Cannabis in Crisis

Behind the push to repeal the county’s Measure S and what it might cost To hear insiders tell it, Humboldt County’s cannabis industry can be likened to a small ship in rough seas. Battered by an onslaught of waves seemingly coming from all directions — taxes, fees, compliance costs, COVID disruptions and fierce market forces — the boat has capsized, leaving its occupants struggling to keep their chins above water as their legs grow numb and tired. Local growers are now clamoring for the county to throw them a life vest, asking the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors to temporarily repeal Measure S, the countywide cultivation tax approved by 66 percent of county voters in 2016. The hope, says Natalynne Delapp, executive director of the Humboldt County Growers Alliance, is not so much that the brief tax reprieve on its own would be enough to save the county’s 1,000 or so licensed farms, but that it would keep them afloat until reinforcements — federal legalization, state tax relief or a seismic shift in market forces — rights the proverbial ship. But the ask comes at…

Frustrated and Confused

Texts illuminate allegations against Arcata Councilmember Brett Watson While few details have emerged about misconduct allegations facing former Arcata Mayor and sitting Councilmember Brett Watson, text messages between his fellow councilmembers show a growing frustration about his conduct. Things spilled into public view when the city called a special Oct. 20 session to discuss selecting a new mayor. Though Watson, who had been arrested for driving under the influence and drug possession in August, had not formally resigned his post, City Manager Karen Diemer said the move was being considered “in communication” with him and for “personal reasons.” Shortly after, Watson announced he was entering a treatment program “to focus on depression and personal issues.” He has returned to the council dais but allegations of unspecified wrongdoing remain, and the city recently hired of an outside firm to investigate Watson’s possible violations of its anti-discrimination and harassment policy. While the city has declined to further explain the allegations, which Watson denies, or who’s involved, the little information released seems to indicate it involved staff. Watson did not immediately respond to a request for comment for…

Golden Almond Cookies

Bringing back a classic and good fortune for the New Year Chinese New Year is coming up Feb. 1. While we are busy getting the house cleaned up, buying ingredients to make traditional snacks and cooking a feast for family, making almond cookies as gifts is another way to celebrate. Classic almond cookies, round and golden like coins, symbolize good fortune. They are more popular during Chinese New Year, but you can make them all year long. I didn’t grow up with Chinese American-style almond cookies. The first time I tried them was in the 1980s, when l moved to America. l was working at Chin’s in Eureka, my uncle Ben Chin’s restaurant. The irresistible almond aroma filled the restaurant every time we baked them. The taste was slightly sweet and crunchy, and the little crumbly cookies just melted in my mouth. I was always so proud to bring out the freshly baked cookies to share with the customers. Uncle Ben passed away a few years ago now; I wish we had saved his recipe. I used to watch my aunts and my mom making…

Coastal Rivers in Need of Rain

It’s been nearly three weeks since we’ve had any measurable precipitation and most of the coastal rivers are now feeling the effects. Other than the main stem Eel and the Mad, which are both in pristine shape, all the rivers are now low, clear and in need of a good blowout. The Smith and Chetco clear the quickest, and have the biggest need for rain. The South Fork Eel and Van Duzen remain fishable, but could use rain. It should be noted that all our rivers are currently holding a good number of winter steelhead. But a few inches of rain will do wonders. Not only will the increased flows allow steelhead to make their way upriver to their spawning tributaries, it will also bring in the fresh fish from the ocean. And there is some positive news on the horizon. Weather forecasters are predicting a return to wintry weather conditions beginning the first week of February. Weather outlook According to Eureka’s National Weather Service office, we’re looking at dry conditions the rest of the week. There is a chance for light rain Sunday but…

Samoa Sidestep

A dune trail with history, off-roaders and breathtaking views On Samoa Road there is a mile marker that always puts a smile on my face: Hum Co 0. The zero line is across the street from a not-so-secret trail, opposite the Samoa Boat Ramp and campground. A quiet path to the beach is sandwiched between dune restoration, a U.S. Coast Guard station and trails driven by joyous off-road enthusiasts. The tip of the Samoan peninsula holds a special treat. A large portion of the 300-acre Samoa Dunes Recreation Area is devoted to motorheads. It’s one of a dozen beaches left on the California coast where off-highway vehicles (OHVs) can drive the sands. Adolescents in mohawked helmets learn to navigate their vehicles in a training area before hitting the main trails. Families play follow the leader, parents with motorized ducklings winding their way through grassy dunes. Although content to spectate, I am a hiker. The spouse and I particularly enjoy the hidden gems like the Sidestep. Although perpendicular to the road normally makes a trail easy to find, this entrance is camouflaged by bushes and less…

