Wednesday, February 13, 2019

MCSD Taps Barsanti for Board Seat

Posted By on Wed, Feb 13, 2019 at 11:39 AM

Shel Barsanti - ELAINE WEINREB
  • Elaine Weinreb
  • Shel Barsanti
The McKinleyville Community Services District has a new board member.

Last week, the board appointed Shel Barsanti, a certified public accountant who served as auditor for two smaller community services district, to the seat that came open with the resignation of George Wheeler, who stepped down for health reasons.

In her letter of application, Barsanti said her experience “brings a knowledge and understanding of special district audit reports, accounting, finances and reporting matters” to the board.

She is also the president of the Mad River Rotary and has lived in McKinleyville since 1977.

The board used a ranked voting system to select one of the nine candidates who applied for the position. Barsanti received seven out of eight possible points, meaning that she was either the first or the second choice of each of the existing board members.


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UPDATE: Wind Gusts Could Reach 50 MPH This Afternoon, Slide Closes 36

Posted By on Wed, Feb 13, 2019 at 9:51 AM

weatherstory2.png
UPDATE:
Caltrans has updated that State Route 36 is open to one-way controlled traffic.

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Humboldt County will continue to see rain, wind and mountain snow for the next week, according to the Eureka office of the National Weather service, which reports a forecast of “multiple rounds” of an “active and wet pattern.”

A wind advisory remains in effect for the coast today until 3 p.m. with gusts as high as 50 mph possible and the Eel River is under a flood watch from Thursday afternoon to Friday afternoon.

While unclear if it’s weather related, more than 1,200 PG&E customers in Eureka lost power this morning, according to the company’s outage page, joining hundreds of other Humboldt County residents who were also left in the dark. No cause or estimate for restoration was available as of 8:30 a.m.

To find out about outages in specific areas, visit https://m.pge.com/#outages.

Meanwhile, a rock slide has closed down State Route 36 west of Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park, according to the Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Storm Update: Flood Watch for SoHum, Eel River; Wind Advisory on the Coast

Posted By on Tue, Feb 12, 2019 at 7:11 PM

51714907_2296401400405038_7409596782134427648_n.jpg
The Eureka office of the National Weather Service has issued a wind advisory for the Humboldt and Mendocino coasts from 8 p.m. Tuesday to 3 p.m. Wednesday as another storm system rolls through the region bringing "heavy rain, gusty winds, and mountain snow."

Flood watches are also in effect for Southern Humboldt and Mendocino County starting late tonight and continuing through Thursday afternoon and for the Eel River at Fernbridge.

The heaviest rain is forecast for tonight into Wednesday with moderate levels continuing into Thursday, which is expected to cause “rapid rises” on area rivers with some expected to reach monitor or flood stage, according to the Eureka office of the National Weather Service.

The Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services reports that the Eel River is forecast to reach flood stage at Fernbridge late Thursday afternoon, but the information will continue to change over the next 24 to 48 hours.

For the latest weather information about specific locations, visit www.weather.gov/eureka. To monitor river conditions, visit NOAA's Calfornia Nevada River Forecast Center website here.


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UPDATE: Winter Weather to Continue with Rivers Expected to See Rapid Rises

Posted By on Tue, Feb 12, 2019 at 10:59 AM

Redwoods dusted with snow. - @FORMICAPHOTO VIA INSTAGRAM
  • @formicaphoto via Instagram
  • Redwoods dusted with snow.
UPDATE:

The Eureka office of the National Weather Service has issued a wind advisory for the Humboldt and Mendocino coasts from 8 p.m. Tuesday to 3 p.m. Wednesday as another storm system rolls through the region bringing "heavy rain, gusty winds, and mountain snow."

Flood watches are also in effect for Southern Humboldt and Mendocino County starting late tonight and continuing through Thursday afternoon and for the Eel River at Fernbridge. Read more here.

For the latest weather information about specific locations, visit www.weather.gov/eureka.

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Another round of severe weather is headed our way for the next few days.

