Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Relief in Samoa

Posted By on Wed, Dec 31, 2014 at 3:25 PM

A comfort station for the dune dwellers. - PHOTO BY HEIDI WALTERS
  • Photo by Heidi Walters
  • A comfort station for the dune dwellers.

There’s a bright new beacon of hope out on the Samoa Peninsula, which we figure dune lovers and gotta-go antsy foot-hoppers can’t help but appreciate.

Yes, it’s a public portable toilet, rented for $80 a month from B&B by the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District for the benefit of those frequenting the wilds of Samoa.

Harbor Commissioner Richard Marks, who’s lived in Samoa 35 years, says he’s been agitating for relief in the dunes for longer than he can remember (and he blogs about this and other stuff over at samoasoftball). He’s gone before the county supervisors, talked with social services providers, toured potential sites with other official-types — always, he says, there are roadblocks. And even after harbor district staff finally, in November, installed a portable toilet south of the Samoa bridge not far from the Samoa Cookhouse, two weeks later they had to move it because somebody complained it was “an attractive nuisance.” In legalese, that’s something that could attract kids who might be unaware of the potential evil that could lurk within. Marks says he heard the complainer feared the potty might, specifically, invite clandestine drug dealing.

The district moved the toilet to a nearby location on harbor district property that’s less convenient to vehicle access. It’s close to where State Route 255 Ts with Samoa Boulevard. Marks sounds, over the phone, irritated that some people might be disturbed by the new public offering.

“It’s a friggin’ porta potty,” he says. “I mean, what is the damage? People poop up in the dunes, or they poop down there [in the B&B]: What would you have them do?”

An estimated 100 or more homeless people, many crossing the bridge from Eureka, sleep in the peninsula dunes each night, Marks says  — obviously they have to go somewhere.

“This is only what I think of as a positive for the public and the environment,” he says.

Now he wishes there could be a porta potty installed behind the Bayshore Mall in Eureka, where an estimated 200 or so camp illegally in the marshy bushes.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Get Your Crime Map

Posted By on Tue, Dec 30, 2014 at 5:08 PM

Screenshot of residential and commercial break-ins in part of Eureka in the past 30 days. - IMAGE COURTESY OF THE EUREKA POLICE DEPARTMENT
  • Image courtesy of the Eureka Police Department
  • Screenshot of residential and commercial break-ins in part of Eureka in the past 30 days.
Your neighbors are talking about it — how So-and-So's garage was broken into and What's-His-Name's car up the street was finagled open and the Christmas goodies on the backseat lifted. Seems as if burglaries and such are happening up and down the danged block these days. Or are these just rumors ... ?

There is a way you can know for sure where reported recent bad acts have taken place, and to get a crime picture of your own neighborhood, as the Eureka Police Department reminds us: It's called crimereports.com. The site's been around awhile, actually. You can go there, type in a location and other parameters, and all kinds of stuff comes up (stats provided, in Eureka's case, by the police department). As a bonus the map includes the addresses of registered sex offenders.

Why do you care?

As the EPD's Brittany Powell tells folks on a couple of Eureka Nextdoor community online gabbing-over-the-fence sites, "Most of these break ins are happening during the day while you are away at work. Lock your doors and windows and keep an eye out for each other. Several arrests have been made this month from neighbors calling in suspicious suspects."


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Eureka! They Found It

Posted By on Tue, Dec 30, 2014 at 3:41 PM

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The Discovery Museum has found a permanent home. A few weeks after finding temporary digs in the Jefferson School on B Street, the kid-friendly learny zone announced it will move into a space at 612 G Street (the former Back in Action building, between Sixth and Seventh streets) in spring 2015.

The museum had to vacate its Carson Block home to allow the building's owner to begin seismic retrofitting in November. The current program schedule can be found on the museum's website and Facebook pages — see the press release below.

From the museum:

Continue reading »

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Monday, December 29, 2014

A Home With Help

Posted By on Mon, Dec 29, 2014 at 10:28 AM

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This January, Pacific Builders will begin construction on the 32-unit Arcata Bay Crossing, a residence for people who need special assistance and, in many cases, face homelessness. The $4.5 to $5.7 million “green,” solar-arrayed project — to be funded by grants and loans — is a joint project of Housing Humboldt, Rural Communities Housing Development Corporation, Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services and Arcata House Partnership.

