Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Big Bad Burl Biz

Posted By on Wed, Apr 9, 2014 at 8:47 PM

NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
  • National Park Service
The New York Times has a piece this week on the despicable business of illegally sawing big hunky burl chunks off of our massive redwood trees — our elders, as the Times elegantly notes — and selling them for profit on an apparently quite healthy global market. Says the story:

"The poachers, known locally as the 'midnight burlers,' are motivated by a sluggish local economy and expensive methamphetamine habits, park officials say, and they have been targeting ever-bigger burls and using increasingly brazen tactics."

The story says there were 18 known cases of poaching last year in Redwood National and State Parks, including that of a 400-year-old tree — the first time a whole tree was cut down, that they know of, for burl. Much older trees have been hacked away at, and the slicing into their flesh to remove pretty burl can weaken them. 

Some of the massive burls thieves go for harbor a complexity of forest life, including salamanders, high in the canopy. The story quotes folks comparing the burl thefts to "hacking up a church" and "killing elephants for ivory," but it also quotes a young Orick fellow in a sighing way as saying burl thieving is "a sad way to earn a living, but there is no industry here."

Um, yeah. So ...
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Stepping Up

Posted By on Wed, Apr 9, 2014 at 5:10 PM

No scrubs. College of the Redwoods nursing represents. - JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • No scrubs. College of the Redwoods nursing represents.

The Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event in Old Town on Saturday, April 5, during which men donned heels for a mile-long march through Eureka to raise awareness about violence against women, left Humboldt with more than just blisters. According to Ruthanne DeMirjyn, the fiscal coordinator for the North Coast Rape Crisis Center,  the event has raked in $2,600 so far, with more funds still trickling in. If you missed the big day, you can still make a contribution. And you can still see District Attorney Paul Gallegos in a pair of chunky open-toe platforms right here. Now you're all caught up. 

gallegos-walk.jpg

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Publisher: Court docs unsealed

Posted By on Wed, Apr 9, 2014 at 2:00 PM

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Curiosity. It's a critical trait for a reporter.

In January Gary Lee Bullock was sitting in jail charged with the horrific crime of breaking into the rectory of St. Bernard's Parish on New Year's Day and murdering Father Eric Freed. Digging through court records, News Editor Thadeus Greenson learned that Bullock had been deemed "ineligible" by the court back in 2012 for a plea bargain agreement that was the result of a previous brush with the law. Why was he ineligible?

"There was reference to a probation report (under seal by the court)," Greenson said. "I read the law. ... I'm no lawyer, but it seemed to me it should be a public document."

Three months later, Bullock's old probation report — along with similar reports for Bodhi Tree and Vincent Earnest Sanchez, two more men awaiting trial for unrelated high-profile crimes — have been unsealed.

Why are these reports important? As Humboldt County Chief Probation Officer Bill Damiano says, crimes don't happen in a vacuum. The reports add layers of context to the current charges facing each of the defendants, offer insight into their lives and raise critical questions about their paths through the criminal justice system.

Greenson's story is on the cover of this week's North Coast Journal, on newsstands now, and available digitally. Meanwhile, the Humboldt County Superior Court is reviewing its policies governing the probation documents and is expected to announce some changes this week. Check back to see how this story develops.
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Arcata School Nationally Recognized

Posted By on Wed, Apr 9, 2014 at 9:29 AM

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Wow, those are some smart whippersnappers.

The Washington Post just ranked Arcata’s Northcoast Preparatory and Performing Arts Academy as the 21st most challenging high school in the country. To compile the rankings, the Post computed an index score using the number of college-level tests given at the school divided by its number of graduates that year, the percentages of students who qualify for free or reduced lunch and the percentage of graduates who passed at least one college-level test during their high school career.

It turns out, 95 percent of Northcoast Prep’s graduates passed at least one college-level test during their career and about 43 percent qualify for lunch subsidies. This is the fifth year in a row the 136-student school has landed on the Post’s list, having finished 24th last year, 21st in 2012 and 2010 and 13th in 2011. This year’s index score of 9.952 is the highest the school has ever earned from the Post.

Check out the Washington Post’s full coverage here, and visit the Northcoast Preparatory and Performing Arts Academy’s website here.
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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Pharmacy-Go-Round in Macktown

Posted By on Tue, Apr 8, 2014 at 11:01 AM

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Some McKinleyvillians were shocked last week to discover that Lima's Pharmacy, at 1711 Central Ave., had morphed over the weekend into a CVS pharmacy. One Lima's customer, Darin Price, found out when he called in a prescription renewal and a CVS phone system asked him to punch in his prescription number.

