Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Inmate Suicide

Posted By on Tue, Mar 12, 2013 at 2:56 PM

Forty-six-year-old Jose Fernandez-Moreno, the inmate found unconscious inside the Humboldt County jail last Friday, March 8, with a bed sheet tied around his neck, died yesterday at St. Joseph's Hospital. (See Sheriff's news release, below).

This is the second suicide (and second death) at the jail this year. On Jan. 17, a 56-year-old male inmate jumped to his death inside the housing unit.

There were two in-custody deaths last year in the jail, says Sheriff's Sgt. Duane Christian. One was deemed to be from medical complications; the other has not been declared yet, said Christian, because the coroner's office has not released an official report yet.

Since 2000, 16 inmates have died at the jail.

The latest suicide is still being investigated.

News release:


On Friday March 08, 2013 at about 7:00 p.m. a Humboldt County Correctional Officer, while on a routine security check within a housing unit, found inmate Jose Fernandez-Moreno, a 46 year old male, unconscious with a bed sheet tied around his neck. Correctional Officers and facility medical staff immediately began life saving efforts which resulted in successfully regaining a pulse.  Personnel from the Eureka Fire Department and City Ambulance responded and assisted in transporting Fernandez-Moreno to St. Joseph's Hospital where he was admitted. Fernandez-Moreno was placed on life support after his condition worsened. 
On Monday March 11, 2013 at 6:23 pm Fernandez-Moreno died as a result of his suicide attempt.
Humboldt County Sheriff's Detectives are continuing their involvement in the investigation which has been turned over to the Humboldt County Coroners Office.  An autopsy date is pending. Fernando-Moreno was in custody on charges of Assault with Intent to Commit Rape, Rape by Force/Violence/Duress, and Penetration by Foreign Object, his bail was set at $250,000.  Fernandez-Moreno was also being held on a detainer issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Mike Downey, Sheriff

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Friday, March 8, 2013

Wage Hike Proposal Headed to Eureka City Council

Posted By on Fri, Mar 8, 2013 at 4:01 PM


Here's a ray of hope for people working at Eureka's Taco Bell. Or Wal-Mart. Or any other business* in the city that pays workers as little as the law will tolerate:

A petition to boost Eureka's minimum wage to $12 an hour has received enough valid signatures to be presented to the City Council at its March 19 meeting. And if the council shoots it down, as proponents predict it will, the measure will be placed on next year's ballot.

Eureka City Clerk Pam Powell announced earlier today that the "Eureka Fair Wage Act" was signed by 1,635 qualified voters, easily clearing the threshold of 1,370 signatures (10 percent of the city's voters in 2011) needed to be deemed legit.

If the measure succeeds, it would give Eureka the highest minimum wage in the country by a fairly wide margin. The mark is currently held by San Francisco, where the lowest wage is $10.24 per hour. Minimum wage in Eureka (and most of California) is $8 an hour. President Obama, in his State of the Union address, called for raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25/hour to $9/hour.

*CLARIFICATION: The act would only apply to employers with 25 or more employees.

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Jerks Stole Your Connection

Posted By on Fri, Mar 8, 2013 at 12:48 PM

Well, you can't very well blame Suddenlink for this one. Suddenlink users across the Humboldt land -- or in Trinidad and the Eel River Valley, at least -- suffered internet outages today because, says the Sheriff's Office, somebody cut and run with the company's fiber optic cables serving those areas.

Apparently, the dirty dipper(s) cut and made off with 24-feet of fiber optic cable at the underground vault near Grizzly Bluff Road and Blue Slide Road in Ferndale at 12:17 a.m.. About 1,000 customers lost service. Then they headed up to Trinidad, says the Humboldt County Sheriff's news release:

Approximately two hours later service on another Suddenlink  Fiber Optic Cable was lost in the Trinidad area. When Suddenlink repair crews arrived at the location of the damage on Scenic Drive, Trinidad near the US 101 southbound onramp, they discovered that line had been cut. Approximately 950 customers were affected by the loss of that line.

They don't know who did it yet. But whoever they are, they'll be responsible for about $10,000 in damages, at least. Plus, they'll be felons.

If you have any tips, call the Sheriff's Office, 445-7251, or its crime tip line, 268-2539.

