Year in Review, Part II


The county supervisors approved an agreement between the county sheriff's office and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration that would reimburse the sheriff for up to $150,000 in costs directly associated with marijuana eradication and arrests, including overtime pay for deputies. The sheriff's office reported that they have identified 4,100 grow sites county-wide and that they have the ability to eradicate 50 or 60 per season.

The Myers Flat Mutual Water System became the latest community water provider to suspend sales of bulk water early in July. Increased demand from bulk water haulers was causing excess sediment and low pressure to residential customers in Myers Flat. In the meantime, staff at Redway Community Services District, which stopped selling bulk water in 2008, said they suspected water was being stolen from Redway fire hydrants.

SoHum residents joined people from around the county in discussions of a ban on genetically-modified organisms, or GMOs, that they hope will be placed on the November 2014 general election ballot.

Over 100 persons attended a forum on water rights at Beginnings in Briceland sponsored by the Salmonid Restoration Foundation to hear representatives of several state water agencies explain the tangled web of California water law.

SoHum firefighters were kept busy with a series of small fires around the area in Garberville, Harris, Shelter Cove, and Whale Gulch, especially during the July 4 weekend. Dry weather, windy conditions, and lightning added to the danger of fireworks and other manmade hazards. None of the fires resulted in injury or serious property damage, thanks to quick responses from Cal Fire and local volunteer fire departments.


The Weott Community Services District received approval of their request for a declaration of emergency from the county supervisors to help them obtain funding and assistance after their main water line was severely damaged, threatening loss of the town's water supply. WCSD staff had to increase pressure in the line to meet customer needs following theft of a large amount of water from their system, which led to the damage.

The Phillipsville CSD board voted to restrict bulk water sales outside district boundaries only to residences "within the Phillipsville area" during emergencies, owing to ambiguity as to whether the district's well is considered surface water according to state water laws.

Reggae on the River successfully returned to its original home at French's Camp. Smoke from fires in Oregon did not dampen the enthusiasm of those who attended the four-day festival.

Former SoHum resident Shane Miller, accused of killing his wife and daughters in Shasta County in May, remained at large. He was last seen near his former home in Petrolia. Law enforcement officials believed Miller was still somewhere in California in spite of suggestions that he might have fled to Oregon or Mexico.

Warrants were issued on two men and nearly 600 marijuana plants were seized at a grow site on Perry Meadows Road, along with methamphetamine, cocaine, and psilocybin mushrooms, several weapons, and $40,000 in cash.

An Alderpoint man, Anthony Lane, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the killing of a Rancho Sequoia man in June, a charge that carries a mandatory state prison sentence of 15 years to life.


Supervisor Estelle Fennell toured homeless camps in the Garberville area, accompanied by local sheriff's deputies. "I felt there was something I could do... to become aware on a personal level, to educate myself... and know what I'm talking about," she explained. Fennell said she supports services for "those who fall between the cracks," but that these services "should not be abused by people who are counting on a free ride."

Doug Green, president of the Mateel Community Center and one of the founders of Reggae on the River, died just two weeks after attending a "love feast" held in his honor. Musicians and performers from all over the country performed at the event, which was both a fundraiser and a celebration of Green's life, and was attended by hundreds of his friends.

The community also mourned astrologer and musician Antonia Lamb, whose body was found at her home by a friend after she failed to show up for a strategic planning meeting at KMUD. Lamb was particularly well known for her monthly call-in astrology program on KMUD and weekly updates. She also wrote and performed folk-style music for children and adults.

Shelter Cove volunteer firefighters, assisted by an inmate crew from a local conservation camp, rescued a hiker who slipped down the side of a cliff above the beach and became stuck in a cleft. Darkness and heavy brush delayed rescue efforts until the next day, when the inmate crew cleared the brush, enabling Shelter Cove firefighter Cassidy Etter to climb down to the stranded man and help him into a harness so he could be assisted up the cliff to safety.


A 200-plant marijuana grow in a residential area of Redway was shut down by sheriff's deputies and eight people were arrested at the scene after neighbors complained about noise, aggressive dogs, strangers coming in and out at all hours, and marijuana plants growing taller than the 10-foot fence surrounding the property.

Sheriff's deputies assisted by the Cannabis Eradication and Reclamation Team seized over 21,500 marijuana plants and 600 pounds of processed marijuana from two sites on Barnum Timber property outside Garberville. Deputies found rodenticides and fertilizers on the properties, as well as environmental damage caused by the clearing of brush and timber, along with a stream diversion.

