93 New COVID-19 Cases Reported Since Friday

Humboldt County Public Health confirmed 93 new COVID-19 cases today, with no new hospitalizations or deaths reported. Today’s cases — which come on the heels of 183 confirmed last week — come after laboratories processed 519 samples with a test-positivity rate of 14.56 percent. After recording a test-positivity rate of 10.1 percent in July — the highest for any month since the pandemic began — the rate in Humboldt County jumped to 15.9 percent in August and 15.2 percent in September. In October, it dipped to 12.1 percent and, through the first 22 days of the month, it sits at 13.4 percent in November, still far outpacing those of the state (2 percent) and nation (5.4 percent). Public Health also reported that over the weekend 177 individuals were vaccinated at Public Health clinics held in Honeydew, Redway, Miranda and Arcata that included pediatric shots, first and second doses and boosters. About 60 percent of Humboldt County residents are fully vaccinated, according to Public Health’s COVID-19 dashboard. Public Health Director Sofia Pereira reported last Thursday that Health Officer Ian Hoffman was away from his position on family leave, and county spokesperson…

NCJ Preview: Salmon, Chili Dogs and Fiscal Drama

This week’s cover story looks at the impact of the salmon population on Native communities, culturally, economically and in terms of survival. We also have a story on the Civil Grand Jury investigation of the Auditor-Controller’s Office and what the recent Board of Trustees’ letter of no-confidence means. We’re also looking back on Fortuna’s iconic Bob’s Footlong, which closes this week after 72 years. Hit subscribe for updates on stories from all over Humboldt County. …

Supes to Consider No-confidence Vote in Auditor-Controller

The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors will meet in special session Monday to consider a vote of no-confidence in the job performance of elected Auditor-Controller Karen Paz Dominguez. The agenda for Monday’s meeting posted yesterday afternoon, after a payroll processing error caused delays in county employees getting their direct deposits and many reportedly getting payments for incorrect amounts. Paz Dominguez and other county staff reportedly worked through the night Thursday trying to rectify the error by manually entering payroll information. It’s unclear if the payroll issues played any part in the no-confidence vote being agonized. A staff report for the vote offers a blunt assessment: “Karen Paz Dominguez’s tenure as Auditor-Controller has been marred with deficiencies,” before offering a bulleted list of more than two dozen issues, ranging from ongoing delays in closing the county’s 2019-2020 single audit to “failure to take responsibility for her actions.” Read the full staff report and accompanying list here. If the board does move forward with a no-confidence vote — as the Fortuna Unified High School District Board and the county Workforce Development Board already have — it would…

Public Health Confirms 39 New COVID-19 Cases, Health Officer’s Return Expected Next Week

Humboldt County Public Health confirmed 39 new COVID-19 cases today — making 183 this week — with no new hospitalizations reported. Today’s cases — which come on the heels of 204 confirmed last week — come after laboratories processed 349 samples with a test-positivity rate of 11.2 percent. After recording a test-positivity rate of 10.1 percent in July — the highest for any month since the pandemic began — the rate in Humboldt County jumped to 15.9 percent in August and 15.2 percent in September. In October, it dipped to 12.1 percent and, through the first 19 days of the month, it sits at 14.3 percent in November, still far outpacing those of the state (2 percent) and nation (5.4 percent). Public Health Director Sofia Pereira reported yesterday that Health Officer Ian Hoffman was away from his position on family leave, and county spokesperson Christine Messinger later told the Journal that Kate Estlin, a local family physician with a practice in Fortuna who also works as a hospitalist at Redwood Memorial and St. Joseph hospitals, had stepped in to serve as health officer in Hoffman’s…

UPDATE: County Employees Expected to Get Direct Deposits by End of Day, Workforce Board Issues No-Confidence Vote in Auditor-Controller’s Office