Much More Than Masks

Editor: In response to the letter from Amy Gustin, “Must be the Masks” (Mailbox, Jan. 20), we must make comparisons that are more accurate. On Dec. 3, 2021, a study called Norway versus Sweden: A case study in COVID-19 came out by Biljana Stangeland PhD. The key information will be addressed. The response to COVID in Norway, as well as other Scandinavian countries, was to implement lockdowns and restrictions. Sweden chose to be much less restrictive and continued life as normal. There were 1.16 million documented COVID-19 cases in Sweden, with 14,900 people who lost their lives to the disease. In Norway, during the same period, there were 193,000 cases and 871 deaths. Adjusting to population size, the number of cases was five times higher in Sweden, and the number of deaths was 12 times higher in Sweden than in Norway. In 92 weeks, Sweden fared the worst when compared with all of the Scandinavian countries. I wonder what percentage of Swedes would have gladly worn a piece of cloth over their face, if they knew it may have prevented a friend or family member from…

Must be the Masks

Editor: Amidst the torrent of vulgar language in “Top 10 Dick Moves of 2021” Jennifer Fumiko Cahill adds “pop-up anti-maskers” to her list of people “chipping away at the social contract.” This made me think of Sweden, a country famous for its social contract. I spent three months in Sweden last year and rarely saw anyone wearing a mask. In fact, Sweden never mandated mask wearing. Interestingly, Sweden has suffered a significantly smaller percentage of COVID deaths than the United States, where mask mandates and mask wearing has been widespread. While the U.S. suffered 2,107 COVID deaths per 1 million people, as of Sept. 30, 2021, Sweden only suffered 1,444 COVID deaths per 1 million. Virtually no masks and yet fewer deaths. I greatly enjoyed living mask-free in Sweden. Having implemented few lockdown measures, Sweden retained their social cohesion, with their people and economy suffering far less trauma. It was a relief to be in such a healthy environment. Coming home was an unpleasant shock. I saw with fresh eyes the terrible state of our community. Many of the people I know have visibly deteriorated.…

Make Friends, Live Longer

“… more than 20 percent of the adult population in America admits to struggling with loneliness. That’s more people than have diabetes in our country. That’s more than adults that smoke ….” Former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy As everyone knows, the best way to stay healthy and live to a ripe old age is to pick your parents well — it’s all about good genes. After that, you’re on the right track if you don’t smoke, avoid alcoholism and obesity, skip red meat and take your Omega-3s. Everyone knows … and everyone’s wrong. The very best thing you can do for your health is to have happy relationships while avoiding social isolation and loneliness. That’s what a raft of studies concludes, some of which have been tracking literally millions of people from every walk of life for decades. Take the ongoing Harvard Study of Adult Development, begun in 1938, whose original participants included John F. Kennedy and longtime Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee. The study showed, for instance, that the role of genetics and long-lived ancestors was less important to longevity than one’s level…

For Kevin Carlos Ramirez in Memoriam

Tow-truck driver, on-call, nights, Heads out to the heavy snow (The stricken town has lost its lights: The streets a featureless tableau) To 96’s snow-bound curves: Where mother and her little child (Much like his own, his mind observes) Are stuck in ice and whistling wild. A cheerful grin dispels their fright. He finds the axle, clips the hook. Above, a tree hangs in the night The busy driver does not look… As thyself, so love thy neighbor! Fast it falls, as cut by knife Crashes through his earnest labor, Taking tow-truck driver’s life. A senseless tragedy, a zero Some say, who for meaning seek; But Death illuminates this Hero: Honor springs from Willow Creek. Ellen Taylor…

Free Will Astrology

Week of Jan. 20, 2022 ARIES (March 21-April 19): In October 2021, the Vancouver Canucks hockey team played the Seattle Kraken team in a Seattle arena. A fan named Nadia Popovici noticed that the Canucks’ equipment manager Brian Hamilton had an irregular mole on the back of his neck—possibly cancerous. She found a way to communicate her observation to him, urging him to see a doctor. In the ensuing days, Hamilton sought medical care and discovered that the mole was indeed in an early stage of melanoma. He had it removed. In the spirit of this inspiring story, Aries, I invite you to tell the people in your life things they should know but don’t know yet—not just what might be challenging, but also what’s energizing and interesting. Be their compassionate advisor, their agent for divine intervention. TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Canadian-Jamaican songwriter and recording artist Kreesha Turner isn’t a mega-star like Beyoncé or Rihanna, but she has had a successful music career. What’s the secret to her constant creative output? Here’s what she has said: “I love to surround myself with people who are…

