Education

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Speakers Urge Arcata City Council to Seek State Help in Lawson Case

Posted By on Wed, Mar 20, 2019 at 9:55 PM

Jill Larrabee, left, waits to speak at the Arcata City Council meeting regarding the Josiah Lawson case and joined others in calling on city officials to call the DOJ or another outside agency to assist the investigation. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • Jill Larrabee, left, waits to speak at the Arcata City Council meeting regarding the Josiah Lawson case and joined others in calling on city officials to call the DOJ or another outside agency to assist the investigation.

Almost two dozen people gathered in the Arcata City Hall lobby before tonight's city council meeting, prepared to ask the council to seek outside help in the David Josiah Lawson investigation after a criminal grand jury declined to hand up indictments in the case, sending it back to the Arcata Police Department for further investigation.

Lawson, a sophomore at Humboldt State University, who was fatally stabbed at an off campus party in the early morning of April 15, 2017. Kyle Zoellner, a 23-year-old McKinleyville resident, was arrested at the scene and charged with Lawson’s murder but a Humboldt County Superior Court judge dismissed the case, saying there was insufficient evidence to Zoellner to stand trial.

Interim Police Richard Ehle turned the investigation over to the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office in November, telling the Journal there’s "unequivocal physical evidence” linking a specific suspect to the murder. On March 13, the Humboldt District Attorney’s Office sent out a press release reporting that a criminal grand jury convened Feb. 28 declined to indict anyone in connection to the crime and, “therefore, no charges will be filed in this case,” the release said. (In Humboldt County, a criminal grand jury consists of 19 people, 12 of whom must to find there is “probable cause” that a crime was committed by a suspect to hand up an indictment.)

Arcata Police Chief Brian Ahearn vowed to continue the investigation, saying that APD will re-interview witnesses and investigate old leads. A couple of days after the announcement, Lawson’s mother, Charmaine Lawson, came to Humboldt County and spoke at HSU and the Humboldt County Courthouse about her disappointment on the criminal grand jury’s decision.

Arcata City Councilmember Sofia Pereira listens to speakers during the public comment section for non-agenda items. All of the speakers asked for the council to call for an outside agency to take on the investigation of the murder of HSU student Josiah Lawson. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • Arcata City Councilmember Sofia Pereira listens to speakers during the public comment section for non-agenda items. All of the speakers asked for the council to call for an outside agency to take on the investigation of the murder of HSU student Josiah Lawson.

“We’re not going to stop fighting: This doesn’t end,” she told the crowd in front of the courthouse on Friday. “Thursday’s decision doesn’t end. (District Attorney) Maggie Fleming, if you can hear me, you have me fighting harder. I’m fighting harder.”

Between the turnouts at HSU and the courthouse, hundreds had gathered in support.

On Monday the Justice for Josiah campaign posted a call to action on Facebook: “Please use your voice and privilege to stand with Charmaine in seeking Justice for Josiah.”

When the floor at the Arcata City Council meeting opened for public comment, 11 people stood and began to form a line behind the podium. Most of them urged the city council to write to the California Department of Justice to take on the case.

“We are angry and frustrated, but this is typical,” Jill Larrabee told the council. “No one is surprised with this outcome. We are asking you to do everything in all of your power to ask the DOJ to take on the investigation and prosecution of this case. … Each and every one of you has connections and has power, use your connections to get this out of Humboldt County. … We are not going anywhere.”

Kelsey Reedy, center, an HSU alum and community member, listens to speakers asking the Arcata City Council to call for outside help in the Josiah Lawson homicide investigation. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • Kelsey Reedy, center, an HSU alum and community member, listens to speakers asking the Arcata City Council to call for outside help in the Josiah Lawson homicide investigation.
Most of the speakers also asked about the Police Foundation report. Last September, Arcata hired Police Foundation, a nonprofit, to investigate APD’s controversial response the night of Lawson’s death. According to a Sept. 10 memo, Arcata City Manager Karen Diemer said the nonprofit will “review the police department’s response and to make recommendations for improving major criminal events, including response to, and investigation of, catastrophic, multiple-victim and/or multiple-witness incidents in the future,” with the report expected by the end of last year.

