Friday, July 31, 2015

Plea Agreements Reached in Federal Murder Case

Posted By on Fri, Jul 31, 2015 at 4:12 PM

Reetpaul Singh Rana, pictured during his time at Oregon's Reed College, where he graduated with a psychology degree before becoming a journalist. - COURTESY OF SPECIAL COLLECTIONS, ERIC V. HAUSER MEMORIAL LIBRARY, REED COLLEGE
  • Courtesy of Special Collections, Eric V. Hauser Memorial LIbrary, Reed College
  • Reetpaul Singh Rana, pictured during his time at Oregon's Reed College, where he graduated with a psychology degree before becoming a journalist.
Two men accused of the 2008 robbery and murder of a San Francisco man in Southern Humboldt have reached plea agreements with federal prosecutors.

Ryan Carroll and Robert Lee, both accused in the killing of 35-year-old Reetpaul Singh Rana in a marijuana deal gone bad on Dyerville Loop Road, north of Alderpoint, each reached agreements with prosecutors this month, just weeks after a judge ruled their confessions couldn't be used against them at trial because detectives violated their rights.
Ryan Carroll
  • Ryan Carroll
Carroll, whom prosecutors fingered as the one who shot Rana, pleaded guilty to a single count of using a firearm in the commission of a crime of violence causing death (essentially the federal equivalent of a voluntary manslaughter charge). He will be sentenced to serve 15 years under the agreement, according to his attorney, Severa Keith. Lee pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact and maliciously burning a vehicle, and will be sentenced to seven years under the agreement, according to court documents.

Both men are scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 14 by a federal judge, who can reject the deal outright but cannot impose a harsher sentence than those negotiated in the agreement.

Keith said she’s pleased with the agreement, saying it was fueled in a large part by the recent ruling to suppress potentially incriminating statements both defendants made to investigators during interrogations in the case because Humboldt County detectives failed to advise them of their Miranda rights. (Read more about the case, the interrogations and the judge’s ruling here.)
Robert "Roots" Lee
  • Robert "Roots" Lee
Still, Keith said Carroll wrestled with whether to take the deal, under which he’s admitting to a serious, violent offense. Ultimately, however, Keith said Carroll was facing a life sentence, so the prospect of a relatively short determinant prison stint was too much for him to turn down.

With credit for good conduct, federal inmates serve 85 percent of their sentences, and Carroll and Lee will also get credits for all the time they’ve already served behind bars on this case, according to Keith. That means Carroll, who was arrested in January of 2010, could be released from federal custody in about seven years. Lee, arrested in October of 2011, could be released in two. Both men are also likely to serve the last 12 to 18 months of their sentences out of prison in federal half-way houses.

“I’m happy that Ryan is going to get his life back in a few years and be able to move on,” Keith said.
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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Garberville Death Ruled a Homicide; County Eclipses Grisly Record

Posted By on Tue, Jul 28, 2015 at 3:26 PM

A forensic pathologist’s determination that a Georgia man died of blunt force injuries not consistent with a fall has morphed a suspicious death investigation into a homicide case, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office announced today. It would be the county's seventh homicide of the year.

Deputies responded shortly before 1 p.m. on July 18 to Jerold Phelps Community Hospital in Garberville, where 37-year-old Khanh Lam was in critical condition, unconscious from a possible assault. Through their investigation, deputies learned that Lam had been involved in an argument with a female in downtown Garberville after attempting to remove a child from her car. During the argument, four men confronted Lam, who took off running. The men, who had dogs with them, gave chase, according to a sheriff’s office press release.

“At some point during this incident it was reported by a witness that Lam possibly fell while he was running and received a head injury from falling to the ground,” the press release states, adding that witnesses called 911 after finding Lam lying unconscious in the 700 block of Locust Street. Lam was transported out of the area to be treated for a brain injury, but was ultimately taken off life support by his family.

After recording a record 16 homicides last year, Lam's death would be this year's seventh to date, putting the county on pace to record 12 this year. As is, Lam's apparent homicide leaves the county having tallied a total 34 homicides in 2013, 2014 and thus far in 2015, eclipsing the highest three-consecutive-year tally on record. (The prior high was 33, set in 1991 through 1993.)

