What Humboldt Clicked: August 2014

Andrew Goff / Today @ 12:30 p.m. / Analytics

LoCO used to do this kinda number crunching weekly. Then we got bored of it. Later, we started to miss it. Now this is our second monthly most-clicked leaderboard. Hope this is helpful to someone.

Here are August’s top posts on LoCO as determined by Google Analytics:


1. State Park Ranger Found Unconscious in Patrol Car With Beer Between His Legs

2. Multiple Fatality Accident Near Hydesville

3. Human Remains Confirmed to Be Those of Triple Homicide Suspect Shane Miller

4. Fire West of Weaverville

5. 10,276 Marijuana Plants Eradicated by Sheriff’s Department and CAMP North of Blocksburg

6. Shooting in Arcata; Streets Closed, Investigation Underway

7. Honeydew Grow Site Features Over 4,000 Plants, Assault Weapons, Water Diversion, Road Construction

8. Fire on 36, Evacuations of Homes

9. Full Ferndale Fairgrounds Fire Fotos

10. Pastor of Hydesville Men’s Ministry Arrested for Assaulting Wife in Church Parking Lot


1. Yes, Brad Pitt was in Humboldt (PHOTO)

2. Eureka Councilman Allegedly Has Drug-Fueled Altercation, Reneges on Agreement to Make Public Apology

3. Double Trouble Doubles: Local Twin Brothers Become First-Time Fathers One Day Apart at Mad River Hospital

4. Pregnancy and Damnation: Inside Humboldt County’s Anti-Abortion Medical Clinic

5. McBoom! Super Duper Huge Early Morning Explosion Rattles Residents

6. Local Girl Rushed to Bay Area Children’s Hospital, Fundraiser Planned

7. LoCO On the Pot: Reggae on the River 2014 — French’s Inferno!

8. Your Daily Dose of Ferndalean Optimism: Roadkill Edition

9. A Levee Breached Near CR, and Humboldt Bay is Now 50 Acres Bigger

10. These Cool Photos Show How Aqua Dam Plugged a Levee Breach With Giant Water Bags


PREVIOUSLY: What Humboldt Clicked: July 2014


Arcing Electric Line Caused Second Fire in Arcata Today

Kym Kemp / Yesterday @ 9:16 p.m. / Fire!

Fire from an arcing electrical line was stopped by firefighters’ quick response today. [Photo provided by Arcata Fire Protection District.]

Arcata Fire Protection District press release:

At approximately 3:42 P.M. this afternoon while fire crews were battling the marsh fire, Arcata Fire Protection District was dispatched to a vegetation fire located at the 1500 block of Old Arcata Road. When fire crews arrived, they found a 70 foot by 30 foot vegetation fire that had progressed up to a resident’s house while she was at home. 

The cause of the fire is believed to be a tree branch that was touching a PG&E service line. The service line arced and caught the tree as well as the berry brush beneath the tree on fire. The fire spread up to the house melting some of the siding off the house and broke out a window. “Due to the quick action of the fire crews and the Cal Fire helicopter, we were able to save the house.” said Incident Commander Dave White. 

Multiple fire agencies responded to this fire. Arcata Fire Protection District responded with one chief officer and one engine, Humboldt Bay Fire and Cal Fire sent engines from the marsh fire, and the Cal Fire helicopter (H102) also responded. Arcata Police Department assisted with traffic control. Arcata Fire Protection District would like to acknowledge all the agencies that responded to this incident. With the quick response and quick actions we were able to limit the amount of damage that could have been caused by this fire.

Arcata Fire Protection District would like to remind all residents to have a clear defensible space around their homes. By having a defensible space you minimize the danger and damage that fire can bring to your home. If you have any questions regarding defensible space please contact your local fire department.


[UPDATE 9:22 p.m.] Fire Burning in the Arcata Marsh Threatens Structures

Kym Kemp / Yesterday @ 2:46 p.m. / Fire!

UPDATE 9:22 p.m.:

Arcata Fire Protection District press release:

At approximately 1:54 P.M. this afternoon Arcata Fire Protection District was dispatched to a brush fire at the marsh between I Street and South G Street. Upon arrival the first engine reported a 50 foot by 50 foot spot fire that rapidly spread to approximately one acre within ten minutes. “This was a fast moving, wind driven fire,” stated Incident Commander (IC) Alan Davis. The estimated size of the fire at the time of this press release was three acres.

