Far North

NCJ Preview: Grand Jury Reports, Powers Creek Produce and Flocking Up

The Grand Jury reports are in — what does that mean? We’re talking with Access Humboldt about how this team of volunteers acts as a kind of watchdog over everything in our county from criminal investigations to mental health care. And if you’ve ever thought about getting into the small-scale produce racket or raising your own chickens, we’ve got a pair of stories about how a Blue Lake stand cropped up to fill a need and how you can get hours of entertainment and the best eggs of your life by becoming a “flockster.” Hit subscribe for weekly updates on stories around Humboldt County. …

‘Privilege on Display’

Editor: In your lead article in the July 23 issue (“A Walk Around the County”), the writer complains of no longer having face-to-face yoga, lack of access to a gym and only shopping once a week at the North Coast Co-op. He and his wife are experiencing “mental stress,” “cabin fever,” weight gain and having to hike the same trails in the Arcata Community Forest. Many people in Humboldt County are worried about paying rent and where the next meal comes from. This article is highly offensive. Making it your front page story puts NCJ’s stamp of approval on it. White privilege on display on the front page. Bill Stiles, Ettersburg…

Nine Puzzles

This time of year in the Journal means puzzles in Field Notes. Given the sheltering situation these days, it might be more important than usual to exercise your brain muscles, in the event the lockdown is making those 86 billion neurons in your skull to atrophy (trust me, I counted). If you have trouble with any of the following, ask a pre-teen kid for help. At that age, they’re generally better at “aha” puzzles. Farmer’s Fence: A farmer asks an engineer, a physicist and a mathematician to build a fence that encloses the most area with the least length of fence. The engineer builds a circular fence, so as to maximize the area per length of fence on a two-dimensional plane. The physicist builds a fence around the equator (some of it floating, of course) to maximize the area per length of fence on a sphere. What does the mathematician do to win the challenge? Dog Crossing: A man calls his dog from the far side of a wide river. No bridge, no ferry. The dog immediately crosses the river without getting wet. How? Not…

The Reports are In

The 2019-2020 Civil Grand Jury weighs in on the Lawson investigation, county efforts to protect its most vulnerable charges The Humboldt County Civil Grand Jury wrapped up its work for the year last month, issuing the last of its eight reports. The reports tackle subjects ranging from leadership in the Southern Humboldt Joint Unified School District (spoiler: there’s a crisis going on) to how the Humboldt County Planning and Building Department interfaces with the cannabis industry (spoiler: there’s too much cash and too little oversight) and represent a mountain of work from 17 volunteers. Jury Foreperson Jim Glover took a few minutes to walk the Journal through the process. When the jury convenes in July, it’s supposed to have 19 members, though this year’s began with just 18 and later dropped to 17. The jurors then split into six committees (with individual jurors serving on as many as three), sift through complaints, discuss areas of concern that have been in the news over the past year and decide what issues they want to investigate. From there, they dive in, meeting with their respective committees on…

Getting Blackberries

Picking blackberries a lovely form of Zen practice the ones you see first – bright red – are not the ones you want their black edible sisters hide modestly among the thorns and leaves. Pick too fast and you crush the berry pick too fast and you stab your fingers grab the berry just right it will come to you it was designed to be eaten. Your fingers should weave among the thorny stems like weaving a basket Elaine Weinreb…

Public Health Confirms Three new COVID-19 Cases

Humboldt County Public Health confirmed three new COVID-19 cases today, making 26 so far this week and 98 for the month, as the local spike in caseloads continues. Two of the new cases are linked to a  known confirmed case, while the third is one of 14 cases that remain under investigation. In a press release, Humboldt County Health Officer Dr. Teresa Frankovich noted that since the beginning of the pandemic, the county has experienced waves of new cases, followed by relative quiet periods in detected virus transmission. “The epidemiological curve on the data dashboard shows the current wave has been ongoing for more than a month,” she said. “This increase in local disease activity is a reminder that safety precautions are more important than ever. We have the ability to dramatically change the landscape of virus transmission in our community, helping to keep our businesses open and facilitate on-site school instruction for our children.” The spike in confirmed cases comes as Humboldt County — like much of the state — has seen increasing challenges with testing. The OptumServe testing site set up at Redwood…

