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November 11, 1999


A day of remembrance

Tow truck driver remembered

Election results near

Women's issues on agenda

Ruling reversed

Dredging resumes

Fires extinguished

Parks plan out

Blame it on La Niña

An ounce of prevention

A day of remembrance

On Veterans Day, Rep. Mike Thompson will host a public ceremony at 12:30 p.m. in the Humboldt State University's Kate Buchanan Room to salute those who served the nation in conflicts abroad.

Thompson, a Vietnam War veteran who serves on the Armed Services Committee in the House, is also hosting a health fair in McKinleyville for military retirees Saturday. It's scheduled from 1 to 3 p.m. at Azalea Hall on Pickett Road.

The health fair will help military retirees and their family members learn of benefits available under the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program. The 1998 legislation directs the Department of Defense to bring more health care services to those in rural areas who live far from military treatment facilities.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has operated a community-based outpatient clinic in Eureka since March 1998. Services range from diabetes management to cholesterol screening.

Tow truck driver remembered

Tow truck operators from throughout the county sent representatives and their rigs to participate in a memorial procession Tuesday for the tow truck driver killed last week.

Richard Burkhart, 29, was changing a tire on Friday on Highway 101 just north of the Bayside Cutoff when he was struck and killed by a van. The driver of the van, Craig Willoughby, 39, was charged with driving under the influence and manslaughter.

Drivers representing the California Highway Patrol and others, many wearing black ribbons on their antennae, drove from the Indianola Cutoff north past the accident scene to Mac's Body Shop and Towing Service in Arcata where Burkhart worked.

It was the first alcohol-related fatality of 1999 in Humboldt County. There were four fatalities last year and nine the year before.

Election results near

The Humboldt County elections office is still verifying votes from Nov. 2 elections as of presstime Tuesday.

Preliminary results show the closely watched race for two 4-year seats on the Fortuna Union High School District board going to incumbent and Sequoia Gas Co. co-owner Shannon McWhorter with 39 percent of the vote and SHN Consulting Engineers and Geologists President K. Jeff Nelson with 24 percent.

The school district board will be considering a replacement for Superintendent Dennis Hanson since the current board refused to renew his contract. However since McWhorter is one of two members who backed Hanson, the new board may reverse its earlier decision.

The 2-year seat appears ready for Alan E. French, who pulled 41 percent of the vote. Thomas Bess, who coordinated his campaign with the pro-Hansen forces of McWhorter and Nelson, came in a close second for that seat with 39 percent of the vote.

On the other end of the county, the race for the Northern Humboldt Union High School District appears decided. Humboldt State University Lecturer Jim Welsh and Apollo Computer Systems owner Cathy Minkema lead the race for the two open seats with 28 and 22 percent of the vote, respectively. The two new board members will decide in their 4-year terms on asuperintendent to replace Bruce Griffith, who unexpectedly retired the first week of school.

The McKinleyville Community Services District is set to welcome Javan Reid and J. Paul Trepanier. The two newcomers for the McKinleyville Community Services District board pulled out 33 percent and 30 percent of the vote, respectively.

Voters overwhelmingly showed support for incumbents in the College of the Redwoods board race. Re-elected were Bruce Emad, Milton Dobkin, Yvonne Gower and John Burke. Roy Curless in the 2nd District and Charles Ollivier in the 5th District easily won re-election to the Harbor District.

Women's issues on agenda

The environment, poverty, human rights, health, violence and the well-being of young girls are topics of the Northcoast Women's Conference at Humboldt State University this weekend.

The free conference is scheduled from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday in Founders Hall. It features guest speakers, interactive performances, panels and workshops on six of the 12 platform issues established at the 1995 United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women, which was held in Beijing, China.

Event organizer HSU Associate Professor of Social Work Maria Bartlett urges men to attend.

"It has to be inclusive. It's not about being separatist," Bartlett said.

A regional version of the conference will be held in San Francisco on Feb. 26, 2000. About three months later, nations from around the world will take the issues to the United Nations Headquarters in New York City to reaffirm the commitments made in 1995.


Ruling reversed

Reversing an earlier ruling, a Humboldt County Superior Court judge has decided that relatives of Vera Perrott Vietor, who helped found the Humboldt Area Foundation, do not have the right to sue.

Vietor's relatives claim HAF is violating the Vietor will by building a 4,000-square-foot structure and paving a parking lot on the 14-acre parcel she left to the foundation. In her will, Vietor requested the property be left in its natural state. Heirs also charge that HAF is violating the will by using the principal of the trust, not just the interest.

Vietor's former home on Indianola Road now houses HAF's offices. The controversy was featured in the North Coast Journal Sept. 30.

On Sept. 27, Judge J. Michael Brown had determined her heirs had the right to sue HAF and Wells Fargo Bank the estate's trustee but also decided the 1972 will had not been breached.

Brown based his new ruling on "the rule against perpetuities" limiting legal challenges to within 21 years of death. "It assumes that society wants certainty of ownership," Brown said in his ruling.

This latest ruling marks a victory for the foundation, a Humboldt County nonprofit that manages project funds for local organizations.

Of the court's change of heart, HAF attorney Nancy Delaney of Eureka said she filed on behalf of her client no new information that would have swayed the judge between the two hearings.

In the next few weeks, Delaney plans to file a motion to dismiss the case because it "has no merit substantively," she said. In the meantime, HAF "will continue to stick to the donor's intent," she said.

"The judge just flip-flopped," said Joe Paladin, attorney for the Perrott family. Paladin said he is preparing an appeal on the issue of whether the heirs may sue.

Dredging resumes

Different ship, same schedule. It's back to business for the Humboldt Bay channel-deepening project after a federal judge in Oakland refused to stop it last week.