A news release from the group says 15 of the units will be for people with mental illness who are at risk of becoming homeless, and these folks will have access to on-site supportive services provided by the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services. Four other units will be reserved for people who are chronically homeless, and they’ll have help from the Arcata House Partnership. And the 12 remaining units will house people who make less than 60 percent of the area median income. Twenty-five of the units will be single room occupancy and six will be double occupancy. A resident manager will live in another unit. And there’ll be a laundry room, community room and kitchen and a meeting room. 
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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Friendlyish

Posted By on Wed, Dec 24, 2014 at 11:18 AM

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Those nice people up at Humboldt State University are giddy over being voted the 12th friendliest college in the whole dang nation (in a survey by Niche.com). ’Course, they’ve got nothing on those Cougars in Provo (the No. 1 friendliest) nor Cougar brethren in Rexburg, and apparently no Lumberjack could hope to out-smile a good many others. But it’s in the Top 20! HSU's report on the piece notes that the university’s “small class sizes, nurturing faculty and welcoming atmosphere” help account for the honor.

Here’s the Top 20 ranking, according to Niche.com:

#1 Brigham Young University (Provo, Utah)
#2 Brigham Young University – Idaho (Rexburg, Idaho)
#3 Biola University (La Mirada, Calif.)
#4 Whitworth University (Spokane, Wash.)
#5 Franciscan University of Steubenville (Steubenville, Ohio)
#6 Oral Roberts University (Tulsa, Okla.)
#7 Rice University (Houston, Texas)
#8 Taylor University (Upland, Ind.)
#9 California Baptist University (Riverside, Calif.)
#10 Liberty University (Lynchburg, Va.)
#11 Azusa Pacific University (Azusa, Calif.)
#12 Humboldt State University (Arcata, Calif.)
#13 Olivet Nazarene University (Bourbonnais, Ill.)
#14 Harding University (Searcy, Ark.)
#15 University of Dayton (Dayton, Ohio)
#16 University of California, Davis (Davis, Calif.)
#17 California Lutheran University (Thousand Oaks, Calif.)
#18 Texas A&M;University (College Station, Texas)
#19 Grove City College (Grove City, Pa.)
#20 Oberlin College (Oberlin, Ohio)

To see who ranked in the Top 100, go here.
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Monday, December 22, 2014

3rd UPDATE: Name Released in Eureka Homicide

Posted By on Mon, Dec 22, 2014 at 6:06 PM

epd.jpg
Third update: The coroner's office says the 14-year-old victim was Jesus Joani Garcia-Romero, of Arcata.

Second Update:
Humboldt County Deputy Coroner Trevor Enright said the victim in the case is a 14-year-old from Arcata.

Enright said the boy's family has been notified, but officials are holding off on releasing his identity "because he's a minor and of some of the circumstances involved." The apparent homicide remains under investigation.


UPDATE: An EPD press release, which states the victim was a juvenile, has been added to the end of this post.

Eureka police are investigating what they believe is the county’s 15th homicide this year after finding a man lying in a yard on the 2300 block of 15th Street this morning.

EPD Capt. Steve Watson said the man was alive but unresponsive when officers arrived on scene at about 8:30 a.m., but that he later died at a local hospital. PIO Brittany Powell said the man had wounds that were “of a suspicious nature,” and that the death is being treated as a homicide. Powell said EPD is not releasing any details about the type of wounds found on the man at this point.

Powell said EPD investigators, detectives, officers and evidence technicians are investigating but have yet to identify any suspects in the case. Powell asked that anyone with information about the case call EPD at 441-4060.

If the death is confirmed as a homicide, it would be the sixth in Eureka this year, a number that includes the September officer-involved shooting death of Thomas “Tommy” McClain. It would be the 15th homicide countywide, according to the Humboldt County Coroner’s Office.

From EPD:
On December 17, 2014, at about 8:22 a.m., Eureka Police officers were dispatched to a report of an unresponsive male lying in the 2300 block of 15th Street. Upon officers arrival they located the subject and determined he was in need of immediate medical aid. Humboldt Bay Fire and City Ambulance responded to the scene and transported the male subject to St. Joseph Hospital. Lifesaving efforts were performed but the male ultimately succumbed to his injuries.

This incident is being actively investigated as a Homicide. Homicide detectives responded to the scene along with an evidence technician and took over the investigation.

It has been determined that the victim is a juvenile who is known to Law Enforcement. The victim’s age and city of residence will be released through the Coroner’s Office once proper next of kin notifications are complete.  

