Rio Dell Has a New Police Chief

Andrew Goff / Yesterday @ 12:53 p.m. / Government

City of Rio Dell press release: 

Chief Jeff

The City of Rio Dell is pleased to announce that Mr. Jeff Conner has accepted an offer to serve as the Chief of Police for the Rio Dell Police Department. Conner started his law enforcement career in 1993 as a Patrol Officer in Rio Dell under Chief Rick Shipley. Conner was promoted to the position of Sergeant and Acting Chief of Police before he began work at the County of Humboldt in 2002. He has since served in a reserve capacity for the department. Conner has an undergraduate degree in forestry from UC Berkeley.

“The demands upon the position of the Chief of Police are great even though this is a small city and small department. Jeff Conner has demonstrated his thoughtful character, enthusiasm and has a respect for and understanding of this community. He is ready for the challenge.” stated Rio Dell City Manager Kyle Knopp.

Upon accepting the offer, Mr. Conner stated “I started my law enforcement career in Rio Dell so it seems fitting that I end my career in the same city, passing on the experience and knowledge that I gained in twenty-four years of law enforcement.”

An open recruitment for the position began in August and elicited statewide responses. In conjunction with the City Manager, an Ad Hoc committee composed of the Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem was formed to review potential candidates and identify prospects for the next Chief of Police.

Mayor Frank Wilson identified the Police Department as a major asset to the community and stated “It is important that Rio Dell maintain its own police force. I’m very happy to have Mr. Conner aboard to help move the department forward.”

A special session of the Rio Dell City Council has been called for December 13, 2017 at 4:00 pm to confirm the appointment. Conner is expected to begin work before the end of the year and will have a formal swearing in ceremony at the regularly scheduled City Council Meeting on January 2, 2018.


Sheriff’s Office Seeking Victims of Trinity County Man Arrested on Child Molestation Charges

Andrew Goff / Yesterday @ 11:30 a.m. / Crime

Dennis Kirby | TCSO

Trinity County Sheriff’s Office press release:


In early December of 2017, Dennis Kirby (Hyampom, CA) was arrested on allegations of child molestation. 

It is believed that additional victims may be outstanding. For this reason, it is requested that any individuals with information pertaining to potential victims, contact Detective Josh Ford at 530-623-8106.

Due to the sensitive nature of the matter, no further information can be released. Thank you for your cooperation. 

FedEx Driver Rescued Near Happy Camp After Route 96 Crash Left Him Stranded Overnight Down Steep Embankment

John Ross Ferrara / Yesterday @ 11 a.m. / Emergencies

Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office press release:

On Monday, December 11, 2017 at about 8:32 p.m., the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) received a report that a Federal Express (FedEx) delivery driver was missing and was last seen around 3:30 p.m. on the same day after making a delivery in the Happy Camp area.

An investigation by SCSO indicated the missing man, Mr. Jesse James Flagg, 26, of Redding, California did not return home after the delivery in Happy Camp and he failed to make at least one other delivery along the SR 96 highway.

26 year old Jesse James Flagg of Redding | SCSO.

After ground and roadway searches were conducted along the SR 96 corridor with negative results, the SCSO, CHP, and United States Forest Service (USFS) units initiated a large-scale search early on December 12, 2017, with the primary effort focused on the SR 96 corridor between Happy Camp and Yreka, about 70 road miles.
The CHP’s Northern Division also assigned a CHP helicopter (H-16) to search the SR 96 highway and surrounding areas for the missing driver commencing early morning on December 12, 2017.

On Tuesday, December 12, at about 10:10 a.m., SCSO received a report that the H-16 helicopter crew spotted tire marks on SR 96 between milepost markers 48.7 and 49.0. A USFS unit responded to the area and later spotted what appeared to be the missing 2017 Nissan delivery van about 20 feet down a steep embankment.

The vehicle was immobilized by trees and debris over the embankment on SR 96 between Cave Mountain and China Point. USFS, CHP, SCSO and fire rescue units responded and Mr. Flagg was found at the scene alive and responsive.

According to later reports, Mr. Flagg was able to extricate himself from his vehicle but fell or slid down the embankment about 60 feet where he was stranded until rescued by first responders. He was treated, and transported to a Medford, Oregon hospital via helicopter for further examination and treatment.

According to Sheriff Jon Lopey, “We were very concerned about Mr. Flagg’s welfare and we are relieved he was found alive and he is now receiving the care he needs.I would like to take this opportunity to commend the involved SCSO, USFS, CHP ground and air units, and fire rescue personnel that played pivotal roles in the search and rescue of Mr. Flagg. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Flagg and his family and we hope he is able to return home soon. Anyone with information about this incident is urged to contact the SCSO’s 24-hour Dispatch Center at (530) 841-2900.”

Once Threatened by Landslide, The Iconic Trinidad Memorial Lighthouse is Now On The Move

Ted Pease / Yesterday @ 10:53 a.m. / Infrastructure

Trinidad residents Patti Fleschner, left, and Ruby Rollings were on the scene on a sunny Wednesday morning as work crews started site preparation to move the massive Trinidad Memorial Lighthouse 20 feet onto firmer gound. Fleschner chairs the Trinidad Civic Club’s Memorial Preservation Committee, and Rollings is a cultural monitor on the project for the Trinidad Rancheria. Ted Pease photo.


