Wednesday, March 9, 2016

UPDATE: Suspect in Hoopa Stabbing Death Arrested

Posted By on Wed, Mar 9, 2016 at 4:36 PM

Gerold Sotolongo
  • Gerold Sotolongo
The Humboldt County Sheriff's SWAT team apprehended murder suspect Gearold Sotolongo at a Hoopa residence this morning, according to a press release.

Sotolongo was wanted in connection with the Feb. 13 killing of Hoopa and Weitchpec resident Rodger Allen Yale.  

From the Sheriff's Office:

On Wednesday, March 9, 2016 at approximately 9:03 a.m. the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team and Humboldt Drug Task Force (DTF) served a Ramey Warrant on a residence on Tish Tang Rd, Hoopa. The warrant was for 25 year old Gearold Sotolongo. Sotolongo is suspected of murdering 30 year old Roger Alan Yale in the Hoopa Valley on Saturday, February 13, 2016. The SWAT team safely took Sotolongo into custody. Sotolongo was taken to the Humboldt County Correctional Facility where he was booked for murder. His bail has been set at $1,000,000.


The Humboldt County Sheriff's Office has confirmed the identity of the 30-year-old man killed Saturday morning as Rodger Allen Yale, of Hoopa and Weitchpec. A family member positively identified Yale last night, according to Lt. Wayne Hanson. 

Officials are releasing few details about Yale's death, only that a call came into dispatch at 8:32 on Saturday morning reporting a disturbance at the Hoopa Mini-Mart on State Route 96. A second call at 8:39 confirmed that a man had been stabbed. At 9:01 a.m., an ambulance transporting Yale was en route to the helipad for a medical airlift, but he died before the helicopter left the ground.

The HCSO has identified Gearold Sotolongo, also known as Roldo Pratt or "Soto," a 30-year-old man also from Hoopa as a suspect. Responding to a tip, detectives raided a residential home on Monday morning with the help of a SWAT team but came up empty-handed. Some details, such as the type of weapon and the nature of the conflict that led to Yale's death, are still not being released as detectives continue to search for Sotolongo, who was last seen in the area of the Alameda Trailer Park on State Route 96. Sotolongo is described as 30-year-old Native American male, standing 5 feet, eight inches tall and weighing 225 pounds, with black shoulder length hair and a full beard.

The Sheriff's Office asks that anyone with information call 445-7251 or leave an anonymous tip at 268-2539.

The full press release from the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office:

****Updated Release****

Based the ongoing HCSO investigation into this mornings’ homicide in the Hoopa Valley, detectives have named Gearold Sotolongo aka Roldo Pratt as a suspect and he is now wanted for that homicide.

Sotolongo is described as 30 year old Native American male, 5’8, 225 lbs, black shoulder length hair and a full beard. Sotolongo was last seen in the area of the Alameda Trailer Park on Highway 96.

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 Detective T. Fulton at 707-268-3646

On 02-13-16, at approximately 8:32 AM, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office received a call regarding a disturbance in the Hoopa Valley. Deputies and Medical personnel arrived on scene and began life saving efforts on a 30 year old male. The victim was transported to a landing zone to be flown out by helicopter. The victim succumbed to his injury prior to being transported by helicopter.

There are no suspects at this time. This incident is currently being investigated by Detectives with the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office.

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

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Monday, February 29, 2016

City of Eureka Poised to Embrace Needle Exchange, Oust Panhandlers

Posted By on Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 2:22 PM

Brandie Wilson, founder of Humboldt Area Center for Harm Reduction (HACHR), says her organization has saved at least a dozen lives in 2016, thanks to its distribution of Naloxone, an opiate overdose reversal drug. HACHR has been able to give Naloxone to drug users within Humboldt County, along with 2,000 clean needles. Now the Eureka City Council is preparing to formally endorse this work.

The resolution, which is slated for tomorrow's city council meeting, refers to the rate of Hepatitis C infections in Humboldt County, which is currently three times the state and national average. Hepatitis C is primarily transmitted through the sharing of needles during intravenous drug use. 

Wilson said Mayor Frank Jager was very helpful during the process of developing the resolution, and she is "excited" that it will be on the consent calendar for tomorrow's meeting. 

"They’re treating it really well," says Wilson, adding that since HACHR has gained the cooperation of a local physician, needle exchange has expanded. "We’ve been getting back more needles than we’ve been giving out."

The formal approval of the city council will allow HACHR to seek federal and state grant funding. 

