Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Parklets Waiting for Droplets to Stop

Posted By on Wed, Dec 30, 2015 at 3:41 PM

The Humboldt Bay Tourism Center's parklet should be lovely in the summertime. - GRANT SCOTT-GOFORTH
  • Grant Scott-Goforth
  • The Humboldt Bay Tourism Center's parklet should be lovely in the summertime.
Those parklets, the tiny, public, Old Town outdoor spaces that were supposed to be completed in September, got held up a little, but we’re assured they’re on their way.

Eureka Community Development Director Rob Holmlund says the parklet plans for two of the four participating businesses have been approved by the city. Ramone’s Bakery owner Berit Meyer says workers were prepared not long ago to pour cement in front of the E Street store, but she wanted to hold off until after Christmas, what with extra traffic in Old Town and extra business for the bakery. Now, Meyer said, she's just waiting on a break in the weather.

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Monday, December 28, 2015

Albuquerque or Auburn? Eureka City Council Considers Different Models to Address Panhandling

Posted By on Mon, Dec 28, 2015 at 1:33 PM

  • Thinkstock
At the Dec. 15 Eureka City Council meeting, City Manager Greg Sparks presented research on an idea from Albuquerque, New Mexico: employing panhandlers to participate in city beautification projects. In 2015, Albuquerque put $50,000 toward providing panhandlers with transportation to and from work and a midday meal before then connecting them with services such as food, shelter and counseling. The program is administered through a third-party nonprofit, which relieves the city from obligations such as workman's compensation and drug testing.

Does Eureka need a program like this? Several city councilmembers said yes. Kim Bergel said some days you can't drive down Henderson Street "without seeing seven people or more [panhandling]." Bergel said the idea was a "long time coming." Other city council members cited CostCo and Eureka Natural Foods as hotspots for people flying signs, and Councilmember Natalie Arroyo said business owners are rightfully troubled by people panhandling at the entrances to their stores. (Arroyo does not think an Albuquerque-style program is a solution.) Aren't people panhandling at intersections a safety hazard? Police Chief Andy Mills said it certainly could be, although he couldn't recall any specific cases.

Some cities have banned the act of handing pedestrians things from car windows, but Sparks said this was an ineffective measure. Eureka currently has an ordinance banning "aggressive panhandling," but because several other cities' anti-panhandling ordinances were struck down as civil rights violations, the city was "leery" about enacting one banning the act altogether unless officials were sure it would stick. Albuquerque says it has connected 2,200 people with services since the program began in September. The problem in Eureka falls to finances, education and implementation.

"Albuquerque is the most populous city in the state of New Mexico. Utah is, well Utah is a state, working with a state budget." said Arroyo, referring to Utah's housing-first initiative that dramatically reduced its homeless population. "I think it's a wonderful idea, but I don't think it's going to be our silver bullet. I don't think we can put very much money toward it."

Bergel countered that the money could be covered by grants, but acknowledged enforcement of a stricter panhandling ordinance could be difficult, putting more strain on an already busy police force. 

"I don't think that the punitive approach we've been taking is working," she added. She also cited Auburn, Oregon's recent anti-panhandling campaign, in which city officials and business owners handed out anti-panhandling information to people who were shopping. Sparks cited the need for a public awareness campaign, perhaps shown to Rotary clubs or others, that would show people where their money "really" went. According to a report from the U.S. Department of Justice, most panhandlers spend their money on "alcohol, drugs, and tobacco." The report adds that the majority of homeless people do not panhandle, and the majority of panhandlers are not homeless.

Sparks concluded discussion by saying that it appeared the counsel had reached some level of consensus that public education should be a priority, that the punitive aspect of an ordinance should be investigated, and that he would continue to work with third party entities such as The Betty Kwan Chinn Center, which currently does help people find employment. The subject will be revisited at a later meeting.

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Sunday, December 27, 2015


Posted By on Sun, Dec 27, 2015 at 9:04 AM

The four PacifiCorp dams along the Klamath River that the KBRA would have removed.
  • The four PacifiCorp dams along the Klamath River that the KBRA would have removed.
With Congress home for the holidays and hope of legislation to enact the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement coming before the Dec. 31 deadline evaporated, stakeholders will gather for a conference call Monday. But don’t expect another extension or a unified path forward.

“No,” said Karuk Tribe Natural Resources Policy Advocate Craig Tucker. “Pretty much, the KBRA’s done.”

