Two Dogs Attacked by Rabid Foxes Near Hydesville; Two Humans Receiving Treatment

Ryan Burns / Friday, July 15 @ 10:52 a.m. / Animals , PSA

Press release from the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services:

This fox is just yawning. | Wikimedia commons

Two dogs from the Hydesville area were attacked by foxes that subsequently tested positive for rabies. Both dogs have been placed under 30-day, strict isolation quarantines. One of the incidents involved human exposures, with two people now receiving prophylactic treatment.

In addition to these incidents, a bat in the Eureka area has tested positive for rabies, and the remains of a skunk, a second bat and a third Hydesville fox are currently being tested at the Department of Health & Human Services Public Health Laboratory in Eureka.

So far this year, 25 specimens have been tested for rabies. 
Public Health officials caution against shooting animals in the head. “Because intact brain tissue is needed for an accurate lab test, shooting an animal in the head can delay and disrupt results,” said Supervising Environmental Health Specialist Amanda Ruddy.

When a test is incomplete or inconclusive, the specimen is treated as if rabid, leading to potentially unnecessary courses of action such as human prophylaxis and animal quarantines.

Experts say rabies is always present in the wildlife population throughout Humboldt County, especially among skunks, bats and foxes.

Preventive measures include avoiding contact with wild and stray animals, bringing pet foods indoors at night, reporting animal bites to your county or municipal animal control officer, and if you are bitten, washing the bite immediately with soap and water and seeking medical attention.

Public Health officials stress the importance of fully vaccinating domestic animals against rabies, including dogs, cats and select livestock.

For questions about rabies or to report a rabid animal, please call the DHHS Division of Environmental Health at 707-445-6215 or toll free at 1-800-963-9241.

 


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Business Community Rallies Around Loosening Coastal Zoning Restrictions

Ryan Burns / Thursday, July 14 @ 3:44 p.m. / Government

File photo of rubble and garbage piled at the former Freshwater Pulp Mill on the Samoa Peninsula.

On Tuesday, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors will make a big decision concerning land use around Humboldt Bay, a decision some see as a fork in the road for the region’s economic future. And at a recent meeting some major players in the local business community made their preference known.

At issue are the hundreds of acres surrounding the harbor zoned exclusively for coastal-dependent industrial (CDI) uses. The vast majority of this land — about 95 percent — currently lies vacant, and county staff says the resulting lack of revenue has allowed infrastructure to deteriorate.

The supes will consider a proposal to loosen restrictions on some of these properties so that non-CDI businesses could operate there on a temporary basis (up to seven years) as long as they don’t interfere with existing or future coastal-dependent operations.

There are two competing schools of thought on the issue. On one side there’s the opinion of rail boosters and the majority of the Humboldt County Planning Commission, who argue that Humboldt’s path to economic prosperity depends on transforming Humboldt Bay into a major, industrialized shipping port connected to the national rail system with a newly built railroad.

This side feels emboldened and validated by a $276,000 Caltrans grant awarded last month to the Trinity County Transportation Commission for an east-west rail feasibility study.

On the other side there’s the view of the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District’s Board of Commissioners, who say the District nearly went broke by pursuing international trade to the exclusion of other interests, and the time has come to loosen restrictions and allow other types of businesses on the bay.

The Harbor District, it should be noted, has a financial interest in the decision. The agency took over the 72-acre former pulp mill property on the Samoa Peninsula back in 2013, and after overseeing the cleanup of some 3 million gallons of caustic pulping liquors on the site the District is looking for new tenants. They’ve had interest from some local business owners, but not for coastal-dependent uses.

At last week’s supervisors’ meeting, staff introduced the proposed amendment to the Humboldt Bay Area Plan, with Planner Lisa Shikany delivering a report. Allowing interim uses on some this property, Shikany said, would increase the land’s potential to generate revenue, thereby generating funds for infrastructure repairs and, in the long run, actually improving the prospects for future coastal-dependent uses.

Opponents, however, maintain that allowing anything other than CDI on these lands could stymie future opportunities. It would be a signal, they say, that Humboldt County doesn’t believe in a new rail line or major shipping opportunities.

Since Fifth District Supervisor Ryan Sundberg was absent the board elected to postpone a vote on the item until this coming Tuesday, July 19.

Nonetheless, the public had a chance to weigh in, and those with a direct connection to bayside commerce seemed to form a consensus.

Local realtor Scott Pesch, who has been trying lease out some of the Harbor District’s space at the former pulp mill site, said “it’s been really hard to do so with just the coastal dependent uses.” Countywide, he said, “there’s a lack of warehouse space available for general contractors. … And with cannabis becoming more popular, that’s even more demand for warehouse space.” He urged the supervisors to allow interim uses on the bay.