The fire was located in the marsh between Allen Marsh and Log Pond. Multiple crews fought this fire on the ground and in the air. The ground crews were divided up into two divisions. One division attacked the fire from the north and moved south and the second ground crew attacked the fire from the south and moved north. Meanwhile, Cal Fires’ Air Attack airplane (A102) was in the air giving the Incident Commander updates on the progress firefighters were making and Cal Fire Helicopter (H102) helped extinguish the fire by dumping water from the marsh onto the fire. “Cal Fires’ air attack and helicopter were extremely helpful in fighting this difficult fire.” says IC Davis. The fire was contained around 4:00 P.M. No structures were damaged, however, the Interpretive Center was threatened, but quick work by the fire crews stopped the spread of the fire in that direction. There was one bench that burned, but no other damage or injuries have been reported. At this time, the cause of the fire is unknown and still under investigation. 

Arcata Fire Protection District (AFPD) responded with three chief officers, three engines, and one water tender. AFPD would like to thank all the agencies that responded. Humboldt Bay Fire provided two chief officers and three engines. Cal Fire and Redwood National Park provided one Air Attack (A102), one Helicopter (H102), four engines, and one hand crew. Samoa Peninsula Fire District provided one engine for station coverage, and Arcata Police Department assisted with traffic control. We would also like to thank our City of Arcata personnel for assisting and coordinating with the crews and supplying necessary information for them during the incident. 

Arcata Fire Protection District would like to remind everyone to be extremely careful this time of year. The ground is very dry and when the winds pick up in the afternoon it causes small fires to grow and spread very quickly. Please be sure that your camp fires, cooking, and warming fires are completely extinguished before you leave.  

UPDATE 5:50 p.m.: A view of some of the damage at the Arcata Marsh.

Photo by JM Photography.

UPDATE 4:30 p.m.: Per scanner traffic, engines are being released from the Marsh Incident.

UPDATE 3:53 p.m.: The new fire is around the 1500 block of Old Arcata Road. Arcata Fire tweeted,

UPDATE 3:49 p.m.: According to scanner traffic the new fire is burning in a backyard. The helicopter has been released to get fuel.

UPDATE 3:46 p.m.: Scanner traffic is calling the new fire Anvick presumably after Anvick Road which is off Old Arcata Road.

UPDATE 3:44 p.m.: Scanner traffic indicates there is another fire in Arcata that is threatening a structure.  

UPDATE 3:42 p.m.: Great videos linked in the comment section. See here, here and here. Videos courtesy of Pinky Caruthers.

UPDATE 3:08 p.m.: Fire personnel are saying on scanner that “for the most part it looks like the forward movement has slowed.”

Helicopter and crowd shots below courtesy LoCO friend Will Startare.

# # #

UPDATE 3:06 p.m.: A large crowd of people has gathered to watch what is turning out to be a large and potentially dangerous fire. Here is the view from the Bay from another reader.

UPDATE 3:05 p.m.: Scary photo!

UPDATE 3:02 p.m.: Video 

UPDATE 2:54 p.m.: Readers have provided more photos from the fire.

# # #

Original Post:

Smoke from fire in Arcata. [Photo provided by reader.]

According to numerous reports, there is a vegetation fire burning near I Street in Arcata. The Arcata Marsh Interpretive Center on south G Street in Arcata has an engine stationed near there to protect it. There is traffic control requested for G Street.

“The fire has jumped the path and the head of the fire is headed towards to Interpretive Center,” said a fire official on scene. 

According to scanner traffic, a helicopter has been requested.

Arcata resident, Jolian Kangas, says, the fire started about 2 p.m. “Scanner traffic suggested a blackberry brush fire started it.”

Another view of the smoke. [Photo provided by reader.]

A Visit to Mendocino’s Marijuana Farmers’ Market

Emily Hobelmann / Yesterday @ 8:43 a.m. / marijuana

Yesterday I went down to Area 101 today for the first-ever Healing Harvest Farms medical cannabis farmers’ market. We’re on the verge of September, and it was a warm, breezy, dry day out there. Perfect day to experience some bounty.

Area 101 is that colorful collection of buildings on the east side of the 101 freeway, about 10 miles north of Laytonville. There’s that billboard that says “Welcome to Area 101,” the one with the flying saucer. And the buildings are painted with oms and eyes and Ganesh-like figures. That’s what I’m talking about.