Another item on the calendar addresses aggressive panhandling within the city, amending the existing ordinance to prohibit panhandling or "aggressive solicitation" in median strips, driveways, gas stations, bus stops and at vehicles stopped at intersections. 

Eureka Police Chief Andy Mills, whose department reviewed the proposed revisions to the ordinance, says his officers have "seen people doing very risky behavior" during the course of panhandling, and believes the proposed ordinance will be a step in preventing said behavior but, "it's not a panacea."

Councilmember Kim Bergel says she's "looking forward" to the item being on the agenda; it was scheduled and discussed in December but ultimately pushed forward as the council weathered debate on whether or not to declare a shelter crisis. Bergel has spoken several times about research that indicates panhandling does not help reduce or address the needs of the homeless.

"When we give to panhandlers we do it because it feels good, we don’t realize that it exacerbates the problem," she says. "If people knew what they were spending their money on, they probably wouldn’t do it."

The council meeting, which is begins tomorrow at 6 p.m., will also include discussions about the return of a mine-resistant armored vehicle owned but not used by EPD for the past three years to the federal government, the formal adoption of a joint resolution with the County Board of Supervisors to adopt a Housing First strategy for the city, and the 2016 capital improvement program.

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Weekend Crash Claims 34-year-old McKinleyville Woman

Posted By on Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 10:23 AM

The California Highway Patrol is continuing its investigation into a single car crash on State Route 96 near Willow Creek on Saturday morning that left a 34-year-old McKinleyville woman dead.

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Sunday, February 28, 2016

TL;DR: Six Things you Need to Know About This Week’s Cover Story

Posted By on Sun, Feb 28, 2016 at 4:18 PM

Busy week? We get it. Here are some highlights from “Homing the Houseless” to get you caught up. (And a few things that didn’t make it into the issue.)

With the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors and the Eureka City Council slated to vote Tuesday on a joint-resolution that would pledge the two governments’ dedication to using the Housing First philosophy to address chronic homelessness, our cover story this week takes a look at the approach, from its inception in New York City to its roll-out nationwide. The philosophy has proven remarkably successful elsewhere — praised by bleeding heart humanitarians and fiscal conservatives alike — but can it work in Humboldt? Here are six things you need to know:

1) Housing First is at once deceptively simple and enormously complex. For decades, the prevailing approach to helping homeless people was centered around getting them housing ready: helping them get clean, sober, mentally stable and, to some degree, employable while they are still homeless. Housing First, the brainchild of a New York psychologist, turns that upside down, working from the dual premise that safe housing is a basic human right and that it’s nearly impossible to get someone sober and mentally stable while they are sleeping under a bridge or behind a bush. Housing First holds that the most successful way to help the homeless is to give them a home, no strings attached.

2) “It’s Housing First, but certainly not housing only.” So says Sam Tsemberis, the aforementioned New York psychologist. Where it has been implemented successfully, Housing First has relied on a network of case managers, psychiatrists, therapists, medical doctors and others to help keep the formerly homeless in their new homes through regular visits, appointments and checkups. Tsemberis and other say the key is personalization, getting to know the client and his or her needs, and coming up with a plan to ensure success. In some cases, this might necessitate daily visits to make sure a client is taking psychiatric medications, while in others it may mean weekly help with grocery shopping and transportation to doctor appointments.

3) Where Housing First has been implemented, it’s been incredibly successful: Buffalo, New York, one of the poorest cities in the country, has reduced chronic homelessness by 95 percent in four years; chronic homelessness among military veterans has dropped 36 percent nationwide in three years; and chronic homelessness in the state of Utah has been almost eliminated, plunging 91 percent in 10 years to the point where, now, there are less than 200 chronically homeless people in the entire state. In each of these cases, agencies report that more than 75 percent of the people placed under Housing First remained housed after a two-year period. Studies also show the philosophy is more cost-effective than caring for the homeless out in the elements. In Seattle, for example, a study showed that Housing First was 53 percent more cost effective, with taxpayers saving nearly $2,500 per person, per month. In Denver, a study found that the cost of providing the homeless with emergency services — detox treatment, incarcerations, emergency psychiatric hospitalizations, inpatient medical care and emergency room visits — dropped 73 percent in two years under Housing First, saving an average of $31,545 per participant, even after the costs of housing, case management and other care were included. Officials also claimed the philosophy resulted in cleaner streets and better emergency services, as it freed police, fire, medical and public works employees from the burden of dealing with entrenched homeless encampments.

