Thursday, January 31, 2019

HSU Hopes to Open New Nursing Program in 2020

Posted By on Thu, Jan 31, 2019 at 3:39 PM

  • File
Humboldt State University is looking to hire a director for its new nursing program, which the university hopes to have up and running by the fall of 2020.

In a press release today, the university announced that efforts to create a new bridge program — which will allow working nurses and those who have recently obtained an associates degree in nursing — to continue their educations locally. The Journal reported on the dire need for nurses in Humboldt County in its Jan. 19, 2017 cover story “Nurses, Stat,” noting that the need was exacerbated by the university’s decision in 2011 to shutter its existing nursing program in the face of an intense budget crunch, and followed up on Feb. 9, 2017 with a report that HSU and CR were actively collaborating on the creation of an RN-BSN bridge program.

The hope is that the new program will both result in a better trained local nursing force and a slight uptick in the number of nurses working locally, as people won’t have to leave the area to continue their nursing educations. According to a university press release, the program will focus on “the particular needs of the North Coast: Preparing nurse leaders who understand health disparities, rural needs and cultural humility, and who can advocate for the physical and psychosocial health of the region’s communities.”

The press release also notes that funding the new program remains a challenge, noting that the newly hired director will be expected to assist in efforts to raise private funds and that the university is currently soliciting donations to create a $10 million endowment for the program.

See the full press release from HSU copied below and the nursing director job posting here.

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Monday, January 28, 2019

Task Force Finds 6 Pounds of Heroin in Bust

Posted By on Mon, Jan 28, 2019 at 12:02 PM

Heroin and cash seized from Arcata's Warren Creek Road on Friday. - HUMBOLDT COUNTY DRUG TASK FORCE
  • Humboldt County Drug Task Force
  • Heroin and cash seized from Arcata's Warren Creek Road on Friday.
The Humboldt County Drug Task Force is continuing its record string of heroin seizures.

Heroin seized in a bust Friday in Arcata. - HUMBOLDT COUNTY DRUG TASK FORCE
  • Humboldt County Drug Task Force
  • Heroin seized in a bust Friday in Arcata.
The task force reported this morning that agents served a search warrant at a residence in the 500 block of Warren Creek Road in Arcata and located approximately 6 pounds of suspected heroin, as well as $6,000 in cash  believed to be the proceeds of drug sales.

At the scene, agents arrested Jorge Luis Valdez-Chavez, 28, of Sonora, Mexico, on suspicion of possessing and transporting a controlled substance for the purpose of sales, according to a press release.

Last year, the task force seized nearly 35 pounds of heroin, more than double the volume confiscated in the previous six years combined, with three busts made between August and November accounting for a third of the 2018 total.

The task force asks that anyone with information related to this investigation or other local narcotics activity call 444-8095.

See the full press release copied below.

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Sunday, January 27, 2019

King Tides Preview Sea Level Rise (Slideshow)

Posted By on Sun, Jan 27, 2019 at 3:31 PM

The Elk River spit during last week's king tides. - JENNIFER SAVAGE
  • Jennifer Savage
  • The Elk River spit during last week's king tides.
For three days last week, Humboldt Bay was filled to the brim — and then some — by 8-and-a-half-foot king tides. Typical high tides in our section of the coast run 6 to 7 feet. The extra foot or two of water backed up the many sloughs that run into Humboldt Bay, changing pasturelands into marshes and, seen from the air, gave the South Bay and the Arcata Bottoms a surrealistic look.

"How can anybody possibly farm these lands?" wondered pilot Rick Utermoehlen, who operated the little Lighthawk aircraft that the Surfrider Foundation's Jennifer Savage had arranged to tour her and two local reporters over the flooded coastline.

We explained to him that it doesn't usually look like that, but then again, that may become the new normal.

Even before the tide rolled in, soils had already been saturated and creeks filled by several days of rain. King tides, as explained by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), are normal occurrences, happening "when the orbits and alignment of the Earth, moon, and sun combine to produce the greatest tidal effects of the year." They occur once or twice a year, usually in the winter, when everything is already waterlogged.

"King tides preview how sea level rise will affect coastal places. As time goes by, the water level reached now during a king tide will be the water level reached at high tide on an average day," states the EPA.

From the plane you could see the water perilously close to the Eureka wastewater treatment plant, and to the town of King Salmon. The wildlife refuge near Loleta was completely submerged. Fence posts stuck incongruously up from the bay.

All this happened with just with a temporary 1-foot increase in sea level. The ocean, however, is predicted to keep on rising beyond that point — and it seems to be happening faster than anyone had thought only a few years ago. Earlier predictions of a 2-foot rise by 2100 now seem overly conservative to many scientists.

