Southern Humboldt’s Eaglet Hatched

Kym Kemp / Tuesday, April 15 @ 2:59 p.m. / Nature

To those impatient for the Humboldt Bay Eagle Cam to show a hatchling or two bumbling about the nest, local wildlife photographer Talia Rose has taken photos of a tiny eagle offspring in the Benbow area of Southern Humboldt.

For several years, Rose has watching the Benbow area for eagles. Year before last a mated pair hatched and raised an eaglet but last year eagles were unsuccessful in nesting. To Rose’s delight though, this year the nest has been put to good use. About a week ago, Rose hiked to the nest area and spied a hatchling peeking over the edge. The above photo was taken recently when Rose brought a three foot long lens to the area to capture shots of the tiny inhabitant.

She doesn’t know how old the baby was at that time she first went up but she believes, “it was pretty new.” This eaglet, she says, is the first confirmed hatch in Humboldt County.

Ha! Take that, Humboldt Bay eagles… . On the other hand, the Bay nest has two eggs.

To see more of the Benbow nest and other wildlife go to County Line Wild on Facebook. 

To check the progress of the Humboldt Bay eagle eggs, go here.



(UPDATED) Breaking: HCSO Investigating Alleged Armed Robbery

Kym Kemp / Tuesday, April 15 @ 1:12 p.m. / Crime

Details are still emerging in this unfolding story. The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) is investigating an armed robbery. Female suspects are accused of having used a knife to take unknown property at a cabin near Trinidad. Law enforcement had a vehicle detained in the Moonstone Beach area as of a few minutes before one this afternoon.

Lt. Steve Knight, spokesperson for the HCSO explained that not much information was known at this point. “It is still real early,” he said. The important thing, he said, is that nobody was injured in the alleged robbery. 

Law enforcement is attempting to locate another vehicle associated with the incident. As soon as more information is available, we will update.


UPDATE, 4:10 p.m.: From the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office:

On 04-15-2014, at approximately 11:45 a.m., the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office received a call from two adult female victims who said they had just been robbed at knifepoint. Deputies responded and met with the victims in the 4900 block of Dows Prairie Road, McKinleyville.

When the deputies arrived, the victims told the investigating deputy they were gambling at Blue Lake Casino when they met up with two females. The victims knew one of the females and asked for a ride to McKinleyville. The two females agreed to give the victims a ride to McKinleyville. While enroute the two females told the victims they needed to make a stop at a residence in Trinidad and drove there first. In Trinidad, the front passenger exited the vehicle, and another female got into the passenger seat. The driver then told the victims she would now drive them to McKinleyville. While enroute to McKinleyville, the driver drove the victims onto Dows Prairie Road. The driver stopped the car in the 4900 block of Dows Prairie Road. The female who just got in the front passenger seat of the car in Trinidad, then turned around and brandished a knife at the victims, while demanding money from them. The victims gave the suspect their money and a cell phone. They were then able to escape the vehicle and run into the brush and hide. After the vehicle left they called the Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies searched the area for the suspects’ vehicle, a 1995 Red Mitsubishi Eclipse, and located it parked at Moonstone Beach. Deputies also located a female in the vehicle who told them it was her car, but she was not involved in the robbery. The victims were brought to the scene and confirmed the female the deputies had detained was not one of the suspects. Deputies are currently working to identify the two female suspects. No one was injured in the robbery.

Anyone with information for the Sheriff’s Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriffs Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.

HSU Plans Remembrance Event for Bus Accident Victims

Andrew Goff / Tuesday, April 15 @ 11:03 a.m. / Community

Press release from Humboldt State University President Rollin Richmond:

Humboldt State University continues to grieve over last week’s I-5 bus accident that took the lives of 10, including staff member, Arthur Arzola, and a group of young people filled with hope and promise. At least 30 others were injured.

This was a tragedy that we will never forget, and one that affected people throughout California. In the coming weeks, there will be memorial events and funerals across the state, and Humboldt State will send representatives to many of them.

