Business / Economy

Saturday, July 4, 2020

CR Offering Frontline Workers De-escalation, Assertiveness Training

Posted By on Sat, Jul 4, 2020 at 2:00 PM

Many in the customer service industry and public sector jobs are bearing the brunt of resentment — and too often outright hostility — toward COVID-19 health and safety protocols meant to protect workers and the public as Humboldt County teeters on the precipice of becoming yet another California hotspot.

To help employees and business owners navigate these tempestuous waters, College of the Redwoods is offering free online classes in “awareness, de-escalation and assertiveness skills” from mid-July to Aug. 1.

(Read more about the challenges restaurants are facing in this week’s story “Restaurant Mask Drama,” in which owners and servers talk about the toll being argued with and cussed at on a daily basis is taking on them.)

To register for the classes, call CR’s Workforce and Community Education Program at 476-4500 or go to Space is limited.

Read the College of the Redwoods release below:

College of the Redwoods is offering free online trainings on awareness, de-escalation, and assertiveness skills for workers interacting with the public.

Trainings will be offered through CR’s Workforce and Community Education Program from the middle of July through August 1 and are being paid for by CR’s Foundation.

“We were approached by Susan Seaman, the Mayor of Eureka, about the need for de-escalation trainings and this was echoed by community leaders on the COVID Economic Resilience Committee (CERC) weekly calls, being hosted by the North Coast Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and the Redwood Region Economic Development Commission (RREDC),” said Marty Coelho, Executive Director of College Advancement and the CR Foundation.

“A large number of our businesses and organizations have a plan for all sorts of situations but we don’t plan to routinely deal with angry customers when things can get out of control. This collaborative effort between the CR’s Foundation and Community Education will provide clients with strategies for resolving those situations. It’s also another example of how CR is responding to the needs of our community,” said Keith Flamer, President of College of the Redwoods.

Susan Seaman, City of Eureka’s Mayor said, "With growing economic stress, political divisiveness, and so few answers about what to expect in the near future, people's nerves are frayed. We have heard time and again about customers taking it out on service providers. I'm so grateful that College of the Redwoods Foundation recognized that de-escalation and assertiveness training can be a valuable tool for employees to help them navigate this uncertain road."

CR’s free Awareness, De-Escalation & Assertiveness online trainings will be offered to the following industry groups: retail workers on Saturday, July 18 from 8:30 – 11 am; hospitality workers on Saturday, July 18 from 2 – 4:30 pm; grocery workers on Thursday, July 23 from 8:30 – 11 am; city/county frontline workers on Thursday, July 23 from 2 – 4:30 pm; and child care workers on Saturday, August 1 from 8:30 -11 am.

“We can train up to 25 workers for each industry group. Normally the class would cost at least $35 per person, but the CR Foundation will cover the $4,375 in fees for these classes,” said Coelho.

CR’s Workforce and Community Education Program partners with the community to contribute to the economic vitality of the region, provides workforce training to support local employers' needs, and provides lifelong learning opportunities within the Redwoods Community College District.

“The Workforce and Community Education Program is a valuable local asset. CR offers high quality trainings that can be quickly responsive to community needs, “ said Danny Kelley, Foundation board member and CR Board of Trustee’s Vice-President.

To register for CR’s free online trainings for Awareness, De-Escalation & Assertiveness, call CR’s Workforce and Community Education Program at 707-476-4500 or go to Space is limited.
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Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Indoor Restaurants Shut Down in 72% of California for Three Weeks

Posted By on Wed, Jul 1, 2020 at 2:51 PM

Beaches and bars were just the beginning. California Gov. Gavin Newsom today ordered indoor portions of restaurants, entertainment centers, museums and other businesses in counties with growing coronavirus outbreaks to shut down for at least three weeks.

A sign outside of the Stanford Theatre announced its temporary closure in downtown Palo Alto on March 4, 2020. - PHOTO BY NHAT V. MEYER, BAY AREA NEWS GROUP
  • Photo by Nhat V. Meyer, Bay Area News Group
  • A sign outside of the Stanford Theatre announced its temporary closure in downtown Palo Alto on March 4, 2020.
As the Fourth of July weekend approaches, the indoor facilities must close in 19 “watch list” counties that are home to 72% of the state’s population.

Under the state order, restaurants, wineries, tasting rooms, movie theaters, family entertainment centers, zoos, museums and card rooms in those counties must close indoor facilities. Bars in those counties must close all operations, and many state beach parking lots also will be shut down this weekend, Newsom said.