Column Quotes HumCo Nurse Tying Fatal COVID-19 Cases to Meth Dealer who Refused to Isolate

The strain of COVID-19 infection that ultimately killed four residents at Alder Bay Assisted Living reportedly started with a methamphetamine dealer who dismissed public health’s advice and refused to isolate himself, Humboldt County Public Health Nurse Erica Dykehouse reportedly told famed author Michael Lewis, who was penning a column for Bloomberg. Lewis’ column, “Confessions of a California COVID Nurse,” focuses on Dykehouse’s contact tracing investigations, in which she works backward from a positive COVID-19 test, trying to find everyone the new positive case may have exposed to the deadly virus. It offers some illuminating insight into the job, as a well as a level of detail about cases that local officials to date have refused to offer. An excerpt: “Two cases stuck in Erica’s mind. One was a couple in their 70s, both possibly contagious. She’d found them, told them to quarantine, and they had turned right around and hosted a big Fourth of July BBQ. When she tried to contact guests who might have been infected, she found them either dismissive or outright rude. “You have these whole little social networks that are hostile,”…

Man Barricaded in Hydesville Home with Firearm

About 3:40 p.m., the Humboldt County SWAT team responded to 3300 block of Mendes Lane in Hydesville for the report of a man barricaded inside a residence with a firearm. According to scanner traffic, the man was in the second story of the building. An ambulance was requested to stay outside the area. “Residents of the area are asked to stay inside,” tweeted the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office. “Please avoid the area while peace officers are present.” UPDATE 4:33 p.m. According to Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Samantha Sarges, “deputies are investigating the report of a male with a firearm inside a residence in that area. The man reportedly threatened a resident of the home with the firearm. The resident was able to exit the home to safety. The male suspect is still inside the residence at this time and is refusing to exit.”…

Drug Task Force Reports Seizing 5 Pounds of Heroin

The Humboldt County Drug Task Force reported seizing nearly 5 pound of suspected heroin while seeing a search warrant yesterday, according to a press release. The warrant, served in the 500 block of Warren Creek Road, was targeting Jack Ryan Skundrich, 34, who is well known to the task force. According to the press release, Skundrich was arrested in January of last year for transporting heroin with a juvenile in the car and charged with felony child endangerment, though he failed to appear in court and has been wanted on a warrant since. Also in January of 2019, agents served a search warrant at his home and seized approximately 6 pounds of heroin and arrested Skundrich’s acquaintance, according to the press release. This time, officers found Skundrich in the home and took him and an acquaintance — Juan Sabino Alvarez, 36, of Sinaloa, Mexico — into custody on suspicion of possessing and transporting a controlled substance. Skundrich was also booked on the outstanding warrant and suspicion of maintaining a drug house. See the full press release copied below: PRESS RELEASE On July 29th, 2020, special agents with the…

Newsom Appeals to Warren Buffett in Effort to Save Klamath Dam Removal Deal

Gov. Gavin Newsom has appealed to one of the world’s richest men in an effort to save the Klamath dam removal deal. The groundbreaking deal to remove four hydroelectric dams along the lower Klamath River was reached in 2016 and would constitute one of the largest dam removal projects in history. Under the deal, the dams’ owner Pacificorp would surrender them to the Klamath River Renewal Corporation, a nonprofit, which would then oversee their removal, which area tribes and environmental groups believe is crucial to saving salmon species. But on July 16 the Federal Energy Regulatory Corporation (FERC) complicated that plan, saying it would only allow Pacificorp to transfer the dam’s licenses — a crucial step — if Pacificorp remained listed as a co-licensee, saying the nonprofit has “limited finances” and “no experience with hydropower dam operation or dam removal.” But Pacificorp spokesperson Bob Gravely told the Herald and News in Klamath Falls, Oregon, that the company is now concerned it may be exposed to liability if the costs of dam removal “spiral” beyond the allocated $450 million and that the company may just look…