On campus, a remembrance event is scheduled for 12:30 p.m., this Thursday, April 17, on the UC Quad. We will gather as a campus community and an HSU family to honor those who were affected, and to show our care for their friends and families. Later in the day, there will be a candlelight vigil on the UC Quad. The gathering will begin around 5 p.m.

Please consider taking part in one or both of these events. We have all been deeply impacted by this terrible accident, and there is value and strength in coming together as a community to support one another. Thank you to the many students and staff who are participating in organizing these activities for us.

I want to thank everyone who has been involved in responding to this incident. The campus effort been tremendous and heartfelt.

In the hours and days following the tragedy, HSU staff and faculty worked around the clock to answer questions, provide counseling and outreach to the families affected. We welcomed students on the two buses that made it safely to campus, and provided them a great experience despite the difficult circumstances. Our Spring Preview went forward and was a success, with more than 500 students and their families getting a chance to learn more about our campus.

I am so proud, so privileged, and so deeply grateful to be a part of this institution. The dedication of everyone involved in responding to this incident, and of those who took on extra work to keep regular campus operations on track, was exemplary. It was a true testament to the warmth and resolve of our community. Your contributions and caring have been applauded widely in the CSU and beyond. Thank you!

One of the most moving experiences for me personally was having a chance to visit with some of the injured students at hospitals in the Chico area. A small group of us from HSU met with them, and many spoke of their continued focus on their future in college. I was much impressed by the courage and determination of many of the students I spoke with. They clearly cared about the future that Humboldt State University was offering them. Other HSU representatives have since visited the students again, also meeting with parents and other family members, and I ask that you join me in keeping them in your thoughts during this difficult time.

These are emotionally challenging times for all of us at Humboldt State. Those who participated directly in our emergency operations will be provided with first responder counseling sessions. Any student needing counseling or guidance related to the accident should contact the Counseling Center on campus at 826-3236. Faculty and staff may use the Employee Assistance Program at 443-7358.

Also, an information line has been established and will be staffed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at least through this Friday. It is for families and others from off campus seeking information, as well as for campus departments seeking guidance or direction. The number is (707) 826-6327.

With great appreciation and admiration for all you do,

Rollin C. Richmond
President, Humboldt State University

In Remembrance of Cameron: Opening Day of Southern Humboldt’s Little League

Kym Kemp / Tuesday, April 15 @ 8:57 a.m. / Community

Saturday, April 12, was the first day of Little League in Southern Humboldt this year …and the last day that a uniform numbered four will be given to any major playing for the group.

​Elijah Roberts, Cooper Scott & Orin Paula carry out the #4 Jersey made by South Fork students. [All photos provided by Becky Crossland.]

Cameron Varnell’s number four jersey was retired this weekend. South Fork woodshop and art department created a wooden facsimile to be displayed in memory of the boy who died on April 16, 2013 after battling five years with leukemia. Many of his former teammates are playing their last year of majors this season and, in Varnell’s honor, wanted to retire his number. 

After carrying out the wooden shirt, the boys return to their families and friends holding up four fingers each in salute of their friend​, Cameron.

Every kid playing in the majors is wearing a black number 4 for Cameron. Many of the adults are wearing number four also.

​Zane Schaafsma pitching for the A’s while Shane Kirk gets ready to run,. The number four patch is sewn above both boys’ hearts.

This year, the Southern Humboldt Little League has made some large changes. There is a new batting cage on the major’s playing area. The League built a new t-ball field and, with the donation of lumber from Whitethorn Construction, is replacing all the bleachers. A new scoreboard donated by Dazey’s Garden Supply last year brightens up another corner.

After selling 1700 plastic water bottles two years ago, the League made a commitment to provide free filtered water for everyone and stainless steel water bottles for each player. Becky Crossland, President of the group explained that the members wanted to do their part to reduce the use of plastic. She said proudly of their new policy, “That is us at Little League trying to make the right step forward as far as the world goes.”

​John VanMeter, who had been involved with SoHum Little League since it’s birth, throws out the first pitch​.

From the youngest players to the oldest, each began on Saturday the process of practicing what their coaches had been helping them learn.