“We have specifically targeted our operations to close indoor operations,” Newsom said during a press briefing today. “This doesn’t mean restaurants shut down.”

Continue reading »

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Controversial Water/Sewer Rate Hikes, COVID-19 grants on Tonight's Arcata City Council Meeting Agenda, LoCO reports

Posted By on Wed, Jul 1, 2020 at 1:47 PM

Tonight at 6 p.m. the Arcata City Council meeting will include a discussion of new water and sewer rates that could kick in a few months from now, the Lost Coast Outpost is reporting.

"If eventually approved, average sewage rates could go up around 50 percent over the next five years, and water rates by about a third," the report states.

Reasons the rate hike would be good: The Arcata Wastewater Treatment plant needs $60 million to fix a bunch of its problems (see the webinar above). 

Reasons the hike would be bad: People's budgets are already hurting. Also, they'd love the chance to argue about this in person rather than over videoconference.

Relatedly, the next item on the agenda will involve upcoming CARES ACT grants from the state of California. The state has $18.7 million to award to local jurisdictions, LoCo reports, and the City of Arcata could receive up to $147,657.

To provide public comment, follow these instructions from the city:

Continue reading »

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Monday, June 29, 2020

Paycheck Protection Program to Close to New Applicants Tomorrow

Posted By on Mon, Jun 29, 2020 at 5:00 PM

The North Coast Small Businesses Development Center announced that the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will close to new applicants tomorrow.

"The Paycheck Protection Program closes to new applications TOMORROW Tuesday, June 30.  If you haven’t yet applied, please note the PPP loan shuts down to new applications by the end of Tuesday, June 30. Some lenders have already closed applications so if you need help finding a lender contact," reads a release.

Read more about the Paycheck Protection Program here.

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Where to Get Financial Help During Coronavirus in California — and Is It Enough?

Posted By on Mon, Jun 29, 2020 at 12:48 PM

  • Images via iStock
From hotel rooms for people who are homeless to restaurant meals for seniors isolating for their lives, California has rapidly expanded its safety net in an attempt to catch millions of residents impacted by the coronavirus and its economic aftershocks.

In daily press conferences during the pandemic’s first months, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced new “first-in-the-nation” plans to protect vulnerable Californians from illness or financial distress at a dizzying pace.

But months in, the pandemic safety net strains and sometimes snaps under the weight of Californians’ needs. People spend hours calling agency after agency seeking help to buy groceries or pay rent. Many fall through the cracks.

Approximately 16 million Californians, or 53% of all adults, have lost income since March 13, according to estimates from a Census Bureau survey conducted in mid-June. An estimated 3.5 million residents report their family lacked enough food to eat, up from 2.7 million before the pandemic. And 3.3 million have slight or no confidence that they’ll be able to pay July’s rent.

Whether California’s safety net response represents the best the state could do to keep its residents afloat or a one-two punch of overpromising and underdelivering may lie in the eyes of the beholder.

For some of California’s biggest pandemic safety net programs, here’s how the state’s promises square with reality:

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Friday, June 26, 2020

Fortuna Businesses Struggle with Ripple Effects of SIP

Posted By on Fri, Jun 26, 2020 at 1:21 PM

No Fortuna AutoXpo this year. - FILE
  • FILE
  • No Fortuna AutoXpo this year.

The COVID-19 shelter-in-place order has had mixed impacts on the Friendly City. Fortuna’s small-business-dense Main Street has weathered trouble before: The 2008 financial crisis and recession shuttered some retail spaces, but the town rebounded. In 2015 a fire burned down the historic Star Hotel, which housed a music store and pharmacy. The town rebuilt. But as with everything else touched by the COVID-19 pandemic, this challenge is something else entirely.

“All the little businesses down here are important,” says Kathy Comerer of Fortuna Fabrics and Crafts. Comerer, who took the helm of the quarter-century old business in 2016, experienced some anxiety when the shelter-in-place order went into effect. She had just moved the store to Main Street and worried that temporarily shutting her doors on top of the new location might send things sideways. But she set up her quilting machine and started making masks. As an essential business, she was allowed to stay open. She said local customers have gone out of their way to shop at her store.

“I’ve been very, very, very fortunate and blessed through the whole thing,” Comerer says. “I know a lot of businesses were not.”

