Arcata Police Nab Serial Tree-Mangling Suspect; Four Cherry Trees On the Plaza Among the Victims

Hank Sims / Thursday, May 18 @ 8:13 a.m. / Crime

From the Arcata Police Department:

 

On 05/13/17 at about 3:50 PM, officers from the Arcata Police Department were investigating the recent vandalism to multiple trees in the downtown area of Arcata.

Acting on recently obtained security footage from the Intermodal Transit Facility, the main bus station in Arcata, officers had identified a possible suspect, Kenyatta Jones, age 42 of Arcata.  Jones, who is known to officers in Arcata, was identified in security footage breaking the top off of a tree at the transit facility.

When contacted by officers, Jones admitted to breaking the tops off of four cherry trees on the Arcata Plaza, tearing the limbs off trees on the 800 block of Ninth St., and damaging trees at the transit facility.

The estimated total economic impact of the above vandalism is $2,300.
Jones was subsequently taken into custody for PC 594(b)(1) - Felony Vandalism.

Jones was transported to the Humboldt County Correctional Facility where he was booked on the above charge.


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KHUM In-Depth: Let’s Talk About Sanctuary Cities on the North Coast

Bayley Brown / Thursday, May 18 @ 7:18 a.m. / Local Government

As the Trump administration continues to pursue stricter immigration policies, Sanctuary City status has become an increasingly controversial topic, fueling arguments within families, debates between friends and revealing deepening divisions in our country. One is tempted to ask: Are the tired, poor and huddled masses still welcome here?

Locally, the Eureka City Council and Humboldt County Board of Supervisors have both recently discussed immigration issues and this week the Arcata City Council was scheduled to decide if it should pursue Sanctuary City status.

At KHUM In Depth, we plan to try to understand this issue from a number of different points of view and in two parts. 

In Part One, we focus on “Sanctuary Cities” and “Sanctuary States,” which are jurisdictions that limit in some way their cooperation with federal authorities in the enforcement of U.S. immigration law. Is this a good idea or not? Are most undocumented locals here just to work? What do local police think about Sanctuary status? Is public safety a concern?  Are all undocumented immigrants protected? What about those who commit crimes? Can the federal government punish a locale for invoking Sanctuary status? What is ICE’s relationship to local police? What if California becomes a Sanctuary State? 

These are just some of the questions we pose in this edition of KHUM In Depth. We hear from U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Gov. Jerry Brown, two California state senators, ICE, Eureka Police Chief Andy Mills, Eureka City Councilman Austin Allison and a local legal immigrant opposed to the Sanctuary idea. 

KHUM In Depth: Sanctuary Cities hosted by Chuck Rogers and Lyndsey Battle and Saturday, May 20 at noon and Sunday, May 21 at 5 p.m. Download the podcast in iTunes and hear it in the player below:  

(AUDIO) KHUM In-Depth: Sanctuary Cities

And that’s just the beginning. Part Two will air in June and will focus on discussions with local undocumented immigrants and try to see this issue through their eyes. What does the future look like to them? How do they see their lives here right now? They hear the arguments about jobs and crime, but what do they think about it all? Does Sanctuary status ease their minds or not? Are their lives in such flux these days that they can’t look much beyond tonight or tomorrow? We’ll ask. Please join us. 

This program is generously sponsored by Mr. Fish. Intro and outro music courtesy Scuber Mountain.  



In Email to Sundberg, EPA Reaffirms Opposition to Beach Disposal of Dredge Spoils, But Eureka Official Insists It’s the Best Option

Ryan Burns / Wednesday, May 17 @ 4:25 p.m. / Environment , Government

This is how things look at Eureka’s public marina during low tide. | File photo by Richard Hendry.

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Supervisor Ryan Sundberg wasn’t trying to go over the head of regional EPA officials when he sent an email to a D.C. bigwig last week; he’d been asked to send it, he told the Outpost yesterday evening.

As we reported Tuesday, Sundberg had reached out to Jack Bowles, director of state and local relations at EPA headquarters, filling him in on the silt-bogged bureaucratic clusterfuck that’s currently bedeviling our local marinas. (See previous stories above.)

Sundberg, it turns out, is a member of the agency’s Local Government Advisory Committee, a group comprised of local officials, state representatives, environmental and labor interests from around the country. During a conference call he’d been asked about issues affecting our region. Sundberg mentioned our dredging debacle, and Bowles requested more info. Hence the email.

Yesterday, an EPA official from the San Francisco regional office responded to Sundberg with an email reiterating the agency’s opposition to dumping dredge spoils on a Samoa Peninsula beach. The stuff dredged up from the bay is roughly 70 percent fine sediment, called “fines.”