4) Housing First is challenging to fund. The philosophy asks clients to pay 30 percent of whatever income stream they have — generally supplemental security income — toward their rent. The rest has to be paid through other sources, generally grants, private funding or local government general fund dollars. And that’s just in situations where the required housing stock already exists. In Utah, Housing First’s most grandiose success story, the state was flush with funds to leverage federal grants, the Mormon Church and its members willingly donated, and the private sector was quick to invest in new housing developments.

5) There are some notable things about Humboldt County and its homeless population, especially in Eureka. Nationwide, the average community reports that about 1 percent of its population is homeless. In Eureka, that number spikes to about 2.7 percent. Across the nation, statistics show about 70 percent of the homeless population is sheltered, spending nights under a roof, whether in a shelter, a friend’s house or a motel. In Humboldt County, about 64 percent of the homeless population is unsheltered. Nationwide, just 15 percent of the homeless population is classified as “chronic,” meaning they’ve been homeless for more than a year; in Humboldt that number jumps to 69 percent. That means the depth and scope of Humboldt’s homeless problem are different. Meanwhile, both the city of Eureka and the county of Humboldt scrambled to address structural budget deficits, which means that — absent a large-scale reprioritization to throw money at Housing First — neither government has much to spend. (A consultant advising the city and the county is recommending they begin by looking at existing vacant units and working with local landlords, and some local officials are asking the community to make mother-in-law units and even extra rooms available for the effort.)

6) Housing First is already being implemented, and working, locally. Arcata House Partnership, which runs an Apartment First program, has about 20 people it has successfully housed around town, including Brad Saxenhaus, who credits Arcata House’s giving him a place to stay a decade ago with saving his life. Meanwhile, the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services has about a dozen clients in permanent supportive housing, a number of whom were placed using a Housing First approach. And perhaps most noteworthy, the Arcata Bay Crossing, a 30-unit property unveiled last September, was almost entirely filled with Housing First clients. Six months later, almost all of them remain housed. “These are the neediest of the needy, and they’re all still housed, which is really big,” said Arcata House Executive Director Darlene Spoor.

Want to know more? Then check out the full story here.
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HumBug: Endangered Species

Posted By on Sun, Feb 28, 2016 at 3:01 PM

Hello there. The tiny face of a lacewing. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • Hello there. The tiny face of a lacewing.
On a recent sunny day, I was taking the long way home when an insect fluttered daintily in the sunshine ahead of me. Reflexively, I reached out and snatched it from the air in a carefully cupped hand. When I opened my hand a tiny bit, I saw what looked like a gray lacewing. Never having seen that color before, I wanted a picture. But manipulating my camera, keeping my hand closed then opening for just a second for fear the creature would escape proved tricky. I decided to put it in a little container and take it home, but that too was awkward.

The San Francisco lacewing's body is about 1/2 inch long. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • The San Francisco lacewing's body is about 1/2 inch long.
There are a few tricks, such as chilling the subject in the fridge. This slows an insect's metabolism and sometimes allows you to get the shot you want. Gauging exactly how cold is tricky. Guess wrong and you kill the subject — not necessarily in a good pose. I didn't want to destroy it unnecessarily, so I took a chance. As gently as I could, I opened my hand and let it crawl onto an Indian Plum bush (Oemleria cerasiformis). It seemed unscathed and content to pose for me. When I jostled a limb, a cloud of tiny whiteflies, a noted crop pest and popular food for lacewings, flew up. I'm only guessing but I suspect that was its original destination. We parted amicably when I ran out of pictures to take.

The even tinier whitefly, at about 1/8 inch long.
  • The even tinier whitefly, at about 1/8 inch long.

After uploading the images I posted some to inquiring about its identity, since it was not in any of my books. I got a reply suggesting that it was a San Francisco lacewing (Nothochrysa californica). The photos were a spot-on match for my little acquaintance. Curious, I investigated online and found on that it is classified as “critically imperiled” (G1G3). Yep, there are insects on the endangered species list. There have been reports of it northward of Santa Cruz. To the best of my knowledge, however, this is the first from this far.
I'm glad I only took pictures.

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Saturday, February 27, 2016

John Jaso: Humboldt's Dreadlocked Baseball Hero Talks Concussions

Posted By on Sat, Feb 27, 2016 at 12:50 PM

John Jaso, swinging for the Oakland Athletics. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • John Jaso, swinging for the Oakland Athletics.
Humboldt-grown pro baseball player John Jaso is the subject of a fantastic article that came out this week on VICE Sports. In it, Jaso’s former teammate Fernando Perez (a World Series champ and he’s a better writer than me? Sigh) talks with Jaso about playing catcher, diva pitchers, being a Moneyball player and the debilitating concussions he suffered two years in a row.

