Friday, March 30, 2018

Fortuna Council Places Wheetley on Paid Leave

Posted By on Fri, Mar 30, 2018 at 11:30 AM

Wheetley - CITY OF ARCATA
  • City of Arcata
  • Wheetley
The Fortuna City Council has placed City Manager Mark Wheetley on paid administrative leave in the wake of his sentencing earlier this week after pleading guilty to a “wet and reckless” charge, his second DUI-related offense in less than two years.

“At a city council meeting on March 28, 2018, the city council voted 5-0 to place city manager, Mark Wheetley, on paid administrative leave. There is no further action to report at this time,” Fortuna Mayor Sue Long wrote in an email statement to the Journal on Friday.

Long did not specify the length of the leave but Fortuna Police Chief Bill Dobberstein said he was contacted by the mayor Thursday morning and told he would be filling in as interim city manager, at least through Monday.

“I’m wearing two hats right now, that’s all,” Dobberstein said in a phone interview from his office. “Any time the city manager goes out of town for a meeting, I'm acting city manager as well. So, it's not something that’s new to me.”


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Thursday, March 29, 2018

Residents Start Process to Put McKinley Statue on the Ballot

Posted By on Thu, Mar 29, 2018 at 5:15 PM

The statue of President William McKinley. - PHOTO BY SAM ARMANINO
  • Photo by Sam Armanino
  • The statue of President William McKinley.
OK, OK, OK, maybe the controversy over President William McKinley’s statue on the Arcata Plaza will go to a vote after all.

Two Arcata residents, David LaRue and Stanton Reynolds, filed paperwork with the city earlier this week to begin collecting signatures for a ballot initiative to prohibit “the modification and/or destruction” of the statue or its base “and/or the relocation from its historic place.”

The filing comes on the heels of last month’s 4-1 vote by the Arcata City Council — with Councilmember Michael Winkler dissenting, saying the matter should go before voters — to take down the bronze work dedicated in 1906.

Several advocates for the removal of what many describe as an oppressive symbol have noted that the statue stands on what is historically Wiyot land that was taken through violent means long ago, meaning few Native peoples reside within city limits.

The council’s decision was cemented March 21 following nearly four hours of public comment and discussion after Councilmember Susan Ornelas rescinded her proposal for a citywide vote on where the statue should stand — with one option being its current spot.

Under the proposed initiative — if supported by a majority of voters — that decision would be voided. But first, there’s the matter of making it to the ballot.

After a few incidentals, including publishing a “notice of intent” to circulate a petition in a newspaper and providing proof to the city, LaRue (who started the Facebook page “Let the people vote on our McKinley statue" and the GoFundMe website “Save Arcata’s McKinley Statue”) and Reynolds will need to gather at least 961 signatures by May 29.

Those will then need to be certified by the Humboldt County Elections Office and, if that were to happen, the city council would then adopt a resolution at its July 18 meeting to place the initiative on the November ballot, according to an email from City Manager Karen Diemer.

(Arcata City Clerk Bridgit Dory said in an email to the Journal that the June ballot deadline was last month.)

Meanwhile, the city announced earlier this week that it expects to provide an update on the next steps for the McKinley statue tomorrow. Because the statue is listed as a historic feature of the plaza in the Arcata General Plan, there will need to be a lengthy environmental review.

Diemer said in her email that the city will “concurrently proceed” with that process if the proposed initiative qualifies for the ballot. 
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Mattole Beach Body Identified as that of Missing Woman

Posted By on Thu, Mar 29, 2018 at 3:02 PM

coroner.gif
The Humboldt County Coroner's Office has identified the body found by a hiker Feb. 21 in the Mattole Beach area as that of Hana Hammer, who was reported missing Feb. 2.

Hammer, 45, was last seen in the Petrolia area Jan. 25. According to a Facebook page launched to bring attention to her disappearance, her car was found on another property in the area with her wallet, keys and backpack still inside.

Hammer's cause and manner of death remain under investigation.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Tsunami Warning Test Set for Tomorrow

Posted By on Tue, Mar 27, 2018 at 4:50 PM

Fifty-four years ago today, at 5:36 p.m., the earth beneath southern Alaska began to shake — and continued to shake for nearly five minutes — with a force that still marks the Good Friday temblor as the largest ever to hit the United States.

More than 100 people were killed by the magnitude-9.2 quake and ensuing tsunamis — some as high as 100 feet — which caused $311 million in damage (some $2.3 billion in today’s dollars).

That includes 11 people who lost their lives when a series of four wave surges hit the shores of Crescent City starting just before midnight and continuing for two more hours.

Several more have followed in the ensuing decades but the passage of time has brought not just improved technology but a greater awareness of the region’s tsunami vulnerability from seismic forces both near and far.

This week marks not just that tragic anniversary but also Tsunami Preparedness Week and tomorrow the National Weather Service and the county will conduct a test of the local emergency alert system.

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Fortuna City Manager Mark Wheetley Receives Jail Time for DUI

Posted By on Tue, Mar 27, 2018 at 3:12 PM

Wheetley - CITY OF ARCATA
  • City of Arcata
  • Wheetley
Humboldt County District Attorney Maggie Fleming confirmed this afternoon that Fortuna city manager Mark Wheetley pleaded guilty to driving involving alcohol   (Vehicle Code section 23103.5, also known as a "wet and reckless") and violation of probation due to a previous DUI arrest. Court commissioner Timothy Canning sentenced Wheetley to three years probation and 15 days in jail.

