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Nov. 18, 2004
HOLLY YASHI HITS QVC:
Was that really Paul Lubitz, CEO
of Arcata jewelry manufacturer Holly Yashi, selling his quality
bracelets and earrings on the QVC shopping network late last
month? It was! A few months after roving QVC scouting teams spotted
Holly Yashi products in a New England store, the network successfully
recruited Lubitz to sell directly to their hordes of viewers/customers.
"The big eye-opener was the size of their market,"
Lubitz said last week. "In the 48 minutes I was on, they
moved hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of stuff."
Lubitz, who is planning future appearances next year, said that
actors from the Humboldt Light Opera helped him refine his pitch
before he went on the air. Jacqueline Debets, the county's economic
development coordinator, was pleased to hear about Lubitz's experience.
"It sounds like a great way for a seasoned company like
Holly Yashi to overcome our remoteness and reach markets,"
she said Tuesday. It turns out that Debets has some first-hand
experience with the shopping network -- for the last seven years,
her aunt, Denie Schach of Eureka, has been pitching her "Hairdini"
styling products over QVC. Schach, who moved to Humboldt County
in 2002, said Tuesday that Holly Yashi and QVC were a perfect
fit. "QVC is known for their jewelry," she said. "I'm
really not surprised Holly Yashi did well, as beautiful and unique
as their products are. I think it's awesome."
PALCO UNVEILS NEW SAWMILL:
The Pacific Lumber Co. was scheduled to dedicate on Wednesday
its new $25 million high-tech sawmill in Scotia, which the company
says is "the first new full-service sawmill built in Northern
California since the mid-1970s." Spokeswoman Erin Dunn said
the new mill was part of the company's "revitalizing Scotia"
effort, and was built to handle second-growth logs of up to 24
inches in diameter -- smaller than the old-growth logs that the
company's Carlotta mill was built for. In turn, the Carlotta
mill will close, and its workers are invited to apply for jobs
at the new mill. Dunn said the number of jobs was "about
the same," but a story in Timber West, a logging
and sawmills journal, said 119 workers at the Carlotta mill will
be given notices and 90 will be hired at Scotia.
NOT MANY FISH:
Salmon-watchers on the Klamath
River last week sounded the alarm -- the fall chinook run appears
to have bottomed out this year. Nat Pennington of the Salmon
River Restoration Council, a nonprofit organization that monitors
stocks on the Klamath and its tributaries, said that the group
and its affiliates have so far found only 57 carcasses of fish
that had completed the run and spawned -- a record low, with
three-quarters of the season gone. This year's fall run is the
first to be affected by the 2002 Klamath fish kill (the current
spawners were that year's babies), when some 64,000 salmon died
after being trapped downstream.
COBB DEMANDS RECOUNT:
Eureka's David Cobb, the 2004 Green Party presidential candidate,
issued a press release last week stating that he and Libertarian
candidate Michael Badnarik will demand a recount of votes in
Ohio. The campaigns jointly raised around $150,000 in a few days
to pay a fee for the recount, which can only be demanded by candidates
who appeared on the state's ballot or registered write-in candidates.
"The grassroots support for the recount has been astounding,"
said Blair Bobier, the Cobb campaign's media director.
BERG FIGHTS FOR RIGHT
Assemblymember Patty Berg will
co-chair two hearings next year aimed at crafting legislation
that will give Californians the right to physician-assisted suicide,
the Sacramento Bee reported on Sunday. Currently, only
Oregon has a law guaranteeing its citizens the right to end their
own lives if they are suffering from terminal diseases. The constitutionality
of the Oregon law is being challenged in the U.S. Supreme Court.
A shark attack off the Samoa Peninsula
last week has left a surfer with more than 50 stitches in his
legs and arms. Brian Kang, 38, an Arcata geographic information
systems specialist, was surfing with friends off the North Jetty
around 1 p.m. on Nov. 18 at a spot called Bunkers, when a shark
knocked him off his board and bit his leg. Kang, who was farther
from shore than any other surfer at that time, said that he then
pushed the shark's head away and had his hand bitten. "It
came at me from my left side, and I saw this big thrashing of
water and then it let go of me. Its nose was right there and
I pushed it. I could feel it the whole time on my feet and my
knees," Kang said. He then paddled back to shore, where
an ambulance brought him to St. Joseph Hospital. The shark severed
a tendon on Kang's left knee, which doctors told him will take
about six weeks to heal.
ARCATA ELECTION TAKE 2:
So far, three people have taken
out forms to run for Elizabeth Connor's vacated seat on the Arcata
City Council, according to City Hall staff, who would not name
names. Completed forms for the position are due Dec. 10 at 5
FILL `ER UP FOR FREE:
Thieves have made away with 1,200
gallons of gas from Renner Petroleum stations in McKinleyville,
Eureka and Fortuna within the last two months, Eureka police
said. Renner gas cards that had pin numbers attached were stolen
from cars at businesses in Eureka and Arcata and used to fill
four vehicles on numerous occasions, including one day when a
suspect filled multiple 55-gallon drums with gasoline. Eureka
resident Ruben Anthony Peredia, 28, is wanted in connection with
the pump pilfering; his 2000 Chevy Suburban was recovered by
police on Oct. 24 and is suspected to be among the gratis gas
guzzling vehicles. Police are also looking for the owner of a
light blue, two-door 1998 Ford Explorer. EPD recommends that
people who keep their gas cards in their cars not keep their
pin number in the car as well. Anyone with information is urged
to call EPD Detective Curtis Honeycutt at 441-4317.