It’s actually a sweet venue. There is a building with a full kitchen, nice bathrooms and lots of cute little zen nooks and crannies all over the place. There are well-maintained grassy areas, there’s a stage and a teepee. The Emerald Cup crew is based there.

The farmers’ market was back away from the freeway, in a fenced off area. Entry requirements were an ID and a valid medical marijuana recommendation. You had to join the Healing Harvest Farm medical marijuana collective to enter the market area too.

On the inside, cannabis farmers shared their products with attendees. You could find dabs, soil amendments, clones, seeds, glass, weed flowers, weed salves, tinctures, edibles and a bunch of local weed peeps.

One group in particular — the Happy Day Farms people out of Mendocino — had an impressive spread with hella produce and cannabis too. I saw it with my own eyes. Cannabis right there on the table, next to the other fruits and flowers, no big deal.

Everything was fine. Cannabis doesn’t bite. It may give you a rash, paranoia or a wicked case of the munchies, depending on how you interact with it. But no adult human should be denied access to it. People shouldn’t have to sneak around to get cannabis. Drop the taboo. “Add it up. It all spells duh.” (That line’s from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I’m a fan.)

So there was some produce there, but the other vendors mostly just kept it to the niche cannabis products. Although, there was another produce vendor and BBQ for sale outside the restricted area.

The friendly people at the Gage Green Group showed off big jars of weed flowers. And the 3rd Gen Family showed off their bomb diggy hash. The Bud Sisters had samples of their salve. The Mendocino Cannabis Policy Council had informative brochures.

All told, I saw squash and apples and pears and peppers and world-class cannabis flowers. I saw leeks and tomatoes, peaches and dab rigs. I saw picked beans and marijuana clones, carrots and cold water hash.

There was the cannabis, all up in this sort of farmers’ market setting. But this is still a far cry from something like, say, the Arcata Farmers’ Market, where people can come and go as they please (but you can’t smoke anything). This event required paperwork and ID (and you could smoke of the ganja).

I did not see piles of pounds nor did I see piles of cash. In fact, I don’t recall money being exchanged at all. And this was not an environment where people were buying wholesale. It was more like a vendors fair with some fresh produce thrown up in the mix.

Overall, the vibe at Area 101 is laid back, although I did see some bro trying to start a brawl with another guy twice his size in the parking area. Fisticuffs averted. At least while I was still there. The event ran all day, from 2-10 p.m. I bailed at about 5 p.m.

I thought the coolest thing was seeing cannabis treated as another agricultural product at the Happy Day Farms table. Total highlight. That definitely wouldn’t fly at the Arcata Farmers’ Market though. You can bring produce to the cannabis events, but you can’t bring cannabis to the longstanding produce events. At least not yet.

But I do look forward to more cannabis farmers’ markets, even if they have to be restricted access like this (the whole 215 thing). Eventually, Humboldt or Mendo could become home to the cannabis version of the Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle.

You know, maybe once a month, in a big spot, like Francheschi Hall at Redwood Acres in Eureka. Just farmers with pounds and pounds, and buyers with cash, ready to go. A big, open market atmosphere. Go buy an 1/8th, an ounce or five pounds kinda thing. Grab a gram of shatter or a whole sheet of it.

Humboldt would be a good place for this.


There’s a meeting at the Laytonville Garden Club today (Sunday) from 4-6 p.m. about the rumor (or not-rumor) that private military company folks are raiding private marijuana gardens in Mendo. I heard that Sheriff Allman will be there to address community concerns. Kerry Reynolds from KMUD news is going to cover the action. Stay tuned to KMUD for her reporting.

A Prague Memory: Thoughts for Aspiring Journalists

James Tressler / Yesterday @ 8:31 a.m. / Letter From Istanbul

Like many young writers, I always dreamed of writing abroad – if not in Paris or London, then any exotic locale would do.

So upon my arrival in Prague, I immediately contacted Dinah Spritzer, the news editor at the Prague Post.

The reception was a bit cold, to say the least:

“You’ll find that reporting on a former Eastern bloc country is nothing like being a reporter in California,” Dinah sternly admonished. “I’ve known people who were journalists for 20 years back in the States and they couldn’t produce a single story (here) because they didn’t understand the language, or the else the culture.”

