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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Sunday, October 8, 2017

Humboldt County Man Commits Suicide in Federal Prison

Posted By on Sun, Oct 8, 2017 at 3:59 PM

Mikal Xylon WIlde
  • Mikal Xylon WIlde
Mikal Xylon Wilde, the Humboldt County man serving a life sentence for murdering a migrant worker at his Kneeland marijuana farm, committed suicide in federal prison on Sept. 22, according to the Associated Press. He was 35.

Wilde was convicted on a total of six charges in 2015, including murder in the commission of a narcotics offense and conspiracy for the 2010 murder of Mario Roberto Juarez-Madrid, and later sentenced to serve life in prison plus 35 years. He appealed the convictions but the Ninth Circuit United States Court of Appeals upheld them earlier this year.

According to the Associated Press article, Wilde was found unresponsive in his cell in Terre Haute, Indiana, on Sept. 22 and rushed to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead four days later. The story quotes Vigo County Coroner Susan Amos as saying Wilde apparently hanged himself.

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Friday, October 6, 2017

Eureka Welcomes Recreational Pot, Embraces Ward Recommendations

Posted By on Fri, Oct 6, 2017 at 10:57 AM

Eureka development director Rob Holmlund - STILL FROM MEETING VIDEO
  • Still from meeting video
  • Eureka development director Rob Holmlund
After a lengthy presentation by Eureka Development Services Director Rob Holmlund, a series of clarifying questions by the councilmembers and a largely positive round of public comment, the Eureka City Council approved a broad set of staff recommendations that essentially welcome recreational marijuana businesses within city limits.

The decision came in advance of the implementation of state laws around adult recreational use of marijuana, due to take effect in January. Other cities, including Fortuna, have proactively restricted commercial cannabis sales and distribution to a degree more stringent than state law permits. Eureka's approach toward the industry appears to be on the laxer end of the spectrum, with commercial cannabis testing labs, manufacturing facilities, dispensaries and indoor grows all on the table.

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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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Sunday, October 1, 2017

Eureka City Council Set to Expand Boundaries, Redraw Wards, Fight Mold

Posted By on Sun, Oct 1, 2017 at 9:08 AM

The current Eureka City Council. - COURTESY OF THE CITY OF EUREKA
  • Courtesy of the city of Eureka
  • The current Eureka City Council.
On Tuesday, the Eureka City Council will tackle several topics that could have long-lasting impacts on the city. First, the ward redistricting ad hoc committee, which has been meeting for two months to discuss where the lines for the city's five wards should fall, will present its findings. With two current city councilmembers (Natalie Arroyo and Kim Bergel, wards 5 and 3 respectively) up for re-election, and another terming out (Marian Brady, Ward 1) in 2018, the district boundaries for these three wards could tip the balance of future council decisions, especially now that the city has switched to a true ward voting system.

The city will also hold a public hearing on the potential annexation of four parcels currently held by California Redwood Co. The company, a subsidiary of Green Diamond Resource Co., itself a spin-off of the Simpson Timber Co., stopped processing redwood in 2014 and shut down its operations in Humboldt County in 2015. The currently unincorporated land, where the company once had its corporate offices, has been sitting vacant ever since. Boundary maps show a little bump of blue land next to U.S. Highway 101, facing the bay, surrounded by red, city-zoned land. Should the city annex the property, it would provide city services such as water, power and law enforcement.

According to Rob Holmlund, director of community development for the city, the reason the land wasn't incorporated into the city to begin with is an "old and complicated story that goes back to the 1950s."

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Saturday, September 30, 2017

No Apparent Link in Cases of Homeless Men Awaking to Flames

Posted By on Sat, Sep 30, 2017 at 11:37 AM

Arcata police are still trying to figure out who set the Sept. 16 fire at the Arcata Presbyterian Church and why. - THADEUS GREENSON
  • Thadeus Greenson
  • Arcata police are still trying to figure out who set the Sept. 16 fire at the Arcata Presbyterian Church and why.
The recent incidents set exactly one week apart in Arcata and Eureka appeared remarkably similar at first: Homeless men sleeping on the steps of a building waking up to flames. One was severely injured while the other managed to get out of his sleeping bag before getting burned.

Police department officials in the two cities say they immediately began investigating whether the cases were linked but evidence is showing key differences between the two. Most importantly, there was no sign of an accelerant or a broken container for a Molotov cocktail in the Sept. 23 fire at the Job Market building in Eureka near the jail, where the man escaped injury.

“I don't know if we will ever be able to conclusively 100 percent say it wasn't arson or targeted but the detective is leaning toward no at this time,” Eureka Police Chief Steve Watson said in an email to the Journal on Friday. “He did find and re-interview the man, who confirmed he didn't actually see what happened.”

Meanwhile, the 28-year-old Ohio man who was badly burned while sleeping on the steps of a historic Arcata church remains hospitalized.

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Friday, September 29, 2017

Few Answers in Death of 21-Year Old Omaha Resident

Posted By on Fri, Sep 29, 2017 at 12:07 PM

Neither the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office nor the Garberville office of the California Highway Patrol has been willing to disclose details about the death of Drake Gammell, the 21 year old who was taken off life support Wednesday after being found with "major injuries" Sept. 24.

Gammell, who is from Omaha, Nebraska, was reported as being "down in the roadway" on the Avenue of the Giants about a mile north of Philipsville, in Southern Humboldt, shortly after 1 a.m. on Sept. 24. The driver of a vehicle at the scene, Chelsea Leanne Cookston, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol but was released on her own recognizance later that morning. She has so far not been charged in the case, according to Humboldt County Superior Court records.

Neither the HCSO or the CHP would answer Journal questions about how Gammell sustained his injuries. An autopsy was conducted, and the sheriff's office's investigation is ongoing. Garberville CHP officer William Wonderlich said his agency's involvement was limited to arresting Cookston under suspicion of DUI.

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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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Monday, September 25, 2017

Eureka Names Watson Police Chief

Posted By on Mon, Sep 25, 2017 at 5:31 PM

Pending City Council approval, former Capt. Steve Watson has been named the city's next police chief. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • Pending City Council approval, former Capt. Steve Watson has been named the city's next police chief.

The city of Eureka announced this afternoon that it’s looking to drop the "interim" from interim Police Chief Steve Watson’s title.

In a press release, the city announced that City Manager Greg Sparks has offered Watson the position and the former captain has accepted. The hire will now go before the Eureka City Council on Oct. 17 for its approval.

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Alderpoint Shooting Leaves 1 Dead, 'Armed and Dangerous' Suspect Sought

Posted By on Mon, Sep 25, 2017 at 11:54 AM

A 2016 booking photo of Zachary Harrison. - COURTESY OF THE HUMBOLDT COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
  • Courtesy of the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office
  • A 2016 booking photo of Zachary Harrison.
The Humboldt County Sheriff's Office is searching for a 27-year-old man in connection with a fatal shooting in Alderpoint on Saturday.

Officials said Zachary Cordell Harrison was last seen leaving the scene of the Sixth Street homicide just before 3 p.m. in a black Ford F250 with Oregon plates. He is considered armed and dangerous, according to the sheriff's office press release.

A witness and the victim, 58-year-old Robert James Holtsclaw, were stopped at a gate when Harrison reportedly fired one shot while standing next to the vehicle, according to the release. The witness ran to a nearby house to call for help. Holtsclaw died at the scene.

The shooting remains under investigation. Officials are urging anyone who spots Harrison to call 911.

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