CHP Investigating Fatal Crash Near Woodley Island

The California Highway Patrol is investigating a fatal head-on crash on State Route 255 near Woodley Island last night. Dwayne Faughn, 49, of Samoa, died at the scene of the crash, according to CHP, after the 2000 Lexus he was driving northbound collided head on with a 2020 Jeep for unknown reasons. The crash sent Faughn’s two passengers — one of them a 6-year-old girl — to the hospital with major injuries, while Luz Garciasilva, the driver of the Jeep, also suffered major injuries in the crash. “The California Highway Patrol extends its condolences to the family of the deceased and thanks all responding agencies, as well as the citizens who stopped to help, for their assistance in manning the scene,” a press release states. The CHP asks that anyone who witnessed the crash or has additional information about it call 822-5981. See the full CHP release here.…

February Arts Alive Canceled

A press release from Economic Development Coordinator Amanda Krushke announced that due to the Omicron-driven surge in local COVID-19 cases and increased hospitalizations, the upcoming Arts Alive night scheduled for Feb. 5 has been canceled. “In support of the health of small businesses, health care workers and the community at large,” the art will still be up on the walls of many Old Town businesses, but the official night out, with its accompanying events and crowds, is off. The city will determine if it will resume in March by the middle of February, based on COVID-10 confirmed case numbers. Read the full release below.  February’s First Saturday Night Arts Alive – CANCELED Humboldt County has seen a significant raise in positive Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations caused by the Omicron variant.  In support of the health of small businesses, health care workers and the community at large the decision has been made to cancel Eureka Main Street’s First Saturday Night Arts Alive for February. We look forward to the return of art, music, live performances and seeing everyone when the numbers drop. The decision to resume…

Public Health Confirms 872 New COVID-19 Cases, Two New Hospitalizations

Humboldt County Public Health reported today it has confirmed 872 new COVID-19 cases and two hospitalizations since Friday. The report comes on the heels of a record 2,010 new cases confirmed last week and make 4,848 new cases confirmed so far in January — more than 30 percent of the county’s cumulative case count through the 23-month duration of the pandemic. The current surge has been attributed to the highly contagious Omicron variant, which has been circulating locally at least since Dec. 19, and has sent case rates skyrocketing to unprecedented levels throughout the country. And locally, the surge only seems to be accelerating as where the county reported an average of 122 new cases per day the first week in January, the daily average increased 23 percent to 159 new cases per day last week and has ballooned to 287 new cases reported per day last week. Local officials, meanwhile, predict the current surge will reach its peak sometime in February. According to data released Friday from public health, over the past week, unvaccinated residents tested positive this week at a rate of 94 per…

Sneaker Wave Warning Today

The Eureka office of the National Weather Service has issued a beach hazard statement warning of the potential of sneaker waves, which is currently in effect and will continue to be so until late tonight. “Don`t be fooled by an ocean that looks calm. There can be 30 minutes of small waves before a sneaker wave strikes,” the statement reads. “Avoid rocks and jetties. Avoid steep beaches. Stay much farther back from the water and never turn your back on the ocean.” For a reminder of how treacherous sneaker waves can be, view this video captured at Trinidad in January of 2020 during the King Tides.…

Six Things to Know About Omicron’s Risks on the Job

With 7 million Californians infected, how risky is it to work? When is it safe for omicron-infected workers to return? Look no further than your favorite restaurant, your kid’s school or your local hospital to see the effect of California’s latest bout of infections. Cases have skyrocketed since the holidays, reaching nearly 7 million people infected since the pandemic began. That means so many workers are calling in sick that many businesses and offices are left understaffed and fellow workers are stretched thin. Health officials are walking a fine line between keeping essential services and the economy afloat and controlling the spread of the virus. But a labor shortage has noticeably influenced national and state COVID-19 policies — even temporarily allowing for health care employees to continue working despite a positive test as long as they feel no symptoms and wear an N95 respirator. These guidelines have prompted questions about safety and whether public health is being jeopardized. Since the start of the pandemic, California’s top officials have been adamant that the state’s COVID-19 response is based on science. But these policies also have to…