It was a bit deflating, starting all over again, especially coming off a fairly successful four years at The Eureka Times-Standard. But I realized she probably knew what she was talking about. Still, I kept circulating my resume and clips. An editor at the now-defunct Prague Tribune was more encouraging. There was nothing at the Tribune, he said, but he suggested I get in touch with Andy Markowitz over at the Czech Business Weekly, and he even gave me an email address.


The Czech Business Weekly was a start-up magazine funded by a sugar daddy in the financial district, one of many such English publications that were endlessly cropping up in Prague then. They usually would last a few months before the sugar daddy saw he wasn’t making any money, lost interest and folded the magazine.

But the CBW, at least then, was hanging on. The owner seemed determined to make a proper run. He’d even expanded the magazine, adding an Arts and Culture page. This section was overseen by Andy, an ex-Baltimore newspaperman who had gone expat along with his wife Barbara, who was also a journalist.

I sent Andy a few clips, and we met for a few beers at Marquis de Sade (gone now). When he arrived, I saw that Andy had my clips in hand, and he told me he had given them a quick read on the metro. Andy had taken the time to red-mark the clips – stories that I was proud of, by the way – and he spent some time talking about the stories, giving some useful advice on how the stories could have been better, etc.

“The reason I agreed to see you,” he said presently, “is that you actually have had some newspaper experience. So many of these kids come over to Prague from the States with vague, romantic notions of being Hemingway, and they expect to just get on somewhere with no experience or qualifications.”

So he gave me a shot, and I was grateful. Although Andy seemed to feel my style was a bit raw, he saw that I was eager, and could be depended on to turn a story around on time. Over the next few months, it became a semi-regular gig, squeezed in around my teaching schedule. Andy threw me concert previews, exhibitions, festivals, whatever he couldn’t get around to, and was even cool enough to offer a few contacts to get me started. Most editors expect you to develop your own sources, which is fine but it can be a challenge when you are living in a foreign country and are still learning the language and customs, as well as finding your way around.

Along with the experience, the freelance gig supplemented the money I was earning from teaching. I suppose my hopes then were that my Czech Business Weekly stuff would eventually attract notice over at the Prague Post, which was the leading expat newspaper in Prague, had been ever since it began publication just after the Velvet Revolution.


Evidently, my persistence did pay off. One afternoon, I got an email from Dinah Spritzer:

Hi James.

Hope you are settling in and monitoring the Czech press very carefully.

I can try you out on a story perhaps next week if you have the time. We pay 1,500 to 2,000 crowns a story depending on length.



In those days, 2,000 crowns was about 75 dollars. I had thought of doing a story about Prague’s graffiti problem, which had blighted many of its neighborhoods in recent years. Andy suggested talking with Jan Kasel, a former Prague mayor who apparently had been quite vocal on the issue in the Czech press. The former mayor had an office in Andel, a neighborhood running along the Vltava on the southwest side of the city.

I scheduled an appointment, and found the office. When I arrived, a security guard phoned upstairs, and I was told to go up to Mr. Kasel’s office. When I arrived, the former mayor barely even acknowledged me. He seemed distracted, angry.

“I’m sorry,” he apologized, finally remembering our appointment. “It’s just that my laptop has been stolen. I left the office for lunch, returned and it was gone!”

He brushed by me, excusing himself. I followed him dumbly downstairs. The former mayor went to the lobby and began furiously cursing the security guard in Czech, circling the lobby in impotent rage.

“I’m sorry,” he said to me, stopping suddenly and composing himself. “But I’m afraid we must cancel our appointment.”

“When can we meet again?” I asked, somewhat desperate.

“I don’t know. Call me sometime next week.”

That afternoon, I emailed Dinah Sprizter, explaining what had happened.

“So old Jan Kasel’s office got burglarized? Now that’s a story!” Dinah replied, somewhat sardonically. “Will keep it in mind. But need I remind you that crime in the U.S. Is 2,000 times greater than in Prague.” Meanwhile, she said the graffiti story had been done,“a TON of times, check our archives.”

I felt that I was starting to get through though; at least she was giving reasons why she was rejecting my ideas.

For instance, when I heard about an experience a friend of mine, an American, had had when he got sick with pneumonia and had to spend two weeks in hospital. Since the guy was a close friend, his situation had struck close to home, for it showed how exposed expats can sometimes feel living abroad.

I wrote Dinah suggesting a story about my friend’s experience.

