Monthly Archives: July 2010

Photos of Westhaven Blackberry Festival July 25

Photos by Elaine Weinreb of 50th Annual Westhaven Blackberry Festival


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If you’re unemployed, here’s some help

RCAA Helping People Find Jobs

Redwood Community Action Agency is currently offering one-on-one assistance with job seeking and work readiness.  The Employment Case Manager, Joy Soll will help job seekers write resumes and cover letters, search for work, and find training that will help them be more marketable in the work world.  She can support Humboldt County residents in all aspects of finding employment. This project is funded through the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act.

For more information, please call Joy Soll at 269-2039.

Redwood Community Action Agency (RCAA) is a locally based, private non-profit organization that provides a wide range of services to low and moderate income residents of Humboldt County. Its long term goal is to develop programs through which people can become self-sufficient.

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MCSD unveils new logo

Here’s the new logo for the McKinleyville Community Services District:

Before this new logo, the MCSD used the clip art below of an azalea, with the district’s name nearby.

Here’s a press release from the MCSD:

The McKinleyville Community Services District Board of Directors has approved a new logo.
In order to update its logo, MCSD asked for ideas from members of the community by holding a logo contest.
“Several great logos were submitted and members of MCSD staff and the Board of Directors reviewed each one carefully,” stated a press release from the MCSD.
After review, the logo committee decided they wanted a logo that incorporated many things that relate to thecommunity.
The end result is a logo that includes images having to do with water, sewer, streetlights, parks, and recreation. In addition, there is an image of a river flowing around a bluff and into the ocean.  Behind the river and upon the bluff are some redwood trees, a few houses, and a mountain ridge in the background.


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Four-year-old boy murdered

A Humboldt County man was arrested Monday, July 26, on suspicion of murdering a four-year-old boy.
Humboldt County Sheriff’s Detectives were called to a local hospital after the child had been transported there Saturday night, according to the Sheriff’s Dept. The boy, whose name was not released before press time, was pronounced deceased.
“The child’s body showed evidence of on-going abuse, with extreme bruising being present over much of his body,” stated a press release from the Sheriff’s Department.
The child had been transported to the hospital late Saturday night after his care-giver discovered he wasn’t breathing.
The child was pronounced dead at about 11 p.m.
Detectives interviewed family members and learned the child had been in the primary care of Leon Alyious Bigleggins, 25, during the days leading up to his death. They were residing on Sabertooth Road, located east of Blue Lake off Highway 299.
Bigleggins is an acquaintance  of the victim’s grandmother.

Bigleggins was arrested and booked into the Humboldt County Correctional Facility on suspicion of one count of murder.  Bail has not been set.

Bigleggins is scheduled to be arraigned by Wednesday, July 28.
An autopsy of the child will be scheduled by the Coroner’s Office.

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‘There was no misunderstanding’

From the July 21, 2010 edition. To read all of the articles in the McKinleyville Press, subscribe today or purchase a newspaper from a rack or retail location.

By Elaine Weinreb
Press Staff Writer

Tom Head, the owner of Coastal Tree Service, told the McKinleyville Press in an interview that landowner Sharon Pennisi was very clear in her instructions when she hired him to improve her ocean view by clearing trees and brush from a hillside below her Wagner Street residence.
The land she had hired him to clear was not her property, nor that of her husband, Trinidad Planning Commissioner Sam Pennisi, although Head insists that he did not know that.
The land belongs to the City of Trinidad, and is part of an archaeological preserve, jointly managed by the State Coastal Conservancy, the Yurok Tribe, the Tsurai Ancestral Society, and the city.
The hillside, which is just above the archaeological site of the ancient Tsurai Village, is already plagued with erosion problems, which will not be helped by the clearcut.
“She led me to believe that was her property,” Head said. “She said she had talked to the city, and it was ok, and she wanted me to start as soon as possible.”
Head apparently did not realize that Pennisi had already considered hiring a previous contractor, Professional Tree Service, but had changed her mind when that company’s owner inquired about the legal status of the property at Trinidad Town Hall.
Head said that Pennisi told him that she had talked to the City Clerk, and that he had said it was all right to use the vehicle-restricted trail to bring his equipment onto the site.
City Clerk Gabriel Adams emphatically denied this allegation.
“That is one thousand percent, absolutely incorrect,” he said.
“We don’t even allow a bicycle on that trail,” he said. “There is absolutely no way we would ever allow somebody to drive a truck and a chipper onto that trail. I told that to the previous guy, who asked about it.”
Adams observed that a prominent sign at the entrance to the trail, stating that vehicles were forbidden, had been illicitly removed.
“That sign wasn’t just bolted on; it was welded into place,” he said. “You would have needed machinery to remove it. But it wasn’t removed until after the cutting had taken place.”
Sharon Pennisi previously told the McKinleyville Press that she was not home when the cut occurred, and that it was all due to a misunderstanding.
“There was no misunderstanding,” Head stated. “She was home for part of the time during the second day we were there. I kept going back up the hill to her porch, to check in with her, and make sure we were doing what she wanted. I must have talked to her six or eight times during that day. She said that she was happy, and that we were her saviors.”
“She kept telling me to go further down the hillside. When I wouldn’t go down any further, she said, ‘Get the stuff up on the sides,’ Head said.
“She did not have any brush on her property other than what she told us to cut. For her to say it was a misunderstanding! You can look at their property, and you can see that there’s no brush on it,” Head said.
Head said that he had left the site to bring his crew some water, when City Manager Steve Albright appeared, and told the crew members to stop working. Head said that he was called, immediately returned to the site, and stopped the job at once.

