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County payroll, benefits increase

County payroll and benefits saw increases in nearly every major department, according to budget records. 

Across nine departments examined by the Triplicate, the adopted budget for fiscal year 2015–16 rose an average of 15 percent (or $664,000) in payroll and 23 percent (or $230,000) in employee benefits relative to fiscal year 2014–15. County administrator Jay Sarina said that expenses in salary and health care typically rise each year in accordance with programmed longevity raises and the increasing expense nationwide of medical treatment. He also said that the overall increase in funds (up more than 5 percent from last year’s county budget of $115 million) does not directly correlate to the rise in department budgets. Certain departments, such as administration and tax-collector, receive funds from Social Services entirely independent of the general fund coffers.

The departments examined for these figures were: administration, Board of Supervisors, assessor, auditor-controller, treasurer, tax-collector, district attorney, sheriff and probation. 

Talks seek solutions to whales tangled in crab gear

Up and down the West Coast this week, conversation continues on the best strategies for keeping whales safe from crab fishing gear. Crescent City is among those voices.

This Thursday, District 4 Supervisor Gerry Hemmingsen will go to Santa Rosa for a followup meeting of the Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group to discuss short- and long-term techniques for minimizing the entanglement of whales in commercial fishing gear.

Hemmingsen said the recent attention to crab fishing is especially relevant to port communities along the northern half of the coast, including Bodega Bay, Fort Bragg, Eureka and Crescent City.

PACE program, sewer project go forward with new City Council member on board

Monday’s City Council meeting marked the closing of one man’s career and the beginning of another’s, before it got on with business.

Eight-year member of the Crescent City Council Rich Enea was formally recognized for his years of service, having been an advocate for public safety, new business and obliterating blight.

He said he was proud to see the city develop a strategic plan during his tenure that can be implemented for the betterment of the community.

El Niño's role unclear for North Coast

As winter draws nearer, a warm, wet El Niño seems certain to soak a desiccated California, but what that means for the North Coast is less certain.  

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center gave El Niño a 95 percent chance of lasting through the winter in its latest diagnostic report, issued Sept. 10. And what’s expected is a strong one.

Between June and August, ocean surface temperatures 4 or more degrees Fahrenheit higher than normal were measured in the eastern tropical Pacific. This, coupled with low atmospheric pressure and weakened west-blowing Trade Winds, means that conditions are likely just right to send the jet stream to drench the southern United States this winter before the pattern is predicted to weaken in the spring.

Nat'l Forest plans on prescribed burns

Six Rivers National Forest officials plan to burn 442 acres in the Smith River National Recreation Area and Gasquet Ranger District this fall.

These prescribed burns are planned since autumn has brought cooler temperatures, higher relative humidity and the prospect of an actual rainy season to the area, the U.S. Forest Service announced Thursday.

Prescribed burns in the Smith River National Recreation Area include a 258-acre understory burn in the Elk Camp Fuel Break Project northeast of Gasquet near North Fork Loop Road. Crews will also conduct pile burning in a 160-acre area within the Big Flat Project area as well as a 24-acre pile burn within the Hiouchi Community Protection Project Area on Hiouchi Mountain Road.

Bogus bills seen in circulation

Local law enforcement has mobilized in response to counterfeit bills popping up at area businesses in the past week.

Police logs since last Friday show almost ten calls to Crescent City Police Department and the Del Norte County Sheriff’s Office in relation to at least six separate incidents. Affected locations include Elk Valley Casino, Walmart, Safeway, Dollar Tree and two gas stations.

“I feel like it’s a spike. This seems to pop up from time to time. There have been a lot of incidents reported in a short time,” said Sheriff Erik Apperson. Apperson’s department received reports of fake bills appearing at Walmart, the casino, and the Shell station on Northcrest Drive on Sept. 25, 27, 28 and 29 between evening and early morning.

Reading, writing, arithmetic and jiu jitsu

Orlando Peace, left, and Kellin Coffman teach Del Norte High freshman techniques to defend themselves if grabbed by the shirt. Del Norte Triplicate / Bryant Anderson
Del Norte High School saw a brief addition to its rudiments last week with four days of special lessons from a local Mixed Martial Arts club. 

Warrior MMA of Crescent City brought a small band of members to lead instruction in self-defense for freshman boys and girls morning gym classes Monday through Thursday. The format consisted of several brief interactive demonstrations in key skills such as breaking out of an opponent’s grip, recovering from vulnerable positions and disabling an aggressor long enough to withdraw from a dangerous situation.

But each day’s tutorial also started and finished with an emphasis on behavior, thoughtfulness and character. Students were encouraged to avoid confrontation in the first place: martial arts, then, as an exercise in physical conditioning, protection, and self-exploration rather than pugnacious prowess. 

Northwoods, Tsunami Lanes parley for shared space

Northwoods Restaurant may be wintering at Tsunami Lanes, if the two are able to strike a deal, while the local eatery undergoes construction.

“Obviously we need to have more discussions about what their plans are and what the timing is — that sort of thing. But I think both sides are willing to make sure it happens,” said Brad Downs, general counsel for the Elk Valley Rancheria, which owns the bowling alley.

A new menu will be tailored to a sports bar and grill setting, differing from the current menu that owner Steve Wakefield said caters more toward a fine dining experience.

Airport looks to phase 1 of terminal project

The Border Coast Regional Airport Authority gave airport officials the go-ahead for an agreement with the Del Norte County Engineers on Thursday, a first step in what will result in a brand new terminal at the Del Norte County Regional Airport.

The agreement enlists the county to assist the authority in taking on the design of basic infrastructure improvements to the airport necessary for the new terminal, which includes realigning Dale Rupert Road, installing sewer and water lines and laying the structure for a rotating beacon tower — what is considered Phase 1 of the project.

City Council honors Enea, welcomes Short Monday

Ten minutes of Monday’s Crescent City Council meeting have been reserved to wish Mayor Pro Tem Rich Enea a “fond farewell” before his seat will be handed over to his successor, Planning Commission Chairman Darrin Short.

Enea will be formally recognized for his two years of service on the Planning Commission and eight years on the council, during which he has sat on every board, commission and committee “at one time or another.” He announced his resignation in August, effective after Monday’s meeting.

Moving out of the area due to health reasons with his wife, Beth, Enea said he had no intention to continue with local politics in his new home.

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