Monday, October 16, 2017

Potential Pot Farm Becomes Equine Therapy Center

Posted By on Mon, Oct 16, 2017 at 2:14 PM

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Savanah McCarty, founder of the nonprofit Wild Souls Ranch, is preparing to move six horses, one pony and a whole lot of tack from Loleta to Fortuna. The nonprofit, which helps provide at-risk youth with equine-assisted growth and learning opportunities, is working out the terms of a donated piece of property just off of Hillside Drive. The property, in the 2800 block of Nelson Lane, was a source of concern for neighbors in the mostly residential area when, last spring, a cannabis entrepreneur applied for a permit to create a 55,000-square-foot cannabis farm and processing facility.

Because the area was "an island" within Fortuna's sphere of influence, technically county land zoned for agricultural use, it met the standards for the county's cannabis cultivation ordinance. But Hillside residents concerned about odor, road traffic and crime, flooded public meetings to voice their opposition and eventually formed a neighborhood association to challenge the permit. In May, the Nelson-Hillside Association filed a civil complaint against the county in Humboldt County Superior Court. (The Times Standard's Will Houston reported on the association and its lawsuit.)

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Monday, October 9, 2017

UPDATE: Arcata's 911 Back Up, Eureka and Fortuna Having Issues With Non-Emergency Lines

Posted By on Mon, Oct 9, 2017 at 12:42 PM

UPDATE: Arcata’s 911 system is back up after a phone outage connected early today due to the devastating wildfires burning to the south.

At least two other Humboldt County cities are also experiencing phone issues, but not with emergency service lines. The Eureka City Hall’s lines are down and the Fortuna Police Department reports that callers may have difficulty reaching the business lines.

Residents are reminded to only use 911 in the case of an emergency.

Notice from the Arcata Police Department:

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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Humboldt Deputy on Vegas Shooting: 'Everyone Was Helping'

Posted By on Wed, Oct 4, 2017 at 11:56 AM

Humboldt County Sheriff’s Deputy Dustin Del Biaggio and Ferndale Police Officer Tierra Shumard at the concert before the shooting. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • Humboldt County Sheriff’s Deputy Dustin Del Biaggio and Ferndale Police Officer Tierra Shumard at the concert before the shooting.
A local couple, Humboldt County Sheriff’s Deputy Dustin Del Biaggio and Ferndale Police Officer Tierra Shumard, were standing in front of the stage on the last day of the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas when the shooting started.

They saw people around them fall to the ground, but were able escaped unharmed and have returned home. While both are declining media interviews at this time, Del Biaggio released a first-hand account of what they experienced in those 72 minutes of terror that took 59 lives and injured more than 500.

Read Humboldt County Sheriff’s Deputy Dustin Del Biaggio personal account below:
"It was during the last performer of the night. We got to the show early, so we had made our way to the front of the stage.

At one point, we heard what sounded like firecrackers, that's what the audience thought it was.

Shortly after that, they started again, and we started to see people drop in front of us. Time doesn't really add up, but we dropped to the ground and I covered up Tierra.

We waited until the gunfire stopped and started to run towards the back. As we were running, there was another bust of gunfire as we were about halfway to the exit.
People were calling to "cover up the women," and a few people jumped on us to shield us from the gunfire.

When it stopped again, we made our way to the back of the venue where some people had already pushed out the back wall of a bar.

Around this time we ran into a LVPD officer who told us "Mandalay Bay, 15th floor."

In retrospect, this information [on the presumed location of the shooter] was key in keeping us safe, since we avoided the line of fire from that point on.

We came out of the building in a strange parking lot full of semi-trucks.
This was when I had a chance to pull up a map on my phone of the surrounding area to get my bearings.

This is when we finally had a chance to call our parents, to let them know we were OK and find out what was happening.

The community was amazing. Uber and Lyft drivers were just picking people up. We saw a girl in shock whose father had been shot and went with her to the hospital in an Uber that stopped for us.

There was no selfishness, everyone was helping.

I can honestly say that tunnel vision kicked in, the stress response was incredible. I can’t remember the emotion on people's faces, screams, any of that. I can only remember gunfire, and the silence when it wasn't there.

I really think that my LEO training was instrumental in the whole thing. When it happened, I really felt that the training came back, the feeling of take cover, all the things they teach you made a difference. It was a tough feeling being in the civilian role, not able to help, but lookingback our training helped to keep us safe.

We are doing OK, but I definitely have pangs of shock, disbelief, confusion and especiallysadness for the victims, people that can't come home."