The sheriff’s office asks anyone with information about Lam's death to call detective Jennifer Turner at 268-3642.

The following is a press release from the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office:

On Saturday, July 25, 2015 an autopsy was performed on Lam’s body at the Humboldt County Coroner’s Office by a Forensic Pathologist. The results of the autopsy were Lam’s injuries were not consistent with a fall, as previously reported by witnesses. Cause of death was determined to be blunt force trauma to the head. The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office is investigating Lam’s death as a homicide.
On Saturday, July 18, 2015 at 12:48 p.m. a Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Deputy responded to Jerold Phelps Community Hospital in Garberville, regarding a possible male assault victim, who had arrived at the hospital by ambulance. Hospital staff told the deputy that the male victim, who had been identified as 37 year old Khanh Lam was unconscious with a severe head injury and was in critical condition. Lam was flown to an out of area hospital for treatment, because of his injuries.
Deputies and CHP Officers then responded to a possible location where Lam was injured, which was located in the 700 block of Locust Street, Garberville. Deputies spoke to witnesses who reported that Lam was involved in an argument with a female subject and attempted to remove her child from a car. At some point during the argument (4) four males subjects confronted Lam. According to the witnesses Lam took off running and the (4) male subjects, along with their dogs started to pursue Lam on foot. At some point during this incident it was reported by a witness that Lam possibly fell while he was running and received a head injury from falling to the ground. When witnesses found Lam lying on the ground unconscious they dialed 9-1-1.
On Sunday, July 19, 2015 at about 5:00 p.m. a medical doctor informed the Sheriff’s Office that Lam is currently on life support and has no brain activity. Lam’s family has been notified and is consulting with medical staff on their decision to take Lam off life support. Lam is from Atlanta, Georgia.
The Sheriff’s Office is considering this a suspicious death investigation and is asking for the public’s help if anyone witnessed this incident. They are encouraged to call the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office or Detective Jennifer Turner at 707-268-3642.
Anyone with information for the Sheriff’s Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.

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The Reluctant Cyclist, part 4

Posted By on Tue, Jul 28, 2015 at 12:19 PM

"I brake for sunflowers" - JENNIFER SAVAGE
  • Jennifer Savage
  • "I brake for sunflowers"
Number of miles ridden (part one): 5.6
Time traveled: 23:54 minutes

Number of miles ridden (part two): 3
Time traveled: 22.43 minutes (This included a stop at the Co-op during which I left Strava on. Oops.)

Number of stop signs deliberately blown through (clear view of no cars! momentum! some guilt!): 1
Number of times actively feared for life: 1

Better than walking! - HTTPS://WWW.STRAVA.COM/
  • Better than walking!
This was the kind of morning that made me think I'm not doing life right. The day started out well enough; I climbed out of bed at 6:30 a.m., spent 20 minutes cooking up veggies and pasta to take for lunch, another 15 making a mini-omelet, another 15 cleaning everything up and another 20 or so getting everything packed for my bike commute to work. This was my first ride in a couple weeks – I'd had to take my bike to the shop and then had gone out of town for a few days – and I was looking forward to pedaling through the gorgeousness outside. 

But in addition to my regular job at the NEC, I also needed to go to HSU this morning because I've been hired to co-teach a class this fall and a lot of requisite paperwork was waiting to be filled out. Including the good ol' I-9 for which I would need my social security card. 

Now, I am an organized person. Some people might say maybe even a little OCD. I've kept my social security card in the same place, in the same set of files, for years. Decades, probably. And yet, it was not there. I know, because I tore about the folder, the files, everything around the files, looking. This fruitless effort cost me 30 minutes, at which point I had to re-evaluate the pros and cons of riding my bike instead of driving. 

Pros: Exercise! Beauty! Something to write about! Good feelings!
Cons: Wow, that's going to be a lot of extra travel time impacted my now compromised work schedule.

Biking won. I'll just eat lunch at my desk and power through.

From the bridge over Mad River Slough - JENNIFER SAVAGE
  • Jennifer Savage
  • From the bridge over Mad River Slough
Since I was in a hurry, I skipped the usual turn onto Jackson Ranch Road, staying on the highway instead – it's 1.2 miles less to go straight and the recent repaving allows me to maintain a higher speed than the poor potholed alternatives through the Bottoms. Of course, opting for this route also means cars going by me fast and close. Most of the drivers were kind enough to leave some distance, but one big truck barreled by near enough that I was buffeted by the air being displaced at high speed. Nerves, wracked. 