She replied:

Dear James,

I’m sure your friend’s story struck a chord with you. But we try very hard to avoid what we call typical Czech-bashing stories and instead focus on what is important to the Czech nation, not foreigners from much better off countries who have gripes about living in a post-communist country, gripes Czechs and long-term expats have heard 1 million times and are utterly sick to death of … Frankly, I would be much more interested in a story about Czechs and how THEY are treated overseas, as our story Cruel Britannia explored.



Actually, not long after this exchange, I finally met Dinah in person, at a pub along with Andy and a few other people. Andy had worked with Dinah at the Post before leaving for the CBW.

“She’s actually a really great person,” Andy told me. “She can just sometimes come across as mean, but she’s not like that once you get to know her.” Meanwhile, my work evidently impressed Andy Markowitz enough to hand me over to Tim Gosling, who was the business editor of the magazine. Tim was a Brit in his mid-thirties, with a cool, laconic style. He had me do a survey of American investors in Prague, getting their forecast on future investment prospects, how Prague could stay competitive in the face of other emerging former Eastern bloc cities such as Budapest, Bratislava and Kiev.

For that story, I graduated somewhat from a freelancer who always did the job outside – by mobile phone, interviews in cafes like Bohemia Bagel, and often filing the story either at an Internet café or even on one of the computers at the school – to almost a full-on employee. The Czech Business Weekly’s offices were in a building near Na Prikope, a popular shopping street which separates Old Town from New Town. I was given a desk, a phone and a computer, which made life a lot easier.

The only drawback to the gig was getting paid. The policy of the paper was that all freelancers were to be paid 30 days after the story’s publication. But you found that more often than not, it took even longer than that, and numerous, increasingly frustrated text messages to the Accounting department were needed before the cash eventually landed in your bank account. But that’s another story. You got paid, understand; it just sometimes took awhile, so you couldn’t really factor it into your budget.


That same summer, word came from on high that the sugar daddy wasn’t happy. He was tired of paying freelancers, for one thing. The Arts and Culture page was an “extravagance” that the paper could no longer afford. Andy, my mentor and ally, was suddenly gone. Fortunately, he was well-known and respected in Prague’s small but lively English-American press corps, and he soon found other work.

I stayed in touch with Tim Gosling, who had a second gig at a construction and investment journal that was housed near the top floor of a building on Wenceslas Square. He gave me a few other stories on the business beat. I did a story on a proposed expansion of the airport in Budapest, and another story on a proposed expansion of a highway north of Prague. But to be honest, by then I was somewhat disgusted and disillusioned with the CBW’s treatment of Andy, and its seeming indifference to the good work he (we) had done.

Also, at the time, I found I was somewhat bored with journalism, and was anxious to have a go at writing fiction for awhile. So I gradually stopped dropping by the magazine, stopped sending emails, and sort of quietly slipped away.


A couple of years passed. I wrote my first novel, which was just that: A “first” novel, every page revealing all my influences and all my inexperience. I wrote short stories, and occasionally sent columns back home to The Times-Standard.

Then one day I heard, through the grapevine, that Dinah Spritzer, the formidable news editor at The Prague Post, had left.

An instinct told me to get in touch with her successor, Kim Hiss. So I sent an email, introducing myself, and with a few story suggestions. She didn’t reply immediately, but from time to time, I would write a short note outlining some ideas.

Then, one day, right in the middle of a lesson, my phone rang. Normally, as a teacher I frowned upon students using mobile phones in class. I myself hardly ever received phone calls, so it wasn’t really an issue. However, something told me to answer the phone, so I apologized to the students and answered it.

“Hello, this is Kim Hiss calling from the Prague Post.”

I jumped out of the desk, motioning to the students, who could see my excitement, and nodded encouragingly.

Kim wanted to know if I could meet that evening for coffee to discuss some of the story ideas I’d mentioned in my emails. I told her I was teaching at the moment, so we quickly agreed to meet at a certain café that evening on Vodickova Street near Wenceslas Square.


Kim arrived at the café, and we spotted each other. We sat down and the waiter brought us two espressos. Kim was in her late twenties, and from what I had read was from the East Coast, and had written for Field and Stream before coming to Prague.

“The thing I liked about your emails,” Kim said, “is that you pitch stories. So many people send me emails saying, ‘I’d really like to write for the Post’ and stuff like that. But they never pitch anything. They never have any stories to offer. So that’s why I wanted to see you.”

She had jotted down some of my story ideas, and over the next half hour or so, we hashed them out, one by one.

