Friday, March 23, 2012

Reggae on the River – Still at Benbow

Posted By on Fri, Mar 23, 2012 at 12:12 PM

There's something about Reggae on the River that gets the rumor mill grinding. In the last month the Journal has heard from readers that the annual concert put on by the Mateel Community Center was "definitely moving to a new location," away from Benbow, that everything was in place for relocating to Riverview Ranch, home of the Redwood Run, or that the show might move to Cooks Valley Campground near Richardson's Grove and next door to the Dimmick Ranch, site of Reggae on the River 2006, and the home of the seemingly defunct renegade concert Reggae Rising.

In part, all of this was prompted by a note on the Mateel's website announcing that the start of ticket sales would be delayed: Instead of going on sale March 1, as previously announced, the date was pushed back to April 1, while they said, they were "working on some exciting venue and campground developments that will come to the great delight of our fans." When asked for specifics, the Mateel folks simply said they were "exploring some options," and that they'd let us know when plans were firm.

The Mateel board met earlier this week, and made its decision. "We're going to be at Benbow again," said Mateel General Manager Justin Crellin, explaining that "there were just too many question marks" with the other options explored, which did, in fact, include Cooks Valley and Riverview Ranch.


Not that all questions are answered regarding remaining at Benbow State Recreation Area. The park is one of several dozen slated for closure by the state of California due to budget cuts. While park officials have assured the Mateel that there's no issue with use of the meadow area along the Eel River for the concert and for the Mateel's annual Summer Arts and Music Festival in early June, the future of the campground is still in doubt. According to Crellin, park officials have been negotiating with a third party vendor who may take over park management, but that deal is not yet concluded. In the meantime, Mateel staff will handle camping reservations at the Benbow campground for Summer Arts and will open the campground themselves. "We only recently reached an agreement with the park on that," said Crellin. "We'll open up to our vendors first, then go to public sales." The camping setup for Reggae on the River remains uncertain. "The option for camping will be there. We just don't know how it will work," he said.

Crellin, who also serves as the Mateel talent coordinator, pointed out one advantage of remaining at Benbow for Reggae: The other sites explored were for single stage shows. As in the previous years, this summer's Reggae will have two stages, which means more opportunities for local and regional acts.

Acts confirmed so far for Reggae on the River 2012 Saturday and Sunday, July 21 and 22, includes Toots and The Maytals, Midnite, Oliver Mtukudzi and Black Spirits, Pato Banton and the Now Generation, Yami Bolo, Calypso Rose, Romain Virgo, Nkulee Dube, Duane Stephenson, Tosh Meets Marley, Winston Jarrett and Guidance Band, I-Kronik, Yellow Wall Dub Squad and The Lions, with "more to come."


While there's much to do for this year's concert, Crellin and company are also looking toward next year's show. A note on the Mateel website says, "We are also thrilled to announce that we recently entered into a contract with French's Camp, the original venue for Reggae On The River for its first 20 plus years, and are working diligently to see the event return home in 2013 and beyond (pending county and regulatory agency approval)."

Gaining that approval will undoubtedly prove a major task. And you can be sure a lot more unconfirmed rumors will pop up as they work through it.


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Monday, March 19, 2012

Shooting Probe Could Be Swift

Posted By on Mon, Mar 19, 2012 at 4:29 PM

One Fortuna police officer involved in a deadly shooting is already back on the job after three days of paid leave, and a second officer could return to active duty within a week or so, Fortuna Police Chief Bill Dobberstein said today.

"We're hoping to have everything wrapped up by the end of this week," the chief said, in the investigation of Fortuna's first officer-involved shooting in at least 18 years. Fortuna is taking a co-lead in that investigation, along with the Humboldt County District Attorney's Office.

The victim, Jacob Robert Newmaker, 26, of Fortuna, was pronounced dead Friday morning at Redwood Memorial Hospital. Police say Newmaker showed up in a stranger's yard around 6 a.m. Friday screaming incoherently, then took off on his bicycle. When police caught up with him soon after, they tangled. Dobberstein said the man was tasered, first mildly then more severely, but continued to struggle and yanked away an officer's baton. One of the two officers on the scene shot Newmaker after he raised the baton and appeared ready to strike the other officer, Dobberstein said.


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Friday, March 16, 2012

Is This Stripped Bike a Crime or an Art Installation?

Posted By on Fri, Mar 16, 2012 at 11:45 AM

This year, it seems, the tableau outside the Humboldt County Courthouse has served as a Rorschach test for local residents. Some look at the huddled Occupy protesters and see a righteous social movement -- stallwart defenders of justice. Others look at the same scene and see wastrels. Social rot.