Nonetheless, a fast and easy ride. I dropped off my excess gear (laptop, change of clothes, etc.) and then continued on up the hill to HSU. 

Confession: I had a clear line of vision on the 14th Street downhill and didn't bother to stop at all. Didn't even do any kind of courtesy slow down. As someone who tends to follow rules – and whom is deeply concerned about being A Good Bicyclist – I felt a twinge of "Sorry!" But even more I enjoyed having the momentum to coast for a moment on the LK Wood uphill. Question: How wrong is this?

Showed up for paperwork sweaty and didn't care too much about it. Still need to deal with the missing social security card issue, but the sunshine and endorphins shifted my perspective back into the "I'm sure it'll all work out" mode. (Score one, biking!) In the meantime, a friend messaged he'd just finished a 30.9-mile ride purely for joy and exercise, which provided a teensy bit of camaraderie and a whole lot of "Wow."

Hello, bike boulevard! - JENNIFER SAVAGE
  • Jennifer Savage
  • Hello, bike boulevard!
Haven't figured exactly what I'm going to do about my 4 p.m. meeting in Eureka, ride or catch the bus, but I'm sure it'll all work out.  
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The Jefferson Project Fights Summer Hunger

Posted By on Tue, Jul 28, 2015 at 11:19 AM

Park your bike and come inside. - LINDA STANSBERRY
  • Linda Stansberry
  • Park your bike and come inside.
"We had kids getting off the school bus and telling us they were hungry," says Heidi Benzonelli, president of the Westside Community Improvement Association. The WCIA's community center, the Jefferson Project, is located in the old Jefferson Elementary School and offers and oversees free programs to community members, including after-school care. Jefferson Elementary closed in 2005. Benzonelli says the programs provide a way to counter the "social disruption" that happens when children are bused to schools far away from their homes. 

"The community center provides social identity" she says. "The West Side has the highest ethnic diversity and lowest median income in Eureka. We believe that if we invest in the children, we invest in the community. One of the things we found is a multi-generational dependence on cheap, processed food."

Erin Rose Davis plucks a weed from the kale patch. - LINDA STANSBERRY
  • Linda Stansberry
  • Erin Rose Davis plucks a weed from the kale patch.
With the help of several local businesses and organizations, Jefferson launched a free summer meal program last year. Food for People helped distribute food in 2014, and by 2015 the program had a fully certified kitchen. It also had its garden approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which allowed local kids to plant seeds, tend plants and enjoy the full farm-to-table experience.

Local high-schooler John Georgia volunteers for the program, earning his food handlers certificate. - LINDA STANSBERRY
  • Linda Stansberry
  • Local high-schooler John Georgia volunteers for the program, earning his food handlers certificate.

Along with providing healthy food for children under 19, the community center also offers a free summer enrichment program to West Side residents. Public schools often serve as an important safety net for low-income kids, filling nutritional gaps and providing childcare for working parents. When school lets out, many families struggle. The Jefferson Project gives them an alternative. It also helps provide job training for teens and adults. With a fully-certified kitchen, volunteers can earn their food handlers certification. A California Conservation Corps crew also recently earned college credit in green building by helping renovate an energy-efficient meeting space.

Beans spill over a mural. - LINDA STANSBERRY
  • Linda Stansberry
  • Beans spill over a mural.
The lunch, served at 1 p.m Monday through Friday, includes balanced servings of grains, protein, fruit and vegetables. A snack is also served at 3 p.m. Many of the vegetables are grown in the adjacent garden, which relies on water from a rainwater diversion system. The building's gutters feed into basement storage and then the water is pumped into external storage tanks. Benzonelli says that passer-bys will occasionally turn off the drip lines that are watering the vegetables or call with concerns that they are "wasting water," but she says no one should worry: City water is not being used, and nothing is going to waste.