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Friday, February 26, 2016

Faith in the System: Arreaga's Public Defender Reflects on Murder Acquittal

Posted By on Fri, Feb 26, 2016 at 3:46 PM

It was an emotional moment in a Humboldt County courtroom this week when Jason Arreaga was acquitted of murder charges stemming from a 2014 double slaying.

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Getting Legit: Local Growers Line Up to File on First Day of County Ordinance

Posted By on Fri, Feb 26, 2016 at 12:25 PM

Farmers were waiting to file before the department even opened its doors. - LINDA STANSBERRY
  • Linda Stansberry
  • Farmers were waiting to file before the department even opened its doors.

A small crowd clustered at the top of the stairs of the Humboldt County Planning Department on Friday morning, waiting for the doors to open. In their hands, they clutched their land use ordinance permits for medical marijuana cultivation.

"We've been gearing up all week for a big day," said Rob Wall, interim planning director, saying extra staff were on duty to help local farmers file. 

"You guys are taking cash, right?" asked someone in line, prompting a ripple of laughter.

Wall assured them that they were.  The $150 deposit paid to the department goes toward a two-hour meeting with a county planner to discuss the application and any changes that need to be made to the operation seeking licensing.

A young couple from Willow Creek, who only wanted to give their first names, Sam and Matt, said they were "really excited" as they waited in line.

"We're feeling as prepared as we could be. The application is about an inch thick," said Matt, adding that his wife had prepared most of it, including information about their labor practices, a site map and much more. "It was a lot of work."

"And a lot of hope," added Sam. "Being here, it's a mixture of weird and exciting."

The first applicants of the day wait in line to submit their applications at the County Planning Department. - LINDA STANSBERRY
  • Linda Stansberry
  • The first applicants of the day wait in line to submit their applications at the County Planning Department.
The emotions of Rain on the Earth, a 71-year-old farmer from Garberville, were less diluted. 

"It feels incredible," she said. "This is a real turning point for the state and county. We've been wanting to come out of the shadows for a long time."

Rain's great-nephew, Myles Moscato, was the first person to file an application, along with his aunt and father. The three generations were shepherded up to the counter by Wall as Luke Bruner, boardmember of California Cannabis Voice Humboldt, enthusiastically took pictures of the proceedings.

"History being made!" said Bruner.

Three generations of growers, Rain on the Earth with her nephews Mark Switzer (far right) and grand-nephew Myles Moscato (center) pose with Wall as Moscato proudly holds the receipt for his application, the first submitted in the county. - LINDA STANSBERRY
  • Linda Stansberry
  • Three generations of growers, Rain on the Earth with her nephews Mark Switzer (far right) and grand-nephew Myles Moscato (center) pose with Wall as Moscato proudly holds the receipt for his application, the first submitted in the county.

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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Marijuana Group Says it Will Sue County Over Outdoor Cultivation Ordinance

Posted By on Thu, Feb 25, 2016 at 3:47 PM

  • Humboldt County Sheriff's Office
Humboldt County’s newly enacted medical marijuana cultivation ordinance, which goes into effect tomorrow, is already facing a legal threat.

The Humboldt Mendocino Marijuana Advocacy Project (HuMMAP) filed a notice with the county on Tuesday saying that it intends to sue to stop the ordinance. HuMMAP spokesperson Robert Sutherland confirmed the filing with the Journal and said the medical marijuana advocacy group intends to file a lawsuit on Monday if the county continues forward with the ordinance.

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UPDATE: So Hum Highway 101 Crash Kills One

Posted By on Thu, Feb 25, 2016 at 10:33 AM


The Humboldt County Coroner's Office identified the victim in the Feb. 25 crash. Dillon Boots, 27, of Arcata, died of blunt force trauma as a result of the accident. The office is running a toxicology report as part of its investigation into the crash. 


A pair of early morning crashes on U.S. Highway 101 near Phillipsville left one person dead and two injured.

A 1995 BMW was speeding southbound on the highway at more than 100 miles per hour, witnesses said, when it lost control, hit an embankment and flipped over, according to a CHP press release. Investigators believe the driver was not wearing a seatbelt and was killed in the crash. The person's name, age and city of residence have not yet been released.

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