The official, whose name is Jason Brush, says the EPA, the Army Corps of Engineers and the California Coastal Commission all decided, back in 1998, that allowing beach disposal was a mistake, and it wouldn’t be allowed after the permit issued that year expired in 2007.

“Placement of fines on the beach or nearshore is not legally eligible for a Clean Water Act permit, and the agencies do not now wish to compound a prior error when alternatives are immediately available and the permitees [the City of Eureka and the Humboldt County Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District] have now had ample time to plan.”

In his email, Brush suggests three alternatives methods of dredge disposal.

First is the Humboldt Open Ocean Dredging Site (HOODS), the official EPA-designated disposal site established in 1995. It’s a square-shaped area located three miles offshore created explicitly for disposal of ocean dredged materials from Humboldt Bay and the larger North Coast.

“Although this would cost more initially, [the Harbor District] could then use their own small equipment for subsequent, more frequent dredging, using their limited upland capacity, and avoiding the trucking impacts of concern,” Brush writes.

His second suggestion is that the Harbor District use its own small dredge to clear the “highest priority areas” in the marinas, buying time to hire a contract dredger for the rest of the job.

“Finally,” Brush writes, “the Harbor [District] could also build a new larger capacity upland containment area which could be filled using their own equipment.”

Miles Slattery, Eureka’s director of parks and recreation, said the City has considered those alternatives — and many more — and they’re all either infeasible or more environmentally impactful than beach dredging. Other agencies have even told the City as much, he said.

He pointed to a 1997 report from the California Coastal Commission, which found that the overall environmental impacts of using the HOODS disposal site would be greater than beach disposal. 

That would be even more true today, Slattery reasoned, since studies of the sediment show that it’s much cleaner than it was two decades ago. 

“I can tell you right now there’s absolutely no impact to human health [from] being around this material,” he said, though he went on to acknowledge that there’s “definitely an aesthetics issue and a smell issue.”

But besides the environmental issues, barging dredged material to the HOODS site would be prohibitively expensive, Slattery said. Regarding the likelihood of the City and Harbor District using that site for its current dredging needs, Slattery said it’s “not probable.”

As for the option of taking a piecemeal approach, dredging 30,000 cubic yards per year over several years, then dewatering the material and depositing the spoils at the Samoa Lagoons upland site, that method would require as many as 20,000 truckloads, with the associated greenhouse gas emissions. 

Slattery said the City and the Harbor District have been working on this issue for years, seeking permits for upland disposal sites, pursuing grants for beneficial reuse opportunities and more. But the various options keep falling apart, for one reason or another.

During a recent conference call with regulatory agencies, for example, officials with the Coastal Commission nixed an upland disposal site that the City and Harbor District had been exploring for years. Called the Superbowl, it’s a bermed-in area by the Samoa airstrip that would have a large capacity for dredge spoils. 

But the Coastal Commission took that site off the table after finding that it was a wetland habitat home to sensitive plant species.

“We’re trying to make everybody happy and it’s not very easy to do that,” Slattery said.

The EPA scheduled a conference call with Slattery for 4 p.m. today. He told the Outpost he didn’t expect any major breakthroughs from the conversation.

Below is the email sent to Supervisor Ryan Sundberg from Jason Brush, acting assistant director for the EPA Region 9’s water division:

From: Brush, Jason <Brush.Jason@epa.gov>
Sent: Tuesday, May 16, 2017 1:02:29 PM
To: Sundberg, Ryan
Cc: Maier, Brent
Subject: Humboldt Bay Dredging
 
Dear Mr. Sundberg

Thank you for your outreach to EPA on this matter. I believe Brent Maier confirmed this with you, but I wanted to reach out to you personally to let you know we are following up with Mr. Slattery, as you suggested, tomorrow afternoon at 4pm. Please do let me know if you would like to join; you would be most welcome.

I want to assure you that EPA recognizes the significant need for dredging in the harbor. To be very clear, we have in no way prohibited dredging, and our efforts have focused on fostering dialog around a range and/or combination of disposal options for HBHRCD. We appreciate the City and HBHRCD’s “hybrid” suggestion, and strongly support the beneficial reuse of material that is ecologically appropriate to its setting (i.e. marsh restoration for fine grains, beach nourishment for sand). 