Editor's Note: This post was updated from a previous version to accurately reflect Eureka's year-to-date homicide total.
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UPDATED. CHP: Suspect Attacked Officer with Machete Before Fatal Shooting

Posted By on Mon, Dec 22, 2014 at 6:04 PM

California Highway Patrol Capt. Adam Jager holds a machete similar to the one officials say a 17-year-old suspect used to attack an officer yesterday, leading to a fatal shooting. - THADEUS GREENSON
  • Thadeus Greenson
  • California Highway Patrol Capt. Adam Jager holds a machete similar to the one officials say a 17-year-old suspect used to attack an officer yesterday, leading to a fatal shooting.
Update one: The Humboldt County Coroner's Office has released the name of the person killed: Hoopa tribal member Richard Fredrick Tis Mil Estrada, 17, of Hoopa.

Update two: The California Highway Patrol says the officer involved in this incident, Tim Gray, was discharged from U.C. Davis Medical Center today.

———

It was a surprise machete attack that began the deadly altercation between a California Highway Patrol officer and a Hoopa teenager near Willow Creek early yesterday morning, said CHP Capt. Adam Jager, who heads the agency’s Humboldt office.

During a press conference this afternoon, Jager said the officer responded to a report of a car that had crashed into a light pole just east of Willow Creek at about 1:35 a.m. to find a 17-year-old driver sitting behind the wheel of a Nissan sedan. The officer made contact with the driver, who then exited the vehicle, Jager said. The two then walked around to the rear of the vehicle, Jager said, when, all of a sudden, the teenager attacked the officer with a machete.

“He swung it at my officer,” Jager said, adding that the officer reflexively ducked, raising his left hand in a defensive position. The machete, Jager said, struck the officer in the hand and arm before hitting him in the face. “You can imagine what that would do.”
Officials say a 17-year-old from Hoopa used a machete similar to this one to attack a California Highway Patrol officer early yesterday morning. The officer fatally shot the teenager. - THADEUS GREENSON
  • Thadeus Greenson
  • Officials say a 17-year-old from Hoopa used a machete similar to this one to attack a California Highway Patrol officer early yesterday morning. The officer fatally shot the teenager.

Jager said the officer — who’s been with CHP for two years — then drew and fired his weapon as he went down. Jager declined to say how many times the officer shot or how many bullets hit his assailant, citing the ongoing multiagency investigation into the incident.

The officer, Jager said, was able to “miraculously” keep his composure and balance enough to retreat back to his patrol car, at which point he locked himself inside and radioed for help. Witnesses later told investigators that the juvenile then got back in the driver’s seat of the Nissan and began honking his horn, according to Jager.

When a backup officer arrived on scene, Jager said, he found the juvenile lying completely naked on the ground beside the Nissan, acting erratically. The officer ordered the juvenile to put his hands behind his back but he didn’t comply, Jager said, and the officer Tasered him. Ultimately, Jager said, two good Samaritans came to the officer’s assistance, helping him handcuff the juvenile. At that point, the officer and responding paramedics began CPR. A short time later, the teenager was pronounced dead at the scene.

Meanwhile, Jager said, the injured officer was transported by ambulance to Mad River Community Hospital and later flown to University of California Davis for further treatment due to the severity of his injuries. Jager declined to detail the officer’s injuries, but said repeatedly that they are “very serious.” The officer remains hospitalized in stable condition.

Humboldt County Sheriff Mike Downey said his office is leading the Critical Incident Response Team investigation into the shooting, but declined to get into details at the press conference, which took place just a little more than 36 hours after the shooting. The sheriff described the situation as fluid and fresh, adding that investigators haven’t even been able to get a statement from the injured officer at this point.

Jager said witnesses told investigators that the juvenile was acting erratically after the accident but prior to the officer’s arrival on scene, throwing things from his vehicle. The captain said it’s unclear when and how the machete came into the picture — whether the juvenile had it concealed during his initial contact with the officer or pulled it from somewhere. “We’re not sure, because it happened so fast, where that machete came from,” he said.

Officials are withholding the injured officer’s name at this point, saying they want to give him some time and privacy, but pledged to release it in the near future. The juvenile’s name has also not yet been released.

Jager said the injured officer has been with CHP for two years, but only transferred from the San Francisco Bay Area to Humboldt on Dec. 2 to become the area’s resident officer in Willow Creek as part of a program designed to bring CHP officers and the communities they serve closer together.