Next up, Gary Rynearson spoke on behalf of Green Diamond Resource Company, and he, too, urged support of the ordinance. Green Diamond owns 80 acres in the coastal-dependent zone, he said, “and what we would like to see, of course, is maximum flexibility for that.”

Charles Benbow, the former owner of the pulp mill, noted that the issue has become politicized, but he said the public has effectively endorsed the Harbor Commission’s viewpoint by reelecting commissioners Greg Dale and Pat Higgins and electing current commissioner Mike Wilson to the Board of Supervisors.

“So unless the board has something they would rather see out there and brings a proposal forward for productive use, other than the east-west railroad, I don’t see how you can be against doing something productive with this land,” Benbow said.

In a letter submitted to the board, the Greater Eureka Chamber of Commerce also backed the proposed changes. “We believe that the proposed amendments offer the opportunity for near-term economic development while protecting the potential for coastal dependent industrial development in the long-term,” Chamber President Ken Musante states in the letter. “We further believe that it should be the County’s policy to encourage investment in abandoned industrial areas to reverse the degradation of infrastructure on these sites, reduce blight, and encourage investment.”

Arguably the most powerful advocacy came from Leroy Zerlang of Zerlang & Zerlang Marine Services. Describing himself as “probably the most pro-shipping and barge person in this area,” he said that even he has come to the conclusion that the dream of large-scale shipping is just that, a dream. 

“Our bay’s too small; our entrance is too shallow; we’re in bad shape,” he said. “We can dream for 100,000 years about an east-west railroad. We’re not a seaport; we’re a timber port. We haven’t been a seaport since the 1890s. I don’t see it happening. It won’t happen.”

Harbor Commissioner Chair Pat Higgins and fellow commissioner/supervisor-elect Mike Wilson also spoke in support of the ordinance, but their view wasn’t unanimous. Karen Brooks of Bayside, a former supervisor candidate, said she worries that if the county isn’t “all in” with its commitment to shipping, the Army Corps of Engineers may stop funding dredging the bay’s shipping channels. And she strongly condemned the prospect of allowing marijuana-related businesses in the coastal zone.

Monty Provolt suggested the board should postpone the decision until after Trinity County’s east-west rail feasibility study is completed. Allowing non-coastal uses in the meantime, he said, would show a “lack of will” for supporting shipping.

The fiercest objections came from Eureka attorney and longtime rail advocate William Bertain, who described the proposal as “an effort at stopping the development of jobs” and accused the Harbor Commission of being flat-out opposed to shipping. Allowing interim uses in the coastal zone, he said, “will have the effect of putting up a big sign to potential developers of the port and rail … that says, ‘We don’t want shipping here.’ I think that’s unfair to our children and our grandchildren.”

While the board didn’t vote on the issue, some supervisor comments may have hinted at their positions. Second District Supervisor Estelle Fennell expressed some skepticism, asking, “Is there some burgeoning, gnawing interest out there that says we have to make this happen now? And is it marijuana? And are there other businesses that really want to locate in this area? What’s going on?”

Fourth District Supervisor Virginia Bass, meanwhile, mentioned the Chamber of Commerce letter and noted that she’s been hearing about the need for relaxing zoning regulations in meetings with county staff, the California Coastal Commission and the City of Eureka.

Next Tuesday’s meeting will begin at 9 a.m., and according to Supervisor Mark Lovelace the CDI item will be heard during the afternoon session, which starts at 1:30 pm.

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Burglar Steals Tools From Company That Employs Developmentally Disabled People; Owner Seeks Help From Community

Hank Sims / Thursday, July 14 @ 3:29 p.m. / Community

A Chase Inc. worker on the job.

Early Sunday morning, at around 2 a.m., a burglar with flashlight broke into the yard of Chase Inc., an Arcata company that hires developmentally disabled people to various jobs around the county.

Jim Chase, the head of the firm, was up in Portland at the time, but his crew discovered the break-in when they arrived for work that morning. The police were called. When Chase got back, he was able to determine what was taken. The burlglar got a whole bunch of yard car gear that was being kept in a trailer – trimmers, chainsaws, a tool set, a hedge trimmer, an edger, some other stuff. This was the gear that his four-person landscaping crew relied upon to serve some 100 clients in town.

“I know that this issue is small in comparison to many things going on in our community and world,” Chase would later write, on a GoFundMe page, “but it is HUGE to us and the people that we serve.”