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Saturday, December 26, 2015

Happy Boxing Day! Here's How to De-Fest Your Home

Posted By on Sat, Dec 26, 2015 at 9:25 AM

Is someone needling you to do the holiday clean up? - THINKSTOCK
  • Thinkstock
  • Is someone needling you to do the holiday clean up?

Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, you've outlived your usefulness! Below are all the places in Humboldt County where you can drop off that gaudy fir corpse that is now shedding pieces of itself on your tinsel-strewn floor. Thanks to Humboldt Waste Management Authority for the head's up. Most of these disposal areas are free if you get the tree in before the second week of January (ahem), and a few organizations even offer pick up for a small fee.

Are you dreading hauling all those boxes up to the attic? Thinking about taking most of them down to the second-hand store and starting fresh next year? Get ready for disappointment, because a lot of thrift stores put up signs announcing a war on Christmas ornaments this time of year. 

"They’re overwhelmed," says Shirley Lane-Grim, owner of the Cuddly Bear Thrift Store in Fortuna. Lane-Grim and most of her cohort put out decorations to tempt people during the holidays, but have no problem turning away boxes of ornaments after Dec. 26. "I don’t take them during the year anymore. I have no room in the store."

Down the street, another second-hand shop, Tabitha's Place, usually holds a Christmas-in-July sale to divest of its festive overstock.

"Americans produce a quarter more trash [than usual] between Thanksgiving and Christmas," says Tibora Girczyc-Blum, director of SCRAP Humboldt. "I think that some people go for a new theme every year and start fresh. They style up, find wrapping paper that matches the tree."

SCRAP encourages "creative reuse," and while they may take some of your nicer vintage ornaments, chances are they don't want your motion-activated Elvis Santa. Girczyc-Blum says next year, instead of buying new, check out SCRAP first. They have classes to help you and the little ones make your own ornaments out of upcycled materials, and stock plenty of cards and wrapping paper.

From HWMA:

Once the holidays come to a close and your ornaments and lights are returned to storage, don’t forget that your Christmas Trees can be returned too. Trees can continue their useful life after the holidays by being recycled and maximized as a resource rather than a waste. All Christmas Trees collected at the locations listed below will create compost or energy. Return your tree to one of the following drop off sites at no charge; you do not need to be a city resident to use the drop off in that city. Christmas tree pick up is available in some communities through garbage haulers or volunteer groups. Collection dates vary by community. Remove all decorations and tinsel from your tree.

Free drop off at Wes Green’s Mad River Compost Facility, 6360 West End Road from December 26 through the end of January Open hours are Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Saturday 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Arcata High students raising funds will pick up trees curbside for $10, December 26 - Sunday, January 11. Call (707) 822-8325.

Blue Lake
Free drop off at Prasch Hall, near baseball fields, December 28 -, January

Free drop off at HWMA’s Transfer Station, 1059 W. Hawthorne St., December 26 - Monday January 11 during open hours. Hours are Monday - Friday, 7:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Saturday 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. and Sunday 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Commercial trees do not apply. Recology picks up trees in Eureka and surrounding county areas January 2nd and 9th for $5. Call (707) 442-5711 for an appointment.

Free drop off at the City Barn, Francis St., from December 26 - Friday, January 8th.

Free drop off at Eel River Disposal’s Transfer Station, 965 Riverwalk Dr., December 26 - Friday, January 15. Call (707) 725-5156 for open hours. Don’t have greenwaste pick up? Eel River Disposal collects trees for $12.

Free drop off at Humboldt Sanitation’s Transfer Station, 2585 Central Ave, December 26 - Sunday, January 17th. Call (707) 839-3285 for open hours. Arcata High students will collect trees for $15. See details under ‘Arcata.’

Rio Dell
Free drop off at Eel River Disposal’s Transfer Station, 965 Riverwalk Dr., December 26 - Wednesday, January 15. Call (707) 725-5156 for open hours. Eel River Disposal picks up trees curbside for $12.

Free drop off behind Murphy’s Market, December 26 – through January 17th

For additional information , please call our business offices from 8:30 AM until 4:30 PM weekdays. Thank You and Happy Holidays. Brent

Brent Whitener
Operations Manager (Acting)
Humboldt Waste Management Authority
1059 W Hawthorne Street
Eureka, CA 95501
Office 707-268-8680 Ext 211 Cell 707-599-5762

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Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas: Here are the Center Arts Riders from the Last Two Seasons

Posted By on Fri, Dec 25, 2015 at 11:21 AM

  • Illustration by Sharon Ruchte
In this week's cover story, we read through nearly 100 contracts between Center Arts, which brings big-name music, dance and theater acts every year, and the performers who grace HSU stages. 