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From the Humboldt County Dept. of Health:


Officials with the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services are warning recreational users of the South Fork Eel and Van Duzen Rivers, Big Lagoon, and all other fresh water bodies to avoid contact with algae this summer.

They are aware of 11 dog deaths which may have been caused by blue-green algae poisoning since 2001.  The dogs died shortly after swimming in Big Lagoon, the South Fork Eel River and the Van Duzen River.  Two dogs died last year on the South Fork Eel and Van Duzen Rivers.

A nerve toxin associated with blue-green algae was found in the stomachs of the dogs that died on the South Fork Eel River in 2001. The same toxin was found in water samples from the South Fork Eel and Van Duzen Rivers last summer.  This toxin is the most likely cause of the dog deaths on these rivers.  Dogs are more vulnerable than people because they may swallow the poison when they lick their fur.  The onset of symptoms can be rapid; dogs have died within 30 minutes to one hour after leaving the water.

Blue green algae blooms that produce a liver toxin also have been documented in Klamath River reservoirs and the lower river.

Blue-green algae can be present in any fresh water body.  It looks like green, blue-green, white or brown scum, foam or mats floating on the water.  Usually it does not affect animals or people. However, warm water and abundant nutrients can cause blue-green algae to grow more rapidly than usual. These floating algal masses or “blooms” can produce natural toxins that are very potent.  Because of their smaller body size and tendency to stay in the water, dogs and children are most likely to be affected.

Potential symptoms in dogs following exposure to blue green algae toxins can include lethargy, difficulty breathing, salivation, vomiting, urination, diarrhea, or convulsions.  People can experience eye irritation, skin rash, mouth ulcers, vomiting, diarrhea, and cold or flu-like symptoms.

DHHS officials recommend the following guidelines for recreational users of all freshwater areas in Humboldt County:

  • Keep children, pets and livestock from swimming in or drinking water containing algal scums or mats.
  • Adults should also avoid wading and swimming in water containing algal blooms.  Try not to swallow or inhale water spray in an algal bloom area.
  • If no algal scums or mats are visible, you should still carefully watch young children and warn them not to swallow any water.
  • Fish should be consumed only after removing the guts and liver and rinsing fillets in tap water.
  • Never drink, cook with or wash dishes with water from rivers, streams or lakes.
  • Get medical attention immediately if you think that you, your pet, or livestock might have been poisoned by blue-green algae toxins.  Be sure to tell the doctor about possible contact with blue-green algae.

Human activities can have a big effect on nutrient and water flows in rivers, streams or lakes. Phosphorous and nitrogen found in fertilizers, animal waste, and human waste can stimulate blooms. Excessive water diversions can increase water temperatures and reduce flows.  People can take the following measures to prevent algal blooms in our waters:

  • Be very conservative with the use of water, fertilizers and pesticides on your lawn, garden or agricultural operation.
  • Recycle any “spent” soil that has been used for intensive growing by tilling it back into gardens.  Or protect it from rainfall to avoid nutrient runoff.
  • Plant or maintain native plants around banks.  These plants help filter water and don’t require fertilizers.
  • Pump and maintain your septic system every three to four years.
  • Prevent surface water runoff from agricultural and livestock areas.
  • Prevent erosion around construction and logging operations.