Chase told the Outpost that this is the first time in the company’s 10-year history that he’s had any problems at their West End Road location. He’s pretty much given up hope of recovering the gear. There was a security camera at his facility, which helped him pinpoint when the burglary took place, but the weather was bad that night and the camera wasn’t able to catch anything but a flashlight poking at places around the yard. There seems to be little hope of identifying the suspect.

Instead, Chase is scrambling to replace the equipment and also to beg his landscaping clients for some forbearance. Without the equipment, his landscaping team can’t do their regular maintenance work. He fears that clients will be forced to look elsewhere. 

“I’ve been able to purchase a few things, but we’re just not a large enough organization to make it all up out of pocket,” Chase said.

Chase is hoping to raise $4,750 to replace the stolen gear, and to put his employees back to work. If you’d like to help, you can chip in on the GoFundMe page, or you can call Chase directly — (707) 822-0960.



STILL BERNIN’: Humboldt Bernie Supporters Rally at Huffman Headquarters to Demand His Superdelegate Vote

Andrew Goff / Thursday, July 14 @ 12:01 p.m. / Politics

After more than a year of campaigning, Bernie Sanders signaled the end of his active run for the White House Tuesday, finally giving Hillary Clinton his endorsement while standing side-by-side with her at a Kumbaya campaign rally in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

“She will be the Democratic nominee for president and I intend to do everything I can to make certain she will be the next President of the United States,” Sanders said at the event. Coopting her own campaign slogan, Clinton trumpeted that she and the Vermont senator “are stronger together” and urged Sanders supporters to help her defeat Donald Trump in November.

Not all Sanders supporters are havin’ it.

Humboldt Sanders supporters gathered Wednesday in Old Town Eureka to signal that they still have some Bern in them. The site chosen for the rally was the sidewalk in front of the Eureka District Office of Congressman Jared Huffman, a superdelegate who has voiced support for Clinton and who will, in all likelihood, cast a vote for Clinton at the Democratic Party Convention later this month. That’s no good, says the Sanders crowd. Local Berners believe that since the voters of Huffman’s district voted for Sanders over Clinton in last month’s primaries — by a 53 to 46 percent margin, districtwide — Huffman should honor the preference of his constituents and cast his superdelegate vote for Bernie.

Among the 20 or so still-Bernin’ protesters chanting and waving signs yesterday afternoon was Robert Shearer of McKinleyville who was recently chosen as a California at-large delegate and will travel to Philadelphia later this month for the convention. (Guess who he’s voting for.) Shearer and others LoCO spoke to were quick to point out that Sanders’ endorsement of Clinton did not mean he’d dropped out of the race: There will still be a full delegate roll call on the floor of the convention, and they will continue to support their candidate due to disillusionment with Clinton and despite the party’s nominating process.

“There’s just not party unity,” Shearer said. “There’s a deep divide within the Democratic Party that this campaign has highlighted, and at this point a lot of people feel that the door is being shut on them by the establishment.”

Clinton holds a slight pre-conventions lead over Trump in national polls. There has been much pundit hand-wringing over whether or not dejected Sanders supporters will fall in behind the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee once November rolls around. Shearer, for one, is not ready to offer his support to Clinton at this point.

“I really can’t speak to that at this time,” he said. “I don’t feel that she’s made the concessions that I want to hear.”

Shearer made sure to note that he was not endorsing anyone outside of the Democratic Party — doing so would violate party rules and could jeopardize his delegate credentials. Other picketers were not encumbered by such restrictions.

“Jill Stein’s going to get a lot of votes,” said John R. Moran, a retired machinist union representative. When LoCO asked the group at-large whether they would vote for Clinton in November, nearly all indicated that they would not. They were asked if a Trump presidency concerned them.

“She’s just as bad!” protester Earla Pankiewicz shouted back. “The Democratic Party is going to see a lot of people leaving. People are really upset, especially after this thing yesterday, because nobody believes that [Sanders] really endorses [Clinton].”

As you might imagine, local Sanders supporters said that the way Huffman handles his superdelegate duties will influence the way they vote for Congress in future elections.

“You’ve got hundreds of people who’ve trained for over a year and are very skilled at organizing and activating the people of out community.” Shearer said. “The superdelegates, not just here but across the country, really need to beware because if you’re not stepping up to the plate and putting forward the real progressive values that we want then we’re going to get you out of office.”

In case you were wondering, no, Congressman Huffman was not in his Eureka office Wednesday to be influenced by signs. In fact, no one was.