Some look at hand-drawn signs tied to the chain-link fence and see the First Amendment in action; others see vandalism.

Then there's the courthouse building itself: Is it the ugliest government building in Humboldt County, or is it the ugliest in the state?

Today the Journal received via email two photos from courhouse employee/bicycle commuter Rodney Brunlinger, along with the following message:


My friend, photographer Kenton Davis Armstrong, took these photos this morning next to the Courthouse on I Street.

This bike has been locked up for more than one month.  Last week, the seat disappeared.  Last night, the wheels followed.

For me, these photos represent the social, political, and financial rust of America in 2012.

Lean back, rub your chin in a thoughtful manner and tell us what you see.


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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Cannery Dreams in Weitchpec

Posted By on Thu, Mar 15, 2012 at 10:35 AM


A Yurok family plans to build a cannery in Weitchpec, near the confluence of the Klamath and Trinity rivers, and has been accepting pledges at Kickstarter to get the venture going.

Tom and Morneen Willson, who own Spey-gee Point Resort and Guide Services, co-founded The Source Food Company late last year with Billee Willson, who works in human services for Sacramento County. Their intent, according to their Kickstarter page, is to try to restore their community -- stuck in a depression of high unemployment -- to a semblence of the bountiful days their great grandparents enjoyed, when Weitchpec was "the center of commerce ... rich in resources both in the river and on the mountains."

"Food was so plentiful that our people had time to create objects of beauty and utility. The Yurok women are known for their fine basketry; a craft developed in this rich land and made entirely of the resources available here."

The Willsons will build the cannery and let community members process their own harvests there -- salmon and berries and possibly more. The Willsons hope to create a gourmet market for their own hand-crafted salmon goodies -- canned, smoked, jerked.

"We recognize our food supply is becoming fragile and living in such a remote location, the cost is high and the supply could be cut off easily. While this cannery will be individually owned, the cannery becomes the first step in helping the community meet their nutritional needs locally and creating additional income through surplus sales.

The cannery is only one aspect of the food security vision for this community. Our vision is to see our friends and family take initiative to build herds and flocks, to garden and grow crops, to fish and to gather."

They're working on FDA approval now, and are asking for donations to help them pay regulatory fees, buy equipment including freezers and flash-freezers and smoke house, set up the cannery and conduct food safety training. They hope to open the operation this summer.

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CR Board Names New College President

Posted By on Thu, Mar 15, 2012 at 9:50 AM


College of the Redwoods' Board of Trustees has made its selection from the three finalists named last month: Kathryn G. Lehner, who has been serving as the president/superintendent of Mendocino College since 2005. Here's the press release:

The College of the Redwoods Board of Trustees announced on Wednesday, March 14, that it has offered the position of CR president/superintendent to Kathryn G. Lehner.  

The Trustees are working on a transition timeline for when Ms. Lehner would assume the role of CR president. Until she begins her appointment, CR Interim President Utpal Goswami will continue in his position. Goswami has been the interim president since March 2011. He served as the vice president of instruction from July 2010 until he was appointed the interim president.

CR Board of Trustees President Colleen Mullery said, "The Board is confident that Kathy will provide strong leadership and direction for the CR District during a critical time in its history. Kathy's successful tenure as president of a rural college for seven years gives her deep experience and a rich perspective that should prove invaluable as the college envisions its future during these rapidly changing times for higher education.

"The Board of Trustees is appreciative of the leadership that CR Interim President Utpal Goswami has provided to the CR District since March 2011. We are pleased that he will remain a part of the institution as the vice president of instruction."

Ms. Lehner, who is currently serving as the president/superintendent of Mendocino College in Ukiah, said, "I am truly honored to be selected as CR's next president. Having worked for the last nine years in a district adjacent to CR, I am well aware of the stellar reputation of CR's faculty and staff.  Meeting the challenges surrounding the latest accreditation sanction will be a demanding task. However, I am confident that working together we can accomplish our goal of bringing CR into full compliance with the accreditation standards. I am pleased to be able to apply my experience in both accreditation and finance to help CR address the current issues and I look forward to relocating to Eureka and becoming an active member of the local community."

Ms. Lehner came to Mendocino College in 2003 and served as its vice president of academic affairs for two years. She has been the president/superintendent of the college since 2005.

