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Expired drug collection today at sheriff station

Anyone can safely dispose of their unwanted, unneeded or expired prescription drugs at the Del Norte County Sheriff’s Office today.

Prescribed burning in Bald Hills starts soon

Redwood National and State Parks announced plans Thursday to begin a series of prescribed burns this fall in the prairies, oak woodlands and conifer forest of the Bald Hills east of Orick.

The prescribed fire season in the parks begins in late September or early October as weather conditions permit.  

While the wildfire season has been active in the West, the coastal climate of northwest California is transitioning to cooler days and nights, higher relative humidity, increasing fuel moisture, and lowering fire danger levels.

These changing conditions mark the transition to prescribed fire season. The prescribed fires are used under specific weather conditions for fire control.

Racial profiling protesters begin pilgrimage

Crystal Helton (center), backed by Mike Thompkins and Amber Gensaw, makes the case for better police accountability in front of the Del Norte Superior Court Friday. Del Norte Triplicate / Bryant Anderson
Locals added their voices this week to growing outcries against police brutality and racial profiling of non-whites nationwide, as they urged Gov. Jerry Brown to sign the Racial and Identity Profiling Act of 2015 by his Oct. 11 deadline.

A 9 a.m. stop outside the Del Norte Superior Court on Friday was the first in a “pilgrimage” down the North Coast of California with organizers encouraging residents to speak out on their own struggles with racial profiling and discrimination.

Stops were then made in Klamath, Weitchpec, Hoopa, Eureka and Fortuna, where members of the True North Organizing Network collected signed prayer cards urging Brown “that you will be led by what is best for the residents of California whose dignity and safety are threatened daily by overly aggressive police officers. I pray that, as you have done in other statewide crises, you will again demonstrate your capacity to put the well-being of the people above political ideology.”

Taking stock at season's end

The last loads of chinook salmon commercially harvested by Yurok Tribal members, like this one at the Requa boat launch, were brought in Tuesday. Courtesy Collin Spencer
 Despite sub-quota haul, profit-sharing boosts optimism

As the clock struck midnight Tuesday night, Yurok Tribal members’ commercial gill-nets were pulled from the the Lower Klamath River and the Yurok commercial salmon harvest came to a close.

The final amount of salmon harvested, roughly 15,000 adult fall run Klamath chinook,  according to the Yurok Tribal Fisheries Program, is substantially less than the 22,300 quota the tribe had allocated for the commercial fishery but higher than the entire 10,000-fish commercial quota allocated for the 2014 fall run.

“The obvious speculation is that the run wasn't that huge, and the fishery is somewhat reflective of that. But we'll know a lot more next February,” said Dave Hillemeier, program manager of the Yurok Tribal Fisheries Program. “This is typically the time that the council has closed the commercial fishing, because that’s when we see coho salmon start to return and we try to conserve coho salmon.”

Cultural Center restaurant deal nixed

Council balks at upgrade costs to host Northwoods while it expands its building

A deal that Crescent City Manager Gene Palazzo described as a potential “win-win” for both the city and local restaurant Northwoods was put to bed Monday as it was deemed one that would to be too expensive for both parties.

Palazzo looked at inviting Northwoods to temporarily set up shop at the Cultural Center while the restaurant undergoes construction from October to April. The arrangement would have brought in extra revenue for the city for use of a facility that’s been consistently losing the city money for years, Palazzo told the Crescent City Council on Monday.  

It also would have kept Northwoods’ 35 staff members employed through the winter while a second story is added to the building on U.S. 101, across from the Crescent City Harbor. 

Budget climbs $20M

Del Norte County Supervisors approved a budget Tuesday for fiscal year 2015–16, balanced and substantially larger than last year.

The team noted tax revenues decreased, but its goals were still reached through state allocations, careful management by department operations and carry-over of a $2.6 million surplus from the 2014-15 fiscal year.

Overall, the total county budget for FY 2015-16 stands at slightly more than $121.5 million, an increase of roughly $21.5 million from the previous year. The general fund budget is almost $26.4 million, which represents about a $2 million increase.

Water tower will get seismic retrofitting

The 50,000-gallon tank atop a 210-foot tower on Wonder Stump Road provides water to the city's 15,000 customers. Del Norte Triplicate / Bryant Anderson
 The elevated water tank on Wonder Stump Road and U.S. 101 should be ready for a ground shaking by the middle of next year with $584,080 worth of upgrades that will mostly be paid for using Proposition 84 funding.

On Monday, the Crescent City Council approved a grant agreement with Humboldt County, the administrator of Prop. 84 funds for the North Coast. The agreement commits the city to paying for 25-percent of the project, or $146,020.

The rest of the bill — $438,060 — will be taken care of by the state using funds allocated by the passing of a 2006 bond act meant to promote water conservation and prevent or reduce contamination of bodies of water during storms, according to the California Water Resources Control Board.

After tough year, senior ctr., CASA funding restored

After a year of struggling to maintain services, things are looking up for local programs providing assistance to seniors and foster kids in Del Norte County.

The county’s request for up Community Development Block Grant funding was approved this year. Del Norte will receive $1.8 million, county administrative analyst Toni Self told Supervisors on Tuesday.

The Del Norte Senior Center’s nutrition program and and local Court Appointed Special Advocates program will receive $232,558 each, which will help fund their services for two years. The county allocated $162,558 for ADA upgrades at the Smith River Community Hall. More than $1 million in CDBG funding will also be used for bicycle and pedestrian improvements near Bess Maxwell Elementary School, Crescent Elk Middle School, Del Norte High School and Castle Rock Charter School.

Request by tribe irks Brookings officials

The Brookings mayor and city manager aren’t happy with the request by Tolowa Dee-Ni’ Nation, formerly named Smith River Rancheria, to transfer its Brookings apartment property to federal ownership, effectively making it exempt from local taxes, development fees and building and zoning codes.

“The transfer means they would get out of paying property taxes but keep using the city services — police, water, sewer — for free,” Mayor Ron Hedenskog said Thursday.

Also, the property owners, Tolowa Dee-Ni’ Nation, would be exempt from paying county taxes and those for special district.

Officials support mining withdrawal

Much like the last opportunity to voice formal opposition to proposed mining operations in the North Fork Smith River basin, the Crescent City Council and the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors both unanimously supported writing letters this week in support of mineral withdrawal for regions in southwest Oregon targeted for hard rock mining.

Mineral withdrawal would prevent future mining claims from being made in the withdrawn area and make it more difficult for mining projects on existing claims to move forward.  The Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service have proposed a five-year mineral withdrawal while legislation for a longer mineral withdrawal is considered in Congress.  A two-year withdrawal was implemented while environmental analysis is completed for the five-year withdrawal.

“This is of interest to our board because of the impacts that it would have on our North Fork of the Smith River watershed because of potential strip mining that would occur in the Baldface Creek watershed,” said Heidi Kunstal told supervisors on Tuesday. Kunstal recently attended a public comment meeting as staff of the county’s Environmental Review Committee.  At the Gold Beach meeting, Kunstal said “There was support for the withdrawal because everyone is in support of having clean water.”

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