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Old Town Carriage Co. Sold

Posted By on Fri, Mar 8, 2013 at 7:59 AM


These are the final days of a familiar pair -- or pair of pairs -- in Eureka. Marty L'Herault, he of the dapper hats and Old Town tales, has finally sold the Old Town Carriage Co. On March 25, he turns over the company, the horses, the rig and all the rest to the mysterious new guy who has bought the whole deal. No more Marty and Buster. No more Marty and Barney.

Won't the horses miss him? Nah, said L'Herault yesterday evening as the low sun dropped warm glow all over the red-brick F Street Square and the resident pigeon flock conspired against shiny new-car paintjobs. "Barney," he said, gesturing at mister white fuzz standing patiently in his traces, "only cares about the carrot."

To illustrate, he grabs a carrot from the big sack of carrots over by his carriage-rides sign, and instantly the previously indifferent beast has eyes only for him. Turns big shaggy head to follow him -- follow the hand with the carrot, rather -- as L'Herault walks back and stands out of reach. Stares until finally the carrot comes closer.

He'll miss Barney and Buster, of course. But not enough to delay his plans any longer to pursue an acting career in New York City. He's been plotting this for some time now, but had to sell the carriage company first.

So, who is the new owner?

L'Herault gets all friendly-cagey, says, "He's perfect for the job." Smart businessman, L'Herault wants the new guy -- a fellow with a Liverpool accent and decades of carriage driving experience -- to arrive with a flourish and tell his own story then.

Well, why not wait? We could tell you more, but it's more fun this way.

L'Herault's last day driving is March 24. He said some local folks have agreed to drive the carriage for weddings and occasional Saturday events in April and May. And then the new owner will resume the Old Town Carriage rides in Old Town, "six days a week" all year long, after that.

L'Herault said he'll miss Humboldt, but plans to return at least once a year. His youngest brother, Marshall, lives here; their brother, Matthew, also lived here until his death last year, two days after Christmas, at age 53 from pulmonary fibrosis.

"It's truly bittersweet to be leaving here," L'Herault said.

His first stop is Wisconsin, where two older brothers live and where he plans to store some personal belongings. Then New York, here he comes.

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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Not All About The Shark

Posted By on Thu, Mar 7, 2013 at 3:58 PM


Just wind, waves, sun and eye-aching blue sky today out at the beach. Slight breeze, biting sharp.

Not far from the Bunker Road parking lot, north of the North Jetty, surfer Bill Lydgate had parked his truck on the waveslope. His surfboard jutted out of the back end of the camper, and he was scrubbing wax off its front end.

Jennifer Bell, meanwhile, was putting together a tiny camera with a bright orange float-block stuck to it. Michael McClymons and Ted Okell, nearby, readied their own camera equipment and discussed the operation. They tried attaching the tiny orange camera to the now-clean spot on the surfboard -- excellent; it would catch the speeding water beneath the board, Lydgate's feet, action.


It was the sort of footage the film crew -- friends from the digital media program at College of the Redwoods -- needed to complete their documentary about surfer Scott Stephens, the great white shark that attacked him near this spot last October, and the people in the water at the time of the attack, and on the beach, who rescued him.

They saved Stephen's life, according to the surgeon who pulled Stephen' flesh back together in the emergency room.

In fact, the documentary has become very much about Stephens' rescuers, who acted so quickly and fearlessly, McClymons and Bell said. (A fourth member of the shoot, Robert Stoneman, was home sick today). Originally, the crew had come together because Stephens needed someone to help him film raw footage of him recounting the attack to give to the extreme-sport website Buddhasport.com, which had asked for it. First they filmed an interview of Stephens at Lost Coast Brewery (where his shark-bit surfboard hangs on a wall). Then they started interviewing the people who rescued him.

"And we realized, they're the real story," said McClymons.

The crew isn't ignoring the attack itself. For that part of the film, Okell, an artist, has drawn sketches of the attack as Stephens describes it: He's just ridden another wave, it's a fantastic day, and he's paddling out for more. A shark grabs him. It pulls him under. It shakes him. He punches it in the nose. It lets go and, bleeding but staying calm, he swims to shore. Stephens' voice will narrate over the sketched scenes, edited together into a vignette by McClymons.

The film then recounts, through interviews, the derring-do of the folks who tried to swim toward him through shark (and blood-tainted) water, the ones on the beach who laid on him to stop his bleeding, flagged down a pickup on the beach which hustled him to town, its driver calling an ambulance to meet him there, and the emergency room crew who attended him.