The program emphasizes locally-sourced, organic food, with fruits and vegetables at every meal. - LINDA STANSBERRY
  • Linda Stansberry
  • The program emphasizes locally-sourced, organic food, with fruits and vegetables at every meal.
Benzonelli says that Eureka Natural Foods has been a big supporter of the project as well, donating lots of organic food for the kids. The store will also invite shoppers to round up their purchases August 24-30, donating the extra cents to the Jefferson Project via the "Change for Change" program. On its busiest days, the community center feeds as many as 30 children.

Friends Patti Henderson and Victoria Heiser catch up over lunch. - LINDA STANSBERRY
  • Linda Stansberry
  • Friends Patti Henderson and Victoria Heiser catch up over lunch.
Although the salad was the last dish standing on most diners' plates, the kids had no problem wolfing down the pizza on a whole-grain crust, the glasses of milk or slices of juicy watermelon. Friends Patti Henderson and Victoria Heiser, sitting together at one of the small round tables, said they liked the watermelon the best. Victoria has been attending the meals along with her father, a parent volunteer, since the beginning of the summer, and invited Patti to join her two weeks ago. The two also attend school together.

"She's really good at math," says Patti of her friend.

"Well, she's really good at science," says Victoria of Patti.

"Victoria is really good at climbing things," says Patti, and they both giggle. They are both, they say, really good at building things.

This year they also helped in the garden.

"We picked lots and lots of flowers," says Patti.

Afterwards, Patti and Victoria joined the throng of children competing to do the dishes. The winner always gets a prize. 

"We're teaching the kids how to cook, and doing the dishes is part of cooking," says Benzonelli. "It's hard to quantify the social benefit of a program like this."
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Monday, July 27, 2015

Humboldt's Got Style

Posted By on Mon, Jul 27, 2015 at 2:45 PM

Our county’s residents boast a variety of styles, but when it comes to looking your Humboldt-est, we don’t think anyone does it better than Eureka's Traci and Barney Barnwell, as photographed by Jay Cowden. This year, they put on their Fourth of July best and enlisted their chicken friend Buffy the Bug Slayer to pose with them. Good job Traci and Barney (and Buffy) — you make Humboldt look good!

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Marsh Homeless' Eviction Notice is Today, What's Going to Happen?

Posted By on Mon, Jul 27, 2015 at 9:20 AM

Vandalized bench at the Eureka marsh. - MILES SLATTERY
  • Miles Slattery
  • Vandalized bench at the Eureka marsh.
“The main thing is to get people here so we can connect as a community,” said Roger Pryor as he laid out bowls of taco fillings on Wednesday, July 22. Pryor is part of a group of advocates dubbed “Friends of the Marsh,” who have been serving weekly lunches in the Bayshore Mall’s north parking lot in an attempt to engage homeless people camping behind the mall. This week the group was joined by Eureka Police Chief Andy Mills and Ward 3 City Councilmember Kim Bergel, who presented on the previous night’s city council meeting and the projected fate of the settlement, which is believed to be 113-people strong.

On July 15, Eureka police officers posted a notice to vacate on all camps behind the mall, telling residents they had 10 days to leave and take their belongings or “face prosecution.” This created a spirited discussion between homeless advocates, city employees and the Eureka City Council. Many wondered where Eureka’s homeless – whose numbers exceed the amount of shelter/temporary housing beds by a ratio of 3-to-1 – would ultimately go.

At the city council meeting, Parks and Recreation Director Miles Slattery expressed his frustration at having so many illegal camps on city property. He said interpretive signs had been repeatedly vandalized, city employees had removed 32,000 pounds of garbage over a one month period and one employee had been bitten by a dog.

"The campers in the marsh have not only caused blight and environmental concerns, there is also an unruly and negligent part of the population that has caused significant stress to city workers, community members and business owners," said Slattery.

Councilmembers and Chief Mills seemed to agree that a wholesale eviction of marsh campers wouldn’t be effective, although arresting people for camping or other issues wasn’t completely off the table.

“Let’s not kid ourselves,” said Mills. “We’re not going to arrest our way out of this problem, but there must be some sort of social control. If that’s the only leverage we have at this time, then we have to use it.”

The council also discussed a recent lawsuit from a woman who tripped and broke her shoulder while in the area, and cited the need to protect the city from litigation.

“Most the phone calls I get are from business owners and people who want their greenbelt back,” said Ward 4 Councilmember Melinda Ciarabellini. “I totally agree, chasing homeless people from one campsite to another is not a solution. If we don’t enforce camping laws, it’s a liability. If we don’t prosecute people, it’s a liability.”