Dianna Rios, coordinator of the Fortuna Business Improvement District, says the shutdown has been having a ripple effect on the community. Most major spring and summer events — the Fortuna Rodeo, the Auto Expo — have been canceled or modified. (The Rodeo Association recently updated its website to say it had applied with the county to hold limited events in July and is awaiting the results of its application.) Those events bring thousands of visitors to businesses on Main Street. Hotels in Fortuna won’t see the reservations they normally do for those events, nor did they see the families who book stays for Humboldt State University and College of the Redwoods graduations. Fundraisers that generate scholarship money for local students have been canceled.

“The impact on not being able to have our community events doesn’t just impact our community, it effects our schools, it effects everyone,” says Rios.

But businesses are pulling through. Rios has been helping owners navigate the compliance standards for reopening, printing out hardcopies of information for those who might not be computer savvy.

“A handful of businesses have said they’re not quite ready to reopen,” says Rios.
And those that have reopened are seeing unforeseen challenges. Comerer’s fabric store, for example, struggled to get supplies in stock because her vendors didn’t have enough employees to process orders.

At the corner of 12th and Main, Strehl’s Family Shoes and Repairs has reduced its hours so the husband-and-wife team, Doug and Marilyn Strehl, can keep up with their orders. Doug, the cobbler, repairs shoes while Marilyn, a credentialed pedorthist, measures customers’ feet for the right fit. They’re running short-staffed, just the two of them, for the time being.

“The sad part is we had to lay off three employees,” says Marilyn. “We’ve been here 40 years and we’ve never had to do that.”

The store operated in a limited fashion for the first part of the shutdown, functioning as an essential business that outfits essential workers such as nurses and grocery store clerks. When the county allowed retail businesses to reopen the Strehls immediately took steps to meet compliance standards, requiring masks and “constantly cleaning,” negotiating the tricky business of measuring folks’ feet while staying hygienic and safe. It will still be a while before things are back to normal and they expand their hours.

“We have not made the decision yet,” says Marilyn Strehl. “We don’t want our employees to get ill. We have to protect them.”
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Tuesday, June 23, 2020

UPDATE: Eureka May Lose Four Police Officers, Zoo Director, Due to Budget Cuts

Posted By on Tue, Jun 23, 2020 at 7:02 PM

UPDATE (6:37 p.m.)

After trouble-shooting myriad technical difficulties with the City’s Zoom feed and audio, the Eureka City Council directed staff to proceed with work on the draft budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. Another public hearing will be held July 7. Mayor Susan Seaman encouraged members of the public to give feedback and public comment.

Tonight’s presentation drew little comment from staff or the public. Due to COVID-19, public comment was delivered via phone. A Ward 3 resident called to say she thought it was “tragic that half of the General Fund funds the [Eureka Police Department]” and encouraged the city to fund more programs that “uphold the values of wellness and life.”

Humboldt Bay Fire Chief Sean Robertson said proposed budget reductions could result in the closure of two fire stations; the department will be leaning on its reserves for this year but following years look grim. Several councilmembers echoed this concern that the worst is yet to come.

Lane Millar, city finance director, replied that the proposed cuts were intended to stabilize the city’s budget against a gaunt year for sales and transient occupancy tax revenue.

“The purpose of these cuts is to get us to a place that’s sustainable,” said Millar. “Furloughs would be the next steps but we’re hoping we don’t have to go there.”

Leslie Castellano, Ward 1 councilmember, asked if the budget could be amended or revisited later in the year should the local economy rebound; Millar said it could. Castellano also expressed interest in starting a grassroots funding campaign for neighborhood-based community groups that would advance safety and equity.


Eureka City Council meets tonight to discuss and provide direction on a draft budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year that includes deep cuts due to the impact of COVID-19. Among the departments most affected are Community Services and the Eureka Police Department.

According to Lane Millar, the city’s finance director, Eureka is anticipating an 11-percent decrease to Sales Tax and a 24-percent decrease to Transient Occupancy Tax, reflecting the severe impact the pandemic has had on Eureka’s tourism and retail industries. These predicted losses prompted staff preparing the draft budget to slice 15 percent from the city’s General Fund. Last year the approved budget predicted the General Fund to top out at $29 million but projections show it coming up roughly $3 million short due to lost revenue in the latter half of the fiscal year. This, combined with revenue losses across the board, including special revenue funds and charges for services, contribute to an austere outlook on the city’s future. The 2018-2019 final revenue summary was $76 million. For 2020-2021 the draft budget shows a predicted income of $66.6 million. (A copy of the proposed budget can be found here.)

