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Updated 10:31am - Apr 1, 2015

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Last Chance Grade: New routes proposed

Proposed alternative routes
The lengthy process of rerouting a relatively short length of road is just getting underway as possible route alternatives to the section of Highway 101 known as Last Chance Grade are considered.

Public meetings hosted by Caltrans, the Yurok Tribe, Smith River Rancheria, Elk Valley Rancheria, California Department of Parks and Recreation and the National Park Service were held in Crescent City, Eureka and Klamath this week to solicit community input for the Last Chance Grade Feasibility Study.

Stelling cleared in DNSC lawsuit

Jury finds senior center, 2 former administrators at fault 

After a grueling week-and-a-half of testimony on the accounting procedures used by the Del Norte Senior Center four years ago, a local jury on Tuesday found two of three defendants, as well as the plaintiff, at fault in the Del Norte Senior Center’s suit against three former employees concerning the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars stemming from the misuse of energy program funds.

Accused of negligence and breach of contract, the jury found that Tracy Stelling, who had been contracted as a part-time accountant for the senior center from 2002–11, was not at fault for any of the losses claimed by the center. 

Many local docs left out of new plan

A new Del Norte County-centric health insurance plan developed by CalPERS, Anthem Blue Cross and Sutter Health was offered to 1,700 local residents this month, stirring controversy over which doctors were covered by the plan’s network.

Doctors that aren’t employed by Sutter-affiliated entities were not asked to be part of Anthem’s Del Norte County Exclusive Provider Organization before it was rolled out to members of the state’s health benefit and pension system, CalPERS, on Jan. 8, but after significant blowback from independent clinics and patients the plan’s network is being expanded to include any local physician that contracts with Anthem, according to Sutter Coast Hospital CEO Mitch Hanna. 

Committee posts stir debate at meeting

Infighting dominated Tuesday’s Del Norte County Board of Supervisors meeting, with county leaders split 3-2 over routine committee assignments. 

The committees at stake are advisory groups with no decision-making authority, which report to the full board on everything from specific goals to general planning for transportation, health care, intergovernmental collaboration and much more. Every year county supervisors are divided up in pairs among about 50 committees to collaborate with partners like the City of Crescent City, various special service districts, native tribes and state agencies.

Death linked to stolen car

Klamath Falls police believe that a vehicle matching the description of one stolen in Gasquet earlier this month is connected to a homicide that occurred in their community last week.

Detectives are searching for a newer model white Honda Civic in connection with the death of 49-year-old Donald Clinton Black, according to Klamath Falls Det. Peter York.  

Black was found dead from a gunshot wound in his home on Jan. 20, the Herald and News reported. A 32-year-old Klamath Falls man, Joseph Everett Woodward, has been charged with Black’s death and faces a preliminary hearing in court today. 

Woman arrested after arson attempt

A local woman was arrested on Wednesday on multiple charges stemming from an incident at the Del Norte Mental Health Clinic on K Street.

Destinie Wettengel, 21, of Crescent City, reportedly entered the Mental Health Clinic and began threatening workers there, according to Crescent City Police Sgt. Justin Gill. Wettengel then barricaded herself in a back room and started a fire inside, Gill said.

Perseverance and Progress

Yurok Transportation Planner Isaac Kinney stands in front of the Yurok Country Visitor Center, which is nearing completion and is part of the Yurok Tribe’s effort to spearhead economic revival in Klamath. Courtesy Matt Mais
Contributions to the business community and Crescent City and Del Norte County Chamber of Commerce were recognized at the chamber’s sellout annual awards banquet held Saturday night at Lucky 7 Casino Tolowa Event Center.

Three individuals and two organizations were recipients of the night’s major awards:

There were an unprecedented two winners, the Yurok Tribe and Crescent City Harbor District, of this year’s Del Norte Pride Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to improving the aesthetics of the community.

Home away from abuse

Smith River Rancheria program specialist Virginia Tolento, left, and Dorothy Wait, director of the tribe’s Department of Community and Family Services, show off decor at the transitional home. Del Norte Triplicate / Emily Jo Cureton
One local house became a home last month when it was outfitted by Smith River Rancheria to help a survivor of domestic violence end an abusive relationship without also risking the roof over her family’s head.

For that family, placement in a furnished three-bedroom near the Lucky 7 Casino means a year of housing security, provided in step with counseling and support services from the tribe’s Department of Community and Family Services. 

Del Norte jobless rate drops

After posting the lowest November jobless rate since 2007, Del Norte County’s preliminary unemployment numbers for December are even lower.

December’s unemployment rate for Del Norte County was 8.7 percent, down 0.6 percentage points from the revised November rate of 9.3 percent, according to the California Employment Development Department. It’s also 2 percentage points lower than December 2013’s 10.7 percent.

Report: Not enough air smoke-free

A report released Wednesday found that progress in the fight against tobacco use “is at a standstill in California and in most cities and counties in the North Coast,” according to a press release from the American Lung Association. 

Tracking the annual progress of state and federal tobacco policies, the State of Tobacco Control 2015 report assessed 482 cities and all 58 counties in California, and found that more could be done to protect residents from tobacco-related death and disease, the release states.  

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