For nine years she has been involved with the North State Rural Community College Association, of which CR is also a member. As the longest-sitting president of this northern California group, Ms. Lehner is currently serving as its chair. She also represents the northern colleges on the statewide Chief Executive Officers of California Community Colleges, the group representing all California community college presidents and chancellors.

Ms. Lehner has established a positive relationship with the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC). She successfully led Mendocino College through a comprehensive accreditation self-study. She was called upon by the ACCJC in fall 2011 to fill in as a team leader in an emergency after the scheduled leader was unable to visit a college at the last minute.  She has served as a team leader for two other ACCJC college accreditation visits.

Ms. Lehner earned a bachelor's degree in accounting at the University of Kansas and a master of business administration (MBA) at the University of New Mexico.

Prior to coming to Mendocino College, Ms. Lehner worked for nine years at Pikes Peak Community College in Colorado Springs, Colo. At Pikes Peak she had these roles: associate vice president for educational services for two years; dean of the division of business education and military programs for five years; assistant dean of the division of business education; and an accounting faculty member for two years.

            Ms. Lehner has worked as certified public accountant from 1978 to the present and worked in the private sector as a CPA for more than 10 years.


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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Time to Sharpen Your eTrek Sticks

Posted By on Wed, Mar 14, 2012 at 5:06 PM


The Guv has proposed closing 70 state parks to ease the budget burden a bit, and several are in our area -- including Fort Humboldt and Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park, through which the Van Duzen River flows.

Some of these parks have been saved from closure by private and government entities; most have not. A week from now, Wednesday, March 21, State Sen. Noreen Evans hosts an eTown Hall Meeting, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. This is your time to webchat about the proposed closures and submit your brilliant ideas on how to avert them. And to jab those pointy walking sticks at your computer screen.

Go here and follow the directions (including how to RSVP).

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Popular Mechanics gets Kinetic

Posted By on Wed, Mar 14, 2012 at 3:05 PM


Popular Mechanics, the magazine for wrench-wielding nerds, features a story this week on our very own mega-exaltation of artsy mechanical nerdity: the Kinetic sculpture race (in case you needed telling).

And, somewhat self-consciously and perhaps in need of explaining his attention to this costumed, joyous absurdity, author James Vlahos asks:

"Why would people spend hundreds of hours to create all-terrain racing sculptures?"

Then he answers with PM gusto:

"The obvious answer is because kinetic racing is fun, but the rationale goes deeper than that. Events like the Kinetic Grand Championship attract both studio artists and grease-stained engineers with the same intoxicating lure: an oddball challenge whose arbitrary constraints inspire wonderfully unconventional solutions. The mandate that all entries be human-powered makes the race more accessible to students and hobbyists. And the no-engines rule gives the race a third component besides artistic design and mechanical engineering-human sweat."

Read Vlahos' story, "Burning Man Meets Daytona: California's Crazy Gonzo Race," yourself.

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Monday, March 12, 2012

Environmental Group Sues Bayshore Mall

Posted By on Mon, Mar 12, 2012 at 5:23 PM


Northern California River Watch, an environmental group based in Petaluma, is suing the Bayshore Mall and its previous corporate owners, General Growth Properties, for failing to restore five acres of wetlands.

The nonprofit alleges that GGP failed to comply with a requirement in the Coastal Development Permit it was issued way back in 1985. According the the complaint, the permit required restoration of 5.17 acres of wetlands on the mall property, and the mall's owners did no such restoration, thus violating the California Coastal Act.

One possible wrinkle: The Bayshore Mall changed owners back in January as part of General Growth Properties' post-bankruptcy restructuring.

River Watch is seeking $30,000 in civil fines, plus another $15,000 fine for each and every day that the owners have been in violation. Anyone have a calculator? 

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Woman Tortured, Molested During Home-Invasion Robbery

Posted By on Mon, Mar 12, 2012 at 4:02 PM

Note: This post has been altered from an earlier version: Portions of the press release have been deleted to protect the victim's identity.

From the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office:

On 03-12-2012, approximately 10:00 a.m. the Fortuna Police Department was notified of a Home Invasion Robbery which just occurred on Drake Hill Road in Fortuna. The Fortuna Police Department responded and notified the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office. The address where the crime occurred was in the Sheriffs Office jurisdiction.

When deputies arrived they met with the female victim. The victim told the deputies she was home alone when she saw an unknown male in her home at approximately 9:00 a.m. The male demanded money, drugs and asked her where the marijuana growing operation was at. About this time the female was covered with a sheet by another male suspect, whom the victim did not see. The suspects tied the victim to a chair with electrical cord. The victim was sexually assaulted, and then assaulted with a lit cigarette by the suspects who demanded to know where the money and drugs were located, while the victim continued to tell the suspects she had no drugs or a marijuana grow operation.