Finally, we settled on an idea that I’d proposed about senior citizens. That idea had occurred to me while riding the buses, trams and metro. Often I’d see old people, looking tired and dim, getting on and off, in sad contrast to the young Czechs, the millennials, with their iPods and iPhones, their jeans, bright t-shirts and sneakers bought at the New Yorker and Marks and Spencer, freshly returned from trips to Paris, to Rome, to L.A., with tickets bought cheaply online. I tried looking at this new generation of Czechs through the eyes of their elders, who had lived through many privations and restrictions during a half century of Communism. It was speculation, but it seemed to me that they must at times have felt bitter, that they were missing out.

Kim liked this angle. As we finished our coffee (she insisted on putting the bill on the Post), she told me to send her a formal pitch, which she would then submit to the managing editor, Frank Kuznik. Leaving the café, I thanked Kim for giving me a chance. It had been long time since I had done any journalism, and I suddenly realized I had missed it.

Kim scrutinized me for a moment:

“Yeah, I’ll bet you have,” she said.


I fired the pitch off in the morning, and later in the day got the green light to go ahead researching the story. I had two weeks to turn the story around. The gods seemed to be behind me, for everything quickly fell into place. By chance, one of my students, Jirina, had a relative, “Babichka,” who was in her nineties, and had lived through both World Wars, as well as Communism.

We had dinner at the grandmother’s house, and with Jirina acting as translator, enjoyed listening to the old woman’s memories about the bad old days, as well as her reflections on the present.

“It’s good,” she reflected. “These days you go in the shops and there are lots of things to buy.”

One of my good friends, Sonia, agreed to an interview. She was a prototypical Czech millennial, frequently jetting off on trips around the Continent (travel was restricted during Communism), and singing Latin-Alternative rock in a club in Mala Strana.

“I respect what the older generation had to go through,” Sonia said. “But that doesn’t mean I have to live my life that way.”

Another stroke of good luck came a few days later when, while strolling across Old Town Square between classes, I ran into Prague Mayor Pavel Bem. He was just coming from hearing a speech the prime minister had given from the balcony at Tyn Church marking the anniversary of the First World War.

A few survivors of that war had been in attendance, wearing their uniforms and war medals, which may have put the mayor in the right mood. For when I approached him, introducing myself and explaining my story, about how elderly Czech citizens who grew up during the Communist era seemed to be missing out on today’s “Czech Dream,” the mayor nodded quickly and answered:

“Senior citizens are a measure of the health and wealth of the State,” the mayor said. He went on to add that there was a proposal at the state level that was being considered which, if approved would provide a modest increase to the senior citizen’s monthly pensions.

I rounded out the story by traveling to a senior center on the far west side of the city. I spoke with the director, who very obligingly sat down for a half hour interview. We talked about the plight of seniors, especially in light of the escalating cost of living in Prague. The director said the the center was trying to offer programs that would help connect Czech senior citizens into today’s tech-driven world; for instance, by offering Internet and mobile phone training.

I interviewed other young Czechs, including one of my students, Daniel, who was a lawyer for the Ministry of EU Affairs. As we talked over beers, Daniel seemed impressed.

“I’ve only known you as a teacher,” Daniel said. “But as a journalist, I see you are like a fish in water, as we say in Czech.”

As I said, everything just seemed to fall into place on that story. I submitted it to Kim well before the two-week deadline. She suggested a comment from someone from the state Labor and Social Affairs Ministry. This was arranged by one of the Czech staffers, who called the ministry directly and got a quote, which rounded out the story.


When the story ran, I went to a tabak in my neighborhood where copies of the Post and other newspapers were sold. I purchased a copy and opened it. My story was there, on Page Three. OK, not the front page, but still, I had done it. Finally, I had been published in The Prague Post. I thought about that day, more than three years before, when I had received that stern, admonishing email from Dinah Spritzer, about how she knew people with 20 years experience who couldn’t write anything, etc, etc.

I looked at my story, held it up: Take that Dinah Spritzer.

Looking back on that experience, if I were to offer any advice to anyone looking to be a journalist, it would be this: Hang in there. Don’t get discouraged. If you can’t beat ‘em, you can at least outlast them.

Actually, Dinah had been “write” about many things. I blushed when I thought about my first arriving in Prague, blindly pitching stories without knowing anything about the culture. A lot of my ideas were bad, after all. Also, following the Czech news carefully, as she had advised, had given me a leg up on the issues, as well as the kind of stories likely to appeal to Post editors.

