming Rio Dell's city manager, she worked as an administrative analyst in the department she is now going to lead. Familiarity with Humboldt County was a big factor in her selection, said 3rd District County Supervisor John Woolley.
"Loretta has both the knowledge of the county and the ability to work with different governmental agencies," he said.
Injuries, dehydration, humiliation and in some cases death. These are the problems that prompted California's Attorney General Bill Lockyer to file criminal and civil charges against Sun Healthcare, the state's largest nursing home company.
Sun, which operates four Sunbridge nursing homes in Eureka, has a history of keeping staffing levels so low that its facilities routinely collect deficiency citations. That trend reached a climax in Eureka in 2000 when a resident in a wheelchair fell down a set of steps and died.
(Conditions at the four Humboldt County homes were detailed in a cover story, "Nursing Home Neglect," Nov. 9, a report that earned the Journal a California Newspaper Publishers Award this year for investigative reporting.)
Under a settlement between the state and Sun Healthcare, the company pleaded guilty to a charge of felony elder abuse charges. The company will have to rectify conditions and give an annual progress report to the attorney general. The company is already required under current state law to correct its deficiencies and report to the state.
"Originally, when I went to work for the Co-op, it was only going to be for a short time," said John Corbett, general manager of the North Coast Co-op. That was nearly 30 years ago.
Corbett announced last week that he will really be leaving the Co-op soon. He has started winding down his responsibilities and a search for his replacement has begun, he said.
Plans -- outside of having "a hell of a garden" -- may include a run for public office.
"I'm looking very hard at local politics," Corbett said.
Public television station KEET was brought a step closer to digital conversion when the federal government granted the station $494,769 last week.
The money, from the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program, will help the Eureka-based station to make the change to digital television. The planned conversion will allow KEET to broadcast several programs simultaneously and is part of a larger effort to include more locally produced programming.
It is not, however, optional. A Federal Communications Commission rule states that KEET must convert to the digital format by 2003. The federal grant brings KEET's total capital fund for the conversion project to $1.1 million; $4.6 million is required.
Amber Sanders and many of her classmates from Zoe Barnum Continuation High spent last Friday baking pies in the school's kitchen instead of enjoying the sunshine. The pies were sold to help raise funds for victims of the Sept. 11 attacks as part of the Humboldt Helps benefit held Oct. 5 in Eureka.
Nature photographer, environmental activist and real estate salesman Douglas Riley Thron announced earlier this month that he will run for the 1st District Assembly seat as a candidate for the Green Party.
According a press release, his priorities would include education, local business, retiree benefits and the environment.
Riley Thron is probably best known through his photos. A graduate of Humboldt State University's photography program, Riley Thron has taken many widely reproduced images of the forests of the North Coast.
Riley Thron is the sixth candidate to announce for the 1st District. The seat is held by Virginia Strom-Martin, who will be forced out of office by term limits next year.
The College of the Redwoods will start the 2002 academic year with something new -- women's soccer.
"I think it's long overdue given the success of female soccer in the area," said Nick Ortiz, head coach of the future team. There are approximately 1,300 girls playing soccer in Humboldt County and many of them showed talent, Ortiz said.
"You have the beginnings of some phenomenal players in the Humboldt-Del Norte High School Soccer League," he said. "I believe some of the good players would stay in the area to play for CR."
CR will be part of the Golden Valley Conference, comprised of community colleges in Shasta, Lassen, Siskiyou and Butte counties.
When Josh Hazard and his friends got fed up with the absence of a gay bar in Humboldt County, they decided to make one -- or, to be more precise, to temporarily take one over.
Their tactic is to pick a straight bar and flood it with what Hazard calls "a rainbow of people."
Called a "guerilla" bar, the tactic has been used for years in larger cities.
Hazard, who co-chairs the Queer Student Union at Humboldt State University, said the take-over is "just for fun."
"This is really a pretty nice community anyway. You can just be yourself and be out anywhere," he said.
The next guerilla bar is scheduled for Oct. 12, just one day after National Coming Out day. For information, call 822-3959.
The Arcata City Council, impatient with Caltrans' progress on improving safety at one intersection on Highway 101, is considering whether to take matters into its own hands.
The Bayside cutoff, which connects 101 and Old Arcata Road, is considered to be a hazard because of cars which try to cross the fast-moving traffic on the highway to turn left. The intersection has above-average accident rates.
The City Council has proposed changing the Bayside cutoff to a one-way street, preventing cars from entering the freeway via the road, which is within city limits. Caltrans officials say that action may aggravate traffic patterns on other roads and are recommending that the council wait until the results are in from a traffic flow study in November.
The item is on the council's Oct. 17 agenda.
Students longing for some variety in their education have gotten their wish: Professors at Humboldt State University are holding a teach-in Oct. 17 as part of a program involving all 22 California State University campuses.
The teach-in is designed to shed light on trends in the CSU that the California Faculty Association thinks are damaging the quality of the education they provide. Chief among those are increased corporate influence and the decreased role of faculty in university governance.
The teach-in starts at 11 a.m. in the Goodwin Forum. A rally will be held on the quad starting at noon, with the regular teach-in resuming at around 1:15 p.m.
The CFA is in a contract dispute with the CSU administration. Humboldt's CFA representative, John Travis, said that while issues like corporatization weren't being discussed by the union, they had led to the current situation.
"A lot of the issues we have at the bargaining table are the result of a change in university governance," the political science professor said.
If no agreement is reached by later this year, there is a possibility of a faculty strike, Travis said.
Two more Humboldt County streams are being recommended for impaired status under federal law, and a third may be on the way.
Jacoby Creek and Mad River are being proposed for inclusion on a list of impaired waterways by the staff of the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board. Jacoby Creek is being suggested because of siltation and the Mad River because of high summer water temperatures. The board recommended that Humboldt Bay be monitored further for contamination by PCBs, an industrial chemical with far-reaching health effects.
Inclusion on the list of impaired waters would trigger a state regulatory process, the heart of which is a pollution control measure called the Total Maximum Daily Load. Figuring out what a waterway's TMDL is -- or if one is even necessary -- has been contentious, as it can have profound effects on land use. (See Who's afraid of the TMDL, cover story, Jan. 4.)
The water board has until April to decide what waterways to include on its list.
The fund-raising process for a homeless shelter in Eureka took a big step forward when the St. Joseph Health System donated $250,000 to the Redwood Community Action Agency last week.
The Multiple Assistance Center will provide housing, vocational training and substance abuse treatment to homeless individuals. Slated to be located in the former Humboldt Door and Window building at First and Y streets, it should be operational by winter of 2002. The property was purchased by the city of Eureka, but the shelter will be administered by the RCAA.
The project is gaining momentum as supporters throw their support behind it, as was clear from the press conference announcing the donation.
"When we began this process, we would hold public hearings and see this many people opposed to the project," said Eureka city planner Gary Bird as he looked out at a crowd of about 50 shelter supporters.