By Jennifer Henion
Triplicate staff writer
What matters to Del Norte County and what can the county's new state politicians do to help?
Local elected officials like Crescent City Mayor Glenn Gary and county Supervisor Martha McClure will answer that question next week when state Sen. Sam Aanestad (R-Grass Valley) and Assemblymember Patty Berg come for a meeting of the minds.
Aanestad, the senator for District Four, is making his first official visit to Del Norte since his election.
"He needs to see what this community is about. That's part of our mission with this visit," said Del Norte County Assessor Gerald Cochran.
The challenge with Aanestad, said Cochran and others, is to educate the inland-valley politician about coastal issues.
"He can't even get here from there. He has to either go into Oregon or into our old district in order to get here. It's unfair to him and unfair to us, so we have to get him acquainted first," said Cochran.
This is the first time in recent years that Del Norte County has not been aligned with other coastal communities in a state senatorial district.
Del Norte was tacked onto the northern inland valley district during redistricting and the result was the election of a senator who must represent two distinctly different regions.
The senator is scheduled to arrive next Thursday or Friday. McClure will join Cochran Friday to discuss future needs of the Crescent City airport, Point St. George, and needed legislation to help Del Norte's struggling economy.
Then on Saturday, Berg will join Aanestad for a two-hour conference with local elected officials.
The meeting will be closed to the public.
Berg, who is based in Eureka, has already partnered with Aanestad on at least two Assembly bills geared to help Del Norte.
One was drafted to make legal an unprecedented joint-powers agreement between a sovereign nation ¬ó the Elk Valley Rancheria ¬ó and the local governments, to help bring in more funding to construct a new sewer plant.
The second bill, AB 1199 seeks to forgive a debt owed by Del Norte County to the state for a $1.19 million loan.
The county took out the loan as plans for Pelican Bay State Prison materialized.
It was deemed necessary in 1989 to increase local infrastructure to accommodate an influx of prison employees and inmate families, according to language in the bill.
When prison construction was then delayed for a year by the state, the county fell into arrears and lost revenue that was anticipated by the opening of the prison.
Other issues, like the current effort by Senator Dede Alpert (D-Coronado) to pass a law banning trawl fishing for pink shrimp and other species, will be discussed by local fishermen.
Del Norte-based boat owners Gerry Hemmingsen and Richard Young are attempting to get a meeting with both Aanestad and Berg to lobby against the bill. McClure also promised to get that message across.
If the bill SB 236 is passed, it will first increase the price of one-year trawl permits from $1,000 to $5,000, and eventually make the practice of trawling illegal.