Business / Economy

Monday, March 18, 2019

Trinidad Rancheria Unveils its Revised Hotel Proposal

Posted By on Mon, Mar 18, 2019 at 12:11 PM

An artistic rendering of the proposed hotel project at Cher-Ae Heights Casino off Scenic Drive south of Trinidad. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • An artistic rendering of the proposed hotel project at Cher-Ae Heights Casino off Scenic Drive south of Trinidad.

The Trinidad Rancheria recently presented its revised concept of a 100-room hotel on the bluffs of Scenic Drive but it aroused little enthusiasm from the residents of Trinidad.

David Tyson, CEO of the Trinidad Rancheria Economic Development Corporation (TREDC), gave the presentation during the March 13 meeting of the Trinidad City Council to an audience of about 40 people. Tyson said the Rancheria had reviewed the hundreds of comments received last October about the planned five-story Hyatt hotel and tried to address the concerns expressed. TREDC has hired a new developer, architect and hotel operator. Nonetheless, the plans still depict a five-story building, which is considerably larger than any other structure on the Trinidad coast.

The height of the building was reduced by about 20 feet, and the exterior now displays exposed timber and rock, which Tyson said is typical of northwestern architecture.

The audience was generally polite, with many people expressing appreciation for the Rancheria's continued work to improve the project, but was clearly skeptical of the proposal, with 18 of the 19 people who addressed the council speaking critically of it.

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Saturday, March 16, 2019

St. Joseph Hospital Donates $2 Million to Jumpstart HSU's New Nursing Program

Posted By on Sat, Mar 16, 2019 at 2:47 PM

Humboldt State University President Lisa Rossbacher (right) receives a $2 million check from St. Joseph Hospital for the university's new nursing program. - FREDDY BREWSTER
  • Freddy Brewster
  • Humboldt State University President Lisa Rossbacher (right) receives a $2 million check from St. Joseph Hospital for the university's new nursing program.
Humboldt State University is bringing back its nursing program and St. Joseph Hospital has a committed a $2 million grant to help implement and sustain the new partnership between the College of the Redwoods and HSU. The program is hoped to help address health care shortages and “keep quality healthcare close to home” by allowing nursing students from CR to transfer to HSU in order to obtain a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing, which, according to State Sen. Mike McGuire, is a needed standard in most healthcare facilities.

North Coast state Sen. Mike McGuire talks about the importance of HSU's new nursing program. - FREDDY BREWSTER
  • Freddy Brewster
  • North Coast state Sen. Mike McGuire talks about the importance of HSU's new nursing program.
“One of the top issues that we have heard about in the last four years is a lack of a Bachelor of Science in nursing at Humboldt State,” McGuire said. “We are going to be expanding the pipeline of the qualified nursing professionals here on the North Coast. College of the Redwoods has a LVN to RN program at their campus, but we know their numbers must increase to be able to meet the demand.”

McGuire said Humboldt County needs about 70 nurses a year to graduate from the program and hopes the new partnership will be able to meet those demands. The program will have four main components that will address needs specific to the North Coast, including rural needs, cultural humility, leadership and behavioral health.

“This is truly a game changer for the North Coast,” McGuire said. “There is a severe shortage of nurses throughout northern California. This program will create hundreds of family sustaining careers in the first few years that it has been launched.”

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Thursday, March 14, 2019

State Approves $40 Million for Environmental Studies at Last Chance Grade

Posted By on Thu, Mar 14, 2019 at 9:45 AM

Workers gather data from load sensors on a retaining wall at one of the fail points. - PHOTO BY MARK MCKENNA
  • Photo by Mark McKenna
  • Workers gather data from load sensors on a retaining wall at one of the fail points.

The California Transportation Commission has agreed to provide $40 million in funding to complete environmental studies of the Last Chance Grade project, North Coast State Sen. Mike McGuire announced this morning.

“We all made a commitment four years ago to get the job done with the Last Chance Grade and today’s vote moves the project forward, more than ever before in history,” McGuire said in a press release. “We have been grateful to partner with Assemblymember (Jim) Wood, Congressman (Jared) Huffman, the Del Norte Board of Supervisors, Crescent City Council, the California Transportation Commission and Caltrans on this critical project. This is a true testament of what can be accomplished when we all work together for the North Coast.”