"What's going to happen to the Eureka waterfront?" asked Savage. "What's going to happen to our tourist industry when our beaches become inaccessible?"
These are good questions. Unfortunately, nobody seems to have much in the way of answers.

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Saturday, January 26, 2019

HumCo Health Officials Eyeing Measles Outbreak in Washington, Bracing for the Worst

Posted By on Sat, Jan 26, 2019 at 12:07 PM

  • File
Humboldt County officials are activating a response protocol amid a measles outbreak in a Washington state suburb of Portland that has seen at least 31 people contract the highly contagious viral disease.

“We’re basically bracing ourselves, crossing our fingers and hoping this doesn’t happen but making sure we’re prepared if it does,” said Humboldt County Public Health Officer Donald Baird, who’s also a family practice physician. “It’s the responsible thing to do.”

Under the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services response, Baird said staff will be notifying local physicians, the Open Door Community Health Centers and the public of the risk, while also stocking up on vaccinations and other supplies.

The outbreak began in Clark County, Washington, just up the river from Portland, which officials have described as an “anti-vaccination hotspot,” where almost 8 percent of school-aged kids have vaccination exemptions and more than 22 percent of public school students haven’t completed their vaccination schedules. Of the 31 confirmed cases thus far, 29 are people under the age of 18. None were vaccinated, according Clark County Department of Public Health.

Health officials in Oregon say the state has its first confirmed report of a case in Multnomah County, home of Portland, that is linked to the Washington outbreak, according to news reports.

In addition to Humboldt County’s relative proximity to the Portland metropolitan area, the county can also be considered somewhat of an anti-vaccination hotspot, which adds to officials’ concern.

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Friday, January 25, 2019

Lawson Feels Son's Case is Moving Toward an Arrest After Meeting with DA

Posted By on Fri, Jan 25, 2019 at 5:30 PM

Charmaine Lawson speaks to the crowd. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • Charmaine Lawson speaks to the crowd.
Charmaine Lawson said she emerged from a meeting with the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office yesterday feeling the investigation into her son’s 2017 stabbing death is moving “in the direction of an arrest” and that she’s “somewhat satisfied” with the case’s progress.

Charmaine Lawson has been publicly critical of law enforcement and prosecutors since her son David Josiah Lawson, a 19-year-old sophomore at Humboldt State University, was fatally stabbed at an off-campus party on April 15, 2017. Kyle Zoellner, a 23-year-old McKinleyville man, was arrested and charged with murdering Lawson but a judge later ruled that there was insufficient evidence to hold him to stand trial and dismissed the case. For months, there seemed to be slight action in the case until the Arcata Police Department turned its investigation over to the DA’s office on Nov. 6. Then interim APD Chief Richard Ehle said at the time that his detectives found physical evidence linking a specific suspect to the murder but, months later, District Attorney Maggie Fleming is still reviewing the case, awaiting additional information from the Department of Justice.

Charmaine Lawson has publicly announced her frustrations with the DA and APD multiple times, including during Monday’s People’s March and Rally, and spent much of this week protesting Fleming outside the Humboldt County Courthouse.

Yesterday she met with multiple people in the DA’s office, including Fleming, Ehle and Chief Investigator Wayne Cox.

“I’m still demanding justice and that’s never going to change,” Charmaine Lawson said. “I’m not gonna’ say that I am fully satisfied because there is still someone walking free but I will say that I am somewhat satisfied. The case is going in the direction of an arrest. It’s what I prayed for.”

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'Sweet Victory' for SpongeBob Fans at the Super Bowl? Stay Tuned

Posted By on Fri, Jan 25, 2019 at 1:48 PM

Stephen Hillenburg - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • Stephen Hillenburg
Fans of SpongeBob SquarePants aren’t looking back in their months-long effort to have “Sweet Victory” sung during half time at the Super Bowl as an ode to Stephen Hillenburg, creator of the fantastical world Bikini Bottoms, who died Nov. 27.

More than 1 million people have signed the petition to honor the 57-year-old Humboldt State University graduate, who announced last March that he had been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a neurodegenerative disease more commonly known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease.

“As some of you may or may not know, Stephen Hillenburg — the creator of SpongeBob SquarePants — has passed away recently,” the petition reads. “As a tribute to his legacy, his contributions to a generation of children and to truly showcase the greatness of this song, we call for Sweet Victory to be performed at the Halftime Show.”

Half time headliner Maroon 5 set the Twittersphere a twitter earlier this month when the band released a Super Bowl teaser that includes a brief appearance by SpongeBob. (Check out the 32 second mark.)