So, where will the city tighten its belt to make up for a $10 million deficit? Some of the biggest cuts are proposed for the Eureka Police Department, with the loss of four officer positions, a senior dispatcher and a property technician. EPD Chief Steve Watson says no staff are being laid off, but four vacated positions have been frozen and two officers — senior detective Ron Harpham and officer John Drake Goodale — have been approved for early retirement. The department had previously unallocated four other vacant officer positions in 2018 in order to offer a 5 percent pay increase to sworn officers in an effort to address an ongoing recruiting and retention crisis.

“These cuts hurt and are unfortunate but appear necessary given the current deep projected deficit in the city’s fiscal year 2020/21 budget,” said Watson in an email. “We understand EPD has to do its part to help the whole city through this very difficult time and we worked together as a team to get it done.”

Watson added that further cuts could create “real trouble in terms of providing the level of service our citizens need and have come to expect,” threatening the existence of programs such as the Community Safety Engagement Team, a multi-jurisdictional homeless outreach initiative, and pushing the department toward “emergency level responses only.”

The total projected budget for the department for the 2019-2020 fiscal year was nearly $15 million; its projected budget for 2020-2021 is $13 million. Watson said the new budget leaves “little margin for error” but he appreciates the city’s leadership team prioritizing maintenance of its current level of services, including CSET.

“We are resilient and committed and we’ll find a way forward together,” said Watson. “I have hope that the day will soon come where we’ll be able to disembark the crazy train that has been 2020 so far and capitalize on the promise of better times.”
Interim City Manager Miles Slattery echoed Watson’s language in a statement emailed to the Journal this morning.

“We are just adjusting to the financial times like every government agency, business and household,” said Slattery. “These are tough times, but I'm sure we'll come out on the other end stronger and even more resilient. These times really bring home the mantra of local sustainability, supporting local businesses and each other.”

Slattery, who is currently also the city's director of community services, is inheriting a slew of cuts to city services as he steps into the role recently vacated by outgoing City Manager Dean Lotter, who left the city with a parting severance of $129,000 after a mere four months on the job. Humboldt Bay Fire Joint Powers Authority is slated to receive $1 million less than was estimated last year. (An email for comment was not returned before this article went online.) Park operations is slated to lose around $200,000; youth recreation $100,000. Much of the proposed cuts come in the form of staffing cuts or reclassifications, with the loss of 9.7 full-time-equivalent positions overall. Among the draft reductions in staff and services, the city is “de-allocating” the position of zoo director, which is currently held by Gretchen Ziegler, one of six Eureka staff who have accepted early retirements.

Asked whether or not the “de-allocation” of a director for the Sequoia Park Zoo was permanent, Slattery replied that it would only last until they could bring Ziegler back part time or “train someone to take on the responsibilities,” adding that the responsibilities may fall under a position with a different title.

The Eureka City Council will meet tonight —  virtually, due to COVID-19 —  at 5 p.m. The 2020/21 Fiscal Year Budget is the only item on tonight’s special agenda. We will update accordingly.
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More Businesses Set to Reopen Friday with Certified Reopening Plan

Posted By on Tue, Jun 23, 2020 at 12:35 PM

Humboldt County Public Health Officer Teresa Frankovich and Sheriff William Honsal talk COVID-19 at last night's virtual town hall meeting. - COURTESY OF DHHS
  • Courtesy of DHHS
  • Humboldt County Public Health Officer Teresa Frankovich and Sheriff William Honsal talk COVID-19 at last night's virtual town hall meeting.
Humboldt County Public Health Officer Teresa Frankovich announced that businesses in industry sectors with state-provided guidance, gyms and fitness centers, zoos, museums, wineries, breweries, bars, movie theaters and entertainment venues can begin reopening on Friday once their reopening plan is certified by the Emergency Operations Center.

According to the release, at the Board of Supervisors meeting today, Dr. Frankovich noted that some high-risk businesses are operating without following state and county safety guidelines. 

“At this point, it’s more important to open safely and ahead of schedule than to have businesses open before a plan is in place to protect the health and safety of customers and employees,” Frankovich said.

Indoor playgrounds, live theaters, saunas and steam rooms, nightclubs, concert venues, festivals, theme parks and in-person higher education schools remain closed and are still not permitted to reopen by the state. 

“Personal responsibility has never been more important. Our community’s success going forward is largely in the hands of our businesses and community members,” Frankovich said. “We have the tools we need to limit transmission and keep ourselves, our families and our neighbors safe. If we choose to follow safety measures like physical distancing, wearing facial coverings, avoiding gathering in groups outside of our household as much as possible and using good hygiene practices, we can limit transmission of COVID-19 and help keep each other safe.”