UPDATE: Humboldt County Deputy County Administrative Officer Sean Quincey released an update on the county’s payroll problems this afternoon, saying U.S. Bank has confirmed it has what it needs to make direct deposit payments to county employees by the close of business today. “We are in the process of printing out paper checks for employees who do not normally receive direct deposits,” Quincey wrote. “In addition, a small subset of employees who receive direct deposits had errors in their banking information and will receive paper checks.” The Humboldt County Courthouse will remain open until 6 p.m. today, Quincey wrote, giving employees who need to pick up paper checks a bit of additional time to do so. Any checks not picked up today will be mailed Saturday morning. In related matters, while county Auditor-Controller Karen Paz Dominguez was working to sort out the payroll issues this morning, the Humboldt County Workforce Development Board voted overwhelmingly to issue a statement of no-confidence in her office, citing ongoing issues that have prevented completion of the county’s 2019-2020 single audit, which the board fears could put state and federal…

County Employees’ Direct Deposits Delayed

Humboldt County employees who receive their checks via direct deposit did not get paid on schedule this morning due to a payroll error that staff worked through the night to remedy, manually inputting all the information needed to issue paychecks. “We still expect to have [Nov. 19’s] direct deposits out to employees by the end of the business day,” states an interoffice memo sent to all county employees shortly after midnight by County Administrative Officer Elisha Hayes and Auditor-Controller Karen Paz Dominguez that First District Supervisor Rex Bohn posted to his Facebook page at 7:57 a.m. today. The memo says that employees verifying information in the county’s payroll system “realized some calculations involved in calculating pay, benefits, taxes and withholdings were not processing through our financial system normally for around half the county workforce.” “The calculation errors did not appear to have any consistent theme that allowed us to pinpoint a root cause,” the memo continues. “However, we had all of the information needed to issue paychecks and knew we could manually enter information if needed.” And that’s apparently what staff did, manually producing the…

PG&E Reactor Officially Decommissioned, Nuclear Waste Not

PG&E’s Humboldt Nuclear Power Plant reactor site was deemed fully cleaned up by the Nucle ar Regulatory Commission today. While the federal government no longer has oversight over that part of the site — “none at all,” said commission spokesperson David McIntyre — the spent fuel and other radioactive waste, however, remains under federal jurisdiction. The former reactor site has no requirement to be monitored for radiation. “There’s no need for it. There’s no accident scenario” in which a radiation release to the environment from that part of PG&E’s plant could occur, according to McIntyre. It could, according to regulators, even be used for farming. PG&E is required to maintain the area above Buhne Point where spent fuel is stored, “until fuel is removed,” McIntyre said. That means the utility is responsible for “physical security, mostly fences and guards,” he added. Environmental security is another story, however. When asked about responsibility to keep the site secure from the threat of a radioactive release due to a tsunami, sea level rise or some other environmental event, McIntyre said he would check and then got back to…

COVID Sidelines Arcata High Tigers’ Championship Run

The Arcata High School Tigers are now the second local football team to have to forfeit a playoff game due to an outbreak of COVID-19. The team was scheduled to have the home field advantage tonight against the Justin-Siena High School Braves, which hail from Napa, and was one game away from a shot at the North Coast Section Football Championship title. “I talked to a lot of our seniors and they’re devastated,” Arcata head coach Jamal Jones told HumboldtSports. “This is a year we felt we could challenge and make a run for a state title.” Read more of the article here. South Fork’s football team, the Cubs, also had to forfeit their Nov. 12 game at North Coast Section playoffs due to the outbreak and a few days later Southern Humboldt Unified School District officials shutdown both the high school and Miranda Junior High School until after the Thanksgiving break. According to a Nov. 14 letter from SHUSD Superintendent Stephanie Steffano-Davis, school staff were conducting contract tracing to contain the spread of virus. “The outbreak has been linked to gatherings unrelated to school…

Star Power

Red Notice and Finch RED NOTICE. For the right project, it’s hard to imagine a better starting trio than Gal Gadot, Dwayne Johnson and Ryan Reynolds. They’ve got the sarcasm, charisma and sex appeal that one imagines audiences long for in movie stars. And as these three continue to work steadily in the spotlight, most of us are on board. One wonders, though, if any of them has really found the aforementioned right project, individually or collectively. Red Notice perhaps isn’t it. (The plot’s a bit of globe-trotting about art thieves and a federal agent pursuing them. No fair guessing who’s who.) Or maybe it is, and I should just abandon my hope for something more compelling or elevated. The movie did, however, open to Netflix’s widest single-event viewership to date. What that means, either about the tastes of the audience or the movie industry at large, like so much else in contemporary life, remains to be seen. The thing I’m wrestling with is the notion of star power in the modern world: Do movie stars hold a position of significance, or even relevance? Are…