UPD Arrests Virginia Murder Suspects

Humboldt State University police arrested two people suspected of a Virginia murder yesterday while conducting a routine patrol, according to a press release. Sgt. Joe Jones and officer Billy Kijsriopas were patrolling the University Corporation Yard off Samoa Boulevard at about 1 a.m. Wednesday when they found an unoccupied vehicle with stolen license plates parked on the east side of the building, according to the release. The officers approached on foot and found three people sleeping near the car on the building’s stairwell. The officers roused the people and ran their names, at which point they learned that two — Daniel Fish, 37, and Ashleigh Nicole McCallister, 23 — were wanted on a murder charge out of Henry County, Virginia. The two were taken into custody without incident and police determined the third person — “an unsuspecting traveler” — was not connected to the murder. Fish and McCallister — along with Douglas Gillespie, 25, who was arrested in Texas last month — stand accused of gunning down Robert Wayne Williams at his Henry County apartment on the night of June 5 and face second-degree murder…

Pivoting into Produce

Powers Creek stand sprouts in Blue Lake Monica Morris is shopping for ingredients to make her annual zucchini relish. Normally around this time of year, farmers have zucchini “coming out their ears,” she says. But finding a large number of affordable zucchinis this July has been a challenge. That’s why Morris has driven from Arcata to Blue Lake, where the small Powers Creek Produce stand is her last hope. “How many pounds of zucchini do you have?” she asks owner Trevor Guthrie. “Well, a lot,” Guthrie says with his characteristic can-do attitude. He is affable and on the young side of 44, dressed in a Hawaiian shirt and board shorts. “I need 20 cups of zucchini, shredded,” Morris says, all business. Guthrie does some quick calculations and determines that Morris should buy all of his zucchini, which came from Rain Frog Farm in Blue Lake. He piles them onto a scale and tucks them into a bag. Morris looks on with measured approval, then drops a bomb. She also needs a mountain of scallions. Guthrie doesn’t have them right now but he refuses to let…

Burning Down the House

Editor: After months of denial, President Trump has finally confessed that COVID-19 is for real. He has admitted publicly that “the pandemic will get worse before it gets better.” This newfound concern contradicts very recent claims of his such as 99 percent of the cases are “totally harmless” and the virus will “just disappear.” Further, he suddenly declares that wearing a mask is “patriotic.” This from a man who previously refused to be seen wearing a mask in public even when required. In fact, he mocked others, such as reporters and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, for doing so. Why the about face? It’s not from a sense of guilt or an admission of prior mistakes (Mailbox, July 23). Rather, Trump recognizes that the easing of restrictions he had previously championed have now led to a resurgence of the virus. His poll numbers are falling due to public opinion that his pandemic response has been poor so far. And businesses are closing again, which will weaken the economic recovery that he sees key to his re-election. So before you congratulate Trump on seeing the light,…

Stop Virtue Signaling

Editor: I scratched my head at this new moniker for Latin peoples, so I did some research. Incidentally, my wife has an undergraduate degree in English (Washington University, St. Louis — the ‘Harvard’ of the Midwest) and a masters in education from Temple University Philadelphia — also a very good school. In other words, equal, at least, in the English regimen to anybody on your staff. She scratched her head also. “If they want to use a gender neutral word … uh, how about Latin?” “Well my dear, that doesn’t virtue signal,” says I. OK, well what do actual people of Latin descent think? “We presented our respondents with seven of the most common terms used to describe Latinos and asked them to select the one that best describes them. When it came to ‘Latinx,’ there was near unanimity. Despite its usage by academics and cultural influencers, 98 percent of Latinos prefer other terms to describe their ethnicity. Only 2 percent of our respondents said the label accurately describes them, making it the least popular ethnic label among Latinos.” Here is the article gleaned from…

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