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FBI launches inquiry of cop actions

Video appears to show two officers taking cash from bust

Hidden camera footage showing two law enforcement officers pocketing cash they found in a wallet during a Sheriff’s Office drug bust in March prompted an FBI investigation this week into the incident, and now additional questions are being raised about what happened that evening.

The video, which was shown to the Triplicate on Friday, wasn’t shot on the cameras that James Banuelos had mounted around his house — law enforcement knocked those down and took them as evidence when they showed up with a warrant to search the residence on March 9, which ultimately led to Banuelos’ arrest on suspicion of possession and sales of a controlled substance. As far as anyone knew, nothing was being recorded, but no one knew about the hidden cameras that Banuelos had tucked away around the house, wirelessly downloading everything they witnessed to his iPod. That footage, now in the hands of the FBI, shows an officer taking out what appears to be cash from a wallet that he found during the search, counting it out to “300” and laughing while splitting it with another officer and stuffing his share in his vest.

The officers’ identities, which weren’t immediately revealed by the video, couldn’t be confirmed by press time, but it’s known that the officers were from another agency assisting the Sheriff’s Office that night during the search.

State OKs new rules for fishing Klamath

The California Fish and Game Commission adopted two new potentially controversial sport fishing regulations on the lower Klamath River for the 2015 season at its meeting in Sacramento on Friday.

Along with setting daily bag and possession limits and the sport fishing quota for 2015, the Fish and Game Commission adopted a new regulation for the spit at the mouth of the Klamath, as well as a more controversial closure at the mouth of Blue Creek for this summer and fall.

The sport fishing quota adopted by the Fish and Game Commission will be 14,133 adult fall chinook. The daily bag limit is three salmon with no more than two adult Chinook over 22 inches.

S.R. Head Start to close as costs rise, numbers drop

The Head Start preschool in Smith River will close at the end of the school year, the Northcoast Children’s Services Board of Directors decided at its meeting on Tuesday night.

The shutdown, which was decided with four board members voting yes, one abstaining, and one voting no, isn’t only affecting Smith River — there are Head Start programs in Eureka, Mckinleyville, and Redway that stand to close or be changed too, and all for largely the same reason: increased program costs and fewer qualifying families, according to an NCS document distributed at the meeting.

Glore will represent public on waste board

A new public member on the Del Norte Solid Waste Management Authority Board may mean change is afoot for the agency, which has not had an executive director since 2013. 

By unanimous vote Thursday afternoon, Angela Glore was appointed by the board to replace Mary Wilson, who had reapplied for the position she filled for two years sitting as the board’s public representative. The other four seats are filled by two members of the Crescent City Council and two Del Norte County Supervisors.

Peaceful break in Jet Ski saga

Tyson Thompson of Redding shows off above the waves on his Yamaha Blaser Sunday at the Crescent City Freeride. Del Norte Triplicate / Michael Zogg
Low attendance at weekend gathering following beach use controversy

The Crescent City Freeride started out on Friday with a little apprehension from some of the personal watercraft (commonly called Jet Skis or PWCs) riders who made the trip to South Beach.

Following several complaints from a group of local citizens, many of the visiting riders didn’t know exactly what to expect. By the end of the weekend, however, that apprehension had turned to enjoyment.

“I think the weekend turned out absolutely amazing,” said local rider Kendri Rook. “The only thing is I wish we could have had the pro riders show up to give the public a better aerial show. Overall though, we had a lot of public support.”

Runway upgrades cleared for takeoff

With easements in hand that will keep lots purchased from the Pacific Shores and Bay Meadows subdivisions in public use after they’ve been restored to wetland, dune and prairie habitats, the airport is inching closer to measuring up to federal regulations and their December 2015 deadline. 

Meeting the demands of a conditional development permit issued by the California Coastal Commission this January, the runway safety project — nearly a decade in the making — was given the green light this month and will finally step off the landing strips and into the marsh. Runway buffer zones will be widened by 300 feet to keep the airport’s commercial status and comply with Federal Aviation Administration standards. 

Board: Wier will head SRS

After there was some question about whether contracting with a county supervisor would present a conflict of interest, the Del Norte Local Transportation Commission changed course at its special meeting Monday, choosing another bidder to manage the Safe Routes to School program.

After the commission’s attorney advised against entering into a contract with District 2 Supervisor Martha McClure because she is one of the County Board of Supervisors’ designated alternates for the board’s three seats on the commission, Executive Director Tamera Leighton said she looked forward to working with Amber Wier, of Amber Wier Consulting, who is to take over the program at Bess Maxwell and Joe Hamilton elementary schools, promoting safe walking and bicycling to schools by rallying community support and managing grants. 

DUI arrest after crash

A 23-year-old man from Eureka suffered major injuries after a vehicle veered off the road and into a ditch at around 1 a.m. Monday.

With a broken nose and two lacerations to the back of the head, Nathanael Timoshemiko was transported to Sutter Coast Hospital, after he and the driver, Jacob Flores, 22, of McKinleyville, were able to walk away from the rolled vehicle and flag down a California Highway Patrol unit, according to a press release from CHP.

2 Caltrans employees honored for heroism

Two Caltrans District 1 employees are being awarded the Governor’s State Employee Medal of Valor for acts of heroism during a rescue operation north of Gasquet in Del Norte County in late 2011.

The employees, Johnnie James and Jerry Bachmann, were members of the Idlewild Maintenance crew in Del Norte County in October 2011 who were returning to their maintenance yard from the site of an oil spill cleanup when they spotted tire tracks leading off of U.S. Highway 199 and over an embankment. James and Bachmann acted quickly to assess the situation; a vehicle had skidded off the road and overturned on its way down the embankment before coming to rest against a tree — which was the only thing that prevented the vehicle from plummeting to the riverbed below, trapping Peter and Susan Aspinwall inside.

Solid Waste Board to vet candidates

The Del Norte Solid Waste Management Authority will discuss and take possible action at its meeting today in regard to appointing a public commissioner — one of five seats on the board, and the only one that’s elected from the public.

Nine people are vying for the two-year position, which will help to oversee trash and recycling in the county, as well as state-mandated monitoring of a closed landfill site.

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