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October 14, 1999


Area code to split

School district changes

Not enough time

Marking a year in a tree

Pool idea sinks

Davis signs 'crop' bills

Bound to succeed

Teaching the lawmakers

Area code to split

Humboldt County residents won't have to notify distant relatives or reprint their business cards anytime soon.

Both proposals to split the 707 area code call for this county to retain the three-digit number it has had since 1959, according to Kyle Devine, a spokeswoman for the Public Utilities Commission.

The state commission may split the code two or three ways by the end of the month, but all the changes should occur south of Hopland. After that, no more changes are planned for the county-exclusive area code until 2015.

There are 25 area codes used in California, up from 13 almost three years ago. By 2002, the commission estimates the state will list 46 codes.

Gov. Gray Davis signed legislation last week that directs the commission to monitor more closely how it allocates telephone numbers, thus slowing the need for new area codes.

School district changes

There's a changing of the guard in more ways than one in the Northern Humboldt Union High School District.

The Nov. 2 elections will fill two seats on the school board, but the district has operated without a superintendent since the first week of school.

After six years, Superintendent Bruce Griffith left the district Aug. 31 to "take advantage of early retirement," he said in a Aug. 27 letter to faculty and staff members.

Griffith received double his annual salary of $83,400, school board Chairman Mark Rynearson confirmed. The board of trustees finalized the separation agreement Sept. 21, a "package (that) was worked out over the last couple of weeks," Rynearson said in early September.

"The Board of Trustees unanimously voted to accept his resignation effective Aug. 31," he said.

In the events surrounding Griffith's sudden departure at the beginning of the school year, rumors were circulating around Arcata and McKinleyville high schools that the district chief was asked to leave because of a disagreement with a school board member.

"He was not asked to resign," Rynearson said firmly, adding he was unaware of any rift between Griffith and another trustee. "(The departure) has nothing to do with anything derogatory to Mr. Griffith or the school district."

Rynearson, appointed to speak for the board, declined to comment further, saying it's a personnel matter. Griffith also declined to comment.

Assistant Superintendent Kenny Richards has taken over as acting superintendent for this school year. No recruitment process is underway to fill the position permanently.

Meanwhile, there are five candidates vying to fill two seats being vacated by board members Louis DeMartin and Mary Jane Schilz. Candidates for the four-year terms include Humboldt State University lecturer Jim Welsh; businesswoman/volunteer Marsha Eagles; Eureka City Schools elementary school teacher Diane Stockness; HSU Professor Jim Monge; and Catherine Minkema, owner of Arcata-based Apollo Computer Systems.

Not enough time

The state Board of Forestry meeting last week in Sacramento ran out of time to adopt new state forest practice rules in order for them to take effect in January. If approved next month, the rules could still take effect by July 1.

"We discussed it for a full day and we didn't get through one-third of the latest draft," said former county Assessor Ray Flynn, who sits on the board along with county Supervisor Stan Dixon and Theron O'Dell of Simpson Timber.

Flynn and O'Dell are also members of the board's rules subcommittee that will meet again Oct. 21-22. The full board will resume its hearing at its regular meeting in early November.

Flynn said there is a related law that is taking effect Jan. 1 that will have a significant impact on logging activity in the county. Fines for a violation of the Forest Practices Act have been increased to $10,000 per instance.

"I think people will take notice," he said.

The package of new rule changes was drafted by Gov. Davis' administration with input from the California Department of Fish and Game and the Water Quality Control Board and federal agencies.

The most contentious issue still to come is the debate and vote on the size of stream buffers.

"It will be quite a discussion," Flynn said. "It's a sizeable amount of timber we're talking about. Some landowners have told me (the new rules) would take 40 percent of their timber out of production," he said.

"The package needs more work," said Ross Johnson, California Department of Forestry deputy director for resource development.

According to the steepness of the slope in the logging plan, Johnson said the California Department of Forestry currently insists on a 50- to 200-foot protection zone in Class 1 streams, those with fish in them.

Johnson suggested that environmentalists may be seeking a wider margin of protection from the state because federal forest officials suggested a 350-foot no-cut zone on national forest lands near these streams when the Clinton Administration introduced its Northwest Forest Plan a year ago.

The board did approve last week a few new reporting requirements backed by environmentalists. Timber harvesters will now be required to map areas where threatened or endangered species, such as the chinook or coho salmon, live. And if a THP is significantly changed for instance, from a selective cut to a clear-cut the plan must be reopened for public comment.