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Thursday, January 24, 2019

Off-Duty Civilian Coastie Rescues Surfer

Posted By on Thu, Jan 24, 2019 at 9:21 PM

The North Jetty, where a surfer was rescued by an off-duty Coast Guard civilian employee. - USCG
  • USCG
  • The North Jetty, where a surfer was rescued by an off-duty Coast Guard civilian employee.
An off-duty Coast Guard civilian employee helped rescue a surfer who'd lost his surfboard and was in distress this morning.

According to a press release, Steven Bluntzer, a Sector Humboldt Bay civilian search and rescue controller who also happens to surf, saw an individual in distress, instructed bystanders to call 911 and headed in to help.

“Bluntzer pulled the distressed surfer onto his own surfboard amid high surf and strong current. The surfer reported he had been fighting the current and treading water for approximately 45 minutes after losing his surfboard,” the release states.

Note, of course, Coast Guard service members and essential civilian personnel are still on the job to protect our shores despite having now missed their second paycheck amid the partial government shutdown, which is now entering its 35th day.

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UPDATE: Eureka Man Killed on 101 Identified

Posted By on Thu, Jan 24, 2019 at 1:47 PM

Police at the scene of the fatal crash. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • Police at the scene of the fatal crash.

The man killed after being struck by several vehicles on U.S. Highway 101 near Humboldt Hill Tuesday has been identified as Eureka resident Aaron Wade Kangas. He was 56.

The CHP states that the investigation into the crash is “continuing.”

A man was killed this morning on U.S. Highway 101 after being hit by a car in one of the northbound lanes just north of Humboldt Hill around 6:30 a.m.

His name is not being released pending notification of next of kin, a CHP release states.

According to the release, a 31-year-old Eureka man was traveling northbound when he looked over his shoulder to check for traffic before changing lanes then looked forward to see a man in the lane in front of him, whom he struck.

The driver pulled over onto the right shoulder and called 911. Several other vehicles also hit the victim, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The crash closed down the northbound highway for several hours, snarling traffic during the morning commute. Read earlier coverage here.

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UPDATED: Encampment Removal Operation Near the Bayshore Mall

Posted By on Thu, Jan 24, 2019 at 10:10 AM

EPD officers and other agencies at the scene. - PHOTO BY RYAN HUTSON
  • Photo by Ryan Hutson
  • EPD officers and other agencies at the scene.
Several agencies are “executing inspection/abatement and criminal search warrants” property near the Bayshore Mall, according to the Eureka Police Department.

The operation began at 8 a.m. and prompted the closure of the mall entrance at Bayshore Way, the EPD release states.

Blankets, clothes and shoes were hurriedly packed into gallon-sized garbage bags, as residents of the encampment began to leave this morning. Loaded trucks were driving in and out of Bayshore Way and residents helped each other throw away trash into an industrial garbage bin. An estimated 30 people living in the encampment were vacated from the private property.
The area behind the mall, known as the Devil’s Playground, was the site of a massive encampment that was cleared in May of 2016 in a major undertaking that saw more than 100 people removed from camp sites and more than 60 tons of trash collected. Read more here, here and here.
A scene from the May of 2016 eviction operation at the Devil's Playground. - FILE
  • File
  • A scene from the May of 2016 eviction operation at the Devil's Playground.

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San Francisco Gives Kindergartners Free Money for College. Could it Work Statewide?

Posted By on Thu, Jan 24, 2019 at 9:09 AM

San Francisco kindergartners take a field trip to the bank in 2016 as part of the city's Kindergarten to College savings program. - KARA BRODGESELL COURTESY OF THE SAN FRANCISCO TREASURER'S OFFICE
  • Kara Brodgesell courtesy of the San Francisco Treasurer's Office
  • San Francisco kindergartners take a field trip to the bank in 2016 as part of the city's Kindergarten to College savings program.

Emelyn Jerónimo is only 12 years old, but she already has $3,000 saved toward college. Socked away by her mother in chunks of $100 or less since Jerónimo was in kindergarten, the money may not seem like much, but it’s helped fuel the San Francisco sixth-grader’s dreams of becoming a pediatrician.

Jerónimo’s nest egg is part of a first-of-its-kind program that automatically sets up college savings accounts for every kindergartner in San Francisco’s public schools, each seeded with $50 from the city treasury. And if Gov. Gavin Newsom gets his way, the model could soon roll out to other cities across California.

Newsom launched Kindergarten to College as mayor of San Francisco in 2010, and last week proposed spending $50 million on similar pilot projects around the state as part of what he’s calling a cradle-to-career education strategy.

“You want to address the stresses, the costs of education?” Newsom said at a press conference unveiling his 2019-20 budget. “Let’s start funding those costs when people enter into kindergarten.”