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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Pride on the Plaza

Posted By on Tue, Sep 26, 2017 at 10:26 AM

The annual parade rebooted under Redwood Pride's banner. - PHOTO BY MARK LARSON
  • Photo by Mark Larson
  • The annual parade rebooted under Redwood Pride's banner.

Pride Week 2017 ended on Sunday with the Pride Parade around the Arcata Plaza, followed by a program of remembrance, music, drag lip-sync, scheduled speakers and open mic opportunities for anyone in attendance. Several vendors provided a wide mix of information, food and activities. See the slideshow below for highlights.

While the number of participants in the Pride Parade organized by the ersatz Redwood Pride group seemed to be lower in number than in the past, the day went by without any apparent counter-protest, despite the controversies surrounding last year's event in Eureka and the dissolution of the board of Humboldt Pride. Instead, there was only minor distraction from the loud cheers of football fans in the Sidelines bar.

Grand marshals for the parade were the Raven Project queer coffee house and the late Dave Robles. Remembrances of Robles, a prominent LGBTQ community member and PFLAG president, were offered by Jerryl Lynn Rubin and Linda Shapeero, including a replay of his radio DJ voice.

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Sunday, September 24, 2017

Redwood Pride Starts Over in Arcata

Posted By on Sun, Sep 24, 2017 at 1:59 PM

Protesters carried signs in the 2016 Humboldt Pride march. - PHOTO BY MARK LARSON
  • Photo by Mark Larson
  • Protesters carried signs in the 2016 Humboldt Pride march.

On Friday, with 48 hours left to prepare for Humboldt County’s Pride festival on the Arcata Plaza, organizer Kate Trower had a head of newly dyed pink hair and a little time to talk on the phone. Last year's tumult and the dissolution of the Pride board of directors left the event with an uncertain future and much of Humboldt's LGBTQ community divided. "It's an interesting time to be planning and organizing,” she said. She wasn't kidding.

Dissatisfaction with the then board members of the nonprofit Humboldt Pride organization and its response to requests to become more inclusive of marginalized communities such as people of color, sober people, youth and disabled people, came to a head with a letter of protest from an anonymous group calling itself 32 Queers. Similar critiques and grievances were aired at a moderated forum at Humboldt State University. Tension ratcheted up on the cusp of last year's parade and festival with the vandalizing of Pride event posters and BB gun shots fired into the homes of two people associated with the local LGBTQ community — though Eureka Police established no connection between those shots and the rift, it rattled many. Then in October, shortly before a scheduled public meeting, the board of the Humboldt Pride voted to dissolve the decades old organization, prompting public outcry.

Trower is not in charge, she clarified, just one of a number of people working on this year’s event, which is temporarily operating under the LGBTQ Community Space Project’s nonprofit number to handle donations and other logistics. “It's kind of in absence of a group," said Trower. It’s unclear how long this structure will continue or what shape a separate organization might take. “More radical elements of the community want less structure," she said, adding that the word “collective” comes up a fair bit. But, she conceded, there are benefits to having a board and bylaws, too.

Even as it makes big changes, the event is in some ways returning to its origins as it returns to the plaza. Trower said it’s "going back to the roots of pride being political," not only in terms of the LGBTQ community coming together in solidarity but addressing its divides.
“Part of the schism we have in the community is the desire to cling to the solidarity part," she said, which sometimes means falling back on white privilege and ignoring struggles within the community, particularly those of marginalized queer people. Trower, who saw many of the same issues arise in national protests such as the Women’s March and Black Lives Matter, suggests the metaphor of the extra work it takes to build a ramp into a house instead of stairs and the rewards of getting everybody into the house.
The Redwood Veterans Honor Guard marching in the 2016 Pride parade. - PHOTO BY MARK LARSON
  • Photo by Mark Larson
  • The Redwood Veterans Honor Guard marching in the 2016 Pride parade.
As of Friday, not everything was nailed down for today’s event. "We’re still adding a few things," she said, adding that the group was hoping to get a kids’ zone together with help of the Girl Scouts. Of course there is a parade — from the Creamery Building to the plaza — but unlike previous Eureka festivals, the event is alcohol free and she described it as “more introspective” with a focus on “queer people of color and other marginalized communities, disabled and rural folks.” Echoing the events and discussions scheduled all week, there are a few LGBTQ vendors and about 17 informational booths for organizations and service providers catering to the LGBTQ community. And rather than a schedule focused on entertainment, there’s an open mic for everything from sharing opinions to performances and a handful of speakers.