During public comment this evening, Richard Kossow questioned the timeline.

“Six months ago, we were told that an organization called Police Foundation had been retained to look into how the Arcata Police Department dealt with this homicide in April of 2017. I’ve heard nothing since,” he said. “It seems to me that it’s time that we start to get some kind of understanding of what that investigation has shown or some acknowledgment from you that the investigation has gone on.”

At the end of the public comment period, Diemer addressed the concerns over the Police Foundation report, saying the city received communications with the nonprofit that has completed its investigation of the report. She said the final report should be expected by May, but added that if the report indicates anything that could impede the Lawson investigation, it would not be made public. But, she added, the council intends to make the report public as soon as it is able.

After the public comment period, Mayor Brett Watson addressed speakers’ calls for the California Department of Justice to intervene.

“We have sent letters to the Department of Justice and the Attorney General and we are working on new, refreshed letters — new letters — and a new call for their help to step in,” he said, adding that the city is also recruiting local politicians to solicit their connections to seek help from the state.
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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

HSU's El Leñador Wins Multiple Awards

Posted By on Tue, Mar 19, 2019 at 3:07 PM

El Leñador 2018 issues. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • El Leñador 2018 issues.
Humboldt State University’s El Leñador newspaper won six first place awards in the 2019 California College Media Association statewide awards competition this year.

“I can’t be more proud of our El Leñador staff,” Jose Herrera, current editor-in-chief said in the press release. “The awards are a sign that we are doing incredible work covering the community.”

Founded in 2013, the bilingual El Leñador “focuses on covering Latinx and diverse community at HSU and Humboldt County,” the press release said. The bilingual newspaper won its first-place awards for Best Photo Series, Best Feature Photograph, Best Feature, Best Illustration, Best Website, and Best Inside Spread/Page Design and placed in six other additional categories. In 2016, El Leñador was named best non-weekly student newspaper by Excellence in Student Media Awards.

“These awards are a testament to the appreciation and value of news that is diverse and inclusive,” Andrea Juarez, the newspapers faculty advisor said. “El Leñador staff are passionate about producing news that is impactful and matters.”


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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, February 14, 2019

Water Main Break Starts Vacation Early for Two Fortuna Schools

Posted By on Thu, Feb 14, 2019 at 9:26 PM

FUHSD
  • FUHSD
A broken water main is forcing the closure of two Fortuna Schools tomorrow.

East High posted, “School is CANCELLED for tomorrow due to a water main break. Mr. Millsap will be at school from 9-11 tomorrow morning for anyone who wants to come pick up work to do over break.”

Fortuna Union High posted, “Attention! Both East and Fortuna High will be closed tomorrow, 2/15, because of a broken water main. There is no current running water at the school. Enjoy the week off! See you Monday, 2/25.”
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Thursday, February 7, 2019

Arcata Council Advances Revised Village Housing Project

Posted By on Thu, Feb 7, 2019 at 7:08 AM

AMCAL's David Moon addresses the Arcata City Council. - IRIDIAN CASAREZ
  • Iridian Casarez
  • AMCAL's David Moon addresses the Arcata City Council.
Arcata's The Village housing project is not dead, the City Council decided last night with a unanimous vote to reconsider the newly revised development proposal.

The project will go through three more review hearings before moving forward: one with the Arcata Planning Commission and two more with the council, including one focused on vacating St. Louis Road, said Arcata Community Development Director David Loya.

Developers presented their proposed 600-bed development to the council back in August but the council split, stalling the project.

