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News of Record Dec. 12–18, 2014

These are the misdemeanor and felony sentencings provided by the Del Norte County Superior Court for the dates of Dec. 12–18:

David Mark Poyneer, 42, Crescent City, was sentenced to 45 days in jail and four years of probation and fined $4,006 for wet and reckless, driving on a suspended license and failure to provide insurance and sentenced to 45 days in jail for a probation violation.

Robert Jerymi Sinnott, 36, Crescent City, was sentenced to 60 days in jail and fined $2,381 for possession of paraphernalia and driving on a suspended license.

Busy season for elves

Firefighter/paramedic Liz Ponder unloads toys on Monday at Santa’s Workshop. Del Norte Triplicate / Bryant Anderson
About 250 kids’ wish lists haven’t been returned yet, but deadline is near 

Santa’s elves are in full swing this week collecting and wrapping gifts for local children who are less fortunate.

John Thompson, owner of Trees of Mystery in Klamath, and the Smith River Volunteer Fire Department will pick toys up in Crescent City on Friday and distribute them to children in their communities at 1 p.m. on Saturday, said Ron Phillips, special projects coordinator for Rural Human Services and Santa’s Workshop “head elf.” 

Blight: ‘Hit people in the pocketbook’

City looks for ways to sanction owners of properties in state of disrepair 

Crescent City elected officials on Monday authorized staff to go after three separate property owners for nuisance code violations that have generated nearly $205,228 in penalties.

Following a public hearing, the Crescent City Council unanimously approved a resolution that authorizes city staff to levy special assessments against the owners of the Gardenia Motel at 119 L St. and the old KPOD building at 825 Mason Mall. 

Hospital suit trial date set for November

But judge urges parties in Critical Access case to pursue mediation or settlement conference 

More than 50 people packed into a Del Norte Superior Court room this week as a lawsuit against Sutter Coast Hospital moved forward, marking the latest chapter in an epic controversy over plans to halve the hospital’s bed count in order to increase funding for federally-insured patients through the Critical Access Hospital program. 

At issue in this lawsuit is whether Del Norte’s only acute care hospital is being managed to benefit local residents or the multi-billion dollar Bay Area-based corporation that operates it, Sutter Health. 

Thanks given for century of service

With 100 years of experience among them, four of Del Norte’s public servants are retiring this year. 

County Assessor Louise Wilson will step down after 35 years spent in the office that values real property for tax purposes, everything from houses and lots to planes and mining claims. She was elected assessor in 2007 and come January will be replaced by Assessor-Elect Jennifer Perry. 

After 22 years in the Treasurer-Tax Collector’s Office and 12 at its helm, Dawn Langston is also moving on, to be replaced by Treasurer-Tax Collector-Elect Barbara Lopez.

Del Norte bird count hits ‘all-time high’

A red-eyed vireo may not be a big deal to a birder in South America, but spotting the songbird in cold, rainy Del Norte County is cause for excitement and celebration.

A group of birders participating in the Redwood Region Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count on Sunday found the neotropical migrant at the Crescent City cemetery off Cooper Street, said Gary Lester, co-compiler for the Del Norte County count. The vireo was seen hanging with another neotropical vagrant, a blue-headed vireo.

“It’s only the second recorded ever for Del Norte County,” Lester said, referring to the blue-headed vireo, whose range includes Canada, the eastern coast of the United States, Mexico and northern Central America. “I’ve been birding for over 40 years in Del Norte County, and I’ve yet to see one.”

Fred Endert pool closes for updates

Crescent City’s swimming pool will be closed this week while workers install a new heater and underwater and overhead LED lights. 

But city staff say these small projects are a precursor to two larger ones scheduled to take place as soon as there’s enough dry weather. The projects include replacing the roof and skylights at Fred Endert Municipal Pool. To make it easier for folks with disabilities to use the pool, the project also includes removing structural barriers and installing access ramps, pathways and new doors.

Caltrans to discuss climate shift Thursday

Caltrans will hold a public meeting in Eureka on Thursday to discuss the results of a study that focuses on climate change impacts on state routes in Northern California.

State routes in Del Norte, Humboldt, Mendocino and Lake counties were the focus of a study that considered the potential impacts of sea level rise and increases in flooding, erosion, landslides and wildfire as projected by current climate change modeling. 

Rare funnel cloud spotted

An unusual but not unheard-of sight caught the eyes of several people in the vicinity of Smith River during Friday’s stormy weather. A ropy funnel cloud descended partway from the cloud deck Friday shortly after 4 p.m., according to eyewitnesses, and lingered over the area for several minutes.

Mel Nordquist, a science officer at the National Weather Service’s Eureka bureau, said he’d looked at photos of the cloud and is “99 percent certain” it was a phenomenon called a cold-air funnel cloud.

Code Games

Fifth-graders Kian McKelfresh and Simon Bell build a computer game in Keegan Finley’s class at Mary Peacock Elementary. Del Norte Triplicate / Bryant Anderson
Students get a look behind the screen in worldwide computer programming project   

Alexa Gomez Aguilar and Sinai Peña are no strangers to computers, but on Wednesday they became computer programmers.

Armed with iPads, Alexa and Sinai, students in Keegan Finley’s fifth-grade class at Mary Peacock Elementary School, used a program called Hopscotch, which taught “drag and drop” computer programming allowing the two girls to tell their character, a cupcake with turquoise frosting, what to do.

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