“This is difficult,” Jager said, apparently struggling to contain his emotion. “This is sad. This is a 17-year-old kid from Hoopa. It’s terrible. Our hearts go out to the family of this young man. … It’s a terrible thing that’s happened and there’s nothing we can do about it at this point.”

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Rain Does a River Good

Posted By on Mon, Dec 22, 2014 at 12:04 PM

The full Trinity, Dec. 22, 2014. - PHOTO BY KEN MALCOMSON
  • Photo by Ken Malcomson
  • The full Trinity, Dec. 22, 2014.

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Birds! Count 'em

Posted By on Mon, Dec 22, 2014 at 10:44 AM

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You see this little bird? Just chillin’ with her gull thangs? She counts and so do they. Yes, we’re in the midst of the 115th Christmas Bird Count, and birding teams throughout the Western Hemisphere and Antarctica are venturing out to count all the birds they see within a designated sphere. Locally, a couple of counts have already been done. But there’s still Willow Creek left to do, on Saturday, Dec. 27. This one takes in Horse Mountain, parts of the south fork and main stem of the Trinity River, Salyer, and the southern Hoopa Valley; contact compiler Gary Lester, 839-3373 or garys.lester@gmail.com. Other counts include: Friday, Jan. 2, Tall Trees area, compiler Ken Burton, 499-1146 or shrikethree@gmail.com; and Sunday, Jan. 4, Loleta area, compiler Gary Lester. You must pre-arrange your attendance. 
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Thursday, December 18, 2014

County Homicide Total a 30-Year High

Posted By on Thu, Dec 18, 2014 at 4:45 PM

Source: Humboldt County Coroner's Office. - MILES EGGLESTON
  • Miles Eggleston
  • Source: Humboldt County Coroner's Office.
Humboldt County has seen more homicides within its borders this year than in any stretching back nearly 30 years.

This morning’s officer-involved shooting fatality brings the 2014 total — with 13 days left in the year — to 16 homicides. According to statistics provided by the Humboldt County Coroner’s Office, that’s more than in any year since at least 1985 (the office only had statistics readily available stretching back to 1986). Since 1986, the county has seen a double-digit homicide total 11 times, with the previous high being 15 back in 1988.

Last year, there were 11 homicides documented in the county, a jump from the five recorded in each of 2011 and 2012.

Of this year’s homicides, two have been committed by police officers — the Sept. 17 shooting of Thomas “Tommy” McClain by a Eureka officer and this morning’s shooting of an unidentified male suspect by a CHP officer. (It should be noted that the term homicide is defined as the killing of one human being by another, and does not imply whether the death was justified, illegal or other. Legally speaking, there are three types of homicides in California: murder, manslaughter and justifiable.)

Humboldt County Coroner Dave Parris said it’s really hard to point out a singular cause for this year’s homicide spike. Looking at the numbers over the years, Parris said they seem to jump up every couple of years. “Why? I don’t know,” he said.

If you read through case files on each of the homicides, Parris said some trends emerge: a number were related to domestic violence issues and more were related to marijuana cultivation or sales.

Of the 16 people who have died at the hands of another this year, six were killed in southern Humboldt County, six in Eureka, two in Fieldbrook, one in Trinidad and one in Willow Creek. Of the 16 victims, six were age 25 or younger, which Parris said is troublesome.

“What’s really concerning to me is that, with the last two homicides we’ve had, we’re looking at young people — young victims,” he said. “Losing kids under 21 years old is extremely concerning to all of us, or it should be. And we should all be asking ourselves what we can do to prevent those.”

A list of the 16 homicide victims this year by date (location of killing in parentheses):
Jan. 1 — Eric Freed, 56 (Eureka)
Jan. 8 — Jesse Ruiz, 24 (Trinidad)
March 26 — Richard Storre, 60, and Lance Henry, 25 (Eureka)
April 19 — Zackery Chapman, 36 (Garberville)
July 18 — Neil Decker, 50 (Alderpoint)
July 21 — Scott Johnson, 57 (Alderpoint)
Sept. 3 — Harley Hammers, 37, and Angel Tully, 37 (Fieldbrook)
Sept. 17 — Thomas McClain, 22 (Eureka)
Oct. 14 — Robert Flaherty, 30 (Garberville)
Oct. 19 — Ethan Stroud, 32 (Shelter Cove)
Oct. 22 — Daneyal Siddique, 40 (Garberville)
Nov. 15 — Casey Campbell, 22 (Eureka)
Dec. 17 — Name not released, 14 (Eureka)
Dec. 18 — Name and age not released (Willow Creek)
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