During the robbery the victim's husband called the victim, who answered her telephone using her foot since she was tied up. When he answered she began screaming into the phone to her husband about what was occurring. The suspects heard the victim calling the husband and fled the home prior to law enforcement being called to the scene. The suspects fled with some of the victim's cash and jewelry that she had in her home.

When deputies arrived they found evidence consistent with the victims account as to what occurred. The victim refused medical treatment. Deputies found no indication of any illegal drug activity or marijuana cultivation at the residence.

The suspects are both described as white males. The victim was only able to see one of the suspects prior to having her head covered. He is described as follows:

Male, early 20s, slender "Runners Build", approximately 150 pounds, 5'10" tall, straight dark brown hair below the ears, wearing black wranglers, black suede type shoes with "E" written on them.

Anyone with information for the Sheriffs Office regarding this case or criminal related activity is encouraged to call the Sheriffs Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriffs Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.


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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Kala Kenyatte is Gone

Posted By on Sat, Mar 10, 2012 at 8:00 AM


Kala Kenyatte, a big man, and a fixture on the Humboldt music scene, died Thursday morning at around 3 a.m. at Mad River Hospital due to renal and congestive heart failure, the result of ongoing health problems related to diabetes.

Born George Allen Dixon on Oct. 16, 1946 in Westchester, Virginia, Kala was active in sports, football, basketball, and baseball in high school and junior high. In later years he played with the Blue Lake Yacht Club in the local beer league.

He joined the Air Force after high school and was stationed in Ventura, fulfilling a dream to live in California, "where it's always sunny." Post military he found work assisting developmentally disabled adults, who he saw as "his kids."

He had a lifelong love of music. In a 2003 interview with the Journal he said he "grew up with gospel and blues. Ever since I was a kid it was gospel. To make a long story short, when I came to California, I was playing blues and rock ‘n' roll, then around 1975 things went haywire for me: a lot of drugs and lot of craziness. I was living in this haze.

"Then I found reggae; it was my new gospel. I've been playing it since around 1980. I quit drugs, grew my dreadlocks and got into the music. ... I'd say up until the day I started growing my dreadlocks, there was something missing. I've learned so much since then about my heritage and my culture."

When he moved to Humboldt in 1985, he returned to his blues roots, playing with Buddy Brown, Teddy Taylor and others in the Jambalaya blues jam crowd.

In 1987 he assembled his first reggae band, The World Peace Band with Teddy Taylor, Jim Stuttsman, Albert Raymond, Rick Bend, Jodie Montgomery and Madi Simmons among others. He had other combos over the years with breaks due to health problems. He said he'd had several heart attacks.

His friend Calvin Hall visited him in the hospital this week. Hall said music was still on his mind. "When I went to see him Tuesday night the foremost thing on his mind was, 'Are we going to put another band together?'"

The last lineup of musicians he played with was known as Kala Kenyatte and the Sound of Truth with the Horns of Justice.

"We try to keep the spirituality that's true to the reggae form," he said. "And when we do covers, I try to choose songs that have some kind of message."

Not that he took it too seriously. One of that band's crowd pleasers was something they called "Babylon Revisited," a reggae version of "Stayin' Alive" the theme song to the John Travolta disco movie Saturday Night Fever. The adaptation was Kala's idea. "I changed the words around to reflect what a Rasta would say," he explained. "You can tell by the way I use my walk I'm a Rastaman, no idle talk. Music hard, woman soft, been Babylon kicked since I was born. But it's alright, it's OK, you can look the other way. You can try to overstand Babylon's effects on man. Reggae music crashin'; dreadlocks dem a flashin'. Stayin' alive, stayin' alive. Babylon quakin'; baldheads dem a shakin'. Stayin' alive; stayin' alive.'" 

George "Kala Kenyatte" Dixon leaves behind six children: Deric and Allen Dixon, Kahle and Adia Morris, Danielle Thrasher and Christina Luttrull, who met her father for the first time shortly before his death after finding him via Facebook. 

 A local celebration of his life is set for for Thursday, March 15, at the Jambalaya in Arcata starting at 9 p.m. Host Madi Simmons will sing with the reggae band The Mighty Redwood Ambasadors; he's hoping some of Kala's former blue jam compadres will play too. One thing for certain, stories will be told about the big man who's gone.


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