According to Humboldt County Office of Education spokesperson Jenny Bowen, local schools welcome an average of about 1,725 kindergarteners a year, which would put the annual cost of a similar program to San Francisco’s at about $86,000.

Fans of so-called child savings accounts say they help children envision themselves attending college from a young age. Families of San Francisco public school students, many of whom are low-income, have saved a total of $3.4 million of their own money in the Kindergarten to College accounts, according to city Treasurer José Cisneros.

Only about one in five students have contributed money beyond what the city supplies. That still outpaces the percentage of U.S. families contributing to 529 plans, tax-deferred accounts that provide another option for college savings—as Cisneros is quick to point out.

“To me, when you have millions of dollars saved for college and it’s coming in part from the poorest families in the city, that’s a huge win,” argues Cisneros, who said Newsom has told him he wants to model the California program on San Francisco’s approach. “This is sending a signal to thousands of kids in our city that college is something that’s going to be part of your future.”
While individual 529 accounts can require savers to fill out complex paperwork, pay fees, or navigate online management tools, parents learn about the Kindergarten to College accounts through a letter from their children’s school. They can make deposits in cash at bank branches or school campuses, and because the program is universal, don’t have to provide proof of income or citizenship status to participate.

Under San Francisco’s model, children have until age 25 to use the money in their accounts, which can be spent on any kind of post-secondary education, including vocational school. If the money goes unspent, the city will refund any outside contributions to the accountholder, with the original $50 deposit going back to the city treasury.

A number of other states and cities have also established child savings accounts, funded with either public or philanthropic dollars. It’s a relatively new idea, so most accounts haven’t been around long enough for researchers to study long-term outcomes.

Still, there are some signs the programs may be working. Researchers in Oklahoma studied 2,700 families with children born in 2007, randomly selecting half of them to receive $1,000 in a college savings account at the child’s birth. They found that children with accounts scored higher on measures of social and emotional development than those in the control group. Their mothers were more likely to report higher educational expectations for their children, the researchers found, and even exhibited less depression than those in the control group.

One reason the accounts may appeal to policymakers: They’re relatively simple to supply when compared with addressing systemic inequities that affect educational success, such as access to social networks and family wealth.

“Social capital is really important for people but hard to give to them,” said William Elliott, director of the Center for Assets, Education and Inclusion at the University of Michigan. “But we can give them money in their account.”

Getting parents to trust the process can pose a challenge. Jerónimo’s mother, Erika Sierra—an immigrant from Oaxaca, Mexico—was unnerved when a bank teller in her Mission District neighborhood asked for her Social Security number in order to deposit money in her daughter’s account. For months, she stopped saving, only resuming when an outreach worker from a local non-profit, Mission Graduates, explained that she could use a different form of identification.

Now, she and her two daughters gather up cash from birthday presents and bring it to the bank—her daughters filling up the envelopes themselves.

“It’s a good option for teaching them the habit of saving,” she said. But she said many parents at her daughters’ school opt out of using the accounts, whether out of fear or because they don’t understand how. The city tries to combat those doubts by taking kindergartners and their parents on field trips to local bank branches.
Cost is another hurdle, especially in cities less flush with tech industry cash than San Francisco. In Lansing, Mich., city leaders decided to offer child savings accounts—modeled on San Francisco’s—with just a $5 initial deposit.

A state investment in college savings accounts could support places like Oakland and Long Beach that are developing their own programs. But those dollars could also be spent shoring up California’s financial aid system. More than 200,000 eligible students applied for the state’s Cal Grant scholarships last year and didn’t receive one. Newsom has called for a modest increase in the number of those grants, along with boosting the amounts awarded to student parents.

Advocates for the savings accounts, however, argue that investments in financial aid are better made earlier in a child’s educational career. Some even say that federal Pell Grants—need-based scholarships for higher education—should be divided into two chunks, with one given out during childhood.

“Financial aid is in many ways kind of too late,” said Cisneros, the city treasurer in San Francisco. “It’s not there early enough to send a message to 5-, 6- or 7-year-olds that college is something you have every right to have access to.”
Researchers are also studying whether rewards cards could help parents who are living paycheck to paycheck save for college by giving them cash back on grocery purchases, and whether universal child savings accounts counteract implicit bias among teachers by encouraging them to see all students as college-bound. California could become a laboratory to test those ideas if the legislature signs off on Newsom’s plan later this spring.

Meanwhile, Sierra, a stay-at-home mom who never went to college herself, says her daughters’ savings accounts have given her an excuse to talk to them about higher education.

“I tell them, ‘Don’t worry about what we have or what we don’t have,’ ” she said. “Just keep studying, and you’ll get to college.”

Thadeus Greenson contributed to this report. is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California policies and politics.
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