There are three suggestions that could be implemented immediately which do not involve the further placement of fines on the beach. First, if the priority is to dredge all the needed volume at once, that can quickly be approved for disposal at the EPA-designated ocean disposal site not far off shore. Although this would cost more initially, they could then use their own small equipment for subsequent, more frequent dredging, using their limited upland capacity, and avoiding the trucking impacts of concern. 

Alternatively, the Harbor could strategically dredge their highest priority areas now with their own small hydraulic dredge, up to the maximum available capacity in their upland sites. This would buy a bit more time to get a contract dredger on the job for ocean disposal of larger volumes in lower priority areas. This option also could happen immediately. Finally, the Harbor could also build a new larger capacity upland containment area which could be filled using their own equipment. 

I also want to be clear that the 2007 discharges you refer to were not a new emergency permit, but the final episode under the 1998 permit. The Corps, the State (Coastal Commission), and EPA agreed shortly after issuance that it was in error (under the wrong statutory authority and guidelines), but wanted to give HBHRCD time to plan alternatives. Placement of fines on the beach or nearshore is not legally eligible for a Clean Water Act permit, and the agencies do not now wish to compound a prior error when alternatives are immediately available and the permitees have now had ample time to plan.

Finally, there are important differences between Humboldt and Santa Cruz, the analogous site you mentioned in your request. First, the law covers them differently because of their geographic position relative to state and federal jurisdiction. Second, the Humboldt monitoring demonstrating beach effects lasting 4 months is not insignificant, and compares with Santa Cruz’s results showing no detectable effect the following day (in part because they only discharge 10,000 cubic yards of fines, or <3% of their overall volume total). 

In sum, ongoing beach/nearshore disposal appropriately falls under the Ocean Dumping Act (a different Corps permit), and would legally require an EPA ocean disposal site designation action (similar to what we did in 1995 for the off-shore site available now). The significant expense and human resources required to make such a designation is not justifiable given the site immediately off shore and available, and the time that has been available for the Harbor to plan alternatives. We are happy to continue working with the HBHRCD on developing a legally permittable, practicable alternative, or combination of actions, to address the clear need for dredging in the harbor.
 
Respectfully,
 
Jason A. Brush
Acting Assistant Director, Water Division
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 9 
75 Hawthorne Street  (WTR-2)
San Francisco, CA  94105



High School Put on Lockdown After SoHum Man Shoots His Sick Dog

Andrew Goff / Wednesday, May 17 @ 3:55 p.m. / News

Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office press release: 

 

On Wednesday, May 17, 2017 at about 1201pm, Humboldt County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to the 300 block of School Road, Miranda for a report of a suicidal subject with a gun. It was also reported the subject had shot his dog.

Once deputies arrived on scene they contacted Kyle Adkins, age 23 of Miranda. Verbal commands were given by deputies and Adkins surrendered without incident. Adkins was detained and placed on a mental health hold.  Deputies located and took possession of a 30.06 rifle that was located nearby.

It was determined that the dog was shot and killed due to poor health conditions. South Fork High School was put on a brief lockdown while this incident was taking place.

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 Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.




Hey Hey! Last Chance Grade Project Gets $5 Million from California Transportation Commission

Andrew Goff / Wednesday, May 17 @ 3:21 p.m. / Traffic

Caltrans

Well, that’s something! The California Transportation Commission sends word that they’re gonna throw a seemingly large chunk of cash at Last Chance Grade, that gravity-afflicted span of Highway 101 in Southern Del Norte County.

$5 million, they’re ponying up. That’s great, right? 

Keep in mind, of course, that this money will go toward various technical and environmental studies. A recent North Coast Journal story looking at the project estimated that the studies could take around five years to complete and cost nearly $50 million.

Then there’s the actual construction. There are a handful of proposed alternate routes being considered, with price tags ranging from around $300 million to upwards of $1 billion. So, yeah, we’ve got aways to go with this thing. 

Anywho, the office of your congressman Jared Huffman jumps at the chance to break the good news in the press release below: 

Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) today announced that the California Transportation Commission (CTC) has awarded $5 million in funding for Last Chance Grade, the slide-prone stretch of U.S. Highway 101 between Klamath and Crescent City. 

“Resolving the issues at Last Chance Grade is vital both for my constituents’ safety and to keep California’s far North Coast connected to the greater region,” said Rep. Huffman.“I thank the California Transportation Commission for recognizing the importance of finding a long-term and durable solution for Last Chance Grade and for providing the much-needed support to move this process forward.”  

“Due in part to the support of the community, lawmakers, and stakeholder groups, Caltrans is now a step closer in the development of a long-term solution at Last Chance Grade,” said Caltrans District 1 Director, Matt Brady. “While this amount is not enough to complete all of the studies required, it is positive movement towards developing a project that meets everyone’s needs.”