The supervisors approved the controversial revisions to the Guiding Principles of the General Plan Update in a 4-1 vote, with 3rd district supervisor Mark Lovelace again dissenting, following extensive public discussion in which opinions were almost evenly divided. County staff revised projections of the completion date of the GPU, now in its 14th year, to September, 2014.

At one of their regular meetings, the supervisors directed staff to prepare a proposed ordinance and zoning codes to regulate outdoor marijuana cultivation. The proposed ordinance was intended for higher-density residential areas and would apply to parcels from a half-acre to five acres in size. As proposed, it allows no more than five plants and a total canopy area of 50 square feet.

Outraged Orangutan LLC, the group that purchased the 166-acre Dimmick Ranch near Piercy, once the site of the now-defunct Reggae Rising festival, a rival of Reggae on the River, said they purchased the property for personal use and have no intention of staging festivals on the site, even thought they also acquired the Conditional Use Permit issued by the county for Reggae Rising.

Piercy activist and volunteer firefighter Jeff Hedin was chosen for EPIC's annual Sempervirens Award for Lifetime Achievement. Hedin, a building contractor and manager of his own 200-acre forest, joined the Piercy Watershed Association in its struggle to save the McCoy Creek watershed and had been active in conservation and restoration efforts since the mid-1990s.


Supervisor Estelle Fennell was released from St. Joseph's Hospital, where she was fighting complications from an E. Coli infection, but she remained absent from the board until the end of the month. First district supervisor Rex Bohn, who was helping with requests from Fennell's constituents, said, "Estelle is well on her way to full recovery. We just don't want her hurrying back."

With the long dry spell continuing and suspension of bulk water sales by local providers, water haulers and their customers were looking north for sources in Fortuna and Eureka. Because of the extra distance, the cost of a tank load of water almost doubled.

Dry weather and high winds contributed to firefighters' difficulties in two fires on Alderpoint Road. The Nov. 9 fire burned nine acres on both sides of the road, and a second fire on Nov. 21 near the junction of Sawmill and Alderpoint roads burned 10.5 acres. Both fires were quelled by Cal Fire and local volunteer fire departments before any structures were damaged, and no one was injured.

C&K Markets, owners of Ray's Food Place in Garberville and Shop Smart in Redway, announced that they were putting pharmacies in 15 locations up for sale so the company, which recently entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy, could focus on operating grocery stores. Whether or not the pharmacy in the Garberville store was on the chopping block was not known at the time.

The Southern Humboldt Community Healthcare District, in response to complaints from a community member, reviewed their policies and procedures regarding pain management. Administrator Harry Jasper and patient care coordinator Sarah Beach assured the community that the clinic continued to accept pain management patients, and that all pain management patients were individually evaluated to determine the best course of treatment.

A proposal to put utility lines underground around the Garberville Town Square drew positive feedback from most community members attending a hearing sponsored by Pacific Gas & Electric. The cost of the project would be covered by a special tariff on all California PG&E customers that has been collected specifically for undergrounding utility lines.


Supervisor Estelle Fennell attended the General Plan Update hearing on Dec. 2, her first public appearance since she fell ill from an E. Coli infection in October. Fennell expressed appreciation to the community for their prayers and good wishes during what she described as "this little health challenge."

Humboldt County was included in the Northern California High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), a designation that would draw more federal funding as well as more federal enforcement agents to the county. Sheriff Mike Downey pointed out that the designation meant more transparency and sharing of information among agencies both federal and local.

Trustees of the Southern Humboldt Unified School District considered asking voters to authorize sale of another $10 million of bonds remaining in the $25.2 million authorized by Measure L in 2010. Isom Advisors, a consulting firm specializing in school financing, found that 65 percent of the 340 persons they surveyed would vote yes on a measure to authorize the bond sale and the increase in the district's debt.

Work finally began on repairs to Weott's leaking raw water line, after delays caused by difficulty finding a contractor who could do the work within the amount of a grant from the California Department of Public Health. Using a method known as "horizontal directional drilling," Apex Engineering of Portland, OR would remove the damaged line and replace it with a new line without having to dig trenches. The Avenue of the Giants was closed between Weott and Myers Flat while the work was being done.

photo caption:


OCTOBER -- Humboldt County Sheriff's deputies and members of the Humboldt County Drug Task Force were at this Redway residence on Thursday where eight people were detained and arrested inside a mobile home.