On the day of the weekly lunch, Mills waited for everyone to get food and find seating before he addressed the crowd. The campers, about 20 in all, sat on makeshift benches and folding chairs. At least five children were present – including a pre-teen girl with a smudged face and dirty shorts, and a toddler in an oversized motorcycle helmet. One older woman with badly shaking hands asked Mills if he would wait a moment, she needed to step away for a minute and get her anxiety under control.

“No problem, Elizabeth,” said Mills as she ducked back into the bushes.

Mills’ message to the campers echoed his words at the city council meeting: A small minority of the marsh residents are responsible for the vast majority of the problems. Mills said his officers had contacted 110 residents on July 15 and had run their criminal histories. According to Mills, 63 had a history of theft, 49 a history of violence. Just 12 people in the encampment had made up 55 percent of arrests.

“As the chief of police, I cannot allow a crime to go unprosecuted," he said. "You have to put pressure on each other. The city is going to continue working and cleaning on a weekly basis.”

“We’ll help!” said one man, spurring a murmur of agreement.

Mills said that for the time being, the plan was to ticket people who were the biggest problems in the area. The notice to vacate was to give people the “opportunity to move of their own volition,” and to protect the city from future lawsuits.

“We’re not going to force people camping here, but we will use every tool we have to keep people safe,” said Mills. “We understand that some people here are actually the biggest victims.”

Mills and Bergel both encouraged marsh residents to seek out resources for housing at the Rescue Mission or the Multiple Assistance Center.

“Where can you go if you’re a married couple?” asked one man. “At the Rescue Mission they make you sleep separately from your wife, and I’m not going to do that.”

Several other residents chimed in to tell him to go to the MAC. The man said he and his wife hadn’t been living in Humboldt long enough to meet the MAC’s requirements.

“What about our dogs?” asked another woman. “For some of us, our dogs are our babies.”

Bergel addressed the crowd and said that some people may have to make hard choices, such as sleeping separately from their spouses or leaving their dogs with a friend.

“We all have to do some things we don’t want to do sometimes,” said Bergel. “The city council and police are committed to helping, but we need to work together.”

“Some of us just want jobs,” said one woman. “I’m a worker. I’ve been working since I could reach the counters at my grandmother’s restaurant. No one wants to hire us because we can't stay clean.”

“Why can’t you just let us stay?” asked another woman.

“This is not your property,” said Mills. “We’re not going to tolerate crimes being committed here. I’ve had three employees bitten by dogs this year. That’s not acceptable.”

As the Friends of the Marsh began to fold up tables and throw away the paper plates, some residents began to filter back into the marsh. Others surrounded Mills and Bergel, peppering them with questions.

At the city council meeting, Councilmember Natalie Arroyo asked the question she called “the elephant in the room.”

“We told people they had 10 days to leave – that would be July 25 – so, what happens in three days?”

“We will begin to cajole people into leaving,” said Mills.

That cajoling, whichever form it is to take, starts today.
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Sunday, July 26, 2015

HumBug: Tiny and Primitive

Posted By on Sun, Jul 26, 2015 at 3:00 PM

Dont fret: It's just a springtail.
  • Dont fret: It's just a springtail.

If you have sharp eyes or good glasses, pick up a potted plant and you might see a tiny gray thing, not much larger than the period at the end of this sentence, scurry away or even leap. This particular kind of critter has been hiding under rocks for a very long time. These are springtails (Collembola).
They were once considered one of the most primitive orders of insects, but modern taxonomists elevated them to sub-class status along with two other groups which form the class Entognatha. The fact that they are no longer classed with the insects does not seem to bother them at all.

These critters love the damp and the dark. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • These critters love the damp and the dark.

An early Devonian (400 million years ago) fossil from Scotland is said to closely resemble several modern species. According to Wikipedia, it is the earliest known terrestrial arthropod fossil (an excellent article if you enjoy some of the most confusing taxonomy I've encountered). These are creatures of the cool damp places, under things, in leaf litter, and I have even seen them skating on the surface film of water. They breathe through their skin. Due to their tiny size and unobtrusiveness they are often overlooked, yet common species might be some of the most numerous animals on the planet.