Those contracts contain the riders — documents that detail an artist's technical and "hospitality" needs, in other words the food, drinks and comforts they request while on tour. There are some gems in there, ranging from cringe-worthy to charming, and we urge you to go look at our favorites. 

But if you share with Journal staff an undying curiosity, we've posted all 96 riders that Center Arts released per our public records request. Click on the names below to view them in PDF format. Have at it, and let us know what we missed in the comments section. 

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Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Oldest Living Christmas Tree

Posted By and on Thu, Dec 24, 2015 at 9:11 AM

The giant Founder's Tree became a symbol of something much larger during World War II. - HUMBOLDT HISTORICAL SOCIETY
  • Humboldt Historical Society
  • The giant Founder's Tree became a symbol of something much larger during World War II.
Since the early 1980s, the Humboldt Redwoods Interpretive Association has been celebrating the winter holidays by lighting a Christmas tree in front of the visitor’s center at Burlington, off Avenue of the Giants. Unknown to many is the fact that this continues a tradition started in the 1930s.

The vision of “living” Christmas trees began In 1926 when Clarence F. (Sandy) Pratt of San Francisco decorated a tree growing outside his home, lifting the spirits of a sick 7-year-old neighbor. Impressing and delighting his community, it also inspired many others in the state to follow his lead and by 1933, 75,000 outdoor trees were decorated in California. As president of the California Outdoor Christmas Tree Association, Pratt continued to promote living outdoor Christmas trees. In an interview printed in the Sausalito News on Nov. 20, 1931, Pratt encouraged Californians to light more outdoor Christmas trees to "drive away fear and depression.” Pratt and his association envisioned lighted Christmas trees lining the state's highways, believing they would "act as beacons to prosperity and spread this cheerful message of confidence."

Pratt’s message received an enthusiastic response and, over the course of the 1930s, increasing numbers of trees were lit around the state. Pratt's idea found purchase in communities in Humboldt County. Ferndale's outdoor tree, still lit annually to mark the season, is a tradition that began in 1934. Scotia had its own outdoor tree as well, a tradition that was maintained for decades by the company-town's long-time benefactor, the Pacific Lumber Company. This cherished tradition was only recently discontinued, after the acquisition of the bankrupt company's assets by the Humboldt Redwood Company.

Sponsored by the California Chamber of Commerce, the Outdoor Christmas Tree Association's goal in 1938 was again set at 100,000 lighted outdoor trees "as a fitting forerunner to the 1939 Exposition." The Sausalito News reported on Dec. 15, 1938 that in Humboldt Redwoods State Park’s Founder's Tree near Dyerville and the Molly Atkinson tree were to be lighted as part of the state-wide campaign. The newspaper reported that both trees were so tall that professional tree toppers had to be brought in to do the lighting work. Founder’s Tree was thought to be the world's tallest tree at the time, however, it later lost the designation after a storm knocked its top off and a taller redwood was discovered by Humboldt State University forestry students in Rockefeller forest.

Founder's Tree, once dubbed the tallest living tree in the world, stands near Dyerville. - HUMBOLDT HISTORICAL SOCIETY
  • Humboldt Historical Society
  • Founder's Tree, once dubbed the tallest living tree in the world, stands near Dyerville.
In 1941, William L. Stevenson of the Fortuna Rotary wanted more than a celebration of the Christmas holiday; he wanted a prayer for peace and victory amid the struggles of Word War II. He enlisted the aid of Charles Fulkerson of Humboldt State College to bring the school’s choir to the candlelight ceremony at Founder’s Grove, as well as a reverend from Fortuna, who led the group in prayer. Founder's Tree was lit up once again, according to the Sausalito News, "converted into a glorious, beautifully flood-lighted, living Christmas tree," illuminated by a number of 10,000 candle-power flood-lights. The Dec. 9 Humboldt Times reported that a test-lighting of the 2,000-year-old tree took place two days earlier, on Dec. 7, 1941, the same day a Japanese fleet conducted its infamous assault on Pearl Harbor. The lighting was repeated each evening from Dec. 11 to Jan. 1, despite war-time fears of a coastal attack. These fears proved well-founded after the tanker Emidio was destroyed by a Japanese submarine off Humboldt's coast on Dec. 20. Even after this local attack, the lighting of Founder's Tree continued.

