Tuesday, July 18, 2017

EPD Retracts Plans for Homeless Meal Voucher System

Posted By on Tue, Jul 18, 2017 at 3:17 PM

Capt. Steve Watson. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • Capt. Steve Watson.
Eureka Police Department Capt. Steve Watson informed the Journal today that his team had scrapped plans for a controversial behavior-based voucher system that would have seen some homeless people have to exchange community service for meals at the St. Vincent de Paul cafeteria.

The voucher idea, one of many creative solutions proposed by EPD in order to address problems with crime and blight in the area around St. Vincent de Paul on West Third Street, would have been used as an alternative to sending homeless people found loitering, camping, littering or engaging in other low-level offenses through the criminal justice system. Instead, said offenders would be ticketed by officers and have their meal privileges suspended until they had done a certain amount of community service. Their service would be documented, at which point they could exchange this documentation for the reinstatement of meals.

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Scenes from the Folklife Fest

Posted By on Tue, Jul 18, 2017 at 11:55 AM

Jenny Scheinman's performance was a highlight of the 39th annual Humboldt Folklife Festival. - MARK LARSON
  • Mark Larson
  • Jenny Scheinman's performance was a highlight of the 39th annual Humboldt Folklife Festival.
The week-long Humboldt Folklife Festival in its 39th year drew large crowds to its events this year, according to Patrick Cleary, one of the many Humboldt Folklife Society members who organized the event. Cleary said this year's festival was dedicated to the memory of Susan Anderson, one of the original members of the Humboldt Folklife Society back in 1978 who died this past year.

Personal highlights for me included Thurday's Bluegrass and Beyond show that included Clean Livin', Jenny Scheinman and The Compost Mountain Boys at the Dell'Arte Amphitheatre. Scheinman's virtuoso skills on the fiddle and singing of her creative and sometimes very personal lyrics were outstanding.

Scheinman first played solo on tunes from her latest release Here On Earth (a tribute to fiddle tunes). John Wood then accompanied her on his keyboard for songs that she has written that were very personal, funny, sad and a few based on her memories of growing up in Petrolia behind the "redwood curtain."

The Folklife Festival came to a close on Saturday in Blue Lake with its All Day Free Fest of workshops and18 bands performing on two stages. Check out the full slideshow below.

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Monday, July 17, 2017

Clarke Museum May Make Room for Welcome Center

Posted By on Mon, Jul 17, 2017 at 2:20 PM

A digital rendition of the Clarke Museum's possible future. - HUMBOLDT MADE
  • Humboldt Made
  • A digital rendition of the Clarke Museum's possible future.
UPDATE: The Eureka City Council approved the proposal.


The Eureka City Council is set to vote tomorrow night on whether to authorize City Manager Greg Sparks to negotiate with local nonprofit Humboldt Made to operate a visitor center that will take up the main room of the Clarke Museum, at Third and E streets.

Humboldt Made's proposal — which staff is recommending above several other contenders, including the Ink People Center for the Arts and Humboldt Bay Provisions (formerly the Humboldt Bay Tourism Center) — would see the Clarke's large main room turned into a gift shop, lounge and tasting room. The area where the museum's apothecary exhibit currently is would become a bar, and a historic boat may be suspended from the ceiling of the room, which formerly housed the Bank of Eureka. The building dates back to 1911 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Squireses Take G Street Neighbors Back to Court

Posted By on Sun, Jul 16, 2017 at 9:53 AM

The now red-tagged home at 1635 G St. - PHOTO BY THADEUS GREENSON
  • Photo by Thadeus Greenson
  • The now red-tagged home at 1635 G St.
A few weeks after residents along a stretch of G Street in Eureka received letters in June announcing they had won their small claims case against the city’s most notorious landlords, another arrived in the mail.

The case was going back to court.

The landlords, Floyd and Betty Squires, had appealed Judge Timothy Cissna’s ruling that found the couple failed to properly manage two buildings on the street and awarded neighbors varying amounts in damages.

In his decision, Cissna said there was “substantial, credible evidence” to show the residences at 1625 and 1635 G St. qualified as “nuisances.”

But, under the small claims appeal process, all the Squireses needed to do was pay a fee and fill out a form to be granted what is called a "trial de novo" before a different judge in a bid to throw out the thousands of dollars in damages Cissna had distributed among the 20 neighbors.

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Saturday, July 15, 2017

Rodeo Bucks Along

Posted By on Sat, Jul 15, 2017 at 2:55 PM

Danny Fales, of Eureka. - THOMAS HARDY
  • Thomas Hardy
  • Danny Fales, of Eureka.
The Fortuna Rodeo is hitting full stride, with busy days planned today and tomorrow, when the adults will take center stage. But Thursday was all about the juniors, and local photographer Thomas Hardy was there to catch the little ones in action.

For a full schedule or rodeo festivities, including the famous rodeo BBQ hitting plates tomorrow, click here.

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Friday, July 14, 2017

Patient Dumping Case Settles Out of Court

Posted By on Fri, Jul 14, 2017 at 5:07 PM

Eureka Rehabilitation and Wellness - FILE
  • FILE
  • Eureka Rehabilitation and Wellness
The case of an elderly blind man who was left alone in a hotel room after being discharged from Eureka Rehabilitation and Wellness Center in October of 2016 was settled out of court this week. The conditions of the settlement are confidential.