They are not a threat to your aunt Polly's prize petunias even though they can become pretty numerous. They are known to be omnivorous and pretty much harmless, carrying no known diseases and with only a few species doing damage to anything humans might be interested in. They seldom need to be “controlled” with cyanide, a 10-pound hammer, or any other “nuclear option.”
Not technically insects, and not just gray and brown.
  • Not technically insects, and not just gray and brown.
They are called Springtails due to a unique anatomical development. A lever projects from the tip of their abdomen and is held underneath pointing toward their head. When threatened, the “furcula” snaps downward propelling the animal violently up and away. It wasn't until I digitally developed several extremely magnified photos that I saw some of them have amazingly intricate patterns and pretty iridescence and are more than tiny gray or brown specks scurrying around the drainboard of my outside sink.
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Friday, July 24, 2015

Bigger Numbers or Just Better Data? Point in Time Count is Out

Posted By on Fri, Jul 24, 2015 at 3:48 PM

A shopping cart sits near the Devil's Playground behind the Bayshore Mall. - LINDA STANSBERRY
  • Linda Stansberry
  • A shopping cart sits near the Devil's Playground behind the Bayshore Mall.

The Humboldt Housing and Homeless Coalition released a final draft of its Point in Time Count today, which you can find here. While the overall figures seem to indicate a jump in the number of homeless people in Humboldt, (1,319 people in 2015, up from 1,054 in 2013), organizers of the biannual tally say that improved methods, including a shorter form, may have contributed to more complete data.

As the Journal originally reported when the PIT Count's draft went out for review, some volunteers felt the count fell short. The Department of Housing and Urban Development, which sponsors the count, does not include people living in clean and sober housing, those "doubled up" with friends, or give a complete picture of the number of homeless children, which the Humboldt County Office of Education estimates at close to 1,000. At least one attempt to tally volunteers at the Hikshari' Trail was disrupted by police serving notices to campers of an imminent cleanup and rumors of a government 'round up.'

Some advocates in Southern Humboldt say the tally, which was done in late January, gives an inaccurate picture of the impact transients can have during the fall months, when migratory workers flood Garberville and Redway looking for seasonal work on marijuana grows.

One thing that appears to be clear is that the number of those without a bed far exceeds the beds available. In Eureka alone, where more than half of Humboldt County's homeless live, there are three times as many heads as there are emergency shelter beds.

From the Humboldt Housing and Homeless Coalition:

Point in Time count numbers released

The 2015 homeless Point in Time (PIT) count report has been finalized, showing a total of 1,319 homeless, including 32 children—265 more homeless people than were counted during the 2013 PIT.

More than 30 agencies and 100 trained volunteers assisted in this year’s PIT count which showed Eureka having the county’s largest homeless population, followed by Arcata and Southern Humboldt.

The biennial PIT count, conducted by the Humboldt Housing and Homeless Coalition (HHHC), documents the number of sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons. The count takes place in communities across the U.S. on a single night in January. For Humboldt County, this year it was Jan. 27.

Starting the morning after and going through the week, volunteers connected with homeless people throughout the county to administer voluntary surveys with questions about age, physical and mental health status and where they had slept on the designated night.

“This year we had a lot of community interest and more volunteers participating in the count than in previous years,” said Barbara LaHaie, co-chair of the HHHC and assistant director, programs, for the Humboldt County Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS). “These numbers are so beneficial to the HHHC and assist us in determining how best to use our resources.”

The count is a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requirement. Information gathered during this count is used by local planning departments and by county nonprofit agencies in applications for grant funding and planning.

Although there are various definitions of homelessness, HUD’s definition includes the following four categories:

1. Individuals and families who lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence
2. Individuals and families who will imminently lose their primary nighttime residence
3. Unaccompanied youth and families with children and youth who are defined as homeless under other federal statutes who do not otherwise qualify as homeless under this definition
4. Individuals and families who are fleeing, or are attempting to flee, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking or other dangerous or life-threatening conditions that relate to violence against the individual or a family member.

People living with friends or relatives, as well as people staying in motels, are not considered homeless, per HUD’s definition.

The count is not scientific, but provides a picture of the homeless population at a specific point in time.