# # #

Sanders supporters’ distaste for the Democratic Party’s system of delegates and superdelegates used for selecting its Presidential nominee has been well documented, but, just in case you haven’t wrapped your head around their arguments against, below is an op-ed written by Shearer in which he explains why he feels superdelegates are just bad:    

Jared Huffman represents California’s North Coast in Congress. Or does he? The Congressman has pledged to cast his superdelegate vote at the Democratic National Convention in late July for Hillary Clinton despite the fact California’s second district voted 53.1% for Senator Sanders and only 46.3% for Mrs. Clinton.

In Humboldt County, Sanders received 70.1% of the votes, marking the largest spread in the state. Still, Congressman Huffman has stood his ground in defense of his October 2015 endorsement of Mrs. Clinton on social media and in response to letters and emails from constituents who are feeling unrepresented, and rightfully so.

Of the 4,765 delegates in the 2016 Democratic Party primary, 717 are superdelegates who can vote for whomever they choose, without any accountability to voters. Of the 463 superdelegates who are not current or former elected officials, but rather appointed by Party leaders, 67 are current or former registered lobbyists. Known lobbyists account for nearly 10% of the 717 superdelegates. Does this seem democratic?

Earlier this year, a CNN reporter asked Democratic National Committee chairperson Debbie Wasserman Schultz, “What do you tell voters who are new to the process who say this makes them feel like it’s all rigged?” Schultz replied, “Unpledged delegates exist, really, to make sure that party leaders and elected officials don’t have to be in a position where they are running against grass-roots activists.”

How can superdelegates be democratic when they take away the power of the average person’s vote and are admittedly in place to deter the people-powered, bottom-up change embodied in grassroots campaigns like Senator Sanders? This justifiably frustrates and angers voters.

Democrats throughout California’s North Coast and across the rest of the country are questioning if the Party still represents their needs and interests. July’s Democratic National Convention is being hosted by major donors to the Republican Party and anti-Obamacare lobbyists largely from the healthcare insurance industry. Is this perhaps why the DNC Platform Committee, currently debating revisions, and largely appointed by the same people, is so staunchly against the inclusion of Medicare-For-All language in the 2016 Platform? Polls have consistently shown for decades that the majority of Americans, and the vast majority of Democrats, support universal single-payer healthcare.

Given the undemocratic influence of superdelegates and the Party’s blatant disconnect from the typical person, many of the millions of previously-disenchanted voters Senator Sanders brought into the political process over the past year are left feeling unrepresented. Can we afford to let these potential general election voters resign to continued despair with big Party politics when their elected officials cast superdelegate votes against the will of their votes?

The 2016 Democratic primary election cycle has brought into the spotlight the depth of influence of corporate interests over the Party and many of it’s leaders. Senator Sander’s campaign has become the people’s political revolution. As a campaign grew into a movement, the intersectionality of countless social, environmental, economic, and international issues was revealed. Also exposed, was how all of these issues are rooted in and sustained by the maintenance of status quo politics that favor corporations and the super rich at the expense of the climate and everyday and underprivileged people.

Superdelegates, being a clear tool for the maintenance of the status quo via the business-as-usual corporate politics model that has left most Americans feeling their votes are worthless, have come under scrutiny from not just the grassroots activists of the Sanders campaign, but also many state Democratic parties.

The California Democratic Party recently joined 16 other Democratic state parties in the passing of resolutions that either eliminate superdelegates or substantially reduce their ‘super powers’ by making them vote in accordance with the popular vote of their constituents and banning corporate lobbyists from being appointed superdelegates by Party leadership. California’s resolution, entitled “Resolution To Advance A More Democratic Presidential Nominating Procedure and Party Structure,” was co-authored by Christine Pelosi, daughter of Nancy Pelosi, both of whom are superdelegates.

Why would the Democratic Party continue a practice that so many people agree is undemocratic?

Why is Congressman Huffman refusing to represent the will of the people of his district?

What effect will this have on the Party’s need to retain registered Party members and get out the vote in November?



(UPDATED) Grow Suspect Stabs CAMP K-9 Cop in the Neck; Copter Medevacs Downed Hero Dog to Hospital

Hank Sims / Thursday, July 14 @ 11:32 a.m. / Crime

UPDATE, 7/19: The Trinity County Sheriff’s Office update:

“Johnny”

K9 Johnny was discharged Friday night, July 15, 2016 and was released to stay with his handler. Saturday evening Johnny’s conditioned worsened and he was placed back in the Animal Hospital with an upper respiratory infection. K9 Johnny has drain tubes and is on medication to keep him stabilized. He will remain in the Hospital until he is stabilized and free of infection. Sheriff Bruce Haney and all the personnel at the Trinity County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank everyone for all the support and kind words since K9 Johnny’s injury.