HSU INVENTORS HONORED:
A Humboldt State team that designed
a minefield-clearing robot took home a $50,000 first prize in
the international Intel Environment Award competition last week.
Kenneth Owens, a mathematics professor, and Paul Burgess, a graduate
student, built the robot by hooking lots of advanced computer
technologies to a Bobcat tractor; the tractor can now drive itself
around areas seeded with landmines, clearing the field and making
it safe for humans. Before joining HSU, Owens was a robotics
engineer for NASA.
X-MAS TREE PERMITS AVAILABLE:
Holiday merry-makers wishing to
cut their own wild Christmas trees may now do so -- the Six Rivers
National Forest announced last week that tree permits are available
for $10. Permits are issued at Six Rivers' headquarters near
the Bayshore Mall in Eureka or at ranger stations in Willow Creek,
Gasquet, Bridgeville and Orleans. Call 442-1721 for more information.
One tree per household.
THAT'S QUALITY VINO:
The Carter House Inn's Restaurant
301 recently received its seventh straight "Grand Award"
from Wine Spectator magazine, the bible of the bibulous
set. According to the magazine, the Grand Award is intended to
recognize restaurants that have "a passionate, uncompromising
devotion to the quality of their wine programs." Only 88
restaurants throughout the world were selected for the award,
which is the highest honor the magazine offers.
Future of supply depends on fate
of pulp mill, new board members
Anyone who pays for water in
the greater Eureka area knows that their bills have taken a precipitous
jump in recent weeks. The reason?
Humboldt Bay Municipal Water
District Executive Director Carol Rische doesn't want to say
we have too much water, exactly, but "we have infrastructure
and capacity well above what we're currently supplying,"
she said. When the costs are born by fewer users, each pays more.
Two factors could make the situation
even more pressing: the fate of the financially strapped Stockton
Pacific Enterprises pulp mill, a mega water user that could shut
down by the end of the year, and a possible shift on the board
toward a more cautious approach to outside water buyers.
"We've got to come up with
something," Rische said. "The alternative is the community's
rates are going to skyrocket yet again."
In 1962, the water district
built the Matthews Dam to ensure a stable water supply for Humboldt
County and pave the way for large industrial users like pulp
mills and power plants. The dam created Ruth Lake, the 48,000-acre-foot
reservoir of Mad River water in Trinity County.
In the heyday of pulp, there
were two mills on the Samoa Peninsula, whose combined operations
used 40 million to 50 million gallons of water a day, Rische
said. All other users combined use 10 million a day. Then the
Simpson pulp mill shut down in 1993, and its contract with the
water district expired in 1999.
Now, the remaining mill faces
a $30 million debt -- at 17 percent interest -- and will either
change ownership or shut its doors by the end of the year, said
CEO Steve Fleischer. If the mill closes, the water district must
find other users, or pass the costs on to its 80,000 other customers,
located from Fieldbrook in the north down to south of Eureka.
The situation is so dire at
the pulp mill that all of its 162 employees agreed to take a
15 percent pay cut through the end of the year.
"We're hanging on because
our employees, our vendors, our constituents, have banded together
to make cost concessions that mean we're alive," Fleischer
said. But, he added, "this company will not survive with
$30 million of debt at 17 percent."
What would save it is a management-led
buyout, in which current managers would go in with other investors,
or a sale to an outside buyer. A Chinese company was scheduled
to tour the plant late this week, and a third potential buyer
came forward on Tuesday, Fleischer said. He declined to give
details about the suitors.
What about other customers?
Environmental groups in Humboldt County were up in arms last
year when Alaska businessman Ric Davidge floated a proposal to
buy Mad River water from the district and ship it south in gigantic
Activists raised a big red flag
on the idea, arguing that the rules of NAFTA could kick in if
we start selling our water.
Under NAFTA, you cannot be exclusive
about whom you trade with, said incoming water board member Kaitlyn
Sopoci-Belknap. The district could be forced to "sell our
water to the highest bidder and possibly lose your control over
it. That's not an environmental issue. It's a local control issue."
Sopoci-Belknap apparently beat
longtime incumbent Vern Cooney in the Nov. 2 election, though
the final tally was still close at press time. Another newcomer
to the board, fisheries biologist Randy Turner, said he was "still
in the learning phase" on the issue of outside water buyers.
The board members will take office in January.
Sopoci-Belknap said the board
needs to be "incredibly cautious" when considering
outside bidders for our water. She suggested the district remove
from its Web site the "We Have Water For Your Business!"
invitation that boasts of its 20 million gallon-per-day surplus.
"I think it's not in our
best interest having a big announcement on our Web site saying,
`We will sell you water,'" she said.
But Rische said the board may
have few options. The only other industry that would use anywhere
near as much water as a pulp mill is a power plant, she said.
Manufacturers that need to be close to a port might locate here,
but even those would use a miniscule amount of water in comparison.
To help keep the pulp mill running,
the water district agreed last year to slash its bill. But municipal
customers paid big-time -- their share of the costs of running
the system went from 37 percent to 55 percent.
If the pulp mill closes, the
district could save money by dismantling its huge industrial
infrastructure: the pipes, pumps and motors of which the pulp
mill is the sole remaining user, Rische said. But that would
mean closing the door to any new potential industries that might
need that water.
"Do we continue to maintain
[that infrastructure] for the potential benefit to a new customer,
or are we going to put it to bed?" Rische said.
Feb. 6, 2003 COVER STORY: IS THE WATER BAG PROPOSAL
A TROJAN HORSE?
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