The heaviest rain is forecast for tonight into Wednesday with moderate levels continuing into Thursday, which is expected to cause “rapid rises” on area rivers with some expected to reach monitor or flood stage, according to the Eureka office of the National Weather Service.

“Periods of moderate to heavy rainfall may also cause small streams and low-lying urban areas to flood,” the NWS hydrologic outlook states. “The heaviest rain is likely to fall across primarily Mendocino and southern Humboldt counties, and the melting of recent low elevation snow may also contribute to river rises.”

Snow is also in the forecast but is not expected to bring the coastal dusting that set Humboldt a flutter over the weekend, instead staying at or above 2,500 feet. (See photo of the big snow here).

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Monday, February 11, 2019

Harbor District Approves Lease for Massive Fish Farm

Posted By on Mon, Feb 11, 2019 at 8:29 PM

Fourth District Supervisor Virginia Bass speaks at the crowded hearing. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • Fourth District Supervisor Virginia Bass speaks at the crowded hearing.
The Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District today approved a 30-year lease with Norwegian company Nordic Aquafarms to build a massive fish farm at the former pulp mill after hearing concerns the deal was ushered through without public review.

The plan is to build a land-based aquaculture facility that would eventually produce some 25,000 tons of fish a year – likely salmon or steelhead – to serve as the West Coast hub for Nordic Aquafarms, which is currently in the process of developing an East Coast equivalent in Belfast, Maine.

The agreement comes with two automatic 10-year renewals but also includes a three-year option, or “planning period,” during which the company will be pursuing the necessary permits before the full lease would go into effect.

During that time, Nordic will pay the harbor district $20,000 a year. The rent will increase to $159,128 annually after the three-year mark. Included in the terms is the right for the company to discharge 6 million gallons of wastewater per day using the site’s ocean outfall pipe, which extends 1.5 miles offshore.

Nordic would also pay a $500,000 fee to access the district’s electric substation.

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

Read previous Journal coverage of the fish farm proposal here.

Nordic Aquafarms Concept from Netron on Vimeo.


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Drug Task Force Record Streak Continues with Loleta Bust

Posted By on Mon, Feb 11, 2019 at 12:49 PM

Heroin from the largest one-time seizure in county history. - HCDTF
  • HCDTF
  • Heroin from the largest one-time seizure in county history.
The Humboldt County Drug Task Force continued its record streak Sunday with the seizure of 12 pounds of heroin stashed in a hidden compartment during a traffic stop in Loleta — believed to be the largest one-stop confiscation in the county’s history.

Two men — Carlos Cota-Alonso and Edgar Barragan-Castano — from Sonora, Mexico, were arrested during the operation that included task force special agents being assisted by a narcotic detection K9 and the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office.

Agents had previously obtained a search warrant for the vehicle after establishing “probable cause to believe that both subjects were distributing multiple pounds of heroin in Humboldt County.”

Also recovered was $6,000 in cash that is “be held pending asset forfeiture proceedings."

This record-breaking seizure comes on the heels of record-breaking year for the task force. Over the course of 2018, the multi-agency investigative team recovered nearly 35 pounds of the drug — more than double the volume confiscated in the previous six years combined.

In the Jan. 17 Journal article “Out of the Shadows,” which looked at the causes behind the surge, Sgt. Jesse Taylor attributed the increase to a “perfect storm” of circumstances, including an upsurge in heroin use tied to prescription painkillers and changes in sentencing laws.

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Photos from Humboldt's Big Snowfall

Posted By on Mon, Feb 11, 2019 at 12:16 PM

Enjoying the landscape blanketed in snow. - @RYANJOHNSONBITAR VIA INSTAGRAM
  • @ryanjohnsonbitar via Instagram
  • Enjoying the landscape blanketed in snow.

Well, that was a lot of snow. In case you were locked away with the curtains closed during a social media fast, Humboldt saw between 1 and 8 inches of snowfall late Saturday night. The roads were treacherous and power went out in some areas but folks around Humboldt also captured the beauty of this weather anomaly (which doesn't mean global warming isn't real — tell your uncle/president). The snow has melted away in lower elevation areas but we'll always have those midnight snowball fight memories. We put out the call and some fine folks shared their winter wonderland images with us by tagging us on Instagram and replying on Facebook. Enjoy their frosty photos in the slideshow below.