Price immediately fired off an email to the Journal calling it “reprehensible” of Lima’s to sell his medical information to a national chain without his permission. He surmised this might even be a violation of HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

"No warning whatsoever, no letter, nothing saying that they were selling my information," Price said later over the phone.

Price filed a complaint with the state Department of Health & Human Services, Office for Civil Rights. And he says a manager at CVS told him his information was now in the company's national database "and there was no way it could be removed."

Ramona Lima, co-owner of the pharmacy with her husband, Bob, said this week over the phone from their Eureka branch — which is not being sold — that they actually began notifying patients of the sale in February.

"We posted a letter at the counter, and we asked all of our patients to read it when they came to pick up their prescriptions," she said.

They also gave individual letters to patients who had their prescriptions delivered. And they notified doctors. In the week before the changeover, Limas called every person who had a prescription ready to come get it in order to avoid possible delays later; within two days all 450 prescriptions were picked up. A few people, she allowed, still would have missed the notice if they hadn't come in that month or had anything delivered. She'd only heard a couple of complaints, she said.

"I feel bad about Mr. Price," Lima said.

But it was not wrong for Lima's to sell its patients' medical information to the purchasing pharmacy, according to Joyia Emard, a public information officer with the California Department of Consumer Affairs's Board of Pharmacy.

"When a pharmacy is sold, the records go with the practice," she said.

Emard said a pharmacy is not legally required to notify patients of an ownership change. But state law does require the purchasing pharmacy to keep the old pharmacy's patient information for three years, she said.

"Because if we do inspections, they are now the record-holder for that old pharmacy," she said.

So it's true Price can't remove his information from CVS's database yet, but after three years he can. And he can transfer a duplicate of his information now to a new pharmacy (which Price said he has done).

Lima's sale of Price's (and others') medical information isn't a privacy violation. "His records are still in the realm of pharmacy," said Emard.

At the new CVS in McKinleyville, in fact, Lima's head pharmacist, Chris Beeman, and many of the other Lima's employees are still there. Ramona Lima said CVS, which courted them, agreed that was best. Employees were allowed to keep their seniority, as well — a 10-year Lima's employee is now a 10-year CVS employee, for example. Everyone except for one temporary employee was offered a position with CVS, Lima said. One employee chose to work at the Eureka Lima's instead, she added, and another decided to opt out of pharmacy work altogether.

Lima said deciding to sell the McKinleyville branch was not easy. But, she said, she and her husband knew that CVS was planning to move into town and was eyeing the building across the street where Figueiredo's Video Movies and Paul's Live From New York Pizza are housed. The Limas bought their pharmacies 17 years ago from Clay Pharmacy, and for 15 years the McKinleyville branch hasn't had any competition. Now there's a Rite Aid in town, and here was CVS coming in. Lima said reimbursement rates from insurance companies have declined and independent pharmacies aren't getting the best prices from their drug wholesalers, so it made sense to them to downsize the business.

"With CVS coming in right across the street, we were concerned about the viability of keeping our employees with jobs," Lima said. "If we lost business, we'd have to start firing people."

For now, said Lima, CVS is renting the shop at 1711 Central Avenue from her and her husband (they only sold the business). She said, last she heard, CVS still plans to set up shop across the street someday. The rumor is they'll tear down the existing structure and build a new one. The Journal is waiting to hear back from CVS and Paul's Live From New York about those possible plans. Dana Figueiredo, co-owner of the video store, said this week that she has no comment at this time.

But here's a bright note for those who favor indies over chains: Cloney's, the independent pharmacy with two branches in Eureka, is opening a third branch — up in McKinleyville, in the Safeway shopping center at 1567 City Center Road. (This was news to the Limas; Ramona Lima said she and her husband didn't know Cloney's was coming to McKinleyville when they made their decision to sell to CVS.)

Cloney's will occupy the old Blockbuster Video space, said John Backus, one of the company's three owner/partners.

Backus said Cloney's plans to expand its delivery service, based out of Eureka, this month to McKinleyville, Trinidad, Blue Lake, Arcata and Fieldbrook. The McKinleyville branch will open in late June or early July.

"We haven't had a new retail location since the early 1960s," said Backus. "Over the past 20 years, there has been somewhat of a pharmacist shortage nationwide, and so the possibility of expansion has been almost impossible. However, there have been a number of pharmacy schools that opened since the early 2000s, and now pharmacy grads are starting to flood the market, so it's not as difficult to find help like in years past."

Like other pharmacies, and doctors, Cloney's also faces the challenge of low insurance reimbursement rates, which Backus calls "absolutely horrendous." As well, he said, chains have been acquiring the very insurance companies that process the claims they're billing for prescriptions.