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UPDATE, FRIDAY MORNING: The Trinity County Sheriff’s Office says:

K9 Johnny remains in stable condition. He was kept overnight for observation. He has no nerve damage and will be receiving a drain this afternoon to help his wounds heal. He may get to go home this evening. K9 Johnny is expected to make a full recovery with physical therapy and is expected to return to his regular duties in as early as a month.

The Sheriff’s Office has received many inquiries about donating to K9 Johnny’s care and recovery. K9 Johnny is covered under his own medical insurance. However, anyone wanting to donate to the K9 unit at the Trinity Co. Sheriff’s Office can do so by mail. Donations can be made to:

Trinity Co. Sheriff’s Auxiliary
PO Box 427
Weaverville, CA 96093

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Original Post: From the Trinity County Sheriff’s Office:

On Thursday, July 14, 2016 at approximately 7:00am Trinity County Sheriff’s Dispatch was notified by a Trinity County Sheriff Deputy working with Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP) in a remote undisclosed location eradicating marijuana that K9 Officer Johnny had been stabbed and needed medical attention. K9 Johnny had entered the marijuana grow with his handler when multiple suspects started to flee the area.

Johnny was able to apprehend one suspect who Officers detained and then went after the second suspect who was carrying a 10 inch knife and pistol. The second suspect stabbed K9 Johnny in the left side of his neck with the 10 inch knife and fled into the woods. Officers recovered the knife and pistol but were not able to locate the second suspect.

The first suspect was identified as Clemente Lopez, DOB: 2/23/84 from Mexico.

The California Highway Patrol helicopter was able to pick up K9 Johnny and his handler and transported them to the Weaverville Airport where there they were transported to a local animal hospital. K9 Johnny is stable and suffered a severe laceration to the left side of his neck. We will keep you updated on K9 Johnny’s prognosis.



How Religion Affects Health Care at St. Joseph Hospital: Jefferson Public Radio

Ryan Burns / Thursday, July 14 @ 11:21 a.m. / Faith-y , Health Care

St. Joseph Hospital. | Wikimedia Commons

A new story on Jefferson Public Radio examines how the Catholic ideology that underpins groups such as Providence St. Joseph Health, the newly merged nonprofit health care provider, might affect patient care, especially in rural areas like Humboldt County.

Specifically, patients may face barriers to “end of life” requests under the state’s new Death With Dignity law, and women may be unable to obtain fertility assistance or sterilization procedures at Eureka’s St. Joseph Hospital or Fortuna’s Redwood Memorial.

“For example, somebody who’s having a C-section and they actually have to go through surgery again to get the tubal [ligation] somewhere else,” local midwife Stef Stone says in the segment. “And they can’t get that tubal during that surgery. I think that’s putting somebody in danger.”

The story also notes that every cancer specialist in Humboldt County contracts with St. Joseph.

Listen to the full story below:

Audio



Jeep That Killed Two Girls in Fortuna Located at Deceased Victim’s Residence, CHP Says

Hank Sims / Thursday, July 14 @ 9:09 a.m. / Crime

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UPDATE, 9:42 a.m.: This morning, the North Coast Journal spoke with attorney Benjamin Okin, who says he represents the suspect in the case. “We offered to turn the driver in, but law enforcement wants to do some more investigation before they make a formal arrest,” Okin tells the Journal’s Thad Greenson. 

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UPDATE, 9:28 a.m.: Officer Cy May of the CHP confirms that the suspect in this case is not yet in custody, but he would not speak to reports elsewhere that the person is “in hiding.”

May said that his office is not yet certain what charges will be brought against the suspect, but said that, at minimum, the office contemplates charges of vehicular manslaughter and felony hit-and-run.

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Yesterday afternoon, the California Highway Patrol located the 2015 Jeep Wrangler that struck and killed two Fortuna teenage girls Tuesday evening. According to multiple news reports, the Jeep was found at a home on Becker Lane, off Eel River Drive — the site of the accident.

This morning, the CHP confirms that the same Becker Lane residence where the car was found was home to one of the girls killed in the collision.

From the California Highway Patrol:

With the help from our local community and the tireless efforts of investigators the California Highway Patrol (CHP) Humboldt Area has recovered the grey 2015 Jeep Wrangler that was involved in this traffic collision. Through the investigation it was discovered that the vehicle was located at one of the victims’ residence. A search warrant was obtained for the property to seize any and all evidence that may be related to this collision.  We have identified a suspect but we will not be releasing the identity at this time. 

Any new information will be released as soon as possible.

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