Construction crews started work Wednesday morning in preparation for moving the iconic Trinidad Memorial Lighthouse at the top of a crumbling bluff over Trinidad Harbor.

Patti Fleschner, a longtime member of the Trinidad Civic Club, chairs the Memorial Preservation Committee. She was on hand as workers from Wahlund Construction and Sequoia Construction Specialists started work to move the massive lighthouse about 20 feet east onto what engineers say is firmer ground.

For Fleschner and supporters of the relocation to save the Memorial, the daunting project is a labor of love, both for the lighthouse itself, and for the families of the 238 people buried at sea, whose names are etched into a marble memorial wall at the site.

The Memorial is threatened by erosion, which has large sections of the bluff on which the lighthouse, the original one-ton brass fog bell, the memorial wall and a small parking lot, slumping downhill toward the harbor. Engineers gave the Civic Club, which owns the footprint on which the Memorial stands, a tight deadline to move the heavy structure before this winter’s rainy season, which normally would already have begun.

Construction crews started site preparation work to pour a new foundation slab for the lighthouse. A crane will arrive before Christmas to hoist the 25-foot-tall concrete lighthouse and move it to its new, theoretically more solid, base at the top of the staircase descending to Old Home Beach. The crane will also move the 2,000-pound brass bell, which originally occupied the bell house on Trinidad Head, perhaps onto a city easement on Edward Street directly across from the Trinidad Bay B&B.

“This is a sacred place, ” Fleschner said, “just as the ancient Tsauri Village site is a sacred place.”

The Memorial Lighthouse is “iconic for the whole county,” Fleschner said. Ruby Rollings, a Trinidad Rancheria member who is serving as cultural monitor for the project, nodded in agreement.

Fleschner is excited and energized that the relocation project is under way, and grateful to financial supporters of the $100,000 project, and to contractors like Wahlund and Sequoia and others, whose bids for the complicated project were “very generous.” The initial relocation of the memorial structures will cost about $43,000, Fleschner said.

“We believe in the possibility of everything,” Fleschner said.

Workers have mapped out the footprint for a foundation slab to support the Memorial when it is moved by crane in the next few weeks. The one-ton brass fog bell, original to the Trinidad Head lighthouse, will be moved to make way. Ted Pease photos.



OBITUARY: Douglas Verne Belts, 1952-2017

LoCO Staff / Yesterday @ 7:46 a.m. / Obits

Douglas Verne Belts was born in Eureka, California on May 13, 1952 to Pauline and Darrel Belts and left this earth on December 1, 2017. He grew up in Eureka and attended local schools, graduating from Eureka High School in 1970.

Doug worked for many years for Larry Thomas Distributers, eventually becoming sole owner of that business. After selling Larry Thomas Distributers, he worked at the Times-Standard, and briefly for Palco, before becoming a letter carrier for the U.S. Post Office in Arcata.

Doug was well liked by the people on his routes, making many friends among them. He even made such an impression on the students at one of the preschools on his route in McKinleyville that they made him a book of drawings and get-well wishes during one of his hospital stays. His co-workers at the Arcata Post Office loved him very much and many of them visited him several times during his illness at home, in the hospital and at hospice. Many also sent flowers and cards, well wishes and prayers.

Doug was a die-hard Raiders fan, never missing a game; an avid golfer, and an excellent billiards player.

Doug is preceded in death by his parents, Darrel and Pauline Belts and he is survived by his sister, Judith Carol Belts of Corvalis, Oregon, and her children.

He has left behind his wife of 34 years, Sheila, who worked tirelessly to care for him during his battle with cancer; his children, Kelli and her husband Kyle Sample, Sarah Patterson and her fiancé, Kevin Knauff, and Kevin Patterson and his partner Pearl Okazaki. He will also be greatly missed by his grandchildren: Parker Duncan, Takeshi Patterson, Kian Knauff, Bailey and Alexis Sample and their unborn sister, Emilia Gail Sample.

Doug’s death has surely left a hole in our hearts and the hearts of many who knew and loved him.

There will be a memorial service for Douglas on Sunday, December 17th, 2017 at 3 p.m. at the Chapel in the Redwoods, located on the Hospice of Humboldt Campus at 3327 Timber Fall Court, Eureka.

In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to Hospice of Humboldt, for their services were invaluable to our family.


The obituary above was submitted by Doug Belts’ family. The Lost Coast Outpost runs obituaries of Humboldt County residents at no charge. See guidelines here.

64-Year-Old Covelo Man Killed in Single-Vehicle Crash North of Willits Yesterday

Hank Sims / Yesterday @ 7:35 a.m. / Traffic

From the California Highway Patrol:

On12/12/2017, at approximately 1227 hours, a 2001 Dodge pick-up was being driven southbound on US-101 at approximately 65 mph, and at the south end of a straight stretch of roadway, prior to a left curve. The Dodge pick-up failed to negotiate the curve as the southbound lanes curved to the left. The Dodge pick-up crossed the solid white edge line and rumble strip, as well as the asphalt shoulder. The Dodge pick-up then descended the foliage covered hillside and the left front of the pick-up collided with a large tree. The vehicle came to rest off the roadway. The passenger in the pick-up self-extricated. The driver of the Dodge pick-up was trapped in the badly damaged cab of the vehicle. The driver was found to be deceased.

