Daily Archives: January 2, 2013

Fictitious Business Name Statements – Yeah, We Print Those

What exactly is a Fictitious Business Name Statement and why do you have to file one? Who the hell knows. It’s something you just have to do, and we can help.

For a flat fee of $40, the mighty McK Press will print the dang FBNS for you. Click here for more information.


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New Year’s Resolution: Subscribe to your local newspaper

This is something you need to do. If you live in Arcata, subscribe to the Arcata Eye. If you live in Ferndale, subscribe to the Ferndale Enterprise. If you live in McKinleyville or Trinidad, subscribe to the McKinleyville Press. If you live in Timbukto, subscribe to… well, you get the point.

It cost a lot of money to have reporters sit through long, boring meetings and report on the doings of local government. It cost a lot of money to print up newspapers to keep people informed and aware of what’s going on in their towns.  If you subscribe, you’ll help support that effort. You’ll also get the newspaper delivered to your home or business. And you’ll be entertained!

Maybe you plan on losing weight in 2013. Maybe you’re going to lift weights and get buffed. Maybe you have a long list of resolutions. Click here and subscribe and you can cross this one off the list right now. DO IT!



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Redwood tree falls on community water tank

WCSD water tank 006


From the Dec. 26, 2012 edition


By Elaine Weinreb

Special To The Press


As of Saturday, Dec. 22, the water in Westhaven was deemed safe to drink.

A few days earlier, on Thursday, residents were told to boil their drinking water after a large redwood tree fell on the community water tank, crushing a corner of the roof and scattering debris through the water.

The springs which supply the residents of Westhaven with their drinking water are located in a redwood forest, so the treatment plant is surrounded by trees.

On Thursday afternoon, December 20, the weather had been stormy all day, with gusts of high wind.

Late that afternoon, Richard Swisher, the general manager of the Westhaven Community Water District, was making his evening inspection of the district’s facilities, when he noticed something was amiss.  A fallen redwood was leaning against the top of the water tank, an enclosed building about the size of a small house.

Swisher and his assistant Jamie quickly assessed the damage.  A hole had been punched into the roof, but luckily, the damage was above the water line, avoiding a catastrophic leak.

However, the water, which had already been filtered and chlorinated, was now thoroughly polluted by debris from the tree and the roof fragments.

They managed to remove the tree from the roof, and cover the hole in the roof with tarps.  Perched on the catwalk, between the rafters above the water, Jamie raked out the largest chunks of junk with a leaf rake.

A couple of years earlier, the district had invested in a robotic underwater pool cleaner to get rid of sediment.  This investment now saved the day, because it enabled the staff to get rid of the remaining detritus that had sunk to the bottom of the huge tank.

Some of the refuse was floating on top of the tank. The staff rented a pool skimmer to get rid of it.

Then Swisher, secretary Sarah Jordan, and Swisher’s wife telephoned every single one of the water district’s 200-plus customers, telling them to use bottled water, or else boil the drinking water before using it.  The calls took hours.

Swisher amped up the chlorination system, and took a sample of the water to a lab for testing.

“I talked to the people at the Health Department in Redding and basically, we’ve already done everything they were going to tell us to do,” he said.

The falling tree was not the only problem that the water district has had with this tank.  The roof has been rotting for years, Swisher said, and the district does not have the money to replace it. Replacing the roof on the existing structure is not feasible, because the tank would have to be drained, leaving the residents of Westhaven without water.

Two weeks ago, the district submitted a grant application to the state, requesting Proposition 84 funding to build a new tank. If the application is approved, the new tank could be built by summertime.  In the meantime, carefully applied blue tarps will keep foreign objects out of Westhaven’s water.

The WCSD can be reached at  677-0798. A recorded message has been left on its answering machine.


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Goodbye Hammond Bridge?



By Jack Durham

Press Editor & Reporter


The Hammond Bridge is disintegrating and, at the current rate of corrosion, will be unsafe in 10 years, give or take.

With this in mind, Humboldt County Public Works has launched a study looking at alternatives for replacing the pedestrian bridge, which spans the Mad River and connects McKinleyville to the Arcata Bottom.

The bridge would most likely be replaced with a cement structure – a utilitarian bridge designed to withstand the elements, but lacking the interesting geometric shapes and vintage charm of the existing trestle.

‘Beyond repair’

Humboldt County Public Works Deputy Director Chris Whitworth talked about the bridge and the need to replace it at last week’s meeting of the McKinleyville Municipal Advisory Committee (McKMAC). Whitworth was in attendance to update the committee on various Public Works projects in the McKinleyville area.