U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken denied the request for an injunction filed by two environmental groups demanding that continued dredging requires environmental study after a 2,000-gallon oil spill from the Stuyvesant during dredging operations killed wildlife.

The Environmental Protection Information Center and the Center for Biological Diversity filed notice of intent to sue against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the project, and the Bean Dredging Co., which owns the Stuyvesant the ship responsible for the two spills.

Manson Construction Co.'s Bayport the dredging ship resuming the job is deepening the harbor from 40 feet to 48 feet beyond the jetties and from 35 feet to 38 feet at the north bay near the Samoa channel.

The project, due for completion by Christmas Day, is aimed to help ships coming into the harbor to maneuver more safely and carry heavier loads, said David Hull of the Humboldt Bay, Harbor and Recreation District. Otherwise, some fully loaded ships have been forced to pass up Humboldt Bay and go north to Coos Bay and south to San Francisco Bay, he said.


Fires extinguished

The inland fires that consumed about 140,000 acres, blanketed the Willow Creek-Hoopa region with smoke and ash and cost more than $73 million to fight are finally out, fire officials reported Friday.

Rain storms doused the Megram and Onion fires in the Trinity National Forest east of Hoopa, which are now fully contained. Fire crews have just finished mopping up the hotspots this week. It's been almost three months since these fires were sparked by lightning strikes the most common cause of wildfires.

Parks plan out

Three years in the making, Redwood National and State parks has released the final version of its general plan.

The plan will receive a public hearing next week slated for 9 a.m. Nov. 17 at the Crescent Fire Protection District office on West Washington Boulevard in Crescent City. The final option will be selected and approved by the National Park Service and the California Department of Parks and Recreation.

The blueprint for planning and maintaining the 105,000-acre preserve for the next 20 years highlights four options, each with a different focus.

The favored alternative of the parks service includes resource protection to public-use opportunities, parks Superintendent Andy Ringgold said Monday. Watershed restoration would be increased under this plan, with a heavy emphasis on the Redwood Creek basin area.

The most controversial part of the plan lies due south of the basin, where the Freshwater Lagoon Spit would be designated a day-use area in three years. Until then, the parks service will charge campers a fee for staying overnight.

Each summer the spit is a favorite spot for hundreds of recreational vehicles who line the beach and set up housekeeping. Some visitors have gone as far as to cordon off the grounds, prompting fights.

The bumper-to-bumper campers pose a poor sense of arrival to a national park's southernmost entrance and is incompatible with habitat conservation efforts, Ringgold said.

The third option in the plan, which calls for a heavier emphasis in preservation, calls for the immediate removal of overnight camping. The parks' alternative serves as a compromise, Ringgold said.

While the second alternative proposes no change, plan option No. 4 in the massive, two-book document outlines more visitor facilities, with more campsites and interpretative displays scattered throughout the parks.

Spanning from Freshwater Lagoon off U.S. Highway 101 to Hiouchi on U.S. Highway 199 northeast of Crescent City, Redwood National and State Parks encompasses federal lands and three state parks: Jedediah Smith, Del Norte Coast and Prairie Creek Redwoods state parks.


Blame it on La Niña

The weather phenomenon responsible for atmospheric changes may have affected the ocean salmon fishing season, California Fish and Game officials reported.

In deciphering the numbers of the May through September season, Santa Rosa Fish and Game biologist Melody Palmer-Zwahlen has concluded that the harsh weather got sport fishermen off to a late start, therefore, reducing their catches.

Sport fishermen in the state hauled in more than 135,000 salmon.

"This is way below normal," Palmer-Zwahlen said, pinpointing an especially poor season in the Central Coast region this year. In 1998, California's anglers brought in almost 150,000 salmon, down from nearly 232,000 in 1997.

Commercial fishermen in the Klamath Management Zone, which extends from Horse Mountain on the King Range north to Humbug Mountain in southern Oregon, made about a third of their 6,000-fish quota with 2,364 salmon caught. This zone's commercial season, which only runs through September, only allows the fishermen to land the King salmon. Catching coho salmon is outlawed in the zone.

At 24,400 pounds for the Northern California region, what was caught weighed more than usual, Palmer-Zwahlen surmised by the weight tally.

"They either had a good day or a skunk day," she said.

Commercial fishermen from Santa Barbara to Crescent City reeled in 300,000 chinook, weighing 3.6 million pounds.

An ounce of prevention

Representatives from parishes throughout the Catholic Diocese of Santa Rosa told Archbishop William Levada that parishioners in the 140,000-member diocese want assurances they will never face another financial mess like the current one.

The North Coast diocese is trying to maneuver out of a $15 million deficit pledged from former management which includes Bishop G. Patrick Ziemann who resigned amid an alleged sexual scandal in July. Levada has taken over for Ziemann, in addition to his role in the San Francisco archdiocese.

The 18-member advisory council, of which Eureka Deacon Jim Hercher is a member, told Levada the parishioners also want an explanation of how the financial turmoil occurred.

As for future allocations, the special panel will hold the diocese financially accountable in its recovery plan. It met for the first time in Santa Rosa to "develop a plan so this kind of thing doesn't happen again," Hercher said.

"The panel is going to make decisions for its short-term needs and its long-term needs," said Herscher, who is a retired physician.

The second meeting slated for Nov. 22 will cover the nuts and bolts of the 5-year assignment. For now, the debt-ridden diocese has only one piece of property up for sale a 10-acre orchard in Santa Rosa, the Press Democrat reported.

In Humboldt County, St. Bernard high and elementary schools are facing a $600,000 deficit in pledged subsidies that once forced them to face a forced closure by Jan. 1 if half that amount wasn't secured. The schools have raised more than $250,000 thus far, school officials reported Monday.

Nearly 300 parents, teachers and students signed a formal petition a month ago demanding the diocese keep its word.

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