The roughly 4-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 101 just south of Crescent City known as Last Chance Grade has been failing for years. As the main artery for people and goods to travel between Eureka and Crescent City, the risk of a massive slide and a long-term closure carries large economic impacts, which is why officials have been scrambling for years to find a solution.

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Thursday, February 28, 2019

Trinidad Rancheria’s Plans to Put the Harbor into Federal Trust Raise Concerns as Key Hearing Nears

Posted By on Thu, Feb 28, 2019 at 12:40 PM

The full moon rises over Little Head, Trinidad Pier, and Trinidad Harbor. Trinidad Head is the silhouetted land mass on the right. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • The full moon rises over Little Head, Trinidad Pier, and Trinidad Harbor. Trinidad Head is the silhouetted land mass on the right.
In January of 2000, the Trinidad Rancheria purchased the rundown pier in the town harbor, along with nine adjacent parcels of commercial land, including a boat launch, bait shop, vacation rental and the Seascape Restaurant from a private owner. With the help of several state and federal grants, the Rancheria replaced the rotting wood pier with a concrete and steel dock. It also replaced the Seascape's septic system, constructed two public restrooms, removed the illegal fish cleaning station at the pier and installed a stormwater capture and treatment system for runoff from the pier, improving the water quality in Trinidad Bay.

The Trinidad Pier is more than just a quaint and picturesque addition to the landscape. It services a fleet of commercial winter crab fishing vessels, as well as numerous year-round commercial and sport businesses. It also contributes heavily to the city's economic base.

The Rancheria, located a half mile south of the city of Trinidad on Scenic Drive, has generally been seen as a good neighbor. In addition to the harbor improvements, it resurfaced a mile of decaying road on Scenic, and has taken on the responsibility of being the designated shelter in the event of an emergency.

But over the past two years, the Rancheria has been doing something that is raising eyebrows in Trinidad. It has petitioned the Bureau of Indian Affairs to place its harbor property into federal trust, which would effectively remove it from the city's jurisdiction.

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Friday, February 22, 2019

Harbor District Declares State of Emergency

Posted By on Fri, Feb 22, 2019 at 9:13 AM

The Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District voted unanimously at a special meeting yesterday to declare a state of emergency due to increased sedimentation in the channel into Humboldt Bay that is causing dangerous conditions and imperiling the county’s fuel supply.

The vote came after the district received the results of depth testing by the Army Corps of Engineers, which found that the 48-foot deep channel is currently at about 21 feet, filled with sediment that washed out of the Eel River during storms last month. The shallowing of the channel is creating large cross waves and “extremely large sneaker waves” around Buoy 9, an area known as “Rock and Roll Alley,” according to a staff report. The conditions are imperiling local recreational and commercial fishing boats, as well as the commercial shipping industry, including the fuel ships that deliver 6 million gallons of gasoline, diesel and aviation fuel to the Chevron fuel dock every nine days.

“These conditions place an extreme hazard to life, property and the environment,” the staff report states.

Chevron released a statement this morning through the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office indicating that operations are not currently being disrupted.

"The Chevron Eureka terminal is currently operating at normal levels of supply and has not experienced any supply issue related to Humboldt Bay shoaling," the statement says. "Chevron and our shipping agents are aware of the recent shoaling (silt buildup) at the Humboldt Bay entrance, and we understand that the Harbor Safety Committee has a plan in place to address the shoaling impacts on others such as our community's commercial ships and fishing fleet. Chevron has supplied fuel to the North Coast reliably for generations without interruption and we plan to continue that practice."

The district — as well as other local agencies that have similarly declared a state of emergency — are hoping the Army Corps will move quickly in dredging the channel. But the dredging season doesn’t start up again until June and the Corps’ dredges are currently in dry dock, prompting Harbor District Executive Director Larry Oetker to caution the board that the earliest reasonable hope for dredging would be in April. In the meantime, conditions are likely to worsen.

As a result, the district is urging some forward planning. It has asked Chevron to consider making smaller, more frequent deliveries — which would make for safer passage through the channel — and is also urging local fuel providers to store as much gas on site as possible.