“It’s quite a bit beyond repair,” Whitworth said about the bridge in a later interview. “It’s rusting away.”

The bridge has been perched above the Mad River estuary for seven decades, under constant assault from the salty ocean air.

The corrosion is eating away at the structure day by day. At the current rate of rust, the bridge will be unsafe in about a decade, Whitworth said.

Back in 1997, the county looked at painting and repairing the bridge. It was determined at the time that the entire structure would have to be sandblasted and re-coated. This would be problematic, because the bridge is covered in lead paint.

Winzler & Kelly Consulting Engineers conducted a study, in which it power washed a small portion of the bridge, collected the wash water and analyzed it. The consultants found that the wash water contained concentrations of lead and zinc that were well beyond what would be allowed to be discharged into the Mad River estuary.

In order to paint the bridge, the entire structure would have to be wrapped in a giant diaper, with all of the lead paint carefully collected and then shipped to a hazardous waste disposal site. This would be prohibitively expensive and would be a temporary fix, as the bridge would need to be repeatedly repainted in the years to come.

In an interview, Whitworth summed up the problem. “It’s steel in close proximity to the ocean,” he said.

A steel structure near the ocean needs constant maintenance, he said, noting that the Golden Gate Bridge has a never-ending painting and maintenance program.

Bridge designs

Public Works will look at several alternative bridge designs in its study. The most likely design is some sort of concrete box girder bridge, similar to the 17th Street pedestrian overcrossing in Arcata.

A cement bridge would cost about $3.5 million to construct. A more attractive arch bridge, which could share some of the aesthetic appeal of the existing bridge, would cost about $7 million, nearly twice as much as the concrete structure.

Whitworth said that Public Works will complete its study and pick a preferred alternative sometime this spring. When it does so, the department will seek public input.

Then the department will make a final decision on the alternative, and then have a final design completed for the new bridge. After that comes the hard part – finding a few million dollars to pay for the project.

Alternative idea

At the Dec. 19 meeting of the McKMAC, McKinleyville resident Mark Rynearson suggested that rather than replacing the bridge, Public Works should extend the Hammond Trail east along the Mad River and connect to the new U.S. Highway 101 Mad River Bridges. The new northbound bridge includes a dedicated pathway for pedestrians and bicyclists. It’s separated from the traffic and should open in the coming year.

But in order to extend the trail, Public Works would need to purchase property from three different landowners who hold property between the Hammond Bridge and U.S. Highway 101.

Rynearson said that with enough money, the landowners would likely be persuaded to sell a right-of-way for a trail. Given that the bridge project would cost at least $3.5 million, this could be a less expensive alternative, Rynearson noted.

In a later interview, Whitworth said that as a government agency, the county can only acquire property based on its assessed market value. It can’t pay more for property than what it’s worth.

Whitworth said the county is pursuing a bridge replacement to maintain the current Hammond Trail system.

Bridge history

The steel trestle portion of the bridge was transported from Washington in 1941 and reassembled over the Mad River. It was used by the Hammond Lumber Co. to haul lumber via train from Crannell to Humboldt Bay until the 1950s. Sometime later, the tracks were removed, as well as the ramps leading up to the trestle.

In the 1970s, the now-defunct Humboldt Bay Wastewater Authority (HBWA) acquired the railroad right-of-way, including the bridge. The agency was going to create a regional wastewater disposal system, which never materialized. The HBWA later disbanded and the bridge ended up being the responsibility of the McKinleyville Community Services District, according to a report prepared by Public Works in 1997.

In 1982, the County of Humboldt and the MCSD signed an agreement to co-own the bridge. This coincided with the start of construction of the Hammond Trail, which was developed in sections over a period of three decades.

In 1982, the trestle was perched above the Mad River but didn’t include ramps on either side. These were built and the bridge became a pedestrian and bicycle connection between McKinleyville and the Arcata Bottom.

The MCSD also installed a pipeline on the bridge so it could pump treated wastewater to ranches in the Arcata Bottom. The wastewater would be used for irrigation, and solve the district’s problem of how to dispose of the effluent during the summer months, when it’s not allowed to dump the water in the Mad River.

The MCSD now disposes of its wastewater at its Fischer Ranch at the corner of School and Fischer roads during the summer. The MCSD Board of Directors has yet to discuss what role, if any, it would play in the replacement of the bridge.


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