Lydgate, who was at Bunkers that day but far enough away he missed all the action, and Okell got in the truck and drove a bit closer to the jetty. The swell seemed better there. McClymons and Bell, on foot, met up with them. Lydgate stripped off his clothes and pulled on his wetsuit, then he and Okell attached the little camera -- donated to the crew by GoPro -- to the surfboard so its eye could record surfboard, feet and rushing water as Lydgate surfed.

Then, while Okell filmed, Lydgate walked into the waves.


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C.R. faces the music [now with official P.R.]

Posted By on Thu, Mar 7, 2013 at 2:27 PM

There will be a lot less music in the future at College of the Redwoods if the college administration follows through with plans for reductions in class offerings in its music department.

Earlier today the Journal received a leaked copy of a memo sent by C.R.'s music department head Ed Macan to C.R. students and faculty at C.R. and Humboldt State University. Macan detailed changes in the music program that will affect most music classes. Courses including concert band, jazz ensemble, studio band and oratorio choir are shifting into the college's Community Education program, which means students will not receive transferable credit if, for example, they transfer into the HSU music program.

According to Paul DeMark, C.R.'s director of communications and marketing, the cuts are in part a response to budget restraints imposed by the state. "We also have a structural deficit here, which means we're spending more on a variety of things than we're taking in. That's why we're making these judicial cuts.

"We're facing a serious financial crisis here. We had layoffs last year. We're still facing a $2 million deficit," he said.

DeMark said with less money coming in from the state and not enough coming in from enrollment, the college is focusing on courses in three areas: basic skills, career technical and coursework for academic transfer for those moving up the education ladder.

"What we're trying to do is based on reallocating resources to areas where classes are in demand," he said, for example, speech, math, English and biology.

Regarding the pending cuts, DeMark said, "It's not just music. There are other areas."

DeMark crafted a press release laying out C.R. President Kathryn G. Smith's views on the subject. It mostly reiterates what he'd already said, but he details other programs being cut back: "Other subject areas that have had the number of class sections reduced include construction technology, anthropology and foreign languages such as French, German and Japanese." Here's the whole thing, dated March 13:

CR reallocating resources to better serve students' needs

College of the Redwoods is taking steps to reallocate faculty and student services resources to better serve students and help them succeed.  

As declining state revenue and increasing expenses continue to plague California community colleges, CR is finding it necessary to decrease offerings in some areas and reallocate those resources to high-demand classes.

After a review of student demand in previous semesters,  CR will be increasing  the number of classes in the 2013 summer and fall class schedules needed by the majority of students planning to graduate or transfer.  These include speech, English, math and biology. Other areas where classes will be added include Native American Studies, sociology and psychology.

"By increasing the number of classes in these high-demand areas, our goal is to help students complete their degrees and certificate programs faster," said CR President Kathryn Smith.  "The state of California is emphasizing the importance of having more students complete their educational programs. At CR, we want to help our students succeed and move on to a four-year university or into the job market."

In the student services area, CR is initiating a new First-Year Experience Program for students aimed at helping them to be successful. This program includes: mandatory counseling and student education plans; more structured orientation as well as online orientation; early alert intervention; and special student success workshops in study skills, financial literacy and time management.

These student success initiatives have been developed collectively by faculty, staff, administration, managers and students.  The Community Colleges Chancellor's Office, with direction from the State Legislature, has required community colleges to adopt some of these programs.   

Serious fiscal issues add to need for changes

The primary factor in CR's reallocation of resources has been the serious financial challenges facing the college.  CR is trying to close a $2 million gap in its budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year.

Over the past five years, CR has received 13 percent less in state funding to operate the college.  That funding decrease is combined with the fact that CR's operating costs have continued to climb with salary, health benefits and utility costs.  This is causing a "structural deficit."

"That means as a college, we are increasing our yearly expenses while receiving less funding," Smith said. "We have exhausted our reserve funds. So we have to move our resources to areas that are needed by students and that will increase enrollments. More students mean an increase in funding from the state for CR. We are working hard together to make sure CR remains vital and sustainable."

Smith added that "in order for CR to receive the same amount of revenue in 2012-13 as last year, we must enroll the equivalent of 100 additional full-time students in the summer 2013 term."

To address its financial challenges, in the last three months, CR permanently eliminated 39 staff and management positions, and will eliminate two senior level administrative positions by July 1, 2013.

While no academic or career technical education programs have been eliminated at the college, certain areas have had courses offerings reduced. One area is music. The degree program which includes music courses -- the Associate of Arts Degree in Liberal Arts -- remains completely intact. However, the performance classes, including such things as the Concert Band, the Jazz Ensemble, the Wind Ensemble, Chorale and Opera Production -- are slated to be moved to CR's Community Education division.