In the meantime, North Coast Congressman Jared Huffman told the Times-Standard that his office is working with the Army Corps of Engineers, trying to speed up its timeline for dredging.
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Sunday, February 10, 2019

Massive Fish Farm Proposed for Pulp Mill Site (Video)

Posted By on Sun, Feb 10, 2019 at 1:40 PM

A rendering of the Belfast, Maine, facility. - NORDIC AQUAFARMS
  • Nordic Aquafarms
  • A rendering of the Belfast, Maine, facility.
The Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District and Norwegian company Nordic Aquafarms are set to formally sign a lease Monday for the development of a massive fish farm at the former Samoa Pulp Mill.

According to the harbor district, the project will include “the removal of all remaining deteriorating buildings and unutilized infrastructure” at the 30-acre property, which was the site of a multi-agency clean-up effort in 2014 to avert a looming catastrophic environmental disaster on the edge of Humboldt Bay.

Read previous Journal coverage about the removal of nearly 3 million gallons of caustic pulping liquors abandoned in failing storage tanks by Evergreen Pulp here, here and here.

The proposed project is forecast to “result in the investment of hundreds of millions dollars in the local economy,” the harbor district’s release states.

According to a report in seafood business publication Undercurrent, the project “represents a potential $400 million investment,” bringing around 80 jobs. Eventually, the article states, plans are to produce some 25,000 tons of fish a year at the facility.

In a Facebook post linking to the article, harbor district Commissioner Richard Marks described the fish farm as a nearly half-billion-dollar project, writing that “new construction will bring many hardhats to the area and then many high end Fishery jobs for biologists form Humboldt State.”

A land-based aquaculture facility – likely producing salmon or steelhead – the venture will serve as the West Coast base of operations for Nordic Aquafarms, which is currently in the process of developing an East Coast equivalent in Belfast, Maine, according to the company.

The facility will use what is known as recirculating aquaculture system, or RAS, which utilizes large tanks and water treatment systems in raising the fish. The company says the method prevents many of the common concerns associated with farm fishing in offshore pens, including pollution from waste, chemical use and the potential to pass on diseases and parasites to wild fish.

Nordic Aquafarms Concept from Netron on Vimeo.

“We will now be situated on both coasts, which fits into our strategy of locating fish farms close to major regional markets,” said Marianne Naess, Nordic’s commercial director, in a release. “The Humboldt location will enable us to reach more than 50 million people within a 12-hour drive or less, which reduces the cost and environmental impact of transportation while supplying the market with super-fresh, sustainably raised local fish.”

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Friday, February 8, 2019

New Funding Sought for Last Chance Grade

Posted By on Fri, Feb 8, 2019 at 1:54 PM

Officials have considered rerouting Last Chance Grade inland since the current route was cut in 1933. - PHOTO BY MARK MCKENNA
  • Photo by Mark McKenna
  • Officials have considered rerouting Last Chance Grade inland since the current route was cut in 1933.
More funding could be coming to the help fix the 3-mile-long stretch of U.S. Highway 101 in Del Norte County known as Last Chance Grade in the race to ward off the billion dollar economic loss a catastrophic failure could cost.

Connecting California’s northern coastal reaches to the rest of the state, the roadway is falling into the Pacific, having shifted some 50 feet west since 1937.

According to a release, Caltrans is slated to request $40 million from the California Transportation Commission to aid in finding a solution for the failing section with an ominous name.

The money would go toward completing the environmental studies needed to move forward with a project that comes with just about every conceivable stumbling block possible — from old growth redwoods to unstable terrain to a United Nations’ World Heritage site.

Then, there’s the price tag — estimated between $300 million to $1 billion, depending on which of six alternative routes move forward. Meanwhile, more than $55 million has been spent on temporary fixes over the last decade.

Read previous Journal coverage about the complicated story of Last Chance Grade here, here and here.