Time Warp

Editor: The proposed Daylight Act (NCJ Daily, Nov. 11), which would allow individual states to observe Daylight Saving Time year-round, while continuing to give them the option of switching back and forth between Daylight Saving Time and Standard Time or staying on Standard Time year-round, is a recipe for disaster. Imagine the confusion that would ensue with a shifting checkerboard of Daylight and Standard across the nation all year, especially now that we’re in the Zoomocene. In fact, we’ve been there and done that; from 1945 through 1966, inconsistent observance of Daylight Time across states resulted in massive confusion in the transportation and broadcasting industries. Furthermore, a recent poll showed that more Americans want to stay on Standard Time than either of the other options. I lived in Indiana, which falls into two time zones, back in the day when it didn’t observe Daylight Time. It was confusing enough having part of the state in one time zone and the other part in another, but to make matters worse counties in the Louisville and Cincinnati metropolitan areas unofficially observed Daylight Time in order to conform with…

Lock the Entrance?

Editor: Before I can get behind a Caltrans project to combat sea level rise and protect U.S. Highway 101 between Eureka and Arcata, I need to know why another alternative won’t work (“Racing the Rise,” Nov. 11). Under the current plans I have seen, a myriad of private parties and public agencies each need to fix their part. For instance, along Jacobs Avenue, if Carl Johnsons raises their section of the levee but U-Haul doesn’t do theirs, they both get flooded, as does Murray Field and 15 other businesses. Going up the feeder streams to the bay and along its shoreline, there are probably 100 miles of shoreline in danger. Is everyone going to fix their own? I doubt it! What I think should be looked at is a shipping and tidal lock system at the entrance to the bay. One half-mile installation holding back the higher ocean waters would negate the need to fix all of the individual problems around the bay. Except you have to worry about water coming up the Mad River estuary, but that is solvable. Will it work? I don’t…

Clinton Dean Rebik:1966-2021

Clinton Dean Rebik was born on March 30, 1966, in Brawley, California, and passed away on November 4, 2021, in Eureka, California due to esophageal cancer. He grew up in Brawley and graduated in 1984 from Brawley Union High School. He moved to Arcata to attend Humboldt State University in the fall of 1984 and remained in the area for the remainder of his life. After graduating from HSU in 1987 with a bachelor’s degree in Theatre Arts, he became the Artistic Director for the Ferndale Repertory Theatre for several years, where he directed and acted in many productions. At the same time, he became a part-time black-jack dealer at Cher-Ae Heights Casino, eventually moving over to Blue Lake Casino. In 1999, he and an enthusiastic and intrepid group of theatre artists formed the Redwood Curtain Theatre, for which he was named Artistic Director.  Redwood Curtain Theatre staged over 90 productions in twenty years, many of its most memorable directed by Clint.   In 2006 he began working at Humboldt State University in the Office of the Registrar and was promoted to Registrar in 2012. Along…

UPDATE: South Fork High, Miranda Junior High Closed Due to COVID-19

UPDATE: Southern Humboldt Unified School district officials have also closed Miranda Junior High starting today until after the Thanksgiving break due to an ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. PREVIOUS: South Fork High School is closed for the remainder of the week due to a COVID-19 outbreak, with classes resuming after the Thanksgiving holiday break, according to a post on the school’s Facebook page. The post states that the Southern Humboldt Unified School District made the decision after consulting with county Public Health. It also states the campus will be “deep-cleaned and sanitized to meet and exceed the California Department of Public Health and OSHA guidelines before students return to in-person instruction.” According to a Nov. 14 letter from Superintendent Stephanie Steffano-Davis, school staff were conducting contract tracing to contain the spread of virus. “The outbreak has been linked to gatherings unrelated to school which some of our students attended,” Steffano-Davis states in the letter. The closure announcement comes on the heels of South Fork’s football team, the Cubs, having forfeit their Nov. 12 game at North Coast Section playoffs due to the outbreak. Classes will resume Nov.…