"There are many, many cases where the insurance company (or Pharmacy Benefits Manager, PBM) will require a patient to pay a copay at an independent pharmacy, but no copay at the chain pharmacy that happens to own the PBM," Backus said. "So for the independent pharmacy, it's a constant everyday struggle against the PBMs to be treated somewhat fairly. "

Backus said there was a 20-year period, starting in the 1980s, when independent pharmacies were closing and being replaced by chains. But in recent years, he said, that trend has begun to reverse. (Emard, from the state board of pharmacy, said in the last three years five independent pharmacies in California have been purchased by chains.)
Despite the challenges, plus 60- to 80-hour work weeks, Backus is charged up about his company's expansion.

"I think we will do well if our only other competition in town are national chain pharmacies," he said.

He notes that Cloney's will offer delivery service, health care classes, blister packaging, complaince packaging for those who need help keeping track of their multiple medications, immunizations and will continue its 24/7 service to Hospice patients. Cloney's also plans to develop a local compounding service, something only Lima's does currently. The new Cloney's also will sell gifts and photo services and such.

Backus joined Cloney's as a junior partner in 2010, with the agreement he'd buy out owners Patrick Cloney and Rich Spini in 2015. He praised his co-owners for the business they've built up. He's got even bigger plans.

"I come from a family of entrepreneurs and have always had the dream of running my own business," Backus said. "... I hope to expand the business to at least six or seven pharmacies by the time I'm ready to retire. I want a challenge. Will I change the name of the business to Backus Pharmacies? Perhaps. I think the name and nature of the business has to be a reflection of the owner, and vice versa. Maybe I'm a bit vain for wanting to see my name in lights, but I think having your name and reputation on the line makes you fight even harder when the going gets tough."

Here's the text of the letter Ramona Lima says was posted at the counter of the McKinleyville Lima's notifying patients of the pending sale:

TO ALL OUR VALUED PATIENTS:

FOR THE PAST 16 YEARS, LIMA’S PHARMACY IN MCKINLEYVILLE HAS HAD THE PLEASURE TO SERVICE

THIS COMMUNITY BY PROVIDING THE MOST EXCELLENT PRESCRIPTION AND PHARMACY SERVICES.

WE HAVE RECENTLY BEEN APPROACHED BY CVS PHARMACY COORPORATION AND THEY ARE PLANNING

TO BUILD A LOCATION IN MCKINLEYVILLE ON CENTRAL AVENUE WITH PLANS TO OPEN LATER THIS YEAR.

DUE TO THE CHANGING CONDITIONS OF THE PHARMACY INDUSTRY, LIMA’S PHARMACY IN

MCKINLEYVILLE HAS AGREED TO SELL THE PRESCRIPTION FILES TO CVS. IT IS OUR HOPE TO CREATE A

“MERGING” IF YOU WILL, WITH CVS AS THE EMPLOYEE FACES THAT YOU SEE WILL BE THE SAME, BUT

THE NAME AND LOOK WILL BE DIFFERENT.

THIS WAS AN EXTREMELY DIFFICULT DECISION FOR US TO MAKE. WE HOPE YOU WILL UNDERSTAND

AND CONTINUE TO SUPPORT OUR BUSINESS AND THE “TRANSITION” THAT WILL TAKE PLACE AT THE

END OF MARCH.

WE ARE GRATEFUL TO YOU, OUR PATIENTS IN OUR COMMUNITY FOR YOUR MANY YEARS OF LOYALTY

AND PATRONAGE OF OUR MCKINLEYVILLE BRANCH. WE MUST ALSO GIVE TO CREDIT OUR EMPLOYEES.

THESE SPECIAL PEOPLE YOU SEE EVERYDAY ARE THE REAL REASON WE HAVE BEEN BLESSED TO HAVE

THE SUCCESS AND BUILT THE REPUTATION WE HAVE TODAY. WE ARE FOREVER GRATEFUL.

LASTLY, LIMA’S PHARMACY INTENDS TO CONTINUE TO SUPPORT THE MCKINLEYVILLE COMMUNITY

THROUGH ITS MANY YOUTH AND CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS AND PROGRAMS AS WE ALWAYS HAVE.

EFFECTIVE APRIL 1, 2014, YOU WILL NO LONGER BE ABLE TO CHARGE YOUR MEDICATIONS ON THIS

ACCOUNT. PLEASE CONTINUE TO SUBMIT YOUR PAYMENTS TO THE EUREKA OFFICE UNTIL PAID IN

FULL. IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO CALL TERRY AT (707) 441-8530.