Part of the reason for moving these classes to CR's Community Education program is the state recently imposed a limit on repeating classes.

"CR values these music classes as does the community, so we hope that they will continue to exist as a part of Community Education," Smith said.  "The Chancellor's Office has mandated that every community college must focus on these three core missions - degree transfer, career technical education and basic skills programs in English and math."

Other subject areas that have had the number of class sections reduced include construction technology, anthropology and foreign languages such as French, German and Japanese.

And here's that memo sent out by Ed Macan:


From: Ed Macan

Date: Thursday, March 7, 2013


In recent weeks, the College of the Redwoods' administration has made the decision to reduce the size and scope of its Music program. This reduction will take full effect in the Fall semester, 2013.

What does this mean?

The College has made the decision not to renew the contracts of its associate (that is, adjunct or part-time) music faculty after the end of Spring Semester 2013. As a result, Ed Macan will be the sole remaining music instructor at C.R.

Therefore, the following courses will not be offered in the near future:

Music 22B/P/W - Beginning Band - (Brass, Percussion, Woodwinds)

Music 26A/B - Beginning Class Voice

Music 27A/B - Intermediate Class Voice

Music 29A/B/C - Class Guitar

Music 44 - Opera Production

Music 59 - Chorale

Music 61 - Concert Band

Music 62 - Jazz Ensemble

Music 63 - Wind Ensemble

Music 64 - Studio Band

Music 70 - Oratorio Choir

The following courses will continue to be offered:

Music 1 - Introduction to Music

Music 2A - Beginning Harmony and Musicianship

Music 2B - Intermediate Harmony and Musicianship

Music 3 - Advanced Harmony and Musicianship

Music 10 - Music in History

Music 12 - American Popular Music

Music 24A/B - Beginning Class Piano

Music 25A/B - Intermediate Class Piano

The administration has expressed intent to move the Concert Band, Jazz Band and Choir to the Community Education division, where they would continue to be offered, but not for credit. Therefore, if you were a music major who planned to transfer to Humboldt State University or another institution, you could not transfer any ensemble credits, because there would be no credits to transfer-Community Ed. courses cannot be taken for credit.

Q. Are the courses that are no longer being offered being deleted from the College catalog?

A. At this time there are no plans to delete the courses from the College catalog. The language that the administration has used is that the College will not financially support the offering of these courses at this time.

Q. If I am a music major planning to transfer to a four-year institution, does this affect me?

A. Yes, but its precise impact on you depends on what institution you are transferring to and precisely what your major is. You can still take C.R.'s two-year theory sequence and two-year piano sequence and either transfer the credits to your institution of choice, or test into a comparable class in that institution's analogous sequence. You are most likely to be impacted by the lack of opportunity to take for-credit ensembles at C.R., as many institutions expect students transferring in as juniors to have at least four units of ensemble credit.

Q. I want to express my opinion about this decision: what is the best way to do that?

A. There are several avenues open to you:

(1) Go to the Board meeting, held the first Tuesday of each month, request to speak (there is a form you will be asked to fill out), and convey your feelings about this decision.

(2) Write a letter to your Board member. The College of the Redwoods web page has a page for the Board of Trustees that will tell you who your Board member is (it varies depending on where you live) and how to go about contacting them.

(3) Write a letter to President Kathryn G. Smith expressing your feelings about this decision. This letter can be sent as follows: President Kathryn G. Smith/Presidents' Office/College of the Redwoods/7351 Tompkins Hill Road/Eureka, CA 95501. Or she can be reached by e-mail at Kathy-Smith@Redwoods.edu.

(4) Get together with a group of music students to create a petition, sign it, and do the following with it: Present it to the Board of Trustees; present it to the President, send it, with an explanatory letter, to local media outlets. Send a letter to the editor of the Times-Standard.

If the Board and the administration receive no feedback from the community about this decision, it is likely to stand indefinitely. If enough people express displeasure about this decision, they may reconsider.

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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Pot Permit Ordinance Moseys Along

Posted By on Wed, Mar 6, 2013 at 5:26 PM

The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors decided yesterday to take its draft medical marijuana outdoor cultivation ordinance to the hills.