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Monday, March 26, 2018

Goldberg Faces 40 to Life After Conviction

Posted By on Mon, Mar 26, 2018 at 4:14 PM

da.png
Jon David Goldberg will face 40 years to life in prison when sentenced May 11 after a jury convicted him Friday of second-degree murder, with an enhancement for personally using a firearm to kill 42-year-old Tim Smith in September of 2016.

After less than two days of deliberations following a month-long trial, the jury came to its unanimous verdict, also acquitting Goldberg of charges that he assaulted his wife with a firearm.

Goldberg, 37, shot and killed Smith at the volunteer fireman’s home on Rohnerville Road in Fortuna at about 1 p.m. on Sept. 26, 2016. The shooting came after Goldberg learned that Smith was having an affair with his wife.

Humboldt County Deputy District Attorney Luke Bernthal prosecuted the case and Goldberg was represented by Deputy Public Defender Casey Russo.

See past Journal coverage of the case here.

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Sunday, March 25, 2018

Hundreds Join Arcata March for Our Lives

Posted By on Sun, Mar 25, 2018 at 12:26 PM

Angela Owen marches with her 7-year-old son Liam Yder. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • Angela Owen marches with her 7-year-old son Liam Yder.
Hundreds of people — young and old — took to the streets of Arcata yesterday as a part of the nationwide March for Our Lives event to demand gun control and school safety measures.

The local march — which drew as many as 1,000 people by some estimates — was organized by students at Arcata High School and North Coast Preparatory Academy. It began at the Creamery Building, where attendees heard a number of speeches from local high school students, as well as one by Arcata Mayor Sofia Pereira, before marching to the plaza and back.

Local photographer Mark McKenna was there to document the gathering and the march, which drew the large turnout despite cold, rainy weather. Check out his slideshow below. And to read a variety of student perspectives on gun violence, school shootings and what can be done to stop them, check out this week's Journal cover story here, which features a variety of opinion pieces penned by local high school students. (If you want to take a deep dive, click here to find the full, unabridged version.)


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Saturday, March 24, 2018

'Too Far to Turn Back:' Arcata Continues Community Dialogue on Race

Posted By on Sat, Mar 24, 2018 at 8:21 AM

LINDA STANSBERRY
  • Linda Stansberry
People of color don’t feel safe in Humboldt County. That was the message reiterated over and over by speakers at Thursday night’s Community Dialogue on Race at Arcata’s D Street Neighborhood Center. The forum, attended by almost 100 community members, came as part of a series of dialogues and updates following the slaying of Humboldt State University student David Josiah Lawson, who was stabbed to death at an Arcata house party on April 15, 2017.

Arcata Mayor Sofia Pereira, speaking before the meeting, said that the city was in “uncharted territory” in terms of how to facilitate conversations about race.
The community forums, initially focused on student safety and updates on the investigation into Lawson’s death, have transitioned into a larger conversation around the concerns about Humboldt County’s troubled relationship with race and racism. The subject has animated many public forums lately, including the prior night’s city council meeting, when public comment stretched on for four hours over the statue of William McKinley on the Arcata Plaza.

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Friday, March 23, 2018

High School Students Set to March for Their Lives

Posted By on Fri, Mar 23, 2018 at 4:43 PM

PHOTO BY MARK MCKENNA
  • Photo by Mark McKenna
Local high school students and supporters will take to the streets of Arcata tomorrow, joining a national March for Our Lives event planned by students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Planned by students at Arcata and North Coast Preparatory Academy, the local march will begin at noon at the Arcata Playhouse, where attendees will hear speeches and some music before marching to the Arcata Plaza and back. Folks can show up early for sign and button making, starting at 11:30 a.m.

“We are planning this march to spread our views on gun regulation because we don’t want to die in school,” march organizer Mira O’Barr said in the press release.

For more information, check out the march’s Facebook page here. And to see what local high school students have to say on the broader issues of school shootings and gun violence, click here. And if you're planning on attending tomorrow, dress warm and bring an umbrella because the forecast is windy and rainy, with a high of 46.
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Long Road to Nowhere on McKinley Vote

Posted By on Fri, Mar 23, 2018 at 2:53 PM

The city is slated to release more information about the next steps in the McKinley statue's removal on March 30. - PHOTO BY SAM ARMANINO
  • Photo by Sam Armanino
  • The city is slated to release more information about the next steps in the McKinley statue's removal on March 30.

“What the fuck? It’s been four fucking hours,” a frustrated audience member exclaimed incredulously at the end of Wednesday’s Arcata City Council meeting. “Why did you do this?”

The remarks were directed squarely at Councilmember Susan Ornelas, who had just dropped her second President William McKinley’s statue bombshell in as many weeks.

“At this point, I’m saying let's just continue with what we’re doing and I’m sorry I cost us all of this time,” Ornelas told the crowd after rescinding her proposal for a citywide vote on where the bronze work should be placed, with one option being the center of the Arcata Plaza — the same place the council voted Feb. 21 to remove the statue from.

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