Five months after the project appeared dead, the developer — AMCAL — reviewed and revised its plans to include an open market and to open half the apartments up to non-student community members. The revisions were publicly unveiled at an informal meeting Jan. 31 but locals still expressed concerns about impacts on the surrounding neighborhoods, including parking, traffic and an influx of hundred of students. The housing project would sit on the 10-acre Craftsman Mall site on St. Louis Road, across U.S. Highway 101 from L.K. Wood Boulevard just north of campus.

AMCAL's David Moon told the council last night that the proposed 651-bed facility will dedicate half of its units to non-student residents and will include amenities like a gym and a childrens play area. It will also feature solar panels, a walking trail and car and bike sharing programs, he said. Moon was pleased to see the council move the revived project forward.

“I am very satisfied with tonight’s meeting,” Moon said. “I look forward to coming back.”
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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
  • 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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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
  • 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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Thursday, January 24, 2019

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.

CALmatters.org is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California policies and politics.
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Wednesday, January 23, 2019

North Coast Night Lights: Eel River Delta From Table Bluff

Posted By on Wed, Jan 23, 2019 at 11:07 AM

A bench looks south from Table Bluff across the Eel River delta, where lines converge beneath the Milky Way at the edge of the Pacific Ocean. The sun had set at 6:30 p.m. and this photograph was taken at 7:58 p.m., just catching the tail end of a colorful sunset along the horizon on Oct. 17, 2017. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • A bench looks south from Table Bluff across the Eel River delta, where lines converge beneath the Milky Way at the edge of the Pacific Ocean. The sun had set at 6:30 p.m. and this photograph was taken at 7:58 p.m., just catching the tail end of a colorful sunset along the horizon on Oct. 17, 2017.
If you have ever driven to the South Jetty of Humboldt Bay, then along the bluffs just before the road descends to the ocean level, you will have passed by Table Bluff County Park. The park is graced with trails, a broad field, trees, benches and, of course, great views over the Pacific Ocean and out across the Eel River delta. Information signs provide historical and ecological context. And at night you can see the Milky Way.

The clearest skies for stargazing usually aren’t along the coast, but coastal folks aren’t left entirely in the dark. I have found many a night sky crowded with stars along the Pacific, and when the Milky Way is out it is plainly visible, once one’s eye has become accustomed to the night.

On the evening that I took this photograph it was my pleasure to accompany Erica Botkin’s Digital Photography class from College of the Redwoods on a field trip to share my nighttime photography expertise as a guest photographer. We chose Table Bluff for its proximity, with the hope of catching a view from the bluffs of the stars over the Pacific.
Google Earth view looking south from Table Bluff County Park, in the foreground, with the Eel River delta in the distance. Google Earth screen shot fall 2017. - GOOGLE EARTH
  • Google Earth
  • Google Earth view looking south from Table Bluff County Park, in the foreground, with the Eel River delta in the distance. Google Earth screen shot fall 2017.
Much about night photography is different from shooting in the daytime, and there is a good deal of seat-of-the-pants estimation during shooting. I won’t attempt to teach the whole of it in these few words but I’ll mention some of the things that came up for us.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Charmaine Lawson: DNA Evidence Identifies Son's Killer

Posted By on Tue, Jan 8, 2019 at 3:10 PM

Charmaine Lawson places roses in two hearts drawn in the sand at a recent vigil held for her son. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • Charmaine Lawson places roses in two hearts drawn in the sand at a recent vigil held for her son.
The mother of slain Humboldt State University sophomore David Josiah Lawson took to Facebook this morning to express frustration that the Humboldt County District Attorney's Office still hasn't made a charging decision in her son's case two months after the Arcata Police Department handed over its investigation.

"The Department of justice [has] identified my son's DNA on the knife that was used to stab him to death," Charmaine Lawson posted on the Justice for David Josiah Lawson Facebook page. "They have also identified my [son's] murderer on the knife, yet the case is still being reviewed. Where's the justice?"

District Attorney Maggie Fleming, meanwhile, indicated her office is still doing due diligence in determining the strength of the case in order to determine how to proceed.

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