Still, everyone has to start somewhere. It was Andy who had helped me get my feet on the ground. So my advice, in terms of editors, is to shop around. One editor might say, ‘Get out of here, kid, you bother me.’ But you never know what the next one will say.

And finally, look around, listen: You never know when a great story is sitting right next to you on the bus.

James Tressler, a journalist and novelist whose books include “Lost Coast D.A.” and “Letters from Istanbul, Vol. 1, is a former Times-Standard reporter. He lives in Istanbul.

Humboldt Co. Sheriff’s Deputy Confronted by Group of Angry Transients in Garberville, 911 Call Needed to Bring the Officer Assistance

Kym Kemp / Saturday, Aug. 30 @ 7:50 p.m. / News

Photo caption: According to a witness, the first to be handcuffed was the man in the white hat. (Image provided by a reader.)

On Tuesday, August 26, a Humboldt County Sheriff’s deputy and a large number of transients became embroiled in a loud and hostile altercation that made several citizens fear for the officer’s safety. 911 was called to bring him assistance.

Southern Humboldt is a community increasingly divided about the large population of transients who camp near towns and frequent the streets. Some residents and business owners, citing anti-social behavior on the part of the homeless, have been trying to keep large groups of the homeless from congregating in clumps on the sidewalks and near the shops. According to Lt. Steve Knight of the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, Ray’s Food Place in Garberville has “an ongoing request to move people who loiter in their lot.”

In the late afternoon on Tuesday, a sheriff’s deputy, seeing a number of men with what he described as large backpacks and a possible open container of alcohol on Ray’s Food Place’s property, requested they move along. According to Knight, some of the men refused.

One, Knight said, “became agitated and did not do what he was told.” According to Knight, the officer detained that man in handcuffs. Then he detained another.

One person who provided the photo (see right) and preferred to be anonymous wrote, “[The] guy in [the] white hat didn’t speak English and got whooped by the cop…, so did another that yelled police brutality.” 

According to Knight, eight to ten other transients “started yelling, became hostile and refused to back up.”

“Passing motorists and pedestrians, several citizens got involved and came to the officer’s aid,” said Knight.

One of those who came to help the officer is Garberville firefighter, Alfred Williams.

Williams described what he saw to the Lost Coast Outpost. “We were just clearing a smoke check at the transient camp on Sprowel Creek Rd.” Williams said he heard “the officer call for back up code 3 … [I] saw him in front of Ray’s with 20+ [transients] yelling, photographing and videoing him.” Williams continued to describe the scene:

When l stopped there were 2 males detained and [the officer] was taking down a male he had directed multiple times to leave. I asked if he needed any assistance and he told me to watch one male who wasn’t detained and to try to keep the public at a safe distance until CHP arrived to assist.

People were yelling that he can’t do that to people and were mad at him taking the guy down but l personally didn’t see the officer do anything wrong or excessive. 

Williams said that he saw three CHP units arrive to assist the beleaguered deputy. Later, he believes, another sheriff’s vehicle arrived.

Sai McCrady, who works nearby, explained that when he arrived around 5:30 p.m. reinforcements for the officer had arrived. He said he saw multiple law enforcement on the scene. According to McCrady, there were many “police vehicles, mostly cruisers with at least one truck.” He described the scene looking like the “OK Corral standoff between a small force of Police and Transients.” 

Then, McCrady said that he also saw “many transients either being questioned or bystanding.” 

According to Williams, the tense standoff calmed down after the officer explained “his actions to some of the people complaining and l think they then understood his actions, or at least saw his point of view.”

Lt. Knight stated, “People were detained, but there were no arrests.”

What? You Missed Bigfoot Days? Take a Quick Look at All the Fun Here

Kym Kemp / Saturday, Aug. 30 @ 1:54 p.m. / Celebration

If you missed the craziness that is Willow Creek’s 54th annual parade and festival, then scroll down through this photo record of what you missed. If you did go, see if you were caught by the photographers.

For the record, the military type vehicles are not owned by the government but instead by a private citizen. Apparently, Willow Creek is now capable of withstanding a zombie invasion or any other apocalyptic scenario.

(We figure you all might have some captions, comments, or tagging to do so we numbered the photos to make referring to the correct one easier.)









Top photos by Scott Binder. Bottom provided by another reader.