WITH SINCERE AND HEARTFELT GRATITUDE

BOB AND RAMONA LIMA
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Monday, April 7, 2014

Victims of Fields Landing Fire Named

Posted By on Mon, Apr 7, 2014 at 3:42 PM

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Two people killed in a Fields Landing fire Saturday morning were visiting friends from the Susanville area.

Jeffrey Micheal Faust, 56, and his longtime girlfriend Sharon Kay Beem (who also went by the last name Schonrock) died from inhaling carbon dioxide and smoke put off by plastic burning.

Humboldt Bay Fire Chief Ken Woods said the fire appeared to have escaped from a wood stove and ignited kindling or paper surrounding the stove.

See previous coverage of the fire here

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Flags Lowered For Madsen

Posted By on Mon, Apr 7, 2014 at 11:04 AM

Lance Madsen in 2011, showing reporter the oximeter that measures his pulse and blood oxygen. - PHOTO BY RYAN BURNS
  • Photo by Ryan Burns
  • Lance Madsen in 2011, showing reporter the oximeter that measures his pulse and blood oxygen.


Former Fifth Ward Eureka City Councilmember and police detective Lance Madsen died Saturday, April 5, after a nearly four-year battle with lung disease.

Madsen, 65, most recently joined the city council in December 2010, just months after learning he was suffering from a lung disorder that causes scarring and thickening of the lungs (see “Lance’s Lungs,” July 7, 2011). He stepped down early, last December, saying his frequent trips to Stanford for medical treatments were interfering too much with his council duties.

Madsen, a Eureka native, previously served on the city council from 1990 to 1998. Before that, he worked for the city police department from 1973 to 1986, where he was an officer, detective and child-abuse investigator. He also was on the board of directors for the Boys and Girls Club and the Eureka Theater project, according to a news release from the city. And he worked for the Humboldt County Housing Authority.

“Because of his tireless efforts to make Eureka a better place, Madsen was selected to receive the first Mayor’s Community Service Award of Merit,” says the release.

The city has ordered that flags be flown at half-staff at city buildings.
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Saturday, April 5, 2014

Fields Landing Fire Kills Two

Posted By on Sat, Apr 5, 2014 at 6:27 AM

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Two adults died in a structure fire in Fields Landing this morning, according to Humboldt Bay Fire.

Firefighters got the call at about 2:30 a.m. reporting a structure fire at a residence on the 600 block of South Bay Depot Drive. According to a press release, fire crews arrived to find moderate smoke coming from the residence, which was a 70-foot long railroad box car converted into a living space that accommodated five occupants. According to the press release, three made it out safely prior to Humboldt Bay Fire's arrival on scene. Firefighters found the other two deceased in the residence after extinguishing the fire.

The cause of the blaze is still under investigation and the identities of the victims have not yet been released.

The following is the complete press release from Humboldt Bay Fire:

On April 4, 2014 at approximately 2:30 AM Humboldt Bay Firefighters responded three engines, one ladder truck and two chief officers to a reported structure fire at 650 South Bay Depot Drive in Fields Landing. At time of dispatch it was unknown if the structure was occupied.

The first arriving engine found moderate smoke coming from windows and entry door of a 70 foot long railroad boxcar which had been converted to a residence. At the time of the fire there were five occupants inside, three of which were able to escape. Upon arrival of the first engine company, one of the occupants who had safely exited reported there were still two adults unaccounted for. Fire crews made entry, extinguished the fire and located the two remaining occupants, both of which succumbed to injuries sustained in the fire. Additionally, the inside of the residence was heavily damaged by fire, smoke, and water resulting in a total loss of its contents.

The American Red Cross responded and is assisting affected individuals with shelter, food, clothing, toiletries and prescriptions as necessary.

The cause of the fire is presently under investigation.

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Friday, April 4, 2014

High Heels, Old Town

Posted By on Fri, Apr 4, 2014 at 1:25 PM

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Arts Alive! attendees Saturday will be greeted by the sound of hundreds of high heels clicking their way down Eureka’s streets.

The third annual Walk a Mile in her Shoes event, a fundraiser for the North Coast Rape Crisis Team, will kick off at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at the Old Town Gazebo and will see scores of men don oversized heels to walk a mile loop through the city to raise awareness about sexual assault and gender violence.

“Of course, the imagery or symbolism is meant for people to imagine themselves in the shoes of the people most likely to be targeted and to show their support,” said Paula Arrowsmith-Jones, North Coast Rape Crisis’ community outreach coordinator. “It’s an event to raise public awareness. Only through active participation of all of us as community members can we begin to diminish the violence.”