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Fatal Single-Car Crash Near Benbow

Posted By on Mon, Feb 11, 2019 at 9:04 AM

chp.jpg
A 63-year-old man was killed last night when he lost control of his car and crashed into a tree on U.S. Highway 101 near Benbow.

According to the California Highway Patrol, the man — whose identity isn’t being released until his family can be notified of his death — was traveling southbound shortly before 9 p.m. when for unknown reasons he allowed his 2006 Chevrolet Trailblazer to drift off the roadway and into a tree. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The crash remains under investigation and it is currently unknown whether drugs or alcohol were a factor, according to CHP. See the full press release below:


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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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UPDATE: Snow Day! And Why You Should Stay Off the Roads, if Possible

Posted By on Sun, Feb 10, 2019 at 9:49 AM

A snowman. In McKinleyville. - THADEUS GREENSON
  • Thadeus Greenson
  • A snowman. In McKinleyville.
UPDATE:

The Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services reports that 8,000 customers are without power across the region as of 11 a.m.

Below is the OES’ latest report on the status of local roadways:

State Route 36 is closed at Alderpoint Road in Bridgeville due to downed trees. Chains required between Bridgeville and Dinsmore.

U.S. Highway 101 is now open to one-way controlled traffic in northern Mendocino County, after a full closure for snow and rock slides.

State Route 299 is closed 3.3 miles east of Humboldt County line in Trinity County due to downed trees. In Humboldt, chains are required from ~12 miles west of State Route 96.

Check out preliminary snow fall levels via the Eureka office of the National Weather Service here.

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In case you missed it, or in some cases simply haven't looked outside yet this morning, Humboldt County got a healthy dollop of snow last night and early this morning, from the peaks down to the shores.

Anecdotal reports have snow falling throughout the county, with accumulations of more than an inch — and up to 4 — in areas from Eureka to the Arcata Bottoms and up to McKinleyville and Westhaven. The snowfall, which began around 10 p.m. last night and continued almost until daybreak in some areas, has tapered off, with partly cloudy conditions expected to persist throughout the day until a chance of rain showers takes over tonight, according to the National Weather Service website.
The Weather Service is advising folks to monitor local road conditions closely today, to carry chains if traveling inland and to drive with extreme caution, if they must leave the house at all.

According to the California Highway Patrol incident page, there are a host of hazards throughout the county, from downed trees to icy conditions. Motorists are advised to use extreme caution and, again, stay home if possible.

Caltrans reports that U.S. Highway 101 is subject to one-way controlled traffic at various locations between Leggett and Garberville due to rockslides. State Route 299, meanwhile, is closed about 3 miles east of the Humboldt-Trinity county line due to downed trees, and chains are required 12 miles west of the junction with State Route 96. State Route 36 is closed at Alderpoint Road in Bridgeville due to a downed tree and motorists are advised to find an alternate route, though that may prove a challenge. State Route 199 to our north, meanwhile, is also closed due to downed trees.

In short, it's not a good day to be on the roads. It is, however, a good day to build snow people, dust of the sled and have a snowball fight or two. And please send us pictures of your fun to editor@northcoastjournal.com!



McKinleyville with a fresh blanket of powdery snow around midnight Feb. 9. - THADEUS GREENSON
  • Thadeus Greenson
  • McKinleyville with a fresh blanket of powdery snow around midnight Feb. 9.
More snow in McKinleyville. - KALI COZYRIS
  • Kali Cozyris
  • More snow in McKinleyville.
Snow falls in McKinleyville. - KALI COZYRIS
  • Kali Cozyris
  • Snow falls in McKinleyville.
KALI COZYRIS
  • Kali Cozyris
KALI COZYRIS
  • Kali Cozyris
KALI COZYRIS
  • Kali Cozyris
Deputies at the McKinleyville substation got in the spirit. - HCSO
  • HCSO
  • Deputies at the McKinleyville substation got in the spirit.
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