Earlier this month, Rep. Huffman was joined by Assemblyman Jim Wood and Senator Mike McGuire in sending a letter to the CTC supporting Caltrans’ request for funding. 

This letter was accompanied by dozens of additional support letters from local governments, tribes, environmental groups, landowners, businesses and transportation interests who rely on the integrity of this stretch of the highway.

The funding will allow Caltrans to begin conducting the necessary environmental and geotechnical investigations of potential alignments of the highway around Last Chance Grade. This is a critical step to protecting the safety and economy of Del Norte County and the people and commerce that travel U.S. Highway 101.   

Read more on Congressman Huffman’s work on Last Chance Grade here.

State Senator Mike McGuire also gets in on the action: 

The California Transportation Commission voted today to approve $5 million for initial environmental work related to the permanent solution for Last Chance Grade. Senator McGuire, Assemblymember Wood and Congressman Huffman have been fighting for these funds for the past many months.

“Advancing a permanent solution – moving the Last Chance Grade off of the coast and constructing an inland route – is a top priority to all of us,” Senator McGuire said. “This has been a team effort with Congressman Huffman, Assemblymember Wood and Caltrans to advance these funds which will kick off the process to evaluate alternative proposed routes for Last Chance Grade and we are excited that after decades of work, we are finally taking steps to make a permanent fix.”

Assemblymember Wood, Senator McGuire and Congressman Huffman have been working closely with Del Norte County Supervisors, Crescent City leaders and state transportation officials, and earlier this year hosted on-site meetings at the Last Chance Grade after portions of the highway collapsed, closing and damaging the road. 

“It’s unacceptable that it has taken decades to get Del Norte County residents a safe and reliable highway, and it’s our top priority to get this permanent solution moving,” Senator McGuire said.



Trial for Fortuna Man Accused of Killing Wife’s Lover Postponed Four Months

Rhonda Parker / Wednesday, May 17 @ 2:19 p.m. / Courts

The jury trial for Jon David Goldberg, accused of shooting his wife’s boyfriend to death on Sept. 26, has been postponed until October.

Goldberg

This morning Judge Christopher Wilson set Goldberg’s trial for Oct. 2. The trial had been scheduled to begin in June, but Goldberg now has a separate case alleging that he brandished a gun and fired shots near his wife. That assault allegedly happened a few hours before her boyfriend, Timothy Smith, was killed in the front yard of his Fortuna home.

The District Attorney’s Office wants those cases joined, while defense attorney Casey Russo is filing a motion to have the new charges dismissed. Arguments on both motions are set for June 12.

Goldberg’s wife Rachel Goldberg refused to testify against him during his preliminary hearing last month. Instead he was held to answer based on testimony from Rachel’s friend Frieda Smith, who said Rachel told her Jon Goldberg had fired a gun “all around her.”

Smith

Smith also said she had seen Rachel with bruised arms on several occasions, and that Rachel said she and Jon had been fighting. He initially was accused of misdemeanor battery, but the prosecution has dropped that charge.

Russo had argued during the preliminary hearing that the statute of limitations had expired on the battery charge.

Goldberg, 37, remains in custody on charges of murder and personal use of a firearm. The 42-year-old Smith, a well-known volunteer fire captain in Fortuna,  was shot five times outside his home on Rohnerville Road.

Smith was killed just hours after his wife, Jessica Springer, found several nude photos of Rachel Goldberg on his cellphone. Springer called Rachel and demanded she tell her husband about the affair, which she did.

Jon Goldberg is being held on $1 million bail.

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31-Year-Old Eureka Woman Dies While Housed at Humboldt County Correctional Facility

Andrew Goff / Wednesday, May 17 @ 1:28 p.m. / News

Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office press release: 

 

On Monday, May 15, 2017 at about 2115 hours a Correctional Deputy in the Humboldt County Correctional Facility was conducting a security check of the maximum security female unit when she discovered an inmate, who was housed alone, in their cell that appeared to be not breathing. Facility medical staff and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) were immediately requested. Facility medical staff arrived on scene and along with Correctional staff began life saving measures. EMS arrived on scene and continued life saving measures but those measures were unsuccessful and the inmate was pronounced dead at 2130 hours by EMS on scene. The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Coroner Division responded to the scene and took possession of the deceased. Notification of next of kin was completed by the Coroner’s Office. The inmate was identified as 31 year old Erica Ekker of Eureka. The Humboldt County Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) responded to the Correctional Facility and are currently conducting an investigation.