The case, brought on behalf of the decedent's sister, Sherri Ann McKenna, accused the owner of the facility of patient abuse and neglect. Eureka Rehabilitation and Wellness is one of four local facilities owned by Brius Healthcare, which is at the center of a state audit recently ordered on its finances. In the past, Brius and its owner, Shlomo Rechnitz, have been accused of poor patient care. The company is also facing two additional lawsuits by local law firm Janssen Malloy, LLC related to patient deaths due to infection.

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UPDATE: Fortuna City Manager Arrested for Second DUI

Posted By on Fri, Jul 14, 2017 at 10:35 AM

  • City of Arcata
  • Wheetley
Fortuna City Manager Mark Wheetley was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence yesterday evening, just about 18 months after a DUI arrest derailed his candidacy for a seat on the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors.

California Highway Patrol spokesman Cy May said an officer pulled Wheetley over shortly after 7 p.m. yesterday after spotting him speeding on State Route 255 near Navy Base Road. In addition to allegedly doing about 70 miles an hour in a 55 zone, May said the registration tags on Wheetley’s 2013 Chrysler Town and Country minivan were expired.

“After we stopped him and contacted him, the officer observed Mr. Wheetley displaying signs and symptoms of intoxication,” May said, adding that the officer then gave Wheetley a field sobriety test, which he failed.

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Thursday, July 13, 2017

UPDATE: Budget Committee Reverses Trump's Tsunami System Cuts

Posted By on Thu, Jul 13, 2017 at 8:39 AM

A graphic showing the buoy system that tracks tsunamis. - NOAA
  • NOAA
  • A graphic showing the buoy system that tracks tsunamis.
The House Appropriations Committee has rejected a proposal by President Donald Trump to gut the nation’s tsunami warning system, a move one local official says could leave the West Coast vulnerable to destructives waves generated by quakes from thousands of miles away.

According to the committee’s report, the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriation’s Bill, passed on July 13, includes a recommended allotment of $973 million for National Weather Service and provisions to keep the nation’s two tsunami warning centers open.

The committee’s recommended funding level is $37 million more than the administration’s suggestion, with the committee citing the need to “maintain critical capabilities to provide weather forecasts and warnings.”

“The Committee does not adopt the proposed reduction of the Tsunami Warning Program,” the report states.

The committee also rebuffed the president’s call to eliminate $12 million in funding needed for a system of deep-sea buoys — completed just nine years ago — that transmit information on a tsunami’s trajectory to the warning centers.

The tsunami warning system that has undoubtedly saved lives in coastal communities nestled along the Pacific — including our own — faces an uncertain future under President Donald Trump’s proposed budget, according to a Los Angeles Times report.

Trump has proposed shuttering one of the nation’s two tsunami warning centers and eliminating nearly 40 percent of the staff that stand watch 24-hours a day, monitoring seismic activity across the globe for a tsunami threat.

If that were to happen, says Dorie Lanni, who oversees Humboldt County’s Office of Emergency Services, not only would alert capabilities be cut by more than half but there would be no backup warning system in place.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Multiple Agencies Investigating Fatal Fortuna Fire

Posted By on Wed, Jul 12, 2017 at 9:18 AM

Humboldt County fire officials and the Sheriff’s Office continue to investigate the cause of a fatal blaze that broke out in a Fortuna mobile home park early yesterday morning.

According to a press release from the Sheriff’s Office, the fire claimed the life of 76-year-old Martha Ann Robertson, who died of smoke inhalation in her residence. Multiple fire departments responded to the report of a structure fire in the Royal Crest Mobile Estates at about 5:15 a.m.

Fortuna Fire Chief Lon Winburn told the Journal that rescue efforts were hampered by a significant amount of debri in the house, which blocked most points of entry. Firefighters also had to respond with a water tender due to low water pressure in the park's hydrants, although Winburn said this was not a contributing factor to Robertson's death.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

UPDATED: Chief Mills' Last Day Set for July 21

Posted By on Tue, Jul 11, 2017 at 11:51 AM

Mills in cooler days. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Mills in cooler days.
UPDATE: The Eureka City Council is not currently slated to discuss the process for replacing police Chief Andrew Mills at the July 18 meeting, which comes just three days before his last day on the job.

City Clerk Pam Powell said more information on the process may be announced next week and the appointment of an interim chief is likely to come before the council at the beginning of August.

PREVIOUSLY: It’s now official: Eureka Police Chief Andrew Mills’ last day with the city is set for July 21.

After nearly four years on the job, Mills is heading south to Santa Cruz, where he’ll take on the same position 10 days later in a city that's double Eureka’s size but faces many of the same issues, including a sizable homeless population.

Mills announced he accepted the position back in early June but the offer was contingent on his passing an extensive background check, which was recently completed.

“It’s bittersweet,” Mills says, adding praise for the men and women of his department. “We truly love the people of Humboldt and we’ve found many like-minded friends and people with similar interests, like grandchildren, and many salt-of-the-earth people who are just fantastic.”

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