“It provides a snapshot of our homeless on a specific night,” said Karen “Fox” Olson, executive director at Arcata House Partnership and co-chair of the HHHC.

She said this year’s PIT was a success, which she credits to a few things.

“We simplified the survey, the volunteers were great and the California Center for Rural Policy (CCRP) at Humboldt State University analyzed the data and provided us with a final report. This year is the best data collection the HHHC has ever done.”

Olson said they also set up hubs throughout the county where homeless people could come and be interviewed, including the Arcata House Annex, Betty Kwan Chinn Day Center, North Coast Veterans Resource Center, Fortuna Adventist Community Services, Redwood Teen Challenge, Church of the Joyful Healer and WISH-Women’s Crisis Shelter In Southern Humboldt.
The 2015 PIT Count committee included the North Coast Veterans Resource Center, Arcata House Partnership, DHHS, Redwood Community Action Agency, Redwood Teen Challenge, the Humboldt County Office of Education and two at-large community members. The count was funded in part by First 5 Humboldt County, the North Coast Grant Making Partnership, St. Joseph Health System and the CCRP.
The HHHC is a coalition of housing advocates, businesses, funders, elected officials, service and housing providers, faith-based organizations and other community stakeholders working together to identify and address local housing needs. In Humboldt County, the HCCC is the lead organization for homeless issues and the federally designated Continuum of Care. For more information about the HHHC, visit its website at


Other Statistics Percentage

Arcata   15.9%
Eureka  56.3%
Fortuna         7.4%
Southern Humboldt  13.1%
Other          7.3%
Left unanswered  1.67%

<18          2.6%
18-25       11.1%
26-34      22.0%
35-45      27.1%
46-54      19.5%
55-64       14.6%
65+          3.1%

Sheltered indicates sleeping in a motel, in a trailer or RV, emergency shelter, transitional house or “couch-surfing” on the night of Jan. 27.

Unsheltered indicates sleeping in a car, on the street, outdoors or in an abandoned building on the night of Jan. 27.

Disabling condition  47.9%
Victim of domestic violence       37.4%
Substance use disorder       33.3%
Serious mental illness  30.7%
HIV/AIDS         1.67%

Veteran Status:
Yes          13.4%
No          8.6%
Respondent doesn’t know       0.078%
Respondent declined to state      0.31%
Information wasn’t filled out       3.26%

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Skilled Nursing Facilities Now Taking Patients

Posted By on Fri, Jul 24, 2015 at 10:52 AM

Geoffrey and Queenie Spenceley - CHRISTINE PETER
  • Christine Peter
  • Geoffrey and Queenie Spenceley
Lisa Ciccanti, spokesperson for St. Joseph Hospital, confirmed that local skilled nursing facilities have begun accepting patients from the hospital again. St. Joseph had previously been told by the facilities' management company, Rockport, that they would not accept any of the hospital's patients, forcing those who needed skilled nursing to go out of county. The local Program for All Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) has not had its contract with the five local skilled nursing facilities reinstated, although PACE director Justine Medina reports that the program has only had to place one elder in skilled nursing during the last year.

On Thursday, July 23, Rockport's CEO Brad Gibson gave a presentation to the Fortuna Rotary Club in which he discussed the company's three-and-a-half month refusal to accept patients. The Journal has attempted to contact the company, but repeated emails to its public relations spokesperson, Sallie Hofmeister, have not been returned.

For more information about the shut out, click here to read our our July 9 cover story. The story featured the tale of Geoffrey and Queenie Spencely, detailing Geoffrey's efforts to get his wife into a skilled nursing facility. The Journal has learned that Queenie passed away the morning the story came out.

Linda Stansberry will host an interview with Suzi Fregeau, program manager for the Area 1 Agency on Aging's long-term care ombudsman, and ombudsman volunteer John Heckel on KHSU's Thursday Night Talk Thursday, July 30 at 7 p.m. 

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

That's All, Folklife

Posted By on Tue, Jul 21, 2015 at 2:00 PM

The Humboldt Folklife Festival picked, strummed, hooted and harmonized all the live-long day at the free concert finale at Dell'Arte International on Saturday, July 18. This was the 37th annual event, featuring everything from highland pipes to washboards and banjos. Photographer Mark McKenna caught the shows, the crowds and the music spilling into the streets. 

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