Some of the changes have been met with resistance on social media. The Redwood Pride Facebook page is dense with comments debating everything from whether the color guard featuring uniformed LGBTQ veterans that has led the parade in past years is a symbol of military violence and oppression, and whether or not Samba da Alegria performances amount to cultural appropriation. (As of Friday, Trower said the color guard was scheduled to march but there was to be no formal samba performance.) Some members of the community who’ve been regulars at Pride in the past have also stated that they won’t be attending, as the event, after so much public controversy and so many personal disputes, no longer feels like a haven.

While Trower said she prefers not to comment on individuals, she gets it. There’s “a lot of baggage,” and “one of the things that’s perfectly valid right now is just knowing that you’re not emotionally ready to engage with the community."

As Redwood Pride wrestles with inclusion and exclusion, Trower said a basic question is “how to frame the idea of ‘safe space’ — safe for who and unsafe for who?" That, she said, includes minor issues “all the way up to very severe, very real trauma and triggering behavior."

She acknowledged that those are difficult, uncomfortable conversations with people who may be angry, rightfully or not, with a common goal or not. Some of those conversations are happening in the online comments she monitors seemingly round the clock. “It takes patience,” she said, taking a breath. “It requires empathy and compassion and not taking things personally."

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TL;DR: Five Reasons NOT to Try This at Home

Posted By on Sun, Sep 24, 2017 at 10:52 AM

Busy week? We’ll help you catch up on the basics of this week's cover story, "Rio Dell's Hash Lab Murder Case," which takes a deep dive into hash lab explosion that rocked Rio Dell in November and spawned murder charges against all involved. You should really read the whole story here, but this will give you a quick primer on why butane hash oil extraction is inherently dangerous and how California's felony murder rule fits the alleged facts of this case.

1) It’s really dangerous: Butane hash oil extraction is an inherently volatile process. Used to make an ever expanding array of popular products — like oil, shatter, wax and honeycomb — the process uses butane gas to concentrate marijuana’s psychoactive properties to increase potency. It works like this: You take a long tube (usually plastic, metal or glass) filled with marijuana and push butane through it. The butane strips the THC from the plant matter, leaving behind a golden liquid. That liquid still contains butane, however, which must be evaporated off, usually in a two-step process involving hot water and a heating pad. But butane, once purged from its container, becomes a fugitive gas that’s heavier than air. In poorly ventilated spaces, the combustible gas will pool at the floor and build up until it escapes or hits an ignition source — anything from a pilot light to a spark of static electricity.

2) These labs don’t just burn, they explode: When the pooled gas hits the ignition source, there’s usually enough of it that an explosion results. In one such fire outside of Eureka last year, the blast was so strong that it lifted the roof off the walls and moved the structure off its foundation. In the case of the Rio Dell fire at the heart of this story, the blast was so strong it shook neighbors’ homes, rattling windows. And, if that weren’t bad enough, there’s also usually the hazard of stored butane in the lab, which, still in containers,  explodes when burned in the ensuing fire, causing subsequent blasts. This risk of subsequent blasts is so great that Humboldt Bay Fire has changed policy to prevent its firefighters from entering a burning lab unless they know someone is trapped inside.

3) You could be seriously hurt: This can’t be underscored enough. When these things blow up, they do damage and that includes to people. Initial reports from the scene in Rio Dell were that the three young men in the lab at the time of the explosion had burns covering 60 to 90 percent of their bodies. Neighbor Cindy Dobereiner said her husband and daughter ran over to help, finding one man whose “hair was burnt down into his head, his beard melted to his face.” They brought pitchers of water and a hose, and Dobereiner said her daughter tried douse one of the men to stop the burning. “She said, ‘Mom, I thought he had gloves on because when I poured water on him, the gloves just fell right off. But they weren’t gloves.’” In the Rio Dell case, Xavier Renner, a 21-year-old from San Diego, died due to secondary infections from the burns five weeks later in a U.C. Davis Medical Center burn unit.

4) You could destroy a neighborhood: Neighbors of the Rio Dell explosion say it turned the city into a war zone. A U.S. Army veteran who lives about a block away said the concussion from the initial blast was so strong it felt and sounded like someone had taken a battering ram to his door. Then, hundreds of subsequent pops and booms as butane cans blew in the fire sounded like gunfire. As they exploded, cans whizzed through the neighborhood or shot into the air, falling smoldering into neighbors’ yards and onto their roofs. Flames from the detached garage reached high into the air and neighbors say it was only a strong response from the Rio Dell Volunteer Fire Department that kept the fire from spreading to engulf neighboring structures and, possibly, the entire block. (Check out the video below.)