The driver’s information is “Withheld” pending notification of next of kin. The passenger, Edward Wilson of Concord, was transported from the scene by ambulance to Howard Memorial Hospital for treatment of his injuries.

The cause of this collision remains under investigation.

The California Highway Patrol was assisted at the scene by the Little Lake Fire Protection District, Veri-Health Ambulance, and the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office/Coroner.

Loleta School District Signs Resolution With U.S. Dept. of Education Agreeing to Address Racial Discrimination Against Native American Students

Ryan Burns / Tuesday, Dec. 12 @ 1:51 p.m. / Education

Loleta Elementary School. | Google Street View.

One quick note, before we get to the press release below: If you’re looking for background on this story, you can read this North Coast Journal story from Jan. 2, 2014 and this one from Dec. 13, 2012, and keep your eye out for links in this post. They lead to a variety of original documents.

Here’s the press release iissued today by the National Center for Youth Law:

Loleta, CA – Tribal leaders are hailing the news that Loleta Union Elementary School District has entered into a Voluntary Resolution Agreement with U.S. Department of Education. The Loleta School Board is scheduled to discuss the agreement at its December 13th board meeting, which will be held at 5 pm in Room 8 at the Loleta Elementary School.

Leaders from the Wiyot Tribe and the Bear River Band of the Rohnerville Rancheria are now requesting that the district meaningfully include tribal leaders and community members as the district works to fulfill the terms of the agreement.

“We appreciate that the district’s current leadership has agreed to address longstanding concerns of our community,” said Ted Hernandez, Tribal Chair of the Wiyot Tribe. “Entering into this agreement is an acknowledgement that the district can and must do better for our students.”

The agreement follows an investigation by the Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) into complaints that the Loleta Union Elementary School District was discriminating against Native students on the basis of race.

The Wiyot Tribe filed the complaint in December of 2013 and was  represented by the National Center for Youth Law, the ACLU of Northern California, and California Indian Legal Services. The OCR investigation found substantial evidence that the district had created a hostile environment for Native American students, disciplined Native students more harshly than other students, and failed to provide legally mandated services for students with disabilities. The complaint also charged the district with failing to pursue much-needed funding opportunities targeted to districts with significant Native populations.

The agreement requires the district to hire experts to address these problems and to establish a community oversight committee with the participation of the tribes along with other stakeholders.

Council member Madison Flynn says the Wiyot Tribe is ready to participate but, given the district’s troubling history, good faith measures are necessary.

“The district needs to hire a mutually agreeable expert that has the confidence of both the school employees and the community,” said Flynn. “If we are going to commit our time and resources to making this very ambitious plan work, we need to feel our engagement is meaningful and welcomed and that we will be treated as full partners.”

Specifically, tribal representatives are requesting that an outside expert facilitator manage the community oversight committee to ensure all voices are heard and valued. Given the multiple overlapping deadlines for implementing key pieces of the agreement within the next year, the tribal representatives want to ensure participation from the tribal councils, social service directors and parents of children at the school from both the Wiyot Tribe and the Bear River Band of the Rohnerville Rancheria, along with members of the school board, district officials, and representatives of the county Office of Education.

“We all need to pull together to accomplish the tasks set forth in the agreement,” said Vice-Chairperson Dakota McGinnis of the Bear River Band of the Rohnerville Rancheria. “Our children will need resources from Loleta and beyond to thrive and succeed.”

Attorney Denise H. Bareilles of California Indian Legal Services says the Stakeholder Equity Committee should form workgroups on: School Discipline, Evaluation, Placement and Service Implementation for Students with Disabilities, Harassment Based on Race or National Origin, and Review of Policies Related to Participation in Graduation Exercises and Extracurricular Activities. “The OCR investigation identified deficiencies in each of these areas. Any plan to fix these problems will require concentrated and focused attention,” said Bareilles. 

The tribal representatives recognize that this work will require resources. Noting that the district has a history of failing to pursue much-needed funding opportunities, the tribes are continuing to call upon the district to take advantage of the tribes’ familiarity and expertise in funding opportunities targeted at Native American students. “We stand ready to help,” said McGinnis. “We hope the district is ready to take us up on this offer.”

On Thursday, December 14th, the Wiyot Tribe, Bear River Band of Rohnerville Rancheria, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and California Indian Legal Services (CILS) will host a community meeting regarding the agreement between the Loleta Union Elementary School District and the U.S. Department of Education.

The meeting will take place from 6 – 7 p.m. at the Tish Non Community Center, Bear River Band of the Rohnerville Rancheria, and is intended for parents with children attending Loleta School, interested tribal members, and tribal staff. Those who attend will learn more about the agreement, how to participate in a stakeholder committee to monitor the district’s compliance with the agreement, and how to report any ongoing issues to OCR.