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Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Eureka Moves Forward with New Marketing Approach

Posted By on Wed, Feb 6, 2019 at 10:58 AM

The city of Eureka is rethinking its $370,000 in annual tourism spending. - LONELY PLANET
  • Lonely Planet
  • The city of Eureka is rethinking its $370,000 in annual tourism spending.
The Eureka City Council voted unanimously last night to take a markedly different approach to attracting tourists by putting its $370,000 in annual marketing funding out to bid, potentially ending its decades-long funding relationship with the Eureka-Humboldt Visitors Bureau.

For decades, the city has contracted with the bureau — formerly the Humboldt County Convention and Visitors bureau — to market and promote the city, giving it a portion of its transient occupancy tax that currently equals about $370,000 in annual funding. The bureau’s long-standing approach has been to largely focus on marketing and promoting the redwoods, a global draw, counting on the trees to bring tourists to the area and “put heads in beds,” eat at local restaurants and — ideally — stay an extra day or two.

The city, however, for years has felt it gets short-shrift in the relationship, as the bureau markets the entirety of Humboldt County while Eureka provides about 43 percent of its funding. (The county of Humboldt contributes about $350,000 annually and Ferndale contributes about $3,000 annually, in addition to the membership dues the bureau receives from local businesses that benefit from its marketing services.)

So last month the city indicated it was considering taking a new approach, with staff asking the council to put out a request for proposals for a more Eureka-centric marketing approach.

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Monday, February 4, 2019

Newsom’s Move: Not Yet Health Care For All, But Health Care for More

Posted By on Mon, Feb 4, 2019 at 9:19 AM

Gavin Newsom - WIKIPEDIA
  • Wikipedia
  • Gavin Newsom
It was way easier for candidate Gavin Newsom to endorse single-payer health care coverage for everyone than it is now for Gov. Newsom to deliver it.

Yet hardcore advocates say they’re pleased with the moves he’s made thus far — even if it may take years to come to fruition.

“This is a governor that is operating from a compass of action,” said Stephanie Roberson, government relations director for the politically powerful California Nurses Association, which hasn’t exactly been known for its patience on the issue.

Newsom has taken two tacks. He’s asking the Trump administration to let the state create its own single-payer system offering coverage to all Californians — a move almost everyone regards as a very long shot. And he’s also pushing specific ideas to expand health care coverage to hundreds of thousands of still-uninsured Californians — a move that seems much more do-able.

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Friday, February 1, 2019

Arcata City Council to Mull Revamped Village Project

Posted By on Fri, Feb 1, 2019 at 2:20 PM

Conceptual photo illustration of how The Village project would look from the perspective of the Westwood neighborhood. - CITY OF ARCATA
  • City of Arcata
  • Conceptual photo illustration of how The Village project would look from the perspective of the Westwood neighborhood.

The Arcata City Council will consider a revamped proposal for a large student housing project next week, with Community Development Director David Loya saying he expects the council to make a “go-no-go” decision on the project.

Loya and city staff presented a revised plan for The Village at a public meeting Wednesday, about five months after a split council vote stalled the 152-unit project on Aug. 29, 2018. The revised plan now seeks to address some neighborhood concerns and win over the council.

“I hope the council considers to take on the project and, if they vote not to, it effectively ratifies it,” Loya said.

Councilmembers Susan Ornelas and Brett Watson asked for revisions in the 152-unit project to incorporate a grocery market and house non-student community members and students with families, while Councilmember Paul Pitino and Mayor Sofia Pereira voted to move the project along as proposed. Councilmember Michael Winkler recused himself from the discussion and vote.

The projects is set to stand on the 10-acre Craftsman Mall site, which borders a residential neighborhood that sits across the bridge from LK Wood Boulevard. Speakers at the Aug. 29 city council meeting were divided, with some local residents worried about the impact the 600-bed development would create to surrounding neighborhoods and others touting it as an opportunity to address the student housing crisis.

The project developer has since reexamined and modified the plan to include an open market and open about half the apartments up to non-student community members, hoping to reboot the project. Around 35 community members attended Wednesday’s meeting and Loya said he received good insight into the new modifications. But he also heard some familiar worries.

“People still have the same concerns about traffic, parking and the behavior [the complex] might attract,” he added.

For more information on the modified proposal, visit the city’s website here. Find an agenda for Wednesday’s council meeting here.
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