Please contact the Humboldt County DHHS Division of Environmental Health, at

(707) 445-6215 or 1-800-963-9241 for further information.  The California Department of Public Health website also has more details:



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Westhaven Wild Blackberry Festival this weekend

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Video of Live Fire Training

McKinleyville Press reader Cecilia Fontillas shares this video she took of the fire training at 1245 School Road in McKinleyville on July 17, 2010.

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Bond Measure to Appear on November Ballot

From the July 14, 2010 edition. Purchase or subscribe to the dead tree version for all of our articles.

By Elaine Weinreb
Press Staff Writer

At a special meeting held on July 6, the Northern Humboldt Union High School District Board of Trustees voted to place a $25.8 million school bond measure on the November ballot.
All four of the board members present voted for the bond. Board member Dana Silvernale was absent.
If passed by the voters, the bonds will be paid for by property owners in McKinleyville, Trinidad, Westhaven, Fieldbrook, Arcata, Blue Lake, Manila, Bayside, and Orick. Renters will pay the tax indirectly, as most landlords will probably pass the increased costs onto their tenants.
To pass, the bond must be approved by 55 percent of voters on Nov. 2.
The exact amount that property owners will pay has not yet been determined, but district officials estimate that it will cost $30 per year for each $100,000 of assessed property value. So a person with a house with assessed value of $200,000 would pay an additional $60 in taxes each year.
Bond proceeds cannot be used for the district’s most pressing needs – teacher’s salaries and operating funds.
Just what voters will be getting from the bond is still uncertain.
Three different project lists were given to the public at the meeting. The lists were not consistent with each other, and only one of them contained any financial information.
The vaguest of the three project lists was the one which voters will see on the sample ballot. Although it emphasizes items such as replacing inadequate wiring and outdated windows, it does not mention the two most expensive and controversial projects – a new Arcata High performing arts center and synthetic field turf for both high schools.
The only one of the three lists which gave cost estimates for most of the proposed projects was the newly created “Facility Master Plan.”  Here are the projects, listed in order of their cost:
• Astroturf for both high schools – $9 million
• Fine arts facility at Arcata High – $8.2 million
• New library and media centers – Cost not given
• New football bleachers at Mack High – $2.6 million
• Computer upgrades (8 locations) –  $1.3 million
• Solar panels for both high schools – $900,000
• Moving the Community Day School – $878,000
• New gym restrooms at both high schools – $700,000
• Track at Arcata High – $490,000
• Replacing clock/bell systems at both high schools  – $150,000
• Unspecified “monitoring devices” at both schools – $80,000
• Upgrading electrical wiring at Arcata High – $61,500
• Total (not including new library & media centers) – $24.5 million
• Paying off old debt – $ 1.3 million
• Grand total – $25.8 million
Arcata High will be getting the lion’s share of the money, with $15.5 million earmarked for that school.
McKinleyville High will receive $7 million.
The remaining money will go to the other facilities run by NHUHSD. Those are the Six Rivers Charter School, two continuation high schools, the Community Day School, the Adult Education School (which may be closed down altogether), and the district office.
When the costs of the new libraries and the payment to the bond salesmen are added in, the cost of the projects will exceed the amount of money that will be derived from the bond.
At last week’s meeting, 11 members of the public gave their opinions about the bond measure.         Seven were either Arcata residents, teachers at Arcata High, or parents of children who had attended Arcata High. The Arcata contingent was highly enthusiastic about the bond.
Four McKinleyville residents were critical of the bond.
Carol Newman wanted to see more specific financial information. Penny Elsebusch was concerned about the financial impact upon seniors, and noted that many of the items would be obsolete long before they were paid for.
Dave Elsebusch believed that the items on the project list were not critical needs, and Jeffrey Lytle thought it was inappropriate to try to pass bonds during a time of financial crisis.
Bond salesman Greg Isom attended the meeting to answer questions asked by the board.  He said that most other communities had passed school bonds when they appeared on the ballot.
All four of the board members present said that they wanted the question to be decided by the community, and therefore voted to put the measure on the ballot.

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Live fire training in McK

This old, dilapidated house at 1245 School Road in McKinleyville will be burned by the Arcata Fire Department as part of a live fire training starting at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, July 17. The house is being destroyed to make way for a new subdivision. Years ago, the developer offered to give the house away for free if someone would remove it. However, the house is in poor condition and there were no takers. The Arcata Fire Department is warning nearby residents to close their windows Saturday if they are sensitive to smoke.


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