The candlelight ceremony at Founder's Grove was repeated the following year, but in a much darker form. By December, 1942, very real war-time fears led to military-enforced blackouts along the California coast. This dimmed the outdoor Christmas trees for the duration of the war in coastal communities throughout the state, including the festivities at Dyerville, as reported in the Humboldt Times on Dec. 27, 1942. The lack of electric lights at the Founder's Grove failed to dim the spirits of Humboldt residents, however, who continued to put their best foot forward, maintaining their candle-lit observances in Dyerville during these war-darkened years. In 1943, the event was described in the Dec. 24 issue of the Long Beach Independent: “Colorful yuletide activities were held in Southern Humboldt County … by the Fortuna Rotary and the state park commission. The world’s tallest, and oldest, living Christmas tree, was a major attraction, reaching a height of 364 feet.”

The celebration at Founder's Grove would not see its former holiday glory again until after the end of World War II. According to an article in the Dec. 6, 1945 edition of the Sausalito News, Founder’s Tree was lit up once again on Aug. 17 of that year in observance of the Japanese surrender. More than 3,000 people signed the park’s register during the event.

Christmas festivities at the grove resumed with gusto on Dec. 21, 1945 and Founder’s Tree was once again lit with 50,000-candle power of holiday cheer. The Pacific Lumber Company paid for the electricity, and the East Power Company of Weott supplied the power.

This tree lighting was the most spectacular of the World War II era affairs and the event was broadcast by KSFO radio from San Francisco and the broadcast was heard not only in the bay area, but was also aired by the U.S. military nearly everywhere U.S. troops were stationed around the world, with the total potential audience numbering in the millions.

Pratt's vision brought cheer and hope to communities throughout the state during the dark years of the Great Depression and the second World War and started a tradition of outdoor lighted trees that persists in many places to this day. While the annual tree lighting at Burlington remains a favorite with local residents, the modern lighting of the tree must pale in comparison to the magnificent spectacle of Founder's Tree alight with 50,000-candle power of Christmas cheer and the incredible influence of an entire community coming together to hope for a brighter future.

James Garrison is the archivist for the Humboldt Historical Society and Susan J.P. O’Hara is a fourth grade teacher at Eagle Prairie Elementary School. A different version of this story appears in the Humboldt Redwoods State Park/Burlington Visitors Center newsletter for this month.
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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

HumBug: Killer Legs

Posted By on Wed, Dec 23, 2015 at 11:00 AM

The centipede: a stone cold killer. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • The centipede: a stone cold killer.
Nature it seems is fond of extremes. In the world of reptiles the hands down lethal hunter is the snake with no legs at all. In the arthropod world, one of the most capable killers is the centipede (Latin for "100 feet") with 30 to over 100 legs (depending on species).

A centipede with her babies. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • A centipede with her babies.
How does it coordinate all those limbs? Its antennae send messages to the brain, which sends the first set of instructions to the segment which controls its first pair of legs. They act accordingly and modify the signal as necessary, passing it along to the next segment, and so on and so on. If the poor thing had to contemplate the complexity of it all, it would probably never take another step.

A centipede's charming forcipules — legs that act as fangs. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • A centipede's charming forcipules — legs that act as fangs.
Class Chilopoda, (centipedes) are all carnivorous, having highly modified front legs which act as venomous fangs (or forcipules), and dozens of pairs of legs. Interestingly enough, the legs are shortest in front and get longer at the rear in a regular progression so they do not interfere with each other when the beast launches into an attack or away from danger. The largest in the world is currently the Amazonian giant centipede, which can attain lengths of a little less than a foot long and is capable of catching and eating bats. Here Humboldt County I have seen three different species all maxing out at a little over three inches in length.
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Robert Durst to be Extradited to Face LA Murder Charge

Posted By on Wed, Dec 23, 2015 at 10:10 AM

Durst, who spent several years of his life in Trinidad, has agreed to be extradited to Los Angeles, where he will face a charge of murdering his longtime friend. - PHOTO COURTESY OF HBO
  • Photo Courtesy of HBO
  • Durst, who spent several years of his life in Trinidad, has agreed to be extradited to Los Angeles, where he will face a charge of murdering his longtime friend.
The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office has announced a deal to extradite eccentric New York real estate heir and former Trinidad resident Robert Durst to Los Angeles stand trial for murder, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Durst, whose time in Trinidad was recounted in the Journal’s June 25 cover story, “Robert Durst’s Ghost,” stands accused of killing his friend Susan Berman, who was found on Christmas Eve of 2000 in her Benedict Canyon Home lying dead with a single, close range 9 mm gunshot wound to the back of the head. As Geoffrey Dunn reported in his piece for the Journal, investigators believe Durst had left his Trinidad home a few days earlier, driving south.