The proposed ordinance would require outdoor medical pot farms to be registered with the county public health branch and to follow certain rules -- or be considered a nuisance. Farms would have to register once a year; prove that all the buildings on the farm are permitted; show where the water for the plants will come from, how much of it will be used and whether the farmer has the right to it; and prove that no illegal chemicals are going to be used on the plants.

The draft-- which you can read on the board's website -- notes some registration method alternatives, including one in which the information that a permit applicant gives the county would be returned to the applicant and not kept by the county.

This set-up might avert the sort of troubles seen in Mendocino County, which tried a permit program -- then stopped it after the feds made threats -- and now is fending off U.S. Justice Department efforts to secure the information growers had given the county when they registered their farms.

As noted in a report on yesterday's board meeting in the Times-Standard today, Humboldt's staff is patterning the ordinance after a so-far more successful one passed in Tehama County. The T-S reports that the board decided to have staff set up several public meetings in rural Humboldt, south end and east side, for more ordinance talk.

Over at the LoCO, Kym Kemp wrote an excellent piece on the draft ordinance and had several folks invested in the topic weigh in.

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Block Busters

Posted By on Wed, Mar 6, 2013 at 4:01 PM


Those surfers! Another beach disaster was averted the other day after Humboldt Surfrider member Bill Lydgate spread the alarm that one of those giant, shell-encrusted concrete-encased styrofoam blocks -- they come from floating docks -- had washed ashore and was breaking apart on the beach near Bunker Road on the North Jetty. Wrote Lydgate in his Feb. 28 email blast:

"Yesterday, the block was intact. During the high tide and 12' swell last night, the block cracked open and has started to spew polystyrene. ... The block is approximately 10' x 8' x 3' so there may be 9 cubic yards of styrofoam."

If the block didn't float away in the next high tide that night, he wrote, maybe a bunch of people could go out and wrestle it in and take it away.

March 1, the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District got a volunteer 'dozer operator out there who hauled the thing to the parking lot. Surfrider members cleaned up the foam-scattered beach.

Dan Berman, director of conservation for the harbor district, said the blocks are likely from old docks within Humboldt Bay. This was a a rare one that made it to a beach outside the harbor entrance, he said.

"There's 21 of these things in Humboldt Bay that we need to clean up," he said. "There's some on the shore at Indian Island, where the Wiyot Tribe is doing cleanup. A number around the bay are either washed up on the shoreline or half buried in the sand or mud."

The Wiyot Tribe and the district are seeking a grant to do the work.

Why are they a problem? Well, the trash factor -- a big mess of foam all over the beach and water. And who'd want to run a boat into one of those things bobbing around waterlogged and unseen just beneath the surface?

The roughly 2,000-pound block taken in last week will end up at the Redwood Marine Terminal, where the district has been stockpiling stray dock blocks until their next purpose is discovered. In the past, Kernen Construction, based in Arcata, has taken blocks and recycled them, said Berman.


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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

More Time To Apply For Trinny Council

Posted By on Tue, Mar 5, 2013 at 11:16 AM

Well, today was the deadline to apply to serve on the Trinidad City Council. But only one brave citizen has dared put in an application.

What, Trinidadians, too good for the city? Scaredypants? Insecure and cowering? Cynical, jaded, reclusive, selfish? Busy?!

Anyway, the new deadline is this Friday, March 8, by 9 a.m. Once again, to apply, call City Clerk Gabe Adams at 677-0223 Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., or email him at cityclerk@trinidad.ca.gov. Or drop your resume and letter of interest off at Trinidad City Hall, 409 Trinity Street.

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Ride For Mello

Posted By on Tue, Mar 5, 2013 at 10:20 AM

Bigfoot Bicycle Club is hosting a memorial bicycle ride for John Mello on Sunday, March 10. Mello was killed while riding his bicycle on Highway 101.

The ride begins at 10 a.m. at the Arcata Plaza, goes through the Arcata Bottom and over the Mad River on the Hammond Trail Bridge, then continues north, eventually ending up at the place where Mello died, says Bigfoot's Tim Daniels in a news release on Green Wheels:

He details the rest of the ride, after it crosses the Mad River:

We will regroup at Roger's Market in McKinleyville for those who want to join us there. We will depart Roger's Market at 11:00 a.m. and will follow the Hammond Trail, Clam Beach Drive, 101 to Westhaven Dr. to Scenic Dr. to Patrick's Point Dr. to 101 and turn around at the Big Lagoon turn-off. The return trip will follow the same route with a stop at the memorial John's brother Joe has erected at the location of the collision.

Bring water and snacks.

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