Read the full release below.
June 23, 2020 - Most Sectors Cleared to Reopen With EOC-Certification

Humboldt County Health Officer Dr. Teresa Frankovich today announced that businesses in industry sectors with state-provided guidance can begin to reopen after their reopening plan has been certified by the Humboldt County Emergency Operations Center (EOC).

At today’s Board of Supervisors meeting, Dr. Frankovich noted that some high-risk businesses are currently operating out of compliance with county and state guidelines.

“At this point, it’s more important to open safely and ahead of schedule than to have businesses open before a plan is in place to protect the health and safety of customers and employees,” she said. Industry sectors now cleared to reopen with EOC-certification include:
  • Gyms and Fitness Centers
  • Zoos and Museums Wineries,
  • Breweries and Bars
  • Movie Theaters and Family Entertainment Centers.

Reopening plan applications for these sectors will be available at by the close of business Friday, June 26. The review and certification process takes two to three business days, and businesses may begin to reopen with safety measures in place after they receive EOC certification.

“Personal responsibility has never been more important. Our community’s success going forward is largely in the hands of our businesses and community members,” Dr. Frankovich said. “We have the tools we need to limit transmission and keep ourselves, our families and our neighbors safe. If we choose to follow safety measures like physical distancing, wearing facial coverings, avoiding gathering in groups outside of our household as much as possible and using good hygiene practices, we can limit transmission of COVID-19 and help keep each other safe.”

The following businesses and activities are not permitted by the state to reopen and remain closed statewide:
Indoor playgrounds such as bounce centers, ball pits and laser tag
Live theater
Saunas and steam rooms
Nightclubs Concert venues
Theme parks
Higher education (in person), except where supporting essential workforce activities, including but not limited to providing housing solutions, COVID-19 response and training and instruction for the essential workforce.

To learn more about the reopening process and to submit a plan, go to View a list of all certified businesses listed by sector at Some businesses may choose not to reopen in-person services. Please call ahead before visiting any business to ask about hours of operation and any safety measures in place.

For the most recent information about COVID-19, visit or For local information, visit, call 707-441-5000 or email Follow us on Facebook: @HumCoCOVID19, Instagram: @HumCoCOVID19, Twitter: @HumCoCOVID19, and Humboldt Health Alert:
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Saturday, June 20, 2020

Still Far Higher than Pre-COVID-19, Humboldt Showed Small Unemployment Dip in May, T-S Reports

Posted By on Sat, Jun 20, 2020 at 7:23 PM

The Times-Standard reports that preliminary information from the Employment Development Department shows that Humboldt County’s unemployment rate dipped in May when compared to April but was still far higher than before the COVID-19 outbreak.

Read the full story here.
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Friday, June 19, 2020

Conway Out as HumCo Fair GM

Posted By on Fri, Jun 19, 2020 at 7:56 AM

The Humboldt County Fair Board has "laid off" General Manager Richard Conway, the Ferndale Enterprise has confirmed.

The Enterprise reported on Twitter this morning that Board President Andy Titus said the decision was made to part ways with Conway after seven years due to "large financial problems, no fair and lack of work." The Enterprise has reported extensively on the fair's financial woes, detailing how its operating reserves have dropped more than $500,000 under Conway's tenure, leaving it facing a deficit before the onset of COVID-19 and the cancellation of this year's fair.

The fair has also been dogged by transparency issues during Conway's tenure, including a number of public records act lawsuits with the Enterprise and most recently a bizarre, more than year-long standoff with the state over whether provisions would be added to the fair's lease with the county requiring that it abide by state open meeting and public record laws while managing the county-owned fairgrounds. (The issue resolved earlier this month when the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors approved a lease agreement that includes the transparency provisions, but only after the state rejected a prior version excluding them and threatened to withhold funding from the fair.)

The Enterprise reports the board's vote to lay off Conway came in closed session Monday but if the board met Monday, it did not agendize the meeting as would be required by California's Ralph M. Brown Act, which requires agendas be posted in advance to notify the public of what it's governing bodies are doing. The last agenda posted to the fair's website is from June 8. The discussion items for its "executive session" — what the fair association has chosen to dub the portion of its meetings closed to the public — were "approval of executive session minutes, matters which relate to or which may lead to potential litigation, executive committee report, review correspondence." But by the terms of its new lease, the board doesn't fall under the Brown Act until July 1 or its approval by the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
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