​Casterlin Little Leaguers dog pile for the ball while a Redway Ranger runs home.
Ayden Butterworth-Bignon pitching for the Pirates​.
​Sean Hassal-Hass hits a solid base hit for the Dodgers​.

Darren Bruce of the Pirates pitching​.

Travis “T-Bone” Way gets ready to hit​.

Photo of Cameron Varnell & Thank you picture for Dazey’s Supply​.

A table near the field holds a thank you photo for a supporter on the left, a photo of Cameron Varnell on the right and a baseball signed by former teammates last year with well wishes for the boy in the center. The signed memento was put in a glass case and presented to Varnell’s mother this weekend. 

A group ​Little League players check out the photo of Cameron Varnell​.

Death doesn’t often touch Little League fields. The loss of one so young last year struck cold ice into the hearts of parents and left a hole that each child struggled to make sense of in their own way.

As a fresh season begins, as flowers bloom and the sweet scent of newly cut grass wafts across home plate, this year’s players have each other and a greater awareness that games, while important, are not the biggest things you can lose.

CR’s Journey Back From the Brink: Part Two

Ryan Burns / Tuesday, April 15 @ 7:04 a.m. / Education

CR’s Humanities building, one of several new structures on the Eureka main campus.

Note: This is the second of five parts in the LoCO’s weeklong series on College of the Redwoods and its recovery from accreditation trouble. Read yesterday’s installment here. Today’s installment examines CR’s money trouble.

When College of the Redwoods President/Superintendent Kathryn Smith sat down with some assembled financial experts for a close look at the school’s books back in 2012, they weren’t sure what they’d find.

“We knew something was wrong but didn’t know exactly what it was,” Smith said. After a couple of months, they found it: nearly $800,000 in bad debts that had been lurking in the books for years. These debts mostly stemmed from unpaid student fees — dorm residents and out-of-state students, for example, who’d racked up hundreds or thousands of dollars in bills that had never been collected.

Why not? In part because those fees are a pittance compared to the main funding sources for community colleges like CR, Smith said. The fees students pay per unit (currently $46 at CR) are pennies next to state apportionment money (currently $4,600 per full-time student). So College of the Redwoods, along with other community colleges in California, according to Smith, made a practice of being lenient to the point of ignoring these overdue student fees. Further obscuring matters, former president Jeff Marsee had hired additional top-level administrators and reshuffled responsibilities. The debts got lost in the mix.

Making matters worse, those unpaid fees were still being counted in the “assets” column of CR’s books. “So we looked better [on paper] than we actually were, but we didn’t have the cash,” Smith explained.

CR has since written off that bad debt, turning it over to a collections agency — the first time the school had done such a thing. The college was left with a fund balance of 2.9 percent, meaning CR had less than 3 percent of its annual expenditures sitting in its reserve account. The state requires a reserve fund balance of at least 5 percent.

Meanwhile, student enrollment had dropped significantly. A number of factors contributed to this decline, including the lousy economy and changing demographics of the area, but the accreditation woes certainly didn’t help.

“We had news crews out here interviewing our students,” Smith recalled. “They [the students] were saying, ‘I don’t even know if my credits will transfer; I’m wasting my time here.’” The school was still accredited, of course — CR has never lost its accreditation — but school officials couldn’t seem to get that message to every student and potential student. “We tried, but they were still afraid. And so they quit coming,” Smith said.

The money troubles weren’t limited to old debt and student retention. Marsee’s presidency was marked by, among other things, his expansionist vision. Under his leadership, CR new instructional sites in McKinleyville, Arcata and Garberville and an expanded site in Eureka — all this at a time when state funding for community colleges was shrinking. This rapid growth contributed to the depletion of CR’s financial reserves. In Jan. 2012, hoping to stanch some of the bleeding, CR’s Board of Trustees voted to close the Arcata and McKinleyville sites.

Still more cuts were necessary. In Dec. 2012 CR announced that it was eliminating 39 positions. While many of those positions were vacant at the time, 16 people were laid off, including a gardener and an office worker at the Fort Bragg site, where people felt bitter and overlooked. More on that later in this series.