Marking a year in a tree

Freshwater treesitter Nate Madsen, 26, marks his first year of living in a redwood next week. Supporters are celebrating his activism this Saturday at 2 p.m.

The informal gathering will take place on Freshwater-Kneeland Road, 5-1/2 miles east of the Three Corners Grocery. Madsen resides in a tree he calls Mariah about 10 feet off the road on Pacific Lumber Co. property.

Pool idea sinks

A proposal to fund a feasibility study to build a 50-meter, Olympic-sized swimming pool on Eureka city property went down to defeat last week.

A concern that the $7,500 needed for the idea would cut into the city's reserves nixed the plan, city officials said. The general fund amounts to $790,000, and the city is striving to build its reserves to at least $2.5 million, Assistant City Manager David Tyson confirmed Monday.

Councilmembers Connie Miller and Cherie Arkley voted in favor of the plan, but Jim Gupton, Maxine Hunter Meeks and Jack McKellar said no.

Miller hasn't given up hope. She said she's received several phone calls in favor of the idea.

Davis signs 'crop' bills

In the mounds of legislation the governor reviewed last week, Assemblywoman Virginia Strom-Martin's bill that protects certified farmers' markets received his approval.

Currently, the state Department of Food and Agriculture collects fees and makes inspections to ensure the produce or plants sold at the farmers' markets are actually grown by the growers. The state program would have ended Jan. 1 without the new law.

"The benefits of farmers' markets go far beyond making fresh, ripe produce available to Californians throughout the state," the Duncans Mills Democrat said in an issued statement. "Farmers' markets have done a great deal toward making urban and suburban consumers aware of where their food comes from and who grows it, and that sort of awareness helps everyone."

There are farmers' markets in Arcata at the Plaza and Wildberries, in Eureka in Old Town and Henderson Center, and in downtown Fortuna. Local farmers markets were featured in the Sept. 2 North Coast Journal.

Another bill to establish a marijuana research center at the University of California was signed into law.

The bill, written by Sen. John Vasconcellos, D-Santa Clara, was sparked by a growing momentum to evaluate the effects of marijuana on medical patients. The law goes into affect Jan. 1.

The Journal's July 15 edition featured Arcata's medical marijuana registry system that has turned out to be a model program for the state.

Bound to succeed

Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) results released last month show Humboldt County high school students beat the state and national averages by wide margins, but there were substantially fewer students taking the test.

In Humboldt County, the number of students taking the test dropped from last year's 58 percent to 47 percent, similar to rates in previous years.

Educators view SAT as a measurement of how well students are expected to do in college.

The county's biggest gain was on the verbal portion of the test, with an increase of 11 points over last year's 531. This score was 45 points higher than the state's average score of 497.

In math, county students edged their average score up to 548, four points higher than 1998s.

"In the last few years, California universities have been straightforward about their expectations for entering freshman," county schools Superintendent Louis Bucher said. "They've stated their desire to reduce the numbers of entering students who need remedial English and math, and I believe teachers, counselors and students have listened."

Remedial education in college was the subject of the Journal's April 29 issue.

Teaching the lawmakers

Eureka High School freshman Shanti Sattler's early start in politics may soon pay off.

Next week the former Winship Junior High School student body president, 14, will hop a plane bound for Washington to share her thoughts about youth violence with 400 other teens from across the United States.

And congressional lawmakers are expected to be listening.

Out of 100 North Coast teens who applied for the assignment, Sattler was one of three youths selected out of Rep. Mike Thompson's district to participate in "Voices Against Violence: A Congressional Teen Conference."

A proposed documentary may be made and shown locally.

"The tremendous interests generated by this conference demonstrates our teenagers' thirst for preventing violence both in and out of school," Thompson said in an issued statement. "They want to be empowered in creating solutions to this national crisis. This conference is an excellent forum for their ideas and energy."

Sattler has had a first-hand look at the effects of teen violence. One of her closest friends was shot and nearly killed by a gunman during the school shooting in Springfield, Ore.

"I just don't know what's going on in a person's mind to make (him or her) do such a thing," she said.

The teens will draft a House resolution aimed at reducing school violence, following workshops about violence in the media among other topics. Celebrities and representatives from the Children's Defense Fund and the Department of Justice will also participate.

The teens will also go on a private tour of the White House while in the capital.

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