Sara Parke, a North Coast Rape Crisis board member, said there’s a suggested $50 donation for folks wanting to take part in the event, adding that some people raise the entry fee through sponsorships from other community members and that nobody will be turned away from participating. Parke said she’ll also have plenty of big high heels on hand — up to a men’s size 16 — for folks who want to participate but may not have the wardrobe. If you have foot ailments or other issues that might prevent you from actually walking a mile in heels, not to worry. Parke said she’s got you covered, and will also be dolling out lanyards with shoes on them for folks to wear in solidarity.

North Coast Rape Crisis Fiscal Coordinator Ruthanne DeMirjyn didn’t mince words when talking about the fiscal importance of the annual fundraiser for the team’s many community efforts, which include maintaining a 24-hour hotline, counseling services, support groups and a litany of education programs. “It’s crucial to the organization,” she said. “Absolutely crucial.”

The folks at North Coast Rape Crisis said they thought long and hard before launching the local Walk a Mile in her Shoes event, which comes as part of an international effort to stop rape, sexual assault and gender violence. Trademarked by Frank Baird in 2001, Walk a Mile in her Shoes events occur in cities all over the world during the month of April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness month. In order to take part in the event and use its name, organizations must agree to give 100 percent of the event’s proceeds to a rape crisis center, domestic violence shelter or other organization working toward stopping sexualized violence.

It’s not that the local rape crisis folks didn’t believe in the cause, they just worried a bit about the imagery of scores of men putting on high heels and parading about. “Our concerns about it, although we understood it was a great event in lots of places, was we didn’t want to feed into what we’ve seen at some other events, where it turns into kind of a mocking of trans-identifying people, or leaves people going away from the event thinking it’s about somehow making fun of male-identifying people who might dress in nonconformist ways,” Arrowsmith-Jones explained.

DeMirjyn had a similar take. “We don’t make fun of anybody and we don’t promote those types of stereotypes and prejudices,” she said. “It’s very important to us to respect everyone in all their individualized ways.” So, the team did loads of outreach to local “queer-identified allies” to get their take. They said all were supportive of the event and the cause. “We were pretty universally told, ‘go for it,’” Arrowsmith-Jones said. “So, we’ve tried to have signs and outreach to indicate that all people, no matter what gender identity, are welcome to participate … The North Coast Rape Crisis Team exists to support people across the entire gender spectrum.”

Now, if you’re scratching your head, wondering if you just heard about another Walk a Mile in her Shoes event in Eureka recently, the answer is no, not really.

Soroptimist International of Humboldt Bay just held it’s annual event, newly dubbed “High Heels for Healing,” Wednesday at the Adorni Center. The Soroptimist fundraiser, which features a host of local businessmen and notables strapping on heels to walk and dance down a runway, used to be named “Walk in her Shoes,” until the group received a cease and desist letter from Baird’s organization, prompting a name change. As recently as 2010, Soroptimist used proceeds from the fundraiser to fund its scholarships and awards, according to a news report. The group’s website doesn’t specify where proceeds from this year’s event went, though the Times-Standard reported Thursday that the event was a “benefit for domestic violence services."

The Journal’s attempts to reach Soroptimist International of Humboldt Bay have been unsuccessful but we will update this post if they get back to us.

It appears those attending the Soroptimist event Wednesday had a rollicking good time, as video of some of the festivities posted on Times-Standard reporter Lorna Rodriguez’s Tout page show women happily stuffing dollar bills into the clothing of men working their heels on the runway. The Lost Coast Outpost also has some pictures from the event up on its site.

For more information on the North Coast Rape Crisis Team’s event Saturday, visit its Facebook page, which also lists a host of happenings in the coming weeks in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The center’s 24-hour hotlines can also be reached by calling 445-2881 in Humboldt and 465-2851 in Del Norte County.
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Thursday, April 3, 2014

GPU Schedule Just A Nudge Off Track

Posted By on Thu, Apr 3, 2014 at 4:40 PM

OK, you might agree it's way more than a nudge off schedule. However, the latest motion by the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors only pushes a couple of General Plan Update meeting topics a bit down the calendar.

On Tuesday, per County Planning Director Kevin Hamblin's request, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors canceled the April 7 GPU meeting and agreed to let the April 21 and May 5 meetings focus on the Housing Element rather than the previously scheduled discussion on the plan's Open Space and Conservation Elements.
The latter discussion will take place in May (not September, as first recommended by Hamblin) and other items will move down accordingly.

As the Journal reported earlier, the county's advanced planning staff is desperately working to finish the housing section, with twice-weekly meetings and mountains of work, before its July 1 due date with the State Department of Housing and Community Development.

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