The Board of Trustees took further action, voting to voluntarily eliminate their $240-per-month stipends and contribute $300 per month to their health benefits. (The board has also been reduced in size from nine members to seven.) Eventually, most everyone on the campus payroll took one for the team: Classified staff accepted a 6 percent pay cut; the faculty union took an 8.7 percent cut; managers took a 8.83 percent drop; and administrators accepted a 9 percent salary reduction.

Those cuts will remain in effect until CR’s reserve fund balance goes back above 6 percent of annual expenditures and the state’s per-student funding gets increased, Smith said.

Tomorrow we’ll take a look at how the CR community came to together to address the shortcomings that had been identified by the accrediting commission.


Total Lunar Eclipse Tonight

Kym Kemp / Monday, April 14 @ 7:24 p.m. / Oddities

Graphic from the US National Weather Service.

In spite of the clouds which rolled in this evening, the US National Weather Service out of Eureka thinks most of Humboldt will still have a chance to view tonight’s lunar eclipse.  The full moon tonight will pass through the earth’s shadow dimming the moon’s light. When this happens, the moon often turns a rusty color or “blood red” which leads some people to call it a blood moon. 

According to the graphic provided by the weather service below, the clouds are predicted to move out of the area by 10 p.m. tonight but some coastal communities may still experience low clouds which will block residents’ view of the eclipse. 

Right now the fog is rolling up the South Fork of the Eel River. It has reached Miranda and appears to be moving rapidly southward along the waterway.


If you miss this lunar eclipse, don’t worry. Another one will be occur on October 8 of this year.

HUMBOLDT APPROVED: What is Humboldt’s Best River Spot?

Andrew Goff / Monday, April 14 @ 3:33 p.m. / Humboldt Approved

PREVIOUSLY: All Past Humboldt Approved Winners

Holy balls it was a nice weekend here in HumCo. So glorious was the weather, that, for the first time this year, your Lost Coast Outpost started really thirsting for that imminent summah summah summertime. Oh, man. We’re gonna go camping, barbecue it up, maybe not wear a jacket for a few days … gonna be sweet.

Oh ya. You better believe there’s also gonna be some serious Humboldt river times. Now, we think we have some pretty good spots in our rotation, but we wanted to poll the audience in case there’s a spot we’re missing. So tell us, LoCO Army, what is Humboldt County’s best river spot? You decide what equates being tops, whether it be sandy beaches, remoteness, big rocks to jump off and/or proximity to a place you can buy more beer. Your call. 

As with other similar topics, we know that some of you will want to squelch any info about your favorite river sanctuary before it reaches the light of LoCO. While we don’t agree with this philosophy, feel free to upvote your least favorite river spot in an attempt to confuse the yahoo stampedes, if you must. We hope you’ll want to share nature with your fellow man, but we won’t force you. Instructions on how to make your vote count below:

To vote, look through the comments of this Humboldt Approved poll. If someone has already nominated the answer you would give for this week’s category, click the upvote arrow. If you don’t see your desired Humboldt Approved answer nominate it in a comment for others to upvote. (Please be careful to not duplicate answers; redundant answers will be deleted and potential associated upvotes will be lost.) Feel free to make your case by replying to/cheering on the answer you love most, but again the number by the arrows on the initial nomination is what counts.

You can vote for as many nominees as you deem worthy but, of course, the more you do that the more watered down your initial vote becomes. That’s math.

We reserve the right to delete superfluous/lame comments that make the voting/comment section hard to sift through. Please try not to get offended when your comment battle reply is deleted. We’re trying to do something here.

While many weeks we look for two winners — one winner from the metropolises of Eureka and Arcata, and one from Humboldt’s smaller communities — due to the nature of this category, this time we’re gonna limit it to one. Voting closes next Friday at noon and soon after a winner will be declared.

Help us out, Humboldtians. We wanna go rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on a river … but which one?

Also, we could use the winning spot for some baptizin’!