5) If someone dies, you can be charged with murder: Even after the explosion, the fire and the news weeks later that Renner had died, no one in Rio Dell seemed to expect the police to come knocking with murder warrants. But they did. All four people associated with the Rio Dell lab — Renner’s friends, Arron Mohr and Aaron Schisler, and the couple who rented them the garage, David and Tamara Paul — have been charged with Renner’s murder. While that may seem extreme to some, California law fits with the alleged facts under what’s called the felony murder rule. A legal doctrine, the felony murder rule holds that if Person A is knowingly committing a dangerous felony and Person B dies during the crime, Person A can be charged with Person B’s murder. In this case, prosecutors allege that Mohr and Schisler were engaged in manufacturing concentrated cannabis using a volatile solvent, a dangerous felony that caused Renner’s death. The Pauls, prosecutors allege, knew of the butane hash operation and thus were illegally allowing a place for the manufacturing of a controlled substance, causing Renner’s death. Some hope the prosecutions — which may be the first of their kind in California, as the Journal was unable to find any other reports of murder prosecutions stemming from hash lab explosions — will have a chilling effect in the industry, underscoring the high stakes of an inherently dangerous activity.

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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Synapsis Studio's Future up in the Air

Posted By on Sat, Sep 23, 2017 at 4:05 PM

An aerialist performing at the soon-to-be-vacated Synapsis Studio. - COURTESY OF LESLIE CASTELLANO
  • Courtesy of Leslie Castellano
  • An aerialist performing at the soon-to-be-vacated Synapsis Studio.

A couple of weeks ago, Synapsis Performance Collective, a group of artists, dancers and performers that has been renting a space at 47 W. Third St. in Eureka for the past 13 years, learned that in six weeks, its rent would be doubling from $1,065 to $2,200 per month as of Oct. 1. It's a substantial hike but maybe not out of nowhere when you consider the original rent was established between 2004 and 2006. As the letter from Synapsis' landlord Gross Family LLC states, "now it's time for this property to yield market rate for the family." That's a market rate that's gone up of late, given that the property is located in "extraction alley," but whether it's a case of cannabis gentrification is unclear.

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Redway Man Becomes County's 26th Traffic Death This year

Posted By on Sat, Sep 23, 2017 at 10:54 AM

A 58-year-old Redway man was killed yesterday evening when his motorcycle collided with a Toyota truck making a three-point turn on Redwood Drive, sending him over a metal guard rail and down a 250-foot embankment.

Leo Durr was pronounced dead at the scene.

According to the California Highway Patrol, Durr was travelling southbound on Redwood Drive at an unknown speed when he came across a 2017 Toyota Tacoma that had attempted an unsuccessful U-turn. As the Toyota was backing up to make a three-point turn, Durr’s Honda motorcycle hit it from behind.

Durr is the 26th traffic related fatality in Humboldt County this year.

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Saturday, September 16, 2017

Local Law Enforcement Leaders Promise to Protect Immigrants

Posted By on Sat, Sep 16, 2017 at 8:19 AM

Every pew in the small white United Methodist Church at the corner of Del Norte and F streets was filled on Monday evening, with people standing in the back aisles and sitting on plastic chairs in the overflow room. Many fanned themselves with programs. Spanish speakers wore headsets provided by the Humboldt Area Foundation, listening as an interpreter translated presentations by a variety of speakers, the culmination of many conversations between people in the immigrant community and leaders in the True North Organizing Network about how to best protect and serve undocumented people in the community.

The evening opened with a song by the Arcata Interfaith Gospel Choir, introductions and prayers led by Methodist Pastor Kathryn Dunning and Wiyot Tribal Chair Ted Hernandez. The True North Organizing Network, a regional organization that began three years ago, has been facilitating conversations with marginalized communities on the North Coast, convening in February of 2015 to present findings from what it called “the Season of Listening.” Among the problems identified and discussed at that 2015 meeting were concerns from Latino and undocumented people in the region that they were being targeted and/or harassed by law enforcement.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Stanford Project Looking For Humboldt Voices

Posted By on Wed, Sep 13, 2017 at 10:42 AM

  • wikimedia commons
Across the vast swaths of California, there are different tells — certain turns of phrase or inflections used in everyday conversation — that can reveal quite a bit about where a person was raised.

From the, like totally, stereotypical rising lilt of Valley Girl speak (along with the gratuitous use of the word “like”) to the reference style many in this far-flung corner of the Golden State embrace — using simply “101” in describing our local highway — the way we talk can speak volumes.

Interspersed with those linguistic influences, the places we grow up help shape the lens through which we see the world.

Arriving this week to explore those facets of Humboldt County are a group of researchers from Stanford University. In town until Sept. 21, they want to hear what lifelong Humboldt County residents have to say about their community and the rest of California — as well as how they say it.

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