Durst, 72 and the subject of the widely popular HBO documentary The Jinx, is currently awaiting trial on a federal weapons charge in New Orleans. The deal reached with Los Angeles prosecutors will have him extradited to Los Angeles by Aug. 18 to stand trial for Berman’s murder, but is contingent on him first reaching a plea deal in his federal case.

“Once we get our case resolved in New Orleans, then we will work on getting him, Bob, to California where he can be brought to trial,” Durst’s attorney, Dick DeGuerin, told the Times. “We’re hoping to get it resolved and get him there as soon as possible. … He recognizes that that’s the main case, that’s everything. He’s been amenable to being extradited since Day One.”

There has been widespread speculation connecting Durst to the 1997 disappearance of Karen Mitchell in Eureka, and the Eureka Police Department reopened the case after Durst's arrest. But EPD Chief Andy Mills said this morning that there has been no movement in the case to report.
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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Journal Files Response in Police Dash Cam Case

Posted By on Tue, Dec 22, 2015 at 5:19 PM

Police dash cameras capture loads of footage. But who should get to see it? - THADEUS GREENSON
  • Thadeus Greenson
  • Police dash cameras capture loads of footage. But who should get to see it?
The North Coast Journal filed a reply Monday to the city of Eureka’s appeal of a Humboldt County judge’s order to release video footage of a police officer arresting a juvenile in 2012.

In its reply brief, the Journal argues the city has provided the California First District Court of Appeals with no evidence supporting its argument that the video in question should be considered a confidential police officer personal record, and that there was “substantial evidence” to support Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Christopher Wilson’s ruling that releasing the video was in the public interest.

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Monday, December 21, 2015

Rain, Rain, Here to Stay

Posted By on Mon, Dec 21, 2015 at 2:42 PM

  • Caltrans
Merry Christmas from Mother Nature! We are at 126 percent of normal rainfall for the year, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association meteorologist Bob Ruehl.

The normal amount of rainfall, measured from Oct. 1 through Dec. 21, is 13.53 inches. This year, NOAA measured 17.59 inches. December alone has brought 11.53 inches, three inches more than normal.

The cause, according to Ruehl, is what’s called an “atmospheric river,” an area of pressure bringing tropical moisture into the area. And it spells rainy conditions for this holiday week, with showers lingering through Christmas and most likely clearing Saturday. Any chances of a white Christmas? Nope, said Ruehl, unless you’re a Trinity County resident.

The urban and small stream flood advisory (read: some roads will be ponds, some ponds will be rivers) is due to be lifted this afternoon, but Dorie Lanni, emergency services manager at the Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services, warned that several rivers are still close enough to flood stage that the Sheriff’s Office is expected to send out a warning this afternoon. Flooding is expected in some low lying areas, and people are “strongly advised” not to drive into flooded areas.

"Check your windshield wipers, check your oil, check your wipers," said Betsy Totten, public information officer at Caltrans, adding that crews had been out all weekend clearing culverts in advance of the storms. Slides in rural parts of the county can also be an issue. As we spoke, Caltrans had just closed north and southbound exits for Hookton Road, near Loleta.

For other wet weather driving tips, we called Humboldt Driving School, where co-owners Jim and Virginia “Ginny” Reeves, have coaxed nervous teenagers through puddles for almost two decades.

“There are a few things you can do to be safe,” said Ginny Reeves. ”Slow down, get the big picture, be on the defensive for somebody doing something stupid.”

What kind of “stupid” things should we look out for? The usual, said Reeves. Using the wrong lane for a turn, stopping suddenly, cutting other drivers off. All of these bad driving behaviors are exacerbated when it’s raining. Sometimes, people don’t see puddles, or they hit a patch of water while speeding and start to hydroplane.

If you begin hydroplaning, which is when a layer of water prevents proper traction with the road’s surface, Reeves stressed that it’s important not to slam on the brakes. Take your foot off the accelerator, and “just kind of go with it, if you’re in a real hard hydroplane,” she added.

Visitors and newbies unused to the wall of water that marks a real Humboldt downpour sometimes slow down to a crawling pace on our roadways. Reeves said this is a mistake.

“People don’t expect you to go that slow,” she said, adding that our more rural areas can be the most treacherous. “The backroads, such as Old Arcata Road, going toward Loleta and Ferndale, can probably be the worst because people are very, very impatient. You’d think Broadway would be the worst … but it’s more predictable in some ways.”

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